14 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? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for
“Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world.”
19 But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,
“I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”
20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,
“I have been found by those who did not seek me;
I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”
21 But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”
Paul Appeals for Missionaries
This passage is a very rich passage. It is frequently quoted. “And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” Paul is appealing for apostles or missionaries to go and preach the word of God. There is good news. God is making himself available to both Jews and Gentiles through the work of Jesus. This is not an additional relationship to the ones we already have, but it is a relationship which is the foundation of existence.
Another famous quotation from the passage is that ” … faith comes through hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” No-one believes in God if they do not hear the message. No matter what your views on predestination are, there are no excuses for keeping quiet about the faith. The word of Christ dwells richly in us and it should come through in our actions and our words.
In summary, Paul want people to support apostles and missionaries who will go into the world and communicate the good news about Jesus. Jewish people have a history of God speaking to them and through them. In Paul’s day the offer of relationship with God was being extended to Gentiles too. We should see ourselves as apostles or missionaries sent by God with the gospel of Jesus. If we saw this aspect of our identity more clearly the culture would see that there is something different about us.
No matter how I am wired, I was created to be a missionary. I am sent into the world to communicate truth, love, justice, and grace. Let me embody your values and put myself on the line for you.
- How does Paul build his argument in 14 and 15?
- What is Paul’s main point?
- How does Paul’s context of talking about Jews and Gentiles inform this passage?
- To whom are you sent?
- How do you embody the word of Christ?