A repetition of Paul's point in Rom 9:1-5. Even though Paul
has expounded Israel's prophetically forecast rejection of God's grace, he is
yet careful to emphasize that he still has great yearning for Israel to enter
into salvation. His desire for their salvation is reflected in his going to the
Jews first (Acts 13:46; 18:5,6; cf Rom 1:16) and also in praying to God on their
THEY ARE ZEALOUS FOR GOD, BUT THEIR ZEAL IS NOT BASED ON
KNOWLEDGE: Paul knew this, because he had earlier striven alongside them in
the same spirit of zeal and in the same ignorance (Acts 8:3; 9:1; Gal 1:14;
4:17; Phi 3:6; 1Ti 1:13). They knew much of the Scriptures, but in one area they
were terribly deficient... as he describes in v 3...
THEY DID NOT KNOW THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT COMES FROM
GOD: They failed to accept what God had graciously provided in His Son: free
and unmerited favor and blessing and forgiveness, through faith.
AND SOUGHT TO ESTABLISH THEIR OWN: They sought to
establish their own righteousness, by the works of the Law (Rom 9:31,32). See
also Phi 3:6,9. Cp the boasting of the Pharisee in Luk 18:9-12.
THEY DID NOT SUBMIT TO GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS: It is by an
attitude of faith that a man may subject himself before God: I will come and
proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD; I will proclaim your righteousness,
yours alone" (Psa 71:16).
CHRIST IS THE END OF THE LAW SO THAT THERE MAY BE
RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES: Those who believed in Christ Jesus
as the means of God's bestowal of righteousness saw the complete eclipse of law
(any law, the definite article is not in the original) as a means to the
attaining of righteousness for man.
END: Just as in English we speak of "the end of the
matter" and use the expression "to the end that" -- in the one expression "end"
meaning conclusion or termination, and in the other, goal or purpose -- the same
dual possibility lies in the Greek word "telos". The work of God in Christ both
put an end to the Law, but it also fulfilled the goal or purpose of the Law,
which was a "schoolmaster" or "guide" to point the way and to lead others to
Christ (Gal 3:24)! In a similar vein, Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come
to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to
fulfill them" (Mat 5:17). But in being fulfilled, in and through Christ, the Law
-- by necessity -- came to its end or conclusion.
In Christ, the Law came to an end in the same way that the
seed comes to an end in the new plant that springs up, or the bud comes to an
end in the blossoming flower. "The new is in the old concealed; the old is in
the new revealed."
FOR EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES: "Paul adds a certain
qualification to the statement about Christ as the end of the law for
righteousness. He is that 'for everyone who believes.' This seems to suggest
that the law is still applicable to those who do not believe. 'Those who have
not yet passed from the being-in-the-Law to the being-in-Christ, and those who
allow themselves to be misled into exchanging the being-in-Christ for the
being-under-the-Law, are under the Law and are made to feel its power' (A
THE MAN WHO DOES THESE THINGS WILL LIVE BY THEM: Cit
Lev 18:5. The LM does indeed seem to offer life to those who keep it blamelessly
(Gal 3:10). But this is, just as clearly, impossible. However, if the Law were
to be followed, in faith, recognizing that it pointed forward to the true
righteousness of God revealed in Christ, then a man might "live" by them! For he
would be keeping the Law, as best he was able, as a gesture of his faith in
Yahweh Himself -- and as a means of sustaining that faith; and it would be that
faith, in God's promises, that would ultimately save him -- not his perfect
obedience (which, as we know, was impossible).
Vv 6,7: In Christ, there is no need for us to do the
impossible. In Christ, God has already done it for us!
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT IS BY FAITH: That is, the
"spirit" of righteousness by faith, personified in Moses! (This is an
extraordinary expression, since -- to the devout Jew -- Moses might better be
described as "the righteousness that is by the Law"!)
Vv 6-8: Cit Deu 30:12-14. At first sight, the selection of
this portion seems inappropriate, since neither 'righteousness" nor "faith" can
be found here, and there is heavy emphasis on doing, as in Lev 18:5. But the
context helps us, for the passage presupposes a heart attitude of loving
obedience (Deu 30:6-10) rather than a legalistic attempt to attain
righteousness. The whole burden of the passage is to discourage the idea that
the doing of God's will means to aspire after something that is too difficult
and out of reach. Actually, if the life is attuned to God, His will is as near
as the mouth and heart (the mouth as the organ to repeat the word of God and
turn it back to Him in prayer and praise, the heart as the source of desire to
DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, 'WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?'
(THAT IS, TO BRING CHRIST DOWN): God has already sent His Son "from heaven"
(cp John 6:50,51,58; 3:13).
'WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE DEEP?' (THAT IS, TO BRING CHRIST
UP FROM THE DEAD): This has also been done already by God: raising His Son
from the dead (Acts 17:31), thereby demonstrating the working of His mighty
power (Eph 3:19,20; Rom 1:4).
THAT IS, THE WORD OF FAITH WE ARE PROCLAIMING: And so
Paul asserts that he and the apostles were proclaiming the same "gospel" that
Moses had: justification by faith.
IF YOU CONFESS WITH YOUR MOUTH...: This contains no
stipulation about law, no external ordinances. It requires an open declaration
from the lips revealing a sincere belief within, and on this ground a man could
"JESUS IS LORD"... GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD: It is
important to realize that v 9 is not intending to set out ALL that a man must
believe for salvation. The matters mentioned are summary in character. Jesus is
Lord because he is the Son of God, sent by God to be Saviour and King over all
mankind (cp Phi 2:11); this was esp attested by the Father when He exalted him
to His own right hand (Acts 2:33-36). To openly confess that Jesus is Lord is
thus to acknowledge all that God purposed with His Son, both "the things of the
Kingdom and the things of the Name" (Acts 8:12). To believe that God raised him
from the dead is to acknowledge God's seal upon him, for it was always upon the
basis of his resurrection that the apostles proved that Jesus indeed was Christ
(Acts 2:31,32,36; 13:35-38).
JESUS IS LORD: It was natural for the church to have a
fundamental confession of this sort, since at the beginning it was
Jewish-Christian in its composition and therefore had in its background the
example of confession in Israel, "The Lord our God is one Lord" (Deu 6:4). The
coming of Christ necessitated the enlargement of the confession to include Jesus
as Lord: "For us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and
for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all
things came and through whom we live" (1Co 8:6).
HEART... MOUTH: Clearly carried over from Deu 30:14 (v
8 here), and thus sym belief and confession. "For out of the overflow of the
heart the mouth speaks" (Mat 12:34).
ANYONE WHO TRUSTS IN HIM WILL NEVER BE PUT TO SHAME:
Cit Isa 28:16: Scripture indicates how faith can be transforming for one's life,
replacing fear and hesitation with bold confidence that rests on the sure
promises of God. For this purpose Paul uses Isa 28:16 (cf the Rom 9:33).
HIM: "Him" here refers to the "sure foundation stone",
in the context of Isa 28, in contrast to the Temple itself or the Law! This in
itself suggests that, in the days of Isaiah, it was understood that there was --
and there would be -- someone greater than the Temple and the Law, and that
someone -- as Paul knows -- was, ultimately, the Lord Jesus Christ.
FOR THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JEW AND GENTILE:
This belief and its blessing is open to "anyone" -- Jew and Gentile alike.
Whatever "difference" there may be in the two groups in some respects, there is
no difference when it comes to the need for Christ and the availability of his
salvation (cf Rom 3:22).
THE SAME LORD IS LORD OF ALL AND RICHLY BLESSES ALL WHO
CALL ON HIM: In Rom 3:30 Paul reasoned that because God is one there in only
one means of salvation for all. Now, in a similar way, he argues that because
Jesus is Lord, a title that implies that he is over all (both Jew and Gentile,
eg Isa 49:6,7; Psa 22:7,8; Acts 10:36), then his riches must extend to all. The
sense in which he is "rich" to all may be seen from Rom 2:4; 9:23; Eph
EVERYONE: That is, all kinds (classes, or races) of
men. Examples of "all" prob meaning "without distinction" rather than "without
exception": Joh 1:7,9; 3:26; 5:28; 8:2; 12:32; 13:35; 1Ti 2:1,2; 4:15; 5:20;
6:17; Heb 2:9.
WHO CALLS ON: This implies trust, or faith, in the One
THE NAME OF THE LORD: Jesus bears his Father's Name and
thus those who call upon him, call upon Yahweh -- thus fulfilling the words of
the prophet (Acts 2:21-38,39; 3:13).
SHALL BE SAVED: This is the end reached; it forcefully
concludes the apostle's argument, namely, Salvation by faith is an opportunity
HOW, THEN, CAN THEY CALL ON THE ONE THEY HAVE NOT BELIEVED
IT?: Now the apostle turns from the responsibility of the seeker after
salvation to emphasize the role that believers are intended to have in God's
plan for preaching the gospel. Calling on the Lord is meaningless apart from
some assurance that He is worthy of confidence and trust, that He has something
to offer that guilty sinners need. Calling on Him and trust in Him are two sides
of the same coin. The verse suggests that calling on the Lord continues to be a
mark of the believer, not simply the first step in the direction of establishing
relationship to him (cf 1Co 1:2).
