In the text before us, Paul states his desire that Israel be saved, why Israel is not saved, and what must happen for one to receive salvation. Paul wrote the things that he wrote such that believers in Rome might become established in God’s word and build upon the foundation which is Jesus Christ.
Israel lacked knowledge (v. 2). Israel was ignorant of God’s righteousness (v. 3).
At one time, Paul lacked knowledge and was ignorant of God’s righteousness. The apostle makes reference to this fact in verse 2 when he states that he bears record of their zeal for God. Before Paul came to know God’s righteousness, he zealously sought to strike down all who proclaimed that Jesus satisfied the demands of the law. Paul had studied the scriptures under the most noted scholar of his day but Paul was ignorant of God’s righteousness.
Before Jesus revealed Himself to Paul upon the road to Damascus, Paul lacked knowledge of God’s righteousness. One of superior intellect can read and study the books of Moses and of the prophets but not hear God’s voice. One does not hear God through his own efforts. Paul did not know that he was ignorant of God’s righteousness until Jesus revealed Himself to Paul. After that experience, Paul read the scriptures anew. He heard God speak through the books of Moses and the prophets for the first time. Paul shares his knowledge with the believers at Rome (and with us) in verses 5-8 as he quotes from Leviticus 18:5 and Deuteronomy 30:12-14.
Before God revealed His righteousness to him, Paul sought to achieve righteousness through his own efforts. God’s righteous requirements, while clearly stated in the law, are hidden from those who do not keep every requirement of the law. It is hidden from them who are dead. Moses stated that the man who does the things of the law shall live by them. Dead men erroneously believe that righteousness is earned through doing the works of the law. God has revealed to all who are alive (second born) that Jesus alone has done that which the law requires. Believers pass from death unto life, not by keeping the law, but, by believing upon the only One who satisfied God’s righteous requirements. We are made righteous by Him.
In verse 3, the apostle states that Israel, in seeking to establish their own righteousness, has not submitted themselves to God’s righteousness. Verse 4 states that which God has revealed: Christ is the end of the law to everyone who believes. Christ is the only man which lives because He did the works of the law (v. 5, Lev. 18:5).
In verses 6-8, Paul quotes and comments on Deuteronomy 30:12-14. To fully understand the context from which Paul speaks, we need first review Deuteronomy 30. God told the children of Israel that He would gather them from all the nations to which He had scattered them. After gathering them, the Lord said that He would circumcise their hearts “to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live” (Deut. 30:6). Israel was to hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep the law of Moses, and turn to the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul (Deut. 30:10). In Deuteronomy 30:11, God said: “For this commandment which I command this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.” The manner in which believers should read these words is stated in Deuteronomy 29:29. It is by revelation of God that “we may do all the words of this law.” It has been revealed to all believers that Christ Jesus has satisfied all the words of the law.
In Romans 10:6-8, Paul expounds upon the righteousness which is by faith. The righteousness which is by faith is the same as that which is stated in Deuteronomy 30:12-14. Righteousness by faith does not require one to reach up to heaven or to search faraway places. Righteousness by faith is found in Christ Jesus. Righteousness by faith is as close as one’s mouth and heart. Righteousness by faith is revealed to all by God. The righteousness by faith which Paul preached is that which God reveals.
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (v. 9). If one believes in one’s heart that Jesus was raised by God from the dead, one has discovered that which is near. One has discovered the faith which God gives to all who will believe. One is saved by faith which God counts as righteousness.
In verse 10, the apostle states that belief is counted for righteousness and that “with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” When one confesses with his mouth, one is declaring that which God has done. When one confesses with his mouth, one is declaring that which God wants all men to know — that salvation is found in Him alone.
Believers are called to declare the love of Him who first loved us.