The Object Of This Chapter, As Of The Preceding And Of The One Which Follows, Is To Set Forth The Truth In Reference To The Rejection Of The Jews As The Peculiar People Of God, And The Extension To All Nations Of The Offers Of Salvation. The First Verses Are Again, As Those At The Beginning Of Chap. 9, Introductory And Conciliatory, Setting Forth The Ground Of The Rejection Of The Jews, Vers. 1-4. The Next Section Contains An Exhibition Of The Terms Of Salvation, Designed To Show That They Were As Accessible To The Gentiles As The Jews, Vers. 5-10. The Plan Of Salvation Being Adapted To All, And God Being The God Of All, The Gospel Should Be Preached To All, Vers. 11-17. The Truth Here Taught (The Calling Of The Gentiles, Etc,) Was Predicted Clearly In The Old Testament, Vers. 18-21.
WITH his usual tenderness, the apostle assures his brethren of his solicitude for their welfare, and of his proper appreciation of their character, vers. 1, 2. The difficulty was that they would not submit to the plan of salvation proposed in the gospel, and, therefore, they rejected the Savior. This was the true ground of their excision from the people of God, vers. 3, 4. The method of justification, on which the Jews insisted, was legal, and from its nature must be confined to themselves, or to those who would consent to become Jews. Its terms, when properly understood, were perfectly impracticable, ver. 5. But the gospel method of salvation prescribes no such severe terms, it simply requires cordial faith and open profession, vers. 6-10. This, he shows, in the next verses, is the doctrine of the Scriptures, and from it he infers the applicability of this plan to all men, Gentiles as well as Jews.
—Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans
VERSE 1. Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. As the truth which Paul was to reiterate in the ears of the Jew was, of all others, to them the most offensive, he endeavors to allay their enmity, first, by assuring them of his affection, and secondly, by avoiding all exaggeration in the statement of their case. The word εὐδοκία means either good pleasure, sovereign purpose, Matthew 11:26; Luke 2:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; Ephesians 1:5, 9, or benevolence, kind feeling, or desire, as in Philippians 1:15. The latter sense best suits this passage. Paul meant to assure his brethren according to the flesh, that all his feelings towards them were kind, and that he earnestly desired their salvation. He had no pleasure in contemplating the evils which impended over them, his earnest desire and prayer was (εἰς σωτηρίαν) that they might be saved; literally to salvation, as expressing the end or object towards which his wishes or prayers tend; see Romans 6:22; Galatians 3:17, and frequent examples elsewhere of this use of the preposition εἰς.
VERSE 2. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God. So far from desiring to exaggerate the evil of their conduct, the apostle, as was his uniform manner, endeavored to bring every thing commendable and exculpatory fully into view. The word for; has here its appropriate force, as it introduces the ground or reason of the preceding declaration. 'I desire their salvation, for they themselves are far from being unconcerned as to divine things.'
Zeal of God may mean very great zeal, as cedars of God mean great cedars, according to a common Hebrew idiom; or zeal of which God is the object; the latter explanation is to be preferred. John 2:17, "The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up." Acts 21:20, "Zealous of the law." Acts 22:3, "Zealous of God." Galatians 1:14, etc., etc. The Jews had great zeal about God, but it was wrong as to its object, and of consequence wrong in its moral qualities. Zeal, when rightly directed, however ardent, is humble and amiable. When its object is evil, it is proud, censorious, and cruel. Hence, the importance of its being properly guided, not merely to prevent the waste of feeling and effort, but principally to prevent its evil effects on ourselves and others.
But not according to knowledge. Commentators notice that Paul uses the word ἐπίγνωσις. The Jews had γνῶσις (knowledge), what they lacked was ἐπίγνωσις, correct knowledge and appreciation. Their knowledge was neither enlightened nor wise; neither right as to its objects, nor correct in its character. The former idea is here principally intended. The Jews were zealous about their law, the traditions of their fathers, and the establishment of their own merit. How naturally would a zeal for such objects make men place religion in the observance of external rites; and be connected with pride, censoriousness, and a persecuting spirit. In so far, however, as this zeal was a zeal about God, it was preferable to indifference, and is, therefore, mentioned by the apostle with qualified commendation.
VERSE 3. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not, etc. The grand mistake of the Jews was about the method of justification. Ignorance on this point implied ignorance of the character of God, of the requirements of the law, and of themselves. It was, therefore, and is, and must ever continue to be a vital point. Those who err essentially here, err fatally; and those who are right here, cannot be wrong as to other necessary truths.
Their own righteousness, τὴν ἰδίαν δικαιοσύνην, which Theophylact correctly interprets, τὴν ἐξ ἔ̓́ργων ἰδίων καὶ πόνων κατορθουμένην. The phrase righteousness of God, admits here, as in other parts of the epistle, of various interpretations.
1. It may mean the divine holiness or general moral perfection of God. In this way the passage would mean, 'Being ignorant of the perfections or holiness of God, and, of course, of the extent of his demands, and going about to establish their own excellence, etc.' This gives a good sense, but it is not consistent with the use of the expression righteousness of God, in other similar passages, as Romans 1:17, 3:21, etc. And, secondly, it requires the phrase to be taken in two different senses in the same verse; for the last clause, 'have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God,' cannot mean, 'They have not submitted to the divine holiness.'
2. The term may mean that righteousness of which God is the author, that which he approves and accepts. This interpretation is, in this case, peculiarly appropriate, from the opposition of the two expressions, righteousness of God and their own righteousness. 'Being ignorant of that righteousness which God has provided, and which he bestows, and endeavoring to establish their own, they refused to accept of his.' The sense here is perfectly good, and the interpretation may be carried through the verse, being applicable to the last clause as well as to the others. A comparison of this passage with Philippians 3:9, "Not having my own righteousness, but the righteousness which is of God," is also in favor of this interpretation. For there the phrase the righteousness which is of God, can only mean that which he gives, and with this phrase the expression the righteousness of God, in this verse, seems to be synonymous.
3. Thirdly, Some interpreters take righteousness in the sense of justification, "justification of God" being taken as equivalent to 'God's method of justification.' Being ignorant of God's method of justification, and going about to establish their own, they have not submitted themselves to the method which he has proposed.' The cause of the rejection of the Jews was the rejection of the method of salvation through a crucified Redeemer, and their persisting in confiding in their own merits and advantages as the ground of their acceptance with God.
Although this is the meaning of the passage, it is not the sense of the words. Righteousness does not signify justification. It is that on which the sentence of justification is founded. Those who have righteousness, either personal and inherent, or imputed, are justified. As we have no righteousness of our own, nothing that we have done or experienced, nothing personal or subjective, that can answer the demands of the law, we can be justified only through the righteousness of God, imputed to us and received by faith.
