Romans 10:1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER
1) To see the importance of combining zeal with the right kind of knowledge
2) To understand that Israel had plenty of opportunity to heed the gospel of Christ, but for the most part they had rejected it
As Paul continues to explain God's dealings with the nation of Israel, he repeats his expression of love towards them (1). Though as a nation they had plenty of zeal, unfortunately their zeal was not according to the right kind of knowledge (2). Thus they rejected the righteousness of God while trying to establish their own righteousness through the Law of Moses. But Paul explains that Christ is the fulfillment of the Law and has brought it to an end (3-4).
The righteousness God now offers is based upon faith in Christ, not keeping the Law. It involves not the accomplishment of some great feat (like ascending to heaven or descending to hell), but such things as confessing Jesus as Lord and believing that God raised Him from the dead (5-10). As foretold by Scripture, it is offered to all, both Jew and Gentile (11-13). And it is offered through the medium of preaching the Word (14-15).
The problem with the nation of Israel, then, is that not all of them received the gospel message, even when they had ample opportunity (16-18). But as Moses predicted, the day would come when God would provoke Israel to jealousy by another people, who Isaiah said did not seek God yet found Him, while Israel was constantly rebelling against Him (19-21).
The theme of this chapter is Israel’s present rejection. Paul moved from divine sovereignty (Rom. 9) to human responsibility. He continued the theme of righteousness introduced at the end of the previous chapter (Rom. 9:30–33) and explains three aspects of Israel’s rejection
ROMANS 10.1-4 ISRAEL'S REFUSAL OF GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS (1-15)
The Reasons for Their Rejection (Rom. 10:1–13)
You would think that Israel as a nation would have been eagerly expecting the arrival of their Messiah and been prepared to receive Him. For centuries they had known the Old Testament prophecies and had practiced the Law, which was “a schoolmaster” to lead them to Christ (Gal. 3:24). God had sought to prepare the nation, but when Jesus Christ came, they rejected Him. “He came unto His own [world] and His own [people] received Him not” (John 1:11). To be sure, there was a faithful remnant in the nation that looked for His arrival, such as Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25–38); but the majority of the people were not ready when He came.
How do we explain this tragic event? Paul gives several reasons why Israel rejected their Messiah.
PAUL'S EXPRESSION OF CONCERN FOR ISRAEL (1-4)
- That Israel be saved, for they have zeal but not real knowledge (1-2)
Ro 10:1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.
They did not feel a need for salvation (v. 1). There was a time when Paul would have agreed with his people, for he himself opposed the Gospel and considered Jesus Christ an impostor. Israel considered the Gentiles in need of salvation, but certainly not the themselves. In several of His parables, Jesus pointed out this wrong attitude: the elder brother (Luke 15:11–32) and the Pharisee (Luke 18:9–14) are two examples. Israel would have been happy for political salvation from Rome, but she did not feel she needed spiritual salvation from her own sin.
Ro 10:2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.
They were zealous for God (v. 2). Ever since Israel returned to their land from Babylonian Captivity, the nation had been cured of idolatry. In the temple and the local synagogues, only the true God was worshiped and served, and only the true Law was taught.
So zealous were the Jews that they even “improved upon God’s Law” and added their own traditions, making them equal to the Law.
Paul himself had been zealous for the Law and the traditions (Acts 26:1–11; Gal. 1:13–14).
Ac 22:3 "I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers' law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today.
Ga 1:13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers
it was as if Paul had been considering himself a 100-watt light bulb, surrounded by people who were only 75-, 60-, and 25-watt light bulbs. But, when Jesus appeared to him, the righteousness of Jesus was like the brightness of the sun. When Paul realized that, he gave up trying to create his own righteousness and instead placed his faith in Jesus, which was the only sensible thing to do.
But their zeal was not based on the right kind of knowledge; it was heat without light. Sad to say, many religious people today are making the same mistake. They think that their good works and religious deeds will save them, when actually these practices are keeping them from being saved. Certainly many of them are sincere and devout, but sincerity and devotion will never save the soul. “Therefore by the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight” (Rom. 3:20).
- Through ignorance, they seek to save themselves by the Law, and do not submit to God's righteousness in Christ which brings an end to the Law (3-4)
Ro 10:3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.
They were proud and self-righteous (v. 3). Israel was ignorant of God’s righteousness, not because they had never been told, but because they refused to learn. There is an ignorance that comes from lack of opportunity, but Israel had had many opportunities to be saved. In their case, it was an ignorance that stemmed from willful, stubborn resistance to the truth. They would not submit to God. They were proud of their own good works and religious self-righteousness, and would not admit their sins and trust the Savior. Paul had made the same mistake before he met the Lord (Phil. 3:1–11).
The godly Presbyterian preacher, Robert Murray McCheyne, was passing out tracts one day and handed one to a well-dressed lady. She gave him a haughty look and said, “Sir, you must not know who I am!”
In his kind way, McCheyne replied, “Madam, there is coming a day of judgment, and on that day it will not make any difference who you are!”
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
They misunderstood their own Law (vv. 4–13). Everything about the Jewish religion pointed to the coming Messiah—their sacrifices, priesthood, temple services, religious festivals, and covenants. Their Law told them they were sinners in need of a Saviour. But instead of letting the Law bring them to Christ They worshiped their Law and rejected their Saviour.
Ga 3:24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
The Law was a signpost, pointing the way. But it could never take them to their destination. The Law cannot give righteousness; it only leads the sinner to the Saviour who can give righteousness.
Christ is “the end of the Law” in the sense that through His death and resurrection, He has terminated the ministry of the Law for those who believe. The Law is ended as far as Christians are concerned. The righteousness of the Law is being fulfilled in the life of the believer through the power of the Spirit (Rom. 8:4); but the reign of the Law has ended (see Eph. 2:15; Col. 2:14). “For ye are not under the Law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:14).
Ga 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Mt 5:17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
Col 2:13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
Whether you're reading in the Old Testament passages such as 1Kings 9, Deuteronomy 28, or the NT in Luke 21, you hear these passages that promise tragedy to Israel. And in the lifetime of the Old Testament prophets and people, these tragedies came to pass. And in the lifetime of the New Testament writers, these tragedies also came to pass. And it continues even to our own time that we see the devastation, the destruction, the lostness of the nation Israel. And we ask ourselves the question, what happened? And that's the very question that Paul is posing in this part of Romans. How is it that the people of God have missed the blessings? How is it that the nation Israel to whom were given the very covenants of God and promises of God and laws of God and the Holy Scriptures and the prophets, how is it that they have missed out on God's blessing? How is it that they have been set aside for judgment and punishment? And Romans chapter 10 is written to answer the question. And basically it is because of Israel's ignorant unbelief.
Because of their ignorant unbelief, they forfeited God's blessings as all men and women do who live in unbelief, and bring upon themselves God's judgments.