[Table of Contents]|
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton|
Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians and Romans (1916)
FIVE EXPLANATIONS OF THE GRAND
CONCLUSION, AND ASCRIPTIONS OF
FIRST EXPLANATION--JEWS RESPONSIBLE
FOR THEIR REJECTION, SINCE THEY
HAD AN EQUAL CHANCE WITH
THE GENTILES OF BEING
1 Brethren [Seven times in this Epistle Paul thus addresses the brethren at Rome generally (Rom. 1:13; 8:12; 11:25; 12:1; 15:14, 30; 16:17). Twice he thus addresses the Christian Jews (Rom. 7:1, 4), and this "brethren" is evidently a third time they are especially spoken to. So thought Chrysostom, Bengel, Pool, Alford, Barnes, Hodge, etc. "Dropping now," says Bengel, "the severity of the preceding discussion, he kindly styles them brethren"], my heart's desire [literally, "my heart's eudokia, or good pleasure, or good will" (Luke 2:14; Eph. 1:5-9; Phil. 1:15, 2:13). At Matt. 11:26, and Luke 10:21, it is translated "well pleasing"; at 2 Thess. 1:11, the literal "fulfil every good pleasure of goodness" is translated, "fulfil every desire of goodness." Eudokia does not mean desire, but we have no English word which better translates Paul's use of it. Stuart conveys the idea fairly in a paraphrase "the benevolent and kind desire"] and my supplication to God is for them [the Israelites], that they may be saved. [Those  who tell our faults and foretell their punishment usually appear to us to be our enemies. Paul described the sin and rejection of Israel so clearly that many of them would be apt to think that he prayed for their punishment. This did him gross wrong. Every time the Evangelist denounces sin from love toward the sinner. (Comp. Gal. 4:16.) As to the apostle's prayer, it showed that his conception of foreordination was not Calvinistic. It would be of no avail to pray against God's irrevocable decree; but it was very well worth while to pray against Jewish stubbornness in unbelief, trusting to the measureless resources of God to find a remedy. So the remark of Bengel is pertinent, "Paul would not have prayed, had they been utterly reprobates." Paul's prayer being in the Spirit (Rom. 9:1) was a pledge that no fixed decree prevented God from forgiving, if Israel would only repent and seek forgiveness.] 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. ["For" introduces Paul's reason for having hope in his prayer. Had Israel been sodden in sin, or stupefied in indifference, he would have had less heart to pray. But they were ardently religious, though ignorantly so, for, had they possessed a true knowledge of their law, it would have led them to Christ, and had they understood their prophets, they would have recognized that Jesus was the Christ (Gal. 3:24; Luke 24:25-27; Rev. 19:10). But the chief ignorance of which Paul complained was their failure to see that there is no other way to justification and salvation save by faith in Christ Jesus. As to their zeal, which in the centuries wore out the vital energy of the Greek, and amazed the stolidity of the Roman, till in the siege of Jerusalem it dashed itself to atoms against the impregnable iron of the legionaries, no tongue nor pen can describe it. Of this zeal, Paul was a fitting witness, for before conversion he shared it as a persecutor, and after conversion he endured it as a martyr  (Phil. 3:6; 2 Cor. 11:24; Acts 21:20-31; 22:4). But misguided zeal miscarries like a misdirected letter, and the value of the contents does not mend the address. "It is better," says Augustine, "to go limping in the right way, than to run with all our might out of the way." Their lack of knowledge, being due to their own stubborn refusal to either hear or see, was inexcusable.] 3 For being ignorant of God's righteousness [Here Paul shows wherein they lacked knowledge. "For they," says Scott, "not knowing the perfect justice of the divine character, law and government; and the nature of that righteousness which God has provided for the justification of sinners consistently with his own glory"--Rom. 3:26], and seeking to establish their own [Refusing to "put on Christ" (Gal. 3:27), they clothed themselves with a garment of their own spinning, which they, like all other worms, spun from their own filthy inwards. Or, to suit the figure more nearly to the language of the apostle, refusing to accept Christ as the Rock for life-building, they reared their crumbling structure on their own sandy, unstable nature, and as fast as the wind, rain and flood of temptation undermined their work, they set about rebuilding and re-establishing it, oblivious of the results of that supreme, unavertable, ever-impending storm, the last judgment--Matt. 7:24-27], they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. ["Subject" is the keyword here. The best comment on this passage is found at John 8:31-36. Those who admit themselves bondservants of sin find it no hardship to enter the free service of Christ, but those whose pride and self-sufficiency and self-righteousness make them self-worshipers, can bring themselves to submit to no one. By use of the phrase "righteousness of God," Paul indicts them of rebellion against the Father and his plan of salvation, rather than of rebellion against the person of the Christ, who is the sum and substance of the Father's plan--the concrete righteousness whereby we are saved.] 