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HTS Theological Studies

versión On-line ISSN 2072-8050
versión impresa ISSN 0259-9422

Herv. teol. stud. vol.71 no.3 Pretoria  2015

http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/HTS.V71I3.2929 

ORIGINAL RESEARCH

 

Romans 10:5-13 revisited

 

 

Willem Oliver

Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, University of South Africa, South Africa

Correspondence

 

 


ABSTRACT

The aim of this article is to investigate Romans 10:5-13 and specifically the impact of the chiasm (chiasmus) in Romans 10:9-10 on this sub-pericope. In the chiasm Paul makes the following statement(s):
A If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord
B and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
C you will be saved.
B For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness
, A and with the mouth/he confesses, resulting in salvation.
What gives the chiasm existential value here is the fact that this is the only passage in which Paul uses confess with your mouth as a condition for salvation. The sub-pericope will be discussed against the background of the introduction to the letter (Rm 1:16-17) as well as Romans 3:21-31.


 

 

Introduction

Should the writings of the New Testament be regarded as literature at all? This was the core question asked by Lund in 1942 in response to an article written by Overbeck (1882) and a multi-volume work by Norden (1898). Overbeck (1882:417) alleged that the 'writings of the New Testament cannot properly be included in the history of literature' due to two reasons:

  • none of them employ the forms of literature proper
  • they also do not constitute the basis for later Christian literature.

Norden confirmed what Overbeck said, stating that the Pauline writings were merely artless and occasional substitutes for the spoken word (Norden 1898:479-480). That implies that Paul's writings were merely his words to the churches put on paper, which was confirmed by both Weiss (1897:167-169) and Bultmann (1910). Lund, however, argued to the contrary. According to him, the writings of especially an early theologian like Paul were the 'earliest literary deposit of the Christian tradition' (Lund 1942:139). He added that Paul was a learned man, being educated as a Greek and he had Hebrew training as well (cf. also Fetler 2005:231). In his writings Paul makes use of different artistic (rhetoric) methods to convey his message, especially in the very rich passage of Romans 10:5-13.1

In Romans 10:9-10, as part of the pericope that spans from Romans 9:30-10:21 (cf. Bechtler 1994:290), Paul utilises a chiasm to emphasise the point he wants to make (cf. Edwards 1992:254). This chiasm will be investigated within the context of the sub-pericope and also within the context of the letter to the Romans. This article will attempt to stay true to the words of Hart (1999): 'We must honestly and directly face Paul's assertion as it is, rather than adjust it to meet our preconceptions.'

If Matlock (2010:79) is correct by saying that 'this text [referring to Rm 10:11 within its context and more specifically to the πίστις Χριστοῦ debate] has not received the attention it merits', it is time to take a new look at the mentioned sub-pericope. If one example may suffice to prove his point, it is MacArthur (1994:34) who had the viewpoint that Romans 10:9-10, depicting the Lordship of Jesus Christ, is one of the 'two clearest statements on the way of salvation in all of Scripture'. He then hardly elaborates on this statement as though in itself it 'says it all'.

 

The chiasm defined

Talbert (1974:67-70) argued that the chiasm was commonly utilised in the literature of ancient Semitic civilisations. Man (1984:146) supported this idea by pointing out that the chiasm 'infused the thought and speech patterns of the Semitic mind, and in this manner found its way into the Old Testament and then into the New Testament'. Lund (1942:35) dated the use of the chiasm as rhetoric device back to the ancient Greek and Roman civilisations and demonstrated that it was the Greeks who made this an essential part of (the art of) oration. According to Lund, the first person to have 'grasped the significance of chiastic forms', especially in the New Testament, although in a somewhat wider sense than it is understood today, was Bengel in [1858] 1742. Lund (1942) defined the chiasm as follows:

According to its Greek origin the term designates a literary figure, or principle, which consists of 'a placing crosswise' of words in a sentence. The term is used in rhetoric to designate an inversion of the order of words or phrases which are repeated or subsequently referred to in the sentence. (p. 31)

Gibbs (2013) supplied three criteria for a chiasm:

  • Parallel members (A & A', B & B', etc.) will have in common subject matter, significant vocabulary and/or phrases.
  • At least in Paul's letters the centre will be tightly parallel, phrase for phrase.
  • The centre will be the main point.

 

The close relationship between Romans 1:16-17, 3:21-31 and 9:30-10:17

The close relationship between the two sub-pericopes of Romans 1:16-17 and 3:21-31 (as part of the bigger pericope of Romans 3:21-5:11) is noted by many scholars (such as Campbell 2005:190-191; Dunn 1988b:163, 183; Dunson 2011:23-29; Haacker 2003:121; Heliso 2007:2; Käsemann 1973:20; Moo 1996:67; Powers 2001:91; Schmithals 1988:124, Stuhlmacher 1989:55; Watson 2004:40-76; Wright 2002:426). The argumentation of both these passages is flowing directly into Romans 9:30-10:21.

The strong connection between Romans 1:16-17, 3:21-5:2(11) and 9:30-10:21 (cf. Kirk 2008:162) is articulated by Dunson:

[I]t is ... the reintroduction and significant amplification of Paul's faith-law antithesis in 9.30-10.21 - with special reference to Israel's response to the gospel - that demands that the interpreter reads 1.16-17, 3.21-5.2 and 9.30-10.21 together as the progressive unfolding of Paul's argument for righteousness by faith. It is in the latter of these sections that we find Paul's most expansive discussion of faith as it is related to righteousness. (Dunson 2011:29)

Seifrid's words are even more significant to this passage as he stated that Romans 10:1-13 is 'hermeneutically the most significant [passage] of the entire letter' (Seifrid 2007:652), because it expands Paul's earlier arguments about the distinction between the Law and faith.

