Romans 10:19-21 Commentary



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Summary of
Romans 9-11
Romans 9 Romans 10 Romans 11
God's Sovereignty
Israel's Election by God
Man's responsibility
Israel's Rejection of God
God's Ways Higher
God Not Rejecting Israel


Romans 10:19-21 Commentary

Romans 10:19  But I say (3SPAI) surely Israel did not know (3SAAI), did they? First Moses says (3SPAI), "I WILL MAKE YOU JEALOUS (1SFAI BY THAT WHICH IS NOT A NATION, BY A NATION WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING WILL I ANGER (1SFAI)

Greek: alla lego, (3SPAI) me Israel ouk egno? (3SAAI) protos Mouses legei, (3SPAI) Ego parazeloso (1SFAI) humas ep' ouk ethnei, ep' ethnei asuneto parorgio (1SFAI) humas 
Amplified: Again I ask, Did Israel not understand? [Did the Jews have no warning that the Gospel was to go forth to the Gentiles, to all the earth?] First, there is Moses who says, I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.
ESV: But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, "I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
with a foolish nation I will make you angry."
ICB: Again I ask: Didn't the people of Israel understand? Yes, they did understand. First, Moses says: "I will use those who are not a nation to make you jealous. I will use a nation that does not understand to make you angry." Deuteronomy 32: 21
NIV: Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, "I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding."
NKJV: But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says: "I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will move you to anger by a foolish nation."
NLT: But did the people of Israel really understand? Yes, they did, for even in the time of Moses, God had said, "I will rouse your jealousy by blessing other nations. I will make you angry by blessing the foolish Gentiles."
Phillips: Then I say to myself: "Did Israel not know?" And my answer must be that they did. For Moses says: 'I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation. I will anger you by a foolish nation'.
Wuest: But I say, Israel did not fail to know, did it? First Moses says, I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are no people, and by a foolish people I will provoke you to anger.
Young's Literal: But I say, Did not Israel know? first Moses saith, 'I will provoke you to jealousy by that which is not a nation; by an unintelligent nation I will anger you,'


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Romans: Studies in Romans  (1935)
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Romans 10:14-21 Without Excuse

Romans 10:1-13 The Righteousness of God
Romans 10:14-21 Has Israel Not Heard?
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Romans 10:16-21 Mp3

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Romans 10:16-21-11:1 Did God Reject His People Israel? No
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Related resources...

Summary on the Attributes of God
Spurgeon on the Attributes of God

Israel of God - Is God "Finished" with Israel in His prophetic plan?

Off Site - Table Comparing/contrasting Israel & Church
Off Site - Does the Church Fulfill Israel's Program? - John Walvoord

The Jewish People, Jesus Christ and World History - S Lewis Johnson

Are you confused about God's plan for Israel? Then I highly recommend Tony Garland's 12 Hour Course on Romans 9-11 in which he addresses in depth the question of  What Will Happen to Israel?  (click) or see the individual lectures below)

Romans 9:1-5 Paul's Sorrow Concerning Israel
Romans 9:6-13 Children of the Promise
Romans 9:14-24 The Potter and the Clay
Romans 9:25-33 A Remnant Will be Saved
Romans 10:1-13 The Righteousness of God
Romans 10:14-21 Has Israel Not Heard?
Romans 11:1-6  God Has Not Cast Away The Jews
Romans 11:7-15 Life from the Dead
Romans 11:16-24 Two Olive Trees
Romans 11:25-36 The Salvation of Israel

Note that when you click the preceding links, each link will in turn give you several choices including an Mp3 message and brief transcript notes. The Mp3's are long (avg 70+ min) but are in depth and thoroughly Scriptural with many quotations from the Old Testament, which is often much less well understood than the NT by many in the church today. Garland takes a literal approach to Scripture, and his love for the Jews and passion to see them saved comes through very clearly in these 12 hours of teaching! Take your home Bible Study group through this series if you dare. Take notes on the tapes as the transcripts are a very abbreviated version of the audio messages. This course is highly recommended for all who love Israel! I think you will agree that Tony Garland, despite coming to faith after age 30 as an engineer, clearly has been given a special anointing by God to promulgate the truth concerning Israel and God's glorious future plan for the Jews. Garland has also produced more than 20 hours of superb audio teaching in his verse by verse commentary on the Revelation (in depth transcripts also available) which will unravel (in a way you did not think was possible considering the plethora of divergent interpretations) God's final message of the triumph and return of the our Lord Jesus Christ as the King of kings and Lord of lords! Maranatha!

