The Epistle to the Romans
Lesson Number 33
A HOPE-DRIVEN PRAYER FOR ISRAEL
10:1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For
I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For
they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own
righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of
the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. 5 For Moses writes about the
righteousness which is of the law, "The man who does those things shall live by them."
6 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) 7 or, " 'Who will descend
into the abyss?' " (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 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
preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart
that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one
believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For
the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." 12 For there is no
distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon
Him. 13 For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."
- Romans 10:1-13 NKJV -
The mind that is "controlled by the Spirit" (Rom 8:6 NIV) faces the hard realities related to people being alienated
from God. It acknowledges that those who have not attainted to the righteousness of God have not sought it by faith.
Yet, this perception does not cause the heart to grow cold and indifferent toward such people. Particularly in the case
of Israel, Paul demonstrates what it means to love our enemies and do good to those who despitefully use us (Matt
OPPOSED BY THE JEWS
The Jews had been aggressive in their opposition to Paul. Early In his ministry, the Jews in Damascus "took
counsel to kill him," watching the gates of the city "day and night to kill him" (Acts 9:23-24). In Antioch of Pisidia
"the Jews stirred up the devout and honorable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against
Paul," causing him to be expelled from the city (Acts 13:50-51). In Thessalonica, certain Jews stirred up such an
uproar in the city, that Paul was forced to leave (Acts 17:4-10). When he came into Berea, "the Jews of Thessalonica
came," stirring up the people and forcing him to leave that area also (Acts 17:13-14). When he preached in Corinth,
"the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat" (Acts 18:12). When
he returned to Jerusalem, "certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they
would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul" (Acts 23:12).
"Five times" they beat him with "forty stripes minus one" (2 Cor 11:24). Jews from Antioch caused him to
stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19). He declared he was frequently "in perils by mine own countrymen" (2 Cor
11:26). With a tone of grief Paul said of the Jews, "Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have
persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men" (1 Thess 2:14).
It would be exceedingly difficult to endure more opposition from your former associates than Paul did from his!
When we experience contrariety from those with whom we have traveled, we should run to this passage of Scripture
to gain encouragement. There is no need for us to retaliate, or to conduct ourselves against people with harshness
and inconsideration. While rebuke and correction are often necessary, and even strong denunciation, our hearts must
remain tender and supple.
A CHANGE IN THE MAN
Prior to being in Christ, Saul of Tarsus was aggressive against those who were in conflict with his perception
of devotion to God. Confessing to his shameful conduct he said, "I persecuted the church of God" (1 Cor 15:9). He is
presented as "breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord," NKJV even seeking permission to hunt
them down like wild animals, bringing them bound to Jerusalem (Acts 9:1). He wrote to the Galatians, "I persecuted
the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it" NKJV (Gal 1:13).
In regard to that segment of his life, Paul said he was "a persecutor, and injurious" (1 Tim 1:13).And again, "I
persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women" (Acts 22:4). He was
convinced he "must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 26:9).
But when Saul of Tarsus knowingly confronted the glorified Christ, he was changed! He did not seek out the
Jews to persecute them, but to deliver the Gospel to them. He did not return hatred to his enemies, as he did when
a Pharisee. He had received a "heart of flesh" (Ezek 11:19; 36:26), and it was supple in the hands of the Lord. Now
he viewed the Jews as Jesus did, whom the Jews had opposed even more than they did him.
Rather than the oppressive hatred of the Jews driving him to despise them, Paul rises into the heavenly realms
by the Holy Spirit. He views them with "the mind of Christ," and thus brings himself into harmony with God's
eternal purpose. He refuses to write them off, but rather enters into a certain fervency for their salvation. What is
more, he is not ashamed to confess to this desire, showing that it is in perfect accord with both the nature and the
purpose of the Living God.
THE COMPULSION OF LEGALISM
There is a certain compulsive nature in legalism - a propensity to be justified by Law. When dominated by this
mentality, the individual becomes aggressive against those who oppose him, descending into the realm of flesh and
blood to do battle. False religion will drive people to do things against other believers that are astonishing.
It moved the Roman Catholic hierarchy to mandate the death of hundreds of thousands of believers because they
did not subscribe to the "laws of the church." It has constrained others to, in the name of Christ, cast faithful
believers from their midst because they could not accept the traditions of men. Others have been maligned and their
names smeared because they would not embrace the institution as though it was the solitary representative of the
A legalistic mind-set frequently yields a heartless religion. Its constituents become more zealous of conforming
people to the manners of the organization than to the image of God's Son. Many of us have drank from the bitter cup
of legalism, and can testify to the truth of these observations.
SOVEREIGNTY AND COLDNESS
It is also necessary to briefly comment on another misconception. Many have opposed the teaching of God's
Sovereignty, as declared in this section of Romans, because it seems cold and lifeless. Indeed, some who proclaim the
Sovereignty of God, and "the election of grace," appear to justify this conclusion. They think nothing of writing off
the souls of men as though the Lord delighted in "the death of the wicked" - which He does not (Ezek 33:11). Such
individuals often leave people thinking God is actually willing for some to perish, or is not willing that all men be
saved. Both of these are complete misconceptions (2 Pet 3:9; 1 Tim 2:4). God is not heartless, and it is out of order
for any of us to be.
Our text will confirm these conclusions. Moved along by the Holy Spirit of God, the same man who spoke of God
choosing Isaac, loving Jacob, hating Esau, and raising up Pharaoh, will declare the desire of his heart - that Israel
be saved. Lofty truths, when perceived, do not make hearts hard! Knowing and believing that God has mercy
on whomever He wills, and hardens whomever He desires, does not dash hope to the ground! We will
find in this text that the true apprehension of these realities kindles in the heart hopes and desires for others -
especially in regard to the Israelites.
It is necessary to thrust from our minds any notion that knowing God does what He desires, creates coldness
and a sense of futility in the hearts of men. Doctrines that, when embraced, leave men and women cold and indifferent
cannot be true! When known, "the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). That freedom involves tenderheartedness,
and makes no provision for insensitivity. How gloriously this is seen in the text before us.
Here is a human
response that brings great glory to God!
TWO KINDS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
This chapter will develop for us the difference between the righteousness that comes from faith, and that which
comes from keeping the Law. It is a critical distinction, for one is possible and the other impossible. One brings Divine
acceptance and the other does not. One is the ordained means of becoming righteous, the other is the ordained means
of showing righteousness cannot be achieved through human discipline.
It is imperative that the people of God see this distinction. They must not view this as some form of profound
theology, intended only for the intellectually elite, or positionally superior. Such distinctions belong to the order of
flesh, and have no place among God's people. Faith is the distinguishing trait in God's kingdom. That is what gives
prominence to the individual, as attested by the eleventh chapter of Hebrews.
The uniqueness of the righteousness that comes from faith puts the salvation of Israel within reach, just as it
put it within the reach of the Gentiles. That, of course, is the point of this passage. It reveals with wisdom of God.
A HEART'S DESIRE AND PRAYER
10:1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved." These
are the not words of the mind, but of the heart. They are not the expression of mere sentiment, but of faith and love.
