(KJV) Romans 10:17

17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

It seems Paul alludes to faith cometh by hearing the word of God,but in several instances in bible(Hebrews 4:1)(Isaiah 53:1) they heard the word of God but did not believe.

So can we conclude that faith comes by hearing alone?

  • 4
    Are you familiar with the term "necessary but not sufficient condition"?
    – Mason Wheeler
    Oct 26, 2017 at 11:24
  • 1
    Your question could use some clarification.
    – Zenon
    Oct 26, 2017 at 12:38

3 Answers 3


There are two primary groups.

One hears the gospel, builds faith on it and understand. He is like the good soil.

Matthew 13:23 he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Another group hears the gospel, but do not build faith on it and do not understand. He is like the hard ground of the way side.

Matthew 13:19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

But imagine if there were no seed at all, no gospel, no word of God?

Therefore, faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of God.

Now faith is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8), grace and the Holy Spirit are also the gifts of God. But the gospel, which is the word, which is really Jesus Himself, is the seed and root of all.


Can we take four words out of the middle of a verse and conclude that it means faith only comes by hearing and no other way? No. This verse has to be taken in context.

Here are some of the preceding verses from the KJV:

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

14 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?

15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?

17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Pay attention to verse 14 especially. Paul is saying that you cannot expect people to believe in god if you have not heard of Him, so it is up to us to become preachers or evangelists to preach the word of God so that others might hear it and believe.

Nothing in the passage talks about exclusivity of how faith comes, but it clearly states that one way is through hearing the word of God. But what about reading the word of God? Experiencing a miracle? Experiencing God in prayer or sacrifice? Paul is not discounting any of these ways of 'obtaining' faith.

To your other point, yes there are examples of people hearing the word of God and not believing. That does not discount that some believe through hearing - the two are not mutually exclusive.


Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). But there are some who hear and understand not (Isa. 6:10, Eze. 12:2, Mat. 13:14). Indeed, some cannot understand (John 12:39).

God must open one's heart to believe what one hears (Luke 24:45, 2 Cor. 4:6).

Here are a couple of historic writers who understood how it works.

He speaks moreover concerning our ears, how He hath circumcised both them and our heart. The Lord saith in the prophet, “In the hearing of the ear they obeyed me.”1548 And again He saith, “By hearing, those shall hear who are afar off; they shall know what I have done.”1549 And, “Be ye circumcised in your hearts, saith the Lord.”1550 And again He says, “Hear, O Israel, for these things saith the Lord thy God.”1551 And once more the Spirit of the Lord proclaims, “Who is he that wishes to live for ever? By hearing let him hear the voice of my servant.”1552 And again He saith, “Hear, O heaven, and give ear, O earth, for God1553 hath spoken.”1554 These are in proof. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.vi.ii.ix.html

Moreover, faith is twofold. For faith cometh by hearing.23402340 Rom. x. 17. For by hearing the divine Scriptures we believe in the teaching of the Holy Spirit. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf209.iii.iv.iv.x.html

The conception, indeed, was through the sense of hearing, but the birth through the usual path by which children come, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf209.iii.iv.iv.xiv.html?highlight=hear,mary#highlight

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistle_of_Barnabas https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_of_Damascus


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