16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
The faithful, clear preaching of the Gospel will not necessarily result in its acceptance by the hearers. Even though a biblically sound message is preached by a godly, faithful preacher whom God has appointed, Scripture reminds us that hearers could still reject it.
The apostle Paul says without any hesitation, “But they have not all obeyed the gospel.” In Acts 28:24, concerning the response of the Jews who came to hear Paul expound the Old Testament Scriptures concerning the kingdom of God, Luke reported, “And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.”
The apostle Paul reminds us that the rejection of the preaching of the Gospel was not something peculiar to him alone when he referred to the prophet Isaiah’s lament, “Lord, who hath believed our report?” (cf. Isaiah 53:1). The expression “who hath believed?” is a Hebrew literary genre that emphatically expresses that only a few or even none had done what is mentioned in the phrase. Isaiah was very grieved that hardly any of his Jewish hearers believed what God had told him to prophesy about Christ.
The words “our report” indicate that the prophet had accurately communicated to the people the words which God had given him. The preacher’s greatest duty is to tell the people all that God has revealed with precision and faithfulness. He cannot alter his God-given message to suit the expectations or opinions of the hearers.
Just as the preacher ought to be faithful, the hearers ought also to be faithful to God. Faithful hearers would respond to faithful preaching with obedient faith. An unfaithful audience is the despair of every faithful preacher. The two verbs that Paul uses to denote the response of the hearers are “obeyed” and “believed”. Obedience is an inseparable feature of faith. The only appropriate and acceptable response of the hearers of the Gospel is their obedient faith. The reason why obedient faith is required from the hearers of the faithful preaching of God’s Word is because the message carries the authority of God.
Dear preacher, are you a faithful preacher of God’s Word? Dear hearer of God’s Word, do you obediently believe it?