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Romans 10:9-10 by Robert Dean
Series:Resurrection and the Gospel (2009)
Duration:1 hr 1 mins 24 secs

The Unforgiveable Sin. Rom 10:9-10, Matt 12:24, 31-34


Romans 10:9, 10 is not an easily understood passage. It is not that it is complicated but people have made it complicated because at first glance, based on the sort of cultural evangelical heritage that we have, our minds have been pre-programmed to think of words like "saved" as referring to justification or the initial rebirth into the Christian life called regeneration. So whenever we read the word "saved" in the Bible we take it that that means gaining eternal life, moving from spiritual death to spiritual life. However, as has been pointed out that is not always the case. In fact in the book of Romans that is not the case at all but it has led many people to misunderstand, misinterpret and misapply this particular passage.


An issue that is often raised in the gospel message is, must we believe in the deity of Christ? We have an understanding that Jesus did something for me that I can't do for myself; that is a pretty basic understanding of substitution and it is exhibited in the Old Testament, it is the focus of the Old Testament sacrifices. Resurrection isn't—not that it is not there but it is not the focal point, it is not where the saving work of Christ was done; it was done on the cross, not in His victory over death. His deity is important because it goes to who he is, that He was qualified to go to the cross and die in our place. A young child may not fully grasp the resurrection and the deity of Christ.


The immediate context of Romans chapter 10 is Romans 9-11, and the focal point there is on God's grace to corporate Israel—not individual Jews but to the nation as a whole in light of those national promises that He had made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Romans 9:4, To Israel belong the promises and the covenants. And throughout these three chapters the focus is on God's future fulfillment of these promises to the nation Israel, corporate Israel, really the remnant, those who are in the descent line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who believe in Jesus as the Messiah.  So the context is not talking about individual justification, it is talking about the corporate deliverance of the nation.


We have covered the unpardonable or unforgivable sin in Matthew chapter twelve. It is unforgivable not in an eternal sense but in a temporal sense. There would not be forgiveness for Israel's sin of rejecting Christ in the age they were in or the age that was to come, the church age. But there is a future forgiveness—Romans 11:25-27; Joel 2:32.


The term "resurrection" is used theologically not in relation to our justification but it is the basis for understanding our new life in Him. Paul says in Romans chapter six that we were baptized into His death and it is His resurrection which is the basis for understanding of our newness of life, the spiritual life.




  1. Deuteronomy 30 is quoted in Romans 10:6-8 and it focuses on Israel's future restoration.
  2. Matthew 12:24, 31-32, the unforgivable sin refers to national discipline on Israel for rejecting the Messiah. It is not referring to unforgivable personal sin.
  3. Romans 11:25, when Christ returns the curse of the fifth cycle of discipline will be removed.
  4. Matthew 23:39 NASB "For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, 'BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'" This looks forward to that future time at the end of the Tribulation when Israel as a nation reverses its decision to reject Jesus as Messiah, and as a nation of already justified believers they will call on the Lord to deliver them from the assaulting armies of the Antichrist.
  5. Joel 2:32 speaks of a future physical deliverance when the nation calls upon Jesus as their Messiah.


Conclusion: Romans 10:9, 10 is surrounded by passages that relate to the future physical deliverance of the remnant of Israel at the second coming of Jesus Christ. All of the passages from the Old Testament support this.


Romans 10:9 NASB "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus {as} Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."  This passage begins with a third class condition in the Greek. This means that the "if" means maybe you will and maybe you won't. It is hypothetical. He word "confess" is the word homologeo [o(mologew] meaning to admit or to acknowledge something, to confess as in a courtroom, to declare something to be true. The last definition is pertinent here because what happens at the end op the Tribulation period is that Israel as a nation comes together and they will corporately declare that Jesus is God. The word "Lord" is from the Greek word used for deity. At the first coming the Jews rejected the deity of Jesus, His claims to be the Son of God and to be the Messiah. They will openly declare at the second coming that Jesus is Lord. The fact of the resurrection from the dead is important because the nation Israel at that time in history will be dead. But God is going to bring them back as a nation. They will be virtually all but destroyed by the end of the Tribulation and just as Jesus conquered individual death at the resurrection so He is going to bring new life to the nation of Israel when He delivers them at the end of the Tribulation period.


