“For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the Law; That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.”

“For Moses describeth”
Literally:  “For Moses writes.”

          DESCRIBETH:  (Grk.–grafei)–Literally: “writes” a word often used in this sense.

This is found in Lev. 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 O.T., 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 righteousness which is of the Law”
         Literally {Of} the righteousness of the Law.”–The righteousness which a perfect obedience to the Law of God would produce.

         That consisted in perfectly doing all that the Law required. Paul now shows the Jews who cling to the Law that the Law itself is against the Law as a way of securing righteousness.  These words seem to be spoken in answer to an objection which might be made by a Jew: “Did not Moses give us a law, the observance of which should secure our salvation?”  Such a Law Moses undoubtedly gave, and that Law promises life to those who perform its precepts: but who can plead for life on this ground; who rejects that Christ who is the end of the Law?
         No man ever did, nor can ever fulfill that Law, so as to merit salvation by the performance of it: for, as all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, they are all under the curse of the Law, which says: “Cursed is everyone who continueth not in all the things that are written in the book of the law to do them” (Deut. 27:26; Gal. 3:10).  Therefore, by the deeds of this Law none can be justified, because all are in a state of condemnation for transgressions already committed against it.  If, therefore, there were not such a provision as is made by the death of Christ, no soul could be saved.

         “the man which doeth these things”
         Literally: “The man doing these things.”–That is, the man who shall perform or obey what was declared in the previous statutes.

Moses was making reference to all the commandments which God had given, both moral and ceremonial. And the doctrine of Moses is that which pertains to all laws, that he who shall render perfect and continued compliance with all the statutes made known. Such an one 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 elsewhere abundantly teach that it never has been done.

           DOETH: (Grk.–poiesas)–Meaning obeys, or yields obedience to. So also Matt. 5:19, “Shall do and teach them;" Matt 7:24, 26. “Whosoever heareth these sayings–and doeth   them;” (Matt. 23:3; Mark 3:35; 6:20; Luke 6:46; 24:53).

That is, he that perfectly keeps ALL these precepts in every point, then he may claim life and salvation by them.  But this way of justification is impossible to any who have ever transgressed in any one point of the Law (Lev. 18:5)–He who keeps the Law in all respects blameless shall have life. But Paul has elsewhere shown that no one can keep the law perfectly–“For whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and ye offend in one point, he is guilty of all(James 3:10). Such righteousness, then, requires a perfect obedience, a sinless life. What Jew could say that he had never sinned?

“shall live by them”Obedience shall render him happy, and entitled to the rewards of the obedient.

         SHALL LIVE: (Grk.–zēsetai)—Some expositors contend that a better rendering of this word should read, “shall obtain life in the deepest sense.”

          Moses seems to be referring 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 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.  It is evident, moreover, that the Jews understood Moses here as referring to more than temporal blessings. The ancient Targum of Onkelos renders this passage in Leviticus as–“The man who does these things shall live in them to eternal life.”
         William Newell, in his Romans commentary, points out that Reformed Theology has kept us Gentiles under the Law, even though Christ was the end of it. This  Reformed Theology views the Law, not as a means of righteousness, but as a means, or directory, for life.   But please understand that the Mosaic Law is no more a rule of life that it is a means of righteousness.  For the believer, walking in the Spirit has taken the place of walking by ordinances–“ye are not under the Law, but under grace” (6:14b). The Law is called a ministration of death and condemnation, not a rule for life.   It was never intended that people should gain hope by it, but rather that they should despair and be driven to cast themselves upon the mercy of God.

         BY THEM: (Grk.-en autois)—Literally: 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.


“But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, ‘Say not in thing heart, Who shall ascend into heaven,’ (that is, to bring Christ down from above)
That is, “You have not to sign over the impossibility of attaining to justification.  As if one should say, Oh!  If I could but get someone to mount up to heaven and fetch me down Christ, there might be some hope, but since that cannot be, mine is a desperate case.” To illustrate the righteousness based on faith, Paul again quotes from the Torah (Deut. 30:11-14.

“But the righteousness which is of faith”
Literally:  “But the of faith righteousness”–The idea of Justification by Faith is here personified as if it were a living entity, and describing its own effects and nature.

         It is most evident that there can be NO such thing as Justification by Works, because ALL are sinful and in a state of guilt before God. If God will grant salvation at all, it must be by faith: but faith must have an object and a reason for its exercise; so the object of faith is Jesus Christ;  and the reason for it is the infinite merit of His passion and death.
         In these words Paul seems to set forth the great anxiety and trouble of mind which is found with an awakened sinner; he is at a loss to find out the way how he shall stand justified in the sight of God. The Law offers to a man life, but it is upon an impossible condition; but the Gospel clearly reveals to him that Christ has already performed what is necessary for his justification, and that by a practical and lively faith he shall have an interest in it.              