This is the way the Apostle speaks to "the household of faith" (Gal 6:10) concerning the Israelites, His "kinsmen
according to the flesh." Because he is being moved by the Holy Spirit, we can conclude this is how the Spirit speaks
to the churches about the Jews.
The Promise to Abraham
God, who cannot lie, made certain promises to our father Abraham. The following words are included in those
Divine commitments. "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee" (Gen 12:3). Through
Isaac, the child of promise, the promise was repeated to Jacob, "cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed
be he that blesseth thee" (Gen 27:29). Even Balaam could not refrain from repeating the words to wicked Balak, who
sought to have Israel cursed: "Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee" (Num 24:9).
Words Through David
Knowing the covenant of the Lord to the houses of Judah and Israel (Jer 31:31-44), David was moved by the
Spirit to speak of their chief city. "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee" (Psa 122:6). In
his penitential pray, recorded in Psalm 51, he prayed, "Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls
of Jerusalem" (Psa 51:18). The 137th Psalm records these touching words. "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right
hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not
Jerusalem above my chief joy" (verses 5-6).
Jeremiah admonished those who escaped the sword during the ravages of Jerusalem, "Ye that have escaped the
sword, go away, stand not still: remember the LORD afar off, and let Jerusalem come into your mind"
Jesus Wept Over Jerusalem
Before His death, Jesus came near to the city of Jerusalem, beheld it, and "wept over it" (Luke 19:41). There
is no record of Him weeping over any other city, people, or country. When Jerusalem rejected Jesus, He wept. When
the Gadarene's begged Him to leave their country, "He got into the boat and returned" (Lk 8:37). Jesus went about
"all the cities and villages" (Matt 9:35), but He only wept over Jerusalem.
Jesus Prayed for the Jews
The Lord Jesus Himself displayed this attitude from the lowest realm ever occupied by a man in the flesh - the
cross. From the depths of His spirit He cried out, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do"
Stephen Prayed for the Jews
Stephen prayed in the same manner when his life was being pounded out of him with stones: "he kneeled down,
and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge" (Acts 7:60). Like that of Paul, his prayer was driven
by his acquaintance with Scripture and fellowship with Jesus. At the time he prayed these words, he had witnessed
Jesus standing on the right hand of God (7:56), was calling upon God, and asking Jesus to receive his spirit (7:59).
It is inconceivable that a human spirit bathed in such glory could pray something foolish or out of harmony with the
will of God.
All of this confirms there is an unquestionable foundation for seeking the good of the Israelites,
Paul's "kinsmen according to the flesh."
A DESIRE OF THE HEART
" . . . my heart's desire . . . " Unless it can be established to be otherwise, this is a desire of Paul's "new heart."
It surely is not the desire of a stony heart, which was removed in that he might obtain a new heart, tender and supple
in the hands of the Lord.
I know of no Word from God that speaks of illegitimate concerns erupting from the renewed heart. Further, if
this was a wrong and futile desire, the Word of the Lord would have searched it out, exposing it (Heb 4:12). In such
a case, the Holy Spirit would not have allowed Paul's desire to be stated without an explanation of some sort.
This is doubtless one of the results of Paul loving the Lord with all of his heart (Deut 6:5; Matt 22:37). I have
no doubts that those who deny this is the case will find it utterly impossible to prove otherwise. The textual context
of these words allow for no other conclusion. The doctrinal content of the passage demands that we take this view,
else the passage is nothing more than the outburst of carnality. I would consider such a conclusion to be blasphemous.
A PRAYER TO GOD
This is more than a mere human desire. It is a "prayer to God." In this case, the desire of the heart has been wed
to the purpose of God. Paul is doing more than letting his request be made known to God (Phil 4:6). Knowing the
promises of God, he brings his heart into accord with them. He realizes it is God's manner to divulge His intentions
in order that His people might implore Him to do what He has promised. As it is written, "Then the heathen that are
left round about you shall know that I the LORD build the ruined places, and plant that was desolate: I the LORD
have spoken it, and I will do it. Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of
Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock" (Ezek 36:36-37).
Jeremiah spoke of the same spiritual reality. "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD,
thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray
to Me, and I will listen to you" NKJV (Jeremiah 29:11-12).
This is an aspect of the Kingdom of God that could do with a great deal more exploration. It reveals an aspect
of the Divine nature that allows for the redeemed to become integrally involved in the outworking of God's purpose.
While much of contemporary prayer is self-centered, here is a prayer that is totally selfless, swathed with the light
of Divine glory and bathed in God's eternal purpose. Paul's desire reflected the mind of Christ and the will of the
THAT THEY MIGHT BE SAVED
The expression "be saved" equates to "attained to righteousness" (9:30). Salvation, from this view, is becoming
acceptable to God by having His righteousness imputed to us. That is the very theme that is being developed in
Romans - the reception of God's own righteousness. While that righteousness does impact upon our conduct
[thoughts, words, and deeds] it is not our conduct that constitutes us righteous before God. Our faith is counted to
us for righteousness, not our conduct (Gen 15:6; Rom 4:3,5). Paul prays that Israel might attain to "the righteousness
of faith" (4:13). That is salvation!
When Saul of Tarsus was called to the Apostleship, the scope of his ministry was revealed to Ananias. "But the
Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings,
and the children of Israel" (Acts 9:15). Paul entered into his labors with zeal.
Later in this book, the Apostle to the Gentiles will confess his ardent intention to reach his kinsmen with the
Gospel of Christ. He preached to the Gentiles "inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
if by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them"
The labors of Paul, therefore, were wedded to his prayers. His prayers were also substantiated and assisted by
his labors. Blessed is the person who brings action and prayer together, and does so in strict harmony with the will
ZEAL WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE
2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge." The
tenderness and sensitivity of Paul is revealed in this text. Although his kinsmen according to the flesh vigorously
opposed him, yet he was able to acknowledge something commendable in them. It was not something that would
obtain the righteousness of God. Neither, indeed, was it something that would rescue them from darkness and
deception. Nevertheless, it was like a small crack in the door that permitted the light of hope to shed an encouraging
ray upon the heart of the Apostle.
The presence of the quality mentioned causes Paul to be even more ardent in his desire for their salvation. It
is a good thing to be able to see tokens of hope in the individuals for whom we pray. They will help to drive our desires
and prayers to be more fervent and consistent.
"I bear them witness . . . " A sectarian spirit cannot acknowledge comely qualities in those of other
persuasions. Such an one imagines that to see anything appropriate in those perceived as being in error is to
approve everything about them.
When the Paul had to rebuke the Galatians for their reversion to the Law, he was careful to bear witness to
comely things they had done. "For I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own
eyes, and have given them to me" (Gal 4:15). When the glorified Christ rebuked the wayward churches in Asia,
threatening to judge and even remove them, He was careful to cite their comely qualities.
EPHESUS, who had left their first love. "I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst
not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found
them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted . . . But
this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate" (Rev 2:2-7).
PERGAMOS, who had some among them who held to the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which Jesus hated. "I
know thy works and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast
not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where
Satan dwelleth" (Rev 2:13-15).
THYATIRA, who allowed a false prophetess to teach Christ's servants to commit fornication and eat things
sacrificed to idols. "I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and
the last to be more than the first" (Rev 2:19-20).
