Eternal - The Righteousness of God Through Faith - Theological Themes






Key Word Spotlight


[righteousness of God] Grk: dikaiosyne theou; God’s way of putting people right with himself; the action of goodness and rightness resulting from the nature and character of God


[redemption] Grk: apolytroseos; to release or set free, with the implied analogy to the process of freeing one who is in bondage


[justified] Grk: dikaioumenoi; to be caused by Christ to be in proper or right relation with God; the act of being declared righteous before God by the atoning work of Jesus


[propitiation] Grk; hilasterion; the means by which sins are forgiven—‘the means of forgiveness, expiation; God's plan is that Christ himself is the means by which our sins are forgiven


[forebearance] Grk: anoche; to be patient with one or another, in the sense of enduring possible difficulty, setback, or obstacles


Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic version of the 2nd edition). New York: United Bible Societies.


Core Text - Interpretation and Meaning (Exegetic Process and Inductive Conclusions)


[3:21] But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-

According to 3:21 the righteousness of God has been made known, a [perfect tense/main clause]; this logically refers to the historical death of Christ and its abiding and eternal benefits or consequences. This verse is a progression from chapter 1:17, a righteousness from God is being revealed [a present tense] in the gospel, which would certainly mean whenever it is preached. The powerful influence of preaching and teaching the gospel.


By the choice of his opening words "but now" Paul introduced a sharp contrast with what preceded. He had just affirmed, “No one will be declared righteous in His [God’s] sight by simply observing the Law” (v. 20). This is now followed by the statement, "apart from the Law a righteousness from God… has been made known (i.e., made plain, made accessible)". This in essence repeats and advances the words of 1:17, "For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith (OC) for faith" (NC).

What Paul was introducing to us all about the righteousness of God was not foreign or in conflict to the Old Testament - but was absolutely in foretold fulfillment of it.


[3:22] the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:

In verse 22 Paul doubles down his announcement of the gospel by repeating the theological expression "righteousness of God", while adding two additional truths to it.


First - the righteousness of God comes through faith in Christ Jesus to all who believe.


Second - God's righteousness is offered to all because it is needed by all (both Jew and Gentile).


There is no difference between the two in this respect and context; and any prior privilege the Jews had become obsolete in an Age where God offers a righteous standing before Him to ALL sinful people on the basis of their belief and faith in Christ - in Christ alone. Since all have sinned, salvation is available to all - equally and without bias, elitism, or favoritism.


[3:23] for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Not only did all sin, but also all fall short. This single Greek verb is in the present tense, stressing a continuous action. It can be translated “keep on falling short.” The simple fact is that as a sinner not a single human being by his own efforts is able to measure up to the goodness and glory of God. God’s glory is His greatness, the outward manifestation of His character and attributes. God desires that humans share that greatness, that they become like Him, that is, Christlike (“glory” Romans 5:2; 2 Corinthians. 3:18; Colossians 1:27; 2 Thessalonians. 2:14). Yet their sin keeps them from sharing it.


[3:24] and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

In view of man’s sin God has stepped in with His provided righteousness, because all who believe are justified (the pres. tense may be trans. “keep on being declared righteous,” i.e., each person as he believes is justified). “Justify” (dikaioō) is a legal term, meaning “to declare righteous” (not “make righteous”; Deuteronomy 25:1).

God’s justification of those who believe is provided freely (dōrean, “as a free gift,” i.e., without charge) by His grace. God justifies by the instrument of His grace, His unmerited (did not earn or deserve it) favor. Grace too is a favorite word of Paul’s, used by him in Romans 24 times (in the original Greek). But God would not declare a person righteous without an objective basis, without dealing with his sin. That basis is the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. The Greek word for “redemption” is apolytrōsis, from the root word lytron, “a ransom payment.” Apolytrōsis is used 10 times in the New Testament (Luke 21:28; Romans 3:24; 8:23; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 1:7, 14; 4:30; Colossians 1:14; Hebrew 9:15). The death of Christ on the cross of Calvary was the price of payment for human sin which secured release from the bondage of Satan and sin for every person who trusts God’s promise of forgiveness and salvation.


[3:25a] whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

God presented Him, Christ, as a Sacrifice of atonement. The Greek word for phrase “Sacrifice of atonement” is hilastērion, presented as “propitiation” in the KJV and the NASB. This noun is used elsewhere in the New Testament only in Hebrews 9:5 for the mercy seat (NIV, “the place of atonement”) of the tabernacle’s ark of the covenant. There a goat’s blood was sprinkled on the Day of Atonement to cover (atone) Israel’s sins (Leviticus 16:15), and satisfy God for another year. Jesus’ death is the final sacrifice which completely satisfied God’s demands against sinful people, thus averting His wrath from those who believe. (The verb hilaskomai, “to satisfy by a sacrifice, to propitiate,” is used in Luke 18:13 [“have mercy”] and Hebrews 2:17 [“make atonement”]. And the related noun, hilasmos - (propitiation), appears in 1 John 2:2; 4:10.)


Christ, God’s propitiatory sacrifice for sin, was “presented” (literal, “set forth”), in contrast with the tabernacle’s mercy seat which was hidden from view. This work of Christ is through faith in His blood (Romans 5:9). It is appropriated by faith (cf. 3:22). By the death of Jesus and the shedding of His blood the penalty for sin has been paid and God has been satisfied or propitiated. The phrase “in (or by) His blood” probably should go with “a sacrifice of atonement,” not with “through faith.” A believer places His faith in Christ, not in His blood as such.


[3:25b–26] This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. [26] It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

God’s purpose in Christ’s death was to demonstrate His justice (i.e., God’s own judicial righteousness, dikaiosynēs; (refer back to 1:17) because in His forbearance anochē; (holding back, delay) He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished (Acts 17:30). Why did God not always punish sins in the past? Does this mean He is not righteous after all? Previously Paul said God was forbearing because He wanted to lead people to repent (Romans 2:4). Here God is said to be forbearing because He anticipated His provision for sins in the death of Jesus Christ. Such forbearance was an evidence and benefit of His grace (Acts 14:16; 17:30), not of His injustice.


Adaptations and Revisions: The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures; The Message of Romans; The Epistle to the Romans; Romans IVP NT Commentary






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