|Romans — 3:21-5:21
||Romans — 6:1-8:39
||Romans — 9:1-11:36
||Romans — 12:1-16:27
Jew and Gentile
|Demonstration of Salvation
Restored to Israel
|Slaves to Sin
||Slaves to God
||Slaves Serving God
|Life by Faith
||Service by Faith
Modified from Irving L. Jensen's excellent work "Jensen's Survey of the NT"
THE GREATEST ANSWER TO
THE GREATEST QUESTION
Pastor Ray Pritchard introduces this great section of Scripture in Romans 3:21-26 with these words…
This morning we are considering the greatest question in the world—How can a man be right with God? It is the supreme problem of life. No more important question could ever be asked. Every sincere person asks this question. Every sincere Methodist asks, “How can a man be right with God?” Every sincere Presbyterian asks, “How can a man be right with God?” Every sincere Catholic asks, “How can a man be right with God?” Every sincere Lutheran asks, “How can a man be right with God?” Somewhere in the world this morning a man is offering a child upon an altar, hoping to appease his angry God. Somewhere in the world a man is cutting himself with a knife, hoping by his pain to win the approval of his deity. Somewhere in the world a man lies on a bed of nails, proving by his mastery of pain to prove his worthiness of eternal life. In the Middle East millions of believers (in Allah) pray toward Mecca this morning, following the dictates of their religion. In Haiti followers of Voodoo kill chickens and place the carcass before a makeshift altar, hoping to cause God to smile upon them with good fortune. Why? Why? Why? The answer is always the same. The men and women who do these things desperately want to be right with God. They do what they do because they hope to appease God or to please God or to pacify God or to somehow manipulate God into favoring their cause. It is a totally sincere question, is it not? We all want to stand before God someday and have him declare us righteous in his sight. That one fact explains most of the religious activity in the world around us. From killing chickens to bowing to Mecca, from resting on a bed of nails to praying the rosary, from going to Sunday School to saying the Lord’s Prayer, we do what we do because we want to be right with God … and we don’t know how! What is the answer to this great question? How can a man be right with God? To that all-important question, no answer is more satisfying than the answer given in Romans 3:21-26. It is the essence of the Gospel and the heart of the Christian message. (Click the link to read the remainder of the sermon - The Only Way to Be Right With God)
Note from the chart above that we now enter the second great division of the glorious Gospel in the great book of Romans as we transition from the need for salvation to the provision of salvation…
WAY OF SALVATION
God's Grace In Justifying Sinners
Design of Grace
God's Righteousness IMPUTED
Leon Morris, a NT scholar says that Romans 3:21-26 is
possibly the most important single paragraph ever written (Ro 1:18-3:20) is thought of in terms of our need for righteousness, and (Ro 3:21-26) is seen as God’s provision of righteousness to meet our need. Here Paul examines the doctrine of salvation from God’s point of view. Man’s salvation through God’s provision of righteousness becomes here a secondary theme. The primary theme is the demonstration of God’s righteousness, through His provision of righteousness for sinners. God is in the spotlight, not men.
Pastor Alan Carr - "Notice the little conjunction "but". It denotes a change of thought. It stands as a worthy doorkeeper to the thoughts that will follow. I certainly was a ruined man, yet I thank the Lord that there is a change that has taken place and it is represented by that little word "but." Pay attention to those little words in your Bible (Ed: read about the value of observing and "dissecting" terms of contrast). Remember, even the largest door turns on a relatively small hinge! For instance, think of the great passage in Eph. 2:1-10. There, the word "but" shows up in a similar fashion. These few verses that we are about to look into now are jammed packed full of theological truth. Donald Gray Barnhouse called them, "The heart of the Bible." Reformer Martin Luther labeled then as "the marrow of theology." This is, perhaps, the deepest theological sea in the New Testament. We can never do them justice in the few minutes we have here this evening, but let's glean what we can nonetheless. Notice these traits about the new man in my mirror.) (Read his sermon The New Man in My Mirror)
As Pastor Carr noted, Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse called this section of Paul's letter
THE HEART OF THE BIBLE
I am convinced today, after these many years of Bible study, that these verses are the most important in the whole Bible. Understand them and you will understand the whole Bible. Fail to comprehend their true meaning, and you will be in darkness concerning most of Scripture. For here is the revelation of the being of God and the nature of His being; here is the revelation of sin and of the depths of sin; here is the revelation of God’s righteousness and the infinite demands and provisions of that righteousness; here is one of the keys of human history and the explanation of much that happened before the time of Christ, as well as the revelation of the principles that were to prevail in God’s dealings with men since Christ; here the mouths of those that would slander God because of His free pardon of sinners are closed forever; here is the vindication of the nature and character of God, righteous in all that He does. (Expositions of Bible Doctrines Taking the Epistle to the Romans As a Point of Departure - God's Remedy - Romans 3:21-4:25).
Comment: It is worthy noting that the venerable expositor Donald Barnhouse took THREE CHAPTERS in his book to expound on a single verse, Romans 3:21! We dare not fly over these golden words too quickly, lest we minimize or miss [or worse even dismiss] the power of God for salvation inherent in them!
In Romans 1:18-3:20 Paul shows the necessity of a God-kind of righteousness.
In Romans 3:21-31 Paul explains the nature of this God-kind of righteousness.