SARDIS, who had a name they were alive, but actually were dead. "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which
have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy" (Rev 3:4).
Confirming that there are some in which no good can be found, Jesus gave no commendation of any sort to the
church in Laodicea (Rev 3:14-18). But where there was any evidence of hope, the Lord acknowledged it, commended
the people, and urged their full recovery.
This is the sort of spirit Paul has when he speaks of the zeal of the Israelites. It is a comely quality, though it was
WHAT IS ZEAL?
"They have a zeal for God . . . " Zeal is more that hype or carnal excitement. It involves a fervent mind, and a
certain jealousy for the object of the zeal. It includes pursuing a perceived advantage, and opposing all that is
considered against that advantage. Thus, zeal is seen to have two sides. Ardent affection for and a keen interest
in what is sought, and indignation and fierceness toward those opposed to what is sought.
In our text, Israel did not simply have zeal, but a "zeal for God." NKJV They were aggressive in their devotion to
their perception of Him. They also vigorously opposed those whom they considered to be against Him. Paul knew well
of this kind of behavior, for he himself was once zealous in this way. He aggressively sought to serve God. He also
energetically opposed and persecuted those he considered to be against God.
One of the dampening effects of a pedantic, or merely academic, approach to the things of God is the diminishing
of zeal. In our time, zeal in Christian circles is exceedingly rare. People have grown accustomed to giving only a
fragment of their persons to anything pertaining to God. This includes their time, resources, and influence, together
with their hearts and minds. Too often, a person who is zealous for the Lord stands out like the proverbial sore
ZEAL WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE
" . . . but not according to knowledge."
The zeal of the Israelites was not driven by a proper knowledge of God.
Nor, indeed, did it flow from an understanding of the reality and nature of true righteousness. That circumstance
removed the effectiveness of their zeal.
Scripture affirms that "it is good to be zealous in a good thing always" (Gal 4:18), but only so! It will never
bring advantages to the individual to be zealous for the wrong thing! Misdirected efforts are never the
means of appropriating Divine benefits!
Knowledge = Enlightenment
The "knowledge" of reference is not scholastic or theoretical. Rather, this is the knowledge that comes with
enlightenment. The NRSV emphasizes this: "I can testify that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened."
Here, the word "knowledge" comes from the Greek word evpi,gnwsin,, which means precise and correct, or true
knowledge. This word is used ten other times in Scripture, and always refers to a supernatural knowledge - one that
is given by God.
"For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled
with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding" (Col 1:9).
"That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the
knowledge of God" (Col 1:10).
"That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of
understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ" (Col 2:2).
"And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him" (Col
"Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim 2:4).
"In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the
acknowledging of the truth" (2 Tim 2:25).
"Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim 3:7).
"Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the
acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness" (Tit 1:1).
"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice
for sins" (Heb 10:26).
"For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the
knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Pet 1:8).
The meaning of the expression, therefore, is this:
The Israelites have a zeal for God, but it is not the result
of being enlightened by God. It is not the outcome of comprehending Him, or being convinced of the
availability of His righteousness in Christ Jesus.
The Effects of True Knowledge
Among other things, this confirms the impact that new creatureship has upon the person who is born again. The
"new man" is created in order to the attainment of, and progress in true knowledge (Col 3:10). That knowledge moves
the individual along the road of spiritual progress, producing a zeal that is right.
Our new birth is referred to as the time when we "were illuminated" (Heb 10:32), or "were once enlightened"
(Heb 6:4). When "the eyes of your understanding" are "enlightened" (Eph 1:18), zeal for the things of God is the
result. As never before, that is when men and women will seek "first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness"
(Matt 6:33). Examine your own heart and see if this is not precisely what happened to you!
To be profitable, zeal must proceed from spiritual enlightenment. When it is "not according to knowledge," it
always comes short of the purpose of God. As you can see, enthusiasm and fervency are not ends of themselves.
It is not uncommon in our day to find people dominated by institutional zeal, or fervor. They are aggressive to
maintain and propagate the party line. Many of us have fallen victims to this approach in the past, and are
exceedingly thankful we have been delivered from it. Mark it well, those within an institution created, ordered, and
condoned by God Almighty fell short of Divine objectives in their zeal. Therefore, you can rest assured that those
giving themselves to mere human institutions have absolutely no hope of attaining to righteousness, particularly the
righteousness of God. The level of their zeal is of no consequence whatsoever.
THE CAUSE AND EFFECT OF IGNORANCE
" 3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own
righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God." The Spirit speaks candidly about the failure
of the Israelites to appropriate the righteousness contained in the Law. Remember, they were NOT seeking God's
righteousness, but the righteousness set forth in the Law of Moses. It looked to them as though it was attainable, and
thus they pursued it with zeal. The Spirit now makes three pungent observations, confirming why the Israelites did
not attain to the righteousness of the Law.
IGNORANCE OF GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS
"For not knowing about God's righteousness . . . " NASB Other versions read, "Since they did not know the
righteousness that comes from God." NIV "Not having knowledge of God's righteousness." BBE "For, in their
unawareness of the righteousness that comes from God." NLT "For they don't understand God's way of
making people right with Himself." NJB
Here, what the Israelites did NOT know moved them into inappropriate action. The world says, What you do not
know cannot hurt you. How wrong is that foolish aphorism!
Keep in mind "God's righteousness" refers to the righteousness He GIVES. It is not only His in the sense of
belonging to Him. It is also His in the sense of coming from Him to men. The righteousness of which Israel was
ignorant was the righteousness God gives to men because of their faith. Had they known about that righteousness,
they would have sought it. However, they did not know about it. They were ignorant of it, having no understanding
Why Did They NOT Know?
How is it that the Israelites, chosen and tutored by God, did not know about His righteousness - the righteousness
that He gives? It is because the Law gave no hint about this righteousness! In regards to righteousness, it
spoke only of man's doing, never of God's giving.
Within the code of Law, the Lord spoke of giving commandments (Ex 24:12,22), rest from enemies (Ex 33:14), and
the land of Canaan (Lev 20:24). He spoke of giving rain (Lev 26:4), peace in the land (Lev 26:6), and flesh to eat (Num
11:21). However, He NEVER spoke of giving them righteousness!
The Lord gave workman for the tabernacle (Ex 31:6), portions to the Levites from the offerings (Lev 6:17), and
the gift of the priesthood (Num 18:7). He said He gave them cities (Deut 3:19), and a possession to every man (Deut
3:20). But He never said He had, or would, give them righteousness.
In the Law, righteousness ALWAYS had to do with what men did. In all of the Law (Exodus 20 - Deut) God never
referred to "My righteousness." The phrase "righteousness of God" is never mentioned. One time it is said of the
Lord, "Righteous and upright is He" (Deut 32:4), but there is no hint that it would be given to men.
The Law, therefore, did NOT enlighten men concerning God's righteousness. It only held forth a righteousness
that resulted from men's doing. Thus it was written, "And the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes,
to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. Then it will be
righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the LORD our God, as He has
commanded us" (Deut 6:24-25).
