All Who Call on the Name of the Lord Will be Saved – Romans 10:13

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A couple of verses that have been used in the anti-baptism argument come from Romans 10. The first is found in Romans 10:9 – “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” That seems pretty straight forward and hard to get around…Paul doesn’t mention baptism as something necessary to do to be saved. The next comes a few verses later in 10:13 – “for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Again, another seemingly straight forward verse. Paul seems to be saying here that if you call on the name of the Lord you will be saved. No mention of belief, confession, repentance, or baptism. This would seem to contradict what Paul writes about baptism in other passages and even what Jesus and Peter taught concerning baptism. But if you can ignore that and the context of this passage you have the perfect prooftext to prove baptism is not necessary for salvation.

So what is Paul trying to say? The problem is not with Paul. The problem is with our traditional methods of interpretation and our propensity to prooftext verses that seem to say on the surface what we want them to say rather than actually trying to figure out what Paul meant. In Romans 10, Paul is talking about the unfaithfulness of Israel and God’s desire for them to put their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and as the culmination of the Law. In 10:9 he is saying that God desires to see in them the acknowledgment of who Jesus is – Lord – from his people. This is the response Jesus was supposed to elicit in their hearts and bring them to confession/faith. So the first part of the equation is the context, that Paul is saying God desires for them to acknowledge Christ as Lord (confession).

The second part of the equation is what Paul is not trying to do. Paul is not intending to write here what many have believed he is intending to write. Paul is not writing a “Spiritual how to manual” of how to be saved. Yet, when using this verse that is what many have made it – do this and you will be saved. Paul is not listing all things pertaining to what one must do to be saved. Here is merely telling them the response God had hoped to see in Israel when the Messiah came – acknowledgment by faith that he is the Messiah and Son of God. Instead, many rejected Jesus. So we have to read this verse in an effort to do with it what Paul was trying to do with it and not use it to make a point we want it to make. Context is important.

The second verse is in Romans 10:13 – for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Again, on the surface it appears that Paul is saying just cry out to God and that is enough. Again, we have to read it with an eye for how Paul intended for it to be heard. The emphasis is not an exact, scientific or mathematical equation that adds up to equal salvation. In the previous verses his point has been that anyone who puts their faith in Christ, God is willing to bring to salvation, whether Jew or Gentile. Notice these words in 10:11-13 – “anyone”, “Lord of all”, “richly blesses all”, “everyone who calls”. The point Paul is making here is not a specific “how to” about salvation. The point is about “who.” Who will be saved? Paul says anyone can if they will have faith in God.

So these verses go from proof texts to be used to make a point Paul wasn’t making into verses to be heard as Paul intended them to be heard and to make the point Paul was trying to make. Isn’t that interesting…that we might actually want to know what the Bible means rather than just try to make it mean what we think it means!

19 Responses

  1. Some people just seem to try to make hard what God has made simple,it’s not hard to get saved,yes if one calls on the name of Jesus and believe then they are saved.God told us to be aware of putting Heavy burdens on peoples backs,when you explain scripture like this that’s what you’re doing.Remember the sinner on the cross beside Jesus? What did he say?? Then what did Jesus do,he excepted that man as his own! Just as he will anyone else who calls on his name,I should know I did.
    Numbers 6:24~26

  2. Pttyann,

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I totally get where you are coming from on this but I still have to disagree. I suppose you are saying thinking baptism is important is tying heavy burdens on people? Can you offer up a solid exegesis of these passages to show that what you are saying is true, in context? You cannot get the direction of the letter and understand what Paul is working through here with the approach you are taking with this verse. It totally removes it from context. Without context you can make it mean whatever you like.

    Regarding baptism, did Jesus bind heavy burdens on people when he told his disciples to baptize people? Did Peter bind heavy burdens on the Jews at Pentecost when he told them to repent and be baptized? I guess you could say submission to God is a heavy burden.

    One last thing, when Jesus condemned the Pharisees for binding heavy burdens on men he was condemning them for putting the traditions of man on par with the law of God. Baptism is hardly a tradition of man. Encouraging people to do what God has clearly commanded them to do is exactly the opposite of what the Pharisees were doing when Jesus condemned them. If you think I am teaching works righteousness here then perhaps it would be helpful if you read my recent posts on Romans 10-11 for some background. I hope we can discuss these things further. God bless,


    1. So what saves a man? Calling upon the Lord, or baptism? I think the best way to explain what your saying, is one calls upon the Lord Jesus Christ, they are saved, and there is a natural progression of what happens when Jesus saves you, learning how to live holy, learning scripture, baptism, etc.

