What does Romans chapter 10 mean?The prior passage concluded with Paul's declaration that his people, Israel, had tried to become righteous before God in the wrong way: by relying on their attempts to keep the law. They had refused to come to God by faith in Christ. Paul quoted Isaiah to show that Christ was the "stumbling stone" for Israel, but that all who believe in Him will not be put to shame.
Romans 10 begins with Paul's heartfelt confession that he prays for Israel to be saved. He is eager for each of his Jewish brothers and sisters to believe in Christ. He praises them for their enthusiasm for God, though they are ignorant of how to reach God's righteousness through faith in Christ (Romans 10:1–4).
Instead, the Israelites continue to try to be declared righteous by God for their religious law-keeping, despite how they continue to break that law. They continue to wait for the truth they already know to come down from heaven or up from the abyss when Jesus Christ has already done both of those things. Paul repeatedly references the Old Testament Scriptures both directly and as an analogy to make his bottom-line case about what is required to be saved (Romans 10:5–8).
Verses 9 and 10 are likely the most quoted verses from this chapter: "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved." Paul spells out that this opportunity to be saved by faith in Jesus is available to everyone, with no distinction between Jews and Gentiles. The Lord is the Lord of all people, and He gives good gifts to all who call on Him. Everyone who calls on Him will be saved. (Romans 10:9–13).
Next, Paul shows how necessary it is for him to continue preaching this gospel, regardless of the objections of those who oppose him. If people must call on the name of Jesus to be saved, they must first believe in Him. Before they can believe, they must hear about Him. In order to hear, someone must preach to them. And before a representative of Christ can preach, he must be sent. Still, not all have obeyed the gospel. That is, many people—especially the Jewish people—have not believed in Christ though they have heard the word of Christ. Why is this? Is it because they haven't really heard? Paul rejects that idea with a quote from Psalm 19. He insists that the gospel of Jesus is reaching the ends of the world (Romans 10:14–17).
If they have heard, then did they not understand? Did the Jewish people truly never comprehend that God intended to welcome all who come to Him by faith? Paul quotes from Moses to show that they should have heard God's own words that He would one day make Israel jealous of those who are not nations. Then Paul references God's words in Isaiah 65 that He would be found by those who did not look for Him, describing what was happening with the Gentile believers in Jesus. Still, God waits patiently for Israel with His hands held out to receive them should they turn back to Him (Romans 10:18–21).