      FAITH:  (Grk.–pisteōs)–Some understand the “word of faith” as the content of the message rather than the reaction to its proclamation.  Faith is readily accessible for those who will simply believe and confess that Jesus is Lord  (v. 13; Deut. 30:14).

          “speaketh on this wise,”           
           Literally:  “says this.”–Someone today, in describing it would say, “Oh the plan itself speaks      in this manner.” 

         SAYS THIS:  (Grk.–houtōs legei)–Paul is still personifying faith and treating it as living entity that could speak. The words Paul  quoted are taken from Deut. 30:11-14.

“say not in thine heart”
Literally: “Do not say in your heart.”–The words, “in your heart” were added by Paul to the O.T. passage. The expression, “to say in the heart,” is the same as “to think.”  What Paul is really saying to these Jews is, “Do not think, or suppose, that this doctrine is too deep to be  understood, or that one must ascend to heaven in order to understand it.”

         “who shall ascend into heaven?”
         Literally: “Who will go up 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 in understanding.. 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.
   Christ, being ascended, has given us a convincing proof that the propitiation for our sins see (I John 2:2), is perfect; for otherwise our Surety had not been received into God's sanctuary.  Therefore, to be under confusion as to how we may be justified, is to deny the value of His righteousness and the truth of His ascension.  And say not, Who shall descend into the deep? That is, to bear the torments of hell, and expiate sin; for this is to deny the virtue of His death, whereby He appeased God and redeemed us from wrath to come.

          As Christ is the end of the Law for Justification to everyone 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 Paul’s may be this: They who will not believe in Christ crucified must in effect be seeking another Messiah ("another which is not another"–Gal. 1:6b-7a) 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.

“to bring Christ down"
Literally:  “That is, to bring Christ down.”–The Jews expected a Savior Who would be reigning upon the earth,; a visible king of an earthly kingdom, and hence said, “Bring down Christ from heaven, where you say he is, and we will believe upon Him.”

Understand that Paul is not actually saying that it was the original purpose of Moses to affirm this of Christ.  His words were related to his own doctrine. Paul does make 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 faith. 
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 v. 10:4, as resulting from the work of Christ.

“Or who shall descend into the deep?
(That is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.

“who shall descend into the deep?”
Literally: “Who will go down into the abyss?”–These words are also a part of the address of Moses, (Deut. 30:13); but Paul does not quote them literally.

The Hebrew text says “Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, ‘Who shall go over the sea for us,’” etc. The words of the quotation are changed, but not the sense; and it is to be remembered, that Paul is not professing to quote the words of Moses, but to express the Language of Faith; and this he does mainly by the words that Moses had used, which also expressed his meaning. The words, as used by Moses, refer to that which is remote and therefore difficult to be obtained. Hence, it is spoken of as being the widest object with which they were acquainted, and the fairest illustration of infinity, (Job 11:9). 

            DEEP(Grk.–abusson)– Paul uses the word “deep,” meaning the abyss.]

This Greek word  (abusson)  is applied to anything that the depth or bottom of which is not known. In the Septuagint  (LXX) it is applied to various things:

1.      To the ocean, (Job 41:31) “He maketh the deep to boil as a pot.” (Isa .44:27), “That saith to the deep, Be dry,” etc.; (Gen. 7:11; 8:2).
2.      To a broad place, (Job 36:16) and to the abyss before the world was formed, Gen. 1:2. In the New Testament it is not applied to the ocean, unless in the passage Luke 8:31,
3.      To the abode of departed spirits; and particularly to the dark, deep, and bottomless pit, where the wicked are to dwell forever.  (Rev. 9:1-2), “And to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit,” Greek, The pit of the abyss (Rev. 11:7; 17:8; 20:1, 3). In these places the word means the deep, awful regions of the nether world.
4.      Paul seems to refer to Hades or Sheol (Acts 2:27,31), the other world to which Christ went after death.

“that is, to bring up Christ from the dead”–There is no need to bring Christ up from the dead.  He is already risen!  There is no need for one to go to heaven to bring Christ down to    earth. The Incarnation is already a glorious fact. Today some men attempt to scout around the idea of the Deity and Incarnation of Christ.

