Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Romans 10:18

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

But I say, have they not heard? - But to return to the objection: You say they have not all Believed; I ask: Have they not all Heard? Have not the means of salvation been placed within the reach of every Jew in Palestine, and within the reach of all those who sojourn in the different Gentile countries where we have preached the Gospel, as well to the Jews as to the Gentiles themselves? Yes: for we may say of the preaching of the Gospel what the psalmist has said ( Psalm 19:4;) of the heavenly bodies: Their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. As the celestial luminaries have given testimony of the eternal power and Godhead of the Deity to the habitable world, the Gospel of Christ has borne testimony to his eternal goodness and mercy to all the land of Palestine, and to the whole Roman empire. There is not a part of the promised land in which these glad tidings have not been preached; and there is scarcely a place in the Roman empire in which the doctrine of Christ crucified has not been heard: if, therefore, the Jews have not believed, the fault is entirely their own; as God has amply furnished them with the means of faith and of salvation.

In Psalm 19:4, the psalmist has קום kauuam, their line, which the Septuagint, and the apostle who quotes from them, render φθογγος, sound; and hence some have thought that the word in the Psalm was originally קולם kolam, voice. But that קו kau is used for word or speech is sufficiently evident from Isaiah 28:10, line upon line, precept upon precept, etc., where קו is analogous to word or direction. It is very remarkable that these words of David, quoted by St. Paul, are mentioned in Sohar. Genes. fol. 9, where it is said: מלין אינון משיחא עבדי Abdey mashicha innun millin . "These words are the servants of the Messiah, and measure out both the things above and the things beneath." To this notion of them the apostle may refer in his use of them in this place, and to a Jew the application would be legitimate.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

But I say - But to this objection, I, the apostle, reply. The objection had been carried through the previous verses. The apostle comes now to reply to it. In doing this, he does not deny the principle contained in it, that the gospel should be preached in order that people might be justly condemned for not believing it; not that the messengers must be sent by God, not that faith comes by hearing. All this he fully admits. But he proceeds to show, by an ample quotation from the Old Testament, that this had been actually furnished to the Jews and to the Gentiles, and that they were actually in possession of the message, and could not plead that they had never heard it. This is the substance of his answer.

Have they not heard? - A question is often, as it is here, an emphatic way of affirming a thing. The apostle means to affirm strongly that they had heard. The word “they,” in this place, I take to refer to the Gentiles. What was the fact in regard to Israel, or the Jew, he shows in the next verses. One main design waste show that the same scheme of salvation extended to both Jews and Gentiles. The objection was, that it had not been made known to either, and that therefore it could not be maintained to be just to condemn those who rejected it. To this the apostle replies that then it was extensively known to both; and if so, then the objection in Romans 10:14-15, was not well founded, for in fact the thing existed which the objector maintained to be necessary, to wit, that they had heard, and that preachers had been sent to them.

Yes, verily - In the original, a single word, μενοῦνγε menoungecompounded of μέν menand οὖν ounand γέ geAn intense expression, denoting strong affirmation.

Their sound went … - These words are taken in substance from Psalm 19:4. The psalmist employs them to show that the works of God, the heavens and the earth, proclaim his existence everywhere. By using them here, the apostle does not affirm that David had reference to the gospel in them, but he uses them to express his own meaning; he makes an affirmation about the gospel in language used by David on another occasion, but without intimating or implying that David had such a reference. In this way we often quote the language of others as expressing in a happy way our own thoughts, but without supposing that the author had any such reference. The meaning here is, that that may be affirmed in fact of the gospel which David affirmed of the works of God, that their sound had gone into all the earth.

Their sound - Literally, the sound or tone which is made by a stringed instrument ( φθόγγος phthongos). Also a voice, a report. It means here they have spoken, or declared truth. As applied to the heavens, it would mean that they speak, or proclaim, the wisdom or power of God. As used by Paul, it means that the message of the gospel had been spoken, or proclaimed, far and wide. The Hebrew, is “their line, etc.” The Septuagint translation is the same as that of the apostle - their voice ὁ φθόγγος αὐτῶν ho phthoggos autōnThe Hebrew word may denote the string of an instrument, of a harp, etc. and then the tone or sound produced by it; and thus was understood by the Septuagint. The apostle, however, does not affirm that this was the meaning of the Hebrew; but he conveyed his doctrine in language which aptly expressed it.

Into all the earth - In the psalm, this is to be taken in its utmost signification. The works of God literally proclaim his wisdom to all lands and to all people. As applied to the gospel, it means that it was spread far and wide, that it had been extensively preached in all lands.

Their words - In the psalm, the heavens are represented as speaking, and teaching people the knowledge of the true God. But the meaning of the apostle is, that the message of the gospel had sounded forth; and he referred doubtless to the labors of the apostles in proclaiming it to the pagan nations. This Epistle was written about the year 57. During the time which had elapsed after the ascension of Christ, the gospel had been preached extensively in all the known nations; so that it might be said that it was proclaimed in those regions designated in the Scripture as the uttermost parts of the earth. Thus, it had been proclaimed in Jerusalem, Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, Rome, Arabia, and in the islands of the Mediterranean. Paul, reasoning before Agrippa, says, that he could not be ignorant of those things, for they had not been done in a corner; Acts 26:26. In Colossians 1:23, Paul says that the gospel had been preached to every creature which is under heaven; see Colossians 1:6. Thus, the great facts and doctrines of the gospel had in fact been made known; and the objection of the Jew was met. It would be sufficiently met by the declaration of the psalmist that the true God was made known by his works, and that therefore they were without excuse (compare Romans 1:20); but in fact the gospel had been preached, and its great doctrine and duties had been proclaimed to all nations far and near.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Did not the Jews know that the Gentiles were to be called in? They might have known it from Moses and Isaiah. Isaiah speaks plainly of the grace and favour of God, as going before in the receiving of the Gentiles. Was not this our own case? Did not God begin in love, and make himself known to us when we did not ask after him? The patience of God towards provoking sinners is wonderful. The time of God's patience is called a day, light as day, and fit for work and business; but limited as a day, and there is a night at the end of it. God's patience makes man's disobedience worse, and renders that the more sinful. We may wonder at the mercy of God, that his goodness is not overcome by man's badness; we may wonder at the wickedness of man, that his badness is not overcome by God's goodness. And it is a matter of joy to think that God has sent the message of grace to so many millions, by the wide spread of his gospel.