"might skip from text to text, but he might not skip from prophet to prophet, except only in the twelve prophets, only he might not skip from the end of the book to the beginning; also they might skip in the prophets, but not in the law;''
which rules are exactly complied with by the apostle. The beginning of this citation is out of Isaiah 28:16,
behold I lay in Zion. The "stone" said to be laid in Zion, is by the "Chaldee paraphrast" interpreted of a "king"; by R. David Kimchi, of King Hezekiah, and by Jarchi of the King Messiah; and is truly applied by the apostle to Jesus Christ: the layer of this stone is God the Father, who laid him as the foundation stone, in his eternal purposes and decrees, in his counsels and covenant, in promise and in prophecy, in the mission of him into this world, and in the preaching of the everlasting Gospel: the place where he is laid is Zion, meaning either literally Judea or Jerusalem, where the Messiah was to appear, whither he came, and from whence his Gospel went forth; or mystically the church, where he is laid as the foundation of it, and of the salvation of all the members thereof; though, through the sin and unbelief of others, he proves to be
a stumbling stone, and rock of offence; which phrases are to be seen in Isaiah 8:14, and are spoken of, and ascribed to a divine person, even to the Lord of hosts; and are by the Targumist thus paraphrased, "and if ye obey not", "his word shall be for revenge, and for a stone smiting, and a rock of offence", and in the Talmud (t), it is said, that
"the son of David (the Messiah) shall not come until the two houses of the fathers are destroyed out of Israel; and these are the head of the captivity which is in Babylon, and the prince in the land of Israel, as it is said, Isaiah 8:14.''
So that, according to the ancient Jews, this passage belongs to the Messiah, and is properly made use of for this purpose by the apostle, who had seen the accomplishment of it in the Jews; who stumbled at the outward meanness of Jesus of Nazareth, at his parentage, the manner of his birth, his education, the mean appearance of himself and followers; at his company and audience, his ministry, miracles, death, and the manner of it; and so believed not in him, for righteousness, life, and salvation; and thus it came about that they did not attain, or come up to the law of righteousness, or the righteousness of the law: but
whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed; that is, who believes in Christ unto righteousness, who builds his faith, and hope of eternal salvation on him, the foundation God has laid in Zion, and at which the unbelieving Jews stumbled and fell; he shall neither be ashamed here nor hereafter: he shall not be ashamed of his faith and hope in Christ; nor of Christ, as the Lord his righteousness; nor shall he be ashamed or confounded at his appearing, but shall be justified before men and angels, and be received into his kingdom and glory. There is some difference between the passage as here cited, and as it stands in Isaiah 28:16, where it is read, "he that believeth shall not make haste": either to lay any other foundation, being fully satisfied with this, which is laid by God; or shall not make haste to flee away, through fear of any enemy, or of any danger, being safe as built on this foundation; and so shall never fall, be moved, or ashamed and confounded. Some have fancied a various reading, but without any reason. A very learned Oriental critic (u) of our own nation has observed, that the Arabic words "Haush" "Hish" answer to the Hebrew word, the prophet uses, and which have three significations in them, "hasten", to "fear", and be "ashamed"; the first of these is retained here by the Jewish commentators and modern versions; the second by the "Chaldee paraphrast", and Syriac translation; and the third by the Septuagint, and the apostle; and they may be all taken into sense, for he that is afraid runs about here and there, and at length is put to shame and confusion.
(s) T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 24. 1. Yoma, fol. 69. 2. Maimon. Tephilla, c. 12. sect. 14. (t) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 38. 1.((u) Pocock. Not. Miscell. in Port. Mosis, p. 10, 11.
