Salvation for All Who Call: Romans 10:13

salvation all who call

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c) Rom 10:13: In this verse, the apostle Paul shifted from an emphasis upon confessing that Jesus is Lord (Rom 10:8–12) to calling upon him.

Quoting Joel 2:32, he wrote, “For anyone who calls upon (epikaleō) the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

In the Old Testament (OT), to call upon the Lord usually refers to appealing to Yahweh in prayer (Gen 12:7–8; 1 Sam 12:7–8; 1 Chron 16:8–16, 23–24).[1]

However, in the context of this passage, we call upon God to avail ourselves of his vast spiritual resources, resulting in eternal salvation.[2]



Polytheistic Greeks used the phrase to describe asking someone—particularly the gods—for help.[3]

For example, the first century BC historian Diodorus Siculus wrote, “The details of the initiatory rite are guarded among the matters not to be divulged and are communicated to the initiates alone; but the fame has traveled wide of how these gods appear to mankind and bring unexpected aid to those initiates of theirs who call upon (epikaleō) them in the midst of perils”.[4]



Early Christians quickly adapted the phrase “calling upon the name of the Lord” but expanded its meaning to refer to the Father and the Son.[5]

In fact, in the New Testament, it usually means to pray to Jesus (Acts 7:59; 2 Cor 12:7–10).[6]

Within a few decades of Christ’s resurrection, the phrase “those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” became equivalent to the term “Christian” (Acts 9:14; 1 Cor 1:2).

God transformed Paul from a man who persecuted those who called upon Jesus’s name to one who prayed to and proclaimed the exalted Christ (Acts 9:1–27).

That he no longer equated worshiping Jesus with breaking the first two commandments testifies to his belief that Christ is indeed the Lord (Exod 20:3–6).[7]



The context of Romans 10 indicates that here the word “call upon” has a more specific meaning than a general prayer.

Since “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,” Paul implied that those who invoke Christ in this manner understand their desperate need of forgiveness and recognize that Jesus can and will bestow salvation upon them (Cf. Joel 2:26–32; Acts 22:12–16; Mark 13:24–27).[8]

They appeal to God to include them in his covenant and trust him to honor the terms of that agreement (Rev 6:12–17).[9]



To grasp the revolutionary nature of Paul’s inclusion of Gentiles, recall that he once belonged to the Jewish sect of the Pharisees (Phil 3:4–6).

During the 400-year intertestamental period, the Pharisees created a lay movement which asserted the view that one could identify God’s covenant people by their adherence to the Mishnah.

This commentary on the five books written by Moses formed a hedge around the Mosaic law (m. Avot 1:1),[10] in violation of Deut 4:1–2.

The Mishnah contains twenty-four chapters dedicated to Sabbath regulations alone (m. Shabbat).

Although they were not from priestly lineage, the members of this sect strictly maintained this tradition of laws regarding purity, tithing, and the Sabbath intended for those serving in the temple.[11]

The Pharisees took great care to separate from the impure “people of the land” who failed to avoid contaminating themselves.[12]

In contrast to the Essenes, who removed themselves from society to form an exclusive commune, the Pharisees sought to practice Judaism in every area of life while remaining in their communities.[13]



After his conversion, Paul opposed the concept that God planned to save only a few people who sought to obey him perfectly.

The emphasis here falls upon the great expanse of God’s mercy which encompasses all who respond to the gospel of grace.[14]

As a result, God tasks us with offering the gospel to and making disciples among every people group on earth (Rom 10:14–15; Matt 28:18–20; Rev 5:6–10).[15]

These universal overtones bring us back to the time of Enosh (Gen 4:26).[16]

The Lord acted in the Old Testament era to provide pardon to those who recognized their need for him.

In the same way, he delivers salvation to all who turn to him today, calling upon his name (Matt 9:10–13; Luke 18:9–14).[17]

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Read Rom 10:13. Why did Paul call believers to action in Rom 10:11–15? How does this passage provide insight into Gen 4:26? What can you do to expand the reach of God’s kingdom?





Go to Chapter 4: The Generations of Adam (Genesis 5:1–27)

[Related posts include Confession and Belief (Rom 10:8–10); Future Vindication (Rom 10:11–12); Worshiping the Lord (Gen 4:26); Jesus, Remember Me (Luke 23:39–43); Intertestamental History; and Ancient Literature]

[Click here to go to Chapter 3: Calling on the Name of the Lord (Genesis 4:25–26)]


[1]Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 2:532.

[2]Dunn, Romans 9–16, 610.

[3]Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 660.

[4]Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1933), 5.49.5,*.html.

[5]Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 660.

[6]Ralph P. Martin, “Worship,” DPL 982–90, 987.

[7]Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 2:532.

[8]Leon Morris, “Salvation,” DPL 858–62, 862.

[9]Dunn, Romans 9–16, 611.

[10]Stephen Westerholm, “Pharisees,” DJG 609–14, 609.

[11] Anthony J. Saldarini “Pharisees,” ABD 5:300–3, 300.

[12] Saldarini “Pharisees,” ABD 5:300.

[13]Roland Deines, “The Pharisees Between ‘Judaisms’ and ‘Common Judaism’,” in Justification and Variegated Nomism, Vol. 1: The Complexities of Second Temple Judaism (ed. D. A. Carson, Peter T. O’Brien, and Mark A. Seifrid; Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 443–504, 498.

[14]Witherington and Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 263.

[15]Moo, Romans, 340.

[16]Seifrid, “Romans,” Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 660.

[17]Alan F. Johnson and Robert E. Webber, What Christians Believe: A Biblical and Historical Summary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993), 69–70.