Justification by Faith has no such difficult and impossible work to perform as would be an attempt for man to raise the dead. That would be impossible; but the work of religion is easy. Christ, the ground of hope, is not by OUR EFFORTS to be brought down from heaven to save us, for that has already been done; nor by OUR EFFORTS to be raised from the dead, for that is done; and what remains for us–that is, TO BELIEVE–is easy, and is near us. This is the meaning of the entire passage.

“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.”

         “But what saith it?”
         Literally: “But what does it say?”–What does
God's righteousness demand?

It replies that we do not have to go either to heaven or to hades to lay hold of salvation. That is, what is the language of the Doctrine of Justification by Faith?  Or what is to be done according to that doctrine?

“The word is nigh thee”
Literally: “The Word is near you.”–The Septuagint reads this as, “Very near you is the word.”  This is still a use of the language of Moses (Deut. 30:14).   The meaning is that the doctrine is not difficult to be understood and embraced.  The doctrine of Moses and of the Gospel was near; that is, it was easily obtained, embraced, and understood.

         The Gospel is at hand. What is in the lips of the preacher is near to all who hear; within your reach; easy to be understood, remembered, practiced.  That is, faith in it, nourished in the heart and openly confessed, will secure salvation. This is eminently true of Gospel of Faith.  This is more fully explained in v. 9.  There is no occasion to seek high or low for the saving power; the Word of Reconciliation is nigh.  The Way of Salvation is now both plain and easy. 

         There is no occasion to seek high or low for the saving power, for the Word of Reconciliation is near you. The way of salvation is now both plain and easy. The Law is magnified and made honorable by the death of Christ; and the Doctrine of Faith in His death and resurrection is fully proclaimed, and amply proved to be effectual to the purpose for which it was revealed. By the preaching of the Gospel, the Doctrine of Salvation is near you, and its saving influence is at hand.  It is in your mouth, and in your heart, and is easy to be understood, and easy to be professed.. If you are upright before God and sincerely desiring to be saved on His terms, not striving to establish your own method of Justification by the Law, which must forever be ineffeective but submitting to the method of justification which God has devised.

         “even in thy mouth, and in thy heart”
         Literally: “In your mouth and in your heart.”

        IN THY MOUTH: (Grk.-en toi stomati sou)–Literally: “in the mouth of you.”  This   is taken from the LXX (Septuagint)–Deut. 30:14. The meaning is, that the doctrine was already so familiar, and so well understood, that it was actually in their mouths; that is, in their    language, in their commonconversation.

Moses had so often “hammered” this point: that it was understood and talked about by the people, so that there was no need to search in distant climes to obtain it. The same was true of the Gospel. The facts were so well known by the preaching of the apostles, that they might be said to be in every man's mouth.

         IN THY HEART:  (Grk.–en tēn kardia sou)–Literally:  “in the heart of you.”  The word “heart,”  (kardia)  is variously used in the Scriptures.

          Ready at hand to be received by your heart, and confessed by your lips. when you believe on Him. Though it is of the law which Moses more immediately speaks in the passage quoted, yet it is of the Law as Israel shall be brought to look upon it when the LORD their God shall circumcise their heart “to love the Lord their God with all their heart” (v. 6); and thus, in applying it, Paul is not merely appropriating the language of Moses, but keeping in the line of his deeper thought.
          As used by Moses in this place, it evidently means that his doctrines were in their mind, or were a subject of meditation and reflection. They already possessed them, and talked and thought about them; so that there was no need of going to distant places to learn them. The same was true of the doctrine requiring faith in Christ. It was already among them by the preaching of the apostles, and was a subject of conversation and of thought.

“that is, the word of faith”–The doctrine which requires faith, i.e., the Gospel (comp. I Tim. 4:6). The Gospel is called the Word of Faith, or the Word of God, as being that which was spoken, or communicated,  by God to man, (10:17; Heb. 6:5; 11:3).

“which we preach”
Literally:  “which we proclaim.”–Which is proclaimed by the apostles, and made known to Jews and Gentiles alike. As this was now made known to all, as the apostles preached it everywhere, it could be said to be nigh them; there was no need of searching other lands for it,  or regarding it as a hidden mystery, for it was plain and displayed to all. Its simplicity and plainness he proceeds immediately to state.

The living voice brings home to everyone the faith kind of righteousness. Paul seizes upon the words of Moses with the orator's instinct and with rhetorical skill and applies them to the facts about the Gospel message about the Incarnation and Resurrection of Christ.  We can here see Paul, who, in his earlier life as Saul of Tarsus, was the old Doctor of the Law, and the student of Gamaliel, presenting his case.