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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 10 - Verse 6

Verse 6. But the righteousness which is of faith. It is observable here that Paul does not affirm that Moses describes anywhere the righteousness by faith, or the effect of the scheme of justification by faith. His object was different, to give the law and state its demands and rewards. Yet though he had not formally described the plan of justification by faith, yet he had used language which would fitly express that plan. The scheme of justification by faith is here personified as if it were living, and describing its own effects and nature. One describing it would say, Or the plan itself speaks in this manner. The words here quoted are taken from De 30:11-14. The original meaning of the passage is this: Moses near the end of his life, having given his commandments to the Israelites, exhorts them to obedience. To do this, he assures them that his commands are reasonable, plain, intelligible, and accessible. They did not require deep research, long journeys, or painful toil. There was no need of crossing seas, and going to other lands; of looking into the profound mysteries of the high heavens, or the deep abyss; but they were near them, had been plainly set before them, and were easily understood. To see the excellency of this characteristic of the Divine law, it may be observed, that, among the ancients, it was not uncommon for legislators and philosophers to travel to distant countries in pursuit of knowledge. They left their country, encountered dangers on the sea and land, to go to distant regions that had the reputation of wisdom. Egypt was peculiarly a land of such celebrity; and in subsequent times Pythagoras, and the principal philosophers of Greece, travelled into that country to converse with their priests, and to bear the fruits of their wisdom to benefit their native land. And it is not improbable that this had been done to some extent even in or before the time of Moses. Moses says that his precepts were to be obtained by no such painful and dangerous journeys. They were near them, plain, and intelligible. This is the general meaning of this passage. Moses dwells on the thought, and places it in a variety of forms by the questions, "Who shall go up to heaven for us," etc.; and Paul regards this as appropriately describing the language of Christian faith; but without affirming that Moses himself had any reference in the passage to the faith of the gospel.

On this wise. In this manner.

Say not in thine heart. The expression, to say in the heart, is the same as to think. Do not think, or suppose, that the doctrine is so difficult to be understood, that one must ascend to heaven in order to understand it.

Who shall ascend into heaven? This expression was used among the Jews, to denote any difficult undertaking. To say that it was high as heaven, or that it was necessary to ascend to heaven to understand it, was to express the highest difficulty. Thus Job 11:7, "Canst thou by searching find out God? It is high as heaven, what canst thou do?:" etc. Moses says it was not so with his doctrine. It was not impossible to be understood, but was plain and intelligible.

That is, to bring Christ, etc. Paul does not here affirm that it was the original design of Moses to affirm this of Christ. His words related to his own doctrine. Paul makes this use of the words, because

(1.) they appropriately expressed the language of faith.

(2.) If this might be affirmed of the doctrines of Moses, much more might it of the Christian religion. Religion had no such difficult work to do as to ascend to heaven to bring down a Messiah. That work was already accomplished when God gave his Son to become a man, and to die. To save man it was indeed indispensable that Christ should have come down from heaven, But the language of faith was that this had already been done. Probably the word Christ here includes all the benefits mentioned in Ro 10:4, as resulting from the work of Christ.

{n} "Say not in thine heart" De 30:12-14

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