The three concepts that are dominant in these passages are πίστις/πιστεύω, σωτηρία/σώζω) and δικαιοσύνη. These terms are discussed within the three mentioned contexts. It certainly looks as if Romans 9:30-10:21 provides the hermeneutical key to the book of Romans and especially to the discussion of the three concepts. Already in 1971 Bultmann had the view that the concept of πίστις; is on the 'very centre' of Paul's theology (Bultmann 1971:217; cf. also Schliesser 2007:7-78, who did a detailed survey of 19th- and 20th-century scholars on the concept of faith in Paul's writings). Dunson (2011:29) stated that 'a careful analysis of the dynamics of faith in [Romans] 9.30-10.17 is critical for understanding Paul's overarching conception of faith in Romans': It is announced programmatically in Romans 1:16-17, then expanded upon in Romans 3:20-5:11 and lastly detailed and elaborated on in Romans 9:30-10:21 (cf. Dunson 2011:34).

 

Romans 1:16-172

'In line with Paul's standard letter-writing practice the opening of Romans contains many of the major themes that will be developed later in the letter' (Dunson 2011:34; cf. also Byrskog 1997:40; Elliott 1990:69; Jervis 1991:42). Romans 1:16-17, being the two 'thematic verses' for the letter (Hart 1999; cf. Dunn 1988a:36, 46; Guthrie 1970:415; Moo 1996:6465), serves as Paul's central statement for the meaning and function of πίστις in the Letter as a whole. Taking note of the fact that the phrase ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν contains a lack of information and explication (Dunn 1988a:178; cf. also Bartsch 1968:45; Dunson 2011:24), Paul uses his entire letter to treat and substantially elaborate on that phrase and specifically on πίστις. In fact, ἐκ πίστεως; in Romans 1:17 (cited from Hab. 2.4) 'serves as the glue which holds Paul's entire discourse of law, faith and righteousness together in Romans (and Galatians)' (Dunson 2011:33). According to Dunson (2011:24), the two terms πίστις; and δικαιοσύνη form a Law-faith antithesis. This antithesis is applied to the fact that Israel failed to believe in Jesus - as is indicated in Romans 9 and 10.

In Romans 1:16-17 Paul sets a sequence that appears again in Romans 3:21-5:11 and 9:30-10:21: Mankind's faith leads to salvation/righteousness.

Romans 3:21-31

In Romans 3:20 Paul introduces the phrase ἐξ ἔργων νόμου repeating it in verse 27 with νόμου... τῶν ἔργων, referring to the works of the Law and contrasting it with νόμου πίστεως in the same verse. In verse 28 Paul remarks: λογιζόμεθα γὰρ δικαιοῦσθαι πίστει ἄνθρωπον χωρὶς ἔργων νόμου [For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the Law].3

Paul elaborates on the link between πίστις; and δικαιοσύνη (found in Rm 1:16-17) by clearly stating here that God's δικαιοσύνη has no connection to the ἔργων νόμου. In verse 22 he elaborates on this: δικαιοσύνη δὲ θεοῦ διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ [The righteousness of God is given through faith in Jesus Christ]. This statement expands the compressed phrase ἐκ πίστεως of Romans 1:17 (cf. Watson 2004:71-76).

Romans 9:30-10:21

Paul picks up his argument about πίστις and ἔργα (with which he concludes the pericope of Rm 3:21-5:11) in Romans 9:30 and again concludes the sub-pericope ending in Romans 10:4 with it. He then reaffirms the hermeneutical basis of the argument in verses 5-8 (cf. Dunson 2011:28) as part of the new sub-pericope. In the passage of Romans 10:5-8 Paul does the following:

  • In verse 5 he utilises Scripture to refer in a negative way to τὴν δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐκ νόμου, taking up his words in Romans 3:10-21 where he spoke about the negative relation between the νόμος and mankind.
  • In verses 6-8 we find a 'testimony of Scripture to bear on the incommensurability of law and faith with regard to the reception of righteousness' (Dunson 2011:28), referring back to Romans 1:17 where Paul employs 'Scripture to speak of the faith-righteousness connection only in positive terms' (Dunson 2011:28).

The phrase ἐκ πίστεως, occurring in Romans 1:17 and employed again in Romans 3:26, 30, 4:16 and 5:1, is also employed in Romans 10:6 where Paul once more uses the faith-Law antithesis.

In verse 11 Paul uses the verb καταισχύνω, linking this passage back to Romans 1:16 where he uses the verb ἐπαισχύνομαι (both as references to Is 28:16 LXX). In Romans 1:16 Paul declares that the gospel is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes and in verses 9-10 he explicates how one should believe (cf. Matlock 2010:80). Jewett (2007:138) concluded on this that Paul is not ashamed of the gospel because it in fact is the 'power of God to remove human shame in all of its forms'.

The 'direct association' (Dunson 2011:28) we find in Romans 10:9-10 (also v. 13) between faith and salvation originates from Romans 1:16, but is elaborated on here (cf. Eckstein 1988:217). The expression in Romans 10:9 that God raised Jesus from the dead, reaches back to Romans 4:24 where Paul said that 'God will credit righteousness - for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead'.4,5

In Romans 10:1, being part of the pericope of Romans 9:3010:21, Paul declares his desire for the σωτηρία of Israel. This links to Romans 1:16 (cf. Dunn 1988b:586). Dillow (1992:123) alleged that this is not a reference to the ultimate salvation of Israel, but 'the fulfilment of the promise to Israel that she would one day be restored to Palestine' (cf. also Palmer 1975:126).

As is clear from Romans 10:2-3, the Jews had a zeal for God (... ὅτι ζῆλον θεοῦ ἔχουσιν - Barrett [1991:183] called it an 'enthusiasm'), but their zeal was misdirected according to Paul. From the Old Testament we learn that the Jews had to keep the Law that God gave to Moses (cf. Ex 20 or Dt 5). This was the reason why the Jews in Paul's time still thought that they could be justified through (by keeping only) the Law (cf. Schelkle 1964:165). Paul wants to redirect their zeal to find a righteousness that is by faith from first to last (ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν - Rm 1:17). The mistake that the Jews made was to transform the 'law that was intended for their sanctification into the means of their justification' (Hart 1999; cf. also Schelkle 1964:165). They thought that by doing the Law, they would become justified before God and therefore be saved (cf. Hart 1999): Romans 10:5 ( ποιήσας αὐτὰ ἄνθρωπος ζήσεται ἐν αὐτοῖς) refers to living according to the Law to gain righteousness and be saved. Paul has already corrected that view in Romans 1:17: ' δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται6 [The righteous will live by faith]. In Romans 4 Paul supplies the reason for this in a quite elaborative way by referring to Abraham who first believed in God before he acted according to God's will (cf. Kaiser 1971:20-28).