INTRODUCTION TO Romans 10
In this chapter are contained an account of the two righteousnesses of faith and works, a summary of the Gospel of Christ, a description of the grace of faith, in the nature, use, and means of it, and several testimonies concerning the calling of the Gentiles; and whereas the apostle knew that this, as well as what he had said in the latter part of the preceding chapter, that the Jews had not attained to the law of righteousness, but stumbled at the stumbling stone, would be offensive to his countrymen the Jews; wherefore that it might appear that he said this not out of disaffection and ill will to them, he declares his sincere regard unto them, and the great respect he had for them, by calling them "brethren", by expressing his good will to them, by praying for the salvation of them, Romans 10:1, by bearing testimony of their zeal for God, Romans 10:2, though he faithfully observes to them, that it was an ignorant zeal, of which ignorance he gives an instance, Romans 10:3, particularly in the attribute of God's righteousness; from which ignorance arose all their misconduct in religious things, especially in the article of justification; hence they sought to be justified by their own righteousness, and rejected the righteousness of Christ, and then points out to them the true end of the law, for righteousness which is Christ, Romans 10:4, which if they had known would have set them right, and which is another instance of their ignorant and misguided zeal: this leads him on to what he had in view, which was to give an account of the two righteousnesses he had suggested in the latter part of the former chapter, the righteousness of the law, which the Jews sought for and found not, and the righteousness of faith, which the Gentiles without seeking for enjoyed; and this account he gives in the words of Moses, for whom they had the greatest regard: the description of the former is given in his words, in Romans 10:5, which suggest the impossibility of keeping the law, and obtaining life by it, and therefore it is a vain thing to seek for righteousness by the works of it; the latter is described, Romans 10:6, by the certainty of it, being wrought out by Christ, who came down from heaven, fulfilled the law, and died, and rose again from the dead; and by the plainness and evidence of it, as revealed in the Gospel, Romans 10:8, the sum of which Gospel is, that whoever believes in Christ and confesses him shall be saved, Romans 10:9, which faith and confession, when genuine, are with the heart and mouth agreeing together; the consequences of which are righteousness and salvation, comfortably apprehended and enjoyed, Romans 10:10, and that the above is the sum of the Gospel, and that there is such a connection between faith and righteousness, and between confession and salvation, is confirmed, Romans 10:11, by a testimony from the prophet, Isaiah 28:16, which being expressed in such a general manner, as to extend to every believer, whether Jew or Gentile, reasons are given, Romans 10:12, in support of such an explanation of that passage, taken from the equal condition of all, there being no difference between them naturally, from the universal dominion of God over them, and from his liberal communication of grace and goodness to all that call upon him; which last reason is confirmed, Romans 10:13, by a passage of Scripture in Joel 2:32, on occasion of which, the apostle proceeds to treat of the calling of the Gentiles, and of the means of it, the preaching of the Gospel, which was necessary to it, which is made out by a train of reasoning after this manner; that seeing salvation is only of such that call upon the name of the Lord, and there could be no calling upon him without believing in him, and no believing without hearing, and no hearing without preaching, and no preaching without mission, which is proved by a citation out of Isaiah 52:7, and no success in preaching, when sent, without the exertions of efficacious grace, as appears from the case of the Jews, who had the ministration of the Gospel to them by Isaiah, and yet all did not believe it; as is evident from Isaiah 53:1, and seeing the conclusion of which is, that faith comes by preaching, and preaching by the order and command of God, Romans 10:14, it follows, that it was proper that ministers should be sent, and the Gospel preached to the Gentiles, and that attended with power, in order that they should believe in the Lord, and call upon his name and be saved; and which method God had taken, and which he had foretold he would take, in the prophecies of the Old Testament, and which were now fulfilling: that the Gospel was preached to them, and they heard it, were matters of fact, and were no other than what should be, or might be concluded, from Psalm 19:4, cited, Romans 10:18, and that the Jews could not be ignorant of the calling of the Gentiles is clear, first from the words of Moses, Deuteronomy 32:21, which the apostle produces, Romans 10:19, and from a passage in the prophecy of Isaiah 65:1. So that this was no other than what Moses and the prophets said should be, Romans 10:20, and the chapter is closed, Romans 10:21, with another passage out of the same prophet in the next verse, showing the rejection of Christ and his Gospel by the Jews, and which justifies their being cast off by him, of which the apostle treats largely in the next chapter.
prayer to God for Israel was, that they might be saved; not only that they might be saved in a temporal sense, from these grievous calamities and sore judgments he saw were coming upon them, which he had reason to believe would issue in the destruction of them, as a nation and church; but that they might be spiritually converted, turned from their evil ways, and brought to believe in Christ, whom they had despised and rejected, and so be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation: this he might desire not only from a natural affection for them, but as a minister of the Gospel, who cannot but wish that all that hear him might be converted and saved; and as a believer in Christ he might pray for this in submission to the will of God; and especially as he knew there was a seed, a remnant according to the election of grace, at that present time among them, that should be saved, though the larger number of them were cast off. The Alexandrian copy, and some others, read "for them", instead of "for Israel"; not naming them, being easily understood; and so the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions.
but not according to knowledge: it was not well regulated, it proceeded on mistaken principles, and moved in a wrong way, in persecuting the church of God, in doing things contrary to the name of Christ, in putting to death his ministers and members, thinking that hereby they did God good service; which arose from their ignorance of their Father, and of the Son: though they had a zeal of God, they knew neither God nor Christ aright; they did not know God in Christ, nor Jesus to be the true Messiah; they understood neither law nor Gospel truly, and fancied the Gospel was contrary to the law, and an enemy to it; and therefore in their great zeal opposed it, and the professors of it; they were zealous of the law, and of doing the commands of it, but knew not the true nature, use, and end of the law; as appears by what follows.