BUT I SAY, SURELY ISRAEL DID NOT KNOW, DID THEY: alla lego (3SPAI), me Israel ouk egno (3SAAI): (Ro 10:18; 3:26; 1Co 1:12; 7:29; 10:19; 11:22; 15:50)

Listen to Dr J Vernon McGee: Romans 10:16-21 Mp3

The Amplified Version helps understand what Paul is asking...

Again I ask, Did Israel not understand? [Did the Jews have no warning that the Gospel was to go forth to the Gentiles, to all the earth?] First, there is Moses who says, I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry. (Bolding added for emphasis)

Surely Israel did not know - Paul's question calls for a negative answer. Robertson translates, “Did Israel fail to know?”  Paul raises this question of whether having heard it perhaps they still did understand that most of the nation would reject the word of Christ.

And the answer is “no.” Their own Scriptures foretold exactly what would happen.

Israel in its blindness, claimed to have monopoly on salvation in spite of the fact that two of their prophets Moses (Ro 10:19 quoting Dt 32:21) and Isaiah (see Ro 10:20 quoting Is 65:1) had clearly predicted that the Gentiles would be included in salvation. In short, the Jews had clear warnings that the Gospel was to go forth to the Gentiles, to all the earth. 

AT THE FIRST MOSES SAYS "I WILL MAKE YOU JEALOUS BY THAT WHICH IS NOT A NATION BY A NATION WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING WILL I ANGER YOU": protos Mouses legei (3SPAI) ego parazeloso (1SFAI) humas ep ouk ethnei, ep ethnei asuneto parorgio (1SFAI) humas: (Ro 11:11; Deuteronomy 32:21; Hosea 2:23; 1Peter 2:10) (Ro 1:21,22; Psalms 115:5, 6, 7, 8; Isaiah 44:18, 19, 20; Jeremiah 10:8,14; 1Corinthians 12:2; Titus 3:3)

At the first Moses says - The first of two illustrations that the Scriptures had foretold of the salvation of the Gentiles. God's gracious call of the Gentiles and the rejection of the gospel by most of Israel should not have been a surprise to the nation of Israel because the OT clearly foretold this would transpire.

I will make you jealous by that which is not a nation - In other words Gentiles will be saved and Jews will become jealous of their salvation. This is amazing grace and justice combined to bring about God's intended purpose of redemption of the world. When Israel rejected the Messiah, God sent the Gospel to the Gentiles so that they might be saved which is what Moses had predicted (Dt 32:21). Paul had alluded to the truth of Gentile salvation in Romans 9 (see Ro 9:22, 23, 24, 25, 26).

One reason why God sent the Gospel to the Gentiles was that they might provoke the Jews to jealousy (Ro 10:19 11:11). It was an act of grace both to the Jews and to the Gentiles. The Prophet Isaiah predicted too that God would save the Gentiles (Isa 65:1). The very calling of the Gentiles, predicted and interpreted as it is in the passages quoted, should itself have been a message to the Jews, which they could not misunderstand; it should have opened their eyes as a lightning flash to the position in which they stood—that of men who had forfeited their place among the people of God—and provoked them, out of jealousy, to vie with these outsiders in welcoming the righteousness of faith.”



Greek: Esaias de apotolma| (3SPAI) kai legei, (3SPAI) heurethen (1SAPI) [en] tois eme me zetousin, (PAPMPD) emphanes egenomen (1SAMI) tois eme me eperotosin. (PAPMPD
Amplified: Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, I have been found by those who did not seek Me; I have shown (revealed) Myself to those who did not [consciously] ask for Me.
ESV: Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, "I have been found by those who did not seek me;
I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me."
ICB:  Then Isaiah is bold enough to say: "I was found by those who were not asking me for help. I made myself known to people who were not looking for me." Isaiah 65:
: And Isaiah boldly says, "I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me."
NKJV: But Isaiah is very bold and says: "I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me."
NLT: And later Isaiah spoke boldly for God: "I was found by people who were not looking for me. I showed myself to those who were not asking for me."
Phillips: And Isaiah, more daring still, puts these words into the mouth of God: 'I was found by those who did not seek me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for me'.
Wuest: Moreover, Isaiah breaks out boldly and says, I was found by those who are not seeking me. I was made manifest to those who are not inquiring about me.
Young's Literal: and Isaiah is very bold, and saith, 'I was found by those not seeking Me; I became manifest to those not inquiring after Me;'
AND ISAIAH IS VERY BOLD AND SAYS: Esaias de apotolma (3SPAI) kai legei (3SPAI): (Isaiah 58:1; Ephesians 6:19,20)

Bold (662) (apotolmao from apó = an intensifier + tolmáo = to dare) means to dare very much, to be very bold and so to speak out boldly or  boldly declare.

