Are You Grafted In? Part 2: Paul’s ‘Law of Righteousness’

Romans 11:19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”

Before you proceed any further, I highly recommend reading ‘Part 1: Not My People’ so that you can understand exactly who Paul is talking to, and why. We’re going through Chapters 9 & 10 in order to clarify context before we get into the Chapter 11 “Grafted-in” discourse.

In short, those ‘among the gentiles/nations’ that Paul was addressing in Romans 9 are the “Lost Sheep of the House of Israel”; the “Not My People” that have now become “My People”, from the Book of Hosea.

Paul told us that his heart was for “his brothers/Judah”. His desire was for them to come to the knowledge and belief that Jesus is the Messiah.

Now, picking up where Part 1 left off, we read in Romans 9:30 Paul discussing the Law that Israel pursued. He is going to explain the proper ‘way’ to pursue the Law and its goal’.

What does the text say?

Romans 9:30-32 30What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law.

First, please take note that ‘the Law that Israel followed after’, Paul himself calls “the Law of Righteousness”. This is exactly how the Greek reads in Romans 9:31.

Secondly, Paul does not say that Israel shouldn’t have followed after “the Law of Righteousness”; he states their error was that they did not seek it by way of faith! Therefore, according to the Apostle Paul, the Law that Israel followed after, “the Law of Righteousness”, should be pursued ‘from faith’; not for salvation or justification but for righteousness. That’s precisely why Paul calls it the “Law of Righteousness”. Please read ‘Justification vs. Righteousness’.

How does Paul understand “the Law of Moses” to be “the Law of Righteousness”?

What does the text say? ~

Deuteronomy 6:25 And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as He has commanded us.

Psalm 119:172 My song sings of Your word, for all of Your commandments are righteousness

Isaiah 51:7 Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law;

Romans 2:13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be righteous.

Romans 6:16 16Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

In Romans 9:30 above, we have the words “of faith” and in verse 32 the words “by faith”. However, in the Greek, Paul uses the same words both times; “ἐκ πίστεως”.

The word ἐκ/ ek is Strong’s G1537, and Thayer’s Greek Lexicon states this to mean: “from out of, out from, forth from, from”; a preposition denoting ‘origin’. “ἐκ/ ek” (“out of”) is one of the most under-translated (and therefore mis-translated) Greek prepositions. It is often confined to the meaning/translation “by”. 1537 (ek) has a two-layered meaning (‘out from’ and ‘to’) which makes it out-come oriented (out of the depths of the source and extending to its impact on the object).

The word πίστεως/ pisteōs, Strong’s G4102, which Thayer’s Greek Lexicon states to mean: “1.) conviction of the truth of anything, belief; 2.) fidelity, faithfulness”.

“ἐκ πίστεως” is then better stated into English as ‘forth from faith’ or ‘from out of faith’.

The source of pursuing the “Law of Righteousness” should come forth from ‘conviction of truth, belief and faithfulness’; at least according to the apostle Paul!

As Paul stated, the error of the Israelites of his day was that they did not pursue the Law of Mosesout of faith’; this is nothing new.

What does the text say?

Hebrews 3:16-19, 4:2 16For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief2For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

The writer of Hebrews is teaching us that the Israelites, that came out of Egypt and received the Law of God given through Moses, did not enter the Promised Land because of unbelief”. Then, 2 verses later this is restated as: the “Word” preached to them did not benefit them because it was “not mixed with faith”. [Did you notice how the writer of Hebrews equates ‘disobedience’ in verse 18 with ‘unbelief’ in verse 19?]

In Hebrews 3:19 the word “unbelief” is ἀπιστίαν/apistian, Strong’s G570, and is a cognate of πίστεως/ pisteōs. It is the ‘negative’ form of pisteōs, and Thayer’s Lexicon states this to mean: “1.) unfaithfulness, faithlessness (of persons betraying a trust); 2.) want of faith, unbelief: shown in withholding belief in the divine power”. This is exactly what Hebrews 4:2 reiterates; the Israelites did not mix the Word of God with faith.

In Romans 9:31-32, Paul is telling us that his brothers in Judea, followed/pursued ‘the Law of Righteousness’, but did not do it out of faith. Just like the Israelites at Mt. Zion, who did not follow the Word of God ‘out of faith’, Paul’s Judean brethren have committed the same error.

New generation, same problem…

In verse 32 Paul rhetorically asks “why” they did not attain the “Law of Righteousness”. He then tells us exactly why ~

Romans 9:32-33 32Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. 33As it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, and whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

The Israelites failed, not because they “pursued the Law”, but because they did not pursue it ‘out of faith’.  Paul says the reason they did not have faith was because they stumbled. Paul equates ‘stumbling over the stumbling stone’ with ‘pursuing the Law without faith’. Without ‘faith’ (conviction of truth and faithfulness), they rested on their own ‘works’. Paul expounds that they stumbled over a “rock of offense” and then quotes the prophets Isaiah and David ~

Isaiah 8:13-15 13But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear and let him be your dread. 14And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.”

Isaiah 28:16 therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’

Psalm 118:20-23 20This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it. 21I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. 22The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. 23This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.

