“Whosoever believeth upon him shall not be ashamed” (v. 11). All believers know “him” as their Lord and Savior. The scripture which Paul quotes is from Isaiah 28:16. Isaiah identifies “him” as a precious cornerstone, a tried stone, and as the sure foundation. Paul cited this same scripture earlier in his epistle (see Rom. 9:33) when he explained why Israel failed to attain righteousness through works of the law — Israel stumbled over the tried stone who fulfilled the righteous requirements of the law.
In verse 11, Paul applies Isaiah 28:16 to explain why one is saved by confessing the Lord Jesus with “thy mouth” and believing in “thine heart” that God “hath raised him from the dead.” The tried stone, the precious cornerstone, the sure foundation which God placed in Zion, is Christ Jesus. One is saved by believing upon the foundation which is Christ.
Believing is the same for all. God made all and all are subject to him. Through the prophet Joel, God declared: “For howsoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (v. 13). Calling upon the Lord and believing is illustrated in the Psalms with David who declared: “I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. The stone which the builders refused is become the head of the corner” (Ps. 118:21-22). Jesus is the rejected stone which David confessed. David confessed with his mouth and believed in his heart. David called out to the Lord upon he believed and he was saved.
David knew the Lord. He knew upon whom he called. When Paul wrote this epistle, many Jews failed to call upon the Lord because they were ignorant of the scriptures which God had given to them. Understanding was given to Paul (and all who ever gain understanding) by God through revelation. Paul shares the revelation which was given him in verse 14 and following.
The apostle asks a series of questions which can be answered with “They cannot” or with “God can make it come to be.” One cannot call upon one of whom they have no knowledge unless God makes it happen. One cannot attain knowledge of God unless God makes it happen. One cannot hear a preacher unless God makes it happen. A preacher cannot come forth unless God makes it happen. Salvation is entirely of the Lord. Paul’s purpose in making these things known to the believers at Rome was stated in Romans 1. Paul desired that believers at Rome be established. No church can be established unless believers know that Salvation is entirely of the Lord God. Works of men has no part in that which God makes happen. The works which we witness are of the Lord God.
In verse 15, Paul quotes from Isaiah 52:7. In Isaiah 52, prophet speaks of a day in which Israel is not ignorant. It is a day in which Israel “shall know . . . that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I.” The day of which Isaiah speaks shall not be until the Lord Jesus reigns from the throne of David in Jerusalem. That day is yet future for Israel. That day is now for all who believe upon Christ Jesus. The day in which the gospel of peace shall be preached and glad tidings of good things shall be heard is now for all who shall call upon the name of the Lord and be saved.
In verse 16, Paul comments upon the fact that many have not responded to the gospel and will not respond to that which God has made happen and is continuing to make happen. More than 700 years before Paul lived, Isaiah was moved by the Holy Spirit to ask: “Who hath believed our report?” (Isa. 53:1). God, in His foreknowledge, knew that His Son should be made an offering for sin that would be despised and rejected by many. The Lord knew that not all would believe. There would be some who would hear and not believe but all who would believe received faith by hearing the word of God — “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
It was Paul’s desire that all Israel might be saved (v. 1) but God revealed to him that this would not be the case. In verses 18-21, the apostle cites the scriptures through which God made this known to him. The first scripture from which Paul quotes is Psalm 19. In this Psalm, David declares that the heavens are God’s preachers to all men of His power and that His law reveals His righteousness and causes men of faith to realize that they must call upon God to keep them from secret sins. The apostle quotes only from the 4th verse of this psalm but his quote from Deuteronomy 32:21 in verse 19 reveals that Paul is speaking in the context of all which David declared in the psalm.
In Deuteronomy 32:31, Moses prophesied of a future time in which God would provoke Israel to jealousy by a people who were not a nation and that Israel would be angered by a nation that was foolish (did not know God). In verse 20, Paul states that Isaiah also prophesied of that which Moses spoke. Isaiah describes the people who would provoke jealousy as a people who found God without seeking Him. The Lord God knew that not all Israel would hear and believe but He reached out to them nonetheless (see v. 21).
Paul conveys that which God revealed to Moses and Isaiah with the intent that all believers might become established and provoke Israel to jealousy.