“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14)
Some believers today have an unhealthy dependency on religious leaders. This unhealthy dependency can be seen in their heavy reliance on religious leaders for a “word from the Lord.”
Unfortunately, some religious leaders encourage this unhealthy dependency by teaching believers that they cannot hear directly from God for themselves, and that they need a religious leader to hear from God for them and tell them what God said.
While it is true that God gifts and ordains religious leaders to communicate His word to us — it isn’t true that we can’t hear directly from God for ourselves, so we need religious leaders to hear from God for us and tell us what God said.
One Scripture that is often taken out of context to support this idea is the last part of Romans 10:14 which says, “how shall they hear without a preacher?“
As with any passage of Scripture, the key to properly interpreting the meaning of the text is paying careful attention to the context (who, when, what, where, why, and how).
When Paul wrote, “how shall they hear without a preacher?” who was he referring to when he said “they”? This question can be answered by reading the beginning of Romans chapter 10 which says, “Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is for the people of Israel [the Jews] to be saved.” (Romans 10:1)
Looking at Romans 10:1 which sets the stage for this chapter and flows into the context of verse 14, we see that Paul was referring to unsaved Jews and his desire for them to be saved. He wasn’t referring to those who have already heard the Gospel and received salvation in Christ Jesus.
When Paul wrote, “how shall they hear without a preacher?” he wasn’t asking “how shall born-again believers hear from God without a preacher?” He was asking how shall the people of Israel [unsaved Jews] hear of Jesus Christ without a preacher/evangelist [one who proclaims the Gospel]?
Next time you hear someone twist Romans 10:14 out of context to imply that you can’t hear from God directly for yourself, don’t fall for their misuse of Scripture because Paul was referring to unsaved Jews — not born-again believers.
During the Old Covenant, God spoke to the children of Israel primarily through prophets (Hebrews 1:1-2). But in the New Covenant, we have the promise of the Holy Spirit who lives in us — therefore, we have the ability, the responsibility, and the privilege of hearing directly from God for ourselves and obeying His voice.
“As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.” (John 6:45)
“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
“But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” (John 14:26)
“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the assembly.” (Revelations 2:29)