4 For [With this word the apostle gives further  evidence of the ignorance of the Jews. He has shown that they did not know that they could not merit eternal life by good works; he now proceeds to show that they did not know that the law itself, which was the sole basis on which they rested their hopes of justification by the merit of works, was now a nonentity, a thing of the past; having been fulfilled, abolished and brought to an absolute and unqualified end by Christ. The Jews, therefore, are proven ignorant, for] Christ is the end of the law unto righteousness to every one that believeth. [The apostle places the enlightenment of believers in contrast with the lack of knowledge of the Jews. All believers understand (not only that Christ is the end or aim or purpose for which the law was given, and that he also ended or fulfilled it, but) that Christ, by providing the gospel, put an end to the law--killed it. The apostle does not mean that the law only dies to a man when he believes in Christ, else it would still live, as to unbelieving Jews: "to every one that believeth," therefore, expresses a contrast in enlightenment, and not in state or condition. The new covenant or testament, which is the gospel, made the first testament old (Heb. 8:13). That is to say, the new or last will revokes and makes null and void all former wills, and no one can make good his claim to an inheritance by pleading ignorance of the New Will, for the Old Will is abrogated whether he chooses to know it or not. As the word "end" has many meanings, such as aim, object, purpose, fulfillment, etc., expositors construe Paul's words many ways, but the literal meaning, an end--i. e., a termination--best suits the context. "Of two contrary things," says Godet, "when one appears, the other must take and end." "Christ is the end of the law, as 'death,' saith Demosthenes, 'is the end of life'" (Gifford). The Lord does not operate two antagonistic dispensations and covenants at one time. To make evident the fact that the gospel terminates the law, the apostle now shows the inherent antagonism between the  two; one of them promising life to those obedient to law, the other promising salvation to the one being obedient to or openly confessing his faith. And so there is an antagonism between the gospel and the law.] 5 For Moses [the lawgiver] writeth that the man that doeth the righteousness which is of the law shall live thereby. [Lev. 18:5. (Comp. Neh. 9:29; Ezek. 20:11, 13, 21; Luke 16:27-29; Gal. 3:12.) The context indicates that the life promised is merely the possession of the land of Canaan (Lev. 18:26-29); but Tholuck observes that "among the later Jews, we find the notion widely diffused that the blessings promised likewise involve those of eternal life. Orkelos translates: 'Whosoever keeps these commandments, shall thereby live in the life eternal.' And in the Targums of the Pseudo-Jonathan, Moses' words are rendered: 'Whosoever fulfils the commandments shall thereby live in the life eternal, and his portion shall be with the righteous.'" Paul evidently construes it as being a promise of eternal life. (Comp. Luke 18:18-20.) But no man could keep the law. Was, then, the promise of God ironical? By no means. The law taught humble men the need of grace and a gospel, and for all such God had foreordained a gospel and an atoning Christ. But to the proud, the self-righteous, the Pharisaical who would merit heaven rejecting grace and the gospel, the promise was ironical, for "doeth . . . live," implies that whoso fails, dies (Deut. 27:26; Gal. 3:10; Jas. 2:10). There was, then, righteousness by the law, and such as bad it were ripe for the gospel which it foreshadowed, especially in its continual sacrificial deaths for sin; but there was no self-righteousness by the law, and those who strove for it invariably rejected Christ. Those seeking life by law supplemented by grace found in Jesus that fullness of grace which redeemed from law, but those seeking life by law without grace, failed and were hardened--Rom. 11:5-7.] 