Dr. Alva J. McClain remarked that…
This section is the very heart of the book of Romans. For this reason, all Christians ought to memorize Ro 3:21-26. If someone should ask me, "Brother McClain, if you could have just six verses out of the Bible, and all the rest be taken away, which would you take?", I would select these six verses. All of God’s Gospel (Good News) is there, and in a way found nowhere else in the Word of God. [The Gospel of God's Grace - 1979]
Charles Simeon said "IT is justly observed by our Lord, that “they that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” (Mt 9:12) Persons never value a remedy till they are aware of their disease: they must know their condemnation and misery by the Law, before they will receive with gratitude the glad tidings of the Gospel. On this account Paul labours through the whole preceding part of this epistle, and especially in the ten verses before the text, to prove all, both Jews and Gentiles, guilty before God; and to show that they need a better righteousness than any which they themselves can work out. Then he introduces that righteousness which is exhibited in the Gospel, and is offered to every repenting and believing sinner." (Read his full sermon - Romans 3:21-22 The Believer's Righteousness)
But when He heard this (Mt 9:11), He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick." (Mt 9:12)
"ROADBLOCK TO HELL"
BUT NOW: nuni de:
Someone has well said that the "but's" (eg see "But God" in Eph 2:1-3 and then Eph 2:4-6) and "but now's" are God’s "roadblocks" to man’s journey to hell.
But (de) is a strong adversative (expresses antithesis or direct opposite) marking a dramatic turning point from the "bad news" of man's guilt and condemnation which merits God's wrath to the revelation of the "good news" of God's righteousness now available to undeserving sinful men.
As Vincent (and other commentators) points out that the "now" is…
Logical, not temporal. In this state of the case. Expressing the contrast between two relations — dependence on the law and non-dependence on the law.
Leon Morris comments that…
But now may be understood logically (Shedd, Godet); it is then seen as moving to the next step in the argument, not the next point in time. Or it may be temporal (Patrick Boylan; Barclay M. Newman and Eugene A. Nida: A Translator’s Handbook on Paul’s Letter to the Romans), moving to the next point in time. Or it may be both (Barrett): Paul is contrasting what people knew before the Gospel came with what the Gospel has revealed (cf. Ro 16:25, 26). The argument of the epistle up to this point has emphasized that the natural man, Jew or Greek, is a sinner who stands under the wrath of God. “But now” God has intervened. The human predicament has been radically transformed because of the saving act of God in Christ, which Paul proceeds to develop. (Morris, L. The Epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leicester, England: W. B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press)
Gingrich writes that…
The trial is finished. We look for the judge to summon the executioner. But surprise! Grace! Mercy! The Judge informs us that His Son Jesus has already paid our penalty and that He, the Judge, is willing to forgive us and give us the gift of righteousness if we will repent and believe on His Son.
First, Paul presents the doctrine of justification by faith, Romans 3:21-26;then he states the excellence of justification by faith, Romans 3:27-31, then he confirms the doctrine of justification by faith, Romans 4; and finally, he discusses (one of)… the consequences of justification by faith, Romans 5:1
In Romans 3:21-8:39, Paul reveals God’s three-fold provision for man’s three-fold need. Men need deliverance from sin’s penalty, power, and presence.
(1) Justification [the imputation of God’s righteousness = God’s righteousness on me], Ro 3:21-5:21, based upon Christ’s death, delivers from the penalty of sin;
(2) Sanctification [the impartation of God’s righteousness = God’s righteousness in me], Ro 6:1-8:17, based upon Christ’s resurrection life, delivers from the power of sin; and
(3) Glorification [the completion of God’s righteousness = God’s righteousness in all of me], Ro 8:18-39, based upon Christ’s coming, delivers from the presence of sin.
So, God graciously makes a three-fold provision for man’s three-fold need. (Modified from Gingrich, R. E. The Book of Romans)
MacDonald - We now come to the heart of the Letter to the Romans, when Paul answers the question: According to the gospel, how can ungodly sinners be justified by a holy God?
Scripture has some other dramatic "but now's"…
Remember that you (speaking of Gentiles) were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ep 2:12-note, Ep 2:13-note)
For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. (1Co 15:16-20),
Other dramatic uses of but now - [Lk 16:25 (Lazarus)], [Lk 19:42 - speaking of the rejection of Christ and destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD - Lk 19:43, 44], [Jn 15:22, Jn 15:24], [Ro 6:21, 22], [Ro 7:5,6], [Ro 11:30 - speaking of mercy to Gentiles because of Jewish disobedience], [Ro 16:25, 26,], [Ga 3:24, 25], [Ga 4:8, 9], [Eph 5:8], [1Pe 2:10], [1Pe 2:24, 25]
The dismal picture of man’s depravity and hopeless state is interrupted by one of the greatest uses of the conjunction "but" in all of Scripture. How thankful we can be for this "nick-of-time" conjunction that signals God’s merciful, gracious intervention to save man from destroying himself!
What spells "Relief"? In this case it is not "R-O-L-A-I-D-S" but is "B-U-T N-O-W"! This should bring joy to any downtrodden sinner's heart especially in the context of Romans 1:18-3:20 which conclusively proves all men are sinners and are accountable to God.
Why do we need a the "righteousness of God?" Simply put, because we have no righteousness of our own, at least none that is acceptable to God. You may be objecting
"But what about all those good works that I do?"
This is why we all must remember Augustus Toplady's words in his famous hymn…
Rock of Ages
(Click to play)
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
Beginning at Romans 1:18 Paul proceeds over the next 2 chapters, to show how "foul, rotten and corrupt" our manmade righteousness is in God's eyes and therefore how every man and woman, Jew or Gentile, is under sin and judgment and destined for "eternal punishment… into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels." (Mt 25: 46,41).
The mouth of every person created in God's image is stopped and without excuse. The Law of God has confronted the rebellion of man and the result is condemnation not justification. Paul has made it abundantly clear that no one gets right with God through keeping the Law.
