Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Towards Salvation or Resulting in Salvation? - An Analysis of Romans 10:9-10

Paul speaks of the fact that "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth" in Romans 10:4 (KJV). Words mean things. When we read the word "end," we naturally think of the conclusion, termination or cessation of a matter. Not knowing otherwise, we might interpret this verse to mean that belief in Christ results in righteousness i.e. salvation. However, the word "end" in this verse is the Greek word telos, "...the result of a state or process," according to Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.

The concept of the word "end" meaning "process" is supported by the use of the word "believeth" in the original text. In Young's Literal Translation, this verse is rendered: "For Christ is an end of law for righteousness to every one who is believing, ..." Paul continues in this same vein five verses later in Romans 10:11 where he states again; `Every one who is believing on him shall not be ashamed,...' The phrase, who is believing, indicates an on-going process not the final conclusion of a matter.

We can conclude, therefore, that "believeth" is part of a salvation "process" and not the "completion" of salvation as many would have us to allegorically assume.

You may now ask; "Just what does all of this have to do with the subject at hand?" Simply this: for those who would view the word "end" as a destination, the same would view both "belief" and "confession" in Romans 10:9-10 as resulting in salvation, NOT part of a not-yet-completed process. But they, dear reader, would be in error should they view it so.

There is much mistranslation of these verses in multiple versions. Said mis-translations are due to the fact that many versions are translated (interpreted) by scholars whose theology is driven by the Reformed, Calvinistic and Evangelical tradition. Romans 10:9-10’s treatment by many translators reveals a “theological tail” wagging the “theological dog” in rendering the original meaning of these two key verses. A brief review of how vs. 10 in handeld. Instead of believeth unto righteousness and confession is made unto salvation, we have:

* In the usually accurate English Standard Version: " believes and is justified," and "one confesses and is saved."
* The also usually accurate New American Standard Bible says, "resulting in righteousness" and "resulting in salvation."
* The rarely accurate so-called "dynamic equivilence" New International Version says, "are justified" and "are saved."
* The darling of the modern day "Alexandrian School," the Enlish Majority Text Version says, "resulting in righteousness" and "resulting in salvation."

Many versions, however, render this passage correctly such as the American Standard Version of 1901:

Rom 10:9 & 10 – “…because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved:
for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. “

The original language texts use the Greek word eis which corresponds in English to our word unto. “Unto” (eis) is defined by Strong’s as “…expressing motion.” In other words, in Romans 10:10, both belief and confession are “flowing towards” a goal not yet achieved. We come now to the crux of the matter. Since belief and confession do not result in salvation, when and how is salvation achieved? Paul quickly tells us in vs. 13:

Rom 10:13 “…for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” KJV

There we have it. We are saved (past tense) once we have “called on the name of the Lord.” Peter proclaimed at Pentecost that this would take place (Acts 2:21). Paul himself clarifies what “calling on the name of the Lord” is…it is baptism! He clearly states in Acts 22:16, in his own account of his own conversion, that this is so:

Act 22:16 “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” - KJV

In conclusion, Paul clearly teaches the necessity of baptism for salvation in Romans 10…contrary to the teachings of the vast majority of the denominational world. Our challenge is great is this vast sea of lostness but “God is for us and who can be against us?”

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