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Romans 10:13-17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV) 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how will they hear without someone to preach? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who declare good news of good things!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. 18 But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the inhabited earth.”
Evangelism is the work of a Christian evangelist, of which all true Christians are obligated to partake to some extent, which seeks to persuade other people to become Christian, especially by sharing the basics of the Gospel, but also the deeper message of biblical truths. Today the Gospel is almost an unknown, so what does the Christian evangelist do? Preevangelism is laying a foundation for those who have no knowledge of the Gospel, giving them background information, so that they are able to grasp what they are hearing. The Christian evangelist is preparing their mind and heart so that they will be receptive to biblical truths. In many ways, this is known as apologetics.
Christian apologetics [Greek: apologia, “verbal defense, speech in defense”] is a field of Christian theology that endeavors to offer a reasonable and sensible basis for the Christian faith, defending the faith against objections. It is reasoning from the Scriptures, explaining and proving, as one instructs in sound doctrine, many times having to overturn false reasoning before he can plant the seeds of truth. It can also be earnestly contending for the faith and saving one from losing their faith, as they have begun to doubt. Moreover, it can involve rebuking those who contradict the truth. It is being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks the Christian evangelist for a reason for the hope that is in him or her. – Jude 1.3, 21-23; 1 Pet 3.15; Acts 17:2-3; Titus 1:9.
What do we mean by obligated and what we mean by evangelism are at the heart of the matter and are indeed related to each other?
EVANGELISM: An evangelist is a proclaimer of the gospel or good news, as well as all biblical truths. There are levels of evangelism, which is pictured in first-century Christianity. All Christians evangelized in the first century, but a select few fit the role of a full-time evangelist (Ephesians 4:8, 11-12), as was true of Philip and Timothy.
OBLIGATED: In the broadest sense of the term for evangelizer, all Christians are obligated to play some role as an evangelist.
• Basic Evangelism is planting seeds of truth and watering any seeds that have been planted. [In the basic sense of this word (euaggelistes), this would involve all Christians.] In some cases, it may be that one Christian planted the seed, which was initially rejected, so he was left in a good way because the planter did not try to force the truth down his throat. However, later he faces something in life that moves him to reconsider those seeds and another Christian waters what had already been planted by the first Christian. This evangelism can be carried out in all of the methods that are available: informal, house-to-house, street, phone, internet, and the like. What amount of time is invested in the evangelism work is up to each Christian to decide for themselves.
• Making Disciples is having any role in the process of getting an unbeliever from his unbelief state to the point of accepting Christ as his Savior and being baptized. Once the unbeliever has become a believer, he is still developed until he has become strong. Any Christian could potentially carry this one person through all of the developmental stages. On the other hand, it may be that several have some part. It is like a person that specializes in a certain aspect of a job, but all are aware of the other aspects, in case they are called on to carry out that phase. Again, each Christian must decide for themselves what role they are to have, and how much of a role, but should be prepared to fill any role if needed.
• Part-Time or Full-Time Evangelist is one who sees this as their calling and chooses to be very involved as an evangelist in their local church and community. They may work part-time to supplement their work as an evangelist. They may be married with children, but they realize their gift is in the field of evangelism. If it were the wife, the husband would work toward supporting her work as an evangelist and vice-versa. If it were a single person, he or she would supplement their work by being employed part-time, but also the church would help as well. This person is well trained in every aspect of bringing one to Christ.
• Congregation Evangelists should be very involved in evangelizing their communities and helping the church members play their role at the basic levels of evangelism. There is nothing to say that one church could not have many within, who take on part-time or full-time evangelism within the congregation, which would and should be cultivated.
10:14a. Calling requires faith. How … can they call on the one they have not believed in? In the Old Testament, calling on the name of the Lord was a metaphor for worship and prayer (Gen. 4:26; 12:8; Ps. 116:4). No one can call out to God who has not believed in him.
10:14b. Faith requires hearing. And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? More than anything else, this question is the crux of all missiological activity since the first century. God has ordained that people have to hear (or read, or otherwise understand the content of) the word of God in order to be saved. One who knows the gospel must communicate it to one who does not know it.
