But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26

In the last part of our study, we looked at verse 25 where Paul wrote – “whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.” We saw that there is a “righteousness of God apart from the law” and that is connected to the death of Jesus Christ on a Roman cross almost two-thousand years ago.

Why did God do that? What was His purpose?

Verse 26

“… to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

εν τη ανοχη του θεου προς ενδειξιν της δικαιοσυνης αυτου εν τω νυν καιρω εις το ειναι αυτον δικαιον και δικαιουντα τον εκ πιστεως ιησου

εν τη ανοχη του θεου (en tē anochē tou theouanochē means “patient endurance, delaying, forbearance” and is understood as a suspended or delayed punishment. This is a decision made by God (tou theou). It is His perogative to suspend, delay or accomplish the punishment that comes from His judgment. God has declared all people guilty, but He has also provided a remedy – “even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.”

προς ενδειξιν της δικαιοσυνης αυτου εν τω νυν καιρω (pros endeixin tēs dikaiosunēs autou en tō nun kairōendeixin means “proof, showing, demonstration” .. nun is an adverb that means “even now, already” and follows the logic of following something that came before. God demonstrates His righteousness “even now” because of the death of Jesus Christ – “whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness.”

εις το ειναι αυτον δικαιον και δικαιουντα τον εκ πιστεως ιησου (eis to einai auton dikaion kai dikaiounta ton ek pisteos Iēsou) God is both “just” (dikaion) in His actions of justifying and the “justifier” (dikaiounta) of the one who has faith in Jesus.

How remarkable is this! Paul just wrote these words –

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

Then, writes these words –

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.

What?  How can this be? How can God be both the Judge who condemns and the Judge who redeems us? How can God be both just and the justifier?

That is, my friend, the Gospel of Jesus Christ! As the Apostle Paul stated early in this epistle –

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

Paul explains this salvific power in Romans 3:21-26. The righteous God is just in what He does in saving unrighteous sinners through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Notice our part – “… of the one who has faith in Jesus.” We must believe that what God says He did is what He did and that what He did has the power to save us. If we hear that God sent His Son to die for us but we don’t believe it, then the circuit is not complete and salvation does not occur. What is it that connects God’s power to save to our actual salvation? “faith in Jesus.” It’s as simple and as complex as that.

Can we connect ourselves to the saving power of God through obeying the Law? Can we connect ourselves to the saving power of God through good deeds? Here’s God’s answer –

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” 

The Law is the “knowledge” of sin, not the salvation from sin. No one will save themselves through “good deeds.” Why is that?

There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”

Try as we might we cannot earn our salvation. We cannot merit our salvation. However, we can believe that what God says is true –

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

Here are some other thoughts for your consideration –

“The Cross not only exonerated God from the charge that He passed by sin before the crucifixion, but also demonstrated that when He declared a believing sinner righteous, He all the time maintained His righteousness. It was a just as well as a merciful act for God to save a sinner, for mercy was bestowed upon the basis of justice satisfied. The demands of the broken law were satisfied. Sin was paid for, not condoned. Thus, the believing sinner is saved not only by the mercy of God, but by the righteousness of God, for his salvation rests upon the fact that his sins are paid for and justice has been maintained. Thus, God is just and at the same time the One who justifies the believing sinner.” Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Volume I, Kenneth Wuest

“It is free grace, mere mercy; there is nothing in us to deserve such favours. It comes freely unto us, but Christ bought it, and paid the price. And faith has special regard to the blood of Christ, as that which made the atonement. God, in all this, declares his righteousness. It is plain that he hates sin, when nothing less than the blood of Christ would satisfy for it. And it would not agree with his justice to demand the debt, when the Surety has paid it, and he has accepted that payment in full satisfaction.” Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

That he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus; i.e. that no wrong might be done to the essential purity of his nature, or rectitude of his will; nor yet to his immediate justice, by which he cannot but hate sin, and abhor the sinner as such; though in the mean time he gives a discharge to him that is of the faith of Jesus, (as it is in the original), or of the number of those that believe, and cast themselves upon a Saviour.” Matthew Poole’s Commentary

“To declare, I say, at this time, his righteousness,…. This end is further explained, it being to declare the righteousness of God “at this time”, under the Gospel dispensation; in which there was such a display of the grace, mercy, and goodness of God: that he might be just; that is, appear to be so: God is naturally and essentially just in himself; and he is evidentially so in all his works, particularly in redemption by Christ; and when and while he is the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus: Jesus, the Saviour, is the object of faith, as he is the Lord our righteousness; the believer in Jesus is a real, and not a nominal one; God is the justifier of such in a declarative way, and God only, though not to the exclusion of the Son and Spirit; and which sentence of justification is pronounced by him on the foot of a perfect righteousness, which neither law nor justice can find fault with, but entirely approve of; and so he appears just and righteous, even though he justifies the sinner and the ungodly.” Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

“The second object of the death of Christ was to remove the misconceptions that might be caused by the apparent condoning of sins committed in times anterior to the Christian revelation. A special word is used to indicate that these sins were not wiped away and dismissed altogether, but rather “passed over” or “overlooked.” This was due to the forbearance of God, who, as it were, suspended the execution of His vengeance. Now the Apostle shows by the death of Christ that justice that had apparently slept was vindicated. Thus God appeared in a double character, at once as just or righteous Himself, and as producing a state of righteousness in the believer. Under the Old Testament God had been revealed as just; but the justice or righteousness of God was not met by any corresponding righteousness on the part of man, and therefore could only issue in condemnation. Under the New Testament the justice of God remained the same, but it was met by a corresponding state of righteousness in the believer a righteousness, however, not inherent, but superinduced by God Himself through the process of justification by faith. In this way the great Messianic condition of righteousness was fulfilled.” Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers

This message of redemption is for Jew and Gentile. That covers all of us. We all must place our faith in Jesus Christ for God’s forgiveness. If you haven’t done that or are not sure if you have, please contact us. We would love to share with you about this amazing and free gift of God – the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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