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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 10 - Verse 18
Verse 18. 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 men 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 was to 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 Ro 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, (menounge), compounded of (men) and (oun) and (ge). An intense expression, denoting strong affirmation.
Their sound went, etc. These words are taken in substance from Ps 19:4. The psalmist employs them to show that the works of God, the heavens and the earth, proclaim is 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, (fyoggov). 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, (o fyoggov autwn). The 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 men 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 labours of the apostles in proclaiming it to the heathen 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, Ac 26:26. In Col 1:23, Paul says that the gospel had been preached to every creature which is under heaven. See Col 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, (comp. Ro 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.
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