Confess that Jesus is Lord. Rom 10:9
3rd April 2010, hej
1) Confess that Jesus is Lord. Rom 10:9
"Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9). This verse is often used as a procedure for how people become Christians, but a further examination of the context will show that this is incorrect.
Or more literally the verse reads,
That if you confess with the mouth of you Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. (Romans 10:9)
The context is midway through Paul's letter to the Romans which was written 57AD. The Romans he was writing to were almost exclusively Jews who were already, “called to belong to Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:6-7).
Paul begins his letter by writing,
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek”. (Romans 1:16)
In 57AD to confess Jesus (Yeshua) was Christos Anointed (king), or in Hebrew, Messiah, which was part of the gospel invited persecution and death. The powerful Jews would convict you for undermining their position and Law, and the ruling Romans would kill you for political sedition (Caesar was the only King to be worshipped).
Paul then goes into a long dissertation of Law and grace, and how we are not saved by the works of the Law but by grace.
A key part of Paul's argument deals with the point that the law prevented sin and Law was an incentive to not sin.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4)
Paul's point is that all those people who are baptised in water and symbolically 'buried' must now have a different attitude. Paul's point is that once 'covered' in the act of baptism we shouldn't desire to sin. He calls it a “newness of life”. After being baptised in water we are to consider Christ in all things we do.
For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. (Romans 6:10-13)
In this context to those having already been baptised, Paul writes
“if you confess with your mouth Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Romans 10:9-10)
In this chapter Paul begins by speaking of Jews who didn't accept their Messiah (Anointed king). Paul is saying that it is a work of righteousness for the Jews who had accepted Messiah to “confess” to other Jews (and non-Jews) that Yeshua was Messiah. It was fine to believe it in their heart, but it was not enough, they had to also do something to be counted righteous. Paul, himself, after being baptised did confess Yeshua (and his role in salvation) in the Synagogues of Damascus. He became subject to death threats so they had to send him away. Later on at Lystra a crowd stoned Paul nearly to death for confessing Yeshua is Messiah.
Yeshua had claimed to be the son of David, who was Messiah. In 57AD, to Jews, Messiah was the revived Jewish kingdom in the lineage of King David and it was a deeply political issue as they were ruled by Romans. Many wished to revolt from Roman rule (which they did in 66AD), and many other people feared the consequences of revolt (rightly as the events of 70-73 AD showed).
That Paul is calling for the Roman converts to speak up is clear in the very next verse after he asks the Roman Christian congregation to “confess”,
For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? (Romans 10:11-14)
Therefore according to Paul people might be justified by faith but they are saved by preaching to others, and telling them about Yeshua!
Therefore this passage is not advice for new Christians, who don't know what to preach, often not knowing one end of the Bible (or the Gospel) from the other, but for mature Christians who are to go out and fearlessly preach to people who might not have heard. Paul was saying that, while keeping the dot point of the Law (or doing good) would not lead to salvation for the baptised Christians who walk in faith and 'newness of life', they will be saved by preaching.
It should also be pointed out Paul's experience of “confessing” “Yeshua” underlined Yeshua's point,
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. (Luke 9:24)
For more on baptism