Frederic Godet explains that God's righteousness made available to men deserving His wrath…
is presented as a new fact in the history of mankind; so that one might be led to give the word now a temporal sense; cp. the at this time, Ro 3:26, and Acts 17:30. This, however, is only apparent. The contrast with the preceding is moral rather than temporal; it is the contrast between the condemnation pronounced by the law (Ro 3:20) and the new righteousness acquired without the law (Ro 3:21). It is therefore better to give the word now the logical meaning which it has so frequently in the New Testament (Ro 7:17; 1Co 13:12, 14:6, etc.) and in the classics: “The situation being such.” The words: without the law, stand foremost, as having the emphasis. They evidently depend on the verb is manifested, and not on the word righteousness (a righteousness without law, Aug.). The absence of the article before the word law does not prove that the apostle does not mean the term to denote the Mosaic law; only the law is excluded from co-operating in the new righteousness not because it is Mosaic, but because it is law. Under the old dispensation, righteousness came to man through the thousand channels of legalism; in the new, righteousness is given him without the least co-operation of what can be called a law. (The Epistle of St Paul to the Romans)
Ray Pritchard - To some people, this is tragic news. They think that because of some inherited goodness that God will accept them. Wrong! Goodness isn't inherited like blue eyes and brown hair. In fact, what you inherited from your parents is a sin nature that causes you to turn away from God almost from the moment of your birth. You were born with an inbred tendency to disobedience. No one had to teach you to say "No!" You figured that out all by yourself. You weren't born righteous. No amount of moral reformation can change that fact. Since there is no righteousness within you, the only kind of righteousness that will save you is a righteousness that comes from outside yourself. That's what Paul means when he says a righteousness from God has been revealed. (Read the full sermon - The Only Way to Be Right With God)
So in the present context, now (3570) (nun) is not so much a reference to time, but a change in the flow of the apostle’s logic or argument. Remember that what Paul is doing in these chapters is explaining the "gospel" and how a man can be justified or declared righteous before a holy God. Now Paul begins to explain the answer to Job's age old question…
"How can a man be righteous before God?” (Job 9:2)
Nearly every religion is a response to fears concerning death (cf Heb 2:14-15) and eternity and seeks to offer a way of reaching and satisfying deity. But every religion except Christianity offers only a man-made, works-based, "righteousness" which falls short of the glory of God and for that reason, none of them can succeed in bringing a person to God in this life or one to come.
Scripture makes it clear that there is indeed "the Way" (Jn 14:6) to God, but that it is not based on anything men themselves can do to achieve or merit it. Man can be made right with God, but not on his own terms or in his own power. As far as the Way of salvation is concerned, there are only two religions the world has ever known -- God's way defined here in Romans or man's way, which includes all other religions.
Barnhouse has an interesting introduction to Paul's words "but now" writing that…
The true understanding of the Bible consists in a true understanding of the meaning of its main words. No one can claim to know anything about the Bible if he is not thoroughly conversant with the meaning of such words as “sin,” “salvation,” “justification,” “sanctification,” “redemption,” “imputation,” “the new birth,” and similar terms that are the links in the chain that holds the whole Scripture together. But in addition to these great words there are some shorter words that might seem insignificant to the casual reader, but which take on tremendous importance as we go deeper into the meaning of the revelation which God has given us. In our study of the Epistle to the Romans we have arrived at a point where two little words separate all that has gone before from all that comes after.
A mountain climber in the high Alps sometimes comes to the top of a ridge almost razor sharp, dividing two slopes. Such is the division which is to be found in the beginning of the twenty-first verse of the third chapter. Had I been the one to divide the Bible into chapters, I would have made the division here. Certainly this is the dividing line which separates the first two and a half chapters, which have been on the subject of man’s complete ruin in sin, from the next section, which is occupied with God’s perfect remedy in Christ. The two little words are but now …A careful study of the epistles of Paul shows that in his mind all time was divided into then and now. Then, was everything that had happened before Christ died. Now, is everything that is contingent upon the death of the Saviour. Then we were dead in sins; now we are alive forevermore. Then we were under the law, slain; now we are under grace, raised from the dead by the gospel. (Expositions of Bible Doctrines Taking the Epistle to the Romans As a Point of Departure - God's Remedy - Romans 3:21-4:25).
James Denny introduces this next important section of Romans writing that…
The universal need of a Gospel has now been demonstrated, and the Apostle proceeds with his exposition of this Gospel itself. It brings what all men need, a righteousness of God (see Ro 1:17) and it brings it in such a way as to make it accessible to all. Law contributes nothing to it, though it is attested by the law and the prophets; it is a righteousness which is all of grace. Grace, however, does not signify that moral distinctions are ignored in God's procedure: the righteousness which is held out in the Gospel is held out on the basis of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. It is put within the sinner's reach at a great cost. It could never be offered to him--it could never be manifested or indeed have any real existence--but for the propitiatory virtue of the blood of Christ. Christ a propitiation is the inmost soul of the Gospel for sinful men. If God had not set Him forth in this character, not only must we despair for ever of attaining to a Divine righteousness; all our attempts to read the story of the world in any consistency with the character of God must be baffled. Pas sins God seemed simply to ignore: He treated them apparently as if they were not. But the Cross is "the Divine theodicy for the past history of the world" (Tholuck); we see in it how seriously God deals with the sins which for the time He seemed to pass by. It is a demonstration of His righteousness--that is, in the widest sense, of His consistency with His own character,--which would have been violated by indifference to sin. And that demonstration is, by God's grace, given in such a way that iti is possible for Him to be (as He intends to be) at once just Himself, and the justifier of those who believe in Jesus. The propitiatory death of Jesus, in other words, is at once the vindication of God and the salvation of man. That is why it is central and fundamental in the Apostolic Gospel. It meets the requirements, at the same time, of the righteousness of God and of the sin of man. (The Expositor's Greek Testament).