VERSE 4. For Christ Is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. The precise connection of this verse with the preceding, depends on the view taken of its meaning. The general import of the passage is sufficiently obvious, but its exact sense is not so easy to determine, on account of the ambiguity of the word (τέλος) translated end. The word may signify,
1. The object to which any thing leads. Christ is, in this sense, the end of the law, inasmuch as the law was a schoolmaster to lead us to him, Galatians 3:24; and as all its types and prophecies pointed to him, "They were a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ," Colossians 2:17, Hebrews 9:9. The meaning and connection of the passage would then be, 'The Jews erred in seeking justification from the law, for the law was designed, not to afford justification, but to lead them to Christ, in order that they might be justified.' To Christ all its portions tended, he was the object of its types and the subject of its predictions, and its precepts and penalty urge the soul to him as the only refuge. So Calvin, Bengel, and the majority of commentators.
2. The word may be taken in the sense of completion or fulfillment. Then Christ is the end of the law, because he fulfills all its requisitions, all its types and ceremonies, and satisfies its perceptive and penal demands See Matthew 5:17, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets, I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill;" and Romans 8:4. The Philological ground for this interpretation is slight. 1 Timothy 1:5, is compared with Romans 13:10, in order to prove that the word (τέλος) here translated end, is equivalent to the word (πλήρωμα) which is there (Romans 13:10) rendered fulfilling. The sense, according to this interpretation, is scriptural, but is not consistent with the meaning of the word.
3. We may take the word in its more ordinary sense of end or termination, and understand it metonymically for he who terminates or puts an end to. The meaning and connection would then be, 'The Jews mistake the true method of justification, because they seek it from the law, whereas Christ has abolished the law, in order that all who believe may be justified.' Compare Ephesians 2:15, "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments;" Colossians 2:14, "Blotting Out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, etc.," Galatians 3:10, 12, Romans 6:14, 7:4, 6, and the general drift of the former part of the epistle. In sense, his interpretation amounts to the same with the preceding, though it differs from it in form. Christ has abolished the law, not by destroying, but by fulfilling it. He has abolished the law as a rule of justification, or covenant of works, and the whole Mosaic economy having met its completion in him, has by him been brought to an end. In Luke 16:16, it is said, "The law and the prophets were until John;" then, in one sense, they ceased, or came to an end. When Christ came, the old legal system was abolished, and a new era commenced. The same idea is presented in Galatians 3:23, "Before faith came we were kept under the law," but when Christ appeared, declaring, "Believe and thou shalt be saved," we were no longer under that bondage. The doctrine is clearly taught in Scripture, that those who are out of Christ are under the law, subject to its demands and exposed to its penalty. His coming and work have put an end to its authority, we are no longer under the law, but under grace, Romans 6:14; we are no longer under the system which says, Do this, and live; but under that which says, Believe, and thou shalt be saved. This abrogation of the law, however, is not by setting it aside, but by fulfilling its demands. It is because Christ is the fulfiller of the law, that he is the end of it. It is the latter truth which the apostle here asserts. The word law is obviously here used in its prevalent sense throughout this epistle, for the whole rule of duty prescribed to man, including for the Jews the whole of the Mosaic institutions. That law is intended which has been fulfilled, satisfied, or abrogated by Jesus Christ.
For righteousness to every one that believeth. The general meaning of this clause, in this connection, is, 'So that, or, in order that, every believer may be justified;' Christ has abolished the law, ἵνα δικαιωθῇ πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ἐπ· αὐτῷ, in order that every believer may attain righteousness, Which is unattainable by the law. The law is abolished by Christ, not as a rule of life, but as a covenant prescribing the condition of life. The way in Which this idea is arrived at, however, may be variously explained.
1. The preposition (εἰς) rendered for, may be rendered as to, as it relates to. 'Christ is the end of the law, as it relates to righteousness.'
2. It may be understood of the effect, or result, and be resolved into the verbal construction with that or so that; 'Christ is the end, etc., that righteousness is to every believer; or so that every believer is justified.'
It may point out the end or object. 'Christ has abolished the law in order that every one that believes, etc.' The last is the correct explanation. The Jews, then, did not submit to the righteousness of God, that is, to the righteousness which he had provided, for they did not submit to Christ, who is the end of the law. He has abolished the law, in order that every one that believes may be justified.
VERSE 5. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law. That is, concerning the righteousness which is of the law, Moses thus writes. In the last clause of the preceding verse it was clearly intimated that faith was the condition of salvation under the gospel. 'To every one, without distinction, that believeth, is justification secured.' On this the apostle connects his description and contrast of the two methods of justification, the one by works and the other by faith, with the design of showing that the former is in its nature impracticable, while the other is reasonable and easy, and adapted to all classes of men, Jews and Gentiles, and should therefore be offered to all.
The righteousness which is of the law. The word righteousness has here its common and proper meaning. It is that which constitutes a man righteous, which meets the demands of the law, or satisfies the claims of justice. The man who is righteous, or who possesses righteousness, cannot be condemned. The apostle in his whole argument proceeds on the assumption that God is just; that he does and must demand righteousness in those whom he justifies. There are but two possible ways in which this righteousness can be obtained—by works, or by faith. We must either have a righteousness of our own, or receive and trust in a righteousness which is not our own, but which has been wrought out for us, and presented to us, as the ground of our acceptance with God. The quotation is from Leviticus 18:5, "The man that doeth those things shall live by them."
Those things are the things prescribed in the law. It is the clear doctrine of the Scriptures, that obedience to the law, to secure justification, must be perfect. For it is said, "Cursed is every one who committeth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them;" and, he that offendeth in one point, is guilty of all. It is not necessary that a man who commits murder should also steal, in order to bring him under the penalty of the law. The legal system, then, which defended obedience, required perfect obedience. Those, and those only, who were thus free from sin, should live, i.e. shall enjoy that life which belongs to him as a rational and immortal being. It is a life which includes the whole man, soul and body, and the whole course of his existence, in this world and in that which is to come. Ζήσεται ex mente Judaeorum interpretatur de vita aeterna, ut Targum, Leviticus 18:4. The Jewish writers also well remark, that Moses says,
Qui fecerit ea homo; non dicitur, Sacerdos, Levita, Israelita, sed homo; ut discas, etiam gentilem, si proselytus fiat, et det legi operam, intelligi. See Wetstein.
VERSES 6, 7.. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not, etc. Moses says one thing; the righteousness of faith says another thing. The same kind of personification occurs in Galatians 3:23, 25. The phrase righteousness of faith, or as it is here, which is of faith, admits of different interpretations, if we limit ourselves to the mere force of the words.
