I want you to notice these words, “The just shall live by faith.” If you want to know what it was for a Jew in those days to live by faith, read Habakkuk 3:17–19. That is a fine example of it.
This verse is quoted three times in the New Testament, and I believe each time the emphasis should be on different words.
Look at Romans 1:17. Gentiles, not Jews, are addressed here. The whole point of the Epistle to the Romans is justification. God is the justifier of all who believe on Jesus, and although once dead in trespasses and sins, yet through the blood of Christ, God can now justify them, and they are looked upon as “the just.” So the stress here should be on the first two words “The just shall live by faith.”
Now turn to Galatians 3:2. Here the great controversy is between “law” and “faith.” The apostle mentions both words in this verse, and he is seeking to teach them that the motive power for our walk is faith, not the bondage of the law; so we read, “The just shall live by faith.”
LiveIn Hebrews 10:38 we find the same words, but this time as showing what the practical effect should be in our daily lives. We are to “live by faith.” The just must put his faith into practice and “live by” it. In the succeeding chapter we have illustrations of this, showing how different men under varied circumstances did “live by faith.” Some were very long lives, with little of faith recorded, perhaps little to record, but the Holy Spirit notices and approves what was there. Then, in Hebrews 12:2, He directs their gaze to heaven, to One who did not exhibit this faith by occasional paroxysms, but who “began” and “finished” in faith. Blessed Savior! Well may the writer say, “Looking unto Jesus…consider Him.”
What a wonderful book this Bible is. The Holy Spirit speaking through different channels and speaking the same words, but in each case teaching us varied lessons and attracting us, by contrast, to Christ.