4) Rom 10:8–10: In Deut 30:6, God made an amazing promise to the people he would bring back to Israel after the exile.

Moses wrote, “And the Lord your God shall circumcise your heart and the heart of your seed in order to love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul so that you may live.”

God fulfilled this vow through the proclamation of Christ’s work, rather than by human attempts to keep the Mosaic law.[1] The gospel demands a simple response. Those with receptive hearts secure salvation.[2]

Paul began this section by quoting Deut 30:14. It says, “but very near to you [is] the word, in your mouth and in your heart, in order to do it.”

While this seems odd, given that what comes from our mouths must first issue from what we believe, the apostle reversed the order in the very next verse.[3]

He continued, “Because if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

This assertion of Christ’s sovereignty comprised one of the hallmarks of the early church (1 Cor 12:3).[4] “Jesus is Lord” comprises the New Testament equivalent of Deut 6:4,[5] a verse which observant Jewish people repeat daily even today.[6]

As an established formula by the time of Paul,[7] new believers likely declared the phrase at the time of baptism (Acts 19:5).[8]

Other uses by the early church included evangelism, exhortation, and corporate worship (Acts 2:36; Col 2:6–7; 1 Cor 1:2).[9]

Confessing, “Jesus is Lord” meant acknowledging that he participates in all of the attributes of the one true God. The Greek translation of the Old Testament (OT) renders the name Yahweh as Lord (kurios) over six thousand times.[10]

Paul announced that Jesus is God in the flesh (2 Cor 4:3–6; Phil 2:5–11).

Many recipients of salvation experience radical transformation, changing from those who bitterly curse their creator to people who recognize the matchless worth of Christ.[11]

Confession in itself does not produce redemption but rather serves as an indicator of a changed heart, when it naturally flows from us (Matt 7:15–23; Acts 19:13–18).[12]

Thus, the heart and mouth must act in concert as interior and exterior expressions of the presence of the Spirit.[13]

The word “lord” described one who ruled over others. These relationships could refer to masters and slaves, kings and their subjects, or gods over their worshipers.[14] This included the deities of the Greco-Roman religion (1 Cor 8:5).[15] Therefore, a person who worshiped many gods could acknowledge many lords in various spheres without conflict.[16]

Even today within religions such as Hinduism, a person may worship Jesus as one among many deities.[17]

Not until Paul’s lifetime did Roman emperors adopt the title “Lord” for themselves. The earliest known example of this refers to Claudius.[18] That papyrus, dated to 49 AD, calls him “Tiberius Claudius Caesar, our Lord.”[19]

This placed Christians on a collision course with the Roman Empire. In fact, the refusal of Jesus’s followers to worship Roman gods and their efforts to convince others to abandon emperor worship, led to their persecution as atheists.[20]

During the era when Paul wrote Romans (ca. 57 AD), claiming Jesus as Lord brought no social advantage (Acts 28:22).

The Greco-Roman historian Tacitus (56–120 AD) noted:

To get rid of the report [that he set Rome on fire in 64 AD], Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.

Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular.

Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty, then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.[21]

Bolstering Tacitus’s assertion, in 1961 people in Caesarea discovered an inscription which says, “…Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea.”[22] Prior to that, many historians reduced Pilate to an imaginary figure.

A person’s lord demanded his loyalty and trust.[23] Consequently, when a baptismal candidate proclaimed “Jesus is Lord,” this signified a transfer of allegiance to Christ.[24]

Acts 22:6–16 provides a glimpse into this reality. Saul, who later became Paul, was traveling to Damascus in order to persecute the followers of Jesus who resided there. After an encounter with the risen Christ, God commanded him to call upon the name of the Lord as he received baptism.[25]

As the Second Adam, Jesus perfectly conformed to God’s plan for humanity (Rom 5:12–21; 1 Cor 15:21–22, 45–49; Heb 4:14–15). Due to his victory over sin and death, Christ enjoys the exaltation and dominion over creation which God intended for us (Gen 1:28; Ps 8:4–8; 1 Cor 15:25–27; Eph 1:19–23). He alone reigns sovereign over the universe.[26]

Our mouths must confess what we truly believe.[27] We cannot separate external expression and internal faith.[28]

Therefore, Paul wrote, “And if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Stating “Jesus is Lord” provides evidence of saving faith. It does not produce salvation.[29] As in the OT, Paul used the word “heart” (kardia) to mean the deepest part of a person, the internal aspect which determines our moral conduct.[30]

Belief in Christ’s resurrection provides the basis for ascribing lordship to him.[31] That God raised Jesus from the dead comprises a core conviction of Christians (Matt 28:1–7; 1 Cor 15:3–8, 12–20).[32]

Although Paul did not mention Christ’s death on the cross, the resurrection implies that event. Rising from the grave vindicated Jesus and established the efficacy of his atoning death (Col 1:15–23; Rom 8:11).[33]

Jesus’s resurrection distinguished him from all other lords of the Greco-Roman Empire.[34] Christ lived a real human life and experienced a shameful death, unlike the mythological characters of that culture (1 Cor 1:22–25).[35]

Many theologians assert that we have been saved, are being saved, and shall be saved.[36] However, in this instance Paul described our redemption as a future event. At the end of this age, the Lord shall save those who confess and belief from judgment in order to inherit everlasting life (Rom 5:8–10).[37]

In Rom 10:10, Paul reversed the order of the conditions necessary to receive salvation from Rom 10:9, forming an A-B-B-A chiasm.[38] Here he described how people experience becoming Christians.[39]

He wrote, “For with the heart one believes, leading to righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation.”