Righteousness of faith, may mean that righteousness which consists in faith; or, which flows from faith, (i.e., that inward excellence which faith produces); or, the righteousness which is received by faith. This last is the only interpretation consistent with the context, or with the analogy of Scripture. The righteousness which consists in faith, or which flows from faith, is our own righteousness. It is as true and properly our own as any righteousness of works on which Pharisees relied. Besides, it is the whole doctrine of the apostle and of the gospel, that it is Christ's righteousness, his obedience, blood, or death, which is the ground of our acceptance with God, and which it receives and rests upon.
It is clearly implied in that verse that the attainment of justification, by a method which prescribed perfect obedience, is for sinful men impossible. It is the object of this and the succeeding verses, to declare that the gospel requires no such impossibilities; it neither requires us to scale the heavens, nor to fathom the great abyss; it demands only cordial faith and open profession. In expressing these ideas the apostle skillfully avails himself of the language of Moses, Deuteronomy 30:10-14. It is clear that the expressions used by the ancient lawgiver were a familiar mode of saying that a thing could not be done. The passage referred to is the following,
"For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it."
The obvious import of this passage is, that the knowledge of the will of God had been made perfectly accessible, no one was required to do what was impossible; neither to ascend to heaven, nor to pass the boundless sea, in order to attain it; it was neither hidden, nor afar off, but obvious and at hand. Without directly citing this passage, Paul uses nearly the same language to express the same idea. The expressions here used seem to have become proverbial among the Jews. To be "high," or "afar off," was to be unattainable; Psalm 139:6; Proverbs 24:7. "To ascend to heaven," or "to go down to hell," was to do what was impossible, Amos 9:2; Psalm 139:8, 9. As the sea was to the ancients impassable, it is easy to understand how the question, 'Who can pass over the sea?' was tantamount to 'Who can ascend up into heaven?' Among the later Jews the same mode of expressions not unfrequently occur.
Bava Mezia, f. 94, 1. Si quis dixerit mulieri, si adscenderis in firmamentum, aut descenderis in abyssum, eris mihi desonsata, haec conditio frustranea est.—Wetstein.
Instead of using the expression, 'Who shall go over the sea for us?' Paul uses the equivalent phrase, 'Who shall descend into the deep?' as more pertinent to his object. The word (ἄβυσσον) rendered deep, is the same which elsewhere is rendered abyss, and properly means, without bottom, bottomless, and therefore, is often applied to the sea as fathomless, Genesis 1:2, 7:11 (in the Septuagint), and also to the great cavern beneath the earth, which, in the figurative language of the Scriptures, is spoken of as the abode of the dead, and which is often opposed to heaven. Job 28:14, "The abyss says it is not in me;" compare the enumeration of things in heaven, things in earth, and things under the earth, in Philippians 2:10, and elsewhere; see also Genesis 49:25, God "shall bless thee with the blessings of heaven above, blessings of the abyss which lieth under." In the New Testament, with the exception of this passage, it is always used for the abode of fallen spirits and lost souls, Luke 8:31; Revelation 17:8; 20:1, and frequently in that book, where it is appropriately rendered the bottomless pit. The expression is, therefore, equivalent to that which is commonly rendered hell in our version. Psalm 139:8, "If I make my bed in hell." Amos 9:2, "Though they dig into hell," and was no doubt chosen by the apostle, as more suitable to the reference to the resurrection of Christ, with which he meant to connect it, than the expression used by Moses in the same general sense, "Who shall pass over the sea?"
Paul connects each of the questions, virtually borrowed from the Old Testament, with a comment designed to apply them more directly to the point which he had in view.
Say not, who shall ascend into heaven? that is, to bring Christ down, etc. The precise intent of these comments, however, may be differently understood.
1. The words that is, may be taken as equivalent to namely, or to wit, and the apostle's comment be connected, as an explanatory substitute, with the questions, 'Say not who shall ascend into heaven? to wit, to bring Christ down; or who shall descend into the deep? to bring him up again from the dead.' The sense would then be, 'The plan of salvation by faith does not require us to do what cannot be done, and which is now unnecessary; it does not require us to provide a Savior, to bring him from heaven, or to raise him from the dead; a Savior has been provided, and we are now only required to believe,' etc.
2. The words that is, may be taken as equivalent to the fuller expression, that is to say, 'To ask who shall ascend into heaven?' is as much as to ask, Who shall bring Christ down from above? And to ask, 'Who shall descend into the deep? is as much as to ask, who shall bring Christ again from the dead?'
The comments of the apostle may, therefore, be regarded as a reproof of the want of faith implied in such questions, and the passage may be thus understood, Do not reject the gospel. Say not in thy heart that no one can ascend to heaven, as the gospel says Christ has done: and no man can descend into the abyss and thence return, as is said of Christ. The incarnation of the Son of God, and his ascension to heaven, are not impossibilities, which would justify unbelief. The doctrines of the gospel are plain and simple.
Instead of regarding the apostle as intending to state generally the nature of the method of justification by faith, many suppose that it is his object to encourage and support a desponding and anxious inquirer. 'Do not despairingly inquire who shall point out the way of life? No one, either from heaven or from the deep, will come to teach me the way. Speak not thus, for Christ has come from heaven, and arisen from the dead for your salvation and no other Savior is required.' But this view does not seem to harmonize with the spirit of the context.
It has been questioned whether Paul meant, in this passage, merely to allude to the language of Moses in Deuteronomy 30:10-14, or whether he is to be understood as quoting it in such a manner as to imply that the ancient prophet was describing the method of justification by faith. This latter view is taken by Calvin, De Brais, and many others. They suppose that in the passage quoted in the 5th verse from Leviticus 18:5, Moses describes the legal method of justification, but that here he has reference to salvation by faith. This is, no doubt, possible. For in Deuteronomy 30:10, etc., the context shows that the passage may be understood of the whole system of instruction given by Moses; a system which included in it, under its various types and prophecies, an exhibition of the true method of salvation. Moses, therefore, might say with regard to his own law, that it set before the people the way of eternal life, that they had now no need to inquire who should procure this knowledge for them from a distance, for it was near them, even in their hearts and in their mouths. But, on the other hand, it is very clear that this interpretation is by no means necessary. Paul does not say, 'Moses describes the righteousness which is of faith in this wise,' as immediately above he had said of the righteousness which is of the law. There is nothing in the language of the apostle to require us to understand him as quoting Moses in proof of his own doctrine. It is, indeed, more in accordance with the spirit of the passage, to consider him as merely expressing his own ideas in scriptural language, as in ver. 19 of this chapter, and frequently elsewhere. 'Moses teaches us that the legal method of justification requires perfect obedience; but the righteousness which is by faith, requires no such impossibility, it demands only cordial faith and open profession.' The modern interpreters who understand the apostle as quoting the language of Moses to prove the true nature of the gospel, differ among themselves. Meyer and most other advocates of this view of the context, assume that Paul departs entirely from the historical meaning of the original text, and gives it a sense foreign to the intention of the sacred writer. Others, as Olshausen, suppose him to give its true spiritual sense. The passage in Deuteronomy is, in this view, strictly Messianic. It describes, in contrast with the inexorable demand of obedience made by the law, the spiritual power of the future dispensation. All this, however, requires unnecessary violence done both to the passage in Deuteronomy and to the language of the apostle. In this very chapter, ver. 18, we have another clear example of Paul's mode of expressing his own ideas in the language of the Scriptures. This is done without hesitation by every preacher of the gospel. The apostle, therefore, is not to be understood as saying, Moses describes the righteousness of the law in one way, and the righteousness of faith in another way; but he contrasts what Moses says of the law with what the gospel says.