10:14c. Hearing requires preaching. And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? Since no other media except the human voice was of practical value in spreading the gospel in the first century, preaching is Paul’s method of choice. And yet, in the media-rich day in which we minister, has anything replaced preaching as the most effective way to communicate the gospel? We thank God for the printed page, and even for cutting-edge presentations of the gospel circling the globe on the internet. But it is still the human voice that cracks with passion, the human eye that wells with tears of gratitude, and the human frame that shuffles to the podium, bent from a lifetime of Service to the gospel, that reaches the needy human heart most readily. Hearing may not requirepreaching in person today, but it always benefits from it.
10:15. Preaching requires sending. And how can they preach unless they are sent? Even when his servants were unwilling (e.g., Jonah), God has been sending the message of salvation to the ends of the earth from the beginning. Paul, a “sent one” (apostle, apostolos), was sent to the Gentiles, and he needed the church at Rome to help him. But he also wanted them to be available for God to send them. There were many, many Jews in Rome who were still stumbling over the stone in the path of salvation. How would they ever call on the name of the Lord unless someone is sent? Paul wants the church at Rome to get in step with those who have borne good news to Israel before, most specifically those who brought the good news of their deliverance from captivity in Assyria:
“Good news” in its earliest contexts was that of victory in battle. In Isaiah it is deliverance from captivity in Assyria (cf. Isa. 52:4, 11–12), a type of the coming deliverance from sin.
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Just as the “good news” was delivered to Israel in the Old Testament, so it still must be delivered in Paul’s day. It is a different gospel—a better one—of permanent deliverance from captivity to sin
Six key terms, taken in reverse order, summarize God’s plan for taking the good news of the gospel to those in need: send, preach, hear, believe, call, saved.
With a final barrage of scriptures from the Old Testament, Paul proves his point that, in spite of sovereign election from God’s side of the equation, Israel is in a state of unbelief by her own choice. Personal responsibility is part of the ministry of the gospel, both in delivering it and in choosing whether or not to receive it. God’s responsibility was to get “the gospel” to Israel; it was Israel’s responsibility to act on it.
10:16–18. Unfortunately, not all the Israelites accepted the good news (the obvious implication being that some did—the remnant; cf. Rom. 9:27; 11:5, 25). Paul uses a situation in Isaiah’s day to illustrate:
Isaiah was proclaiming good news of salvation to Israel (Is. 52:7, 10) but at the same time was questioning whether any would believe.
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?”
Paul’s application of this verse is the same as Isaiah’s, just a few centuries later. Israel once again was hearing the good news, but not believing.
The apostle John agreed with Paul’s assessment of Israel’s condition. Even though the Israelites saw Jesus’ miracles with their own eyes, “they still would not believe in him” (John 12:37). John then says this was in fulfillment of Isaiah 53:1, just as Paul did. Paul then reiterates what he said in verses 14–15, that faith can only come through hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. The word of Christ here is perhaps best taken as “the spoken words about Christ,” referring to the preaching of the gospel. Word is rhema, the uttered or spoken word as opposed to logos, the revealed word as expression of thought. A. T. Robertson has christou as an objective genitive (Robertson, 4:390), yielding “the spoken message about Christ.”
Is it possible that Israel did not hear—either in Isaiah’s day, in Jesus’ day, or in Paul’s day? Paul answers as if the answer would be obvious to anyone who cared to look: Of course they [heard]—and he uses another Old Testament quote to prove it, with another fresh application:
In its direct application, this psalm supports Paul’s contention in Romans 1:20 that creation proves the existence of God.
Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
Paul uses the “voice” of creation as an analogy for how the gospel has spread to the end of the (Jews’) world.
If we parallel Paul’s argument in Romans 1:20 with his argument here (Ps. 19:4 being the common element between the two), then just as all people everywhere “are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20) concerning the existence of God, so Jews everywhere are without excuse concerning the existence of their Messiah and his work. Having answered a first objection to Israel’s lack of responsibility, Paul answers a second. Kenneth Boa and William Kruidenier, Romans, vol. 6, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 314–316.
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