Paul proceeds to show the cause of that rejection of the Jews which he had spoken of in the preceding chapter.  He professes his earnest desire for their salvation.

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God is, that they might be saved.”

Here Paul proceeds to show the cause of that rejection of the Jews, and lest they should suppose he spoke out of prejudice and ill-will to them, he professes his earnest desire for their salvation.  The Jewsbuilt on a false foundation, and refused to come to Christ for free Salvation by Faith, and unfortunately, numbers in every age do the same thing and in various ways. The strictness of the Law showed men their need of Salvation by Grace, through faith. particularly for the Jews, his old friends,           

         “Brethren”–This shows that Paul was writing to fellow believers.

        BRETHREN:  (Grk.–adelphoi)-An expression especially for those who had embraced the Christian faith.  It is an expression of tenderness and affection, denoting Paul’s deep interest in their welfare.

         “my heart’s desire”
         Literally:   “The good pleasure, of my heart.;” or, “the goodwill of my heart.”

         DESIRE:  (Grk.–eudokia)–Meaning: ”benevolence.”  This Greek word is used only in the LXX, (Greek O.T. text) and only here in the N.T

“prayer to God”
Literally:  “And petition to God.”– He not only had this desire, but he expressed it in a prayeR to God. He had no desire that his kinsmen should be destroyed;

                 PRAYER:  (Grk.deêsis) Literally: “supplication.”  From the Greek word deomai, meaning, “to want, to beg, to pray.”

“The true spirit of Christianity is that of love and sympathy, it leads to prayer even for persecutors, and to hope for the most obdurate of men.  Paul pleaded for the Jews.”–Spurgeon Devotional Commentary

“for Israel.”
Literally: “On behalf of Israel.”   For the Jewish nation What made the rejection of Israel so peculiarly pathetic was that they were not a mere godless and irreligious people. On the contrary, they had a sincere zeal for religion, but it was a misdirected and ill-judged zeal.

         “that they might be saved.”
         Literally: “Is for {it} to be saved.”–This clearly refers to salvation from the sin of unbelief, and the consequences of sin in hell.

This does not refer to the temporal calamities which were coming upon them, but to preservation from the eternal anger of God, (comp. 11:26; I Tim. 2:4). The reasons why Paul commences this chapter in this tender manner are the following:
1.      Because he had stated and defended one of the most offensive doctrines that could be preached to a Jew; and he was desirous to show them that it was not from any lack of affection for them, but that he was urged to it by the pressure of truth.

2.      He was regarded by them as all apostate.
3.      He was aware of the deep and dreadful condemnation that was coming on them.

Paul would not have prayed for this had they been absolutely reprobated.  This bring to mind that one of the greatest problem of the Church today is its unsaved church members.  They have not been born-again; they are simply members of a religious club.  They may appear to be pious, but in reality they are in rebellion against God in that they will not accept the righteousness that He offers in Christ.  The are religious, but LOST!  They have religion, but not righteousness.

“For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.”

       “For I bear them record”
Literally: “For I testify to them.”–Or, as he well could from his own sad experience.

“I freely and openly testify”–To bear record, means to be a witness; to give evidence. This, Paul was well qualified to do. He had been a Jew of the strictest order, (Acts 26:6; Phil. 3:5,) and he well knew the extraordinary exertions which they put forth to obey the commands of the Law.

“that they have a zeal of God”
Literally:  “That they have a zeal to God.”–They believe their law to have come immediately  from God Himself, and are jealous of its glory and excellence; they conscientiously observe its rites and ceremonies, but they do not consider the object and end of those rites; they sin more through ignorance than malice; and this pleads in their excuse.  They had zeal without knowledge.  Most churches today have knowledge without zeal.

          ZEAL FOR GOD: (Grk.–zēlou Theou)—This literally refers to passionate ardor in the things pertaining to religion. They became zealous for the letter and the form of the Law, instead of for God Himself.

In this many of them were doubtless, sincere; but sincerity does not of itself constitute true piety or worship. (John 16:), “The time cometh that whosoever killeth you will think that he, doeth God service.” So many persons suppose that, provided they are sincere and zealous, they must of course be accepted of God. But the zeal which is acceptable is that which aims at the glory of God, and which is founded on true faith; and which does not aim primarily to establish a system of self-righteousness, as did the Jew, or to build up our own sect, as many others do.  Zeal must not be mistaken for knowledge in Divine things.

        ZEAL:  (Grk.–zēlos)—The word zēlos was commonly used for the religious ardor of the Jews at that time (cf. Acts 21:20)–“they are all zealous of the Law.”   Also,  there was a faction among them called distinctively zēlōtoi,, to which Simon Zelotes was supposed to have originally belonged (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13).

