Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
SALVATION, AND THE
1. Brethren, my heart's desire--The word here expresses "entire
complacency," that in which the heart would experience full
to God for Israel--"for them" is the true reading; the subject being
continued from the close of the preceding chapter.
is, that they may be saved--"for their salvation." Having before
poured forth the anguish of his soul at the general unbelief of his
nation and its dreadful consequences
he here expresses in the most emphatic terms his desire and prayer for
2. For I bear them record--or, "witness," as he well could from his
own sad experience.
that they have a zeal of--"for"
God, but not according to knowledge--(Compare
Ac 22:3; 26:9-11;
Ga 1:13, 14).
He alludes to this well-meaning of his people, notwithstanding their
spiritual blindness, not certainly to excuse their rejection of Christ
and rage against His saints, but as some ground of hope regarding them.
3. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness--that is, for
the justification of the guilty (see on
and going about--"seeking"
to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to
the righteousness of God--The apostle views the general rejection of
Christ by the nation as one act.
4. For Christ is the end--the object or aim.
of the law for--justifying
righteousness to every one that believeth--that is, contains within
Himself all that the law demands for the justification of such as
embrace Him, whether Jew or Gentile
5-10. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That
the man that doeth--"hath done"
those things--which it commands.
shall live in them--
This is the one way of justification and life--by "the righteousness
which is of (or, by our own obedience to) the law."
6. But the--justifying
righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise--"speaketh
thus"--its language or import is to this effect (quoting in substance
De 30:13, 14).
Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? that is, to
bring Christ down, &c.--that is, "Ye have not to sigh over the
impossibility of attaining to justification; as if one should say, oh!
if I could but get someone to mount up to heaven and fetch me down
Christ, there might be some hope, but since that cannot be, mine is a
7. Or, Who shall descend, &c.--another case of impossibility,
and perhaps also
--probably proverbial expressions of impossibility (compare
8. But what saith it? It saith--continuing the quotation from
The word is nigh thee--easily accessible.
in thy mouth--when thou confessest Him.
and in thine heart--when thou believest on Him. Though it is of
the law which Moses more immediately speaks in the passage quoted,
yet it is of the law as Israel shall be brought to look upon it when the
Lord their God shall circumcise their heart "to love the Lord their God
with all their heart"
and thus, in applying it, the apostle (as
truly observes) is not merely appropriating the language of Moses, but
keeping in the line of his deeper thought.
that is, the word of faith, which we preach--that is, the word which
men have to believe for salvation (compare
9. That if thou shalt, &c.--So understanding the words, the apostle
is here giving the language of the true method of justification; and
this sense we prefer (with CALVIN,
JOWETT). But able
interpreters render the words, "For," or "Because if thou shalt," &c.
Revised Version]. In this case, these are the apostle's own remarks,
confirming the foregoing statements as to the simplicity of the gospel
method of salvation.
confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus--that is, probably, "If thou
shalt confess Jesus [to be] the Lord," which is the proper manifestation
or evidence of faith
This is put first merely to correspond with the foregoing
quotation--"in thy mouth and in thine heart." So in
the "calling of believers" is put before their "election," as that
which is first "made sure," although in point of time it comes after
and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised--"that God
him from the dead, &c.--(See on
the two things are placed in their natural order.
10. For with the heart man believeth unto--justifying
righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation--This
confession of Christ's name, especially in times of persecution,
and whenever obloquy is attached to the Christian profession, is an
indispensable test of discipleship.
11-13. For the scripture saith--in
a glorious Messianic passage.
Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed--Here, as in
the quotation is from the Septuagint, which renders those words
of the original, "shall not make haste" (that is, fly for escape, as
from conscious danger), "shall not be put to shame," which comes to the
12. For there is no difference--or "distinction"
between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord over all--that is, not
God (as CALVIN,
HODGE), but Christ, as will
be seen, we think, by comparing
Ro 10:9, 12, 13
and observing the apostle's usual style on such subjects. (So
is rich--a favorite Pauline term to express the exuberance of that
saving grace which is in Christ Jesus.
unto all that call upon him--This confirms the application of the
preceding words to Christ; since to call upon the name of the Lord
Jesus is a customary expression.
Ac 7:59, 60; 9:14, 21; 22:16;
13. For--saith the scripture
whosoever--The expression is emphatic, "Everyone whosoever"
shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved--
quoted also by Peter, in his great Pentecostal sermon
with evident application to Christ.
14, 15. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?
and . . . believe in him of whom they have not heard? and . . . hear
without a preacher? and . . . preach except . . . sent?--that is,
"True, the same Lord over all is rich unto all alike that call upon
Him. But this calling implies believing, and believing hearing, and
hearing preaching, and preaching a mission to preach: Why, then, take
ye it so ill, O children of Abraham, that in obedience to our heavenly
we preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of
15. as it is written--
How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace,
&c.--The whole chapter of Isaiah from which this is taken, and the
three that follow, are so richly Messianic, that there can be no doubt
"the glad tidings" there spoken of announce a more glorious release
than of Judah from the Babylonish captivity, and the very feet of its
preachers are called "beautiful" for the sake of their message.