With all of the words in the Law, there was not sufficient information to conclude there was a
righteousness to be received from God! That is precisely why the Israelites were ignorant of
Academically, It Was Plain Enough
Although the Law held out remarkable promises for keeping it (Deut 28:1-14) and frightening curses for failing
to keep it (Deut 28:15-68), it gave no hint that its demands exceeded natural abilities. That reality would only be
realized by a fervent effort to fulfill the Law, coupled with an honest heart. The blessings were strictly contingent
upon perfect conformity to the Law: observing to "DO ALL His commandments" (Deut 28:1). The curses would be
incurred if they failed "to observe to DO ALL His commandments and His statutes" (Deut 28:15).
Notwithstanding this clarity, fallen man overlooks the word "ALL." He insists on viewing the demands as goals
to be attempted. Correspondingly, he imagines that a lot of effort fulfills the demands of the Law. But it does not.
That is only a delusion of the flesh. The Law demanded perfection, and would take nothing less!
The Bane of Legalism
"Legalism," as I am using the word, is a propensity for Law. It is the result of the misconception that men can
become right by doing. While this may appear harmless to the sophist, it is actually a most lethal view. When men
look to the Law-any law-for righteousness, they are not able to see the "gift of righteousness" (Rom 5:17).
Ignorance of God's righteousness flourishes in the soil of Law. Those who seek Divine approbation by a
system of doing are, by that very approach, blinded to the righteousness that comes by faith. You will observe a perfect
consistency in this wherever Law is preferred over grace.
SEEKING TO ESTABLISH THEIR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS
" . . . and seeking to establish their own righteousness . . . " The KJV reads, "going about to establish their own
righteousness." By this expression, the Spirit means that the Israelites engaged in a hearty effort to fulfill the Law,
which promised life to the doer (Lev 18:5). It is another way of saying, "For I bear them record that they have a zeal
of God, but not according to knowledge" (v 2). This seeking was not a casual inquiry into the subject of righteousness,
but an aggressive effort to do what the Law demanded.
Because of the Law, coupled with their fallen nature, the Israelites were persuaded they could make themselves
suitable to God. Armed with information and willpower, they would establish , or originate, their own righteousness.
In so doing, they revealed they had overestimated their own strength and underestimated the requirements of the
Law. They did not know how wicked they were, or how righteous God is.
At the very moment people set out to establish their own righteousness, the righteousness of God becomes
inaccessible. It is at once obscured, and the veil of spiritual ignorance is spread over the mind and the heart.
The truth of the matter is, "There is none righteous, no, not one" (3:10). That being the case, it is not possible
for an unrighteous man to make himself righteous. A sinner cannot "establish" his own righteousness, because you
cannot establish what does not exist! The only way to become righteous is to have ones sins remitted that the gift of
righteousness may be received by faith.
I cannot leave this point without observing that those with a penchant for Law have learned nothing from the
Israelites. There remains within the religious community the imagination that men can establish their own
righteousness by keeping a code. Like Israel, such individuals are ignorant of God's righteousness. That is the sole
reason why they continue to seek to establish their own.
SUBMITTING TO GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS
" . . . have not submitted to the righteousness of God."
To "submit" to the righteousness of God is to subject
oneself to it, or take a subordinate place to it. More precisely, it is to renounce any claim to self-righteousness, and
acknowledge an absolute need for the righteousness of God.
Paul expressed the truth of this verse in regard to his own enlightened desire. He acknowledged that he discarded
anything and everything that was of personal gain to him. He did this, he confessed, "that I may gain Christ and be
found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ,
the righteousness which is from God by faith" NKJV (Phil 3:8-9). That is submitting to "the righteousness of
God," or the righteousness that comes from God.
This submission is nothing less than our consent to receive what God gives. That consent is found in the form of
our faith, which, as a hand, reaches out to take hold of "the gift of righteousness."
It goes without saying that we can only submit ourselves to something that already exists. The Jews were going
about to "establish their own righteousness," convinced that was the only way to become righteous. They did not see
that righteousness does not come from keeping the Law. Nor, indeed were they aware that God has a righteousness
to be given to men upon the basis of their faith. The testimony of such a righteousness was provided in father
Abraham, who received it upon the basis of his faith (Gen 15:6). But they did not see it.
THE END OF THE LAW
" 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." Here there is a
divergence in the reading of the various translations. The principle statement involved is "end of the law for
righteousness," as represented in the KJV, NKJV, and NASB. Other versions choosing this reading include the 1995
New American Standard, Websters, Darby, BBE, and Young's Literal. The older ASV reads, "end of the law unto
righteousness." The New American Bible reads, "end of the law for the justification."
Other versions read as follows. "Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who
believes." NIV/NIB "For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes." NRSV
"For Christ is the end of the law, that every one who has faith may be justified." RSV The New Jerusalem Bible
provides yet another twist. "But the Law has found its fulfilment in Christ so that all who have faith will be justified."
Why Mention This?
There is, in my judgment, good reason to point out these readings. Although the true meaning of the verse can
be derived from any of the translations, it can be more easily seen in the majority of them. If we read "end of the Law
for righteousness," the meaning is that the Law has been concluded as a means to righteousness. If we choose the
other readings, the meaning is that the Law itself has been concluded, and no longer exists. Let us reason on the
CHRIST IS THE END OF THE LAW
There are two possible meanings of "end of the Law." Men have argued about these views, and even formed whole
bodies of theology around them.
The first emphasizes the fulfillment, or objective, of the Law. In this sense, Christ is the "substance" of
which the Law was a shadow (Col 2:17). In this case, once the substance came, the shadow was done away. This
is NOT the meaning of the passage. The Law, unlike the shadowy sacrifices, was not done away when Jesus died,
rose again, and returned to heaven. It still remains "for the lawless" (1 Tim 1:9). The "knowledge of sin" still
comes from the Law (Rom 3:20). It has not been terminated or rendered totally obsolete or useless. Christ Jesus
has not erased the Law of God.
The second underscores the termination of the Law in a certain capacity. It is no longer the appointed means to
a certain end, or objective. While it still remains, it cannot be used to arrive at the following goal: i.e., "for [or in
order to] righteousness." This is the meaning of the verse. Christ has concluded the Law as a means to
Men cannot become righteous by keeping the Law of God! Although the Law held out that promise, more light
has now been shed on the matter of righteousness. In the blazing glory of the Gospel it is now affirmed, "Therefore
by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight" (Rom 3:20). And again, "Knowing that a man is
not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we
might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh
be justified" (Gal 2:16).
Until Jesus, it appeared as though the Law was "ordained unto life" - i.e., that men could become righteous and
acceptable to God by simply doing what He said to do, and abstaining from what He forbade them to do (Rom 7:10).
Those who take the promise of the Law seriously ("which if a man do, he shall live in them") will soon find what Paul
found. "And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the
commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me" (Rom 7:10).
Once Paul recognized his own spiritual impotence, and knew the truth of the Gospel, he ceased from trying to
establish his own righteousness, which was of the Law. For him, Christ was "the end of the Law for righteousness."
That is, he no longer sought to become righteous by keeping the Law. That is the meaning of this text.
EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES
Our text is not speaking of something realized by certain superior people. It does not represent an alternative to
becoming righteous, or a way to realize righteousness in a more easy way. This "gift of righteousness" is for
"everyone who believes."
This very truth has been iterated before. Reasoning upon the marvelous reality of Abraham being made righteous,
the Spirit declared, "For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for
righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh
not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Rom 4:3-5).