According to the interpretation given above, it is assumed the design of this passage is to present the simplicity and suitableness of the gospel method of salvation, which requires only faith and confession, in opposition to the strict demands of the law, which it is as impossible for us to satisfy as it is to scale the heavens. According to the other view, mentioned above, the design of the apostle was to rebuke the unbelief of the Jews. They were not to regard the resurrection and ascension of Christ as impossible. But the whole context shows that the purpose of the apostle is to contrast the legal and the gospel method of salvation—to show that the one is impracticable, the other easy. By works of the law no flesh living can he justified; whereas, whosoever simply calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
VERSE 8. But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart, that is, the word of faith which we preach. As the expressions to be hidden, to be far off, imply that the thing to which they refer is inaccessible or difficult, so to be near, to be in the mouth and in the heart, mean to be accessible, easy and familiar. They are frequently thus used; see Joshua 1:8, "This law shall not depart out of thy mouth," i.e. it shall be constantly familiar to thee; Exodus 13:9, "That the law may be in thy mouth;" Psalm 37:31; 40:8. The meaning of this passage then is, 'The gospel, instead of directing us to ascend into heaven, or to go down to the abyss, tells us the thing required is simple and easy. Believe with thy heart and thou shalt be saved.'
The word is nigh thee, i.e. the doctrine or truth contemplated, and by implication, what that doctrine demands. Paul, therefore, represents the gospel as speaking of itself. The method of justification by faith says, 'The word is near thee, in thy mouth, i.e. the word or doctrine of faith is thus easy and familiar.' This is Paul's own explanation. The expression, word of faith, may mean the word or doctrine concerning faith, or the word to which faith is due, which should be believed. In either case, it is the gospel, or doctrine of justification, which is here intended.
VERSE 9.That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, etc. The connection of this verse with the preceding may be explained by making the last clause of ver. 8 a parenthesis, and connecting this immediately with the first clause. 'It says, the word is nigh thee; it says, that if thou shalt confess and believe, thou shalt be saved.' According to this view, this verse is still a part of what the gospel is represented as saying. Perhaps, however, it is better to consider this verse as Paul's own language, and an explanation of the "word of faith" just spoken of. 'The thing is near and easy, to wit, the word of faith which we preach, that if thou wilt confess,' etc. The two requisites for salvation mentioned in this verse are confession and faith. They are mentioned in their natural order; as confession is the fruit and external evidence of faith. So in 2 Peter 1:10, calling is placed before election, because the former is the evidence of the latter. The thing to be confessed is that Jesus Christ is Lord. That is, we must openly recognize his authority to the full extent in which he is Lord; acknowledge that he is exalted above all principality and powers, that angels are made subject to him, that all power in heaven and earth is committed unto him, and of course that he is our Lord. This confession, therefore, includes in it an acknowledgment of Christ's universal sovereignty, and a sincere recognition of his authority over us. To confess Christ as Lord, is to acknowledge him as the Messiah, recognized as such of God, and invested with all the power and prerogatives of the Mediatorial throne. This acknowledgment is consequently often put for a recognition of Christ in all his offices. 1 Corinthians 12:3, "No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." Philippians 2:11, "Every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord."'To preach the Lord Jesus,' or 'that Jesus is the Lord,' Acts 11:20, is to preach him as the Savior in all his fullness. Romans 14:9, "For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living." The necessity of a public confession of Christ unto salvation is frequently asserted in the Scriptures. Matthew 10:32, "Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven." Luke 12:8; 1 John 4:15, "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God."
The second requisite is faith. The truth to be believed is that God hath raised Christ from the dead. That is, we must believe that by the resurrection of Christ, God has publicly acknowledged him to be all that he claimed to be, and has publicly accepted of all that he came to perform. He has recognized him as his Son and the Savior of the world, and has accepted of his blood as a sacrifice for sin. See Romans 4:25, 1:4; Acts 13:32, 33; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 1 Corinthians 15:14, et seq.; Acts 17:31, "Whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead." To believe, therefore, that God has raised Christ from the dead, involves the belief that Christ is all that he claimed to be, and that he has accomplished all that he came to perform.
In thy heart. Faith is very far from being a merely speculative exercise. When moral or religious truth is its object, it is always attended by the exercise of the affections. The word heart, however, is not to be taken in its limited sense, for the seat of the affections. It means the whole soul, or inner man. Confession is an outward act, faith is an act of the mind in the wide sense of that word. It includes the understanding and the affections. Saving faith is not mere intellectual assent, but a cordial receiving and resting on Christ alone for salvation.
VERSE 10. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. This is the reason why faith and confession are alone necessary unto salvation; because he who believes with the heart is justified, and he who openly confesses Christ shall be saved. That is, such is the doctrine of Scripture, as the apostle proves in the subsequent verse. Here, as in the passages referred to above, in which confession is connected with salvation, it is not a mere saying, Lord, Lord, but a cordial acknowledgment of him, before men, as our Lord and Redeemer.
Unto righteousness, i.e., so that we may become righteous. The word righteousness has two senses, answering to the two aspects of sin, guilt and moral depravity. According to the former sense, it is that which satisfies justice; in the latter, it is conformity to the precepts of the law. A man, therefore, may be righteous and yet unholy. Were this not so, there could be no salvation for sinners. If God cannot justify, or pronounce righteous the ungodly, how could we be justified? Here, as generally, where the subject of justification is discussed in the Bible, righteousness has its forensic, as distinguished from its moral sense. And when Paul says, "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness," he expresses the relation of faith, not to our sanctification, but to justification.
Unto salvation is equivalent to saying 'that we may be saved.' The preposition rendered unto, expressing here the effect or result. Acts 10:4; Hebrews 6:8. By faith we secure an interest in the righteousness of Christ, and by confessing him before men, we secure the performance of his promise that he will confess us before the angels of God.
Caeterum viderint quid respondeant Paulo, qui nobis hodie imaginariam quandam fidem fastuose jactant, quae secreto cordis contenta, confessione oris, veluti re supervacanea et inani, supersedeat. Nimis enim nugatorium est, asserere ignem esse, ubi nihil sit flammae neque caloris.—Calvin.
—Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans
1. Zeal, to be either acceptable to God or useful to men, must not only be right as to its ultimate, but also as to its immediate objects. It must not only be about God, but about the things which are well pleasing in his sight. The Pharisees, and other early Jewish persecutors of Christians, really thought they were doing God service when they were so exceedingly zealous for the traditions of their fathers. The moral character of their zeal and its effects were determined by the immediate objects towards which it was directed, ver. 2.
2. The doctrine of justification, or method of securing the pardon of sin and acceptance with God, is the cardinal doctrine in the religion of sinners. The main point is, whether the ground of pardon and acceptance be in ourselves or in another, whether the righteousness on which we depend be of ourselves or of God, ver. 3.
3. Ignorance of the divine character and requirements is at the foundation of all ill-directed efforts for the attainment of salvation, and of all false hopes of heaven, ver. 3.
4. The first and immediate duty of the sinner is to submit to the righteousness of God; to renounce all dependence on his own merit, and cordially to embrace the offers of reconciliation proposed in the gospel, ver. 3.
5. Unbelief, or the refusal to submit to God's plan of salvation, is the immediate ground of the condemnation or rejection of those who perish under the sound of the gospel, ver. 3.
6. Christ is every thing in the religion of the true believer. He fulfills, and by fulfilling abolishes the law, by whose demands the sinner was weighed down in despair; and his merit secures the justification of every one that confides in him, ver. 4.
7. Christ is the end of the law, whether moral or ceremonial. To him, both, as a schoolmaster, lead. In him all their demands are satisfied, and all their types and shadows are answered, ver. 4.
8. The legal method of justification is, for sinners, as impracticable as climbing up into heaven or going down into the abyss, vers. 5-7.
9. The demands of the gospel are both simple and intelligible. The sincere acceptance of the proffered righteousness of God, and the open acknowledgment of Jesus Christ as Lord, vers. 6-9.
10. The public profession of religion or confession of Christ is an indispensable duty. That is, in order to salvation, we must not only secretly believe, but also openly acknowledge that Jesus is our prophet, priest, and king. Though faith and confession are both necessary, they are not necessary on the same grounds, nor to the same degree. The former is necessary as a means to an end, as without faith we can have no part in the justifying righteousness of Christ; the latter as a duty, the performance of which circumstances may render impracticable. In like manner Christ declares baptism, as the appointed means of confession, to be necessary, Mark 16:16; not, however, as a sine qua non, but as a command, the obligation of which providential dispensations may remove, as in the case of the thief on the cross, ver. 9.
11. Faith is not the mere assent of the mind to the truth of certain propositions. It is a cordial persuasion of the truth, founded on the experience of its power or the spiritual perception of its nature, and on the divine testimony. Faith is, therefore, a moral exercise. Men believe with the heart, in the ordinary scriptural meaning of that word. And no faith, which does not proceed from the heart, is connected with justification, ver. 10.
—Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans
1. If we really desire the salvation of men, we shall pray for it, ver. 1.
2. No practical mistake is more common or more dangerous than to suppose that all zeal about God and religion is necessarily a godly zeal. Some of the very worst forms of human character have been exhibited by men zealous for God and his service; as, for example, the persecutors both in the Jewish and Christian churches. Zeal should be according to knowledge, i.e. directed towards proper objects. Its true character is easily ascertained by noticing its effects, whether it produces self-righteousness or humility, censoriousness or charity; whether it leads to self-denial or self-gratulation and praise; and whether it manifests itself in prayer and effort, or in loud talking and boasting, ver. 2.
3. We should be very careful what doctrines we hold and teach on the subject of justification. He who is wrong here, ruins his own soul; and if he teaches any other than the scriptural method of justification, he ruins the souls of others, ver. 3.
4. A sinner is never safe, do what else he may, until he has submitted to God's method of justification.
5. As every thing in the Bible leads us to Christ, we should suspect every doctrine, system, or theory which has a contrary tendency. That view of religion cannot be correct which does not make Christ the most prominent object, ver. 4.
6. How obvious and infatuated is the folly of the multitude in every age, country, and church, who, in one form or another, are endeavoring to work out a righteousness of their own, instead of submitting to the righteousness of God. They are endeavoring to climb up to heaven, or to descend into the abyss, vers. 5-7.
7. The conduct of unbelievers is perfectly inexcusable, who reject the simple, easy, and gracious offers of the gospel, which requires only faith and confession, vers. 8-9.
8. Those who are ashamed or afraid to acknowledge Christ before men, cannot expect to be saved. The want of courage to confess, is decisive evidence of the want of heart to believe, vers. 9, 10.
—Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans
The object of the apostle in the preceding comparison and contrast of the two methods of justification, was to show that the gospel method was, from its nature, adapted to all men: and that if suited to all it should be preached to all. In ver. 11 the quotation from the Old Testament proves two points.
1. That faith is the condition of acceptance; and
2. That it matters not whether the individual be a Jew or Gentile, if he only believes.
For there is really no difference, as to this point, between the two classes; God is equally gracious to both, as is proved by the express declarations of Scripture, vers. 12, 13. If, then, the method of salvation be thus adapted to all, and God is equally the God of the Gentiles and of the Jews, then, to accomplish his purpose, the gospel must be preached to all men, because faith cometh by hearing, ver. 14-17. Both the fact of the extension of the gospel to the Gentiles, and the disobedience of the great part of the Jews, were clearly predicted in the writings of the Old Testament, vers. 18-21.
—Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans
VERSE 11. For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. This passage is cited in support of the doctrine just taught, that faith alone is necessary to salvation. There are clearly two points established by the quotation; the first is, the universal applicability of this method of salvation; Whosoever, whether Jew or Gentile, believes, etc.; and the second is, that it is faith which is the means of securing the divine favor; whosoever Believes on him shall not be ashamed. The passage, therefore, is peculiarly adapted to the apostle's object; which was not merely to exhibit the true nature of the plan of redemption, but mainly to show the propriety of its extension to the Gentiles. The passage quoted is Isaiah 28:16, referred to at the close of the preceding chapter. We must not only believe Christ, but believe upon him. The language of Paul is, πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ἐπ· αὐτῷ, Πιστεύειν ἐπί τινι, to trust upon any one. That is, it expresses confiding reliance on its object. It is all important to know what the Bible teaches, both as to the object and nature of saving faith. That object is Christ, and saving faith is trust. He is so complete a Savior as to be able to save all who come unto God by him; and therefore whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. Hoc monosyllabon, says Bengel, πᾶς (omnis), toto mundo pretiosus, propositum, ver. 11, ita repetitur, ver. 12 et 13, et ita confirmatur ulterius, vers. 14, 15, ut non modo significet, quicumque invocaret, salvum fore; sed, Deum velle, se invocari ab omnibus salutariter.
