Studies in Galatians 5:5

“For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”

Notice, it is not that we wait for righteousness by faith. This is the free gift of God, always open to every soul in the world, and does not have to be waited for a moment. Rather, it waits, in the longsuffering of God, for men to awake to receive it.

The word is, We “wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” That is, righteousness by faith is the foundation of a “hope” not yet realized, but which is certain to be realized.

What, then, is this hope? —It is the inheritance promised to Abraham --the eternal inheritance, which none can receive except they have eternal life. And none can have eternal life—the life of God—who have not eternal righteousness—the righteousness of God.

This hope was referred to by Paul in his answer before King Agrippa: “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: unto which promises our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.” Acts 26:6, 7. The promise made of God unto the fathers was the promise to Abraham, which embraces the world, even the world to come. As it is written: “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Heb. 11:9, 10.

Paul said that it was for this “hope’s sake” that he was accused of the Jews, when he made his answer before King Agrippa. But before Paul was brought before Agrippa, he had also stood before Festus the governor; and before that, he had made answer before Felix the governor. And in his word before Felix, he said, I “have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” Acts 24:15.

But even before this, Paul had been obliged to stand before the Sanhedrin and answer; and there “he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.” Acts 23:6. Of the hope of the dead, and the resurrection of the dead; that is, even the dead have hope, if they be of the righteousness of faith; for it is written: “The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death.” Prov.14:32. Therefore again it is written: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” 1 Cor. 15:19. Not only in his life, but in his death, he who is in Christ has hope; and, being dead, his flesh rests in hope as did that of him in whom all the hope and promises of God are yea and amen.

The resurrection of the dead is an essential part of “the hope” which rests on righteousness by faith—this hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers. Indeed, the resurrection is the essential means of receiving “the hope.” For, though God promised to Abraham the land in which he sojourned, yet “he gave him none inheritance in it, no not so much as to set his foot on,” though “he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet ye had no child.” Acts 7:5.

And even at that time, the Lord taught Abraham that it was through the resurrection of the dead that he was to receive the inheritance. For, in his call to the offering of Isaac, in whom was called the promised “seed,” he was brought to the point wherein he accounted “that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” Heb. 11:19.

It was through the seed only that Abraham was to receive the promised inheritance. And thus, in his receiving that seed “from the dead,” “in a figure,” upon his accounting that God was able to raise him up even from the dead, he was taught that that inheritance was to come to him through the resurrection of the dead.

There is another bright element that enters into this hope, which is begotten by righteousness by faith. Without the coming of the Lord there can be no resurrection of the dead. For he said to his disciples: “Wither I go, ye cannot come” (John 13:33); but, “let not your heart be troubled . . . I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:1-3.

And so all the fathers, “having obtained a good report through faith, died in faith, not having received the promises,” God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” Heb. 11:39, 13, 40.

Therefore, “this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thess. 4:15-17.

Thus the second coming of the Lord is the crowning essential in “the hope of righteousness which is by faith.” We cannot have the inheritance without the righteousness of God. And even having the righteousness of God, we cannot receive the inheritance without the resurrection of the dead. And having the righteousness of God, and the hope of the resurrection of the dead, there cannot be the resurrection of the dead without the coming of the Lord in power and great glory.

Therefore, they who have the righteousness of God, which is by faith, are ever “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Titus 2:13.

And, so, it is the present truth forever that “we, through the Spirit, wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”

[Advent Review and Sabbath Herald | August 28, 1900]