APART FROM THE LAW: choris nomou:
Amplified - But now the righteousness of God has been revealed independently and altogether apart from the Law,
Vincent comments that apart from the law means…
In a sphere different from that in which the law says “Do this and live.”
Do this and live, the law commands,
But gives me neither feet nor hands.
A better word the Gospel brings.
It bids me fly and gives me wings.
Apart (5565) (choris from choros = field or place usually where cattle range) is literally at a space and means apart from, separate from. It is a marker of dissociation, indicating a distinct separation from something. The picture is that now, entirely apart from obedience to any law, man can be receive the righteousness of God by faith in Christ.
Choris - 41xin the NT - Mt. 13:34; 14:21; 15:38; Mk. 4:34; Lk. 6:49; Jn. 1:3; 15:5; 20:7; Ro 3:21, 28; Ro 4:6; Ro 7:8-9; Ro 10:14; 1 Co. 4:8; 11:11; 2 Co. 11:28; 12:3; Eph. 2:12; Phil. 2:14; 1 Tim. 2:8; 5:21; Philemon 1:14; Heb. 4:15; 7:7, 20; 9:7, 18, 22, 28; 10:28; 11:6, 40; 12:8, 14; Jas. 2:18, 20, 26 - Usage: apart(10), besides(2), independent(2), itself(1), separate(1), without(25).
Ro 3:28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.
Ro 4:6 just as David also speaks of the blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works:
Ro 7:8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. 9 And I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died;
Ro 10:14 How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
Absolutely separated from the Law - In other words Paul is describing a righteousness to which our obedience to the law contributes nothing whatsoever. One can get a good sense of the absolute nature of the separation in the use of choris by noting that in Hebrews 4 the writer records that…
we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without (choris) sin. (Heb 4:15-note)
Comment: Literally our Lord was “totally apart (choris) from sin.” Just as sin and Jesus Christ have nothing in common, so too the righteousness was not received by keeping the law but it was by faith in Christ's finished work on the cross when, for as Paul writes elsewhere God the Father "made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2Co 5:21-note).
John MacArthur - Because they capitalize Law in this passage, it is evident that the translators of the New American Standard Bible understood nomos to refer to God’s divine revelation, either in the narrower sense of the Mosaic law or the wider sense of the entire Old Testament. But I believe that in this passage Paul primarily has in mind the sense of legalism, of men’s attempt to become acceptable to God by means of their own human efforts." (Ed note: Greek does not have the definite article modifying "law" and it would tend to support Dr. MacArthur's interpretation) (MacArthur, J: Romans 1-8. Chicago: Moody Press)
As discussed below, even apart from the law, the Pentateuch clearly taught that righteousness has always been credited, reckoned or imputed by personal faith. The prototypical example of course is Abraham's justification by faith (Ge 15:6), which was apart from the law for the Law wasn't even given until 400 years later.
The Jews’ own Scriptures never taught salvation by obedience to the Law, much less by obedience to the many man-made laws and traditions that had been devised by the rabbis and elders during the several hundred years before Christ. Nevertheless, the majority of the Jews in Jesus’ and Paul’s day chose to place their trust in man-made regulations and traditions (cp Isa 29:13, Mk 7:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13) rather than the Gospel which was taught in the OT, Paul writing elsewhere that
the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "ALL THE NATIONS SHALL BE BLESSED IN YOU. (Gal 3:8)
In Paul's day, as in our day, many religious people sincerely believed that their religious devotion would win God's approval. They hoped that by following the Ten Commandments, by observing the rabbinical ordinances, by offering the proper sacrifices, by attending to the moral precepts of the Torah, that God would be satisfied and their sins forgiven. Paul says it doesn't work that way.
Does this mean the law was of no use? We have already established that the law revealed the righteousness of God and thus showed mankind God's righteous standard for human behavior. Unfortunately, that's all the law could do. It showed what God wanted but it could not compel or empower obedience.
William Newell exhorts us regarding the phrase "apart from law"
Lay it to heart! Unfortunately, the King James Version misses the emphasis here. For the Greek puts to the very front this great phrase "apart from law" (choris nomou), and thus sets forth most strongly the altogether separateness of this Divine righteousness from any law-performance, any works of man, whatsoever. Luther's rendering was, "without accessory aid of law." In this revelation of God's righteousness, law was left out of account. Righteousness is on another principle than our right- doing!
Now the great and most common error in setting forth God's righteousness here, is, to allow law at least some place. Men cannot, it seems, get over reasoning thus: that since God once promulgated the dispensation of law, which called for human righteousness. He must thereafter be bound by it forever. And this despite Divine assurance, over and over and over, that the present dispensation proceeds on an altogether different principle; that there has been a "disannulling of a foregoing commandment" (Heb 7:18); for He who had the right to command had also the right to disannul. It was "because of its weakness and unprofitableness-for the Law made nothing perfect, "-that the "foregoing commandment" was set aside. It had served its purpose-to make the trespass "abound" (Ro 5:20).
It is not that God has not the right to demand legal righteousness from us: but that He does not do it. "Righteousness which is of God" speaks in a way diametrically opposite to man's law- obedience, of any sort whatsoever.
Men who do not see or believe that the whole history of those in Christ ended at the cross (for they died there, with Christ) must hold that God is still demanding righteousness: for "the law hath dominion over a man so long as he liveth!"
The "teachers of the Law" (1Ti 1:7) say: "Behind God, as He talks with you in 'grace' is His eternal Law. And He must carry out what He has expressed in that Law. But, because you are not able to perform it, He has 'graciously' given Christ, to perform all its requirements for you. And the positive, or 'active' requirements are, the observance of all the commands of the Law to the letter, -which (these teachers say) Christ has by His perfect life of obedience to the Law on earth, furnished for you. And the negative, or 'passive' obedience, as they call it-that is, the penalty of death for your sins which the Law (say they) demanded, Christ has paid on the cross. So that, now your debts cancelled by Christ's death, you have Christ's legal 'merits' as your actual righteousness before God: for God must demand (they say) perfect righteousness from you, as measured by His holy Law, "-etc., etc.
