Romans 10:11-17 (ESV)

11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

John 6:44 (ESV)

44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

Paul appears to be saying that only those who hear the preaching of the gospel have a chance to be saved. In other words, no preaching => no hearing => no believing => no calling on the Lord => no salvation.

On the other hand, Jesus appears to be saying that the Father is the one who draws people to Jesus, and thus they are saved.

Question: Are Paul and Jesus describing different methods through which souls are reached and saved? Or are they describing different aspects of a single method?

For clarity, I'll explain each alternative in turn so you understand what I mean:

  • Option 1: different methods

    It would mean that people can be reached through the preaching of the Gospel (as Paul indicates) OR through supernatural means, by God the Father Himself reaching them directly, without intermediary human preachers. This would give some hope of salvation to those who never had a chance to hear the Gospel preached by a human preacher: God can still reach them directly. (See fate of the unlearned.)

  • Option 2: different aspects of the same method

    Under this view, those who are saved are the ones who

    • (1) hear the Gospel preached to them by a human preacher, AND
    • (2) believe in the Gospel because God the Father draws them to accept the message.

    In other words, option 2 is more restrictive: it's not enough to simply hear the Gospel from a human preacher, God also has to draw the person to believe what's being preached. If God doesn't do the drawing, the person won't believe no matter how much is preached to them. This would mean that people who are drawn to Jesus are a subset of those who hear the preaching of the Gospel, and, therefore, that those who never hear the Gospel will never experience that drawing from the Father unto salvation.

Which option is correct?

1 Answer 1


They are talking of one method

Jesus in the very next verse says (John 6:45, KJV):

It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

This is a reference to Isaiah - and a passage (54:13) not very far from the passage that Paul quotes in Romans 10:16 (53:1) or 15 (52:7). Both Jesus and Paul are exegeting the Isaiaic plan of salvation.

God saves through the sacrifice of the suffering servent, as described in Isaiah 53. And Paul must speak, as descrbribed in Isaiah 52 and 53:1. But ultimately, it is God who has credit as the teacher:

Isaiah 54:13 (ESV)

All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.

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