 

The text of the sub-pericope Romans 10:5-13 (with vv. 14-15 added)7

The structure

The structure of Romans 10:5-13 (with vv. 14-15 included) is given (Figure 1), with the strong chiasmus in verses 9-10 emphasised.

A structured translation of Romans 10:5-13 (vv. 14-15)8

With the exception of verse 12 (which actually is just a repetition and elaboration of a part of Rm 1:16) in the sub-pericope of Romans 10:5-13, only the words in verses 9-10 are Paul's own words derived from the Scriptures he quotes around these words. It leaves the impression that, besides the use of the (double) chiasm, Paul has encased these words with Scriptures so as to highlight it more or to give it more prominence (Table 1).

Paul's use of Old Testament citations

As shown under the previous sub-heading, Paul makes ample use of Old Testament citations in this sub-pericope. After he has cited Leviticus and Habakkuk, he cites Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (Table 2).

Although Paul quotes directly from Deuteronomy in this passage, he changes/'edits' significant words to fit the quotation into his argument (Ito 2006:252). Whereas Moses was referring to the Law (Dt 30:11), Paul changes that to 'the righteousness that is by faith' (Rm 10:6a). This puts his argument on track, for he is in fact in a polemic with the Law in this letter. The 'sea' of Deuteronomy 30:13 is changed to the 'deep (abyss)' (Rm 10:7) that would better refer to bringing Christ from the dead. Three times Moses used the words 'so we/you may obey it', thereby making it clear that the Law should be obeyed.9 Paul does not cite these words, but implicates them in his own context. The partial citation of a passage, joined by an interpretation of the words (as Paul does it here) 'was a common Jewish approach to the exposition of an OT text' (Hart 1999; cf. Dunn 1988b:603; Kruse 2012:408).

This citation of Deuteronomy 30 is taken from a prophetic part of Deuteronomy where Moses prophesied about the future restoration of Israel (cf. Ito 2006:251). In verse 11 Paul cites the prophetic words of Isaiah 28:16. The words in verse 13 are a citation from a prophecy by Joel 2:32 (as part of Jl 2:28-32).10 Paul uses these words only one more time, in 1 Corinthians 1:2, where he classifies those who call on the Name of Jesus together with the 'church of God in Corinth' and 'those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people'. In this passage he is referring to Christians in general.

From these references it becomes clear that Paul is focusing on prophetic passages from the Old Testament in this sub-pericope. In the words of Ito (2006:251), '[i]t seems that Paul has deliberately collected the relevant "prophecies" to explain the situation of Israel concerning the gospel'. With reference to scholars like Sandnes (1991:154-171), Evans (1999:115-128) and Wagner (2002:170-176, 178-180, 356359), Ito (2006:251) then concluded about this action of Paul: 'This corresponds well to his "self-portrait" as an "apostle of Gentiles" ([Romans] 11:13): he models himself after the figure of Isaiah, a prophet or herald.' Though the first part of Ito's quotation is good, the last part is doubtful. Although Acts 13:1 refers to Paul as a prophet and a teacher at Antioch, in his letters to the Corinthians, Romans and Galatians Paul claims the title of apostle for himself. Though the actions and lifestyle of the apostle seem to be 'identical to those of the prophet as presented in Acts or in the classical prophetic works' (McGinn 2000), the title of apostle, even herald or messenger, will be applied to Paul in this article as this was the way in which he presented himself. The primary function of a prophet was to proclaim the Word of God. Paul, being an apostle of Jesus, would understand that very well.

In Romans 10:14-15 Paul elaborates on verse 13 (citing a part of Is 52:7), emphasising his calling as an apostle, bringing the message orally: How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'

Discussion of Romans 10:5-13

In verses 5-10 Paul describes the means of God's salvation, contrasting verse 5 (righteousness according to the Law) with verses 6-10 (righteousness according to faith).11 Paul uses the noun πίστις twice (vv. 6 & 8), while the verb πιστεύω occurs three times (vv. 9, 10 & 11). Verse 6 shows that ἐκ πίστεως δικαιοσύνη is in sharp contrast to τὴν δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐκ νόμου of verse 5. This contrast is set in the form of a stark a-b-b-a chiasm in verses 5a and 6a:

Verse 5a: τὴν δικαιοσύνην (a) τὴν ἐκ νόμο (b)

Verse 6a: δὲ ἐκ πίστεως (b) δικαιοσύνη (a)

These two verses are depicting two 'kinds' of δικαιοσύνη:

  • Verse 5 depicts the 'old' (Jewish) δικαιοσύνη, which is ἐκ νόμου and attached to Moses. It characterises the behaviour of a person who lives according to the righteousness [works] of the νόμος; The person who does these things will live by them.
  • Verse 6a brings the new δικαιοσύνη which is ἐκ πίστεως; to the fore.12

From verse 6b to verse 10, the behaviour of a person who lives according to the righteousness (works) of πίστις is described. Before stating how ἐκ πίστεως δικαιοσύνη is operating (positively), Paul first excludes two ways in which people could refer to righteousness (therefore negatively):

  • Verse 6b-7 - in a negative way: That person will not act according to the righteousness of the νόμος (referring to v. 5) by attempting to go:

Verse 6b: εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν to bring Jesus to earth

Verse 7a: εἰς τὴν ἄβυσσον to bring Jesus back to earth.

  • Verse 8-10 - in a positive way: These verses clarify what this person will do to be saved. That which the righteousness (works) of the vó|o; failed to accomplish, was in fact already done by God himself (Palmer 1975:127):

Verse 9a: God has sent Jesus to earth: Therefore a person confesses that he is Jesus.

Verse 9b: God brought Jesus back to earth: Therefore a person confesses that God has raised him from the dead.

