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Salvation by Faith, Not by the Law

Salvation by Faith, Not by the Law

Excerpt
The first part of Deuteronomy 30:12 is Who will ascend into heaven? Paul interprets this as to bring Christ down (= “that is, the incarnation”). Paul’s use of that is is similar to Qumran’s pesher interpretation (so Cranfield 1979; Wilckens 1980; Fitzmyer 1993b), in which the Old Testament text is made to fit a contemporary situation. Paul’s is somewhat different in that he does not view this as the actual meaning of the Old Testament text (as Qumran did) but is applying the Deuteronomy quote to Christ and to the issue of justification by faith (so Moo 1996). Ascending into heaven is an impossible quest. Moses meant that one did not have to climb up to heaven or cross the sea to obey the law. Paul is saying that one does not have to go to heaven to bring Christ down to earth so he can provide salvation to humankind. God has already done that for them. The incarnation is God’s grace gift; it can never be the product of human achievement.
In the second instance, Paul alters Deuteronomy’s “Who will cross the sea?” to Who will descend into the deep? (literally “abyss”). Some think Paul substitutes Psalm 107:26 (“went down to the depths”) for Deuteronomy 30:13 (Cranfield 1979; Fitzmyer 1993b), but it is better to realize that sea and abyss were interchangeable (the “abyss” was the unfathomable depths of the sea) and that Paul simply substitutes the one for the other (so Dunn 1988b; Moo 1996; Schreiner 1998). This of course fits the point that it is just as impossible to “go down to the abyss” (namely the grave) in order to bring Christ up from the dead as it is to ascend to… More
Osborne, Grant R. Romans. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004. Print. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series.
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