    2. John, the problem in understanding this is a failure by most to recognize that language is constantly evolving. To understand what it means to call on the name of the Lord in these passages, we have to know what Paul meant when he wrote them. In this case it isn’t that tough, because Paul and Jesus both gave some good comparisons.
      First what does Paul mean when he says “calls on the name of the Lord”? This term has a specific application. Paul was taught it by a man named Ananias in Acts 22:16 “Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” When you are baptized in Jesus name, you are calling on the name of the Lord.
      Next compare what Jesus said in Luke 7:29-30 (Here everyone is justifying God by being baptized with Johns baptism, but those who were not baptized, were rejecting the will of God.) and John 12:42-43 Here Jesus says many believed on Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him. It seems clear that being baptized into Jesus is confessing Him, at least in their thinking as demonstrated by their usage of the phrase.
      Another thought from Jesus in Matt 21:23-25 and Luke 20:2-5 is that those who had not been baptized of Johns baptism were equated with unbelief. His question was, The baptism of John, was it from Heaven or from men. Meaning if it’s from Heaven and you refused it, you were an unbeliever, but if it’s just something men made up, then don’t worry about it. I think it would be fair to ask the question….The baptism into Jesus for the remission of sins on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:38, Is that baptism from Heaven, or is it something men just came up with? Because if it’s from Heaven, and it is rejected, wouldn’t a person be just as much, (if not more) an unbeliever as those Jesus mentioned in Luke and John?

  3. I figure that I might as well add my perspective to this thought. I try to approach the “saved” topic from viewpoint of how much can I do vs. what is the minimum that I can do. This, in my mind, eliminates needing to define a specific point or moment in time that I am or am not saved.

    There are many things that we are told and shown via example to do. We are to confess, repent, believe, follow His commands, be baptized, take care widows and orphans, take care of those in jail, and much much more.

    I think a life lived wanting to please God and executing his wonderful plan is what saves you. I think back to Matthew 19 : 16 – 26. In this passage a rich man comes who appears to be very faithful and devout. He has met ‘the minimum’ and probably even more. He still lacks something though. There is so much more than just a single point many times.

    So, I think the following. I will be saved by doing all sorts of stuff commanded by God and even then only by the grace of God. So I need to do as much as possible to be saved (even baptism if it is not the absolute point because it is clearly commanded). If God let’s someone into Heaven who did less or more, hallelujah.

  4. Jordan,

    One distinction I would make though is that these acts don’t save us. God saves. In Romans Paul is very clear that it all comes down to God’s grace and our faith. Now, nothing we do saves us. The problem we normally run into is that we then conclude there is nothing we need to do or can do in order for God to save us. That is a false conclusion. God saves. God paid the price for our sins through Christ. We don’t save ourselves and it is not the actions we do that save us. Only God can save. But he does choose to save those who put faith in Him. Not that the faith itself saves us because our faith does not pay the price for our sins. Faith is the response God wants to see in our lives so he can take initiative to save us. So the faith doesn’t even earn or merit our salvation. Our faith does not twist God’s arm or force his hand to save us. In the end it is God’s choice and he is the only one able to save but he does expect a response from us.

    1. Matt.
      This reply of yours needs to make it crystal, crystal clear that it is Jesus Christ we call on, Jesus Christ whom saves.
      God (without getting into the Holy Trinity complexities) sent Jesus Christ as atonement for our sin. We MUST accept Christ as Lord and Saviour, by confessing with our mouth and within our heart.
      It is misleading telling people that “God” saves. Yes, its technically true (again the Holy Trinity…) but it is in Jesus Christ we must confess and believe, as to many people “God” can be one of many man-made, or self-perceived gods which is idolatry

      I have just listened to an Audio Theatre cd called “Rescued” -by John Bevere.
      Infact, I was on the road travelling around England this last week (although im from Australia) and I listened to cd2, 14times. At least. Its the cd with the strongest message Ive heard. It will impact you.
      Im sure you’ve heard of him. He’s from Colorado. Amazing preacher and man of God.
      I thought I was saved. I confessed Jesus as my Lord and Saviour years ago and tried to live a Godly life but still sinned hourly, and even less.

