SUMMARY.--Paul's Desire for Israel.
The Jews Zealous, but not According to Knowledge.
They Seek a Righteousness of Their Own Rather than God's Plan of Righteousness.
The Righteousness by Faith Described.
Shown to be for Gentiles as well as Jews.
Hence, the Gospel must be Preached to All Men.
The Unbelief of the Jews Predicted by the Prophets.
1-4. Brethren. In
the "brethren" refers to his countrymen, his Jewish kinsmen, brethren
according to the flesh. Here it means his brethren in Christ, those
united by spiritual ties.
My heart's desire and prayer for Israel. Concerning Paul's deep
solicitude for the salvation of his countrymen. See
2. They have a zeal of God. They were religious, conscientious,
zealous, but mistaken and fanatical. For examples of their mistaken
Acts 21:27-31; also 22:3.
Even mistaken zeal is better than indifference.
3. Being ignorant of God's righteousness. It is now shown that
their zeal was not according to knowledge.
They had no knowledge of God's plan of righteousness, righteousness by
believing upon Christ, but rejecting it they sought a righteousness of
their own, of works, secured by keeping the law, and by obeying the
traditions of men
(Mark 7:7, 8).
On the other hand, they refused to submit to God's righteousness
4. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness. The
meaning is that the whole law pointed to Christ, and his righteousness.
They were its object. Yet the Jews clung to the law, and refused to
believe upon Christ, in whom the law met its fulfillment.
To every one that believeth. As long as the Jews remained in
unbelief, they were cut off from Christ. He who believes submits to
God's plan of righteousness.
5-11. For Moses describeth the righteousness of the law. Paul
now shows the Jews who cling to the law that the law itself is against
the law as a way of securing righteousness.
Moses writeth. In
That doeth the righteousness, etc. He who keeps the law in all
respects blameless shall have life. But Paul has elsewhere shown that
no one can keep the law perfectly. That righteousness, then, requires a
perfect obedience, a sinless life. What Jew could say that he had never
6. But the righteousness which is of faith. That is, "God's
righteousness" in contrast with that of the law. The passage that
follows is quoted freely from
Paul modifies it somewhat in order to bring out more strongly its
spiritual application. It was applied at first to certain commands
addressed by Moses to Israel, but its spirit applies to the gospel.
not, Who shall ascend into heaven? The Jews expected a Savior,
reigning upon the earth, a visible king of an earthly kingdom, and
hence said, "Bring down Christ from heaven, where you say he is, and we
will believe upon him."
7. Or who shall descend into the abyss? Another stumbling block
with the Jews was the death and burial of Christ. When Jesus died on
the cross, they held it to be proof that he was not the Christ. They
still were wont to demand that they should see the Risen Christ with
their own eyes, or that he be produced from the realms of the dead. To
have met the demands of the Jews would have been sight rather
than faith.8. But what saith it? What does God's righteousness demand? It
replies that we do not have to go either to heaven or to hades to lay
hold of salvation, but that
the word is nigh thee. The gospel is at hand. Faith in it,
nourished in the heart and openly confessed, will secure salvation.
This is more fully explained in the
9. Because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord.
For the importance which Jesus attached to confession, see
Matt. 10:32; Luke 12:8,
and compare Acts 8:37.
To openly confess Christ in those days of persecution was a trial of
faith of the severest kind. Note distinctly that there is no promise
here to a concealed faith.
And shalt believe in thine heart. That is, with all the heart.
The belief must not be only a mental assent, but a belief that brings
the whole man into loving trust and obedience to Christ. Such a faith
is referred to in
where the "obedience of faith" is described.
Thou shalt be saved. Such a faith confessed unites its subject
to Christ as his loving subject, and imparts to him the righteousness
of those who have died to sin and been freed from the law. See
10. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness. Such a
belief, the faith that saves, is a power over the life. It influences
the actions and brings us into "the obedience of faith," in yielding to
Christ, wherein is found pardon.
With the mouth. The faith of the heart must be openly confessed.
This is a test of the faith. Unless Christ had provided such tests as
confession and obedience we could not know whether ours was really a
belief of the heart. That our faith moves us to confession is to us an
assurance of salvation. The whole Christian life is a confession.