The word "confess" is used in the context here as a parallel to calling on the name of the Lord. Romans 10:13 NASB "for 'WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED'."  That is parallel to verse 9 "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus {as} Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." So calling on the name of the Lord, which is an overt, physical oral, audible act, is parallel to confessing. It is confessing with the mouth which is clearly distinguished in context from believing in your heart, i.e. in your inner soul, your mind.


What does it mean to be saved and what is salvation in the book of Romans? Question: Would the believers sitting in that church in Rome, when they received this epistle, understand that this is what Paul was talking about? Yes, they would. We have been programmed through our whole life being in all kinds of evangelical churches where the word "saved" is the synonym for justified. But they didn't have 2000 years of church history behind them. They were reading this kind of language for the very first time and so the word "saved" wasn't set in the concrete of this kind of a nuance of being justified. So when they read this, being speakers of the original languages, they understood this is a way different from the way we do; they didn't have all that baggage. They might not have understood all of the nuances that we do. We have had 2000 years of argumentation and theological reflection to probe the depths of this language in ways that they did not. But they didn't understand it in a way that was contrary to this, they just might not have understood it as precisely as we do.


The word "saved" in Romans is used eight times, and only one time in the past tense (8:24); the rest of the time it is in the future tense. We would expect Paul to be talking to a group of believers and saying, You have been saved, over and over again as he does in Ephesians 2:8, 9 where he uses the word as a synonym for justification. But in Romans he only uses it one time in the past tense, in 8:24 where he is linking it to hope and the word "saved" there is understood in the context of Romans 8 as being saved from the power of sin. Romans 6-8 is talking about how you, now that you are a believer, can be saved from the power of sin and live unto God. In context, even though it is a past tense use of "saved," it is not looking at justification, it is looking at their spiritual growth.


Romans 5:9, 10 gives us our clearest understanding of this. NASB [9] "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood [past tense], we shall be saved [future tense] from the wrath {of God} through Him." That sounds like eternal wrath but it is not talking about eternal condemnation. The term "wrath" in Romans has to do with God's temporal punishment on mankind for rejecting Him. So this is really talking about phase two deliverance from God's judgment on mankind for rejecting Him. [10] "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." Right now we are sitting here justified, reconciled, but we are not saved, according to this verse. None of us are saved, because "saved" here is talking about the process in phase two. We are being saved but it hasn't finished yet. "… we shall be saved by His life," that is His resurrection. Resurrection is the basis for living the spiritual life, not the foundation for justification. These verses focus on how we live that life.


Romans 9:27; 10:13; 11:14, 26 are the other uses of "saved," the verb, in Romans, and they either refer to phase two or in a couple of cases to the culmination of the process and some sort of future deliverance.


Then we have the noun "salvation." Salvation, the Greek word soteria [swthria], is used only five times in Romans. It is used in Romans 1:16 where Paul is using the gospel to refer to all the doctrine that he is explaining in Romans, not just justification which is covered in chapters three, four and five. It is the broad gospel, the good news that includes not only how to be justified but also how to live as a justified person so that we have a future destiny of inheritance with Christ on into eternity. So it is a full sense of the word "gospel," not a narrow sense of purely giving the gospel so that somebody can be justified. Romans 10:1 and 10 has to do with deliverance of Israel, as well as 11:11 which applies to Gentiles. But it is not just justification because the context of 11:11 is that where Paul is saying God is now giving grace to the Gentiles for their salvation, not just their justification but all the blessings that come with it in terms of their spiritual life, for the purpose of creating a jealousy among Israel. Israel is not going to be jealous just because a bunch of Gentiles is going to end up going to heaven, but when they see Gentiles growing to spiritual maturity and realizing the blessings in time that God has for them, that is designed to provoke the nation to jealousy which will occur in the end time.


