Skip to content

Human speech–a neglected element of Romans 10

In my book, I argue that the concept of human speech is a vitally important–though very frequently neglected–component of Paul’s argument in Romans chapter 10.

Paul and the Vocation of Israel: How Paul's Jewish Identity Informs his Apostolic Ministry, with Special Reference to Romans

There are two conspicuous features of Rom 10 which, although they are rarely emphasized, are fundamental for its interpretation. Firstly, Paul makes a great deal of the concept of human speech in Rom 10.
This is a strikingly new feature in his argument so far in Romans. Although Paul has discussed the theme of human “faith” in positive terms and at great length (Rom 1:1–17; 3:21–31; ch. 4; 5:1–2; 9:30 –33), his discussion of human speech has so far been limited to rhetorical devices, brief descriptions of his own ministry (Rom 1:8–9, 15; 9:3), negative portrayals of sinful speech (Rom 1:29–30; 2:1; 3:13–14), denunciations of misguided Jewish speech to synagogue adherents (Rom 2:19–22), and the resultant blasphemy of Gentiles (Rom 2:24). In fact, Paul has claimed that the purpose of the Law is to stop all human speech (lit. to “close every mouth”) and thus to hold the world accountable to God (Rom 3:19). Thereafter, human speech almost disappears. Romans 10, however, is replete with explicit portrayals of human speech. There are verbs describing testimony (μαρτυρεῖν, v. 2), preaching (κηρύσσειν, vv. 8, 14, 15), confession (ὁμολογεῖν, vv. 9, 10), “calling upon” God (ἐπικαλεῖν, vv. 12, 13, 14), and “evangelism” (εὐαγγελίζεσθαι, v. 15; cf. εὐαγγέλιον, v. 16). There is a “message” (ῥῆμα, vv. 8, 17, 18) spoken by believers and preachers, and the gospel is described as a “report” which is “heard” (ἀκοή / ἀκούειν vv. 14, 16, 17, 18). In Rom 10, Paul also makes much of the scriptural term “mouth” (στόμα) placing it in parallel with the “heart” as an instrument of salvation (vv. 8, 9, 10). Thus, while earlier in Romans, Paul states that sin has produced false speech (Rom 1:29–30; 2:1; 2:19–22; 3:13–14), and that the Law’s condemnation has silenced all speech (Rom 3:19–20), now in Rom 10, he claims that belief and salvation are intertwined with true speech.

There is a second conspicuous feature of Rom 10, which is related to the first: Paul makes a great deal of his own speech in this chapter. He does this through a series of significant first-person references and other carefully chosen terms. He uses the first-person singular indicative of μαρτυρεῖν to describe his own “testimony” concerning Israel (v. 2). Furthermore, he uses the first-person plural indicative of κηρύσσειν to describe his (and others’) apostolic preaching (v. 8), and
subsequently uses a number of further third-person plural verbs which recall his (and others’) apostolic speaking ministry: the third-person plural indicative of κηρύσσειν (v. 15; cf. the singular participle in v. 14), the third-person plural passive subjunctive of ἀποστέλλειν (v. 15), and a plural participle of εὐαγγελίζεσθαι (v. 15). Paul also refers to people believing “our report” (τῇ ἀκοῇ ἡμῶν, v. 16), which he identifies with his own apostolic message—the “message of Christ” (ῥήμα Χριστοῦ) that leads to “faith” (πίστις, v. 17; cf. v. 8).

These features of Rom 10 are important for understanding the meaning and purpose of the chapter. In fact, we shall argue that in Rom 10, Paul is presenting his own apostolic “speaking” ministry as an alternative fulfilment of Israel’s vocation. (pp. 210-211).

The full details of the argument and further references may be found in chapter 6 of the book (pp. 210-230). The chapter is available from the publisher in electronic format:

Windsor, Lionel J. Paul and the Vocation of Israel: How Paul’s Jewish Identity Informs his Apostolic Ministry, with Special Reference to Romans. BZNW 205. Berlin / Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2014.

Published inPaulRomans

House of Windsor Editing Services

Bronwyn Windsor - House of Windsor Editing and Proofreading Services

Are you writing a thesis, book, academic article, resource, theological monograph, or anything else?

Bronwyn Windsor offers professional editing and proofreading services for writers. Press here to find out more: House of Windsor Editing Services

Publications by Lionel Windsor:

  • Lift Your Eyes: Reflections on Ephesians

All posts

Recent blog posts

  • Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on UnsplashWhat’s wrong with the world? Is there hope? (Ephesians)
    Guilt, weakness, spiritual slavery, prejudice, arrogance, tribalism, conflict, war, victimhood, persecution, pain, suffering, futility, ignorance, lying, deceit, anger, theft, greed, pornography, sexual sin, darkness, fear, drunkenness, substance abuse, domestic abuse, workplace abuse, spiritual powers... In Paul's letter to the Ephesians, he says many things about the problems we face in this world. He also gives us wonderful reasons to find life, hope and healing in Jesus Christ. Along the way, he provides practical teachings about how to respond and live together.
  • What does Ephesians say about reconciliation?
    We humans are not very good at living up close with others. This is especially true when we have a history of conflict with those others. Reconciliation isn't easy. No matter how much you might want healing, it’s hardly ever a matter of just everybody getting on and pretending the hurts didn’t happen. In Paul's letter to the Ephesians, he says some very important, fundamental things about peace and reconciliation, and gives many other very practical teachings about how to live together in light of these truths.
  • Lift Your Eyes: Reflections on EphesiansLift Your Eyes – How it works
    Lift Your Eyes: Reflections on Ephesians. Here's a video where I explain how the free online resource works.
  • Review: The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self by Carl Trueman
    I need to understand the people around me, so I can live for the gospel among them and speak the gospel to them. To do that, I need to understand the people around me. That's where Carl Trueman's book is so incredibly valuable.
  • What does Ephesians say about church?
    There are so many ideas about what the church is should be. How do we navigate them all? Here are ten key reflections from Ephesians.
  • Reading Ephesians & Colossians After Supersessionism (Cover image)Supersessionism and the New Perspective
    Here are my views on the issue of the New Perspective and Supersessionism, in light of a debate in the Harvard Theological Review.
  • The powerful Christian life: according to Ephesians
    What do we do when we feel weak in the face of powerful people? Here are seven key reflections on power from Ephesians.
  • Liturgy Song – Moore College Revue 2020
    Here's a tribute to our online chapel experience in mid-2020 at Moore College, in the full spirit of parody. I wrote it for our Moore College Revue, and had much fun performing it with Jordan Smith and Monique New.
  • My grandfather’s part in a WWII mission over Modane
    A journey of discovery of some of my family history. My maternal grandfather, Allan Fisher DFC, flew a mission over a rail yard in Modane.
  • Youth praying, Finchale PrioryWhat can we learn about prayer from Ephesians?
    Prayer: What are you doing when you pray? Who are you praying to? Why does it matter? Here are three reflections on prayer from my series on Paul's letter to the Ephesians. #liftyoureyes

On this site

All content copyright Lionel Windsor