going about to establish their own righteousness; which they would never have done, had they known the righteousness of God, in either of the above senses; the Alexandrian copy, and some others, omit the word "righteousness", and only read, "their own", leaving it to be understood, and which is easily done; and so reads the Vulgate Latin version: by "their own righteousness", as opposed to God's, is meant the righteousness of works, their obedience to the law, an outward conformity to it, an observance of the rituals of it, and a little negative holiness. This they endeavoured to "establish" or "make to stand" in the sight of God, as their justifying righteousness, which is all one as setting chaff and stubble, briers and thorns, to a consuming fire; as the attempt expresses madness in them, the phrase suggests weakness in their righteousness, which they would fain make to stand, but could not, it being like a spider's web before the besom, or like a dead carcass, which men would set upon its feet to stand alone, but it cannot; than which nothing can be a greater instance of egregious folly: their "going about" or "seeking" to do this, shows their ignorant zeal, and the toil, the pains, the labour they used to effect it, but all in vain, and to no purpose; as appears by their hearing, reading, fasting, praying, giving alms to the poor, and tithes of all they possessed; all which they were very careful and studious of, and especially to have them done in the sight of men: and so it was that they
have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God; that is, the righteousness of Christ, so called, because approved and accepted of by God, imputed by him to his people, and given them by him as a free gift, and which only justifies in his sight; and because it is wrought by Christ, who is truly and properly God, and revealed and applied by the Spirit of God. This the Jews submitted not to, because they had no true humble sense of themselves as sinners, nor did they care to acknowledge themselves as such; which submission to Christ's righteousness requires and necessarily involves in it; no man will ever be subject to it, till he is made sensible of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and brought to an humble acknowledgment of it; the Spirit of God first convinces of sin and then of righteousness; and because they had an overweening opinion of their own righteousness, which they trusted to, and depended upon, imagining it to be blameless, and to contain all that the law required, and therefore they stood in no need of any other; and as for the righteousness of Christ they had it in contempt, their carnal minds being enmity to him, were not subject to his righteousness, nor could they, nor can any be, without the powerful efficacious grace of God, making them willing in the day of his power. This phrase denotes the rebellion of their wills, against Christ and his righteousness, they acting as rebellious subjects against their sovereign prince.
for righteousness: for the bringing in an everlasting righteousness; a righteousness justifying in the sight of God; a righteousness sinners wanted, and could not obtain of themselves, and could never be obtained but by a perfect fulfilling of the law: this Christ has done partly by the conformity of his nature, being exactly like that, and what it requires holy, just, and good; and partly by perfect obedience of his life to all its precepts; and also by suffering the penalty of it, death, in the room and stead of all his people; and so the whole righteousness of the law is fulfilled by him, and he becomes the end of it, for a justifying righteousness before God,
to everyone that believes: not to him that works for life, and in order to obtain a righteousness of his own; nor to the Jew only, but also to the Gentile, even to everyone, be who he will, that has faith in Christ; not that faith is either the matter, cause, or condition of righteousness, but this righteousness is only revealed unto, and received by the believer, and can only be pleaded by him, as his justifying righteousness. Moreover, this phrase is descriptive of the persons to whom Christ is the end of the law for righteousness, and suggests that for whomsoever he has fulfilled the law, in order to bring in for them a justifying righteousness, faith in consequence is given to them, to receive and embrace it, and enjoy all the comfort and privileges of it.
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.
speaketh on this wise; the selfsame writer who describes the righteousness of the law in such a manner, that it gives no room to a fallen creature ever to expect life and salvation by it, gives such an account of the righteousness of faith, as forbids all doubting and despair:
say not in thine heart; let not such a thought enter into thy mind, much less express it with thy lips;
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). These words are not properly a citation of Deuteronomy 30:12; but the apostle makes use of some phrases which are there, with his own explications of them; though the difference between them, stripped, of these explications is not very material: in the first clause, "who shall ascend into heaven?" the apostle leaves out the phrase, "for us"; which as to the sense was not absolutely necessary to retain; the difficulty, indeed, seems greater in the latter clause, "who shall descend into the deep?" which in the text of Moses is, "who shall go over the sea for us?" but when it is considered that the sea is often called the deep, and that sailing on it and over it, is expressed by "going down to the sea in ships", Psalm 107:23; and moreover, when it is observed that the Jerusalem Targum paraphrases it thus,
"the law is not in heaven that it should be said, oh that we had one of us, as Moses the prophet, who could go up to heaven and bring it to us! nor is it beyond the great sea, that it should be said, oh that we had one of us, as Jonah the prophet , "who could descend into the depths of the great sea", and bring it to us;''
the apostle is to be justified in his expressions. His sense, indeed, may seem to be different from that of Moses, and of the common interpretations of the Jewish writers, as in the above paraphrase and in the following account of them from the Talmud, understanding them of the law (w);
"says Abdimo bar Chama bar Dousa, what is the meaning of that Scripture, "neither is it in heaven, nor is it beyond the sea?" it is not in heaven, for if it was in heaven you must needs go up after it, and if it was beyond the sea, you must needs go over after it; Rabba says, not in heaven is it, you will not find it in him that exalts his knowledge in himself as the heavens, nor will you find it in him that enlarges his knowledge in himself, as the sea; R. Jochanan says, not in heaven is it, you will not find it in those that are of a haughty spirit, nor beyond the sea is it, you will not find it among traders abroad, or merchants.''
