Romans 10:5
For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
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(5) For Moses describeth.—The Law required an actual literal fulfilment. Its essence consisted in works. “The man which doeth these things shall live.”

By them.—The true reading is, probably, in iti.e., the righteousness just mentioned. “The man who doeth this righteousness” (according to a more correct text) “shall live in and by it.”

Romans 10:5. For Moses describeth the righteousness of the law — The only way of becoming righteous by the law, when he saith, The man that doeth these things shall live by them — Not only a happy life in the land of Canaan, but in heaven, of which Canaan was a type and figure: (see on Leviticus 18:5.) That is, he who perfectly keeps all these precepts in every point, he alone may claim life and salvation by them. For though the law directs to a better and more effectual righteousness in Christ, yet in itself, considered as a law, abstracted from its respect to Christ and the gospel, (for so the unbelieving Jews embraced and adhered to it,) it acknowledges nothing as a righteousness, sufficient to justify a man, but that of perfect obedience; a way of justification impossible to any who have ever transgressed any one law in any point. As if the apostle had said, Moses, by showing that the law requires exact and perfect obedience for righteousness, (an obedience impossible to be performed by us in our fallen state,) may thereby convince us that righteousness is not to be attained by our own works, but only by faith in Christ. It may be proper to observe here, that although the law, which was given from Sinai, was not, strictly speaking, a covenant of works, or of mere justice, (for who then could have been saved under that dispensation?) yet, that it might more effectually bring men to Christ, and render the covenant of grace more acceptable, it had a great mixture of the strictness and terror of such a covenant. Accordingly it condemned notorious offenders to temporal death in many cases, and made no provision for the pardon of any sin, deliberately and wilfully committed against it. See Hebrews 10:28. It, however, contained some further discoveries of that covenant of grace, which was made with mankind after the fall, by which many had been saved during the patriarchal ages, and which had been solemnly and repeatedly renewed to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

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.For Moses describeth ... - This is found in Leviticus 18:5, "Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, which if a man do he shall live in them." This appeal is made to Moses, both in regard to the righteousness of the Law and that of faith, in accordance with the usual manner of Paul to sustain all his positions by the Old Testament, and to show that he was introducing no new doctrine. He was only affirming that which had been long before taught in the writings of the Jews themselves. The word "describeth" is literally writes γράφει graphei, a word often used in this sense.

The righteousness ... - The righteousness which a perfect obedience to the Law of God would produce. That consisted in perfectly doing all that the Law required.

The man which doeth these things - The man who shall perform or obey what was declared in the previous statutes. Moses here had reference to all the commandments which God had given, moral and ceremonial. And the doctrine of Moses is what pertains to all laws, that he who shall render perfect and continued compliance with all the statutes made known, shall receive the reward which the Law promises. This is a first principle of all law; for all law holds a man to be innocent, and, of course, entitled to whatever immunities and rewards it has to confer, until he is proved to be guilty. In this case, however, Moses did not affirm that in fact any one either had yielded or would yield perfect obedience to the Law of God. The Scriptures abundantly teach elsewhere that it never has been done.

Doeth - Obeys, or yields obedience. So also Matthew 5:19, "Shall do and teach them." Matthew 7:24, Matthew 7:26, "whosoever heareth these sayings ...and doeth them." Matthew 23:3; Mark 3:35; Mark 6:20; Luke 6:46-47, Luke 6:49.

Shall live - Shall obtain felicity. Obedience shall render him happy, and entitled to the rewards of the obedient. Moses doubtless referred here to all the results which would follow obedience. The effect would be to produce happiness in this life and in the life to come. The principle on which happiness would be conferred, would be the same whether in this world or the next. The tendency and result of obedience would be to promote order, health, purity, benevolence; to advance the welfare of man, and the honor of God, and thus must confer happiness. The idea of happiness is often in the Scriptures represented by the word "life"; see the note at John 5:24. It is evident moreover that the Jews understood Moses here as referring to more than temporal blessings. The ancient Targum of Onkelos renders the passage in Leviticus thus: "The man who does these things shall live in them to eternal life." So the Arabic version is, "The retribution of him who works these things is that he shall live an eternal life."

By them - ἐν αὐτοῖς en autois. In them. In their observance he shall find happiness. Not simply as a result, or reward, but the very act of obeying shall carry its own reward. This is the case with all true religion. This declaration of Moses is still true. If perfect obedience were rendered, it would, from the nature of the case, confer happiness and life as long as the obedience was rendered. God would not punish the innocent. But in this world it never has been rendered, except in the case of the Lord Jesus; and the consequence is, that the course of man has been attended with pain, sorrow, and death.