This seemingly beautiful talk is both unscriptural and anti-scriptural.
God says that the believer is not under law, that he is dead to law, -to that whole principle, being in the Risen Christ; and Christ is certainly not under law in Heaven! Believers are "in Him"; they are "not in the flesh" (Ro 8:9). They were formerly in the flesh (in the old natural life of Adam); but are now "new creatures" in Christ Risen!
If you put believers under law, you must put their federal Head, Christ, back under law; for "as He is, even so are we in this world." To do this you must reverse Calvary, and have Christ back again on earth "under law." For law, we repeat, was not given to a heavenly company, but to an earthly nation. Scripture says it was to redeem that earthly people (Israel) who were under law, that Christ was "born under the Law" (Ga 4:4). You must thus, if you are "under law, " be joined to a Christ belonging to Israel, a flesh and blood Christ; and must consent to be an Israelite-to which nation He was sent. But alas! You find that such a Christ is not here! That He said He must "abide alone, "-like the grain of wheat unless it "fall into the ground and die." To an earthly, Jewish Christ, you therefore cannot be united. And so your vain hope of having Moses and Christ is wholly gone. Therefore you must be united with a Risen Christ, or with none at all! But if to a Risen Christ, it is unto One who died unto sin (Ro 6:10); and those (Jewish) believers who were under the Law died with Him unto it (Ro 7:4). And you, if you are Christ's, are now wholly, as Christ is, on resurrection ground. This truth will be brought out fully in chapters Six and Seven; we can but note it here. (Romans 3:21-31 Justification by Faith in Christ)
Robert Haldane adds that Paul
had, in the foregoing verse (Ro 3:20), affirmed that by his obedience to the law no man could be justified. He establishes the same truth in Romans 3:28, and in the fifth verse of the fourth chapter (Ro 4:5), in a manner so explicit, as to place his meaning beyond all question. In the same sense he declares, Galatians 3:21, that “if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” And again, he affirms, Galatians 2:21, “If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” It is needless here to dispute, as many do, about what law the Apostle alludes to, whether moral or ceremonial. It is to the law of God, whether written or unwritten,—whatever is sanctioned by His authority, whether ceremonial or moral,—all of which have been fulfilled by the righteousness of God, Mt 3:15. ( Romans 3:21-31 Commentary ) (Another Source)
Click for an excellent discussion of the purpose of the Law by William Newell.
Purpose of the Law - Ro 3:20, 5:20,7:7 Ga 3:19, 3:24 1Ti 1:9
When Paul says that righteousness comes apart from the law, he is really saying that it comes apart from any of the activities by which a man thinks he can attain righteousness including religious observance, performing "good" works, attending church, being baptized, giving money, praying, being confirmed or keeping any sort of ritual or rite… what Paul is saying is that righteousness comes to those who haven't even kept the law at all (because no one can keep it perfectly). The good news is that since keeping the law is not a requirement for salvation, those who have broken the law can be saved!
Barnhouse writes that righteousness apart from the law is…
Righteousness apart from human character. Righteousness without even a consideration of the nature of the being that is made righteous. Righteousness that comes from God upon an ungodly man. Righteousness that will save a thief on the Cross (Lk 23:42, 42). Righteousness that is prepared for you. Righteousness that you must choose by abandoning any hope of salvation from anything that is in yourself or that could be produced by yourself. God’s own righteousness. And underline this—it is the only righteousness that can produce practical righteousness in you. (Expositions of Bible Doctrines Taking the Epistle to the Romans As a Point of Departure - God's Remedy - Romans 3:21-4:25).
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD: dikaiosuno theou: (Ro 1:17; 5:19,21; 10:3,4; Ge 15:6; Isa 45:24,25; 46:13; 51:8; 54:17; Isa 61:10; Jer 23:5,6; 33:16; Da 9:24; Acts 15:11; 1Cor 1:30; 2Co 5:21; Gal 5:5; Phil 3:9; He 11:4-40; 2Pe 1:1)
Righteousness of God - This exact phrase is found in the NASB in Ro 1:17; 3:5, 21, 22; 10:3; 2Co 5:21; Jas 1:20
Recall how Paul began his argument in Romans 1 writing that in the Gospel, "the righteousness of God is revealed (caused to be fully known, disclosed)" (Ro 1:17-note). And then Paul does not mention righteousness again until Ro 3:21, the intervening chapters serving to present Paul's "air tight" doctrinal argument of why every person ever born stands in dire need of God's righteousness (cp Ro 3:10-note)!
Clearly righteousness (and the related words justified, just, justifier) is the key word of this great section of Scripture in Romans 3:21-26…
Ro 3:21 = Righteousness
Ro 3:22 = Righteousness
Ro 3:24 = Justified (declared righteous)
Ro 3:25 = Righteousness
Ro 3:26 = Righteousness, Just, Justifier
Righteousness (1343) (dikaiosune [word study] from dikaios [word study] = being proper or right in the sense of being fully justified being or in accordance with what God requires) is the quality of being upright. In its simplest sense dikaiosune conveys the idea of conformity to a standard or norm. In this sense righteousness is the opposite of hamartia (sin), which is defined as missing of the mark set by God. Dikaiosune is rightness of character before God and rightness of actions before men. Righteousness of God could be succinctly stated as all that God is, all that He commands, all that He demands, all that He approves, all that He provides through faith in Christ (Click to read Pastor Ray Pritchard's interesting analysis of righteousness in the Gospel of Matthew).
