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©Dominic LaBelle

Chapter 10:5-13 (ESV)

Posted on January 06, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 10:5-13 (ESV) - For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on 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 proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Question to consider: What is necessary to receive righteousness based on the Law?

The big issue Paul had been addressing in this part of his letter to the Roman church was the persecution that was going on against Christians by the Jews out of jealousy that God has made even Gentiles righteous through Christ by faith. While they may have believed that people needed to become righteous through the Law, Paul pointed out in today’s passage that Moses wrote that in order to be righteous based on the Law, a person must live by it.

I think it is important to point out that Moses, the one who received the Law from God on the mountain, failed to enter the promised land because he transgressed God’s command by striking the rock that was to provide water to the people. It may not seem like something that should have kept him out of the land, but think of how much death and destruction has been caused because the first couple ate a piece of fruit. All sin has a penalty of death, and if the very one who received the Law failed to fully live by it, we must look to the righteousness based on faith.

To illuminate this, Paul appealed to Deuteronomy 30:11-14, “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”

Paul translates “over the sea” as abyss or “the depths” because the Jews believed the depths of the sea were equated with the realm of the dead. When God gave the ten words to Moses, it was implied that God also would provide the means to keep it. I often compare this to Christ’s word to the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda to pick up his mat and walk. Christ gave that command because He empowered the man’s legs to walk.

Paul is making a similar point here in saying that God’s word in Deuteronomy was near to the people through Christ, who came down out of heaven and who rose from the dead. Just as the word of Law was near to people’s hearts and tongues in their confession of it, so the word of faith through Christ is believed and confessed. When Paul confessed Jesus as “Lord” here, it is in the sense of the Hebrew Adonai which was used as a substitute for the name of God.

The same LORD who justifies the Jews, justifies Gentiles so that all who call upon the LORD will be saved.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for providing Your word of righteousness that we can receive by faith since we have all failed to live by Your word of righteousness through the Law. Thank You for giving us the promise of salvation to all who put their faith in the risen Christ. May Your word of promise be our assurance. Amen.