In Romans 13:11 Paul says, NASB "  {Do} this [fulfilling all those commandments he gives in Romans], knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed."


Romans 10:10 NASB "for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." Nowhere in this chapter is Paul talking about an imputed righteousness to get justified, he is talking about the behavior after that. So he says that with the heart one believes unto righteousness. The righteousness here is parallel to the phase two salvation. So if being saved is phase two then believing unto righteousness must also be understood as phase two. Conclusion: Since "saved" is phase two, righteousness must also be phase two. This verse is talking about Israel and their future deliverance as a righteous nation going into the Millennial kingdom.


Romans 10:11 NASB "For the Scripture says, 'WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED'."  What we are going to see here is that Paul is going to quote several different passages from Isaiah in order to support his point that he is making related to Israel's future destiny. When he quotes this he is quoting from the Septuagint [LXX] version of the Old Testament, and the word that is used in the LXX is a little different from the word that is used in the Hebrew. The verse he quotes is Isaiah 28:16 NASB "Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone {for} the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes {in it} will not be disturbed." The LXX translated the last phrase "shall not be ashamed." And when God the Holy Spirit in the process of inspiration has the writers of the New Testament quote from the Old Testament—even if there is a difference using the LXX—because He is inspiring them to use that, then even though there is a difference in the wording the other word that is used is still a true and accurate statement. In  other words, when Israel turns to accept Christ as savior at the end of the Tribulation period they will not be embarrassed. They will in fact be delivered, and the focal point of Isaiah 28:16 is on Jesus as that chief cornerstone, the Messiah that is laid for Israel.


Israel will call upon Him and that will precede His second coming. This is seen in verse 13. In between the two Paul sandwiches in this statement: [12] "For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same {Lord} is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him." What he is saying is that Jews have to recognize that faith is the issue, just as Gentiles do. It is not works, it is dependence upon God. It is all based on the belief that Jesus is the Messiah. Then v. 13 quotes Joel 2:32 NASB "for 'WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED'." (The "they" of verse 14 is talking about corporate Israel.) The word "saved" in Joel 2:32 is not the usual word, yasha from which we get Joshua (and Yeshua for Jesus), it is a different word which means to be delivered from a physical crisis. The remnant of Israel is going to have its back up against the wall literally at the end of the Tribulation, facing complete annihilation and destruction by the Antichrist and it is then and only then that they turn and call on the name of the Lord in fulfillment of Matthew 23. This comes toward the end of the campaign of Armageddon.


Romans 10:14 NASB "How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?" They have already believed in Him before they get to Bozrah. We see the order: preach, then hear, then believe. Then they call—believing precedes that audible calling upon the Lord. Then the verse from Isaiah 52—"How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace." It is that peace that comes to Israel at the end of the Tribulation. This passage is one that focuses on that second coming and establishment of the kingdom.


But there are many who have not believed. That is the focus of Romans 10:16 which is a quote from Isaiah 53:1. They will not be of true Israel. So Paul then concludes in 10:17 NASB "So faith {comes} from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. [18] But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; 'THEIR VOICE HAS GONE OUT INTO ALL THE EARTH, AND THEIR WORDS TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD'." The gospel is made clear so that they are without excuse, Psalm 19:4.




·  The focus of the gospel presentation for us must be on the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, He died for our sins.

·  We have to recognize that Jesus is able to pay the penalty for our sins because of who He is—the risen, divine Son of God. So the deity and resurrection of Jesus Christ relate top who He is.

·  The resurrection is important but it is not the heart of the gospel. 

·  Jesus should be presented as the risen Son of God who is fully divine and equal to the Father, and able therefore to go to the cross and die for our sins.

·  No passage asserts belief in the resurrection as a distinct, separate, analyzed proposition. However, when Jesus is presented as the risen Son of God then the one who died is qualified to pay for our sin penalty. We present Him as the risen Son of God but the focal point of the gospel is that He died for our sins and that we have eternal life because of what He did on the cross. And nothing else saves.