6 But [marking the irreconcilable contrast and antagonism between the  new gospel and the old law] the righteousness which is of faith saith thus [we would here expect Christ to speak, as the antithesis of Moses in verse 5. But if Jesus had been made spokesman, Paul would have been limited to a quotation of the exact words of the Master. It, therefore, suited his purpose better to personify Righteousness-which-is-of-faith, or the gospel, and let it speak for itself. Compare his personifications of Faith and Law at Gal. 3:23-25). By doing this, he (Paul) could, in this his final summary of the gospel's sufficiency and applicability to the needs of men, employ words similar to those in which Moses in his final summary of the law, spake of its sufficiency and applicability (Deut. 30:11-14). Thus on a similar occasion, and with a similar theme, Paul speaks words similar to those of Moses; so varying them, however, as to bring into vivid contrast the differences between the law and the gospel--between that which typified and foreshadowed, and that which in its superlative superiority fulfilled, terminated and forever abolished. Moses said of the law: "For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not too hard for 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, and make us to hear it, that we may 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, and make us to hear it, that we may do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it." His meaning is, first, that the law is not so hard but that a man who makes right use of it may please God in it (this was true of the law till the gospel abolished it); second, the law was the fully prepared gift of God, and, being possessed by the Jews, they neither had to scale the heavens to get false gods to give a law to them, nor did they have to cross the sea (a dangerous and rarely attempted task among those of Moses' day) to get unknown, remote and  inaccessible nations of men to bring a law to them. They were required to perform no impractical, semi-miraculous feat to secure the law--it was theirs already by gift of God, and that so fully and utterly that, instead of being locked in the holy seclusion of the sanctuary, it was their common property, found in their mottles (daily talk) and hearts (worshipful, reverential meditation--Ex. 13:9; Josh. 1:8; Ps. 37:30, 31; 1:2; 119:14-16). Such was the law as described by Moses. In contrast with it Paul lets the gospel describe itself thus], Say not in thy heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down:) 7 or, Who shall descend into the abyss? [Hades, the abode of the dead--Luke 8:31; Rev. 17:8: 20:1; Ps. 139:8] (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead.) 8 But what saith it? [Here Paul interrupts the gospel with a question. If the word of life is not in these places (heaven and Hades), where, then, is it? Where does the gospel say it is? He now resumes the gospel's personification, and lets it answer the question.] The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart [Here end the words spoken by the gospel. Their import is similar to that of the second meaning of Moses' words found above. The gospel is the fully prepared gift of God (John 3:16), and, being once accepted and possessed by the believer, he is not called upon to scale the heavens to procure a Christ and bring him down to see the needs of man and devise a gospel (for the Word has already become incarnate, and has dwelt among us--John 1:14--and seeing what sacrifice was needed for man's forgiveness and cleansing, he has provided it--Heb. 10:3-9); neither is it demanded of him that he descend into the abyss (Hades, the abode of the dead) to find there a Christ who has died for our sins, and to raise thence a Christ whose resurrection shall be for our justification (for God has already provided the Christ who died for our sins--1 Cor. 15:3; Isa. 53:5, 6; Rom. 3:25; 5: 6; 8:32; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 1:4; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18--  thus making an end of sins, and making reconciliation for iniquity--Dan. 9:24--and who also was raised for our justification--Rom. 4:24, 25; 1 Cor. 15:17; 1 Pet. 1:21--thus bringing in everlasting righteousness--Dan. 9:24). Thus far the apostle's argument runs thus: As the sources whence a law might be found were questions about which the Jew needed not to trouble himself, since God provided it; so the sources whence a Christ-gospel might be procured were also questions about which the Christian need feel no care, for the all-sufficient wisdom and might of God which provided the law had likewise perfected and supplied the gospel, so that men need only to accept it by faith. In either case His was the provision and theirs the acceptance; and what the apostle makes particularly emphatic was that the gospel