Those who are elected to life in Christ shall be saved (John 6:37-40), but they shall be brought to repentance and faith by the means which God has appointed (2 Thess. 2:13; Mark 16:15, 16; 1 Cor. 1:21). It is on this ground that Paul wrote 2 Timothy 2:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:19-21. A belief in sovereign grace that destroys prayer for sinners, evangelistic and missionary zeal and a sincere invitation to all men to bow to the claims of Christ and receive him as Lord and Saviour is not of the Lord and is false doctrine!
(V. 1.) The Jews hated Paul and his gospel. They rejected the message of the cross, yet he expresses again and again his deep love for them and prays to God that they might be saved. We must never cease to pray for unbelievers and use God-ordained means to seek their conversion,
(V. 2.) These Jews were not atheists. They were religious. They had a zeal for the law and the ceremonies, but they were ignorant! They did not know the Father or the Son. They did not understand the spirituality nor the purpose of the law and the ceremonies. How often do we hear people say, "If,a man is sincere in his religion, his creed of no importance? This is not true! (John 17:3; Phil. 3:5-9).
(V. 3.) They were ignorant of the purity and holiness of God's law, and they were ignorant of the strictness of God's justice (Gal. 4:21; 3:10). They were trying to merit acceptance with God on the strength of their works, deeds and religious duties! Is not this a picture of our day?
They refused to submit to the true righteousness of God, which is Christ! Christ in the flesh, on the cross and in glory is our righteousness. The divine method of acceptance and justification requires nothing but to be submitted to or received (John 1:12; Eph. 1: 6). God does not require you to produce righteousness, but to receive it. God does not require you to produce life, but to receive life in Christ.
(V. 4.) There are several things suggested here.
1. The embracing of Christ for salvation means the end of the law as a method of justification. We abandon all hope in ourselves and look to Christ.
2. The goal of the law is to bring the sinner to Christ. This is the way it is given in Galatians 3:24, 25.
3. The law contained terms of life: "Do this and live." Christ is the end of those terms. We axe no longer under the law as a covenant or a curse.
(V. 5.) The righteousness of the law lies in doing perfectly all that the law requires not only in deed, but in thought, attitude and motive. The law requires not the best you can do, but the best God can do perfect love to God and to all his creatures, a perfect heart! This cannot be done by a fallen creature (Rom. 8:3).
(VV.6, 7.) The best help on these verses comes from John Brown: "Do not think that divine justification depends on something to be done by you or anyone else. There is no need to say "Who shall ascend to heaven to bring the Messiah down?' He has already come and performed the work for which he came. He has finished our righteousness and redemption. There is no need to say, "Who shall descend into the deep to bring him up from the grave?' He is risen! He h risen for our justification and intercedes for us. The gospel which reveals it tells you that they are all finished. The all-sufficient Saviour is to be believed and received."
(V. 8.) The righteousness of faith is the gospel which we preach to you. This is all you need to hear and believe. The gospel is in your mouth and in your heart, and this is explained in the next two verses.
(V. 9.) To confess Christ with the mouth is to make a sincere, hearty confession to God before men that Christ Jesus is our Prophet to reveal God, our Priest to atone for us, our Lord to reign over us! When this is our experience, we confess it in believer's baptism.
To believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead is to:
1. Believe that he came to this earth as "God in the flesh" (John 1:14).
2. Believe that he truly died on the cross for our sins (1 Peter 1:18, 19).
3. Believe that the sacrifice was effectual and sufficient, for God raised him from the dead (1 Cor. 15:13-22).
(V. 10.) The apostle explains the nature of faith. It does not lie in a bare mental assent or doctrinal position, but is a genuine heart work! It is a believing with the affections, the will and the understanding. It is to behold the Son in his glory, his fulness, his willingness and his sufficiency to save. Through this faith we are saved and we are justified (Eph. 2:8,9; 2 Tim. 1:12).