by Mike Ratliff
21 Νυνὶ δὲ χωρὶς νόμου δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ πεφανέρωται μαρτυρουμένη ὑπὸ τοῦ νόμου καὶ τῶν προφητῶν, 22 δικαιοσύνη δὲ θεοῦ διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς πάντας τοὺς πιστεύοντας. οὐ γάρ ἐστιν διαστολή, 23 πάντες γὰρ ἥμαρτον καὶ ὑστεροῦνται τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ 24 δικαιούμενοι δωρεὰν τῇ αὐτοῦ χάριτι διὰ τῆς ἀπολυτρώσεως τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ· 25 ὃν προέθετο ὁ θεὸς ἱλαστήριον διὰ [τῆς] πίστεως ἐν τῷ αὐτοῦ αἵματι εἰς ἔνδειξιν τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὐτοῦ διὰ τὴν πάρεσιν τῶν προγεγονότων ἁμαρτημάτων 26 ἐν τῇ ἀνοχῇ τοῦ θεοῦ, πρὸς τὴν ἔνδειξιν τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ νῦν καιρῷ, εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν δίκαιον καὶ δικαιοῦντα τὸν ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ. (Romans 3:21-26 NA27)
21But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being attested to by the Law and the Prophets, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all those who believe for there is no distinction. 23 For all sinned and come short of the glory of God. 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed as a propitiations through faith in his blood for a display of his righteousness because of the passing by of the previous sins 26 because of the forbearance of God for the display of his righteousness in the present time for him to be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26 a personal translation from the NA27 Greek text)
Those who trained me in Biblical exegesis made sure to emphasize those “changes in the flow” of the text that is meant to summarize previous points or to go to new point based upon a previous argument with a solid “therefore” for instance. In this case Paul begins Romans 3:21 with “Νυνὶ δὲ”, which could be translated as “in fact,” but here we are using “But now” because Paul is making a change in the flow of his arguments. In the previous verses of Chapter 4 he refers to God’s righteous judgment and justice being rightly deserved because “All have sinned…” and how the Law cannot justify anyone, but through it can only come the knowledge of sin. Here Paul begins his proclamation of the Good News that there is justification available to believers apart from Law, but there is only one way and it is completely apart from works.
In 21 Paul makes it clear that those whom God declares righteous receive it according to God’s own purposes and is something he provides. No man achieves it himself, that is, by keeping the law (Romans 4:15; Galatians 2:16; 3:10,11; 5:1,2,6; Ephesians 2:8,9; cf. Philippians 3:9; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5). What is this “righteousness?” This is the Greek noun δικαιοσύνη or dikaiosynē, “righteousness, innocence, justice, or justification.” This righteousness is unique in that God is its source and it fulfills both the penalty and precept of God’s Law. Christ’s death as a substitute pays the penalty exacted on those who failed to keep God’s Law, and his perfect obedience to every requirement of God’s Law fulfills God’s demand for comprehensive righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; cf. Hebrews 9:28) Also, because God’s righteousness is eternal, the one who receives it from him enjoys it forever.
In v22 is a partial restatement of Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” However, we learn something more here. In 1:16 we learn that those who believe the Gospel, no matter their race or whatever, receive the power from God for salvation. Here in 3:22 we learn that these same people receive the righteousness of God. What is this “believe?” The Greek verb usage that we translate as believes, when used of salvation, usually occurs in the present tense, which stresses that faith is not simply a one-time event, but an ongoing condition. True saving faith is supernatural and is a gracious gift of God that he produces in the heart (Ephesians 2:8) and is the only means by which a person can appropriate true righteousness.
In v23 we have the verse that should level the field and shut the mouths of all those who insist that their salvation is based on something they did themselves. If we combine Ephesians 2:1-9 with what Paul says here then it is clear that there are no exceptions. All in Christ are so because God drew them to the Son first (John 6:44) and through the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5) the heart of stone each is born with is removed and replaced with a heart of flesh or a living heart and this enables that person to hear the Gospel and believe. All in condition will turn to Christ as Lord and Saviour and be justified by the Father. This is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to their account and his perfect obedience to the Law. In this the Father declares the believer to Righteous and so begins the life in the temporal of sanctification and being prepared for eternity.
In the next post we will look at Romans 3:27-31.
Soli Deo Gloria!