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Commentary on Romans

by Michael Bugg

Chapter 10

Misaimed Zeal

Rom 10:1  Brothers, my heart's deepest desire and my prayer to God for Isra'el is for their salvation;

Rom 10:2  for I can testify to their zeal for God. But it is not based on correct understanding;

Rom 10:3  for, since they are unaware of God's way of making people righteous and instead seek to set up their own, they have not submitted themselves to God's way of making people righteous.

Rom 10:4  For the goal at which the Torah aims is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts.

  1. Their salvation (lit. “that they might have salvation”)
    1. When Sha’ul speaks of Israel, he speaks of the collective whole, not individuals
  2. Zeal
    1. Can be good –  “For who will hurt you if you become zealots for what is good?” (1Pe 3:13)
    2. Or bad – “The next Shabbat, nearly the whole city gathered together to hear the message about the Lord; but when the Jews who had not believed saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy (lit. zeal, heat) and spoke up against what Sha'ul was saying and insulted him.” (Acts 13:44f)
  3. “seek to set up their own [way of salvation]”
    1. Again, this is not primarily “faith vs. works,” since Judaism has always taught that salvation was the gracious gift of God to be received by faith (see 3:21f and notes).
    2. Rather, Sha’ul is referring to the misaimed zeal, discussed in ch. 7, of pursuing the Torah as an end unto itself, as shown by

                                                              i.      the abuse of the Temple service,

1.      This point would become the focus of the book of Hebrews

                                                            ii.      and a large number of Jews that had come to misunderstand their own faith.

1.      We see this today in Jews who say that a person is saved “by being a good person”

    1. Either way, the point is that the majority of Israel had not accepted the Messiah that God had given us.
  1. “For the goal at which the Torah aims is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts.”
    1. KJV – “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

                                                              i.      Not really a mistranslation, since “end” can mean “goal,” but often misread as Messiah bringing the Torah to an end.

    1. Everything written in the Torah points to the Messiah, whether directly or indirectly (see Notes on Genesis and The Feasts and the Exodus)

                                                              i.      Therefore, to refuse to see Messiah in the Torah is a major sin.

  1. Sins of ignorance vs. sinning with eyes wide open
    1. Scripture is clear that the Sacrifice covers sins of ignorance (Lev. 4:2ff, Heb. 9:7), and that one who is blind has no sin (John 9:41)
    2. However, it is also clear that God knows who sins with their eyes open (John 9:41)
    3. Then and now

                                                              i.      In the 1st Century,

1.      Messianics were the object, not the cause, of persecution

2.      Yeshua and His followers were all zealous for the Torah (Acts 21:20ff)

3.      Yeshua’s followers were a part of the Jewish community, sharing its concerns and burdens

4.      Gentiles were being made a part of the Jewish community as God-fearers

5.      Yeshua and His Emissaries were performing undeniable miracles before the eyes of Israel’s elders

6.      Yeshua’s Diety was explained within the context of Jewish Wisdom Theology (see Yeshua: The Living Torah)

7.      Yeshua’s followers acknowledged—indeed, proclaimed—the prophetic future of Israel

                                                            ii.      For most of the nineteen centuries since,

1.      “Christians” have persecuted, tortured, and killed Jews

2.      Christians have rejected the Torah, and persecuted those of their own who have tried to keep it

3.      Christians have completely separated themselves from the Jewish community

4.      Jewish believers have been forcibly assimilated

5.      The Church has not been used by the Spirit to do the same kinds of miracles and signs

6.      Yeshua’s Diety has been explained in a way that has the appearance of violating the Sh’ma

7.      The Church has claimed to replace Israel in God’s prophetic plans

    1. Since we cannot see who has been given what amount of light by God, we should be extremely slow to pronounce one’s eternal destiny—that is the province of God.

Messiah is the Torah

Rom 10:5  For Moshe writes about the righteousness grounded in the Torah that the person who does these things will attain life through them.

