Verse 1. My prayer to God is, that they may be saved - He would not have prayed for this, had they been absolutely reprobated.
Verse 2. They have a zeal, but not according to knowledge - They had zeal without knowledge; we have knowledge without zeal.
Verse 3. For they being ignorant of the righteousness of God - Of the method God has established for the justification of a sinner. And seeking to establish their own righteousness - Their own method of acceptance with God. Have not submitted to the righteousness of God - The way of justification which he hath fixed.
Verse 4. For Christ is the end of the law - The scope and aim of it. It is the very design of the law, to bring men to believe in Christ for justification and salvation. And he alone gives that pardon and life which the law shows the want of, but cannot give. To every one - Whether Jew or gentile, treated of, ver. 11, &c. That believeth - Treated of, ver. 5.
Verse 5. For Moses describeth the only righteousness which is attainable by the law, when he saith, The man who doeth these things shall live by them - that is, he that perfectly keeps all these precepts in every point, he alone may claim life and salvation by them. But this way of justification is impossible to any who have ever transgressed any one law in any point. Lev. xviii, 5
Verse 6. But the righteousness which is by faith - The method of becoming righteous by believing. Speaketh a very different language, and may be considered as expressing itself thus: (to accommodate to our present subject the words which Moses spake, touching the plainness of his law:) Say not in thy heart, Who shall ascend into heaven, as if it were to bring Christ down: or, Who shall descend into the grave, as if it were to bring him again from the dead - Do not imagine that these things are to be done now, in order to procure thy pardon and salvation. Deut. xxx, 14.
Verse 8. But what saith he - Moses. Even these words, so remarkably applicable to the subject before us. All is done ready to thy hand. The word is nigh thee - Within thy reach; easy to be understood, remembered, practiced. This is eminently true of the word of faith - The gospel. Which we preach - The sum of which is, If thy heart believe in Christ, and thy life confess him, thou shalt be saved.
Verse 9. If thou confess with thy mouth - Even in time of persecution, when such a confession may send thee to the lions.
Verse 10. For with the heart - Not the understanding only. Man believeth to righteousness - So as to obtain justification. And with the mouth confession is made - So as to obtain final salvation. Confession here implies the whole of outward, as believing does the root of all inward, religion.
- So that his blessings are never to be exhausted, nor is he ever constrained to hold his hand. The great truth proposed in ver. 11 is so repeated here, and in ver. 13, and farther confirmed, ver. 14, 15, as not only to imply, that "whosoever calleth upon him shall be saved;" but also that the will of God is, that all should savingly call upon him.
15. But how shall they preach, unless they be sent
- Thus by a chain of reasoning, from God's will that the gentiles also should "call upon him," St. Paul infers that the apostles were sent by God to preach to the gentiles also. The feet - Their very footsteps; their coming. Isaiah lii, 7.
Verse 16. Isaiah liii, 1.
17. Faith, indeed, ordinarily cometh by hearing; even by hearing the word of God.
18. But their unbelief was not owing to the want of hearing For they have heard. Yes verily
- So many nations have already heard the preachers of the gospel, that I may in some sense say of them as David did of the lights of heaven. Psalm xxix, 4
Verse 19. But hath not Israel known - They might have known, even from Moses and Isaiah, that many of the gentiles would be received, and many of the Jews rejected. I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are not a nation - As they followed gods that were not gods, so he accepted in their stead a nation that was not a nation; that is, a nation that was not in covenant with God. A foolish nation - Such are all which know not God. Deut. xxxii, 21
Verse 20. But Isaiah is very bold - And speaks plainly what Moses but intimated. Isaiah lxv, 1, 2.
Verse 21. An unbelieving and gainsaying people - Just opposite to those who believed with their hearts, and made confession with their mouths.