      It wasnt until I listened to this cd that my eyes were truely open. I STRONGLY have it on my heart to urge people to listen to this cd. It WILL change your life and your thinking on your own spiritual life and walk with God and whether you truely will be saved. We all must be so careful with how many churches these days are preaching “Gods Love and Grace” instead of “the fear of God and Gods Love”
      No, im not selling this, nor am I affiliated with anything to do with it. I have no other interest in it other than everyone – especially people who call themselves “Christian” – listening to this and making sure….100% sure, of their salvation and eternal life. Matt, i’ll even buy this for you myself and send it to you to listen to! Seriously.

      One crucial passage of scripture im coming from in saying all this is the one so many churches dont talk about.
      It also relates to what Jordan has said.
      No, works alone do not allow you to get to heaven.
      Ephesians 2:8: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
      Ephesians 2:9: -not by works, so that no one can boast.

      Right, that being said, here’s the scripture….

      A Tree and Its Fruit

      Mt 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
      Mt 7:16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
      Mt 7:17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
      Mt 7:18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
      Mt 7:19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
      Mt 7:20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them

      -Now….this is the important part of this scripture I am relating most of this post to, in terms of Salvation…

      Mt 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
      Mt 7:22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’
      Mt 7:23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

      That is incredibly scarey scripture right there! It is saying, those who think they are saved, will be told to depart when they come before Jesus for judgement.
      This ties in with the “works” comments above and with basically what a lot of people think is easy salvation.
      No, they dont have to work or do anything for their salvation other than accept and confess what Jesus Christ did on the cross for their sin. It doesnt end there though. At no point in scripture does it say that living a Christian life will be easy and carefree on the assumption that once youve done the above ^^ youre as good as in heaven. BUT…. you must work hard at finding and seeking Jesus’ face in the world we live in today and trying our hardest to do Gods Will in our lives and for the lives around us.

      Its by confessing Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, being born again and by the renewing of your heart to the Will of God. Its about knowing Jesus, not just knowing OF Him, but truely knowing the heart of Jesus and seeking His face daily. We should love what He loves, hate what he hates (children starving, nobody willing to help them etc etc as an example). If we’re not living the life of Jesus in these current times and what His heart is for then He is not within us. Whether we’ve confessed Jesus is Lord and Saviour or not. If you’ve confessed but your lifes works and focus/priorities havent changed to what Jesus needs us to do then youve mearly spoken words. You need to dig deeper than that and confess from your heart.
      We cant just get by confessing, being saved and then going back to our normal sinful lives relying on God Grace to get us through and still expect to be allowed into heaven.
      Our hearts must be in line with Gods. No amount of religious busi-ness on the outside can sway Gods judgement.
      He judges what we have in our hearts.
      Example: If you dont want to help the homeless or even care about them, but call yourself a Christian and only help because you care what the other Christians who are also helping out, think of you, God knows this. Sure, you’ll help that person out, but God will judge your heart in all matters. Be warned.
      His judging of your heart, for example:

      Mt 5:28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

      I hope and pray this most important message is confronting and makes everything think, question and make sure of their salvation and exactly where they stand with God.

      Take care and God Bless you all

    2. Wes,

      I get what you are saying and I think you are on the right track. I am talking here specifically about Paul’s views in Romans on salvation rather than trying to come up with a systematic theology. One thing I will say is that if you read books like Ephesians, which you quote above, you will see it is much more God-centered than even Christ-centered. Read Ephesians 1 and see just how much Paul talks about God! Way more than he talks about Christ.

      Have a look at Romans 1:16-17. Where does righteousness come from?

      Now, if you are looking for a more systematic view I think you make some really good points. Acts makes it clear that there is no other name by which we must be saved than the name of Jesus! I would contend that Paul believes God does the saving by Jesus (his death, burial, and resurrection) and gives the gift of the Holy Spirit. But that’s just my opinion on the matter. I appreciate your thoughts. You make some good points.

  5. may be
    GODS DONE all he is going to do and says to the jews you guys wrote it all down and cant even see, can’t even hear ,and speak the truth of god you missed it all toghter just as i said you would.
    but now my grace is here for all that believe the gospel.

  6. Since the New Testament plainly states that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21 & Rom. 10:13), and since the same New Testament gives us numerous accounts of people being saved (becoming Christians), then wouldn’t it be safe to assume that whatever people believed, said, and/or obeyed to be saved was what “calling on the name of the Lord” meant?