Though the apostle's sense may be brought pretty near to this, after this manner; who shall go up to heaven, or down to the deep, either to bring us the knowledge of the law, and yield an obedience to it which that requires of us, or to give us a full account of the Gospel of the grace of God? there is no room, nor reason, for men to say this in their hearts, or to make a doubt of them, as if they were not done already; to do so, is to deny that Christ is come in the flesh, and risen from the dead, who has given the true sense and knowledge of the law, and has perfectly fulfilled it, in the room and stead of his people, and by whom the doctrine of grace and truth is come, particularly the doctrine of a sinner's justification before God; this is brought nigh in the ministration of the word, so that there is no need of such inquiries as these. Moreover, for the illustration of these words, let it be observed, that these phrases are proverbial, and often used to express things impossible, of which take the following instances;
"it is a tradition of the Rabbins (x) if a man says to his wife, lo, this is thy divorce, on condition that "thou ascendest to the firmament", on condition that "thou descendest into the deep"; on condition that thou passest over the great sea on foot, this is no divorce;''
the reason is, , "because it is impossible". Again (y),
"if a man says to a woman, if thou wilt "ascend into the firmament", or if thou wilt "descend into the deep", lo, thou art espoused to me by this penny; but if thou wilt not go up into the firmament, nor go down into the deep, thou shalt not be espoused; and after that he puts the penny into her hand, lo, the condition becomes void, and behold she is espoused immediately, for the thing is known , "that it is impossible" for her to fulfil the condition.''
So here are forbidden all such thoughts, words, or expressions which carry such a sense as this; who will go down to the deep to fetch such a wretch as I am out of the lowest hell, to deliver me from the curses of the law, and the wrath of God, and bring me out of this wretched miserable condition in which I am? or go up to heaven and carry me there, and put me in the possession of the undefiled inheritance? all this is as impossible to be done, as for a man to ascend to heaven, or go down into the deep: now though the righteousness of the law encourages such despondency and black despair, the righteousness of faith, or the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ's righteousness, forbids every thing of this kind; assuring the sinner, that Christ is come down from heaven in human nature, that he has fulfilled all the righteousness of the law by his obedience in life, and has bore the penalty of it in his sufferings and death, and is risen again for justification; so that such questions should not be put, nor such despairing thoughts encouraged: besides, to think and speak in this manner, is to set aside the whole scheme of the Gospel, and supposes the person to doubt whether Christ is come down from heaven; and therefore asks, who shall go up to bring him down? and that he is not risen from the dead; and therefore puts the question, who will go down to the deep to fetch him up? whereas he is already come, has obeyed, suffered, and died, and rose again, and is become the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes.
(w) T. Bab. Erubin, fol. 55. 1. Maimon. Talmud Tora, c. 3. sect. 8. (x) T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 84. 1. & Bava Metzia, fol. 94. 1.((y) Maimon. Hilchot Ishot. c. 6. sect. 7. Vid. Zohar in Exod. fol. 40. 4. & 43. 1.
the word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; which is to be understood not of the law, for Moses himself is not speaking of the law only, but either of the whole word of God, both law and Gospel; or particularly of the Gospel, which holds forth those special blessings and promises of grace, pardon of sin, and circumcision of the heart, which are mentioned in the context, as what should be bestowed upon the people of the Jews in the latter days; and so is rightly applied by the apostle to the then dispensation, and is to be understood of the Gospel; which was nigh both in the ministration of it, by the apostles, to Jews and Gentiles, and in the application and experience of it; it was not only "in the mouth" of the preachers, but also of the hearers of it, by a hearty and sincere confession; and "in their hearts", being attended with the power of God, and received in the love of it, was truly believed in, and cordially embraced;
that is, the word of faith. This phrase, , "the word of faith", may be seen in the Jewish writings (z); and this shows what word is here meant, even the Gospel so called, because it contains doctrines which are to be believed upon the testimony of God, and particularly the doctrine of justification by the righteousness of Christ received by faith; and because it proposes Christ as the object of faith, and encourages souls to believe in him for life and salvation; and is also the means of begetting and implanting faith in the heart, and without it the preaching of it is of no avail: and it is further described by the ministration of it,
which we preach; being sent, commissioned, qualified, and assisted by Christ thereunto; which shows the agreement between Moses and the apostles of Christ; for the word which he spoke of, they preached, and indeed said no other things than what the prophets and Moses said should come, that Christ should suffer in the stead of his people, and rise again for their justification; the sum of which is delivered in Romans 10:9.
