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Romans 10:6-10 - Exposition

But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart (in the original, It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say ) , Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down). The parenthesis is St. Paul's own; the original has, after "heaven," and bring it unto us, that we may hear it and do it? Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead). Again the parenthesis is St. Paul's; and he has substituted "into the deep" ( εἰς τὴν ἄβυσσον ) for " beyond the sea. " The original is, 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? But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart : that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that (or, because ) if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God 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 . The apostle's purpose in varying from the original is obvious from his interposed comments, and from the application that follows. It seems to be as though he had said, "See how, with a slight alteration, the passage in Deuteronomy becomes an exact description of our Christian doctrine." The most marked alteration is the substitution of "into the deep" for "beyond the sea." The "sea" in the original, to which the term "abyss" is applicable (cf. Job 28:14 ; Psalms 107:26 ), may have suggested the word; but St. Paul here evidently means by it the regions of the dead, imagined as subterranean, equivalent to the Hebrew Sheol, and the Greek ἅδης . For use of the word in this sense, cf. Psalms 71:20 , ἐκ τῶν ἀβύσσων τῆς γῆς πάλιν ἀνήγαγές με cf. also Luke 8:31 and Revelation 9:1 , Revelation 9:2 , Revelation 9:11 ; Revelation 11:7 ; Revelation 17:8 ; Revelation 20:1 , Revelation 20:3 ; in which passages ἡ ἄβυσσος seems to denote the penal abode, corresponding to the Greek idea of Tartarus; but the word itself does not contain this idea, which is by no means intimated here. It may be taken to denote Hades, into which Christ "descended." Some commentators suppose the previous expression, "ascend into heaven to bring Christ down," to mean bringing him back to earth from heaven, whither he has ascended now. But the mere fact of its coming first, as well as the general sense of the passage, shows it to refer rather to the Incarnation, and what follows to the Resurrection. These were the two grand stages in the great work of redemption; both were required that "the righteousness which is of faith" might effectually be brought "nigh unto us." The impossible task of effecting either was not required of man; God has done both for us, and we have but to "believe in our hearts," that "the word" of his grace may be nigh us, in our mouth and in our heart, that we may do it. Thus all that was intimated or foreshadowed by that old passage in Deuteronomy is in its fullest sense to us fulfilled. In verse 9 the applicability of the words, "in thy mouth, and in thine heart," to the gospel dispensation is shown; the two expressions, properly understood, denoting all that is required of us. Confession of the Lord Jesus with the mouth must be taken to express generally, not only fearless avowal of the Christian faith, but also consistent life, according to the full meaning of our Lord's words in Matthew 10:32 ; Mark 8:38 ; Luke 10:26 ; Luke 12:8 , etc. Confession of the Lord Jesus with the mouth, too, would have a peculiar significance then, when Christians were often so sorely tempted to deny him under persecution (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:3 ). We may observe also how "the mouth" is elsewhere regarded as the index of the heart; as the main bodily organ whereby character is evinced and expressed (cf. Matthew 12:34 , Matthew 12:37 ; Matthew 15:11 , etc.). Further, the belief spoken of is belief in the heart— a living operative faith, not intellectual conviction only. Nor is belief that God raised the Lord Jesus from the dead to be taken as meaning belief of this one article of the Creed alone; it carries with it belief in the gospel generally, the doctrine of the Resurrection being here, as elsewhere, regarded as the central doctrine on which all the rest depends (cf. I Corinthians Luke 15:17 ; 1 Peter 1:21 ). "Haec summa Evangelii est. Nam, cum credimus Christum excitatum esse e mortuis, credimus sum pro peccatis satisfecisse, et in coelis regnare, ut nos ad imaginem suam perficiat" (Bucer). In Luke 12:10 , where the offices of the heart and of the mouth are denoted in general terms, the distinction between "unto righteousness" with respect to the one, and "unto salvation" with respect to the other, is significant. By faith alone we are justified; but by confession in actual life, which is the fruit of faith, our salvation is secured.

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