In these verses, Paul set up a scenario regarding the inexcusability of the Jews to recognize and believe in Jesus Christ as their Messiah. Using his debater technique, Paul makes a statement regarding Israel’s status as a client nation. In the general context of verses 14 & 15 we have Jewish responsibility as a client nation. When the Jews were called a client nation to God they were called by the title “Priest Nation to God.” They had a specialized priesthood in the nation but when the nation was referred to in its client nation status it was called a priest nation. This is seen in Exodus 19:5-6 where God was not talking about the Levitical priesthood, which was specialized and limited to the tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron, but He was talking about the entire nation of Israel as a priest nation. When the Jews were brought out of Egypt they were brought out to fulfil something in history that had never been fulfilled before. It became necessary in history because nations had become so degenerate and rebellious. Therefore, the principle of missionary activity from a client nation was initiated. So the responsibility for missionary activity was Israel’s.
Since it was the responsibility of Israel to evangelize other nations, they should have understood the reality and truth of the Gospel message. This was exactly what the Law and the prophets had taught throughout the history of client nation Israel. Since this was done, no Jew had an excuse when it came to recognizing and believing in Jesus Christ as Savior.
How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!”
Paul asks and answers four questions that are the responsibility of any client nation, as they were for Israel. These are not questions that people are asking Paul for information; these are questions that Paul is using as part of a debater’s technique. The verse Paul quoted was from Isaiah 52:6, a verse all Jews should have been familiar with as part of their training. However, Israel failed as a client nation in their responsibility to spread the Gospel to their own nation, as well as other nations. Within the nation of Israel not all believed the message of salvation clearly presented by the Mosaic Law and the prophets.
However, they did not all heed the glad tidings; for Isaiah says, ”Lord who has believed our report?”
They had heard the greatest presentations of the Gospel that anyone could ever hear by each function of the Levitical priesthood (rituals, sacrifices, etc.). However, rejection of the Gospel was expressed through unbelief in Jehovah (the Lord Jesus Christ). When you understand something and reject it you build a layer of scar tissue on the soul, and when you keep rejecting it you build more layers of scar tissue until you no longer understand what you previously understood. The principle is the more you reject something the less you understand it. Disobedience to the Gospel is expressed by rejection. Every act of rejection makes the thing rejected more obscure.
So faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.
The Greek word for faith is “pistis” and refers not only to the basis for perception of doctrine but it also refers to the faith necessary to enter the plan of God - faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Also, after faith in Christ, it refers to the function of the Faith-Rest Technique.
People must hear (audibly or inaudibly) the Gospel to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Common grace precedes efficacious grace. Common grace is a theological designation for the presentation of the Gospel to an unbeliever. Once the Gospel is understood, the individual unbeliever can respond, positive or negative. Positive volition results in faith in Christ; negative volition results in rejection of Christ. The great issue is the fact that the unbeliever must have absolute correct information. He doesn’t need a persuasive personality, salesmanship or some form of apologetic persuasion. All he needs is the accurate information regarding the Gospel. This is because whatever the form of evangelism, accurate information is necessary because God the Holy Spirit takes the information and uses it for the understanding of the Gospel.
From the standpoint of mechanics, no one can be evangelized unless he hears the Gospel. There can be only one subject for evangelism and it is not sin, not social action, not giving money, not being baptized or joining the church, but the substitutionary spiritual death of Jesus Christ on the Cross.
But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have: “Their voice has gone out into all the earth and their words to the ends of the world.”
Paul used Psalms 19:4 as his proof text to show the Jews that God’s Word had gone throughout the entire world in the past and continued to do so. Psalms 19:4, “Their line (sound/voice) has gone out through all the earth and their utterance (words) to the end of the world.” Once a person has reached God-consciousness (as seen in Psalms 19:1-3) and is positive, wanting to know more about God, this person will hear “the sound and utterance of the Gospel.” Israel failed as a client nation therefore there were very few Jewish missionaries to the Gentile nations during Old Testament times except on rare occasions, like Jonah, Daniel and Jeremiah. While the Jews, as a client nation to God, failed to evangelize the Gentiles, positive volition at God-consciousness demanded that the Gentiles receive the Gospel message through some other means, which God did.
But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? At the first Moses says, “I will make you jealous by that which is not a nation, by a nation without understanding will I anger you.”
Paul quoted Deuteronomy 32:21 after asking the question, which will be answered, “yes, they knew.” There was most likely never a Jew in the Old Testament who was not exposed to a clear picture of the Gospel. They could have known the Gospel by watching the ritual and hearing the explanation. When they knew, then they said yes or no to the Gospel.
The Jews could not say they did not understand the Gospel because they did understand it if they understood the rituals and sacrifices. The information was given to them over and over again. So Israel was without excuse. Trying to provoke Israel into believing the Gospel message, God had Moses write Deuteronomy 32:21. This verse was meant to show the Jews that even the Gentiles, who did not have the teachings of the rituals and sacrifices (without understanding), could be saved by faith in Jehovah (Jesus Christ). It became a permanent witness against Israel throughout every generation of their history.
And Isaiah is very bold and says, “I was found by those who sought me not, I became manifest to those who did not ask for me.”
Paul then quoted Isaiah 65:1. Isaiah was saying that God was discovered by Gentiles after the Jews rejected Him. Isaiah 65:1 indicates that Gentile believers existed in every generation of the previous dispensation apart from the function of client nation Israel.
The Gentiles did not have the spiritual heritage and they did not know in whom to believe for salvation, but they were positive at God-consciousness. But the Jews didn’t send out missionaries because they were in a state of apostasy. Did God let the positive volition of the Gentiles die without having the opportunity of believing in Christ? Never! So He used other means and other circumstances in order to reach these people. Therefore, the Gentiles were being blessed of God because they were in the plan of God, whereas the Jews who had the spiritual heritage for the plan of God and rejected it were not being blessed by God. So there is cursing for the Jews in apostasy and there is blessing for the Gentiles in the plan of God.
The Gentiles who were positive at God-consciousness, but had no spiritual heritage, Vdid not know the Lord Jesus Christ and they lived in an area of darkness in their own circumstances. Therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ had to reveal Himself to them some other way, apart from client nation Israel. The manifestation was not accomplished by the client nation Israel but through other means. This ordinarily would have been the job of client nation Israel sending out missionaries, but because of their failure in rejecting Jesus Christ, they did not send out missionaries. Nevertheless, Christ was revealed by other means so that in every generation of the Old Testament Gentiles believed in Christ with or without the Jewish function and cooperation.
But as for Israel He says, “All the day long I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”
Now, Paul quoted the remaining part from Isaiah 65:2. The Lord Jesus Christ turned to Israel in a special appeal to them to believe in Himself. Isaiah’s witness, then, actually shows the Lord Jesus Christ attempting to evangelize Israel. In every generation there are always Jews who reject Jesus Christ. The Jews, instead of using their freedom and their spiritual heritage of the Law and the prophets to be evangelized and therefore to receive Christ as Savior, rejected Him and distorted the Law and the prophets into a system of works righteousness, which is self-righteousness and rejected by God as neither a means of salvation or spirituality.