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The Deuteronomy text clearly states that

“…the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day” (Deuteronomy 6:24)

and that

“…it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us” (6:25) KJV.

However, the apostle Paul says that

“For they [those to whom Moses spoke – the physical nation of Israel] being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Romans 10:3-4).

Is there anything in the Deuteronomy text that justifies Paul’s inference (Romans 10:4) that the righteousness promised (Deuteronomy 6:25) through law keeping, actually pointed forward to a righteousness obtainable by faith alone?

Note: I appreciate the edit, in order to make it more understandable, but note that however the above reads, I am not making a comment that Paul is making a commentary on Moses, but I am making a comparison between the two passages.

KJV unless otherwise noted.

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    Is it right that somebody can down vote without giving a reason? Is this not like being accused without the accuser identifying himself/herself nor identifying the reason why?
    – ninamag
    Aug 7 '17 at 7:09
  • Please remove the [hold] designation, as this question is not off-topic, even the way it has been and hereby re-worded.
    – ninamag
    Aug 7 '17 at 9:20
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    Yes, the voting system is deliberately anonymous. It isn't primarily to help you as to help other site visitors find useful content. This is covered at length in various discussions on Biblical Hermeneutics Meta if you are interested in the rational.
    – Caleb
    Aug 7 '17 at 10:26
  • 1
    Note the first version of this was definitely off-topic. If you want to know something about a particular perspective Christianity might be a better site to ask on. The edits might have changed this from off-topic to sort of on-topic for this site, but the current form of this question is very confusing (which might explain the downvotes!). It's like a patchwork of phrases. I would edit it to layout the background for asking, the verse, and the question about the verse more clearly. When it's cleaned up a bit I'm sure you'll get some people to vote to re-open.
    – Caleb
    Aug 7 '17 at 10:29
  • Can the [on hold] designation be now removed?
    – ninamag
    Aug 9 '17 at 18:22
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Deuteronomy is “full disclosure” from God. It speaks both to obedience and its consequences and disobedience and its consequences. There are blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience:

…And you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to take possession of it. “And the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known. (Deuteronomy 28:63-64) [ESV]

Historically, the disobedience Moses predicted and the consequences happened. However, this raises a new question: what righteousness is available to people who were disobedient and suffer the consequences? Is there any hope for them?

The Greek translation (LXX) of Deuteronomy interprets 6:25 different than the literal text:

If we are watchful to perform all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, there will also be mercy for us." (Deuteronomy 6:25 NETS)

καὶ ἐλεημοσύνη ἔσται ἡμῖν ἐὰν φυλασσώμεθα ποιεῖν πάσας τὰς ἐντολὰς ταύτας ἐναντίον κυρίου τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καθὰ ἐνετείλατο ἡμῖν κύριος

And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us.' (Deuteronomy 6:25)

וּצְדָקָה תִּֽהְיֶה־לָּנוּ כִּֽי־נִשְׁמֹר לַעֲשֹׂות אֶת־כָּל־הַמִּצְוָה הַזֹּאת לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּֽנוּ׃ ס

The LXX translator(s) understood the Hebrew term וּצְדָקָ֖ה which means righteousness as ἐλεημοσύνη which means "mercy, pity, especially as exhibited in giving alms, charity; the benefaction itself, a donation to the poor, alms."

The Hebrew text is “righteousness.” However, it is obvious from the LXX, Hebrew scholars before the Christian era already interpreted Deuteronomy 6:25 differently. Most likely the failure of the nation to obey the Law which led to the scattering (fulfilling Deuteronomy 28), led them to understand righteousness as mercy.

This is what Paul states:

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (1:17)

For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” (4:3)

Inherent in the Hebrew text of Deuteronomy is the concept man, obedient or not, being made righteous by God. Essentially, it requires faith to believe God will make a sinful man righteous under any circumstances; thus the righteousness of God is always from the mercy of God. One living after the consequences of disobedience, still attempts to be obedient but in the mercy of God with the continued hope for the righteousness of God (by faith), which in reality, was the start of the obedience/disobedience cycle.

Paul did not change Deuteronomy. Just like the LXX translator(s), he made explicit what is implicit in the concept of righteousness from God. The advantage for Paul is the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ Jesus which leads to the belief Christ was the end of the cycle. Man can now put their faith in the tangible evidence of God's righteousness and His mercy.

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  • That's a very interesting observation. However it is notable to me that Paul did not avail himself of the LXX but instead translated the Hebrew when he seems to more often reference only the LXX! Either that or, perhaps more likely, his LXX had diskaiasunh/righteousness. Either way it seems Paul avoided the opportunity to suggest that the textual and language issues of "righteousness" vs "mercy" were his concern at the moment. +1 for a very useful and interesting post but I don't personally think it provides the answer to the current issue.
    – Ruminator
    Aug 4 '18 at 13:55
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Using the methods of sensus plenior (where the whole of scripture is the context); look at the pronouns the Hebrews used in referring to righteousness:

Paul refers to Deuteronomy with the commentary: "and going about to establish their own righteousness,"

“…it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us” (6:25) KJV.

No doubt God gave them the law... but where does it say that keeping the law would establish their righteousness? That is their claim, and it was a mistaken purpose in their minds from the beginning.

Paul identifies that they were ignorant of God's righteousness based on their misapplication of the law. Keeping the law does not make one righteous.

