S - Romans 3
21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, beingwitnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faithin Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace throughthe redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as apropitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness,because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and theuncircumcised through faith is one.
31 Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.
—Matthew Henry Concise
If man has failed to attain righteousness, and if righteousness is necessary before God, then how is a man to attain righteousness? How can God be righteous when he acquits a man and declares him righteous? Paul has just made the problem more acute by showing that all men are sinners. So if God declares any man righteous, he is declaring one to be righteous who is unrighteous. Paul's answer shows God's wisdom and involvement in the matter of human sin.
21. The righteousness of God. Paul means the righteousness bestowed by God. Such a righteousness is apart from the law in the sense that it is not a righteousness deserved or achieved by keeping the Law. Apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been revealed. Here is righteousness sent by God and revealed by God. Though distinct from any righteousness sought by keeping the Law, it is testified to by the law and the prophets. The latter phrase means the whole OT (Mt 5:17; 7:12; 11:13; 22:40; Lk 16:16; Acts 13:15; 24:14; 28:23). That God would reckon faith as righteousness is not foreign to the OT (see Rom 4).
22-24. If righteousness is bestowed, upon whom is it bestowed? This righteousness is realized through the efficient cause—faith, which has for its object, Christ. It is a righteousness to all those in the process of trusting. The present participle makes it clear that this is a lifelong committal to Christ seen in the day-by-day response of trust (see on 1:16). It is trust and only trust that is required. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile so far as sin is concerned (3:23). Because all sinned (see 2:12). This sin refers to the involvement of all men—both Jew and Gentile—in transgression. The tense brings together the individual personal transgressions into a collective whole.
All men manifest their involvement in Adam's departure from right by constantly falling short of the glory of God. Falling short means to lack or to be without. What is it that men fall short of and lack? The glory of God includes the splendor or radiance of God—the outward manifestation of what God is. Majesty and sublimity are also part of the glory of God. Majesty involves power. Sublimity involves a superior and elevated position—that of the One who is supreme. Yet the glory of God is not only to be seen by those who believe (Jn 11:40), but it is received and made a part of those who believe (2 Cor 3:18) and is their destiny (1 Thess 2:12; 2 Thess 2:14). It is not only ascribed to God by the great multitude in heaven because of his victory over sin (Rev 19:1), but it also characterizes the Holy City, the eternal dwelling place of God with his people (Rev 21:11, 23). Men are constantly lacking God's glory because the continual practice of sin denies all that the glory of God means.
The righteousness of God which has been revealed, and which God bestows upon all those who are believing or trusting means that these are acquitted or freely pronounced righteous (Rom 3:24). How can this be? It is by means of God's grace. God is favorably disposed to do this, not because of any merit in men but because he is gracious and chooses to manifest his grace towards men. But can God do this simply by a decision of his will without any objective action on his part? Paul would answer, "No." Therefore, he adds the phrase, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Men can be acquitted (pronounced righteous) because God has acted. He has provided redemption. Originally the word meant the buying back of a slave or captive, the making him free by the payment of a ransom (Arndt, apolytrōsis, p. 95). Here redemption refers to the release provided by Christ from sin and its consequences. This redemption or release is in Christ Jesus. To be in Christ is to belong to him and to be a part of all that he has done and brought into being through his redemptive work. Paul now proceeds to show just what this work involved.
25, 26. This work is an objective transaction, a particular act of God which involved the person of his Son. It was a necessary act. The necessity was not imposed upon God from without, for then he would not have been God. It was imposed upon him from within, by virtue of his own nature. Whom (Christ Jesus) God displayed publicly as a means of propitiation in his blood through faith. Here Paul brings together God and Christ, the work accomplished, and man's response to this work. God publicly displayed Christ as a means of propitiation in or by his blood. The death of Christ was a fact to be observed by all. But the atoning aspect—that which propitiates sin—was the giving up of his life. This is seen in the fact that his blood was shed or poured out. These details are given not to arouse sympathy but to show the reality of this death. God was the offerer. Christ was the sacrifice. Human sin was covered, i.e., blotted out forever. Yet for this propitiation to be effective in the life of the individual, faith must be present. The faith or trust is in God, first of all, but it also involves what he has done. He took sin into his his own being (2 Cor 5:21), dealt with it there objectively, and by doing this gave proof of his righteousness. But did God let go unpunished the sins which happened before Christ's death? The objective, public death of Christ at Calvary proves that the Lord did not let these sins go unpunished. We know that he was dealing with human sin there—with the past sins of mankind as well as with those presently being carried out, and those yet to be committed—because he declared it through his apostles and prophets. These past sins were done in the sphere of God's forbearance (Rom 3:25). The Lord did not forget these sins, although he did not deal with them immediately.
God's action in the cross was more than a vindication of himself in regard to past human history. It was also the proof of his righteousness in the present (3:26). The Lord must be just or righteous now as he declares righteous the one who believes in Jesus. He did not pass a law that he who believes in Jesus would be declared righteous simply because He said so. Rather, He acted. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit entered into the arena of human sin. The Almighty laid the basis upon which he could forgive sin, and upon which he could declare sinners righteous and still himself be righteous.
27-31. Now Paul proceeds to the results of God's saving work in Christ at the cross. He contends that boasting is eliminated. How? By what kind of a law? By what kind of system, principle, code, or norm could boasting be eliminated? By a system of works? Oh, no. Such a system engenders pride. Rather, it is by a faith kind of system. A work-centered life is a self-centered life. But the law or code of faith brings about a God-centered life. Christianity is regarded here as a new law—a code of life with faith at its center. This idea of the word law is found in Rom 3:27; 8:2; Jas 1:25; 2:8, 9; 2:12. The essence of the law of faith is that a man is declared righteous by means of faith apart from the works of the law (Rom 3:28). The Lord is the one who declares men righteous. He is the God both of the Jews and of the Gentiles (v. 29). He declares the Jews to be righteous because of (ek) faith, the Gentiles through or by (dia) faith. In both instances faith is the cause of God's declaration. So both Jew and Gentile find acceptance with God in the same way—through a personal committal to him, a personal trust in him. This fact does not mean that the Law is nullified. Rather, the law is confirmed or made valid. It is confirmed in its role of making men conscious of sin (v. 20). The law confronts men not only with their sin but with the Lawgiver as well. When men trust God, the Law-giver, they are at the place where law was meant to bring them.
—Wycliffe Bible Commentary, The