Rom 10:6  Moreover, the righteousness grounded in trusting says: "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend to heaven?'" that is, to bring the Messiah down -

Rom 10:7  or, "'Who will descend into Sh'ol?'" that is, to bring the Messiah up from the dead.

Rom 10:8  What, then, does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart." that is, the word about trust which we proclaim, namely,

  1. Yeshua and the Torah
    1. Paul does not see Yeshua as “a new Torah,” but as the Living, Incarnate Torah
    2. Deu 30:10-16  “However, all this will happen only if you pay attention to what ADONAI your God says, so that you obey his mitzvot and regulations which are written in this book of the Torah, if you turn to ADONAI your God with all your heart and all your being. For this mitzvah which I am giving you today is not too hard for you, it is not beyond your reach.  It isn't in the sky, so that you need to ask, ‘Who will go up into the sky for us, bring it to us and make us hear it, so that we can obey it?’  Likewise, it isn't beyond the sea, so that you need to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea for us, bring it to us and make us hear it, so that we can obey it?’  On the contrary, the word is very close to you - in your mouth, even in your heart; therefore, you can do it!
           “Look! I am presenting you today with, on the one hand, life and good; and on the other, death and evil - in that I am ordering you today to love ADONAI your God, to follow his ways, and to obey his mitzvot, regulations and rulings ; for if you do, you will live and increase your numbers; and ADONAI your God will bless you in the land you are entering in order to take possession of it.”

                                                              i.      The identification of Yeshua with the Torah is covered in more detail in Yeshua: The Living Torah

                                                            ii.      The short version

1.      “In the beginning was the Word” – The Targums (which Yochanan would have heard an oral form of while growing up in Galilee) often used Memra, Word, to designate the part of God which created the universe and enters into it to meet with His people.

2.      J.P. Holding, quoting N.T. Wright, notes, “Rabbis of Jesus' time had no difficulty in personifying separate aspects of God's personality - His Wisdom, His Law (Torah), His Presence (Shekinah), and His Word (Memra), for example. This division had the philosophical purpose of ‘get(ting) around the problem of how to speak appropriately of the one true God who is both beyond the created world and active within it.’”

3.      God’s wisdom is presented in Proverbs 8:22ff as almost a co-creator or the tool that God used to fashion the universe.  Rabbis during the Greek period came to identify this Wisdom with the Torah, as seen in the books of Sirach (or Ben-Sira) and the Wisdom of Solomon and in the Talmud itself.

4.      Yochanan takes almost every trait of Wisdom and Torah given in the above books and applies them to Yeshua.

5.      The very way a kosher Torah scroll is kept symbolizes Yeshua.

The Public Proclamation

Rom 10:9  that if you acknowledge publicly with your mouth that Yeshua is Lord and trust in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be delivered.

  1. “trust in your heart” = that is, both have faith and are faithful, both trust in God and are truly loyal to Him in your heart.
  1.  “acknowledge publicly” = ὁμολογήσῃς, lit, “be of one word,” usually rendered “confess”
    1. Stern emphasizes the public nature of the confession based on Mat. 10:32f, “Whoever acknowledges me in the presence of others I will also acknowledge in the presence of my Father in heaven.  But whoever disowns me before others I will disown before my Father in heaven.”

                                                              i.      “I will make my appeal even more direct.  I know a number of Jewish people—some are Orthodox Jews, some Hasidim—who agree mentally that Yeshua must be the Messiah but who have gone for years without telling family, friends and colleagues.  They are leading double lives; but the hidden life is not a life of faith, only a life of hiding.  Behind their reticence is fear, but beneath the fear is a lack of trust in God’s ability to care for and protect them.  According to v. 9 (and Ya 2:14-26), their mental assent is not saving faith.  There are no secret believers.  If this description fits you, I urge you to ‘come out of the closet’ without delay.  God will help you weather the crisis.” (Comm. 401)

    1. This is true, however it is also the responsibility of the existing Messianic Jewish community to provide a place for the Orthodox and Hasidic Jew to go if and when they are rejected by their home communities!