Righteousness is rightness of character before God and rightness of actions before men. Both of these qualities are based on truth, which is conformity to the Word and will of God. Righteousness is attitude and action which conforms to a standard and can be either man's imperfect standard (as exemplified by the self-righteous Pharisees) or God's standard of perfect holiness.
Dikaiosune is used 92 times in the NT - Matt. 3:15; 5:6, 10, 20; 6:1, 33; 21:32; Lk. 1:75; Jn. 16:8, 10; Acts 10:35; 13:10; 17:31; 24:25; Ro 1:17; 3:5, 21, 22, 25, 26; 4:3, 5, 6, 9, 11, 13, 22; 5:17, 21; 6:13, 16, 18, 19, 20; 8:10; 9:30, 31; 10:3, 4, 5, 10; 14:17; 1Co. 1:30; 2Co. 3:9; 5:21; 6:7, 14; 9:9, 10; 11:15; Ga 2:21; 3:6, 21; 5:5; Ep 4:24; 5:9; 6:14; Php 1:11; 3:6, 9; 1Ti 6:11; 2Ti 2:22; 3:16; 4:8; Titus 3:5; He 1:9; 5:13; 7:2; 11:7, 33; 12:11; Jas 1:20; 2:23; 3:18; 1Pe 2:24; 3:14; 2Pe 1:1; 2:5, 21; 3:13; 1Jn 2:29; 3:7, 10; Re 19:11; 22:11
In its original meaning, righteousness meant a right relationship (attained to by faith as in Ge 15:6) with the covenant God that led to loving others as oneself and doing good in order to lead others into the same right relationship with God. Over time, the Jewish interpretation of righteousness narrowed into acts of doing good without the vital root of a right relationship with God.
William Cunningham described righteousness as follows writing that
Under law God required righteousness from man. Under grace, He gives righteousness to man. The righteousness of God is that righteousness which God’s righteousness requires Him to require.
Charles Hodge - That righteousness of which God is the author which is of avail before Him, which meets and secures His approval.
Someone else has well said that righteousness is that which the Father required, the Son became, the Holy Spirit convinces of, and faith secures.
Another has said that righteousness is the sum total of all that God commands, demands, approves, and Himself provides. A good definition! But it begs the question of how a righteous God can save unrighteous sinners and at the same time remain righteous Himself in so doing? We have no problem understanding that God can judge righteously, because that is what His justice demands. The more difficult truth is how can a righteous God justify sinners and not compromise His own intrinsic righteousness, for as the prophet Nahum stated "Jehovah will by no means leave the guilty unpunished." (Nah 1:3). And yet in order to justify sinners, this is exactly what God must somehow accomplish! So what is the answer? I'm sure you have already reasoned that the only way goal could be accomplished was by the death of God's Son on the Cross. On that most awesome day in all eternity, Christ bore our sins as our Substitute, in order that we the guilty might be acquitted and declared righteous. If you have never genuinely accepted Christ's sacrifice in your place, perhaps as the Spirit enlightens you to the magnitude and mystery of the Cross, today would be the day that you truly receive the Lamb of God as your Redeemer and Lord.
In this verse Paul calls it the righteousness of God which is unique because God is the source. Isaiah records Jehovah's declaration (which will not be completely fulfilled until Messiah's Millennial - 1000 year - reign on earth) - "
Drip down, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds pour down righteousness. Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, and righteousness spring up with it. I, the LORD, have created it. (Isa 45:8)
God's righteousness is the only righteousness that 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 (2Cor 5:21; 1Pet 2:24-note; cf. Heb 9:28-note).
God’s righteousness is eternal. The psalmist records
Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Thy law is truth. Ps 119:142-Spurgeon's note)
Daniel - Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness (beginning in the Millennial reign of Christ), to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place." (Da 9:24- note).
Finally Isaiah records God's declaration
Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, a people in whose heart is My law. Do not fear the reproach of man. Neither be dismayed at their revilings. For the moth will eat them like a garment, and the grub will eat them like wool, but My righteousness shall be forever, and My salvation to all generations. (Isa 51:7-8).
The one who receives the righteousness of God will enjoy it forever (another truth that should assure you that your salvation cannot be lost)
This specific phrase righteousness of God is found in seven times in the NT in the NASB (Ro 1:17-note; Ro 3:5-note; Ro 3:21; Ro 3:22-note; Ro 10:3-note; 2Cor 5:21; Jas 1:20-note)
The LORD our Righteousness or Jehovah Tsidkenu (Tsidkenu is the Hebrew word for righteousness) is the name redeemed Israel will call their Messiah in their future restoration (Ro 11:26,27-see note).
You might still be asking, why is God's righteousness unique? (1) Unique in its Source - God (Isa 45:8). (2) Unique in essence - fulfills perfectly the requirement of God's law (2Co 5:21). (3) Unique in duration - everlasting (Ps 119:142, Isa 51:8, Da 9:24).
Thomas Chalmers - The foundation of your trust before God, must be either your own righteousness out and out, or the righteousness of Christ, out and out … If you are to lean upon your own merit, lean upon it wholly—if you are to lean upon Christ, lean upon Him wholly. The two will not amalgamate together; and it is the attempt to make them do so, which keeps many a weary and heavy-laden inquirer at a distance from rest, and at a distance from the truth of the Gospel. Maintain a clear and consistent posture. Stand not before God with one foot upon a rock and the other upon a treacherous quicksand… We call upon you to lean not so much as the weight of one grain or scruple of your confidence upon your own doings—to leave this ground entirely, and to come over entirely to the ground of a Redeemer’s blood and a Redeemer’s righteousness.
Robert Murray McCheyne died in 1843 at the age of thirty, but this godly man left God’s people with a great treasure is his memoirs and other writings, one of which was his poem
I once was a stranger to grace and to God,
I knew not my danger, and felt not my load;
Though friends spoke in rapture of Christ on the tree,
Jehovah Tsidkenu was nothing to me.