(z) Zohar. in Gen. fol. 45. 4.
and shall believe in thine heart, that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved; for this article of Christ's resurrection includes the several other articles of faith: it supposes his death, and that supposes his life, and the obedience of it; and his life implies his being here on earth, and that his coming down from heaven to do the will of his Father; and this is the rather mentioned, which is here ascribed to God the Father, though not to the exclusion of the Son and Spirit, because that Christ is risen again for our justification, with which true faith is principally concerned; for such a faith is intended, not which lies in a mere assent to the truth of this, or any other article of the Christian religion; but which is concerned with Christ for righteousness, life, and glory; and with such a faith salvation is certainly and inseparably connected.
and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. This is to be understood not of confession of sin, though that is proper and requisite to be made, both with respect to the participation, and enjoyment of salvation, particularly pardoning grace and mercy, and to an admission to Gospel ordinances; but of confession of Christ, as appears from the preceding verse, which lies in a frank and open acknowledgment of what Christ is in himself, as that he is truly and properly God, the Son of God, the true Messiah, the Mediator between God and man, and the only Saviour of lost sinners, and of our faith in him, with respect to ourselves, to our pardon, justification, acceptance and salvation in him and through him; in ascribing the whole of our salvation to him, and giving him the glory of it; in declaring to the churches of Christ what he has done for our souls, and in subjecting ourselves to his ordinances. This confession must be made both by words and facts, must be open, visible, and before men; and also real, hearty, and sincere, the words of the mouth agreeing with the experience of the heart; and such a good profession made before God, angels, and men, highly becomes all that believe with the heart. This was the practice of the primitive saints; yea, all nations own, acknowledge, and profess the God they worship; and should not we confess our God, Saviour and Redeemer? Christ himself confessed a good confession before Pontius Pilate, and is the Apostle and High Priest of our profession. So to do, makes both for the glory of God, and for our own real good and advantage. Yea, it is "unto salvation"; not as a cause of it, for Christ alone is the author of eternal salvation; but a sincere and well made confession of Christ points out to all that know us where and from whom we expect to have salvation; it is what lies in the way, and is to be taken up by all that believe in Christ, and to be held fast without wavering until we receive the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls.
whosoever, or "everyone"
that believeth: which phrases are equipollent, and a certain truth it is, that whosoever believes in Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, be he who he will, shall surely be saved: here the object believed in, is expressed
in him, which is there implied, and may easily be understood of the stone laid in Zion for a foundation, which is Christ; for other foundation can no man lay, and whoever by faith builds on this foundation is safe:
and shall not be ashamed; neither in this world, nor in that to come; in the Hebrew text it is, "shall not make haste"; how this may be reconciled; see Gill on Romans 9:2, Romans 9:3.
for the same Lord over all, or "is over all": by whom is meant, either God the Father, who is the God of the Gentiles as well as of the Jews, Romans 3:29; or rather the Lord Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all; and is to be understood, not of his being so merely by creation, but redemption, he having bought with his blood all the elect of God, both among the Jews and among the Gentiles; so that he has the same equal propriety in one as another, and they the same claim to him, and the same encouragement to believe in him, for righteousness and life: and moreover, he
is rich unto all that call upon him; he is not only rich as God, being possessed of all divine perfections and glory, but as Mediator, having the riches of grace and glory in him; and is rich, beneficent, liberal and free in dispensing, pardoning, justifying, and sanctifying grace to all that come unto him, throw themselves at his feet, implore his grace and righteousness, and call upon him with faith and fervency. Such as these are here designed, and not all that make mention of his name, or are called by it; but who are the true worshippers of him in faith and fear; for the invocation of his name includes all worship of him, and exercise of grace upon him; hence this passage is no inconsiderable proof of his proper deity.
shall be saved; be they who they will, whether Jews or Gentiles; not with a temporal salvation only, but with a spiritual and eternal one; for the words of the prophet refer to Gospel times, as the context shows, and is cited and applied thereunto by the Apostle Peter, Acts 2:16; besides, the deliverance and salvation Joel speaks of, is of a "remnant whom the Lord shall call", Joel 2:32; and designs the remnant according to the election of grace, whether among Jews or Gentiles, whom God calls by his efficacious grace; between which call and eternal glory, there is a certain and inseparable connection.
