Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, “I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”

Romans 10:20 (ESV)

According to Paul, in what way has God been found by "those who did not seek [him]", as stated in Romans 10:20?

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Romans 10:19 But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says: "I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will move you to anger by a foolish nation." 20 But Isaiah is very bold and says: "I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me." 21 But to Israel he says: "All day long I have stretched out My hands To a disobedient and contrary people." (NKJ)

If we follow Paul's line of argument we see that he is contrasting two groups of people, the Jews and those who are not Jews (gentiles), and he is saying that the Jews (speaking in generalities) have not found the Savior while the gentiles have.

The point being made is that those who were looking for the messiah did not receive him; however, those who did not have the Old Testament promises did.

Here is what some commentators have written on the verse:

The Gentiles, their minds and hearts-darkened by sin, and therefore not even asking for God’s help, receive it. Israel is passed by because of its obstinacy, as is clear from verse 21. But concerning Israel he says,“All day long I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” [Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Vol. 12–13, p. 353). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.]


Paul’s point in vs 18–20 is to show that Israel has, indeed, both ‘heard’ the word of Christ and ‘known’ about God’s plan of salvation as it has now been unfolded through the preaching of the gospel. Paul probably quotes Ps. 19:4 (v 18b) not as a prophecy of the preaching of the gospel, but simply in order to use its language to assert the widespread proclamation of the gospel to Jews throughout the Mediterranean world. It is perhaps the reference to ‘the ends of the earth’ in this quotation that leads Paul in vs 19–20 to reflect on what was for the Jews of his day a key ‘stumbling block’ in the way of accepting the gospel: the inclusion of Gentiles in the church. Paul shows from both Moses (Dt. 32:21) and Isaiah (65:1) that God had planned all along to include the Gentiles in his ultimate plan of salvation and to make them his people (cf. 9:24–26). Continuing his quotation from Isaiah (65:2), Paul concludes this section of his argument by reminding his readers of two key facts: God has constantly been extending the word of his grace, the gospel, to the Jews; but they, for their part, have been largely disobedient and obstinate. [Carson, D. A., France, R. T., Motyer, J. A., & Wenham, G. J. (Eds.). (1994). New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 1147). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.]

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