What does a contemporary of Paul’s have to say regarding the stumbling stone”?

1 Peter 2:4,6-8 As you come to him (Jesus), a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious… 6For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 7So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.”

Peter blatantly describes ‘Jesus’ as the stone of stumbling ~

Act 4:11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. {Jesus proclaimed this of himself in Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10,11; Luke 20:17}

The Israelites in Judea, that Paul is referring to in Romans 9:32, perceived that the source of arriving at the Law of Righteousness was their own accomplishments/works. They thought the goal of the Law was their works. Paul tells us here in Romans 9 that they failed, not because they pursued “the Law of Righteousness”, but they failed because they pursued it without the source being faith. They did not have that faith because they stumbled over the rock of offense which is the Messiah; so-says-Paul.

Paul quotes Isaiah, and specifically chapter 8 for a very good reason; he’s tying together this correlation of the ‘scattered House of Israel’ that are ‘among the gentiles’, with the Messiah and the Law.

Isaiah is being told about the imminent overthrow of the House of Israel by Assyria because they have violated God’s covenant and His Law. He is proclaiming that because of their ‘arrogant self-righteousness’, the Northern Kingdom, Ephraim (the House of Israel) is going to be conquered, captured and scattered among the nations/gentiles by Assyria; but a remnant will return.

In Part 1 of ‘Are You Gathered In?’, ‘Not My People’, we saw that Paul quoted Isaiah about the remnant of Israel. Now we have Paul quoting the prophet Isaiah again, just a few verses later in Romans 9:33, and it is in direct context to those in Judea who are not keeping the Law of Righteousness out of faith.

Isaiah 8:13-15 13But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. 14And He will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.”

The LORD of hosts declares, He Himself will become a “Sanctuary” and a “Rock of Stumbling” to both Houses of Israel.

Here is a synopsis of Isaiah, chapters 5 through 8 as it pertains to what Paul is telling us in Romans 9 & 10:

  • Isaiah 5 states: The House of Israel rejected the Law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the Word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore, the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people.
  • Isaiah 6 states: Israel hears but doesn’t understand, sees but does not perceive.
  • Isaiah 7 states: A ‘sign’ from the LORD Himself is given, that is the Prophecy of the virgin birth of “Immanuel”, which means “God with us” (He Himself).
  • Isaiah 8 states: The prophecy that “Immanuel” would become a Sanctuary and a Stone of Offense and a Rock of Stumbling to both houses of Israel.

In the next four verses, Romans 10:1-4, Paul ties together Law and faith. Please remember, this is a letter. Paul did not put chapter breaks in his hand-written letter to those in Rome. The context of “Chapter 10” is a continuation of where “Chapter 9” left off.

In Romans 10:1 Paul restates that his heart is broken for his non-believing brothers in Judea. They had no ‘belief’ in the Messiah, their “God-with-us“. The ‘source of their belief’ was their own works. Then in verse 2 Paul states that they have ‘Zeal’ for God, which is good, but they lack a critical element; Knowledge ~

Romans 10:2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.

Now, what does Paul define as the origin or source of “Knowledge”?

  • Romans 2:20 having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—

Verse 3 then tells us pointblank, that they were ignorant of God’s Righteousness, in the very next sentence after he tells us they did not possess ‘knowledge’ (The Law of God). Paul then states, they desired and sought to establish their own righteousness, not willing to “submit” to God’s righteousness ~

Romans 10:2,3 2For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.

These Brothers of Paul sought to bypass God’s Righteousness to establish their own. They had so many man-made rules they thought superseded the Law of Moses, the had become ignorant of the set-apart Righteousness of God’s Law. By establishing their own man-made works, they did not submit to God’s Law.

We’re told about this numerous times, most notably by God Himself in ‘Mark’ ~

Mark 7:9,10 9And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10For Moses said…

Now for the kicker.

When Paul says in Romans 10:3 that they “did not submit to God’s Righteousness”, what should they have been submitting to? I’ll give you one guess… Verse 4 tells us ~

Romans 10:4 The goal therefore of the Law is Christ into righteousness for all those believing.

The study of verse 4 is extensive in ‘Is Christ the End-ing of the Law?’; and now, in context with the surrounding verses, it is clarified.

If this rendition of Romans 10:4 doesn’t sound familiar, it’s because we have been lied to! The precise Greek translation has been kept from us; whether on purpose or out of ignorance, it’s still deception. If you take the time to read all of ‘Is Chris the End-ing of the Law?‘, and investigate for yourself the Greek Manuscripts, Concordances and Lexicons you will see this is so.

Final Thought: Remember, Paul did not say anywhere in his discourse that we should not obey “the Law of Righteousness” that Israel pursued, or that it was overthrown and abolished because faith was needed?

What does the text say?

Romans 3:31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Please! Read ‘Paul Commands Us to Uphold the Law’ to truly understand the Greek definitions of the words that Paul uses in Romans 3:31, as well as ‘why’ he makes this command.

Part 3 coming soon …

  • For further study of Paul’s teachings, as well as the original Greek, please see the blog posts at the bottom of this page. Be a Berean, and test Paul’s doctrines to the “Scriptures”. Please ‘share’ this study, and thank you for your time!
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