Dr. Jerry A. Collins


So far, we have learned:

·         We are all sinners without excuse (chapters 1–3)

·         God has provided a solution by faith in the payment of Christ on the cross (chapters 4–5)

·         When we place our faith in Christ, we are sanctified (chapters 6–8)

·         Israel has been set aside to the benefit of gentiles (chapters 9–11)


As I traveled back from India in October 2004, I had the opportunity to sit next to a catholic priest for several hours during one leg of that journey. He was in his eighties and has been serving in the Denver CO area for nearly 50 years. So I decided to ask a number of questions wanting to hear from someone who was an insider to Catholicism. I asked about his view of Mary—baptism—communion—church history—the reformation. And he asked about me, my ministry, my views. We talked about scripture and how each other viewed Jesus words about eating my flesh and drinking my blood. Why God chose Mary and how she qualified for this special responsibility. As we completed the flight, he summarized our conversation this way. The difference between me and you, he said, is that I believe the Bible and all of the tradition of the Holy Catholic Church and of the church fathers. You only believe in the Bible. He had it exactly correct and I took it as a complement.


And just like him are millions of people who hope that by following a scheme, a regimen, some law-keeping, religious practices they can add to their faith that they will gain God’s approval. While they are devising their own schemes to gain God’s approval they actually reject God’s way of getting it. The Israelites had received revelation from God—the Law--revelation designed to bring them to self-despair and then to God in faith, not works. Not only did they ignore the OT teaching on righteousness by faith, they also refused the opportunity of accepting righteousness by faith. So God rejected them and the message went elsewhere—the gentiles. This obstinacy, this pride, this independent spirit must be changed, must be broken and replaced by submission if they are going to live and escape further judgment by God.



Verse 1: Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. Paul begins the same way he began chapter 9—with his love for Israel. Of course many of these Jews did not think they needed saving anyway.

Verse 2: The reason many Jews were unsaved was that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. But it’s also the reason many sincere religious people are lost. They have religious zeal but not in accordance with knowledge. That zeal had often been misdirected couched in hostility toward Paul (Acts 22:3). Their knowledge was founded on ignorance about God’s righteousness—that new state of being that comes through faith in Christ. No other righteousness is adequate in the sight of God. This zeal had also characterized Paul’s life duplicating Israel’s experience as a nation. This zeal lacked knowledge—knowledge that Jesus is the Messiah and Paul received this bit of information that changed his life.


Application—There are many religious, rule-keeping people in the world with all kinds of zeal for God. Terrorists give their lives for Allah. Catholics dutifully practice the seven sacraments. Jehovah Witnesses’ claim Jesus is not the Savior. Their zeal not according to knowledge—they are missing the key information about God making their zeal useless. Zeal is a good thing. Jesus even said so. His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Your house will consume me(John 2:17). Being on fire for God is a wonderful thing, but it must be according to and consistent with knowledge. Is it revealed to us in God’s Word? If the Jews had read the scriptures this way without adding their own traditions, they could have easily seen Jesus as their Messiah.

PT— Verse 2 is a key verse for understanding sincere false religions. What is always true about all false religions is they create their own righteousness. It may be about helping the poor, or honoring marriage, or saving the unborn, or (if we think about the Mormons and the Muslims) not drinking alcohol, coffee, or Cokes. But this never gets to God’s righteousness because religious zeal is about self- improvement based on some law, like the Mosaic Law was to the Jews. What we need is not self-improvement, but cleansing from sin. Following a righteousness based on some religious law keeps people from the holy, pure, righteous character of God.

Verse 3: For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. While many did, still many more, ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God as a gift, were trying to earn a righteousness that could be theirs by rule-keeping. The result is they missed the real thing. The very Law they tried to keep was not even designed to save them, but to bring them to self-despair because it was unkeepable.

This verse also describes many other religions. 1. They do not know about God’s righteousness. 2. They are seeking [the endless and unreachable goal] to establish their own form of righteousness. 3. Therefore, they do not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. When offered terms by God, they refused to submit but instead resist it, revile it, and persecute those who dare to preach it. All the while they continue their efforts to achieve their own righteousness by works.  

PT—And thus is the human dilemma. Refusal to come to God on His terms. Still as much a problem as it has ever been. Actually, there are more religious alternatives than ever before. Satan has had thousands of years to perfect this deception.

Verse 4: Although Israel had pursued an unreachable and endless goal, what they needed was near at hand. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. This tells us that what the Jews don’t know is that Christ’s death on the cross ended the Law as a way of righteousness (Galatians 3:21). And this applies to everyone who believes—all individual Jewish and Gentile ones. Further, God has terminated the entire Law of Moses as a necessity to be performed today. It is no longer a rule of life for us. Nine of the ten commandments are observed by us because those have become part of the Law of Christ, which is Christ’s teachings given to the church in the New Testament through the apostles.