Solomon records for example that...

The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, but the righteous are bold as a lion (Proverbs 28:1)

I WAS FOUND BY THOSE WHO SOUGHT ME NOT I BECAME MANIFEST TO THOSE WHO DID NOT ASK FOR ME: heurethen (1SAPI) (en) tois eme me zetousin (PAPMPD), emphanes egenomen (1SAMI) tois eme me eperotosin (PAPMPD): (Ro 9:30; Isaiah 65:1,2) (Isaiah 49:6; 52:15; 55:4,5; Matthew 20:16; 22:9,10; Luke 14:23; 1John 4:19)

Paul quotes Isaiah 65:1, 2, which occurs in the context of God’s judgment on Israel (Isa 64:8, 9, 10, 11, 12), of Gentiles being accepted into God’s household (Isa 56:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) and of God restoring the remnant of Israel to Himself (Isa 65:8, 9).

In Isaiah God declared in a passage that should make every Gentile reader shout "Hallelujah"...

I permitted Myself to be sought by those (the Gentiles) who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those (the Gentiles) who did not seek Me. I said, 'Here am I, here am I,' To a nation which did not call on My name. "I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people (Israel, cp Isa 59:1,2), who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts (Isaiah 65:1,2)

Found (2147) (heurisko; English = "eureka" from an exclamation attributed to Archimedes on discovering a method for determining the purity of gold) means to learn location of something, either by intentional searching or by unexpected discovery to learn the whereabouts of something

Sought (2212) (zeteo) means to try to learn the location of something often by movement from place to place in process of searching. To attempt to learn something by careful investigation or searching. To seek information by thinking, meditating, reasoning.

Paul's point is that as a general rule most of the Gentiles did not seek after God (cp Ro 3:11-note), for they were blinded by their idolatrous, immoral gods (who themselves were immoral). However, many of the Gentiles did respond when they heard the gospel (cp the church at Thessalonica - see 1Th 1:9, 10-note, the church at Ephesus was composed primarily  of Gentiles, cp Eph  2:11, 12-note, Ep 2:13, 14-note)

Manifest (1717) (emphanes from epí = over, upon + phaíno = to shine) (See in depth study on verb form epiphaino) means literally to make to shine upon,  and metaphorically means to make apparent, manifest or known

Ask (1905) (eperotao, from epí = intensifies meaning + erotáo = to ask, inquire of, beg of) means to interrogate, question or inquire.

Isaiah also told Israel that God would be found by those who did not seek Him; this prediction of the gospel going out to the Gentiles and its fulfillment again makes Israel more accountable. The very fact that the church in Paul's time was primarily Jewish should have been like a flashing beacon or a lighthouse to alert the Jews that they had missed His kingdom bc they had pursued their own righteousness.

In summary, these OT prophecies help us to understand that we should not be so amazed that Israel, for the most part, has rejected the gospel of Jesus Christ, for such a national tragedy was foretold.

As an aside, as we study the New Testament, we discover that “to the Jew first” is a ruling principle of operation. Jesus began His ministry with the Jews. He forbad His disciples to preach to the Gentiles or the Samaritans when He sent them on their first tour of ministry (Mt 10:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). After His resurrection, He commanded them to wait in Jerusalem and to start their ministry there (Lk 24:46, 47, 48, 49 Acts 1:8). In Acts 1-7, the apostolic ministry is directed primarily to Jews (and to Gentiles who were Jewish proselytes). But when the nation stoned Stephen and persecution broke loose, God sent the Gospel to the Samaritans (Acts 8:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8), and then to the Gentiles (Acts 10:1-48).