This is the reason why Paul professes in verse 8 that the ῥῆμα (the spoken word) is close to his hearers - God has brought the ῥῆμα close to them through Jesus (cf. Bechtler 1994:303): The ῥῆμα τῆς πίστεως is near you, it is in your mouth and in your heart.13 This ῥῆμα is specified to be τὸ ῥῆμα τῆς πίστεως κηρύσσομεν (the message concerning faith that we proclaim - Rm 10:8). The 'remote' ῥῆμα suddenly became very near to Israel. This ῥῆμα τῆς πίστεως κηρύσσομεν is expanded with a double chiasm structured around a centre-piece in verses 9-10 (cf. Ito 2006:250) (Figure 2).

 

 

The first chiasm is found in the structure A-B-C-B-A, with C as the centre-piece. The second chiasm (without a centrepiece) is found in the sub-sections of the mentioned block letters: 1-2 and in verse 9 are chiastically linked to 4-3 and 2-1 in verse 10. With this solid structure Paul wants to claim that the salvation (C) of a person is available to her or him in a certain way. The way in which Paul proclaims it is charted quite clearly:

A: A person confesses with the mouth

B: A person believes with the heart

B: With the heart a person believes

A: With the mouth a person confesses

This double chiasm serves to emphasise the way in which salvation is taking place, and is used to strengthen the message by putting it in this rhetoric form. This looks all set:

Confess14 and believe (or is it actually believe and confess?) and you will be saved! Paul explicates in verse 10 what the results are of these actions:15

  • If a person believes in her or his heart, the result will be righteousness.
  • If a person confesses with her or his mouth, the result will be salvation.

Looking at this structure, one can conclude that the content of the ῥῆμα τῆς πίστεως consists of two actions: A confession with the mouth - that Jesus is Lord (Rm 10:9), and faith in one's heart - that God raised him from the dead (Rm 10:9). The 'outcome of this dual action is that one will be saved (σωθήσῃ)' (Dunson 2011:31-32). Romans 10:10 'amplifies' (Dunson 2011:32), or rather, elaborates on the words of Deuteronomy 30:14 by saying that:

  • righteousness (δικαιοσύνην) is the result when one believes (πιστεύεται) from the heart, and
  • salvation (σωτηρίαν) is the result when one confesses (ὁμολογεῖται) with the mouth.16

In this sub-pericope Paul explicates the 'precise nature of faith as it functions in antithesis to the law regarding the attainment of righteousness' (Dunson 2011:30). Paul therefore contrasts righteousness gained through keeping the Law with righteousness gained through the act of Christ. In verse 5 Paul claims that τὴν δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐκ νόμου is only built on the principle of eschatological life for those who obey the Torah and act accordingly. Israel failed to do just that, because, according to Paul, they did not pursue it ἐκ πίστεως (v. 6).

In Romans 1 Paul connects δίκαιος, and πίστις as in Romans 10:10: δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται [the righteous person will live by faith]. Thus, apparently only one part of the chiasm in Romans 10:9-10 is mentioned here. However, this is only the one half of the truth: In Romans 10:6 Paul states that δὲ ἐκ πίστεως δικαιοσύνη [the righteousness that is by faith] affirms the words in that chiasm. In Romans 1:17 Paul states that the righteous will live by faith, and in Romans 10:9-10 he explicates how the righteous will live by faith. So, in fact, the whole chiasm is summed up in Romans 1:16-17. Maybe that is part of the reason why Romans 1:16-17 is called the heart of the letter.

With the four statements to follow (v. 11-13), each introduced by yáp and each supporting the previous statement, Paul asserts the universality of God's salvation, with words or phrases such as πᾶς, (vv. 11 & 13) and κύριος πάντων (v. 12) (cf. Bechtler 1994:306). Verse 13, which should serve as a conclusion to this passage, in fact offers something 'new': Πᾶς γὰρ ὃς ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου σωθήσεται [Everyone who calls on17 the Name of the Lord will be saved]. Two 'solutions' can be given here:

  • ἐπικαλέω could serve as a summary of πιστεύω and ὁμολογέω. That implies that 'to believe' and 'to confess' actually means that you are 'calling upon God's Name'. There is no evidence in the context for this postulation.
  • ἐπικαλέω could serve together with κηρύσσω and ὁμολογέω as an extension of the ῥῆμα τῆς πίστεως (v. 8). This will be discussed later on.

Hart (1999) alleged that, because Paul implements salvation as a result in both Romans 10:10b and 13 (in v. 10b he uses the noun σωτηρία, whilst in v. 13 he uses the verb form σωθήσεται), that there should be a resemblance between the two phrases and with the mouth she or he confesses (resulting in salvation) and everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord (resulting in salvation). According to Hart (1999), σωτηρία in this passage applies to people who are already justified believers. Following Hodges (1989:198), he linked verses 9-10 to verse 13, stating that the confession one makes by confessing that Jesus is Lord, equals the act to call on the Name of the Lord in public prayer (cf. also Kruse 2012:410). His conclusion is that, when one is calling on the Name of the Lord, then that person is 'confessing Christ's Lordship' (Hart 1999). This may be true, but if it really is Paul's intent to use verse 13 as a conclusion to the sub-pericope and specifically to the chiasm/s, why does he only mention the 'confess'-part of the pericope and not the 'believe'-part? This will will be reflected on in this article.