VERSE 12. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek, etc. This verse is evidently connected logically with the whosoever of ver. 12, 'Whosoever believes shall be saved, for there is no difference between the Jew and Gentile.' That is, there is no difference in their relation to the law or to God. They are alike sinners, and are to be judged by precisely the same principles, (see Romans 3:22); and consequently, if saved at all, are to be saved in precisely the same way.
For the same Lord over all, is rich unto all who call upon him. This is the reason why there is no difference between the two classes. Their relation to God is the same. They are equally his creatures, and his mercy towards them is the same. It is doubtful whether this clause is to be understood of Christ or of God. If the latter, the general meaning is what has just been stated. If the former, then the design is to declare that the same Savior is ready and able to save all. In favor of this latter, which is perhaps the most common view of the passage, it may be urged that Christ is the person referred to in the preceding verse; and secondly, that he is so commonly called Lord in the New Testament. But, on the other hand, the Lord in the next verse refers to God; and secondly, we have the same sentiment, in the same general connection, in Romans 3:29, 30, "Is he the God of the Jews only? etc. It is the same God which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith."
The same Lord over all, in this connection, means 'one and the same Lord is over all.' All are equally under his dominion, and may, therefore, equally hope in his mercy. As good reasons may be assigned for both interpretations, commentators are nearly equally divided on the question whether the immediate reference be to Christ or to God. Doctrinally, it matters little which view be preferred. Faith in God is faith in Christ, for Christ is God. This is the great truth to be acknowledged. The condition of salvation, under the gospel, is the invocation of Christ as God. The analogy of Scripture, therefore, as well as the context, is in favor of the immediate reference of κύπιος to Christ. The words is rich, may be either a concise expression for is rich in mercy, or they may mean is abundant in resources. He is sufficiently rich to supply the wants of all; whosoever, therefore, believes in him shall be saved.
Unto all who call upon him, i.e., who invoke him, or worship him, agreeably to the frequent use of the phrase in the Old and New Testament, Genesis 4:26, 12:8; Isaiah 64:7; Acts 2:21, 9:14, 22:16; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:22. This religious invocation of God implied, of course, the exercise of faith in him; and, therefore, it amounts to the same thing whether it is said, 'Whosoever believes,' or, 'Whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.' This being the case, the passage quoted from Joel, in the next verse, is equivalent to that cited from Isaiah, in verse 11. The meaning, then, of this verse is, 'That God has proposed the same terms of salvation to all men, Jews and Gentiles, because he is equally the God of both, and his mercy is free and sufficient for all.'
VERSE 13. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. As this verse is not introduced by the usual form of quotation from the Old Testament, as it is written, or as the Scripture, or the prophet saith, it is not absolutely necessary to consider it as a direct citation, intended as an argument from Scripture, (compare ver. 11.) Yet, as the passage is in itself so pertinent, it is probable that the apostle intended to confirm his declaration, that the mercy of God should be intended to every one who called upon him, by showing that the ancient prophets had held the same language. The prophet Joel, after predicting the dreadful calamities which were about to come upon the people, foretold, in the usual manner of the ancient messengers of God, that subsequent to those judgments should come a time of great and general blessedness. This happy period was ever characterized as one in which true religion should prevail, and the stream of divine truth and love, no longer confined to the narrow channel of the Jewish people, should overflow all nations. Thus Joel says, "It shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, etc., and whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be delivered," Joel 2:28, 32. Whosover, therefore, betakes himself to God as his refuge, and calls upon him, in the exercise of faith, as his God, shall be saved, whether Gentile or Jew, (see 1 Corinthians 1:2.) The prophecy in Joel has direct reference to the Messianic period, and therefore the Lord, who was to be invoked, who was to be looked to, and be called upon for salvation, is the Messiah. All, whosoever, without any limitation as to family or nation, who call on him, shall be saved. This is Paul's doctrine, and the doctrine, with one accord, of all the holy men who spake of old, as the Spirit gave them utterance. This being the case, how utterly preposterous and wicked the attempt to confine the offers of salvation to the Jewish people, or to question the necessity of the extension of the gospel through the whole world. Thus naturally and beautifully does the apostle pass from the nature of the plan of mercy, and its suitableness to all men, to the subject principally in view, the calling of the Gentiles, or the duty of preaching the gospel to all people.
VERSES 14, 15. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and who shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? etc., etc. Paul considered it as involved in what he had already said, and especially in the predictions of the ancient prophets, that it was the will of God that all men should call upon him. This being the case, he argues to prove that it was his will that the gospel should be preached to all. As invocation implies faith, as faith implies knowledge, knowledge instruction, and instruction an instructor, so it is plain that if God would have all men to call upon him, he designed preachers to be sent to all, whose proclamation of mercy being heard, might be believed, and being believed, might lead men to call on him and be saved. This is agreeable to the prediction of Isaiah, who foretold that the advent of the preachers of the gospel should be hailed with great and universal joy. According to this, which is the common and most natural view of the passage, it is an argument founded on the principle, that if God wills the end, he wills also the means; if he would have the Gentiles saved, according to the predictions of his prophets, he would have the gospel preached to them.
"Qui vult finem, vult etiam media. Deus vult ut homines invocent ipsum salutariter. Ergo vult ut credant. Ergo vult ut audiant. Ergo vult ut habeant praedicatores. Itaque praedicatores misit."—Bengel.
Calvin's view of the object of the passage is the same, but his idea of the nature of the argument is very different. He supposes the apostle to reason thus. The Gentiles actually call upon God; but invocation implies faith, faith hearing, hearing preaching, and preaching a divine mission. If therefore, the Gentiles have actually received and obeyed the gospel, it is proof enough that God designed it to be sent to them. This interpretation is ingenious, and affords a good sense; but it is founded on an assumption which the Jew would be slow to admit, that the Gentile was an acceptable worshipper of God. If he admitted this, he admitted every thing and the argument becomes unnecessary. According to De Wette, Meyer, and others, the design of the apostle is to show the necessity of divine messengers in order to ground thereon a reproof of disobedience to that message. The whole context, however, shows, that he is not here assigning the reasons for the rejection of the Jews, but vindicating the propriety of preaching to the Gentiles. God had predicted that the Gentiles should be saved; he had provided a method of salvation adapted to all men; he had declared that whosoever called upon the name of the Lord should be saved; from which it follows that it is his will that they should hear of him whom they were required to invoke.
