16. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
16. Non enim pudet me Evangelii Christi, quandoquidem potentia est Dei, in salutem omni credenti, Iudæoprimum, deinde Græco.
17. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
17. Nam justitia Dei in eo revelatur ex fide in fidem, sicut scriptum est, Justus ex fide sua vivet.
But observe how much Paul ascribes to the ministry of the word, when he testifies that God thereby puts forth his power to save; for he speaks not here of any secret revelation, but of vocal preaching. It hence follows, that those as it were willfully despise the power of God, and drive away from them his delivering hand, who withdraw themselves from the hearing of the word.
At the same time, as he works not effectually in all, but only where the Spirit, the inward Teacher, illuminates the heart, he subjoins,
Notice further, how extraordinary and valuable a treasure does God bestow on us through the gospel, even the communication of his own righteousness. I take the righteousness of God to mean, that which is approved before his tribunal; 3 as that, on the contrary, is usually called the righteousness of men, which is by men counted and supposed to be righteousness, though it be only vapor. Paul, however, I doubt not, alludes to the many prophecies in which the Spirit makes known everywhere the righteousness of God in the future kingdom of Christ.
Some explain it as the righteousness which is freely given us by God: and I indeed confess that the words will bear this sense; for God justifies us by the gospel, and thus saves us: yet the former view seems to me more suitable, though it is not what I make much of. Of greater moment is what some think, that this righteousness does not only consist in the free remission of sins, but also, in part, includes the grace of regeneration. But I consider, that we are restored to life because God freely reconciles us to himself, as we shall hereafter show in its proper place.
But instead of the expression he used before, "to every one who believeth," he says now,
He does not indeed professedly handle this subject; and hence he makes no mention of gratuitous justification: but it is sufficiently evident from the nature of faith, that this testimony is rightly applied to the present subject. Besides, we necessarily gather from his reasoning, that there is a mutual connection between faith and the gospel: for as the just is said to live by faith, he concludes that this life is received by the gospel.
We have now the principal point or the main hinge of the first part of this Epistle, -- that we are justified by faith through the mercy of God alone. We have not this, indeed as yet distinctly expressed by Paul; but from his own words it will hereafter be made very clear -- that the righteousness, which is grounded on faith, depends entirely on the mercy of God.
1 On the power of God, Pareus observes, that the abstract, after the Hebrew manner, is put for the concrete. Power means the instrument of God's power; that is, the gospel is an instrument rendered efficacious by divine power to convey salvation to believers: or, as Stuart says, "It is powerful through the energy which he imparts, and so it is called his power." Chalmers gives this paraphrase, "It is that, which however judged and despised as a weak instrument by the men of this world -- it is that, to which he, by his own power, gives effect for the recovery of that life which all men had forfeited and lost by sin."
"The gospel is a divine act, which continues to operate through all ages of the world, and that not in the first place outwardly, but inwardly, in the depths of the soul, and for eternal purposes." -- Dr. Olshausen.
2 "The causative,
3 "The righteousness of God,"
There is more difficulty connected with the following words,
For the righteousness of God by faith is in it revealed in order to be believed, as it is written, "The just shall by faith live." The same truth is conveyed in Romans 3:22; and similar phraseology is found in Philippians 3:9.
Barnes seems fully to express the import of the passage in these words, "God's plan of justifying men is revealed in the gospel, which plan is by faith, and the benefits of which plan shall be extended to all that have faith or that believe." -- Ed.
4 Here is an instance in which Paul quotes the Old Testament, neither exactly from the Hebrew nor the Septuagint. The Hebrew is "the just, -- by his faith shall he live,"