13. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
13. Non enim per Legem promissio Abrahæ et semini ejus data est, ut esset hæres mundi; sed per justitiam fidei.
Hence also it follows, that this benefit, the reason for which applies equally to both, belongs to the Gentiles no less than to the Jews; for if the salvation of men is based on the goodness of God alone, they check and hinder its course, as much as they can, who exclude from it the Gentiles.
Though the ungodly swallow up the riches of the world, they can yet call nothing as their own; but they rather snatch them as it were by stealth; for they possess them under the curse of God. It is indeed a great comfort to the godly in their poverty, that though they fare slenderly, they yet steal nothing of what belongs to another, but receive their lawful allowance from the hand of their celestial Father, until they enter on the full possession of their inheritance, when all creatures shall be made subservient to their glory; for both heaven and earth shall be renewed for this end, -- that according to their measure they may contribute to render glorious the kingdom of God.
1 Critics have differed as to the disjunctive
Hammond renders the whole verse more literally than in our version, -- "The promise to Abraham or to his seed, that he should be the heir of the world, was not by the law, but through the righteousness of faith." -- Ed.
2 There is in Genesis no expression conveyed in these words; but the probability is, that he intended to express in another form what he distinctly quotes in Romans 4:17, "I have made thee a father of many nations."
The word "father," in this case, has been commonly understood to mean a leader, a pattern, a model, an exemplar, a forerunner, as Abraham was the first believer justified by faith, of whom there is an express record. But the idea seems to be somewhat different. He was a father as the first possessor of an inheritance which was to descend to all his children. The inheritance was given him by grace through faith; it was to descend, as it were, to all his lawful posterity, to all his legitimate seed, that is, to all who possessed the like faith with himself. He is therefore called the father of many nations, because many nations would become his legitimate heirs by becoming believers; and in the same sense must be regarded the expression here, "the heir of the world;" he was the representative of all the believing world, and made an heir of an inheritance which was to come to the world in general, to the believing Jews and to the believing Gentiles. He was the heir, the first possessor, of what was to descend to the world without any difference. He was the heir of the world in the same sense as he was "the father of all who believe," as he is said to have been in verse eleventh.
The inheritance was doubtless eternal life or the heavenly kingdom, the country above, of which the land of Canaan was a type and a pledge. See Hebrews 11:12, 13, 16. -- Ed.