VERSE 15.As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things. The word here rendered preach the gospel, is the same as that immediately afterwards translated, bring glad tidings. The word gospel, therefore, must be taken in its original meaning, good news, the good news of peace. The passage in Isaiah 52:7, which the apostle faithfully, as to the meaning, follows, has reference to the Messiah's kingdom. It is one of those numerous prophetic declarations, which announce in general terms the coming deliverance of the Church, a deliverance which embraced, at the first stage of its accomplishment, the restoration from the Babylonish captivity. This, however, so far from being the blessing principally intended, derived all its value from being introductory to that more glorious deliverance to be effected by the Redeemer.
How beautiful the feet, of course means, how delightful the approach. The bearing of this passage on the object of the apostle is sufficiently obvious. He had proved that the gospel should be preached to all men, and refers to the declaration of the ancient prophet, which spoke of the joy with which the advent of the messengers of mercy should be hailed.
VERSE 16. But they have not all obeyed the gospel, for Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? This verse may be viewed as an objection to the apostle's doctrine, confirmed by the quotation of a passage from Isaiah. 'You say the gospel ought to be preached to all men, but if God had intended that it should be preached to them, they would obey it; which they have not done.' This view of the passage would have some plausibility if Calvin's representation of Paul's argument were correct. Did the apostle reason from the fact that the Gentiles believed that it was God's intention they should have the gospel preached to them, it would be very natural to object, that as only a few have obeyed, it was evidently not designed for them. But even on the supposition of the correctness of this view of the argument, this interpretation of ver. 16 is barely possible, for the quotation from Isaiah cannot be understood otherwise than as the language of the apostle, or as intended to confirm what he himself had said. There is no necessity for the assumption that this verse is the language of an objection. Paul had said that the preaching of the gospel to all men, whether Jews or Gentiles, was according to the will of God. This is true although (ἀλλά) all have not obeyed. This disobedience was foreseen and predicted, for Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? The complaint of the prophet was not confined to the men of his generation. It had reference mainly to the general rejection of the gospel, especially by the theocratical people. Christ came to his own and his own received him not. And this was predicted of old.
Our report, or message. The word is ἀκοή, literally the faculty or act of hearing; then metonymically, what is heard, i.e. a message, preaching, or teaching. The message of the prophet concerning the servant of the Lord, and what he was to do and suffer for his people, as recorded in Isaiah 53, it was predicted would be believed by the great majority of those to whom it was addressed.
VERSE 17. So then faith (cometh) by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. The passage in Isaiah speaks of an ἀκοή, a message, something addressed to the ear. The design of that message was that men should believe. They were required to receive and rest upon it as true. Without it there could be no ground of faith; nothing on which faith could rest. Therefore faith is from hearing. It is receiving the message as true. But this message is by the word or command of God. It is therefore a sure foundation of faith. And as all men are required to believe, the message should be sent to all, and the divine command on which it rests, must include an injunction to make the proclamation universal. Thus the two ideas presented in the context, viz., the necessity of knowledge to faith, and the purpose of God to extend that knowledge to the Gentiles, are both confirmed in this verse. The above is the common interpretation of this passage. It assumes that ῥῆμα Θεους is to be taken in the sense of God, whereas it commonly means the word or message of God. If this sense be retained here, then ἀκοή must mean the act of hearing. 'Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing supposes something to be heard, a ωῆμα, or word of God.' In Luke 5:5; Hebrews 11:3, (compare Hebrews 1:3), ῥῆμα Θεους means God's (or the Lord's) command. There is no necessity, therefore, for giving ἀκοή a different sense here from that which it must have in the preceding verse.
VERSE 18. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes, verily, their sound went into all the earth, etc. The concise and abrupt manner of and expression in this and the verses which precede and follow, renders the apostle's meaning somewhat doubtful. This verse is frequently considered as referring to the Jews, and designed to show that their want of faith could not be excused on the ground of want of knowledge. The sense of the passage would then be, 'As faith cometh by hearing, have not the Jews heard? Have they not had the opportunity of believing? Yes, indeed, for the Gospel has been proclaimed far and wide.' So Koppe, Flatt, Tholuck, Meyer, Philippi, etc. But there are several objections to this view of the passage.
1. In the first place it is not in harmony with the context. Paul is not speaking now of the rejection of the Jews, or the grounds of it, but of the calling of the Gentiles.
2. If the 16th verse refers to the Gentiles, "They have not all obeyed the gospel," and therefore this verse, "Have they not heard?" cannot, without any intimation of change, be naturally referred to a different subject.
3. In the following verse, where the Jews are really intended, they are distinctly mentioned, "Did not Israel know?"
Paul's object in the whole context is to vindicate the propriety of extending the gospel call to all nations. This he had beautifully done in vers. 14, 15, by showing that preaching was a necessary means of accomplishing the clearly revealed will of God, that men of all nations should participate in his grace. 'True, indeed, as had been foretold, the merciful offers of the gospel were not universally accepted, ver. 16, but still faith cometh by hearing, and therefore the gospel should be widely preached, ver. 17. Well, has not this been done? has not the angel of mercy broke loose from his long confinement within the pale of the Jewish Church, and flown through the heavens with the proclamation of love?' ver. 18. This verse, therefore, is to be considered as a strong declaration that what Paul had proved ought to be done, had in fact been accomplished. The middle wall of partition had been broken down, the gospel of salvation, the religion of God, was free from its trammels, the offers of mercy were as wide and general as the proclamation of the heavens. This idea the apostle beautifully and appositely expresses in the sublime language of Psalm 19, "The heavens declare the glory of God, day unto day uttereth speech, there is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard, their line is gone through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world." The last verse contains the words used by the apostle. His object in using the words of the Psalmist was, no doubt, to convey more clearly and affectingly to the minds of his hearers the idea that the proclamation of the gospel was now as free from all national or ecclesiastical restrictions, as the instructions shed down upon all people by the heavens under which they dwell. Paul, of course, is not to be understood as quoting the Psalmist as though the ancient prophet was speaking of the gospel. He simply uses scriptural language to express his own ideas, as is done involuntarily almost by every preacher in every sermon. It is, however, nevertheless true, as Hengstenberg remarks in his Christology, that
"The universal revelation of God in nature, was a providential prediction of the universal proclamation of the gospel. If the former was not fortuitous, but founded in the nature of God, so must the latter be. The manifestation of God in nature, is, for all his creatures to whom it is made, a pledge of their participation in the clearer and higher revelations."
It will be perceived that the apostle says, "Their sound has gone, etc.," where as in the 19th Psalm it is, "Their line is gone." Paul follows the Septuagint, which, instead of giving the literal sense of the Hebrew word, gives correctly its figurative meaning. The word signifies a line, then a musical chord, and then, metonymically, sound.
VERSE 19. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy, etc. Another passage difficult from its conciseness. The difficulty is to ascertain what the question refers to. Did not Israel know what? The gospel? or, The calling of the Gentiles and their own rejection? The latter seems, for two reasons, the decidedly preferable interpretation.