and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? the meaning is, that there is no faith in Christ without hearing of him; as it is in human, so in divine faith, there may be believing without seeing, but not without hearing; so we believe that there were such men as Alexander and Julius Caesar, and other persons now in being, though we never saw them, having heard of them, or had a report made of them, which we have reason to give credit to; so there may be, and is faith in Christ without seeing him with our bodily eyes, though not without hearing of him; for of an unheard of person, there can be no faith in him, because no exercise of thought about him. This is to be understood of outward hearing of the word, and of adult persons only; for that, infants may have the grace of regeneration, and so faith wrought in them by the Spirit of God, without hearing the word, is not to be denied; since as they are capable of the principles of corruption, why not of grace? and also of such persons as have the right and free exercise of the faculties of hearing and speaking, and not of such who never could hear, and speak; for as the Spirit works where, and how he pleases, so he can work faith in the hearts of such persons who never heard the word, and enable them to exercise it on the proper object, and cause them secretly to call upon the name of the Lord, with groans which cannot be uttered. Moreover, this is to be, understood of the ordinary way and means of believing; for though God can, and sometimes does work by other means, and even without any, yet his usual way and method is, to bring men to faith and repentance by the hearing of the word:
and how shall they hear without a preacher? or there is no hearing without, preaching; there may be reading without it, and this ought to be where there is preaching, to see that what is preached is agreeably to the Scriptures; but there is no hearing the word explained without preaching; explaining the word is preaching. There is no hearing of Christ, and salvation by him, without the preaching of the Gospel; the usual and ordinary way of hearing from God, and of Christ, is by the ministry of the word: this shows not only the necessity and usefulness of the Gospel ministry, but also points out the subject matter of it, which is Christ, and him crucified. They that preach ought to preach concerning the person of Christ, his offices, grace, righteousness, blood, sacrifice and satisfaction, otherwise men may hear the preacher, and not hear Christ.
it is written, how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things; which words are not to be understood of the messengers that brought the tidings of deliverance from the Babylonish captivity, but of the ministers of the Gospel. In Isaiah 52:7 it is expressed in the singular number, "how beautiful are the feet of him", &c. and is by some understood of Christ, as it is also by many Jewish writers: thus interpreting the "turtle's voice" in Sol 2:12;
"this (say they (a)) is the voice of the King Messiah, proclaiming and saying, "how beautiful on the mountains", &c.''
And elsewhere (b) it is observed, that the
"Rabbins say, great is peace, for when the King Messiah comes, he does not open but with peace, as it is said, "how beautiful upon the mountains", &c.''
And says (c) another,
"one verse says, "how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings", , "the explanation", or meaning is, the King Messiah:''
and some of the more, modern ones (d) of them, own these words are, , "concerning the redemption, and the coming of the Messiah": and so the worlds, however they may principally regard the Messiah and his ministry, are property applied to the apostles of Christ; and may be rightly understood of any minister of the Gospel, whose business it is to "preach the Gospel of peace": which is so called from the subject matter of it, peace made by the blood of Christ, which it proclaims; from the effect of it, producing, peace and tranquillity in distressed minds, and making men of peaceable dispositions; and from the use of it, which is to direct men to the way of peace, to guide their feet in it, lead them to eternal peace: their work is also to "bring glad tidings of good things"; such as reconciliation, righteousness, pardon, life, and eternal salvation, by a crucified Christ; and the preaching of such a Gospel, and bringing such news, make their "feet beautiful": one should have thought rather their lips than their feet would be took notice of; the reason of this is, partly because of the agreeableness of their walk and conversation to the doctrine they preach; and partly because of their readiness to preach it everywhere, though they run the utmost risk in so doing; and also because of their swiftness, particularly of the apostles, in going through the cities of Israel, and running over the Gentile world with the Gospel of peace, in so short a time as they did; and more especially because of the acceptableness of their message, with which they were sent and ran; see 2 Samuel 18:27. And so this passage is pertinently alleged to prove, that mission is necessary to preaching; since these words declare the character of Gospel ministers, as publishers of peace, and messengers of good tidings; and express the message itself, and the nature of it; both which suppose them to be sent by another, even the Lord, under whose authority, and by whose warrant they act; just as ambassadors, heralds, and messengers do, by virtue of a commission they receive from their prince.
(a) Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 11. 4. (b) Vajikra Rabba Parash, c. 9. fol. 153. 2. Perek Shalom, fol. 20. 1.((c) Raziel, fol. 23. 2.((d) Menasseh ben Israel Nishmath Chayim, fol. 41. 2.
for Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report; or "our hearing", agreeably to the Hebrew word in Isaiah 53:1, and which designs not the "hearing" with which the apostles heard Christ, though what they heard from him, they made known to men; but the hearing, or the word heard, which others had from them, namely, the report they made in their ministry, of the person and grace of Christ, which was disregarded, when the arm and power of the Lord were not, revealed and exerted: this was the case of the Jews in Isaiah's time, and the same in the times of Christ and his apostles, and is always the case, when divine power does not attend the preaching of the Gospel.
and hearing by the word of God; or "of Christ", as some copies read, and so do the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions; and intends either the holy Scriptures, which have God for their author, and Christ for the subject of them; and which furnish the men of God, or ministers of the Gospel, with proper materials to preach; and so hearing or preaching is by them, or else the command of God or Christ, which more properly signifies; and the sense is, that men preach the Gospel in obedience to the commandment of the everlasting God, and according to the orders, mission, and commission, warrant and authority, of the Lord Jesus Christ: and so these words are the conclusion, and sum of the whole; that as invocation is owing to faith, so faith to hearing, hearing to preaching, preaching to a mission; whence it follows, that it is the original will of God, to send forth his apostles and ministers, to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, as well as to the Jews; that they hearing might believe, and believing call upon the Lord, and so be saved by him: it is a saying of the Jews, , "hearing depends upon the word" (e).
(e) Zohar in Deut. fol. 110. 3.
yes, verily: which the Arabic renders just the reverse, "no", or "not at all, notwithstanding their sound went into all the earth"; and so makes this an aggravation of their stupidity, and obstinate rejection of the Gospel, that they would not hear it, though its sound reached every place; but the answer is in the affirmative, they did hear. The Jews heard the Gospel in the times of Isaiah, and other prophets, though they disbelieved the report of it; they heard it from John the Baptist, and were pleased with his ministry for a while; yea, they heard Christ himself preach it, who spake as never man did, with power and authority, as the Scribes did not, and wondered at his gracious words; they heard the apostles of Christ, who for some time were limited in their ministry to them only, and after their commission was enlarged, were ordered to preach first to them; so that they could not say they had not heard it, and they were left entirely inexcusable. The Gentiles also had heard it; the apostles were bid to go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature; and at a proper opportunity, they did as the Lord commanded them, and the Gentiles heard the Gospel with joy and pleasure; multitudes were converted everywhere, and churches raised through their ministry, according to the will of God; thus
their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world; the passage referred to is Psalm 19:4, which some here, as there, understand literally of the works of nature, the heavens, the firmament, the sun, moon and stars, proclaiming every where the being of God, his perfections, especially his wisdom, power, and goodness; so that the Gentiles were not without hearing of God, even whilst they were destitute of a divine revelation; which was a sort of a prelude of the after extensive spread of the Gospel among them: a voice, or sound, is ascribed to the inanimate creatures; and which is so loud, that it reaches to the end of the earth. There are three voices, the Jews say (f) which go "from one end of the world to the other"; and one of them is , "the voice of the orb of the sun": others understand these words of the law, of which many "encomiums" are given in the psalm from whence this passage is taken; and though it was delivered peculiarly to the people of the Jews, yet the fame of it reached the nations of the world, as Moses suggests it would, Deuteronomy 4:6; and the Jews say (g).
"that when the law was given to Israel, , "its voice went from one end of the world to the other".''
Or as it is better expressed by Philo (h), and almost in the words of this text,
"the fame of the laws which Moses left, is gone throughout all the world, unto the ends of the earth.''
But certain it is, that the apostle is speaking neither of the light of nature, nor the law of Moses, but of the preaching of the Gospel; and what the Psalmist, literally understood, says of the heavens, that the apostle in an allegorical and mystical sense, or by an argument from the lesser to the greater, or by way of allusion, applies to the apostles and ministers of the Gospel, the luminaries of the world, and stars of heaven; whose ministry, by this time, had reached the then known parts of the habitable world; as it was to do, before the destruction of Jerusalem, according to Christ's prediction, Matthew 24:14, and as the Apostle Paul testifies it had, Colossians 1:6, and in which he himself had a very considerable share, having preached the Gospel from Jerusalem, round about unto Illyricum. There is some little difference between the passage in the Psalms, and as cited or referred to by the apostle, who instead of "their line", reads "their sound"; which have made some suspect a corruption of the present Hebrew text, or a various reading; and that the Septuagint, followed by the apostle, used a copy which had not, "their line", but "their voice", and which was the true reading; but then how came the Chaldee paraphrase to render it by, "extension", and Aquila by "a canon", or "rule?" and besides, the Masora observes, that this word is no where else read, which is not true of for that often occurs; to which may be added, had this been the reading, the Septuagint would have rendered it most probably, as they do elsewhere, by "voice", and not "sound": but for the reconciliation of this let it be observed, that the Hebrew word signifies a rule, or plummet, or such a line as builders use in their work, as a direction to them, hence Kimchi (i) explains it by "their building"; and so it may signify any rule, or direction, whether given by writing, and so Aben Ezra (k) interprets it by "writing", or by word of mouth; besides, the carpenter's line, when stretched out, and remitted upon the timber, makes a sound, and hence the word might be used for one: all this agrees with the ministry of the apostles, who were builders; and as they worked by a line and rule themselves, so they gave out rules and directions to others, both by writing and preaching, both which reached far and near; this the apostle seems to allude to, in 2 Corinthians 10:13, where he speaks of the measure, line, and rule of their ministry, which reached to Corinth and further, without going into another man's line: moreover, that great Oriental critic, and our countryman, Mr. Pocock (l), has shown from the use of the word in the Arabic language, that the word in the Psalms may signify a loud cry, or noise, as well as a line, or rule; so that the psalmist and the apostle may be easily reconciled.
