"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13).
Paul continues with the problem of why his own Jewish people failed to grasp God's way of putting them right, and insisted on trying to establish their own righteousness. He distinguishes the heart experience of living by God's power from declaring one's faith in words. It is possible to have the experience of the power of the Holy Spirit without speaking about it, and it is also possible to speak about it without the experience. Both are needed to make us effective as the people of God. And it seems that among the Jewish people there was both a failure to declare the good news of God's power so people could understand it, and a heart failure to live by that power. Among nations and in the life of individuals a refusal to declare God's power to others results in losing it. Because of this he calls his own nation "a disobedient and contrary people" (10:21).
10:1-3 Paul repeats his longing and prayer concern for his own people (9:2-3). Having himself lived as a Pharisee, he has no doubt they are very zealous, but their zeal ignores God's way of putting us right by seeking to establish their own righteousness.
10:4-5 After thinking about his own people as a nation, Paul now goes back for a few verses to the faith of individuals. Laws are like warnings about proper fuses in a house but they do not provide the power that is needed.
10:6-8 Here Paul refers to a text from Deuteronomy about heart circumcision, which we noted under circumcision of the Spirit (2:25-29). "The Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live" (Deuteronomy 30:6). The passage goes on to say "You obey the Lord your God . . . because you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul." And this is "not too hard for you." There is no need to climb up to heaven, or go beyond the sea to find out what is needed. The word is "in your heart for you to observe" (Deuteronomy 30:10-14). Paul uses this to illustrate "the word of faith that we proclaim" (10:8). The point is that righteousness does not emerge from trying to establish one's own righteousness, but is a fruit of very simply turning to God with love and faith.
10:9-13 The dynamic of New Covenant Christian faith since Pentecost begins with heart faith in the power of the Holy Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. But we need to accept that power in our situation, and own it by declaring it to others. There is no distinction in the way Jews and Greeks can access and make known this power (see 1:16; 9:24). It seems that for Paul salvation and being saved is not merely a matter of accepting forgiveness, but a heart turning to live by the power that raised Jesus from the dead (10:9).
10:14-15 This suggests a series of questions which Paul asks about Christian goodnewsing. We might answer the questions as follows: Living by the power of God (the Holy Spirit) arises from heart faith. Heart faith is encouraged by hearing the good news. Good news needs a proclaimer of good news from the Word of God. And proclaimers need to be sent out into all the world.
Paul has already declared his sense of being sent by God (Romans 1:1, 5, 16) and in his postscript to the Romans he will declare that the empowering for this is totally by the Holy Spirit (15:19).
10:16-17 Already the Old Testament prophets were puzzled by the mystery of why some reject God's gracious invitation. But both in the Old Testament and among us now the Word of God has to be declared, and as it is heard some will respond in faith.
10:18-21 From here to the end of chapter 11 Paul goes back to the mystery of his own nation's failure to respond to God's call. In one sense God's power is known and accessible all over the world (10:18). But in another sense God has to persuade people to listen. And he may even have to make the Jewish people jealous of what they see happening among the Gentile peoples they had despised (10:19; 11:11). As in chapter 9, allusions to Old Testament books, which would have been familiar to Jewish readers, are included to illustrate Paul's argument.