Edit Note : I am not attempting to discover the grammatical subject of the text. I do not believe there is one. The passive indicative has no subject. The predicate of the verse is clearly a concept regarding how faith relates to righteousness. It is this relationship I am seeking to establish, whatever may be established from this place. Then, other places furnish more information.

Neither 'in heart' or 'with heart' (or however one translates the dative) nor 'unto righteousness' are subjects. Nor does the passive indicative provide a subject, only stating that it is 3rd person and singular, whatever it may be.

But I cannot see that the subject is defined, here, within the clause : καρδια γαρ πιστευεται εις δικαιοσυνην.

καρδια γαρ πιστευεται εις δικαιοσυνην

[TR : Beza, Stephens, Elzevir and Scrivener all identical.]

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness [KJV -1769]

I am interested in what Paul conveys about the relationship between faith and righteousness in this particular place.

The KJV inserts 'man' but neither Paul dictated nor Tertius transcribed either anthropos, aner, arrhen or arsen. The exact meaning of these would be another question but my understanding is they are human, man, bachelor and male - but none is there in Greek so neither should they be in English.

Πιστευεται pisteuetai is the present passive indicative, 3rd person singular and the various translations render this as :

for with the heart doth [one] believe [Young's Literal]

with heart for [one] believes [Green's Literal]

For with [the] heart is belief [Eng Greek NT]

for with [the] heart is believed [J N Darby]

for by heart men believe [Wycliffe - from Jerome's Vulgate]

for with the heart we believe [Douay-Rheims from Jerome's Vulgate]

Καρδια kardia is the dative case and of the very same word in Matthew 5:8 Daniel B Wallace, in Beyond the Basics (p194 1996 ed), ascribes it to be a 'dative of reference', of which he says 'the dative is the most common case used for reference'. He adds that this place could also be considered to be the 'dative of sphere', that is to say the expression of the realm in which the key word operates.

Moreover the preposition is εις which I would suggest should be rendered 'unto' and not merely 'to'. It conveys a 'toward' meaning, not a mere direction of operation. There is a force to it - unto.

Paul's words are minimal in this place. The concept he is conveying must be very precise and it must be that he is not enlarging - here - but focusing on one aspect.

How should these few, concise words be rendered in English ?

My own thoughts lean in the direction of :

For [within the realm of the] heart [is there that which] is believed unto righteousness.

  • The only deponent verbs I know of end in -ομαι.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 20:48
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of What is the (grammatical) subject of Romans 10:10? Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 21:54
  • @Ruminator Man believeth (πιστευεται — pisteuetai). Impersonal construction, “it is believed” (present passive indicative of πιστευω — pisteuō) Robertson Link.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 2:42
  • Passive indicative sentences still have subjects. How could it be otherwise?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 12:03
  • @curiousdannii Neither 'in heart' or 'with heart' (or however one translates the dative) nor 'unto righteousness' are subjects. Nor does the passive indicative provide a subject, only stating that it is 3rd person and singular. The subject is not defined within the clause.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 16:29

7 Answers 7


I think that verse 10 makes more sense within the context of the preceding verse:

9If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

10For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

The clause in verse 9 - that God hath raised him from the dead - is the subject of πιστεύεται (see, e.g., Bauer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Early Christian Literature):1

ὅτι ἐὰν ὁμολογήσῃς ἐν τῷ στόματί σου Κύριον Ἰησοῦν, καὶ πιστεύσῃς ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου ὅτι ὁ Θεὸς αὐτὸν ἤγειρεν ἐκ νεκρῶν, σωθήσῃ.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Similarly, confession is made in verse 10 translates the passive indicative στόματί, with the Lord Jesus (Κύριος Ἰησοῦς) from the preceding verse as the subject.

As you note, the King James translation is not completely literal. I think a more literal somewhat readable translation might be:

If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised him from among the dead, thou shalt be saved (cf. Darby). For with the heart is believed to righteousness; and with the mouth is confessed unto salvation.

Regarding the dative case, I think that it would be more proper to classify the usage here as instrumental ("by means of the heart", "by means of the mouth"). This would be consistent with ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ and ἐν τῷ στόματί in verse 9.2

Gregory of Nyssa (335-394) maintained that the order of belief and confession in these verses was significant:

Since we are bidden to honor God with our lips (Isaiah 29:13), and piety is not tested by the sound of a word, but the Son must first be the object of belief in the heart unto righteousness, and then be confessed with the mouth unto salvation. 3

In other words, only confessing Christ in words with true, heartfelt belief (καρδίᾳ πιστεύεται) leads to salvation. Conversely, merely confessing Christ in words without true heartfelt belief does not. Augustine also wrote on this passage:

Confession springs from the root of the heart. Sometimes you hear a man confessing, and cannot tell whether he believes. You should not say that one confesses if you should think that he does not believe. For this is confession: to utter that which you have in your heart. If you have one thing in your heart and another thing on your tongue, then you are speaking and not confessing.4

Regarding the relationship between faith and righteousness, I think verse 10 states clearly that faith leads to righteousness: faith and belief, as you probably know, are expressed by the same word in Greek: πίστις (pistis); there is no distinction. Romans 10:9-10 could just as easily have been translated ... shall have faith in thine heart ... with the heart man hath faith unto righteousness ... Faith/belief is that by which one attains righteousness.