was as easily accepted as the law, for it, too, could be familiarly discussed with the lips and meditated upon with the heart, being as nigh as the law. Nearness represents influence, power over us; remoteness, the lack of it (Rom. 7:18, 21). As the words of Moses were spoken about the type of the gospel (the law), they were of course prophetically applicable to the Christ who is the sum of the gospel, and likewise the living embodiment of the law. But to make plain their prophetic import, Paul gave them a personal application to Christ, and changed the search among the distant living (where law might be found) to search among the farther distant dead (where Christ must be found to have been in order to give life). Thus Paul's variations from Moses constitute what Luther calls "a holy and lovely play of God's Spirit in the Lord's word"]: that is, the word of faith, which we preach [At this point the apostle begins again to speak for himself and his fellow-ministers, and shows that the "word" of which Moses spoke is the gospel or "word of faith" preached by Christians. He also shows that the words "mouth" and "heart," as used by Moses, have prophetic reference to the gospel terms of salvation]:  9 because [the gospel (and Moses) speak of the mouth and heart, because] if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved [Moses emphasized the nearness of the law. The Jew was to keep it near (accept it), for, as a far-off, neglected thing, it would be of no avail. As an accepted rule, loved and talked over daily, it would be effective unto righteousness. Jeremiah, foretelling the days when a new law would be more effective than the old, declared that the promise of Jehovah was: "I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their hearts will I write it." Thus it would become nearer than when written externally upon stone. When this new law came, Jesus indicated the fulfillment of Jeremiah's word by saying. "The kingdom of God is within you" (Jer. 31:33; Luke 17:20). Therefore, when Paul quotes Moses' words about that nearness of the law which makes it effective, he takes occasion to describe how the gospel or "word of faith" is made effective unto righteousness by the believer's full consent to the will of God that it be near him, making it an inward nearness by confession with the mouth and belief in the heart. In short, the gospel is not righteousness unto life until it is accepted, and the prescribed method by which it is to be accepted is faith leading to confession, followed by obedience of faith, beginning with baptism, which symbolically unites us with our Lord in his death and resurrection. But Paul makes no reference to the ordinance, laying stress on the central truth of Christianity which the ordinance shows forth; namely, God raised Jesus from the dead. The zealous lover of first principles might expect Paul to make the Christhood of Jesus the object of belief (Matt. 16:16). But that is already taken care of by the apostle in the brief summary: "Confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord." The truth is, the resurrection is the demonstration of that proposition: "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of  the living God." "Jesus" means "Saviour," and the resurrection proves or demonstrates his ability to save from death and the grave (1 Cor. 15:12-19; 1 Pet. 1:3-5; 2 Cor. 4:14). Jesus is Christ; that is, God's anointed Prophet, Priest and King over all men; for such is the meaning of "Christ." Now, the resurrection proves that Jesus was a teacher of truth, for God honors no liars with a resurrection like that of Jesus; it proves that lie is an acceptable High Priest, for had not his offering for sin canceled the guilt of sin, he had appeared no more in the land of the living (Matt. 5:26), but he was raised to complete his priestly work for our justification (see note on Rom. 4: 25, p. 336, and Acts 13:37-39); it demonstrated that he was the King, for by his resurrection he led captivity captive (Eph. 4:8) and received the gift of universal power (Matt. 28:18; Acts 2:23-36; 13:34-37; 17:31; Phil. 2:8-11; Eph. 1:19-23); and, finally, it declared him to be the Son of God with power--Rom. 1:4; Acts 13:32, 33]: 10 for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. ["The seat of faith," says Calvin, "is not in the brain, but in the heart. Yet I would not contend about the part of the body in which faith is located: but as the word heart is often taken for a serious and sincere feeling, I would say that faith is a firm and effectual confidence, and not a bare notion only." The belief must be such as to incite to love (1 Cor. 13:1, 2) and the obedience of faith (Jas. 2:14-26). The faith of the heart introduces the sinner into that state of righteousness which in this present world reconciles him to God. The continual profession of that faith by word and deed works out his salvation, which ushers him into the glory of the world to come. Salvation relates to the life to come (Rom. 13:11). When attained it delivers us from the dominion of the devil, which is the bondage of sin; from the power of death, which is the wages of sin, and from eternal torment, which  is the punishment of sin. Such is salvation negatively defined, but only the redeemed know what it is positively, for flesh can neither inherit it (1 Cor. 15:50) nor utter it--2 Cor. 12:1-5.] 