Those who hearts are being changed to live in an ethical manner are those who have received salvation (Tit 2:11–14).[40] Internal transformation results in external holiness, a process called sanctification (Rom 1:16–17).[41]

This did not represent a new development in salvation history: the psalms and the book of Isaiah confirm a parallel between salvation and righteousness (Ps 32:1–7; Ps 51:10–17; Ps 71:14–16; Isa 45:8, 21–25; Isa 51:4–8; Isa 62:1).[42]

Faith has always been what saves people (Heb 11:1–6).

Nevertheless, Paul refused to equate faith with performing good works. Our confession of belief springing from a certain internal conviction secures salvation.[43]

As C. E. B. Cranfield wrote, “All that one has to do, in order to be saved, is to confess with one’s mouth Jesus as Lord and to believe—really believe—in one’s heart that God has raised Him from the dead.”[44]

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

a) Read Rom 10:8–10. How did God fulfill the promise of Deut 30:6? Why did cultural realities prevent people in the early church from glibly confessing, “Jesus is Lord”? What is the role of that confession in our salvation? How did Paul view the relationship between righteousness and salvation?

 

 

 

 

Go to Future Vindication

 

[Related posts include Future Vindication (Rom 10:11–12); Salvation for All Who Call (Rom 10:13); Worshiping the Lord (Gen 4:26); Made in the Image of God (Gen 1:26 cont.); Stewards of the Earth (Gen 1:26 cont.); Male and Female He Created Them (Gen 1:27); The Blessing of Fruitfulness (Gen 1:28); Walking with God (Gen 5:21–24); A Most Cruel and Ignominious Punishment (Matt 27:26–37); Forsaken (Matt 7:38–49); God Rends the Barrier (Matt 27:50–51); Conversion of an Executioner (Matt 27:54); The Death of God (John 19:28–30); Effects of the Fall Reversed (Rom 5:12–21 and Rom 16:1–12); Dead in Adam but Alive in Christ (1 Cor 15:20–23); The Firstborn of All Creation (Col 1:15–18); Equality with God (Phil 2:5–6); A Summary of Trinitarian Creeds (Appendix to Phil 2:5–6); Taking the Form of a Slave (Phil 2:7); Obedient to the Point of Death (Phil 2:8); The Name Above Every Name (Phil 2:9–11); By Faith (Heb 11:4); Pleasing to God (Heb 11:6–6); Author and Date of Genesis; and Greek Translation of the Old Testament]

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

 

[1]Mark A. Seifrid, “Romans,” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (ed. G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson; Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), 659.

[2]Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 657.

[3]Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 2:527.

[4]Moo, Romans, 332.

[5]Dunn, Romans 9–16, 607.

[6]Duane L. Christensen, Deuteronomy 1–21:9 (WBC; Dallas: Word, 2001), 137.

[7]Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 2:527.

[8]Otto Michel, “′ομολογεω” (homologeō), TDNT, 5:199-220, 215.

[9]Dunn, Romans 9–16, 607.

[10]Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 2:529.

[11]Seifrid, “Romans,” Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 659.

[12]Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 657.

[13]Seifrid, “Romans,” Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 659.

[14]Dunn, Romans 9–16, 608.

[15]Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 2:528.

[16]Dunn, Romans 9–16, 608.

[17]Tennant, Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think About and Discuss Theology, 194.

[18]Werner Foerster, “κυριος” (kurios), TDNT 3:1039–98, 1054.

[19]Duke Databank of Documentary Papyri, “Report of a Lawsuit (P.Oxy. 1 37),” http://aquila.zaw.uni-heidelberg.de/hgv/20699.

[20]Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, 3rd Ed., 38.

[21]Cornelius Tacitus, Annals, in Complete Works of Tacitus (ed. William Jackson Brodribb and Sara Bryant; trans. Alfred John Church; New York: Random House, 1942), 15.44, http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text;jsessionid=3DDF615647A0DBAE5788C50EBD09314B?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0078%3Abook%3D15%3Achapter%3D44.

[22]Jona Lendering, “Pontius Pilate,” http://www.livius.org/pi-pm/pilate/pilate08.html. The Latin reads “Tiberium [Po]ntius Pilatus [Prea]ctus Iuda[ea]e.”

[23]Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 2:529.

[24]Dunn, Romans 9–16, 608.

[25]George R. Beasley-Murray, “Baptism,” DPL 61–5, 61.

[26]Dunn, Romans 9–16, 608, 610.

[27]Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 2:527.

[28]Dunn, Romans 9–16, 609.

[29]Wallace, Greek Grammar beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, 686.

[30]Johannes Behm, “καρδια” (kardia), TDNT 3:605–14, 613.

[31]Dunn, Romans 9–16, 609.

[32]Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 2:530.

[33]Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 658.

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

[35]Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 2:530.

[36]Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd Ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 827.

[37]Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 2:530.

[38]Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 658.

[39]Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 2:530.

[40]Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 658–9.

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

[42]Dunn, Romans 1–8, 41.

[43]Dunn, Romans 9–16, 616.

[44]Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 2:526–7.