The Jewish believers were shocked when Peter went to the Gentiles (Acts 11:1, 2, 3) but he explained that it was God who sent him (Acts 11:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12) and that it was clear to him that Jews and Gentiles were both saved the same way—by faith in Christ (Acts 11:15, 16, 17, 18). But the opposition of the Jews (especially those who held strictly to the laws including circumcision, Acts 15:1, 2, 5) was so great that the churches had to call the famous Jerusalem council to resolve the debate (Acts 15:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14). The Jerusalem council concluded that the Jews and Gentiles were all saved by faith in Christ (Acts 15:11, 19, 20), and that a Gentile did not have to become a Jewish proselyte before he could become a Christian (Acts 15:8, 9, 10, 11).



Greek: pros de ton Israel legei, (3SPAI) holen ten hemeran exepetasa (1SAAI) tas cheiras mou pros laon apeithounta (PAPMSA) kai antilegonta. (PAPMSA)
Amplified: But of Israel he says, All day long I have stretched out My hands to a people unyielding and disobedient and self-willed [to a faultfinding, contrary, and contradicting people].
ESV: But of Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people."
ICB:  But about Israel God says, "All day long I stood ready to accept people who disobey and are stubborn." Isaiah 65:2
: But concerning Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people."
NKJV: But to Israel he says: "All day long I have stretched out My hands To a disobedient and contrary people."
NLT: But regarding Israel, God said, "All day long I opened my arms to them, but they kept disobeying me and arguing with me."
: And then, speaking of Israel: 'All day long I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people'.
Wuest: But to Israel He says, The whole day I stretched out my hands to a non-persuasible and cantankerous people.
Young's Literal: and unto Israel He saith, 'All the day I did stretch out My hands unto a people unbelieving and gainsaying.'
BUT AS FOR ISRAEL HE SAYS ALL THE DAY LONG I HAVE STRETCHED OUT MY HANDS: pros de ton Israel legei (3SPAI) holen ten hemeran exepetasa (1SAAI) tas cheiras mou: (Matthew 20:1-15; 21:33-43; 22:3, 4, 5, 6, 7; Matthew 23:34, 35, 36, 37; Luke 24:47; Acts 13:46,47)

But (de) marks a striking contrast between the Gentiles and the Jews in regard to their respective reception (Gentile) and rejection (Jew) of God's gracious offer.

Israel's stubborn refusal to believe led to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD followed by her worldwide, age-long dispersion and suffering among the Gentile nations.

Through Isaiah God declared (Paul's quote is from verse 2 but the other verses are included to give one a sense the depth of their depravity)

I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts, a people who continually provoke Me to My face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on bricks; who sit among graves, and spend the night in secret places; who eat swine's flesh, and the broth of unclean meat is in their pots. Who say, 'Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am holier than you!' These are smoke in My nostrils, a fire that burns all the day. (Isaiah 65:2-5)

Solomon records a similar refrain...

Because I called, and you refused; I stretched out my hand, and no one paid attention And you neglected all my counsel, And did not want my reproof I will even laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes,  (Proverbs 1:24, 25, 26)

Jeremiah agrees noting that...

And the LORD has sent to you all His servants the prophets again and again, but you have not listened nor inclined your ear to hear, (Jeremiah 25:4)

(God speaking) Also I have sent to you all My servants the prophets, sending them again and again, saying: 'Turn now every man from his evil way, and amend your deeds, and do not go after other gods to worship them, then you shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your forefathers; but you have not inclined your ear or listened to Me. (Jeremiah 35:15)

Jesus echoes the sad refrain...

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. (Matthew 23:37)

TO A DISOBEDIENT AND OBSTINATE PEOPLE: pros laon apeithounta (PAPMSA) kai antilegonta (PAPMSA): (Deuteronomy 9:13; 31:27; Jeremiah 44:4, 5, 6; 1Thessalonians 2:16; 1Peter 2:8)

Moses records that...

"Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people. Remember, do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness; from the day that you left the land of Egypt until you arrived at this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD. (Dt 9:6, 7)

The LORD spoke further to me, saying, 'I have seen this people, and indeed, it is a stubborn people...You have been rebellious against the LORD from the day I knew you. (Deuteronomy 9:13, 24)

Moses later predicted Israel's persistently hard hearted attitude declaring...

For I know your rebellion and your stubbornness; behold, while I am still alive with you today, you have been rebellious against the Lord; how much more, then, after my death? (Deuteronomy 31:27)

Samuel records a similar saga of Israel's disobedient and obstinate heart (on the occasion of Israel asking Samuel to appoint a king over them to judge them like all the Gentile nations)...