The function of the chiasm

As verses 9 and 10 are bundled within the structure of a chiasm, the question may be asked why Paul is using this rhetoric tool here. What does he want to convey to his audience? Does it imply that a person is obligated to perform both actions - confess and believe - in order to be saved, or is one of the two actions enough to be saved?18 This sounds like a question with an easy answer if one only reads verses 9 and 10: A person is obligated to perform both actions. However, because of the obvious inter-connectedness between Romans 1:16-17, 3:21-30 (within the context of 3:21-5:2) and Romans 10:5-13 (within the context of 9:30-10:21) (cf. Dunson 2011:22), and especially the verses of Romans 10:9-10 and 13, the answer obviously tends to get difficult. The next two possibilities can therefore be put forward, with the question if this will lead to an answer to the hermeneutics of these verses:

1. Are these two statements consecutive? The implication is that if you only believe, you are not totally saved; you first need to confess before you will be saved: There are numerous scholars who have the conviction that salvation can only be completed if one publicly confesses Christ as Saviour and Lord. The implication is that 'believing in the heart' is insufficient for one to receive salvation. Hodge (1947:341, 343) had the view that one cannot only believe in secret, but must openly confess. Sanday and Headlam (1902:290) also regard confession and faith as two actions for salvation: There must be an outward confession coupled with an inward faith/belief (cf. also Barclay 1975:139). Boice (1993:1209) illustrated it as follows: 'This second part goes with the first, so that (in one sense) it is as necessary to confess Christ as Lord and Savior as it is to believe in him.' Godet (1956:383) referred to faith and confession as the 'two conditions of salvation'.

Something that could support this possibility comes from quite another angle. In Romans 10:10 (as the second part of the chiasm) Paul makes two statements and these statements end in respectively δικαιοσύνη and σωτηρία. Then he continues in verse 13: Πᾶς γὰρ ὃς ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου σωθήσεται. σωθήσεται is the future form of the verb, indicating that this is something yet to come (cf. Hart 1999). It looks as if Paul 'confirms' this viewpoint in Romans 13:11 when he says: ... νῦν γὰρ ἐγγύτερον ἡμῶν σωτηρία ὅτε ἐπιστεύσαμεν (... because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed). Verse 10 could then be interpreted as follows:

Action: A person believes

Result: δικαιοσύνη

When?: He or she has already received δικαιοσύνη.

Action: A person confesses

Result: σωτηρία

When?: He or she has not yet received σωτηρία.

The implication is that a person receives δικαιοσύνη before receiving σωτηρία. This could then imply that Paul is referring to two consecutive actions (and resulting 'gifts') in Romans 10:10: When one believes, she or he receives δικαιοσύνη, followed by σωτηρία when one confesses. The pericope, however, does not seem to support this possibility, as Paul is rather informing his listeners about what the consequences of their actions are.

2. The second possibility can be divided into two parts, but they are so close to each other that they will be discussed simultaneously:

  • Is Paul stating the same thing just in two different ways? 'Confess' (resulting in salvation) and 'believe' (resulting in righteousness) are therefore used synonymously in this passage.
  • Does this chiasm point to two actions that comprise each other - is it actually one action consisting of two parts?

Scholars who are supporting the first viewpoint have the conviction that if someone 'believes in Christ, he is at the same moment confessing that Jesus is his Saviour and Lord. To believe in Christ is to confess Christ' (Hart 1999). Ironside (1928:131) thought that Paul's words differ from those of Jesus: As Jesus wanted his followers to openly confess him before others (Mt 10:32; Lk 12:8), Paul has the 'soul's confession to God Himself' in mind. Nygren (1949:383) postulated: 'To confess Christ as Lord and to believe in his resurrection are not two different things; they are basically one and the same.' Moo (1996:657) concurred with Nygren, advocating that Paul's rhetorical purpose in this passage is not to give great significance to confession, 'as if Paul were making oral confession a second requirement for salvation'; faith in the heart is actually the crucial requirement (cf. Rm 9:30; 10:4, 11).

According to Aho (1981:308), faith and confession are two sides of the same coin and these two sides form the basis for one's salvation. For him it is a given that faith in the heart always speaks out in confession: 'Our heart believing unto righteousness and our mouth making confession unto salvation are two sides of the same thing' (Aho 1981:308). Kruse (2012:410) also alleged: 'These are not separate activities but two aspects of the one expression of faith in Jesus as Lord.'

Ito, Dunn and Johnson had the same conviction, but from another angle: According to them, there is (also) a close parallel structure between verses 9 and 10, making it 'plain that believing in one's heart and confessing with one's mouth are not two separate actions. They may be distinct, but not unrelated actions. They are the two aspects of the saving faith, two sides of one coin' (Ito 2006:250; cf. Dunn 1988b:609; Johnson 1974:151). However, nothing inside the text of verses 9-10 is indicating that the phrases forming part of the chiasm are also in a parallel structure. If there was an indication for a parallel structure (as proposed by Ito 2006:250), then the two statements would mean the same (cf. Godet 1956:383). Instead, Paul clearly states that the 'heart' is the location of faith, while the 'mouth' is the location of confession. If then the heart and the mouth are to be distinguished, the implication is that faith and confession are also distinguished here (cf. Hart 1999).

Scholars like Murray (1968:55-57), Shedd (1978:318-319) and Schreiner (1998:609) are advocating the second viewpoint, explaining that faith in the heart will eventually become a confession; it will eventually reach the lips. The sub-pericope, as well as the bigger pericope, however, does not give evidence to this view. This could be a deduction made on the grounds of faith and not on the words of the text. According to verse 10c, confession is actually not the result of salvation. The contrary, however, is true: Salvation is the result of confession (cf. also Hodges 1989:197).

In this chiasm Paul seems to present two conditions - faith and confession - for salvation in Romans 10:9-10. The 'confession' part, however, does not seem to be a private confession or a soul's confession to God. According to Danker ([1957] 2000:708), the Greek term ὁμολογέω used in Romans 10:9 depicts a 'profession of allegiance ordinarily in public'. Louw and Nida (1989:§33.221, 274, 275), as well as Dunn (1988b:607), Sanday and Headlam (1902:290), Moo (1996:657) and Schreiner (1998:607) have the same conviction. The New Testament, however, does not supply answers in this concern with parallel or similar passages. The phrase ἐὰν ὁμολογήσῃς (ἐν τῷ στόματί σου) κύριον Ἰησοῦν [If you confess (with your mouth) Jesus as Lord] is only used once in connection with gaining eternal life (Mt 10:32; Lk 12:8; cf. Carson 1984:490; Hagner 1993:289),19 and those were the direct words of Jesus. This is therefore the only occasion that Paul uses these words as a condition for gaining eternal life.20

A prophetic context within Romans (?)