(f) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 20. 2.((g) T. Bab. Zebachim, fol. 116. 1.((h) De Vita Mosis, l. 1. p. 657. (i) In Psal. xix. 4. (k) In ib. (l) Not. in Portam Mosis, c. 4. p. 48, &c.
first Moses saith; not "Moses the first", as if there was another, or a second Moses, but either Moses, who is the first of the inspired writers, and chief of the prophets; or rather this regards order of time, Moses in the first place says so and so, for other testimonies are after cited; the passage in Moses referred to, is Deuteronomy 32:21.
I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. The Gentiles are here designed by "them that are no people": who before God, and in his sight, as all nations are, were as a drop of the bucket, as the small dust of the balance: nay, even as nothing, yea, less than nothing and vanity: likewise they were no people of any account, of any name; they were mean and contemptible, neglected and overlooked by God himself, and treated with contempt by the Jews, his professing people: and besides, they were not as yet openly and visibly the people of God; they neither called upon his name, nor were they called by his name; he had not as yet taken from among them a people for his name: these are also meant by "the foolish nation"; Jarchi (m) says, the Cuthites, or Samaritans, are intended; who were neighbours to the Jews, and greatly hated by them: but it may more rightly be applied to all the Gentiles in general, who notwithstanding their large pretensions to natural, civil, and moral wisdom, yet being without a true knowledge of God, Christ, and the Gospel, were a foolish people; and in nothing more did their folly appear, than in their idolatry and superstition. Now the Lord threatened by these people to provoke the Jews to jealousy, and to anger them; and this was but just, and by way of retaliation; for since they provoked him to jealousy and anger, by worshipping strange gods, which plainly declared their want of faith in him, affection for him, and their departure from him; it was a righteous thing in him to provoke them to jealousy of him, as if he had no affection for them, who had been so long, in some sense, an husband to them all; and as about to cast them off; and to anger them, by sending his Gospel among the Gentiles, and calling them by his grace, and making them partakers of his special favours; whereby this prophecy had its full accomplishment: for though the Jews rejected and despised the Gospel themselves, yet nothing more provoked them than that it should be carried among the Gentiles; see Acts 22:21. Now from these words of Moses, the Israelites must needs know, they could not but know that it was the will of God to call the Gentiles, and reject them.
(m) In Deuteronomy 32.21.
I was found of them that sought me not, I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me; here also the Gentiles are meant by "them that sought me not, and asked not after me"; the Messiah; and so R. Moses the priest says (n), that these words are to be understood, , "concerning the nations of the world". The common people among them sought after the things of the world; their philosophers sought after the wisdom of it; and the more devout and religious among them sought the observance of superstitious rites and ceremonies, and, at best and most, a little morality and external righteousness; but none sought after Christ, for they knew nothing of him, and therefore did not so much as ask after him; they did not ask counsel of him, nor ask concerning him, nor ask for him; not for his coming into the world, as the Jews did, nor for the preaching of the Gospel among them, for it came among them unasked for, unexpected, and undesired, as well as undeserved by them, nor for any blessing of his; and yet such was his grace and goodness, that he was "found" of these persons, in the preaching of the Gospel; which by his kind providence was brought among them, and they were brought under the hearing of it; and by the Spirit of God directed to him in it, in whom they found life, peace, pardon, righteousness, food, and rest, and every valuable blessing; a pearl of great price they found, a finding which can never be lost: he is also said to be "made manifest" unto them, not in the flesh, but in the ministry of the word; in which his person, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, are evidently set forth, and clearly manifested; and besides the outward manifestation of Christ to them by the Gospel, they had no internal revelation of him in their hearts by his Spirit, setting forth to them his grace and fulness, and showing them their interest therein: from this prophecy, also, the Jews could not but have some knowledge of this mystery of grace.
(n) In Aben Ezra in Isaiah 65.1.