The Jews also exhibited an ardent zeal for the conversion of the Gentiles to the Law of Moses. Their proselytes filled Asia Minor and Syria, and, (to the indignation of the Roman historian, Tacitus) Italy and Rome. The tenacity of the Jews, and their uncompromising monotheism, were seen in some conspicuous examples. In the early part of his procuratorship, Pilate, seeking to break through their known repugnance to everything that savored of image-worship, had introduced into Jerusalem ensigns surmounted with silver busts of the emperor. Upon this the people went down in a body to Cæsarea, waited for five days and nights in the market-place, bared their necks to the soldiers that Pilate sent in among them, and did not desist until the order for the removal of the ensigns had been given. Later he caused to be hung up in the palace at Jerusalem certain gilded shields bearing a dedicatory inscription to Tiberius. Then, again, the Jews did not rest until, by their complaints addressed directly to the emperor, they had succeeded in getting them taken down.

“not according to knowledge
Literally: “But not according to knowledge.”–Not an enlightened, discerning, and intelligent zeal. Not a zeal which was founded on correct views of God and of religious truth.

Men may have great zeal in religion, and yet be blinded and hardened in sin. Such zeal is enthusiasm, and often becomes persecuting. Likewise, knowledge without zeal becomes cold, abstract, calculating, formal; and may be possessed by devils as well as men.  Right zeal will be in accordance with truth and duty; holy in character, kind in spirit, and useful in tendency.

“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own right-eousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness”
Literally: “For being ignorant of the righteousness of God.”– This verse goes to the root of the problem, and explains the failure of the Gospel among the Jews. It was due to their ignorance of the righteousness of God. All men need and crave righteousness, and the Jews,  in their ignorance of God’s, sought to establish a righteousness of their own.     

         BEING IGNORANT: (Grk.–agnoountes)—From the Greek verb agnoeō, which.literally means, “be ignorant;  fail to understand; disregard.”  The ignorance of the Jews was voluntarily, and therefore criminal.  Involuntary ignorance excuses from guilt; but ignorance produced by our sin or our indolence or aop0athy is no excuse for crime.

The Jews were ignorant of two main truths:
1.      That righteousness, life and all things are a free gift of the grace of
2.      That the Law was meant only to make them discover sin, and their own helpless need of the outright gift of righteousness from God.          

          Ignorant; not recognizing the spiritual and in Christ discovered in the Gospel, and relying upon and trusting to their own works. That is, the Jews being ignorant of God's way of Justification by Faith. And there adherence to the ceremonial and moral Law, and relying on this to justify and save them.  They have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God; that is, to the way and method which the wisdom of God has discovered for the justification of a sinner by the blood of His Son.
           No evangelical doctrine was more discredited by the Jews than justification by the righteousness of Christ. They were possessed with this principle then, that eternal life was attainable only by the works of the Law: and according to the example of the Jews at the beginning, persons ever since, even to this very day, are fond of that way of justification.
         This ignorance of God’s righteousness was true of Israel, and it is true of the average Church member today. There is nothing more saddening than to see church people with an intellectual  knowledge of God’s Word but with an utter failure to appreciate its spiritual meaning and force.  They never grow in the knowledge of the Lord.  So many church people have no real discernment of what it really means to be saved. 

“and going about to establish their own righteousness”
Literally: “And seeking to establish their own righteousness.”–Endeavoring to confirm or make valid their own righteousness; to render it such as to constitute a ground of justification before God; or to make good their own claims to eternal life by their merits. This stands  in opposition to the Justification by Grace, or to God’s plan; and they must ever be in opposition.

This was the constant effort of the Jews; and in this they supposed they had succeeded. See Paul's own experience in Phil. 3:4-6; Acts26:5. Instances of their belief on this subject occur in all the gospels, where our Savior combats their notions of their own righteousness. It was this which mainly opposed the Lord Jesus and His apostles; and it is this confidence in their own righteousness which still stands in the way of the progress of the gospel among men.

       TO ESTABLISH: (Grk.–stēsai)—Or set up, indicating their pride in their own endeavors.  They would erect a righteousness of their own as a monument to their own glory and not to God's. They meant “to set up” their own righteousness, indicating their pride in their endeavors; seeking to procure their salvation by means of their own contriving.

                 THEIR OWN: (Grk.–tēn idian)—Thjs is the key to the whole problem.

Their idea was that they could be good men without becoming debtors to God, or owing anything at all to Him. Such an idea, of course, shows complete ignorance of the essential relations of God and man, and when acted on fatally perverts life; and it did so with the Jews. When the Gospel came, revealing the righteousness of Godthat for which man must be absolutely indebted to God’s grace, and which he can never boast of as “his own”—it cut right across all the habits and prejudices of the Jews, and they did not submit themselves to it.

