|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
10:5-11 The self-condemned sinner need not perplex himself how this righteousness may be found. When we speak of looking upon Christ, and receiving, and feeding upon him, it is not Christ in heaven, nor Christ in the deep, that we mean; but Christ in the promise, Christ offered in the word. Justification by faith in Christ is a plain doctrine. It is brought before the mind and heart of every one, thus leaving him without excuse for unbelief. If a man confessed faith in Jesus, as the Lord and Saviour of lost sinners, and really believed in his heart that God had raised him from the dead, thus showing that he had accepted the atonement, he should be saved by the righteousness of Christ, imputed to him through faith. But no faith is justifying which is not powerful in sanctifying the heart, and regulating all its affections by the love of Christ. We must devote and give up to God our souls and our bodies: our souls in believing with the heart, and our bodies in confessing with the mouth. The believer shall never have cause to repent his confident trust in the Lord Jesus. Of such faith no sinner shall be ashamed before God; and he ought to glory in it before men.
Verse 5. - For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the Law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by (literally, in) them (Leviticus 18:5). This quotation is intended to express, in the words of Moses himself, the principle of Law, viz. the requirement of entire observance of it, such as the apostle elsewhere contends is impossible (cf. Galatians 3:10-12). It may be objected that Moses himself, in the original passage, does not seem to be setting forth any such impossible requirement. He says, in the name of the Lord, "Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, which, if a man do, he shall live in them;" implying, it would seem, that a man might so keep them as to live in them; else were the injunction delusive. In the quotation also of the same text in Ezekiel 20:11, 13, 21 and Nehemiah 9:29, only such a requirement as might have been fulfilled appears to be understood. But St. Paul (as appears from the context, and from Galatians 3:12, where the text is similarly cited) refers to it as expressing the strict principle of law, as above defined. It, then, the text, in its original connection, seems to fall short of the sense put upon it, we may understand the apostle to quote it as a well-known one, sufficiently suggestive, if taken, as he intends it to be, in connection with others, such as Deuteronomy 27:26, cited with it in Galatians 3:10, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the Law to do them." It is his way to refer to familiar texts, or such as most readily occur to him, as suggestive of Old Testament ideas which he expects his readers to be acquainted with. Calvin's remarks on this whole passage deserve attention: "Lex bifariam accipitur. Nunc enim significat universam doctrinam a Mose proditam, nunc pattern illam quae ministerii ejus propria erat; quae scilicet praeceptis, praemis, et poenis continetur Quod ergo hic de justitia Legis dicitur referre convenit non ad totam Mosis functionem, sed ad partem istam quae peculiariter quodammodo ei commissa fuit." His drift is, that the passage before us intimates the strict principle of law, which it was the peculiar function of Moses to promulgate, whereas the passage which follows from Deuteronomy is significant of its universa doctrina. This distinction may help us to understand St. Paul's drift, in referring, as he proceeds to do, to Deuteronomy 30:11-14. The determination of this drift is attended with some difficulty. First, we observe that, whereas the original passage certainly refers to the Law given to the Israelites through Moses - to the same "statutes and judgments" that were the subject of the previous quotation - St. Paul applies it to describe justification through faith in Christ; and, secondly, that, in order to apply it, he alters some parts of it, and interposes comments of his own. One view is that he is only making a free-use of the words of the passage to clothe his own thoughts. So Bengel: "Ad hunc locum quasi parodia suavissime alludit, sine expressa allegatione." But his obvious intention, here as elsewhere, to support his positions from the old Scriptures surely precludes this view. Nor can he be supposed to cite the passage as simply prophetical of the gospel which was to supersede the Law, since it evidently was not so. The proper view seems to be that he adduces it as illustrating, in the first place. what Calvin calls the universa doetrina of the Law itself, with regard to its actual application as a norma vivendi to the needs of man. Here, he would say, the very Mosaic dispensation is presented to us, not as exacting any impossible obedience to the strict behests of law, but only such as the "circumcised in heart" could render, and be accepted still; it is presented to us, not as a rigid external code, enjoining and threatening, but as a word very nigh unto us, even in our heart, that we may do it; it is, in fact, an anticipation and foreshadowing of gospel salvation. In confirmation of this view of the apostle's meaning, it is to be observed that the passage occurs, not in the earlier books of Moses, but in Deuteronomy, which appears as an appendix to them, containing for the most part long discourses in the style of the prophets, wherein the Law is, as it were, spiritualized, and its universa doctrina opened out. In it we feel ourselves as rising out of the region of strict legal exaction into a higher and more spiritual one. Observe also that the passage before us is based on the idea of a people circumcised in heart, and loving the Lord with all the heart and all the soul (vers. 6, 20); on an ideal view of a state of favour and acceptance never realized in Jewish history, but such as we find often in the prophetic writings (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34, the famous passage referred to more than once in the New Testament as having its eventual fulfilment in Christ). Thus the passage before us is legitimately referred to by St. Paul, as an intimation in the Pentateuch itself of the "righteousness which is of faith."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For. Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law,.... In this, and some following verses, an account is given of the two righteousnesses before mentioned, called their own and the righteousness of God; and that chiefly in the words of Moses, which is wisely done by the apostle, he and his writings being in great esteem among the Jews. The description he gives of the righteousness of the law, that is, righteousness which the law requires, and is done in obedience to its commands, is,
that the man which doth those things, shall live by them, or "in them"; and which is to be seen in Leviticus 18:5, "ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, which if a man do, he shall live in them"; from whence it appears, that by "those things" a man is to do, are meant the statutes and judgments of God, not the ordinances of the ceremonial, but the precepts of the moral law; and that the righteousness of the law lies in "doing" and keeping those statutes, not merely externally, but internally, with all the heart, and soul, and strength; the law requires love to God, fear of him, and faith in him, and an inward disposition of the mind towards him, and a conformity of heart and nature to his law, as well as outward obedience; and all this is to be done perfectly and completely in every punctilio the law requires, otherwise no life is to be expected, nor any righteousness to be had by it. The Jewish writers understand the life promised by the law, to be eternal life. The two Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan ben Uzziel paraphrase the words thus, "he shall live in them", , "in eternal life"; in like manner Jarchi explains them, "he shall live", , "in the world to come"; to which agrees the note of R. Aben Ezra, who interprets it of lie in both worlds; he says the statutes of the law are life to them that do them in both worlds, for if a man understands the secret of them, he shall live for ever, and shall never die. The life which the law promised to Adam in his state of perfection, who was the only mere man that ever was capable of perfectly fulfilling it, was the continuance of the happy life he enjoyed; the life it promised to the Israelites, at the renewing of it on Mount Sinai, was a long and prosperous life in the land of Canaan; as for the promise of eternal life, that was made before the world began, in the covenant of grace, and is a peculiar promise and blessing of that covenant, is an entire gift of God's grace, and never was designed to be enjoyed through men's obedience to the law of works, but through the righteousness and death of Christ, who is the fulfilling end of the law: hence it appears, that as the righteousness of the law is a righteousness of works done by men, it cannot be the righteousness God imputes, for that is without works, and by which a man can be justified before God; and since the law requires internal and perfect obedience to it, it is certain that it cannot be yielded by fallen creatures; hence it follows, that there can be no life, and so no righteousness by it, the consequence of which, when observed by sinful men, horror, terror, and gloomy despair; the very reverse of which is the language of the righteousness of faith.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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—(Le 18:5). This is the one way of justification and life—by "the righteousness which is of (or, by our own obedience to) the law."
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