Romans 15:21

21 but as it is written, "Those who have never been told of him shall see, and those who have never heard of him shall understand."

Romans 15:21 Meaning and Commentary

Romans 15:21

But as it is written
In ( Isaiah 52:15 ) ;

to whom he was not spoken of, they shall see, and they that have not
heard shall understand;
for the Messiah was not spoken of to the Gentiles; they were strangers to the covenants of promise; the oracles of God were committed to the Jews; God gave his word and statutes to them, and not to any other nation: and yet, according to this prophecy, the Gentiles were to see him whom they had no account of; not in the flesh with their bodily eyes, in which sense only, or at least chiefly, the Jews saw him; but with the eyes of their understanding, by faith, as exhibited and evidently set forth before them as crucified, in the Gospel and the ordinances of it: and though they had heard nothing of him, having for many hundreds of years been left in ignorance, and suffered to walk in their own ways, until the apostles were sent among them; whose sound went into all the earth, and their words to the end of the world; yet when this would be the case, according to these words, they would understand the mind and will of God, the mysteries of his grace, the nature of the person and offices of Christ, the design of his coming into the world, and the way of salvation by him; all which was greatly brought about and accomplished, in the ministry of the Apostle Paul among them. The passage is very pertinently cited and applied by the apostle. The whole paragraph is to be understood of the Messiah, from whence it is taken, as it is owned, and accordingly interpreted by many Jewish writers, both ancient F2 and modern F3; and these words particularly respect the kings and nations of the world, who are represented as struck with silence and wonder, when, upon the preaching and hearing of the Messiah, they should see him by faith, and spiritually understand what is declared concerning him. The difference between the apostle's version of these words, which is the same with the Septuagint, and the text in Isaiah, is very inconsiderable. The first clause of the Hebrew text may be literally rendered thus, "for him, who was not spoken of to them, they shall see"; and the apostle's Greek in this manner, to whom "it was not spoken of concerning him, they shall see"; the sense is the same, and person intended Christ: the latter clause, which we from the Hebrew text render, "and that which they had not heard, shall they consider"; and here, "they that have not heard, shall understand", has nothing material in it, in which they differ; for in the former part of it both design the Messiah, and the things concerning him, the Gentiles had not heard of; and the latter is rendered and explained by the Targum, and by R. Sol Jarchi, as by the apostle, (wlktoa) , "they shall understand"; and which fitly expresses the sense of the Hebrew word used by the prophet.


F2 Targum in Isa. lii. 13. Pesikta in Kettoreth hassammim in Num. fol. 27. 2. Tanchuma apud Huls. Jud. Theolog. p. 321.
F3 Baal Hatturim in Lev. xvi. 14. R. Moses Aishech in lsa. lii. 13. Vid. R. Aben Ezra in ib.

Romans 15:21 In-Context

19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the good news of Christ.
20 Thus I make it my ambition to proclaim the good news, not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on someone else's foundation,
21 but as it is written, "Those who have never been told of him shall see, and those who have never heard of him shall understand."
22 This is the reason that I have so often been hindered from coming to you.
23 But now, with no further place for me in these regions, I desire, as I have for many years, to come to you
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.