Up to this point we tried to indicate that the (double) chiasm in Romans 10:9-10 has an existential importance in Paul's letter to the Romans, especially because it is encased within Old Testament citations. The clear conviction is that these verses contain a very significant message within this Letter.

Because this is such an essential pronouncement made by Paul, one of the first reactions would be to look at all the other passages where he also mentions this in order to confirm or explain his words in this passage better. However, when read within the context of this sub-pericope as well as Paul's letter to the Romans (and even all his Epistles), we discover that verses 9-10 actually serve as a sort of a Hapax Legomenon,21as this is the only passage in which Paul combines 'confession' and 'faith' in order to receive salvation. Verse 13 - which ought to serve as the conclusion to this sub-pericope - is also 'strange', as Paul seemingly puts another new item on the table: Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved (Rm 10:13). In fact, the closest we can get to the words of verse 13 in the entire New Testament, are the direct words of Jesus in Matthew 10:32 (cf. Lk 12:8).

The fact that Paul is serious about combining 'confession' and 'faith' in order to receive salvation is beyond any doubt. The question may be asked why Paul, in so many passages, refers to 'faith' as the only 'prerequisite' for salvation (cf. Hodges 1989:107), but in this passage he adds something 'new' - even on two occasions: in verses 9-10 and verse 13. This calls for a thorough investigation of this chiasm within the sub-pericope in order to let the pericope lead us to a possible answer. This takes us to Figure 3.

Only verses 8-13 are part of the diagram. The reason is that verses 5-7 depict the negative part of the sub-pericope, already discussed. The links Paul creates in this sub-pericope are multi-functional. The positive part of this sub-pericope starts at verse 8. Paul introduces verse 8a with λέγει to immediately create the scenario of 'something-being-said' and complements it with ῥῆμα (the spoken word). This forms part of the prophetic milieu in which he sets the following few verses. Because Paul considers himself to be an 'authoritative proclaimer of the gospel' (Ito 2006:252) he 'therefore shows preference for orality'. It seems as if Paul is emphasising the orality of the gospel he proclaims (cf. Ito 2006:248): In contrast to verse 5 where Paul refers to the Old Testament writings with the term γράφει, in verse 6 he uses the term λέγει referring to the gospel (cf. also Schlatter 1991:312-313). The term λέγει is repeated in verses 10 and 11. The subject of λέγει is ἐκ πίστεως δικαιοσύνη (v. 6a). With the terms πίστις and δικαιοσύνη he links back to the mentioned pericopes of Romans 1 and 3, but also creates the setting for verse 10 where these two terms will be mentioned again.

The thrust for verses 9-10 is already initiated in verse 8b, where Paul mentions that the ῥῆμα is ἐν τῷ στόματί σου (A) and ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου (B). He then elaborates on the ῥῆμα in verse 8b by saying that this is τὸ ῥῆμα τῆς πίστεως κηρύσσομεν. Verse 8b forms in fact a (small internal) chiasm with the words in brackets and with ῥῆμα almost in the middle of it:

  • A (στόματι)
  • B (καρδίᾳ)
  • B (πίστεως)
  • A (κηρύσσομεν)

In verse 8b we find the combination of the two terms στόματι and καρδίᾳ for the first time in this sub-pericope -terms which he utilises (even in the same case form: dative singular) in the next two verses. The 1-2-3-4 and 4-3-21 combinations of verses 9 and 10 are therefore already present in verse 8 as a 2-4-3-1 combination. The only one of these four terms Paul uses here that is not repeated in the following verses - but it is replaced (with a purpose) with similar verbs - is κηρύσσομεν. That is why these verbs will be referred to as 'something-being-said'. Here, then, Paul lays the foundation for the pairs στόματι -'something-being-said', and καρδίᾳ-'faith'.

Verses 9 and 10 as the centre of this sub-pericope elaborate on the chiasm of verse 8b, where Paul again links the pairs στόματι-'something-being-said', and καρδίᾳ-'faith'. In verse 9 he indicates what the relation is between the pairs separately:

  • you confess ('something-being-said') with your mouth (Jesus as Lord)
  • you believe ('faith') in your heart (that God raised him from the dead).

In this verse Paul replaces the verb form κηρύσσομεν with ὁμολογήσῃς. Here he takes the two pairs of words and gives content to these combinations by explaining what each pair does (should do) in the form of a condition:

  • If 'something-being-said'-στόματι -> Jesus as Lord.
  • If 'faith'-καρδίᾳ ->God raised him from the dead.

The outcome of these two conditions is the same as in Romans 1:16: Paul uses the noun (σωτηρίαν) in Romans 1:16, whilst in verse 9 he utilises the verb form σωθήσῃ as centrepiece of the chiasm. However, within this prophetic context Paul adds 'something-being-said' (in this case ὁμολογήσῃς) to the 'faith' of Romans 1.

There is, however, not a full stop after σωθήσῃ, but a colon, which means that what has already been said, will be elaborated on in the next sentence/s. Very important: The elaboration now is not (again) on στόματι and καρδίᾳ as in the first part, but on σωθήσῃ. Paul, however, utilises these two terms again in verse 10 when he elaborates on σωθήσῃ to form the second part of the chiasm which is in the form of a statement and an inner-chiasm with the previous two conditions:

  • For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and
  • with the mouth he or she confesses, resulting in salvation.

Put in the context of prophecy, Paul here announces what the result is when a person does these two pairs of actions:

  • καρδίᾳ - 'faith' -> (resulting in) δικαιοσύνην
  • στόματι - 'something-being-said -> (resulting in) σωτηρίαν.

In this case Paul uses the verb form ὁμολογεῖται when referring to something-being-said (the same verb as v. 9). Although this is a chiasm, the interesting note to make is that the first part and the second part of the chiasm do not refer to the same case or thought:

  • The first part elaborates on verse 8 and utilises the central terms of verse 8a (στόματι and καρδίᾳ).
  • The second part of the chiasm elaborates on the first part of the chiasm and more specifically on the centre-piece, σωθήσῃ, also utilising the terms στόματι and καρδίᾳ.22

Very important within this prophetic context is the fact that the στόματι-'something-being-said' in verse 10b and not the καρδίᾳ-'faith' now results in σωτηρίαν. This is in total contrast to Paul's whole 'gospel' and theology, but it fits well within this prophetic context. With these two terms Paul links back to verse 8a where he began to tell his audience what ἐκ πίστεως δικαιοσύνη (cf. v. 6) is saying (λέγει). The two pairs are therefore fully linked to the three main concepts in the letter - πίστις, σωτηρία and δικαιοσύνη.

