The Word is Near: Comparing Romans 10 and Deuteronomy 30

John Chapter 1

In this post, I compared Romans 10:4-13 and Deuteronomy 30:11-15 and made some observations. Both Moses and Paul said the word is near. it is in the mouth and in the heart. It is inside of us.

Romans 10:4-13

4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

5 For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.”[b] 6 But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’”[c] (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 7 or, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’”[d] (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”[e] (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

I have read this passage before and I really didn’t understand what this is about. Why does anyone need to ascend into heaven to bring Christ down from above? Or why does anyone need to descend into the abyss to bring Christ up from the dead?

Then, Pastor Prince explained it in one of his sermons and it became clear. The passage is about obtaining the righteousness of faith. I don’t need Christ physically here to impart righteousness to me. He is near me; in my mouth and heart. I don’t need to travel far to find it. This brings to mind a Chinese proverb “走遍千山万水” which means to walk through endless mountains and seas. We don’t have to do that to find salvation or righteousness. I just need to believe with my heart and confess with my mouth and salvation is mine.

Paul was referencing and quoting a passage in Deuteronomy 30:11-15 here when he said “Who will ascend into heaven’ and “The word is near”.

Deuteronomy 30:11-15

11 “For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.

I compared the 2 passages and made some interesting observations. My interpretation of these observations are personal.

1. Abyss Versus Sea

Moses used Heaven and Sea in Deuteronomy to argue that the righteousness of law is close, that it is not too mysterious nor too far off.

Paul used Heaven and Abyss. So, the sea has been replaced by the abyss by Paul. Why?

I think it is quite clear that Moses was referring to the Law while Paul was referring to Jesus. You can’t find the Law in the abyss while we know that Jesus went into the abyss although He is no longer there.

2. The word is near

Both Moses and Paul spoke about the nearness of the word. Moses said that it is near so that the Israelites may do it. Paul said that the word is near so that we can be saved by it. So where exactly is the word? Both Moses and Paul said it is in the mouth and in the heart. It is that near. It is inside of us.

Reading the rest of the passages of Romans 10 and Deuteronomy 30, I get the impression of tenderness. Moses urges the Israelites to obey the commandment because it brings life and good. The presence of the Lord is also where life and good are. Apart from God, there is only death and evil. He didn’t bring them, death and evil is an absence of God.

In the same way, Paul argued that salvation comes when the heart believes and the mouth confesses. There is no distinction between people, the same Lord is rich to all who call upon Him.

Easy isn’t it? Thank You Jesus for being near.