I oft read with pleasure, to soothe or engage,
Isaiah’s wild measure and John’s simple page;
But even when they pictured the blood-sprinkled tree,
Jehovah Tsidkenu seemed nothing to me.
Like tears from the daughters of Zion that roll,
I wept when the waters went over His soul,
Yet thought not that my sins had nailed to the tree
Jehovah Tsidkenu-‘twas nothing to me.
When free grace awoke me by light from on high,
Then legal fears shook me, I trembled to die;
No refuge, no safety in self could I see-
Jehovah Tsidkenu my Savior must be.
My terrors all vanished before the sweet name;
My guilty fear banished, with boldness I came
To drink at the fountain, life-giving and free-
Jehovah Tsidkenu is all things to me.
Jehovah Tsidkenu! My treasure and boast,
Jehovah Tsidkenu! I ne’er can be lost;
In Thee shall I conquer by flood and by field-
My cable, my anchor, my breastplate and shield!
Charles Ryrie (Ryrie Study Bible) writes that righteousness is
Used in various ways in the Bible, righteousness refers
(1) to God's character (Jn 17:25)
(2) to the gift that is given to everyone who receives Christ (Ro 5:17-note)
(3) to standards of right living (Ro 6:18-note; 2Ti 2:22-note)
HAS BEEN MANIFESTED: pephanerotai (3SRPI): (Col 1:26, 2Ti 1:9, 10, 1Pe 1:20, He 9:8, 26)
Wuest - God’s righteousness has been openly shown as in view - (Where? When? On the Old Rugged Cross!)
Has been manifested - Paul uses the perfect tense which emphasizes that this righteousness “has been manifested and now lies open to view”, visible to all, set conspicuously before the eyes of men. The perfect tense speaks of the permanence of this visible manifestation. God's perfect righteousness was manifest in the past at a historical point in time when the Righteous One, the Spotless Lamb of God was crucified, the redemptive efficacy of this event continuing to be manifest throughout the ages.
Manifested (5319) (phaneroo [word study] from phanerós = manifest, visible, conspicuous from phaino = give light; become visible in turn derived from phos = light) refers to the external manifestation to senses and making open to all. It means to make visible that which has been hidden primary reference is to what is visible to sensory perception. It means to cause to become visible. To make appear. To cause to be seen, uncover, lay bare, reveal.
Haldane writes that manifest conveys the idea of "clearly discovered, or made fully evident. It was darkly revealed in the shadows of the law, and more clearly in the writings of the Prophets; but now it is revealed in its accomplishment. It was manifested in the life and death of Jesus Christ, and was, by His resurrection from the dead, openly declared on the part of God. By Him, who was God manifest in the flesh, it was wrought out while He was on earth. He fulfilled all righteousness; not one jot of the law, either in its precepts or threatenings, passed from it; but all was accomplished; and of this righteousness the Holy Spirit, when He came, was to convince the world, John 16:8."
Barnhouse says - “manifest” comes from two Latin words, manus, “hand,” and fendo, “strike,” we can comprehend that a thing is manifest when it is as plain as a hand that seeks to strike you… Now, if a man were to come over the roof of the world from Tibet and were to ask me what the Christian religious Book talked about, I would tell him in a sentence: the Bible was the setting forth of the divine plan whereby God could take sinful men, clean them up, and bring them into His own perfect Heaven without fouling up Heaven and without losing His own righteousness by touching sinners. Righteousness apart from law. Righteousness apart from human doing. Righteousness apart from a man’s own deserving. Righteousness given freely to those who do not deserve it. Righteousness streaming forth from the heart of God because of the nature of His being. This is the theme of the Word of God. (Expositions of Bible Doctrines Taking the Epistle to the Romans As a Point of Departure - God's Remedy - Romans 3:21-4:25).
Phaneroo - 49 times in NT - Mk. 4:22; 16:12, 14; Jn. 1:31; 2:11; 3:21; 7:4; 9:3; 17:6; 21:1, 14; Ro 1:19; 3:21; 16:26; 1Co 4:5; 2Co 2:14; 3:3; 4:10, 11; 5:10, 11; 7:12; 11:6; Ep 5:13, 14; Col. 1:26; 3:4; 4:4; 1Ti 3:16; 2Ti 1:10; Titus 1:3; He 9:8, 26; 1Pe 1:20; 5:4; 1Jn 1:2; 2:19, 28; 3:2, 5, 8; 4:9; Re 3:18; 15:4
In his last letter Paul wrote that God…
has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed (phaneroo - revealed in His divine character and purpose) by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, Who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2Ti 1:9,10-note, cp Titus 1:3, 1Pe 1:20, 1Jn 1:2, 3:5 [appeared], 1Jn 3:8 [appeared], 4:9)
In his letter to the Colossians Paul described the church of which he…
was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery (the church, Jew and Gentile in one body, the Bride of Christ) which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been manifested (phaneroo) to His saints (Col 1:25-note, Col 1:26-note)
Earlier in Romans Paul wrote…
that which is known about God is evident (phaneroo) within them for God made it evident (phaneroo) to them" (Ro 1:19-note)
In Romans 1:17 Paul taught that
the righteousness of God is (continuously being) revealed (apokalupto = uncovered and exposed to open view that which was previously hidden) from faith to faith. (Ro 1:17-n note)
What Paul is saying in Romans 1:17 is that God's righteousness is continually being revealed to those who believe (have faith). But here in Romans 3 Paul teaches that the righteousness of God has been made known once for all in the incarnate Christ and His sacrificial, substitutionary death on Calvary and that Christ's righteousness continues to lie open to view (again this latter statement reflects the perfect tense).