Again it is written, "And therefore it [his faith] was imputed to him for righteousness. \Now it was not written for
his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that
raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification"
Our concept of believing must allow for this expression: "everyone who believes." With great zeal, we must avoid
stuffing this statement into a theological mold that makes it say something more suitable to stilted and lifeless views.
Some would prefer that the Spirit had said, "to everyone who believes and obeys." They could say that more easily.
Others would favor the Spirit saying, "everyone who believes and keeps the commandments." They conceive of that
as being more precise. Still others would like it to read, "everyone who believes and remains faithful." That, they
imagine, would be more exact, and would better address the subject.
To be sure, the Holy Spirit knows how to use the words "obey," "keep the commandments," and "be faithful."
after all, He is the One who develops those very concepts in Scripture. But he does not use those words here, for they
would not be proper. True obedience, the keeping of the commandments, and faithfulness flow out from believing.
But none of them are the foundation of our righteousness. Rather, they are all the result of it.
The matter to be believed is the Gospel, or good news, of Christ, as stated earlier. "For I am not ashamed of the
gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.." (1:16). What is there about
those words that would cause any soul to be discontent with them? Ponder the frequency of their mentioning.
"That whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:15,16).
"He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the
wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36).
"And Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in
Me shall never thirst'" (John 6:35).
"And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have
everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:40).
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life" (John 6:47).
"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38).
"Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.
And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
"I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness" (John 12:46)
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than
these he will do, because I go to My Father" (John 14:12).
"To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins"
"And by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law
of Moses" (Acts 13:39).
"As it is written: 'Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will
not be put to shame'" (Rom 9:33).
"Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, 'Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he
who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame'" (1 Pet 2:6-7).
"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him
who is begotten of Him" (1 John 5:1).
"Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 John 5:5).
"He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar,
because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son" (1 John 5:10).
I have taken the time to provide this listing to confirm the Spirit is using a familiar expression. It should not sound
strange to the people of God to hear of the blessing of the Lord being dependent upon faith. Where it does sound
strange and unacceptable, the minds of people have been corrupted with false and erroneous views of both God and
Those who imagine that this allows for disobedience and a lack of faithfulness only reveal their ignorance. They
also bring dishonor to Jesus who spoke so frequently in this manner. They grieve the Holy Spirit who moved holy men
of God to speak of believing in this way. They also come close to blaspheming God Himself, who inspired them to be
both spoken and written.
To allay the fears of the sophist and the qualms of the legalist, there is no such thing as a faith that does
not obey, or a faith that is not faithful. Disobedience and unfaithfulness both proceed from unbelief, not from
believing. When men believe in the sense of Scripture, they will obey. They will pursue righteousness. They will
remain faithful. There are no exceptions to these things. Those who doubt this must rethink the matter.
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE LAW
" 5 For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, 'The man who does those things
shall live by them.'" Although this has been stated before, it is reaffirmed. This is done because of the great
difficulty men have in cutting loose from the notion that righteousness comes by doing. Remember, our text has
reminded us that Israel did not attain to the righteousness of the Law-even though they pressed hard after it. Their
efforts extended officially over a period of 1,500 years, or until Christ. That was adequate time to accomplish
righteousness by means of Law.
Even now, 2,000 additional years later, they are still engaged in this futile effort. Still, when they read the Law
of Moses, their minds are "blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old
Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their
heart" (2 Cor 3:14-15). As if this were not bad enough, vast segments of Christendom have joined in the futile effort
to obtain righteousness by fulfilling Divine demands rather than believing the record God has given of His Son.
Having once been deceived myself on this matter, I know of the futility of trying to be righteous apart from believing.
I also know that such a mentality totally ignores the words of this verse.
RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS OF THE LAW
This is the righteousness that results from the perfect keeping of the Law. It is promised only to those who keep
and obey ALL of the commandments ALL of the time (Deut 5:29). Not a single infraction of the Law is allowed. There
can be no deviate or wayward thought - not one! The Law makes absolutely no promise of blessing to anyone who
fails in but "one point" of its demands or prohibitions (James 2:10). The result of perfect and flawless compliance with
every jot and tittle of the Law is "the righteousness which is of the Law."
THE MAN WHO DOES THOSE THINGS
Doing the Law is carrying out all of its demands with both perfection and consistency. It is never failing to do
what is right, and always abstaining from what is wrong. This must be done with every aspect of ones being: heart,
soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). This includes a preference for God's Law, as well as a hearty love for it. It
includes the marshaling of all thoughts and affections. Zeal is involved, together with strong desire and alertness.
When the Law says "does," it is not referring to mere external conduct, as the legalist imagines. The Law did not
consider behavior to be mere bodily actions. The Lord was to be sought "with all of your heart and with all of your
soul" (Deut 4:29). He was to be loved in the same way (Deut 6:5; 10:12). God was to be served "with all your heart
and with all your soul" (11:13). His judgments were to be kept and executed "with all your heart and with all your
soul" (Deut 26:16).
Any doing that was not so characterized was not "doing" at all! The person who did not "do" everything
with heart and soul did nothing at all. He was excluded from the promise.
SHALL LIVE BY THEM
In 1816, Robert Haldane wrote this of living by the righteousness of the Law. It is most precise, and expresses the
sentiment of our text. "To live by the Law requires, as Moses had declared, that the Law be perfectly obeyed. But this to fallen man is impossible.
The law knows no mercy; it knows no mitigation, it overlooks not even the smallest breach, or the smallest deficiency. One guilty thought or desire would
condemn forever. Whoever, then, looks for life by the law, must keep the whole law in thought, word, and deed, and not be chargeable with the smallest
transgression." Haldane's Commentary on Romans
To "live" is to be recognized by God Almighty as righteous. It is to live without the curse of God hanging over your
head. To "live" is to have your name "written in heaven" (Lk 10:20; Heb 12:23), in "the book of life" (Phil 4:3; Rev
13:8), which registers everyone who is "alive unto God" (Rom 6:11).
And do you hope to be received and recognized by God because of what you have done? Will you stand before God
and boast as the Pharisee who "prayed with himself," "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are,
extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess"
(Lk 18:11-12). Do you imagine you will be able to stand before the throne and shout, "Lord, Lord, have we not
prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?" (Matt
What you have done will only be a basis for acceptance if you have done all the right things all of the time. It will
only count if you have refrained from doing all the wrong things all of the time. You must not have stepped aside from
perfect obedience a single time, or for a single moment. Is that not quite a challenge.
Allow me to take the matter one step further. Imagine that it actually was possible for you to be justified by what
you have done - by your works. You still could not boast before God. As it is written, "For if Abraham was justified
by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God" (Rom 4:2).
Further, imagine that in the day of the Lord you shall have managed to do every single thing you were commanded
to do. Would that not bring the conferment of life and blessing upon you? Hear the words of Jesus. "And which of you,
having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and sit
down to eat'? But will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me
till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink'? Does he thank that servant because he did the
things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are
commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do'" (Lk 17:7-10). That is surely
enough to stop the mouths of all boasters.