1. The question is most naturally understood as referring to the main subject under discussion, which is, as frequently remarked, the calling of the Gentiles and rejection of the Jews.
2. The question is explained by the quotations which follow. 'Does not Israel know what Moses and Isaiah so plainly teach?' viz., that a people who were no people, should be preferred to Israel; while the latter were to be regarded as disobedient and gain saying. According to the other interpretation, the meaning of the apostle is, 'Does not Israel know the gospel? Have not the people of God been instructed?
If, therefore, as was predicted, they are superseded by the heathen, it must be their own fault.' Calvin thinks there is an evident contrast between this and the preceding verse. 'If even the heathen have had some knowledge of God, how is it with Israel, the favored people of God? etc.' But this whole interpretation, as intimated above, is inconsistent with the drift of the context, and the spirit of the passages quoted from the Old Testament.
First Moses says, I will prove you jealousy by them that are no people, etc. The word first seems evidently to be used in reference to Isaiah, who is quoted afterward, and should not be connected, as it is by many, with Israel. 'Did not Israel first learn the gospel, etc.' So Storr, Flatt, etc. Better in the ordinary way, 'First Moses, and then Isaiah, say, etc.' The passage quoted from Moses is Deuteronomy 32:21. In that chapter the sacred writer recounts the mercies of God, and the ingratitude and rebellion of the people. In ver. 21 he warns them, that as they had provoked him to jealousy by that which is not God, he would provoke them to jealousy by them that are no people. That is, as they forsook him and made choice of another God, so he would reject them and make choice of another people. The passage, therefore, plainly enough intimates that the Jews were in no such sense the people of God, as to interfere with their being cast off and others called.
VERSES 20, 21. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, etc. That is, according to a very common Hebrew construction, in which one verb qualifies another adverbially, saith very plainly or openly. Plain as the passage in Deuteronomy is, it is not so clear and pointed as that now referred to Isaiah 65:1, 2.
Paul follows the Septuagint version of the passage, merely transposing the clauses. The sense is accurately expressed. 'I am sought of them that asked not for me, I am found of them that sought me not,' is the literal version of the Hebrew, as given in our translation. The apostle quotes and applies the passage in the sense in which it is to be interpreted in the ancient prophet. In the first verse of that chapter Isaiah says, that God will manifest himself to those "who were not called by his name;" and in the second, he gives the immediate reason of this turning unto the Gentiles, "I have stretched out my hand all the day to a rebellious people." This quotation, therefore, confirms both the great doctrines taught in this chapter; the Jews were no longer the exclusive or peculiar people of God, and the blessings of the Messiah's kingdom were thrown wide open to all mankind. With regard to Israel, the language of God is peculiarly strong and tender.
All day long I have stretched forth my hands. The stretching forth the hands is the gesture of invitation, and even supplication. God has extended wide his arms, and urged men frequently and long to return to his love; and it is only those who refuse, that he finally rejects.
—Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans
1. Christianity is, from its nature, adapted to be an universal religion. There is nothing, as was the case with Judaism, which binds it to a particular location, or confines it to a particular people. All its duties may be performed, and all its blessings enjoyed, in every part of the world, and by every nation under heaven vers. 11-13.
2. The relation of men to God, and his to them, is not determined by any national or ecclesiastical connection. He deals with all, on the same general principles, and is ready to save all who call upon him, ver. 12.
3. Whosoever will, may take of the water of life. The essential conditions of salvation have in every age been the same. Even under the Old Testament dispensation, God accepted all who sincerely invoked his name, ver. 13.
4. The preaching of the gospel is the great means of salvation, and it is the will of God that it should be extended to all people, vers. 14, 15.
5. As invocation implies faith, and faith requires knowledge, and knowledge instruction, and instruction teachers, and teachers a mission, it is evident not only that God wills that teachers should be sent to all those whom he is willing to save, when they call upon him, but that all parts of this divinely connected chain of causes and effects are necessary to the end proposed, viz., the salvation of men. It is, therefore, as incumbent on those who have the power, to send the gospel abroad, as it is on those to whom it is sent, to receive it, vers. 14, 15.
6. As the rudiments of the tree are in the seed, so all the elements of the New Testament doctrines are in the Old. The Christian dispensation is the explanation, fulfillment, and development of the Jewish, vers. 11, 13, 15.
—Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans
1. Christians should breathe the spirit of an universal religion: a religion which regards all men as brethren, which looks on God, not as the God of this nation, or of that church, but as the God and Father of all, which proposes to all the same conditions of acceptance, and which opens equally to all the same boundless and unsearchable blessings, vers. 11-13.
2. It must be very offensive to God, who looks on all men with equal favor, (except as moral conduct makes a difference,) to observe how one class of mortals looks down upon another, on account of some merely adventitious difference of rank, color, external circumstances, or social or ecclesiastical connection, ver 12.
3. How will the remembrance of the simplicity and reasonableness of the plan of salvation, and the readiness of God to accept of all who call upon him, overwhelm those who perish from beneath the sound of the gospel! ver. 13.
4. It is the first and most pressing duty of the church to cause all men to hear the gospel. The solemn question implied in the language of the apostle, How Can They Believe Without A Preacher? should sound day and night in the ears of the churches, vers. 14, 15.
5. "How can they preach except they be sent?" The failure of the whole must result from the failure of any one of the parts of the system of means. How long, alas! has the failure been in the very first step. Preachers have not been sent, and if not sent, how could men hear, believe, or call upon God? vers. 14, 15.
6. If "faith comes by hearing," how great is the value of a stated ministry! How obvious the duty to establish, sustain, and attend upon it! ver. 17.
7. The gospel's want of success, or the fact that few believe our report, is only a reason for its wider extension. The more who hear, the more will be saved, even should it be but a small proportion of the whole, ver. 16.
8. How delightful will be the time when literally the sound of the gospel shall be as extensively diffused as the declaration which the heavens, in their circuit, make of the glory of God! ver. 18.
9. The blessings of a covenant relation to God are the unalienable right of no people and of no church, but can be preserved only by fidelity on the part of men to the covenant itself, ver. 19.
10. God is often found by those who apparently are the farthest from him, while he remains undiscovered by those who think themselves always in his presence, ver. 20.
11. God's dealings, even with reprobate sinners, are full of tenderness and compassion. All the day long he extends the arms of his mercy, even to the disobedient and the gainsaying. This will be felt and acknowledged at last by all who perish, to the glory of God's forbearance, and to their own confusion and self-condemnation, ver. 21.
12. Communities and individuals should beware how they slight the mercies of God, and especially how they turn a deaf ear to the invitations of the gospel. For when the blessings of a church relation have once been withdrawn from a people, they are long in being restored. Witness the Jewish and the fallen Christian churches. And when God ceases to urge on the disobedient sinner the offers of mercy, his destiny is sealed, ver. 21
—Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans