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Israel's Election by God
Israel's Rejection of God
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God Not Rejecting Israel
Romans 10:5-7 Commentary
|Greek: e de ek pisteos dikaiosune houtos legei, (3SPAI) Me eipes (2SAAS) en te kardia sou, Tis anabesetai (3SFMI) eis ton ouranon? tout' estin (3SPAI) Christon katagagein; (AAN)
Amplified: But the righteousness based on faith [imputed by God and bringing right relationship with Him] says, Do not say in your heart, Who will ascend into Heaven? that is, to bring Christ down;
ESV: But the righteousness based on faith says, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down)
ICB: But this is what the Scripture says about being made right through faith: "Don't say to yourself, 'Who will go up into heaven?'" (That means, "Who will go up to heaven to get Christ and bring him down to earth?")
NIV: But the righteousness that is by faith says: "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?' " (that is, to bring Christ down)
NKJV: But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?' " (that is, to bring Christ down from above)
NLT: But the way of getting right with God through faith says, "You don't need to go to heaven" (to find Christ and bring him down to help you).
Phillips: But righteousness-by-faith says something like this: 'Do not say in your heart, Who will ascend into heaven?' to bring Christ down to us
Wuest: But the righteousness which is out of a source of faith speaks in this manner, Do not say in your heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? This, in its implications, is to bring Christ down.
Young's Literal: and the righteousness of faith doth thus speak: 'Thou mayest not say in thine heart, Who shall go up to the heaven,' that is, Christ to bring down?
|BUT THE RIGHTEOUSNESS BASED ON FAITH SPEAKS THUS: e de ek pisteos dikaiosune houtos legei, (3SPAI): (Ro 3:22,25; 4:13; 9:31; Philippians 3:9; Hebrews 11:7)
Righteousness (1343) (dikaiosune from dikaios [word study] = being proper or right in the sense of being fully justified being or in accordance with what God requires) is the quality of being upright. In its simplest sense dikaiosune conveys the idea of conformity to a standard or norm and in Biblical terms the "standard" is God and His perfect, holy character. In this sense righteousness is the opposite of hamartia (sin), which is defined as missing of the mark set by God.
Dikaiosune is rightness of character before God and rightness of actions before men. Righteousness of God could be succinctly stated as all that God is, all that He commands, all that He demands, all that He approves, all that He provides through Christ (Click here to read Pastor Ray Pritchard's interesting analysis of righteousness in the Gospel of Matthew).
Jesus Thy Blood and righteousness
Paul contrasts Moses statement in (Leviticus 18:5) with the righteousness based on faith (here personified as if able to speak) which says another thing.
It is clearly implied in the previous verse that the attainment of justification by a method which prescribed perfect obedience is impossible for sinful men. It is the purpose 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 faith.
DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?' (THAT IS, TO BRING CHRIST DOWN): me eipes (2SAAS) en te kardia sou tis anabesetai (3SFMI) eis ton ouranon; tout estin (3SPAI) Christon katagagein (AAN): (Proverbs 30:4) (John 3:12,13; 6:33,38,50,51,58; Ephesians 4:8, 9, 10; Hebrews 1:3)
Paul's will now show that the knowledge of the will of God had been made perfectly accessible and that no one was ever required to do what was impossible in order to attain it. This knowledge was neither hidden, nor far off, but was obvious and available. To prove his point Paul appeals again to the Old Testament where we read that…
Note that here Romans Paul gives us the spiritual understanding of Moses' admonition in (Deuteronomy 30:11-14). Thus Paul saw “the commandment” or “the Word” (John 1:1,17 writes that "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth") as indicating “Christ, God’s Word” and he thus substituted “Christ” for “the commandment.” He told us that God’s way of salvation was not difficult and complicated. We do not have to go to heaven to find Christ, or into the world of the dead. Christ is near to us. The Gospel of Christ, the Word of faith, is available and accessible. The sinner need not perform difficult works in order to be saved. All he has to do is trust Christ. The very Word on the lips of the religious Jews was the Word of faith. The very Law that they read and recited pointed to Christ.
And so the "righteousness based on faith" speaks out and says that the righteousness God provides is not unattainable. It is not in heaven or in the abyss (Ro 10:7), locations that even the most sincere and zealous man's fleshly efforts or works could never reach.
God's righteousness is present in the message, the word of (the) faith, which in the context of Romans is the Gospel which Paul has been proclaiming for the first 8 chapters. This word is effected (or realized) by exercise of personal faith, by confession with one's mouth and belief in one's heart (Ro 10:9,10). This is the truth that Paul is pressing home, the truth that this Gospel is not difficult and is not unattainable. It is only difficult or unattainable if you try to attain in your own strength and own effort, as if you could merit it. This simple truth deflates our pride and this dynamic is what must transpire if we would come and as little children receive the word implanted which is able to save our soul.
The context shows that the purpose of the apostle is to contrast the legal/works method and the Gospel method of salvation and thus to show that the one is impracticable, the other easy. By works of the law no one can be justified, whereas whoever simply calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Ascending and descending are acts men do and Paul is saying that you don't need to "work" or perform acts to obtain the righteousness of Christ. It's as simple as receive and believe.
Steven Cole - To be saved, you must recognize that Christ has done for you what you could never do for yourself (Ro 10:6-8). Romans 10:6-8: “But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: ‘Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven?” (that is, to bring Christ down), or “Who will descend into the abyss?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).’ But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching.”
These are difficult verses and I won’t pretend that I completely understand them, even after reading and re-reading numerous commentaries! But I’ll try to explain them as best as I can. The opening “but” shows that Paul is contrasting the righteousness based on the law (Ro 10:5) with the righteousness based on faith. He first cites from Deuteronomy 8:17 & Deut 9:4 (“Do not say in your heart”) and then rather loosely from Deuteronomy 30:12-14, adding his own explanatory comments to link these verses to Christ. His main point is that God has always offered salvation by faith apart from human effort, even under the law.
The problem is that Deuteronomy 30:12-14 seems to say that keeping the law is within the reach of every person. But Paul cites them for an opposite meaning, that salvation has nothing to do with human effort, but rather that God has provided everything so that all we must do is to believe in Christ. How do we explain this?
First, in the Deuteronomy 8:17 & Deut 9:4 references, Moses warns Israel that when they take possession of the land of Canaan, they must not think that they have earned it because of their own righteousness. This clues us in that God’s blessings come to us by grace, not by our efforts. Then Paul adds the reference from Deuteronomy 30:12-14, “It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.”
“It” refers to the commandment of the law being near, but Paul replaces the commandment with Christ being near. Is he arbitrarily changing the meaning of that text to make it say something completely different? No! In Deuteronomy 30:6, Moses promised, “Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.” That is essentially the same as the new covenant promises that later came through Ezekiel 36:25-27 and Jeremiah 31:31-34. These promises point to God’s forgiving our sins and imparting new life to us by His grace alone. It is only when God changes our hearts that we are then able to obey God’s commandments.
But even those who have received the new birth do not obey perfectly. So why does Paul replace the commandment (in Deut. 30) with Christ? Answer: Because, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Ro 10:4). Jesus did what no one else could ever do: He perfectly fulfilled God’s holy law. By His death, He satisfied the penalty of the law that we deserved. So when you believe in Christ, God imputes Christ’s righteousness to your account and views you as if you perfectly fulfilled the law.
The two questions that Paul cites from Deuteronomy 30 had become proverbial expressions for doing what is impossible (Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans [Eerdmans/Apollos], p. 383). Thus Paul is saying that just as an Israelite did not need to go into heaven to bring down God’s commandments, so we do not need to do the impossible by going to heaven to bring Christ down to where we live. God did that in the incarnation. Christ came to bear the curse of the law on our behalf (Gal. 3:13).
Paul changes the second question, which in Deuteronomy is, “Who will cross the sea?” into, “Who will descend into the abyss?” The sea and the abyss were somewhat interchangeable concepts in the Old Testament and in Judaism (Moo, p. 655). Paul refers to the abyss to facilitate his application to Christ’s death (Moo, p. 656). There is no need to go into the abyss to bring Christ up from the dead, because God has already done that.
