For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law…
1. There are two great streams of tendency at work on the ordering of human destinies. There is the current of things which makes for righteousness through the great universe, which is ultimately irresistible; and there lies in the mystery of human freedom the source of an effort and tendency which is ever striving against it, which brings men and human affairs into ceaseless collision with it, and which thereby fills the world with anguish and wreck. A new element is added to the anguish by the conflict which rages within man himself. The righteousness which reigns around has an awful witness within which cannot be silenced; and the inward protest is reinforced with terrible emphasis by all the misery with which unrighteousness never fails to chastise a people or a soul. Rest there cannot be while unrighteousness is regnant. The cry for righteousness is the strongest and most agonising cry of a man's awakened spirit. Till he has set himself with the stream, till he is borne up and on by the current, he cannot see even the beginning of peace.
2. There are mainly two methods in which the restoration seems feasible. There is the legal method which proceeds upon a strenuous effort of intellect and will to obey the commandment. "There stands the law against whose rigid breastwork you are constantly dashing; study, it, mark well its lines, keep within its borders, and live." This method is now in full vogue in our agnostic schools. Sin is mainly ignorance; throw fresh light on things, educate, and save. By all means, is the response of the gospel; still "one thing thou lackest" if thou wouldst be saved — faith, the principle of a living righteousness which satisfies God and satisfies the soul. The deepest principle of the Old Testament culture and discipline for man's spirit is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God," etc. Loving Him we shall love His righteousness. And that the love might be profound and mastering, God lived amongst us. Was light needed, His life flooded the world with it; was love needed, the love that endured the cross-bound man by its cords to the Sufferer's heart of hearts. Was sacrifice needed, He made His soul an offering for sin, and reconciled the Father and the sinner on the basis of the perfect Sacrifice, which presented the righteousness from which man had revolted and to which man must be restored, invested in the glorious beauty and splendour of ineffable and infinite love. To believe is to open the heart to this world of purifying, uplifting, saving influence. To believe is to establish a vital link by which warm currents of quickening energy pass between the living soul and the living Saviour; so that He lives in us by His Spirit, and we live in Him. The germ of His perfect righteousness by faith is within us; the full form of it will be developed as we grow into His likeness, behold His glory, and enter fully into the possession of His bliss.
(J. Baldwin Brown, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.