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."

In this and the following verses, he shows the great difference that is between the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of faith; and this difference is taught us in the books of Moses himself. As for the righteousness of the law, that is plainly described by Moses, Leviticus 18:5; and it tells us expressly: That the man who doth personally, perfectly, and constantly observe and do whatsoever the law requires, shall be rewarded with eternal life: see Romans 2:13, and the notes there. And on the contrary, it implies thus much: That whoso fails, or falls short, shall incur death and damnation. This also it declares in other places, Deu 27:26 Galatians 3:10. This is a hard saying; who can hear it? It shuts us all out of heaven, it turns us into hell, it lays upon us impossible conditions. Let us hearken therefore to the righteousness of faith; of which in the next, .{ see Romans 10:5}

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.

{4} For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.

(4) That the law is points to Christ and is inclined to him is manifestly proved, because it propounds such a condition as can be and is fulfilled, by none but Christ alone: which being imputed to us by faith, our conscience is quieted, so that now no man can ask, Who can ascend up into heaven, or bring us from hell?, seeing that the gospel teaches that both of these is done by Christ and that for their sake's, who with true faith embrace him who calls them.

Romans 10:5. Now follows, as far as Romans 10:10, the proof of Romans 10:4, and that from Moses himself.

γράφει τὴν δικ.] writes concerning righteousness, John 1:46; Hermann, ad Eur. Phoen. 574. As to the use of the present tense, comp. the frequent λέγει in scriptural citations.

The passage introduced by the recitative ὅτι is Leviticus 18:5, almost exactly after the LXX. Comp. Nehemiah 9:29; Ezekiel 20:21; Galatians 3:12.

αὐτά] refers in the original, and so also here, to the προστάγματα Θεοῦ, which Paul supposes as well known; but the principal stress lies upon ποιήσας: he who shall have done them, so that thus Moses exhibits the doing as the condition of the attainment of ζωή (which is referred by Paul not to the happy and prosperous life in Palestine, but to its antitype, the ζωὴ αἰώνιος).

ἐν αὐτοῖς] i.e. by the fact, that they are fulfilled.

Romans 10:5. Μωυσῆς γὰρ γράφει: Moses’ authority is unimpeachable on this point. The righteousness that comes from law must be an achievement: the man who has done it shall live in it, Leviticus 18:5. Paul writes ἐν αὐτῇ with reference to δικαιοσύνην: the ἐν αὐτοῖς of the LXX refers to πάντα τὰ κρίματα which precedes. Moses, of course, in writing thus did not mock his people; the O.T. religion, though an imperfect, was a real religion, under which men could be right with God. To keep the law of God and live by doing so (Matthew 19:17) was the natural aim and hope of a true Israelite; only, in this case, the law was not a collection of statutes, but a revelation of God’s character and will, and he who sought to keep it did so not alone, but in conscious dependence on God whose grace was shown above all things else by His gift of such a revelation. Paul, however, is writing with Pharisees and legalists in his eye, and with the remembrance of his own experience as a Pharisee in his heart; and his idea no doubt is that this road leads nowhere. Cf. Galatians 3:10-12. To keep the law thus is an impossibility.

5. For] The connexion is that the Law led up to Christ both by prescribing a condemnatory standard as its own, and by mysteriously suggesting the nearness and freeness of the Gospel.

describeth] Lit. writeth.

That the man, &c.] Leviticus 18:5. Cp. Deuteronomy 27:26; Jeremiah 11:1-10; and, as a commentary, Galatians 3:10-13, and the rest of that chapter.

Romans 10:5. Γράφει, writes of), [thus exhibiting the truth that] “the letter killeth.” It is antithetic to Romans 10:6; Romans 10:8 : [the righteousness by faith] speaks, with the living voice [not writes, as Moses]. There is also another similar antithesis: Moses in the concrete; the righteousness which is of faith in the abstract.—ὅτι ὁ ποιήσας, κ.τ.λ.) Leviticus 18:5, LXX., ποιήσετε αὐτὰ ἁ ποιήσας, κ.τ.λ.

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." Romans 10:5Describeth the righteousness - that (γράφει τὴν δικαιοσύνην - ὅτι)

The best texts transfer ὅτι that, and read γράφει ὅτι, etc. Moses writeth that the man, etc. See Leviticus 18:5.

Those things - by them (αὐτὰ - ἐν αὐτοῖς)

Omit those things, and read for ἐν αὐτοῖς by them, ἐν αὐτῇ by it, i.e., the righteousness which is of the law. The whole, as Rev., Moses writeth that the man that doeth the righteousness which is of the law shall live thereby.

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