The very need for Law confirms the need for righteousness. The fact that men had to be told what to
do confirmed they were ignorant and unrighteous. Thus, the Law said "life" would be substantiated in the keeping
of the commandments, not to show that it was possible, but to confirm we were already dead in trespasses and sins.
The "life" it promised was not resurrection life, like bringing a spiritually dead man back to life. It was not speaking
of recovery, but of the recognition of someone who was NOT dead. It should be very apparent to us that, apart from
Jesus, no such person existed. The Law persuaded us we were dead and in need of righteousness.
WHAT THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH DOES NOT SAY
" 6 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) 7 or, 'Who will descend into the abyss?' (that is,
to bring Christ up from the dead)." Here is a classic example of the proper use of Scripture. Yet, it sharply
conflicts with the notion that "the context" of Scripture is the secret to its understanding. Some very principle
thoughts will be established by this remarkable utterance.
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH
Again, this is the righteousness that is appropriated by faith. Faith is its basis, or foundation, like being "born of
God" declares God to be the One accomplishing the new birth. Other versions read, "the righteousness based on
faith," NASB "the righteousness that is by faith," NIV and "the righteousness that comes from faith." NRSV How does this
righteousness speak? How does it compare with the saying of the Law: "The man who does those things shall live by
What does "the righteousness that comes from faith" have to say about doing? Or, does it have anything to say
on that subject? Indeed, it does speak to the subject, and that with great power and conviction.
DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART!
The Spirit first declares what the righteousness based on faith does NOT say. Here an appeal is made to the words
of Moses, even though he did not at all mean what our text will affirm. Here is what the Lord said through Moses.
"For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven,
that you should say, 'Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' or is
it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and
do it?' But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. See, I have set before you
today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways,
and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your
God will bless you in the land which you go to possess" (Deut 30:11-16).
What Was Moses Saying?
Moses was telling the people there was no question about what the Lord demanded of them. They did not need
to send an ambassador into the heavens to bring down the Lord's requirements. Nor, indeed, was the word of the Lord
to be found cross the sea, in some foreign land. God brought the word to them, they did not go to Him to receive it.
Additionally, both of these places were too difficult for the people to access. If God did put the word in those realms,
challenging the people to go and get it, they would not be able to do so.
Further, what He said was plain - plain enough that they declared they would do it all (Ex 19:8; 24:3,7). The
people admonished Moses, "You go near and hear all that the LORD our God may say, and tell us all that the LORD
our God says to you, and we will hear and do it" (Deut 5:27). That is not, however, how the righteousness of faith
speaks! It does NOT say, "Get the word for us!"
Now the Spirit gets to the heart the matter, showing the deeper and more foundational meaning of Moses' words.
Rather than ascending into heaven to get a word from God, it must be to "bring Christ down from above." Rather
descending into the abyss to obtain a word, it must be to "bring Christ up from the dead." The righteousness that
comes from faith does not demand that you do these things.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
We must not miss the point of this verse! Jesus coming down from heaven was essential to our salvation! He had
to willingly come in the form of a man, offering Himself for the sins of the world (Heb 10:5-10). He also had to come
back from the dead, leading captivity captive, and ascending back to the Father. If both of these did not occur, it would
have been impossible for us to be saved!
The point is this. If our doing is to be the basis of our righteousness, then here is what WE must do. We must
bring the Savior down from heaven in order that He might take away our sins and reconcile us to God. Then, we must
bring Him back from the dead, in order that we might be saved by His life. If we cannot do those things, our works
cannot save us, for we are incapable of doing the most critical things, both of which are required if men are to be
"made the righteousness of God" (2 Cor 5:21)!
Only God could send Jesus into the world! Men could not climb into heaven and bring Him down. Nor, indeed,
could seraph, cherubim, and holy angels compel Him to come into the world. That work belonged to God alone, with
no man participating in any way in it. That should not be difficult to see.
Only God could bring up Christ again from the dead. No man could shout Him out of the tomb! No heavenly
principality or power could enable Him to come back from the regions of the dead! That work also belonged to God
alone, with no man having any part whatsoever in its accomplishment. That also is very evident.
Those who insist that man's works make him righteous must be faced with the responsibility of bringing Christ
from heaven, and bringing Him back from the dead. If they cannot do that, then let them cease to speak of their
abilities, for they have none that can effectively change them.
The foundation of becoming righteous cannot and does not rest with men. It is a work accomplished by God
Himself! The "wonderful works" belong to Him, and to Him alone. That is the consistent proclamation of the Gospel.
WHAT THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH DOES SAY
" 8 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 preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your
heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." How does "the righteousness based on
faith" speak? What kind of appeal is made to the hearts of men? What will it challenge the people to do? The
righteousness that comes from the Law demanded that every commandment, precept, and statute be kept flawlessly
and consistently. What kind of demands will the righteousness of faith make upon us?
THE WORD IS NEAR
"The word is in you, in your mouth and in your heart." Again, an appeal is made to the words of Moses, with a
unique application being made of them. Moses said, "But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart,
that you may do it" (Deut 30:14). The words "in your mouth" refers to the people's confession of the Law. The words
"in your heart" means the communication of the Law was so impressive they could not forget it when they heard it.
Through revelation, they had become acutely aware of the commandments of the Lord. It was in their mouth and in
their heart when they said, "All that the LORD hath spoken we will do" (Ex 19:8). Now the Spirit will show us what
words has been brought near to us, and how those words effect us.
Of particular relevance here is Isaiah's prophecy about the appropriation of righteousness. "I bring My
righteousness near, it shall not be far off; My salvation shall not linger. And I will place salvation in Zion, For Israel
My glory" (Isa 46:13). Our text will elaborate upon this blessed commitment.
THE WORD OF FAITH
" . . . that is, the word of faith which we preach." The word delivered through Moses was NOT a word of faith,
for "the law is not of faith" (Gal 3:12). That is a matter of revelation. How is it that what we have received is
designated as "the word of faith."
This is not a word only delivered BY faith, but one which produces faith. It is a message to be believed, not a
message of commandments, as was the Law. "The word of faith" is the appointed means of putting righteousness
within reach of the people. It is nothing less than the Gospel of Christ, in which is revealed the righteousness that
comes from God through faith (1:17). It is not possible to have true faith without this word of the Gospel, and it is
not possible to be righteous without believing it.
Which we Preach
NOT only does the Gospel induce faith in those who receive it, it is spoken in faith by those who effectively preach
it. What men preach reveals what they think saves a person. It is the overflow of their inner persuasion. "We having
the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and
therefore speak" (4:13). As will be confirmed later, God has ordained the preaching of the Gospel as the appointed
means of saving people. To say it another way, this is the means chosen to produce faith, which brings the
righteousness of God to us.
The Law of Moses is NOT "the word of faith." It is to be believed, to be sure, but it is not intended to produce the
faith that saves the soul (1 Pet 1:9). As valuable as they are, the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are not "the word
of faith." While both of them are highly instructive concerning wise living, neither of them produce faith. That is a
ministry belonging exclusively to the Gospel of Christ! No one should be intimated or offended by these words. Nor,
indeed, should they conclude the books of reference can be neglected. They have come from God, and are profitable.
However, they are not the means of producing faith in Christ, and appropriating the righteousness of God.