11. For the Scripture saith. The Scripture
has predicted a salvation by faith, when it says, "He that believeth
shall not be put to shame," and hence such a plan of righteousness was
provided for in the Jewish Scriptures.
12-15. For there is no difference. The Jew objected to
salvation by faith, instead of by the law. Paul has just shown that
righteousness could not be obtained by the law, secondly, that the
prophets had predicted salvation by faith. But the Jew is now supposed
to object that this salvation was for Jews only, yet Paul is preaching
it to the Gentiles. Hence he declares that it is for
Greek (Gentile), as well as Jew, as shown by the passage just
It says, Every one that believeth, etc.
He further shows that "the same Lord is rich to all that call upon
him," of whatever race, by a second quotation from the prophets, found
13. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be
saved. To "call upon the name of the Lord" implies, (1) That the
true God (Jehovah, in the Hebrew quotation) shall be approached in
worship, and (2) that there shall be something more than saying, "Lord,
(Matt. 7:21, 22).
The language, wherever used, implies coming to the Lord and calling on
him in his appointed way. Compare
Acts 22:16; 2:21; Gen. 12:8.
This promise of
since it says "whosoever," is not limited to the Jewish race.
14. How shall they call upon him in whom they have not believed?
The passages quoted from the prophets show that the Gentiles also were
to have the opportunity of salvation. Hence the duty of preaching to
them is now shown. They could not "call upon the Lord" (see
without faith. But there could be no faith in the Lord unless they had
heard of him, since knowledge is an element of faith. But they could
not hear the gospel story until it was preached to them. Hence,
preaching to the Gentiles was essential to carry out the purposes of
15. But how shall they preach, except they be sent? Those must
go out to them who have knowledge of the gospel. Hence it was needful
that the apostles and evangelists be sent. Hence Christ said,
"Go into all the world and preach to every creature."
Thus Paul shows the duty was laid upon him to preach to Greek as well
As it is written.Isaiah 52:7.
This message was to the Gentiles blessed tidings, and the passage
quoted from Isaiah shows, under a figure, how those would rejoice who
believed the glad news. See
16-18. But they have not all obeyed the gospel. All had not yet
heard it, and hence could not obey it. To those who receive the gospel
it is glad tidings. These fulfill the prediction of the prophets. But
many are in unbelief, and hence do not obey the gospel. (Note that the
gospel is to be obeyed.) This need not surprise us, for Isaiah
predicted this also, when he said
Lord, who hath believed our report?17. So, then, faith cometh by hearing. Hence the need of
preaching. If God by a miracle wrought faith in the heart, he could
dispense with the preacher. But the divine arrangement is that it
should result from hearing the word of God preached. For an example of
the gospel plan, see
18. Have they not heard? Who are alluded to? Both Jews and
Gentiles. The objector might say, Well, if faith comes by hearing, so
few have heard that we are not responsible for our unbelief. Nay, says
the apostle, the opportunity to hear has been very widely extended. In
the language of the Psalmist
Their sound (that of the preachers of the gospel)
is gone out into all the earth. When the vast multitude
converted on Pentecost were scattered to their homes, they carried the
gospel into all parts of the civilized world. Paul was now writing to
the church in Rome, where no apostle had ever been.
19-21. Did not Israel know? Why, the Jew is supposed to object,
if the gospel has been extended so widely, is the greater portion of
Israel in ignorance that the Gentiles were to be saved? Paul replies
that Israel should have known: (1) Moses foretells the call of another
people to the favor of God.
(2) 20. Isaiah still more plainly predicts the salvation of the
Gentiles in 
and (3) in the next verse
he predicts the falling away of Israel.
21. All day long, etc. Quoted from
It presents the figure of a parent, with hands extended, appealing to a
wayward child. That child was the Jewish nation. It was cast off
because it would be cast off. It refused to listen to appeals.
The apostle is far from ascribing the rejection of Israel to a divine
decree, but he assigns the cause to Israel itself. Just so the Savior
says in the passage
just referred to, "How often would I have gathered,
etc., . . . but ye would not." The divine wish was
that Israel should be saved, but Israel stubbornly refused.