Verses 11 and 12 have a very close link to Romans 1:16-17 (especially v. 16), taking up the two main ideas of that passage:

  • No shame for a believer.
  • Faith is for everyone.

However, in these two verses Paul once again adds 'something-being-said' to 'faith', something which does not originate from Romans 1:16-17, but fits well inside this prophetic context. This time the 'something-being-said' is expressed by the verb form ἐπικαλουμένους. This is the third verb Paul is utilising for 'something-being-said'.

Then, as if with a crescendo, Paul confirms in verse 13 what he has said in verse 9: It is the 'something-being-said' (in this case a repetition of the verb he has just utilised in verse 12) that results in acxrpíav. In this verse he uses the verb form ac9fasxai, which is the same form as he used in verse 9 (future passive) - the only difference is that this is the third person singular and not the second person singular as in verse 9.

To summarise the setting of prophecy: Paul uses Old Testament citations originating from prophetic parts of the Old Testament in which he encases a chiasm filled with his own words. He is focused on the spoken word (pf|a - v. 8). That is why Paul utilises the term λέγει (vv. 6, 8 & 11) in this sub-pericope. Although he always only links πίστις to σωτηρία, in this passage he adds the spoken word - 'something-being-said' by using three different verbs (of which he links ὁμολογεῖται in v. 10 directly to acoxrpia), which form part of his role as herald of God:

  • Verse 8: κηρύσσομεν (proclaim)
  • Verse 9/10: ὁμολογήσῃς/ὁμολογεῖται (confess)
  • Verse 12/13: ἐπικαλουμένους/ἐπικαλέσηται (call on)

It also looks as if Paul utilises these terms in a specific sequence. This is confirmed by verse 14 (with v. 15 added to it) where the role of the messenger (the one who brings the Good News, cf. v 15) is indicated (citing a part of Is 52:7) and where Paul uses these terms in reverse order:

  • How, then, can they call on (ἐπικαλέσωνται) the one they have not believed in?
  • And how can they believe in (πιστεύσωσιν) the one of whom they have not heard?
  • And how can they hear without someone preaching (κηρύσσοντος) to them?

Interestingly Paul uses the same terms in verse 14 as he used in the previous sub-pericope, with the one exception: He does not utilise the verb ὁμολογέω of verses 9 and 10 (the latter one being directly linked to σωτηρίαν), but he reverts to what his Theology always professes: 'Believe':

  • Verse 8: κηρύσσομεν -> κηρύσσοντος(v. 14c)
  • Verse 9/10: ὁμολογήσῃς/ὁμολογεῖται -> πιστεύσωσιν(v. 14b)
  • Verse 12/13: ἐπικαλουμένους/ἐπικαλέσηται -> ἐπικαλέσ ωνται (v. 14a)

It therefore looks as if Paul creates the link between the two parts of the chiasm by the setting of prophecy within this sub-pericope:

  • Verse 8a: Prophetic citation from the Old Testament (utilising στόματι and καρδίᾳ) together with the two words λέγει and ῥῆμα.
  • Verse 9-10: Paul's own words (elaborating on στόματι and καρδίᾳ, with σωθήσῃ as the centre-piece) linking both 'something-being-said' and 'faith' to σωθήσῃ.
  • Verse 11: Citation from an Old Testament prophecy (with πιστεύων) and linking to Romans 1:16.
  • Verse 12: A further link to Romans 1:16 (depicting that everybody is equal before God).
  • Verse 13: Prophetic citation from the Old Testament (with 'something-being-said' linked to σωθήσεται).

 

Conclusion

Today many Christians have the conviction that it is enough to just say 'I believe', because they believe that this is what the New Testament, and especially Paul, requires from a person to receive salvation. When reading the New Testament, this is actually true - with Romans 10:5-13 as the odd exception. In the light of Romans 10:5-13, the existential question will always be, 'Is it enough to just believe (in my heart) or is the implication of confession/witnessing ("something-being-said") part and parcel of the epistemology of my belief system?'

In this article quite a few options have been explored and discussed to arrive at a possible answer for the meaning of the chiasm in this sub-pericope:

  • The structure of Romans 10:5-13 has been discussed, showing the different elements inside the text, as well as the double chiasm and other chiasms.
  • The close relationship between three (sub-)pericopes has been explored to show how Paul's thoughts are developing from Romans 1:16-17 throughout the letter up to this very sub-pericope.
  • The concepts σωτηρία, πίστις and δικαιοσύνη were discussed within their contexts as they are keeping the three mentioned pericopes together.
  • The different possibilities of the meaning of the chiasm have been discussed.
  • The citations of the Old Testament have been explored within a prophetic context, indicating the role of God's messenger in it.

Although it is certain that the pericope of Romans 9:3010:21 is providing the 'hermeneutical key' to the book of Romans and specifically to the use of miaxic ('the very centre of Paul's theology') and δικαιοσύνη by Paul, the phrase sk miaxscc (Rm 1:17) 'serves as the glue which holds Paul's entire discourse of law, faith and righteousness together in Romans' (Dunson 2011:33), whilst his words in Romans 10:5-13 do not really form a clear symphony with the rest of his letter. The reason is that nowhere else does Paul put emphasis on 'something-being-said' as in this passage (read together with vv. 14 & 15).

As Paul's combination of 'something-being-said' and 'faith' in the sub-pericope of Romans 10:5-13 is quite unique, I believe that the outcome of this pericope is also unique within Paul's theology. As Paul clearly quotes from prophetic Old Testament passages and he refers to an apostle (someone who bring good news) in verses 14 and 15, it looks quite safe to make the conclusion that, at least in this passage, Paul gives ample emphasis to the prophetic act of a believer, stating that ἐκ πίστεως δικαιοσύνη λέγει that a person has to 'something-being-said' (v 8, 9, 10, 12, 13; cf. v. 14) in order to receive σωτηρίαν.