Essentially, "the word of faith" is a word of promise - a word of salvation and deliverance to those who will receive
CONFESSING WITH YOUR MOUTH
Two critical matters relating to the appropriation of righteousness are mentioned. They contrast sharply with the
requirements of the Law. The word under the law is "DO!" - do ALL of the commandments. The word given by Moses
was in the mouth of the people when they replied, "All that the LORD hath spoken we will do" (Ex 19:8). Notice how
differently "the righteousness of faith" speaks. It brings a unique and superior message to us.
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus . . . " This is the acknowledgment that we have believed
"the word of faith." We receive the fact that the Lord has done what was necessary for God to make us righteous! And
what is it that is "confessed"? It is not that we have done all that was commanded us to do! It is not that we are sinful
people. Rather, it is that "Jesus is Lord" - not that He will be, but that He is! It is admitting that we see and delight
in the fact that God has made Him "both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). Furthermore, we are depending on Him, in
the capacity of Lord, to save us.
This is a confession "with the mouth," where what has been received is joyfully acknowledged. This confession
is made initially when we come to the Lord. As with Simon Peter, it is the result of God revealing the Son to us (Matt
16:16-18). This confession is not confined to the time when we were delivered from the power of darkness and
translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son (Col 1:13). This is an ongoing confession, declared when persecution
arises, and when conflict with the world erupts. It is made when coming in contact with other believers, and when
we approach the throne of all grace.
This is not a casual or lifeless admission. It is a confession that can only be made under the influence of the Holy
Spirit. As it is written, "no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor 12:3). This is the
acknowledgment that Jesus is the manager of one's life. He is not only "Lord of all" by the commission of God, but
perceived to be the exclusive reason for the life of the one making this confession.
BELIEVING IN YOUR HEART
" . . . and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead." Believing in the heart goes far
deeper than admitting with the mind. When the Ethiopian eunuch asked what was hindering him from being
baptized, Philip responded, "If you believe with all your heart, you may" (Acts 8:37).
To believe "in your heart" is to embrace the Gospel at the point where you are motivated. Your heart is where the
issues of life are formed, and from which they are expressed (Prov 4:23). When one believes in the heart, a certain
aggressive to obtain the promises of God is realized. That is why those who believed cried out, "Men and brethren,
what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37), and "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
And what is it that is to be believed? Other texts indicate that believing Jesus is the Son of God is the principle
thing (Matt 16:16; John 20:31; Acts 8:37; 1 John 5:10). Why is the resurrection of Christ the focus in this text. Simply
because His resurrection confirmed He is the Son of God. As it is written, " . . . His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who
was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the
Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Rom 1:3-4).
Believing that God raised Jesus from the dead is essential to our salvation because the power to save and keep us
is resurrection power. It is "the power of His resurrection" that faith constrains us to appropriate (Phil 3:10). That
is the power that is presently devoted to believers (Eph 1:19-20), and that is at work in them (Eph 3:20). This truth
- that God has raised Jesus from the dead - must not drift from us. Nothing must be allowed to supercede it in our
thinking, or rob us of believing it in our heart. Should those things happen, we will not be saved.
YOU WILL BE SAVED
" . . . you will be saved." It is not that you may be saved, but that you WILL be saved! There is not the slightest
chance the confession that Jesus is Lord, and believing in the heart that God has raised Him from the dead, will not
issue in salvation!
Threefold sense in which we are saved. From the standpoint of our personal makeup, our spirit, soul,
and body will be saved (1 Thess 5:23). That takes us from our initial entrance into Christ through the resurrection
of the dead. A salvation that is not this broad is no salvation at all.
Another threefold view of salvation relates to time. It is expressed in the words, "who delivered us from so great
a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us" (2 Cor 1:10). This includes our deliverance
from the guilt of sin, the power of sin, and the presence of sin. It covers our initial deliverance from the clutches of
the devil, our daily deliverances by the grace of God, and our final triumph over death. A salvation that does not
include all of these is not a salvation at all. And it is all effected by confessing Jesus is Lord and believing God has
raised Him from the dead. As you can see, this word is marked by both simplicity and profundity. The Spirit will now
briefly expand on the glory of what has been affirmed. A strong appeal will be made to your faith.
RIGHTEOUSNESS AND SALVATION
" 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto
salvation." Remember, becoming righteous and being saved pertain to the same glorious reality. One speaks of what
we attain ("righteousness"), and the other of deliverance from all sin has caused ("salvation").
BELIEVING UNTO RIGHTEOUSNESS
"For with the heart one believes unto righteousness . . . " In a sense, righteousness gets into us. In another sense,
we get into it. In the first, righteousness is "imputed" unto us. In the second we come into a state of righteousness,
or are "made the righteousness of God in Him [Christ]" (2 Cor 5:21).
There are some edifying renderings of this verse in other versions. "For with the heart man believes, resulting
in righteousness," NASB "For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified," NIV "For one believes with the
heart and so is justified," NRSV and "For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God." NLT Keep
in mind that being made righteous is the same thing as being justified. One speaks of what is done (righteous), the
other of how it is done (justified). From the standpoint of being justified, everything against us is removed. From the
standpoint of being made righteous, what we need is given to us. These are the two sides of the coin of salvation.
Those who insist that we are justified by works must contend with this expression: "For with the heart one
believes unto righteousness." Faith conducts us, as it were into a state of Divine approval. We believe into
righteousness. We do not work ourselves into it.
Believing with the Heart
Note that the belief is "with the heart," not with the mind! When men are hesitant to believe, it is because they
are "slow of heart," not slow of mind (Lk 24:25). Jesus said a troubled heart would be offset by a believing in Him.
"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me" (John 14:1).
Some of the things that distinguish believing with the heart from the assent of the mind include, "the joy of faith"
(Phil 1:25), "the hearing of faith" (Gal 3:2,5), the "shield of faith" (Eph 6:16), and the "assurance of faith" (Heb
10:22). The consent of the mind cannot produce inner joy ("joy of faith"), the cognizance of God ("hearing of faith"),
protection for the soul ("shield of faith"), or strong confidence ("assurance of faith").
The heart can sanctify the mind, but the mind is powerless to change the heart. This is why a fundamentally
cerebral religion is not a blessing. It cannot eliminate doubt, questions, or fear. However, when men "believe with
the heart unto righteousness," all of these marvelous changes come to pass.
CONFESSING UNTO SALVATION
This is too difficult for the person enslaved to law. Confession is not perceived as capable of inducting one into
salvation. However, our text declares this to be a precise statement of the case. " . . . and with the mouth confession
is made unto salvation." Other versions read, "and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation," NASB "it is
with your mouth that you confess and are saved," NIV "and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved."
The purpose of this text is not to ascribe to the confession of Christ as Lord the total cause for our salvation.
Rather, it is to show us that the faith that saves always manifests itself in shameless confession. The
confession that saves is prompted by the faith that brings righteousness. Confession is to salvation what the
resurrection of Christ was to His Sonship. The resurrection confirmed Jesus to be the Son of God with power. The
"confession" of our text verifies that we have believed unto righteousness. Faith without confession is not possible.
Confession without faith is spurious. Faith always confesses, and confession always follows genuine faith.
WHAT DOES THE SCRIPTURE SAY?