“have not submitted themselves”
Literally: “They did not submit.”–Not given their hearts to
God, or accepted His salvation through Christ.  Paul views the general rejection of Christ by the nation as one act.

They have not bowed to the determinations of the Most High, relative to His mode of saving mankind, that is, through faith in Jesus Christ, as the only available sacrifice for sin,-the end to which the Law pointed.  Confident in their own righteousness, they have not yielded their hearts to a plan which requires them to come confessing that they have no merit, and to be saved by the merit of another. No obstacle to salvation by grace is so great as the self-righteousness of the sinner.       

         “unto the righteousness of God.”
         Literally:  “To the righteousness of God.”–To His plan or scheme of justifying men. The way of
justification which He has fixed.

They had no knowledge of God's plan of righteousness, righteousness by believing upon Christ, but rejecting it they sought a righteousness of their own, of works, secured by keeping the law, and by obeying the traditions of men (Mark 7:7-8). But on the other hand, they refused to submit to God's righteousness through faith.

“For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.”

“For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness”
Literally:  “for Christ {is}the end of the Law for righteousness.”– The scope and aim of the Law.  This expression implies faith in Christ. This is the whole purpose of the discussion, to show that justification cannot be obtained by our own righteousness, but only through faith in Christ (Eph. 2:8).

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.

          END OF THE LAW: (Grk.–telos nomou)—This means that which completes it or renders it perfect.  “End” may also the boundary, issue, or termination  of anything, as the end         of life, the result of a prophecy, etc., (John 13:1; Luke 22:37). I he true end of the Law is to give eternal life; but to fallen sinful men it becomes the occasion of death (7:10.).  “End” means termination. 

It also means:
1.      The aim or object which is had in view; the principal purpose for which it was undertaken. (I Tim. 1:5), “The end of the commandment is charity;”
2.      Tthe main design or purpose of the command is to produce love.  (I Pet. 1:9), “The end of your faith, the salvation of your souls;”
3.      The main design or purpose of faith is to secure salvation. (Rom. 14:9), “To this end Christ both died,” etc.; for this design or purpose. This is doubtless its meaning here.

         But Christ is more:  He is the aim and fulfillment of the Law.  The Jewish system was one of doing; but God’s is one of believing, of  Grace.   Where the Law ends, Christ begins. The Law ends with representative sacrifices; Christ begins with the real offering. The Law is our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ; it cannot save, but it leaves us at His door, where alone salvation is to be found. Christ as an atoning sacrifice for sin, was the grand object of the whole sacrificial code of Moses; His passion and death were the fulfillment of its great object and design.
        Separate this sacrificial
death of Christ from the Law, and the Law has no meaning, for it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins: wherefore the Messiah is represented as saying, “Sacrifice and observing thou didst not desire; burnt-offering and sin-offering thou hast not required; then said I, Lo, I come to do Thy will; a body hast thou prepared Me,” Psalm 40:6, 7; Hebrews 10:4-10; which proves that God never designed that the sacrifices of the Law should be considered the atonement;for sin, but a type or representative of that atonement; and that the real atonement; was the sacrifice offered by Christ.

         Thus, He was the END of the Law, in respect to its sacrifices. And, as sacrifices were offered merely to procure pardon of sin, righteousness, or justification, Christ is the end of the Law for this justification to everyone that believes on Him, as dying for their offenses, and rising again for their justification, having made peace through the blood of His cross. Therefore every Jew who rejected Christ rejected salvation; that very salvation which the Law witnessed and required, and which could not be had but through  Christ  alone.
         The whole law pointed to Christ, and his righteousness. They were its object. Yet the Jews clung to the law, and refused to believe upon Christ, in whom the law met its fulfillment. Christ may be said to be the end of this Law,
1.      Because He is the scope of it.
2.      Because He is the accomplishment of it.  The precepts of the Law point at Christ, as He by Whom they are accomplished; the precepts of the Law point at Him as He by Whom they are ratified; and the threatenings of the Law may be said to point at Him, as by Whom they are escaped.  Christ was the sum of the Law, as well as the substance of the Gospel.
3.      Because He is the end of the Law for righteousness, to be imputed to everyone that believes in Him, the Law being our school-master to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith (Gal. 3:25).

“to everyone that believeth”
Literally: “To everyone believing.” As long as the Jews remained in unbelief, they were cut off from Christ. He who believes submits to God's plan of righteousness. Christ contains   within Himself all that the Law demands for the justification of such as embrace Him,        whether Jew or Gentile (Gal. 3:24).