    Take Acts 2 for example (which is where we first learn that in order to become a Christian — one must in fact “call upon the name of the Lord” Acts 2:21). When Peter was pleading for his Jewish brethren to be saved, he quoted the prophet Joel and plainly told his audience that “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord would be saved.” He then went on to preach about Jesus — how that although they had crucified Jesus of Nazareth…God had nevertheless made that same Jesus both Lord and Christ (2:36). The record then tells us that when those guilty Jews heard that…that they were “cut to the heart” and asked, “what shall we do?” (v. 37). Clearly, they wanted to know what they could do to be saved — they wanted to know how they could be forgiven of their guilt. What was the answer to their question? They were told to “repent and be baptized” (v.38). Now remember, Peter had just told them, in that same sermon, that “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord would be saved” (v.21).

    Now here is the question:

    When Peter told them to “repent and be baptized,” had he forgotten that he had already told them to “call upon the name of the Lord”? Did he change his mind and tell them to “repent and be baptized” INSTEAD of “calling upon the name of the Lord”? Did he give them a second option? Could some have been saved by “calling upon the name of the Lord” and others be saved by “repenting and being baptized”? OR, is it possible that when he told them to “repent and be baptized,” he was at the same time telling them how they were to “call upon the name of the Lord”?

    If repenting and being baptized was not the same thing as calling upon the name of the Lord — then it was something different. If it was something different, did Peter forget, change his mind, or give them a second way of being forgiven? Which?

    Unfortunately, many attempt to remove the words “call upon the name of the Lord” from its inspired context, give it an unispired meaning, and seek to “prove” that baptism is not neccessary to salvation (as Matt has here mentioned). Many do the same thing with the same phrase quoted in Romans 10:13. And, in so doing, they miss the entire point Paul was trying to make.

    And rather than allowing the Bible to show us numerous accounts of actual people actually “calling upon the name of the Lord” and being saved…they give the phrase an entirely foreign meaning and leave their Bibles without a single account of anybody ever so “calling.”

  7. God saves when we call on the name of the Lord, as Matt showed from Romans 10:9, 13. Ananias defined what “callling on the name of the Lord” entails in Acts 22:16.

  8. Hank,

    I am with you 100% on what you wrote. You are right on the money. Since God is consistent, His word will end up being consistent when we understand it correctly. We too, cannot make up our minds first and then look for what we want (baptism being essential). The good news is, the NT is entirely consistent on baptism and entirely inconsistent on people being saved when merely calling on God’s name.

    But people who don’t understand context will never understand that when it comes to what Paul is writing in Romans 10…they are still operating out of a hermeneutic that says – it says exactly this and so that is what it means. Paul is not always so easy to pen down and it is vitally important you understand the argument he is trying to make, the question he is trying to answer in advance, and how his point fits into his broader theology

  9. Hi Matt,

    You wrote:
    “The good news is, the NT is entirely consistent on baptism and entirely inconsistent on people being saved when merely calling on God’s name.”

    I’m not exactly sure what you mean in saying the NT is, “…entirely inconsistent on people being saved when merely calling on God’s name.”

    I think I would say that people are always saved if and when they “call on God’s name,” provided they understand what the NT means when it says as much. A lot of people remove those words from the contexts in which their found and then explain them to mean some sort of a “sinner’s prayer” which nobody in the NT ever prayed to become a Christian.

    But when a person understands what the whole of the NT teaches on such (calling on the name of the Lord), if and when they simply (merely?) do that…they will indeed be saved — the Bible promises as much.

    I think it’s like when the Bible declares that “whoever believes” will be saved. Which means whoever believes will be saved pure and simple. However, (and again), one must understand what the rest of the NT has to teach regarding what it means to believe. It surely does not exlude genuine repentance and…umm…well…a willingness to submit to God’s will. There — I didn’t even say it :).

  10. Hank,

    I agree with you 100%. It has to be understood in context and that makes it 100% consistent. I was off base in saying the Bible is inconsistent about those who call on God’s name being saved. Good call.

  11. ya know one thing …
    we have an example of the grace god give’s through the the baptism of rom.6…
    we come together by christ’s act of righteous sacrafice
    on the cross,and being born anew out of THE DEAD,
    we also because we believe gods words are born again by the Spirit according to gods word of faithful truth…because we believe juses is

  12. Nice Article….. I agree with it 100%….. As for calling upon the name of the Lord… what is the name of the Lord….

    and why does the Bible just say his name… So if his name was Barry, it would be a case of “calling upon the name of Barry”….

    A lot less confusing…. and all of a sudden… all of your arguments get resolved…

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