16, 17. But they have not all obeyed the gospel--that is, the
Scripture hath prepared us to expect this sad result.
For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?--that
is,"Where shall one find a believer?" The prophet speaks as if next to
none would believe: The apostle softens this into "They have not all
17. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God--"This
is another confirmation of the truth that faith supposes the
hearing of the Word, and this a commission to preach it."
18. But I say, Have they not heard?--"Did they not hear?" Can Israel,
through any region of his dispersion, plead ignorance of these glad
Yes, verily, their sound went--"their voice went out"
into all the earth, and their words unto the end of the
world--These beautiful words are from
Whether the apostle quoted them as in their primary intention
applicable to his subject (as OLSHAUSEN, ALFORD, &c.), or only "used scriptural language to
express his own ideas, as is done involuntarily almost by every
preacher in every sermon" [HODGE], expositors are
not agreed. But though the latter may seem the more natural since "the
rising of the Sun of righteousness upon the world"
"the Dayspring from on high visiting us, giving light to them that sat
in darkness, and guiding our feet into the way of peace"
(Lu 1:78, 79),
must have been familiar and delightful to the apostle's ear, we cannot
doubt that the irradiation of the world with the beams of a better Sun
by the universal diffusion of the Gospel of Christ, must have a mode of
speaking quite natural, and to him scarcely figurative.
19. But I say, Did not Israel know?--know, from their own Scriptures,
of God's intention to bring in the Gentiles?
First--that is First in the prophetic line [DE
Moses saith, &c.--"I will provoke you to jealousy ('against') [them
that are] not a nation, and against a nation without understanding will
I anger you"
In this verse God warns His ancient people that because they had (that
is, in aftertimes would) moved Him to jealousy with their "no-gods,"
and provoked Him to anger with their vanities, He in requital would
move them to jealousy by receiving into His favor a "no-people," and
provoke them to anger by adopting a nation void of understanding.
20. But Esaias is very bold, and saith--that is, is still plainer, and
goes even the length of saying.
I was found of them that sought me not--until I sought them.
I was made--"became"
manifest unto them that asked not after me--until the invitation from
Me came to them. That the calling of the Gentiles was meant by these
words of the prophet
is manifest from what immediately follows, "I said, Behold Me, behold
Me, unto a nation that was not called by My name."
21. But to--rather, "with regard to"
Israel he saith, All day--"All the day"
long I have stretched out my hands--"did I stretch forth"
my hands--the attitude of gracious entreaty.
unto a disobedient and gainsaying people--These words, which
immediately follow the announcement just quoted of the calling of the
Gentiles, were enough to forewarn the Jews both of God's purpose to
eject them from their privileges, in favor of the Gentiles, and of the
cause of it on their own part.
Note, (1) Mere sincerity, and even earnestness in
religion--though it may be some ground of hope for a merciful recovery
from error--is no excuse, and will not compensate, for the deliberate
rejection of saving truth, when in the providence of God presented for
and see on
Note 7). (2) The true cause of such rejection of saving truth,
by the otherwise sincere, is the prepossession of the mind by some
false notions of its own. So long as the Jews "sought to set up their
own righteousness," it was in the nature of things impossible that they
should "submit themselves to the righteousness of God"; the one of
these two methods of acceptance being in the teeth of the other
(3) The essential terms of salvation have in every age been the same:
"Whosoever will" is invited to "take of the water of life freely,"
(4) How will the remembrance of the simplicity, reasonableness, and
absolute freeness of God's plan of salvation overwhelm those that
perish from under the sound of it
(5) How piercingly and perpetually should that question--"HOW SHALL THEY HEAR WITHOUT A PREACHER?"--sound in the
ears of all churches, as but the apostolic echo of their Lord's parting
injunction, "PREACH THE GOSPEL TO
and how far below the proper standard of love, zeal, and self-sacrifice
must the churches as yet be, when with so plenteous a harvest the
laborers are yet so few
(Mt 9:37, 38),
and that cry from the lips of pardoned, gifted, consecrated men--"Here
am I, send me"
is not heard everywhere
(Ro 10:14, 15)!
(6) The blessing of a covenant relation to God is the irrevocable
privilege of no people and no Church; it can be preserved only by
fidelity, on our part, to the covenant itself
(7) God is often found by those who apparently are the farthest from
Him, while He remains undiscovered by those who think themselves the
(Ro 10:20, 21).
(8) God's dealings even with reprobate sinners are full of tenderness
and compassion; all the day long extending the arms of His mercy even
to the disobedient and gainsaying. This will be felt and acknowledged
at last by all who perish, to the glory of God's forbearance and to
their own confusion