Verse 5: Their failure to submit to God’s kind of righteousness is attested to even by Moses. For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. The failure of the law was not simply a failure to make righteousness possible, but specifically an inability to impart life to the keeper of it. The laws impossibility to bestow new life made it impossible to obtain righteousness by that same law. Without this new life they could not be free from divine wrath.

PTPeople like their religion and religious practices and traditions because they believe that following them enables them to save themselves. Anyone attempting to make himself/herself righteous only leaves one vulnerable to Gods wrath in judgment. It’s a vicious losing proposition that gets you nowhere with God. There is no works-based scheme to get God’s approval. It does not exist. Do vs Done.



Verse 6-7: But the righteousness based on faith (Paul’s gospel) speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, (which is the key sphere of decision making) ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down). Since Israel had rejected Christ, they adopted the attitude that Messiah was yet to appear. So, their religious law keeping schemes could be a means of hastening the Messiah to come to them. But this perspective ignored the fact the Christ had already come down from heaven in the person of Jesus. But additionally, neither should one say in his/her heart or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” Unbelieving Jews would retort that Paul’s gospel was irrelevant since His Christ was dead—still in the grave. These are two extremes of Jewish unbelief about Jesus. What bad unbelieving attitudes for sure! The message of the gospel is of course the exact opposite of these Jewish attitudes of the heart. Faith means that we admit we can never save ourselves. What is needed is to accept what God has already done for us in Christ. No matter, Jesus died, was buried, and rose again. Nothing else can be done either by Christ or by you…period.

PT—The gospel is such a simple message that people find it unbelievable. Besides human pride naturally motivates one to participate in one’s own salvation. God remedied that by creating a means of salvation that forces humans to humble themselves and face reality about themselves.   

Verse 8: What then does Paul’s gospel—the righteousness by faith kind—actually say? But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”— that is, the word of faith which we are preaching. Paul’s gospel declared the fulfillment of Israel’s hope for the coming of Messiah. So, the deliverance Paul had hoped for them was available to them if only they would respond.

PT—Fortunately, you do not have to climb Mount Everest, or swim the Atlantic, or become the next American idol to discover the faith to be saved. It is as close, he says, as what you believe and what you confess. The lordship of Christ is made clear by His resurrection. Placing your faith in Him, then, means you too will be delivered. This word of faith means we no longer wait for him to arrive the first time, nor that he still needs to rise from the dead. That faith in Christ saves now.

Verse 9: So what you believe inevitably impacts what it is that you will also confess. That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. We must conclude Paul is not giving us a two-step process for salvation because no two-step process is given elsewhere. Paul’s point seems to be that believing in your heart brings eternal salvation, and subsequently confessing with your mouth is the testimony of a believer after salvation about the Lords deliverance in this life. A belief and confession like this is an admission that Jesus is alive to hear it—that Christ has come and God has indeed raised Him from the dead and that one can call on him. The very opposite of the conclusions of Jewish unbelief.

Verses 10-11: The reason for such a confession of the heart is for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, that is a new state of being at conversion. And with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation, that is, now as a believer one can appeal to the power of the exalted Lord to deliver them in this life. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in him will not be disappointed.” People make fun of Christianity, but in the end one will never feel ashamed for having put faith in Christ either for eternal salvation or for deliverance in this life. The believer should not hesitate to confess the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verses 12-13: This is true of any believer for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all. There is not a Jewish God and a Christian God—there is only God. Abounding in riches for all who call on Him. The same Lord we believed for eternal life is also the same one we believe to deliver us in our temporal life. We confess Jesus as Lord as believers because as Lord he is abounding in riches for all who call on Him. This is why we call on our Lord for He has the ability and resources abounding in riches to address our every need. For “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved”. So, not only are we justified with a new state of being through what we believe in the heart, but we are also delivered in this life by appealing with our mouth, testimony, to the power of the exalted Lord. We do not stop with just faith in the heart, but now join the fellowship of others who made it a habit to appeal to the name of the Lord with the mouth for deliverance in this life too.

Verse 14: Now if Israel needs to appeal to the Lord Jesus in order to be delivered, then how could they do so without first believing in Him? How then will they call on Him (for deliverance) in whom they have not believed (for salvation)? If it follows they must first believe in him before they can appeal to him, how will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? The human preacher is thus a necessity even for the Israelites. And how will they hear without a preacher? Which is precisely why God sent preachers to them in the form of prophets. What we learn in this sequence is the clear distinction between ‘believing in’ and ‘appealing to’ the Lord Jesus. Believing in him must precede appealing to Him. 

Verse 15: To be a legitimate bearer of the gospel message one must be sent by God to preach it. How will they preach unless they are sent? Paul had asserted from the beginning that he was called to be an apostle who is set apart for the gospel of God (Romans 1:1). Just as it is written, refers to the prophet Isaiah (52:7). Those who proclaim this deliverance are praised as persons with beautiful… feet since they are of those who bring good news of good things!” This is a runner with news of deliverance to Israel.