AND HOW CAN THEY BELIEVE IN THE ONE OF WHOM THEY HAVE NOT
HEARD?: Paul proceeds to the second consideration in his closely reasoned
argument, and it is this -- that faith depends on knowledge. One must hear the
gospel before he can be expected either to receive it or reject it.
AND HOW CAN THEY HEAR WITHOUT SOMEONE PREACHING TO
THEM?: The KJV has "without a preacher" -- which may be misleading, in that
it implies (or it may be inferred therefrom) that there is a special office of
preacher. This is of course not the case at all: all God's children are (or
should be) preachers!
AND HOW CAN THEY PREACH UNLESS THEY ARE SENT?:
Preachers will not go forth unless they are sent. Is there any scriptural
support that God intended to send forth preachers to all men? Yes! Isa 52:7.
THEY ARE SENT: To be "sent" suggests at least two
things: that one operates under a higher authority and that his message does not
originate with himself but is given him by the sending authority. The prophets
were men who were sent in these two respects. So was the Lord Jesus (John 3:34;
7:16). So is the Christian in his witness-bearing capacity. The apostles
received their commission from the risen Lord as he in turn had been sent by the
Father (John 20:21). In addressing the Roman ecclesia, Paul was careful to state
at the very beginning that he was called and set apart for the ministering of
the gospel (Rom 1:1).
In the context of Isa 52, these preachers are being sent to
all men! "The LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of ALL THE NATIONS,
AND ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH will see the salvation of our God... so will he
sprinkle MANY NATIONS, and kings will shut their mouths because of him" (Isa
THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS: Cit Isa 52:7:
Paul appropriates the same words to himself: Rom 10:15 -- where "feet of HIM"
becomes "feet of THOSE". Paul typically changes from singular to plural: Isa
49:6 / Act 13:47; Isa 49:8 / 2Co 6:1,2; Jos 1:5 / Heb 13:5,6. (Notice also the
"our" in Rom 10:16.)
Vv 16,17: That is, 'Who has given FAITH to our teaching? So
then FAITH (sw) comes by teaching...'
Nevertheless, not all had welcomed his glad tidings and obeyed
it. But this also had been predicted by Isaiah: "Lord, who has believed our
message?" (Isa 53:1). What a change of atmosphere from Paul's quotation of Isa
52:7 (v 15) to his quotation of Isa 53:1 (v 16)! The prophet foresaw a
repudiation of the message about salvation through a suffering Servant. History
has sustained prophecy: "Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and
foolishness to Gentiles" (1Co 1:23).
Cit Psa 19:4, which speaks of a universal extension of the
gospel to all the world.
DID ISRAEL NOT UNDERSTAND?: There remains the
possibility, however, that in spite of hearing the message, Israel has not
understood it. So in all fairness this should be considered, for if it were
true, it would be a mitigating factor in their situation. But the very form of
the question in the original contains an implicit denial that Israel's failure
results from lack of understanding. At Pentecost Peter spoke of the ignorance of
his countrymen as explaining the crucifixion. But as time went on, fewer and
fewer Jews in proportion to the total population of the nation responded to the
gospel. A hardened attitude set in. The precedent of the Jews who did respond to
the gospel, instead of moving their fellow-Jews, only embittered them. Then, as
the gospel spread abroad and was received by Gentiles in ever greater numbers,
this served to antagonize them still further.
I WILL MAKE YOU ENVIOUS BY THOSE WHO ARE NOT A NATION; I
WILL MAKE YOU ANGRY BY A NATION THAT HAS NO UNDERSTANDING: Cit Deu 32:21:
Because of their lack of faith, and their idolatry, God would turn from Israel
to the Gentiles. By the time Paul writes this, Gentile response to God and His
Word had surpassed the response of Israel, so the quotation is apt and telling
in its effect. Those who lacked special revelation and the moral and religious
training God provided for Israel have proved more responsive than the chosen
I WILL MAKE YOU ANGRY: As indeed it did: Acts 17:4,5;
21:28; 22:21,22; 1Th 2:16.
This quotation from Deu 32:21 is again picked up in Rom
11:11,14. It echoes the "not-people" passages of Hosea in Rom 9:25,26.
Isaiah, in Isa 65:1, proclaimed daring words intending to
boldly disturb the self-contented minds of the Jews. This thought is reminiscent
of Rom 9:30.
Cit Isa 65:2. God is the one who is seeking, reaching out to
His people continually with a plea that Israel return to Him in loving
obedience, only to be rebuffed. So we may draw the conclusion that the spiritual
condition of Israel does not come from a lack of opportunity to hear the gospel
or a lack of understanding of its content, but must be traced to a stubborn and
rebellious spirit such as cropped up in the days of Moses and the days of the
prophets. It is the more grievous now because God has spoken His final word in
His Son and has been rebuffed by those who should have been the most ready to