                                                              i.      For the pagan Gentiles who turned to Messiah, the Ekklesia provided an alternate community to live in, provided care and sustenance when turning from idolatry cost them families and jobs.

                                                            ii.      Where is the Orthodox or Hasidic believer in Messiah to go? 

1.      Orthodox Judaism requires a community that lives together and is committed to meet three times a day (more on Feasts) for prayer.

2.      Too few Messianic synagogues can provide that level of community—we’re simply too far spread out at the present time.

3.      As one “closet” believer explained, “I want to know that when my father dies, I will have a minyan to say the kaddish for him with.”

  1. A midrash from Genesis (see Genesis notes):
    1. Benjamin – the Messianic Jewish remnant

                                                              i.      Brother of the same mother as Joseph, and very close to him.

                                                            ii.      Not in on the plot against Joseph

                                                          iii.      Vanishes from the record until near the end, when Joseph demands that he be seen among his brothers.

                                                          iv.      Israel (Ya’akov) is initially reticent to let Benjamin go out, but finally allows it.

    1. Benjamin “in the closet”

                                                              i.      Though seen among his brothers, they do not initially know of his special relationship with Joseph.

                                                            ii.      They are mystified when Joseph provides Benjamin a greater portion (5x) of food

    1. Benjamin “outed”

                                                              i.      On the trip home, Joseph hides his silver divining cup in Benjamin’s bag

1.      The cup of Messiah’s communion

a.       A cup

b.      Silver = blood (the base of the Tabernacle (Exo 26:19); redemption money (30:13); blood money)

c.       Pagan association, or so the brothers thought

                                                            ii.      Benjamin is forcibly “outed” and put in danger

                                                          iii.      At this point the brothers have a choice: Do they protect Benjamin as one of their own, or do they sell him out for their own safety?

    1. I believe that there will be a day when a large number of traditional Jews of all stripes will be “outed” as Messianics—in fact, it is already beginning.

                                                              i.      When Judah is ready to accept the Messianic Jews as his brother, then we will know that the Second Coming and the revelation of Ben-Joseph is truly immanent—and again, this has already begun!

The Process of Salvation

Rom 10:10  For with the heart one goes on trusting and thus continues toward righteousness, while with the mouth one keeps on making public acknowledgement and thus continues toward deliverance.


The Name

Rom 10:11  For the passage quoted says that everyone who rests his trust on him will not be humiliated.

Rom 10:12  That means that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile - ADONAI is the same for everyone, rich toward everyone who calls on him,

Rom 10:13  since everyone who calls on the name of ADONAI will be delivered.


Those Who Have Not Heard

Rom 10:14  But how can they call on someone if they haven't trusted in him? And how can they trust in someone if they haven't heard about him? And how can they hear about someone if no one is proclaiming him?

Rom 10:15  And how can people proclaim him unless God sends them? - as the Tanakh puts it, "How beautiful are the feet of those announcing good news about good things!"


Those Who Are Hearing

Rom 10:16  The problem is that they haven't all paid attention to the Good News and obeyed it. For Yesha'yahu says, "ADONAI, who has trusted what he has heard from us?"

Rom 10:17  So trust comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through a word proclaimed about the Messiah.


Those Who Have Heard

Rom 10:18  "But, I say, isn't it rather that they didn't hear?" No, they did hear "Their voice has gone out throughout the whole world and their words to the ends of the earth."


Gentiles Would Turn to Messiah First

Rom 10:19  "But, I say, isn't it rather that Isra'el didn't understand?" "I will provoke you to jealousy over a non-nation, over a nation void of understanding I will make you angry."

Rom 10:20  Moreover, Yesha'yahu boldly says, "I was found by those who were not looking for me, I became known to those who did not ask for me";

Rom 10:21  but to Isra'el he says, "All day long I held out my hands to a people who kept disobeying and contradicting."


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