PT—We are messengers of good news. We are not telling someone to make the world better or to follow this code or to advocate for world peace—just simply, concisely, clearly telling them what someone did for them on their behalf. So we cannot conclude that remote people, and those buried in the traditions of a major religion, can find Christ in their own context. Someone must bring the gospel message to them.

PT—In other words, they won’t hear and get saved unless someone goes and tells them the Good News. Of course, that eliminates getting Christ from their own religions, seeing God in nature, or their inner thoughts and convictions. But it also seems to eliminate them hearing about Christ the way the apostles did—by direct revelation from God. The question often asked is: Couldn’t God reveal Himself to them some other way? Yeah, sure, of course God could do that, but it seems that Paul says we should not expect God to do that, even though He did that with the apostles. Could God give special supernatural revelation in new ‘primitive’ areas? Again, of course God could do that. But in the New Testament, that is not what happened. Special supernatural revelation was given at the beginning of the Church Age, not when the apostles and others went into new or ‘primitive’ areas. There it had to be preached and proclaimed.  



Verse 16: Here is a comment about the sad state of Jewish unbelief. However, they did not all heed the good news. Here is the plain assertion of Israel’s collective unbelief and rejection of Messiah—one that still goes on today. He quoted the prophet Isaiah who lamented the same thing in his day. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So this was a persistent problem in Israel’s spiritual life. It was a meager response to say the least. Israel had spurned the means God used to proclaim deliverance to them. The report they rejected was the gospel Paul himself preached.

PT—While you share this good news only a few will receive God’s testimony with real conviction. Even this good news will seem bad to many. Hearing it over and over again will make no difference to them. The testimony must be mixed with faith in order to save.

Verse 17: But where does that faith come from? So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. Faith comes from hearing the report—what was preached, and what was preached comes from the word of Christ. Just as faith is derived from believing the report, just so the preached report is in turn derived from the very mouth of God. Notice that the Word of Christ here is in the context of Scripture, equated with the teachings from Psalm 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:21; and Isaiah 65:2.

PT—Faith does not come, nor is it strengthened, by suffering, persecution, or extreme conditions. Those things only test our faith; they do not create it or strengthen it. Only revelation strengthens our faith, and today that’s through the word of Christ, defined contextually as Scripture. If you want a strong faith you must be a student of Gods Word.

Verse 18: This proclamation was universal. But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed, they have; “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, and their word to the ends of the world.” Jews rejection was not due to lack of opportunity (Psalm 19:4). They had special revelation from God, patriarchs, prophets, and priests. It was thrust out into the known world by many messengers in addition to the apostle Paul. Epaphras, for instance, took the gospel to Colosse. Timothy had built up the saints in Ephesus. Interesting, that Paul may have known of a much wider spread of the message far beyond the Roman empire. Tradition even reports that the apostle Thomas preached in India. Paul was even planning a missionary trip to Spain himself (Romans 15:20-24). So the rhetorical question but I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Sure they had.  

Verse 19: The gospel has indeed been preached to the Jews. But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? Of course they knew. But their inclination was to reject it because so many Gentiles believed it. First Moses says, “I will make you jealous by that which is not a nation, by a nation without understanding will I anger you.” Moses words specifically predict that God would arouse the jealousy and the anger of Israel through His dealings with Gentile people. God gathered them from many nations and these gentiles themselves became a nation—you are…a holy nation Peter said (1 Peter 2:9). God reaching Gentiles should have provoked Israel into searching more sincerely, but as Acts revealed their response to this gospel was a deliberate rejection of it, even unwilling to understand it. 

Verse 20: Here is another Old Testament citation about Israel’s need for faith. In addition to Moses, Isaiah is very bold and says, “I was found by those who did not seek me, I became manifest to those who did not ask for me.” Amazingly, Gentiles were seeking and understanding this gospel in droves (Isaiah 65:2). All who seek will hear and the hearing is according to this formula.

Verse 21: In contrast to the gentiles but as for Israel He says, “All the day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” God was calling and many of the Jews refused to answer that call if it included the gentiles in the kingdom and did not include their way of earning righteousness. You are just not going to win an argument against God. The Jews refused to come to Him even when He reached out to draw them to Himself. The reason God has temporarily set them aside is their stubborn rebelliousness. Moses and the prophets warned Israel of this attitude repeatedly, but the Chosen People persisted in it even after God had provided their Messiah.


So What?

         Every generation includes a works based, rule keeping plan and every generation needs to have this pointed out.

         Since faith is the only way to God’s approval, we cannot water it down or compromise it. The stakes are eternal.

         Share it, tell it, spread it and go after the few who respond to it in faith and then disciple them to become Christlike followers of Jesus.