11 For the scripture saith [Again Paul appeals to the Scripture to show that what he is telling the Jews has all been prophetically announced in their own Scriptures. Thus he slays their law with its own sword], Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame. [A passage already quoted at Rom. 9:33; but Paul changes "he" into "whosoever," thus emphasizing the universality of the verse, for God's universal mercy to believers is his theme, and we shall find him amplifying and proving it in the next two verses. "Shame" has especial reference to the judgment-day. By faith we learn to so live that God ceases to be ashamed of us (Heb. 11:6-16). By faith also we are brought into such union with Christ that he also no longer feels ashamed to recognize us (Heb. 2:10, 11). But if we glory in sin which is our shame (Phil. 3:18, 19), walking nakedly in our shame (Rev. 16:15), and refusing the gift of the garment of Christ's righteousness (Rev. 3:18), being ashamed of it and him, in that day he also will be ashamed of us (Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26), and great then will be our shame in the sight of all God's hosts, and marked will be the contrast between us and the believers who are not ashamed--1 John 2:28.] 12 For [The Scripture uses such universal language about our being freed from shame by justification, because] there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him [Paul here announces the same truth which Peter discovered when he said: "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). As the Jews were for several centuries under the dominion of the Greeks, and as the cultured of the Romans, their later masters, also spoke Greek, the term Greek became to them a synonym for Gentile, for they had more dealing with  Greeks than with any other people. Now, as there is but one God, the Jews and Greeks were compelled to receive blessings from that same God, and as the Jew and Greek stood in equal need of salvation, God offered the same salvation to each upon the same free terms and each had equal ability to accept the terms (Eph. 2:11-22). Thus God showed the riches of his favor to all, and so rich is God in his mercy and providences toward salvation, that no multitude can exhaust them; therefore the Jew had no reason to envy or begrudge the Gentiles their call, since it in no way impoverished him. But this breaking down of distinctions was, nevertheless, very offensive to the Jew]: 13 for [and this lack of distinction on God's part is further proved by Scripture, for, it saith], Whosoever shall call upon the name [i. e., person--Prov. 18:10: Ps. 18:2, 3] of the Lord shall be saved. [Joel 2:32. This passage is quoted by Simon Peter at Acts 2:21. In place of "Lord," Joel has the word "Jehovah," which latter term the Jews regard as describing God the Father. The application of this word to Christ by Paul (and it is so applied to Christ, as the next verse shows) is proof of our Lord's divinity. "There is," says Alford, "hardly a stronger proof, or one more irrefragable by those who deny the Godhead of our blessed Lord, of the unhesitating application to Him by the apostle of the name and attributes of Jehovah." (Comp. 1 Cor. 1:2.) It is evident that the mere crying out, "Lord, Lord!" is of no avail (Matt. 7:21-23). One must call upon Jesus as he directs, and must worshipfully accept him as the Son and Revelation of God. "The language," says Johnson, "wherever used, implies coming to the Lord and calling upon him in his appointed way. (Comp. Acts 22:16; 2:21; Gen. 12:8.)" Having thus demonstrated the gratuitous and universal nature of the gospel, the apostle prepares us for his next paragraph, which presents the thought of extension. That which God has made free and for all should be published and offered to all. How  unreasonable, therefore, the hatred which the Jews bore toward Paul for being apostle to the Gentiles!]
[Table of Contents]|
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton|
Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians and Romans (1916)
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