Romans, Part 38

For Moses writes about the righteousness that is by the law, Paul continued.  “The one who does these things will live by them.”  But the righteousness that is by faith says:Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) or “Who will descend into the abyss?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).  But what does it say?  “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart(that is, the word of faith that we preach)[1]

I have already gone into this in some detail elsewhere, when it seemed appropriate to understand Paul’s rhetorical question: If some did not believe, does their unbelief nullify the faithfulness of God?[2]  Here I will simply point out the recurring pattern.  The righteousness that is by the law is an external code of conduct forced upon the sinful flesh of Adam.  There are rewards for compliance, and threats of violence and death for noncompliance.  The righteousness that is by faith wells up from the Holy Spirit and communes intimately with the spirit born from above, so intimately that this righteousness seems like that spirit’s own idea and longing.

Paul continued, because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord[3]  There is a note in the NET here: “Or ‘the Lord.’  The Greek construction, along with the quotation from Joel 2:32 in v. 13 (in which the same ‘Lord’ seems to be in view) suggests that κύριον (kurion) is to be taken as ‘the Lord,’ that is, Yahweh…”  Jesus was quite clear on the subject, saying, I tell you the solemn truth, before Abraham came into existence, I am![4]

Paul continued, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (σωθήσῃ, a form of σώζω).[5]  What this salvation is substantively is the righteousness that is by faith, a righteousness that comes from God through his Holy Spirit.  When Peter defended his actions with Cornelius, he said, He informed us how he had seen an angel standing in his house and saying, “Send to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter, who will speak a message (ρήματα, a form of ῥῆμα)[6] to you by which you and your entire household will be saved (σωθήσῃ, a form of σώζω).”  Then as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as he did on us at the beginning.  And I remembered the word (ρήματος, another form of ῥῆμα) of the Lord, as he used to say, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”[7]

For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness, Paul continued, and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation.[8]  This translation is a little confusing.  It sounds like one possesses two different things by two different means:  1) my heart believes and thus has righteousness and 2) my mouth confesses and thus has salvation.  But the Greek word ἔχω[9] (to have, to hold) is not found in the text.  The actual word is εἰς[10] (into, unto): For with the heart one believes unto (εἰς) righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto (εἰς) salvation.[11]

I did not believe once upon a time and thus possess righteousness.  I did not confess once upon a time and thus possess salvation.  I believe and confess daily that I am utterly dependent on Christ’s righteousness and faithfulness.  Give us today our daily bread[12] of this new life, the fruit of your Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.[13]  What is our belief and confession (Titus 3:3-6 NET)?

For we too were once foolish, disobedient, misled, enslaved to various passions and desires, spending our lives in evil and envy, hateful and hating one another.  But “when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved (ἔσωσεν, another form of σώζω) us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

“And so, since we have been justified by his grace, since we are experiencing this salvation, this righteousness by faith (through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit),[14] we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life.”[15]  Now having written that “we are experiencing this salvation, this righteousness by faith,” I certainly don’t mean that “our experience” is a 100% accurate translation of Christ’s righteousness.  When it came to his bout with coveting Paul wrote, For I want (θέλειν, a form of θέλω)[16] to do the good, but I cannot do it (literally, For to wish is present in/with me, but not to do it).[17]  Still, he recognized that this desire was from God and not from himself or his own righteousness by the law, for the one bringing forth in you both the desire (θέλειν, a form of θέλω) and the effort – for the sake of his good pleasure – is God.[18]

For the scripture says, Paul continued in Romans, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”  For there is no distinction between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all, who richly blesses all who call on him.  For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (σωθήσεται, another form of σώζω).[19]


[1] Romans 10:5-8 (NET)

[2] Romans 3:3 (NET)

[3] Romans 10:9a (NET)

[5] Romans 10:9b (NET)

[7] Acts 11:13-16 (NET)

[8] Romans 10:10 (NET)

[11] Romans 10:10 (NKJV)

[13] Galatians 2:22, 23 (NET)

[14] Titus 3:5b (NET)

[15] Titus 3:7 (NET)

[17] Romans 7:18b (NET)

[18] Philippians 2:13 (NET)

[19] Romans 10:11-13 (NET)