Monday, February 17, 2014

Romans 10:5-10 - The Righteousness of the Torah


While mankind strives to obtain righteousness by deeds, the Torah specifies that righteousness can only come by trust. Messiah Yeshua and His righteousness is the goal of the Torah. Paul continued.

Romans 10:5-10 (KJV)
5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
6 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:)
7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
8 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;
9 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.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Paul began with a quote from Leviticus (verse 5).

Leviticus 18:5 (KJV)
5 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.

Traditional Christianity has believed that Paul was making a contrast between salvation by grace through faith and the Torah's supposed salvation by works. This makes Paul's phrase, "For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law," seem to be a negative. Man can never come up to God's righteousness by doing the works of the law. However, Paul's repetition of Leviticus 18:5 and its positive connotation about salvation (life) being found in the Torah must be used in the same way. Paul, too, was saying that there is life in the Torah! Repeatedly, Paul has shown that salvation has always been through faith, that the Torah has taught this very thing.

Verse 6 continues to apparently contrast faith and works by the unfortunate translation of the Greek "de" into the English "but." Rather, the context of verses 5 and 6 imply "moreover" or "furthermore" as a better translation of "de" (David Stern. Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, Clarksville, MD, 1992, pp. 397-8). In this case, verses 6 through 8a further explain verse 5, which comes from Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (KJV)
11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
12 It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.

The gist of both Deuteronomy 30:11-14 and Romans 10:6-8a is that mankind's effort to affect salvation is neither necessary or possible. God's grace has provided both Messiah and the Torah so that "Israel may 'hear...and do'" (Stern 400).

Verses 8b-10 describes the faith that Paul had been preaching. Although faith is initially a mental activity, it means nothing if it is not accompanied by confession (a willingness to be open and forthright about what is believed). In other words actions must be consistent with faith. Also, the object of faith in Yeshua is only viable if that faith includes the belief that God raised Messiah from the dead. The heart believes and the mouth confesses!


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