And the LORD said to Samuel, "Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them. Like all the deeds which they have done since the day that I brought them up from Egypt even to this day—in that they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. (1Samuel 8:7,8)

Nehemiah adds that even in the face of God's abundant provision

But they became disobedient and rebelled against Thee, and cast Thy law behind their backs and killed Thy prophets who had admonished them so that they might return to Thee, and they committed great blasphemies." (Nehemiah 9:26)

Luke records Stephen's accusation against the Jews (for which they repaid him with stoning! Acts 7:58, 59, 60)

You men who are stiff-necked (sklerotrachelos - from sklerós = hard [gives us our medical term atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries, less deadly in some ways than spiritual hardening!] + tráchelos = neck   and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting (striving against - present tense = their continual attitude) the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become (Acts 7:51,52)

Comment:  This is the climax of Stephen’s speech, the personal application that cut his hearers to the heart. Throughout the centuries, Israel had refused to submit to God and obey the truths He had revealed to them. Their ears did not hear the truth, their hearts did not receive the truth, and their necks did not bow to the truth. As a result, they killed their own Messiah!

Disobedient - They heard the the Gospel but persisted in being unpersuadable!

Obstinate - They continually opposed the Gospel.

Disobedient (544) (apeitheo [word study] from a = without + peítho = persuade) means literally not to allow one’s self to be persuaded. It describes one who refuses to be persuaded and so to willfully and perversely disbelieve. It conveys an attitude of unbelief and involves deliberate disobedience or conscious resistance to authority. Men do not avoid Christ because of insufficient facts but because of proud and unrepentant hearts. Paul says that Israel was continually (the present tense indicates this was their habitual practice) remained unpersuaded and disbelieving.

Obstinate (483) (antilego [word study] from anti = instead of  + lego = speak) means to speak against and so to oppose another, to decline to obey him (in this case the will of God, which is good and acceptable and perfect). It means to declare one’s self against another (God) or to refuse to have anything to do with Him. Again the present tense indicates that this was Israel's habitual practice year after year, in the face of God's lovingkindnesses and persistent seeking.

All uses of the English word "obstinate" in the NAS - Ex 32:9; 33:3, 5; 34:9; Deut 2:30; Isa 48:4; Ezek 2:4; 3:7; Rom 10:21

In sum, Israel was a persistently unyielding, disobedient, self-willed, fault-finding, contrary, contradicting people. Woe! Remember that this describes the majority of Israel in the Old Testament...for some reason many evangelicals have the misconception that most of Israel was saved because they were the "Chosen" people (Dt 7:7) or they were "saved" out of Egyptian bondage (Dt 7:8) and this equates with genuine heart circumcision (Ro 2:28, 29-note), but careful reading of Exodus 32 (Ex 32:1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and Ex 32:9 =  "And the LORD said to Moses, "I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate [stiffnecked] people". And there are many other similar passages, like virtually the entire book of Judges [Jdg 21:25-note] which accounts for almost 25% of Israel's OT history! see notes on Judges) reveals otherwise (except for a relatively small believing remnant). Deliverance from physical bondage did not equate with deliverance from the penalty and power of sin. And so verse like this one by Paul and a study of Hebrews 3 (e.g., see Heb 3:18, 19-note) and Hebrews 4 (e.g., see Heb 4:1, 2-note) clearly indicate that Israel was largely lost and only a remnant was saved (Ro 11:4-note, Ro 11:5-note)

Denney comments;

“The arms outstretched all the day long are the symbol of that incessant pleading love which Israel through all its history has consistency despised. It is not want of knowledge, then, nor want of intelligence, but wilful and stubborn disobedience that explains the exclusion of Israel (meanwhile) from the Kingdom of Christ and all its blessings.”

 by  William Bright

Still throned in Heav’n, to men in unbelief
Christ spreads His hands all day;
They scan His claims, give judgment cold and brief,
And fearless turn away.

Once more, O peerless mystery of grace!
Thy sweet appeal renew;
Light up dark minds; win souls to Thine embrace;
High forts of doubt subdue.

Speak, till the sons of peace, with hearts unseared,
Led by that voice of Thine,
Find Him each day more glorious, more endeared,
Christ human, Christ divine. (
Play hymn)

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