As has already been indicated, Paul's use of this (double) chiasm in a unique way as the two parts of the chiasm do not refer to the same thought, his reference to 'something-being-said' is just as unique. The answer (for me) in this pericope, with everything-being-said in this article, lies in Romans 10:14 (outside the sub-pericope, but part of the pericope Rm 9:30-10:21): If you do not enact your prophetic task to convey the Word of God to others ('first to the Jew, then to the Gentile'), how will they ever become part of God's olive tree (Rm 11:11ff.) as you are?

 

Acknowledgements

Competing interests

The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationships which may have inappropriately influenced him in writing this article.

 

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Correspondence:
Willem Oliver
PO Box 31235, Totiusdal 0134, South Africa
olivewh@unisa.ac.za

Received: 12 Mar. 2015
Accepted: 19 May 2015
Published: 28 Oct. 2015

 

 

This article was presented as a paper at the International Centre of Economics, Humanities and Management Conference in Dubai during January 2015.
1 Apart from the chiasm/s that Paul utilises as rhetoric tool, he also uses speech-in-character in Romans 1:18-32 and 10:6-8 (cf. Kruse 2012:407).
2 Cognisance is taken of the debate about the collectivity or individuality of míaxi; in this passage and in Romans as a whole. Scholars who are part of the debate are Dunson (2011), Jewett (2007), Campbell (2005), Hays ([1983] 2002), Burnett (2001), Sanders (1977), Käsemann (1973) and Stendahl (1963).
3 This could leave the impression that 'faith' is separated from works (
χωρὶς ἔργων), but here it is clearly stated that faith is separated from the works of the Law (χωρὶς ἔργων νόμου) and not from works as such.
4 Interestingly Paul connects the verb
πιστεύω on several occasions with the death and resurrection of Christ, for example in Roman 4:24b and 10.9, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 and 2 Corinthians 4:13-14 (cf. also Powers 2001:144).
5 Aho's (1981:308) postulation that the words in Isaiah 28:16 cited here (So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: 'See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic') are stipulating that 'the way of righteousness by faith is meant for all'. This could be a too subjective reading of the verse within this pericope.
6 Danker ([1957] 2000:424-425) classified the use of the verb
ζάω in both Rm 1:17 and 10:5 under the heading of 'to live in a transcendent sense, in the glory of the life to come, more specifically to have eternal life.' The indication is that Paul puts the term in both passages in the same semantic field.
7 The reason for this addition will become clear in the discussion later on.
8 All the translations used in this article originate from the NIV. The proposed translations of Newman and Nida (1973) were also taken in account.
9 Saying something thrice in the Biblical times (Old and New Testament) was confirming and emphasising the truth of it (cf. Derrett 1983:143).
10 In Acts 2:17-21 the apostle Peter quotes these words directly to indicate to the crowd that in the last days people will proclaim God's word.
11 According to the Greek-English Lexicon of Danker ([1957] 2000:247-249),
δικαιοσύνη in Romans 10:5 refers to uprightness (most probable a word with stronger meaning than righteousness or justification) as determined by legal standards, opposed to Romans 10:6 and 10 referring to uprightness by divine standards. The definition given in the heading reads, 'Quality or state of juridical correctness with focus on redemptive action, righteousness.' Hart (1999) defined δικαιοσύνη as 'to be declared as righteous as Christ is righteous.' Paul discusses this term in depth within the pericope of Romans 3:21-5:11.
12 According to Dunson (2011:33; cf. also Strobel 1961:189-190), the word that was preached by
ἐκ πίστεως δικαιοσύνη (explained in Rm 10:6-13) 'epitomises the function of faith and its foundational hermeneutical role in the letter'. He regarded it as the culmination of the variety of ways in which Paul has set righteousness ἐκ πίστεως; against righteousness ἐξ ἔργων νόμου in both Romans 3:20-5:2 and 9:30-10:5. It also illuminates the nature of the link that Paul has set between πίστις and δικαιοσύνη in Romans 1:17. That link shows that πίστις, as we find it in Romans 10:4 (παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι), then in Romans 10:9 (πιστεύσῃς) and 10:10 (πιστεύεται), is εἰς δικαιοσύνην (Rm 10:4).
13 According to Ridderbos (1959:237) the original meaning of these words was that someone spoke these words to his audience, so that they can repeat it as well as keep it in their heart.
14 According to some scholars the phrase
ἐὰν ὁμολογήσῃς ἐν τῷ στόματί σου κύριον Ἰησοῦν [If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord] in verse 9 could refer to a possible baptismal confession formula in the early church (cf. Wilckens 1980:11, 227; Lohse 2003:296-297).
15 There is no clear indication that the two statements in verse 10 are forming a parallelism within this chiasm (cf. later). Would it be the case, then these two statements would have had the same meaning.
16 The question whether
σωτηρία follows on δικαιοσύνη is something to ponder on, but it does not form the heart of this pericope or this article.
17 The medium form of the verb can be translated with 'call before one' or 'call in as a helper' (Liddell & Scott 1996:535).
18 Another question that may be asked, but not discussed within this article, is: If one confesses (with the mouth) and believes (with the heart), but the content of the 'confess' and 'believe' differs from what Paul is stating here, what then?
19 Cognisance is taken of scholars who postulate that this pronouncement of Jesus has nothing to do with eternal life, but with future reward/s, cf. Moyer 1997:267; Dillow (1992:127, 384); Hodges (1985:28-33).
20 Interestingly enough these are not the only words used by Paul only in this sub-pericope. Also the words
Μωϋσῆς γὰρ γράφει (praesens) in Rm 10:5 are never to be used again in this form in his Letters. Moo (1996:650) also referred to this, but did not see any significance in it.
21 A Hapax Legomenon is a word or phrase that appears only once in a document. Here it is more like an argument that Paul only once used.
22 This is a good reason why this cannot be a parallelism as postulated by some scholars.

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