But the righteousness which is of faith - As it is most evident that there can be no justification by works, as all are sinful and all in a guilty state; if God will grant salvation at all, it must be by faith: but faith must have an object and a reason for its exercise; the object is Jesus Christ - the reason is the infinite merit of his passion and death.
Who shall ascend unto heaven? etc. - As Christ is the end of the law for justification to every one that believes, no observance of the law can procure him. Who, by the practice of the law, can bring Christ down from heaven? or, when brought down, and crucified and buried, as a sacrifice for sin, who can bring him up again from the dead? And both his death and resurrection are essentially necessary for the salvation of a lost world. Or the sense of the apostle may be this: They who will not believe in Christ crucified must in effect be seeking another Messiah to come down from heaven with a different revelation; or they who will not credit the doctrine that we preach concerning his resurrection seem in effect to say, Christ yet remains to be raised from the dead, and reign over the Jews as a mighty secular sovereign, subjecting the Gentile world to the sway of his righteous scepter.
But the righteousness which is of faith - It is observable here that Paul does not affirm that Moses describes any where the righteousness by faith, or the effect of the scheme of justification by faith. His object was different, to give the Law, and state its demands and rewards. Yet though he had not formally described the plan of justification by faith, yet he had used language which would fitly express that plan. The scheme of justification by faith is here personified, as if it were living and describing its own effects and nature. One describing it would say, Or the plan itself speaks in this manner. The words here quoted are taken from Deuteronomy 30:11-14. The original meaning of the passage is this: Moses, near the end of his life, having given his commandments to the Israelites exhorts them to obedience. To do this, he assures them that his commands are reasonable, plain, intelligible, and accessible.
They did not require deep research, long journeys, or painful toil. There was no need of crossing seas, and going to other lands, of looking into the profound mysteries of the high heavens, or the deep abyss; but they were near them, had been plainly set before them, and were easily understood. To see the excellency of this characteristic of the divine Law, it may be observed, that among the ancients, it was not uncommon for legislators and philosophers to travel to distant countries in pursuit of knowledge. They left their country, encountered dangers on the sea and land, to go to distant regions that had the reputation of wisdom. Egypt was especially a land of such celebrity; and in subsequent times Pythagoras, and the principal philosophers of Greece, traveled into that country to converse with their priests, and to bear the fruits of their wisdom to benefit their native land. And it is not improbable that this had been done to some extent even in or before the time of Moses. Moses says that his precepts were to be obtained by no such painful and dangerous journeys. They were near them, plain, and intelligible. This is the general meaning of this passage Moses dwells on the thought, and places it in a variety of forms by the questions, “who shall go up to heaven for us, etc.;” and Paul regards this as appropriately describing the language of Christian faith; but without affirming that Moses himself had any reference in the passage to the faith of the gospel.
On this wise - In this manner.
Say not in thine heart - The expression to say in the heart is the same as to think. Do not think, or suppose, that the doctrine is so difficult to be understood, that one must ascend to heaven in order to understand it.
Who shall ascend into heaven? - This expression was used among the Jews to denote any difficult undertaking. To say that it was high as heaven, or that it was necessary to ascend to heaven to understand it, was to express the highest difficulty. Thus, Job 11:7, “Canst thou by searching find out God? It is high as heaven, what canst thou do? etc.” Moses says it was not so with his doctrine. It was not impossible to be understood, but was plain and intelligible.
That is, to bring Christ - Paul does not here affirm that it was the original design of Moses to affirm this of Christ. His words related to his own doctrine. Paul makes this use of the words because,
(1)They appropriately expressed the language of faith.
(2)if this might be affirmed of the doctrines of Moses, much more might it of the Christian religion. Religion had no such difficult work to do as to ascend to heaven to bring down a Messiah. That work was already accomplished when God gave his Son to become a man, and to die.
To save man it was indeed indispensable that Christ should have come down from heaven. But the language of faith was that this had already been done. Probably the word “Christ” here includes all the benefits mentioned in Romans 10:4 as resulting from the work of Christ.
The woman saw that Jesus was a Jew. In her surprise she forgot to grant His request, but tried to learn the reason for it. “How is it,” she said, “that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?” DA 184.1
Jesus answered, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.” You wonder that I should ask of you even so small a favor as a draught of water from the well at our feet. Had you asked of Me, I would have given you to drink of the water of everlasting life. DA 184.2
The woman had not comprehended the words of Christ, but she felt their solemn import. Her light, bantering manner began to change. Supposing that Jesus spoke of the well before them, she said, “Sir, Thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast Thou that living water? Art Thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself?” She saw before her only a thirsty traveler, wayworn and dusty. In her mind she compared Him with the honored patriarch Jacob. She cherished the feeling, which is so natural, that no other well could be equal to that provided by the fathers. She was looking backward to the fathers, forward to the Messiah's coming, while the Hope of the fathers, the Messiah Himself, was beside her, and she knew Him not. How many thirsting souls are today close by the living fountain, yet looking far away for the wellsprings of life! “Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead).... The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: ... if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:6-9. DA 184.3Read in context »
When before the high priests and Sadducees, Peter clearly presented the fact that repentance is the gift of God. Speaking of Christ, he said, “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31). Repentance is no less the gift of God than are pardon and justification, and it cannot be experienced except as it is given to the soul by Christ. If we are drawn to Christ, it is through His power and virtue. The grace of contrition comes through Him, and from Him comes justification. 1SM 391.1
Paul writes: “But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:6-10). 1SM 391.2Read in context »