Regarding the relationship then between righteousness - which is derived from faith - and salvation (σωτηρία, v.10), the late (Orthodox) Archbishop Dmitry Royster wrote, in the context of Romans 10:9-10:

In these verses emerges a relationship between two words crucial to Christ's teaching concerning the work of our Lord Jesus Christ, as expressed by the Apostle: righteousness [δικαιοσύνη - dikaiosynē] and salvation [σωτηρία - sōtotēria]. Even with the frequent rendering in the KJV as dikaiosynē as "justification" [instead of "righteousness"], it seems to be nowhere indicated that righteousness/justification and salvation are the same thing. The truth we perceive in the Apostle's use of these terms is that those who with faith have attained unto righteousness will be saved: The righteous shall go into life eternal (Matthew 25:46). Faith is the means whereby we are forgiven and set on the path of righteousness, so that we may receive the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls (1 Peter 1:9).5

1. Arndt and Gingrich translation (2d ed.; University of Chicago Press), p.661
2. See, e.g., Blass, Debrunner and Funk, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (University of Chicago Press, 1961), p.104
3. Against Eunomius, Book IV, No. 7
4. On the Gospel of St. John, Tractate XXVI, No. 2
5. St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans: A Pastoral Commentary (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2008), p.264


I agree this is very difficult to properly render into English. One of the problems we have in English is our words "faith" and "righteousness" which have become technical ecclesiastical (religious) words in modern use that had no such special connotation in Koine Greek nor in Elizabethan English. A better translation in modern English might be "trust" (for pistis)and "right doing" or "justification" (for dike) to remove some of the churchy baggage that traditional words come with.

Therefore, I would translate Rom 10:10 as:

"For, with the heart one trusts [resulting] unto right-actions; but with the mouth one confesses [resulting] unto salvation."

The word "pistis"(according to W E Vine) means, "a firm persuasion, a conviction based on hearing (akin to petho, to persuade), is used in the NT always of faith in God or Christ, or things spiritual." BDAG also has (#2) "state of believing on the basis of the reliability of the one trusted, trust, confidence, faith".

The context is also significant. In Rom 10:3 Paul states (correctly) that the Jews were ignorant of the righteousness (right actions) that come from God - they have not submitted to God's righteousness." He then adds (v4) - "Christ is the end (ie the point or purpose of) the law". Thus, Paul is at pains here to show that the legalistic approach of the Jews in trying to keep the law perfectly does NOT lead to eternal life and was never the purpose of the law. Christ kept the law and it was all the numerous symbols in the law that was supposed to teach people about the coming Messiah that they missed. It is trust in God that brings a true change of heart because of His miraculous work within us.

Therefore, Paul concludes the passage of Rom 10:1-8 with a series of summary statements, the central two are Rom 10:10: "For, with the heart one trusts [resulting] unto right-actions; but with the mouth one confesses [resulting] unto salvation."

That, only by fully trusting in Christ can we have right actions and salvation. We cannot keep the law and earn salvation.

  • δικαιοσυνε is not a matter of 'right actions'. δικαιομα is a matter of 'demonstrated righteousness', but even that is not 'right actions' but a matter of the execution of judgement.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 23:24
  • That is certainly one of its meanings. See BDAG #1. However, BDAG #2 & #3 both list redemptive action and upright behaviour as the most common meanings.
    – user25930
    Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 1:03
  • 1
    Justification is about the righteousness of God being reckoned. It is not a human righteousness that results from Divine Justification.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 1:23
  • That is true and nothing I said contradicts that. What I did say was trusting God results in changed behaviour for us. The idea of being just is not only about God's virtue but ours as well which flows from God's. Lev 11:44, 45, 1 Peter 1:15, 16, 1 John 3:3, 2 Peter 1:4, 2 Cor 3:18, Phil 2:5, 1 Cor 2:16, Luke 6:34, 35, etc.
    – user25930
    Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 1:16
  • Indeed. Both verbs are very personal ones: πιστεύων (trusting) is in the speaker or doer, not the words or ideas, and ὁμολογῶν (agreeing) is with some one, not some fact. It's fine to translate them personally: "he is trusted by the heart" and "he is agreed with by the mouth". Who is "he"? The God who roused Jesus out of the dead.
    – fumanchu
    Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 17:42

It might be relevant that the Christian Latin introduced Believe Into in opposition to Classical Latin Credo in Unum Deo (Acc of 'in' so directional) enter image description here


Note the parallelism Paul used common from Hebrew influence:

καρδίᾳ γὰρ πιστεύεται εἰς δικαιοσύνην,

στόματι δὲ ὁμολογεῖται εἰς σωτηρίαν.