So Paul’s point is that human effort is not necessary to procure God’s righteousness. God has done it all: He sent Christ. Christ died for our sins. God raised Him from the dead. All that we must do is to believe in this word that Paul was preaching. The fact that this word “is near you” (10:8) means that you don’t have to go through some difficult or impossible process (ascend into heaven; descend into the abyss) to find Christ and be saved. Rather, you can believe in Him at this moment and be saved.
Don’t get lost in the difficulties of verses 6-8 and miss the application, which is: When you die and stand before God, either you will argue that you should get into heaven because you were a good person; or, with the hymn writer, you will say, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” God in Christ did for you what you never could have done for yourself. Abandon your efforts and trust in Christ! (How to Be saved)
|Romans 10:7 or 'WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS ?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)."|
|Greek: E, Tis katabesetai (3SFMI) eis ten abusson? tout' estin (3SPAI) Christon ek nekron anagagein. (AAN)
Amplified: Or who will descend into the abyss? that is, to bring Christ up from the dead [as if we could be saved by our own efforts].(2)
ESV: or "'Who will descend into the abyss?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
ICB: "And do not say, 'Who will go down into the world below?'" (That means, "Who will go down to get Christ and bring him up from death?")
NIV: "or 'Who will descend into the deep?' " (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
NKJV: or, " 'Who will descend into the abyss?' " (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
NLT: And it says, "You don't need to go to the place of the dead" (to bring Christ back to life again).
Phillips: or 'who will descend into the abyss' to bring him up from the dead?
Wuest: Or, Who shall descend into the abyss? This, in its implications, is to bring Christ up from among those who are dead.
Young's Literal: or, 'Who shall go down to the abyss,' that is, Christ out of the dead to bring up.
|OR 'WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS (THAT IS, TO BRING CHRIST UP FROM THE DEAD: E Tis katabesetai (3SFMI) eis ten abusson? tout' estin (3SPAI) Christon ek nekron anagagein. (AAN): (Ro 4:25; Hebrews 13:20; 1Peter 3:18,22; Revelation 1:18)
Descend (2597) (katabaino from katá = down + baíno = go or come) means to come or go down and so to descend from a higher to a lower place. Paul quotes Moses to establish the impossibility of accomplishing such a task to seek a Word from God and the "lunacy" of even considering it since the Word is right there in their very midst (for the Jews - see Ro 3:1, 2-note, Ro 9:3, 4-note)!
MacArthur - His point is that the righteousness of faith does not require some impossible odyssey through the universe to find Christ. (The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word)
McGee - He talks about ascending up to heaven to bring it down, or going down to hell and bringing it up. My friend, the righteousness that Paul is talking about—he quotes from Deuteronomy 30:11–14—is available! You don’t have to make a trip anywhere to get it. (Romans 10:4-8 Mp3)
Abyss (12) (abussos, from a = an intensifier + buthos =deep) means first an extremely deep or bottomless and speaks of the underworld which in Greek was the place of dead (although it is not the lake of fire).
Paul (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit - 2Pe 1:21-note) substitutes "the deep" (abyss) for "the sea" in the Deuteronomy passage
Paul changes the picture from one of distance to one of depth, which makes the contrast with heaven even sharper.
MacDonald explains that "When the apostle quotes Deuteronomy 30:13, he changes it from “Who will go over the sea” to Who will descend into the abyss. His point is that the gospel does not ask men to descend into the grave to bring Christ up from among the dead. This would be impossible, but it would also be unnecessary, because Christ has already risen from the dead. Notice that in Ro 10:6, 7 we have the two doctrines concerning Christ which were hardest for a Jew to accept—His Incarnation (Ro 1:3-note) and His Resurrection (Ro 1:4-note, cp reaction in "intellectual" Athens Acts 17:32-note) . Yet he must accept these if he is to be saved. We will see these two doctrines again in Ro 10:9, 10-note. (Believer's Bible Commentary)