" 11For the Scripture says, 'Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.' 12 For there is no
distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For
'whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.'" Because the Spirit intends to put the knowledge
of salvation well within our reach, He again appeals to the Scriptures. It is by them that the man of God becomes
"perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim 3:17). The effect of faith upon both man and the Lord will
now be briefly expounded.
WHOEVER BELIEVES ON HIM
"As the Scripture says, 'Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.'"
Not ashamed to Confess Christ
The person believing on Christ will never be ashamed to confess Him. Whether one is being stoned like Stephen,
standing before Ananias the high priest like Paul, or standing before the council like Peter and John, faith constrains
shamelessness. It moves the person to confess Christ is Lord - the ONLY Lord.
The multitudes of professing Christians who are ashamed to acknowledge Christ are confessing to their lack of
faith. They must have the promise of God shouted in their ears, for it is true: "WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL
NOT BE DISAPPOINTED." NASB
Trusting Brings No Shame
But there is another sense in which the believer will never be put to shame. God will never allow faith to prove
to be an embarrassment to the believer. It is never vain to trust the Lord! The one who trusts that God will save, will
himself be saved! The one who depends on the Lord to keep him will be kept! Those who depend upon the Lord for
their daily bread will not be put to shame. Let no one imagine that faith induces idleness or indifference. Neither,
indeed, does it bring shame.
Shame At Christ's Coming
In yet another sense, the person who believes on the Son will not be put to shame in the day of judgment. Such
will not "shrink away from Him in shame at His coming" NASB (1 John 2:28).
No person who is living by faith will be frightened by the return of Jesus. Those who have counted all but loss for
the excellency of the knowledge of Christ will not be disappointed when they stand before the judgment seat of Christ,
to give an account for the deeds done in the body (2 Cor 5:10).
"For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile." NIV Although the Jews were a favored people and the
Gentiles a rejected people, yet faith eliminates any lasting differences between them. By the grace of God, and through
their faith, believing Jews and Gentiles are made "one body." Faith has removed the distinction between them.
How thoroughly this is stated by the Holy Spirit. "For he is our [Jew and Gentile] peace, who hath made both
[Jew and Gentile] one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us [Jew and Gentile]; having
abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself
of twain [Jew and Gentile] one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both [Jew and Gentile] unto
God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were
afar off [Gentiles], and to them that were nigh [Jews]" (Eph 2:14-17).
The fact that the salvation of God is appropriated by faith removes the distinction between Jew and Gentile. As
it is written, "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into
Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor
female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:26-28).
The fact that believers have "the same Lord" makes them "one body." Therefore, in Christ,
"there is no difference
between Jew and Gentile."
The fact that in Christ "there is no difference," makes division within the body of Christ a grievous sin.
Wherever there is faith in Christ, division must not be allowed. If faith makes us acceptable to God, it can
do no less for us. That is one reason we are admonished, "Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause
dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them" NASB (Rom 16:17).
THE SAME LORD
" . . . for the same Lord over all . . . " The truth of the matter is that every person has the same Lord. It is that
some know it and some do not. Men speak of having a different faith. The Spirit speaks of having a different master
or Lord (Matt 6:24), and serving diverse masters (Rom 16:18).
The particular emphasis here is redemption, or the salvation that is in Christ Jesus. The point is not merely that
the Lord is "over all," which He surely is, but that the salvation of God is common to both Jew and Gentile.
CALLING ON THE NAME OF THE LORD
" . . . is rich to all who call upon Him."
Salvation is truly life "more abundantly" (John 10:10). In it, the Holy
Spirit is "poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Tit 3:6). The power of God is devoted to
those in Christ
Jesus (Eph 1:19), and God "is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power
that works in us" (Eph 3:20). The Gospel announces "so great a salvation" (Heb 2:3). It brings "all sufficiency in all
things" (2 Cor 9:8). All of this, and more, is involved in the Lord being "rich to all who call upon Him."
The word "rich" does not refer to earthly resources, although the Lord is fully capable of supplying such things.
Rather, this refers to the abundant adequacy of salvation. The righteousness that we need is supplied, and the
acceptance we require is realized. Our liabilities are removed, and we are granted access to "all the treasures of
wisdom and knowledge" that are hidden in Christ Jesus (Col 2:2-3).
From the standpoint of what we need to meet the test of time and stand before the Lord without fault, the Lord
is rich toward us. He "shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Phil 4:19).
All that Call Upon Him
Calling upon the name of the Lord is a most holy activity. Men began to "call upon the name of the Lord" in the
days of Enos, the son of Seth, whom Adam begat in his own image (Gen 4:26). David, a man after God's own heart,
said, "I will call on the LORD" (2 Sam 22:4). When Elijah engaged in a contest with the prophets of Baal he said, "you
call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD" (1 Kgs 18:24). Joel prophesied of a day when
"it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered" (Joel 2:32). When the
day of Pentecost "had fully come," Peter announced the day Joel promised had begun (Acts 2:21). Those who are in
Christ Jesus are described as "those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Tim 2:22). Those who "call on the
Father" are admonished to "pass the time of your sojourning here in fear" (1 Pet 1:17).
Our text boldly announces that God is "rich" to everyone who calls upon Him. What does it mean to "call upon
Him?" Those who call upon the name of the Lord are casting themselves upon His mercy, seeking to experience by
faith what He has promised. Faith sees the Lord as He really is, and moves the believer to seek His promised blessing,
particularly His great salvation.
Those who "call upon the name of the Lord" search for Him with the "whole heart," and in expectation of finding
Him (Jer 29:13). Some of the words used when men called upon the name of the Lord include the following.
"Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37).
"Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30).
"Lord, save me!" (Matt 14:30).
"Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, For You are my praise"
"Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your
"Save now, I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity"
"But You, O LORD, do not be far from Me; O My Strength, hasten to help Me!"
These are pleas for the Lord to act in our behalf, and in strict accord with His nature. Calling upon the Lord
presumes some knowledge of Him, as will be confirmed in the next section of this chapter (vs 14-17). It also reveals
a perceived dependency upon the Lord. The one who calls upon Him knows "My help comes from the LORD, Who
made heaven and earth" (Psa 121:2).
"For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." This is a marvelous promise. As all Divine
commitments, it is to be believed. As will be developed in the next few verses, this has particular reference to
deliverance from the guilt and power of sin. To put it another way, it is a promise relating to the imputation of
Calling upon the Lord involves a profound desire for what He has promised in Christ Jesus. It reveals a discontent
with what the world offers, and a driving compulsion to rise above the flesh. Because of these realities, this promise
guarantees salvation and the righteousness of God to all who desire it. That, of course, is the purpose for the promise.
It brings strong confidence to those who are hungering and thirsting for righteousness. If you fervently desire the
righteousness of God, you can have it. It is well within your reach! The Gospel announces that to be the case.
This marvelous section of Scripture justifies Paul's fervent desire for the salvation of Israel. He knows they have
received the promises of salvation, and a commitment from God that He will make a new covenant with them. He also
knows why they have not attained to the righteousness of God -- because they are ignorant of it. Therefore, Paul has
devoted himself to declaring the righteousness of God, the Gospel that reveals it, and the faith that obtains it. None
of these are popular in the contemporary Christian world, yet all are foundational in the Apostles' doctrine.