In other words, just was one uses ones mouth to confess, one uses ones heart to believe. Paul used the Hebrew meaning of heart, obviously not the physical organ, but the whole inner being of the mind, volition, and emotion.

enter image description here

Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 320). New York: United Bible Societies.

Note also that Paul explained this extensively in the first eight chapters of Romans. For example,

τί γὰρ ἡ γραφὴ λέγει; ἐπίστευσεν δὲ Ἀβραὰμ τῷ θεῷ καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην. (Rom. 4:3, NA27)

For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” (Rom. 4:3, ESV)

Thus, God puts righteousness in our account on account of our faith in Jesus Christ’s redeeming work.

  • It is eis. Faith is not 'counted as righteousness'. . . and there was (logizomai) unto righteousness. Faith is not accepted in place of righteousness. It is a matter of what is actually believed.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 21:43
  • @NigelJ Are you saying that the one believing is the one reckoning?
    – Ruminator
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 22:10
  • Not at all. Faith is a permanence.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 23:22
  • I cannot think of any Scripture that portrays faith as a penance. Faith is not a work we do to earn salvation - it is the hand the grasps salvation.
    – user25930
    Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 9:15

Verse 10:10 appears to be contrasting the mechanism of "law" with the mechanism of "faith". The law functioned when someone did the things written:

KJV Romans 10:5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.

IE: The law operates with your feet (your actions).

Paul's point is that the gospel operates by your heart and mouth:

"The gospel is operated by the belief of the heart and the confession of the lips". He is making the point he introduced in the previous verses:

[Rom 10:5-13 KJV] 5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down [from above]:) 7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) 8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, [even] in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Because Paul is not describing one person's experience but rather a general principle of operation he abstracts the situation with an impersonal form.


The passive-voice verbs in v. 10 do have subjects.1 The subject of πιστεύεται (“[it] is believed”) is the belief that God raised him from the dead. The subject of ὁμολογεῖται (“[it] is confessed”) is the confession “Jesus is Yahveh.” Having just mentioned that belief and that confession one verse earlier in v. 9, the apostle Paul has no need whatsoever to reiterate it in v. 10. By listening to (or reading) v. 9, the audience knows what is believed; the audience knows what is confessed. That confession and that belief is to be supplied by ellipsis as the subjects for the passive-voice verbs in v. 10.

Romans 10:9–10

As for the question of the relationships, of which, there are three worthy of discussion:

  1. the relationship between belief (faith) and righteousness
  2. the relationship between confession and salvation
  3. the relationship between belief and confession

  1. Believing with the heart unto righteousness
  2. Confessing with the mouth unto salvation

Both Meyer2 and Bullinger3 consider this a parallelism, and Meyer interprets it as such:

“With the faith of the heart is united the confession of the mouth to the result that one obtains righteousness and salvation.”

Other scriptures in the NT also demonstrate a connection between belief/believing and salvation/being saved.4

  1. the relationship between belief and confession

The relationship between belief and confession can be summarized thus: “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”5 and “I believed; therefore, I spoke. We also believe and, therefore, speak.”6 Confession is the natural response from genuine belief overwhelming the heart.


1 Per Wikipedia on the entry for “English passive voice”: “The noun or noun phrase that would be the object of a corresponding active sentence (such as “Our troops defeated the enemy”) appears as the subject of a sentence or clause in the passive voice (“The enemy was defeated by our troops”).”
2 Meyer, p. 411
3 Bullinger, p. 111
4 2 Thes. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 1:5
5 Matt. 12:34 || Luke 6:45
6 2 Cor. 4:13


Bullinger, Ethelbert William. Figures of Speech Used in the Bible: Explained and Illustrated. London: Messrs; New York: Messrs, 1898.

Meyer, Heinrich August Wilhelm. Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the Epistle to the Romans. Trans. Moore, John C.; Johnson, Edwin. Ed. Dickson, William P. New York: Funk, 1884.

  • Isn't the title that Jesus received for his obedience to God "KURIOS" rather than YAVEH? Like Joseph: Psalm 105:21 "He made him lord (κύριον) of his house, and ruler of all his substance"
    – Ruminator
    Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 11:01

I think this is a picture of Paul explaining that faith results in works. But the key to see here is that the works are not our own, they are the out working Of our faith. But it is also true, that the works are not optional, they must flow or the faith which we claim is not real. Just has James says faith without works is dead. Paul is saying the belief in your heart must lead to confession with your mouth. That is real faith leads to action.

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