The reason all our works are as filthy rags is because they are our works.

Isa 64:6 ¶ But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses [are] as filthy rags;...

What does it mean to be ignorant? It means to not know or perceive something. Some think that Paul needs more evidence of their ignorance than has been provided.

Read Heb 11..by faith... by faith... by faith... Not "by knowledge!" Heb 11:39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

They did not have a knowledge that God would be righteous (do a good work by keeping his promise) they had faith.

They proclaimed God to be righteous..BY FAITH! They did not have a knowledge of his righteousness according to the reason used by Paul in Romans (and I believe him to be the author) and in Hebrews.

It is irrational to expect that the NT authors merely parroted scripture, though they certainly quoted it sometimes. They digested what it said and taught what it meant.

Paul says that of "all the leading figures of the faith and proponents of the Law of the Lord " none had received the promise. None had a knowledge. They were ignorant, though filled with FAITH.

All one needs to do to invalidate the premise is to show that the leading figures had obtained the promises of the cross.

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  • It sounds plausible except for the fact that you took the comments of Paul, who was referring to the people of his day, and misapplied Paul's comments to the people in Moses' day (a gap of about 1,000 years). Does the New Testament teach you that Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, and all the leading figures of the faith and proponents of the Law of the Lord ... "were ignorant of God's righteousness" as you seem to preach or believe?
    – ninamag
    Sep 12 '17 at 5:41
  • "Paul preached from the OT and was validated by the Bereans." The Bereans validated what Paul preached through the lens of the Hebrew Scriptures. In other words, Paul could not have preached anything that would violate the Hebrew Scriptures. Therefore, where in the Hebrew Scriptures does it say, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, and all the leading figures of the faith and proponents of the Law of the Lord ... "were ignorant of God's righteousness" as you seem to preach or believe?
    – ninamag
    Sep 13 '17 at 14:43
  • @Bob_Jones, how does asking you to clarify your own statement (in regards to "Paul preached from the OT and was validated by the Bereans.") "ad hominem attacks"? (Is this also the same reason, whatever that might be, that I am not allowed to post a new question in this hermeneutics.stackexchange.com?)
    – ninamag
    Sep 28 '17 at 4:26
  • This is funny. When you wrote, "ad hominem attacks are not warranted or welcomed", I thought you were referring to the Apostle Paul, that I was attacking him. It never came across to me to attack you. And my comments about "as you seem to preach or believe" is just that. I would be happy or take it neutrally if you were to tell that to me. What I really would like to know, because I am not allowed to post here, even before you posted an answer, is my query about the very words you wrote:
    – ninamag
    Sep 30 '17 at 18:54
  • "Paul preached from the OT and was validated by the Bereans." The Bereans validated what Paul preached through the lens of the Hebrew Scriptures. In other words, Paul could not have preached anything that would violate the Hebrew Scriptures. Therefore, where in the Hebrew Scriptures does it say, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, and all the leading figures of the faith and proponents of the Law of the Lord ... "were ignorant of God's righteousness"?
    – ninamag
    Sep 30 '17 at 18:55
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Deut 18:18 promised of the Messiah, but these are very indirect references and not like specific thing you are asking. Biblical interpretation are not based on proof text that you should find exact backing for Paul's arguments in Deuteronomy. However, his arguments about justification by faith (not faith alone) are used from the Genesis promise to Abraham, the Messianic promise and prophecies.

See Galatians 2-3 and Romans 4 onwards, the arguments and references appealing to justification or righteousness by faith, that Abraham received, even though the prophets later prophesied of the Messiah in about the new covenant of Spirit and heart- as opposed to the Writing (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:8-13), Paul appealed to the Torah for proving his points.

[NHEB Galatians 3:6-9] (6) Even as Abraham "believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness." (7) Know therefore that those who are of faith, the same are children of Abraham. (8) The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the Good News beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you all the nations will be blessed." (9) So then, those who are of faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham.

[NHEB Romans 4:13-15] (13) For the promise to Abraham and to his seed that he should be heir of the world was not through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. (14) For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void, and the promise is made of no effect. (15) For the law works wrath, for where there is no law, neither is there disobedience.

The point of Rom 10:3-5 is that Israelites in rejecting the Messiah who ended the law based righteousness, have failed God. The righteousness that God requires is faith in the Messiah. Righteousness is no longer by works (Romans 11:6), God has graciously given the sacrifice of his Son the Messiah, so if righteousness could still be obtained by Torah works, then the Messiah wouldn't have to come. (Galatians 2:21, 3:21). Paul is not inferring from Rom 10:4 that a particular verse in Deut points out to the faith or grace covenant, but there are many other references used that overall proves his point. The law was our guardian, restricting the grace covenant of Messiah until he arrives. Also, note that Paul doesn't teach faith-alone as if without any obedience to God. He commands to fulfill the law of Christ, the law of God. Law righteousness and Grace righteousness are mutually exclusive; because there is a change of the covenant. A superior covenant higher than Moses (Hebrews 7:12-19).

[ESV Galatians 3:21-24] (21) Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. (22) But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. (23) Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. (24) So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.

Related: - How to save Paul from the Galatians 3 "seed" vs "seeds" argument blunder?

"What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!" - what is meant by sin in the context of Romans 6:15?

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