While the Law informs men of their inability to attain righteousness by their own works, it promises a righteousness God Himself provides.
For example, Moses declares to Israel
Yet to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear. (Dt 29:4)
In spite of seeing all the signs (manna from heaven, water from the rock, etc), they still did not perceive the truth about God and His righteousness. They were spiritually blind to the significance of what the Lord had done for them. God had given Israel sign after spiritual sign but they had persisted in their stubborn and rebellious ways. And so their failure to receive His righteousness was not God's "fault". He had always desired to provide them His righteousness. They had a faulty understanding of "righteousness", Moses declaring to Israel
"Do not say in your heart when the LORD your God has driven them out before you, 'Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,' but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is dispossessing them before you. It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people." (Dt 9:4-6)
It was not that God did not want Israel to possess His righteousness, because clearly He did, lamenting
Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever! (Dt 5:29)
God sought from His chosen people reverential fear and honor, a devotion which would be eternal and all-inclusive, a heart bent on loving and obeying Him.
When the righteousness of God was revealed through the Person and work of Jesus Christ, the standard which the Law laid down was met. The Law continues to bear witness that Jesus is righteous, and that He is the Righteous One whom God promised would come to save His people from their sins. Jesus could rightly appeal to the Law as His witness, as proof of His identity as Messiah. The Law therefore defines true righteousness and declares that this righteousness would be manifested apart from the law-keeping of the Israelites, in God’s time.
God’s righteousness was not being revealed for the first time. His righteousness is evident in anything and everything He does. God’s righteousness is evident in His giving men over to their sin, as a present manifestation of His wrath toward sin (see Romans 1:18ff.). But with the earthly appearance of Jesus Christ, God’s righteousness is revealed in yet another way. It is revealed in Jesus Christ and in His work of redemption. While this present manifestation of God’s righteousness in Christ is new in one sense in terms of time, it is not utterly new in kind. In the past, God’s righteousness was revealed by His wrath toward sin as it was poured out upon sinful men. The present manifestation of God’s righteousness is revealed by the outpouring of His wrath on His only Son, Who bore the sins of the world.
Haldane - When the question is put, why is the Gospel the power of God unto salvation? how few give the clear and unfaltering answer of the Apostle, Because therein is The Righteousness Of God revealed. (Romans 3:21-31 Commentary - Haldane has a very lengthy "treatise" on the phrase the righteousness of God if you are interested)
Leon Morris - It has been part of Paul’s method to demonstrate in the section leading up to this point of the argument that that law cannot bring salvation. It can show up the problem; it can and does make clear that all are sinners. But it can do no more. The word law (not “the law”) is general. What is true of the Jewish law is true also of all other law. The way to God is not the way of law (cf. the way “works of law” are treated in Ro 3:20). No one can take refuge in law and the way he thinks he has kept it. This is not a human discovery; Paul is not congratulating himself on having uncovered an important spiritual law. It has been made known (for the verb cf. Ro 1:19); that is to say, it is a matter of revelation. This means more than that it has now been discovered. It means that it is something in the secret counsels of God from of old (cf. Eph. 1:4, 5). But whereas it has always been true, it has only now been “manifested”. Paul is making the point that the gospel is no afterthought. God had always planned to save people by the way of grace. It is the making of this known that is recent. (Ibid)
Barnhouse - Why is it called “the righteousness of God?” There might be several answers to this question, and since all of them are true, they are probably all parts of the complete answer which we will only know fully when we have been made like Him. The righteousness of God is specifically His because of the nature of His being. He is the One who is righteousness in Himself. But also because it is His righteousness, He must demand it of us. The righteousness which He is must be the righteousness with which He surrounds Himself. Therefore He must demand of us a righteousness equal to His own. However, since none of us can produce this righteousness, it is proper to call it the righteousness of God because it is also the righteousness which He provides freely for us… The theme of the Epistle to the Romans is the righteousness of God. It is God as the center of righteousness, it is God as the source of righteousness, it is God as the stream of righteousness outflowing. God is righteousness, God demands righteousness, and God provides righteousness. If those three statements are understood, then the whole gospel will be understood. If those three statements are not understood, then the gospel can never be understood. Wherever there is heresy, men have departed from the idea that God is righteousness, and that therefore He must demand that righteousness of all His creatures; and, that since none can have it apart from Him, because His nature is also love, He provides His righteousness in His way. (Expositions of Bible Doctrines Taking the Epistle to the Romans As a Point of Departure - God's Remedy - Romans 3:21-4:25).
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary - God the Father is righteous (just); Jesus Christ his Son is the Righteous (Just) One; the Father through the Son and in the Spirit gives the gift of righteousness (justice) to repentant sinners for salvation; such believing sinners are declared righteous (just) by the Father through the Son, are made righteous (just) by the Holy Spirit working in them, and will be wholly righteous (just) in the age to come. They are and will be righteous because they are in a covenant relation with the living God, who is the God of all grace and mercy and who will bring to completion what he has begun in them by declaring them righteous for Christ's sake. (Reference)
Predicted -Isaiah 56:1; Ezekiel 16:14
Revealed in the gospel -Romans 1:17
Is of the Lord -Isaiah 54:17
The righteousness of faith -Romans 4:13; 9:30; 10:6
The righteousness of God, without the law -Romans 3:21
The righteousness of God by faith in Christ -Romans 3:22
Christ being made righteousness to us -1 Corinthians 1:30
Our being made the righteousness of God, in Christ -2 Corinthians 5:21
Christ is the end of the law for -Romans 10:4
Christ called THE LORD OF OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS -Jeremiah 23:6
Christ brings in an everlasting righteousness -Daniel 9:24
Is a free gift -Romans 5:17
God’s righteousness never to be abolished -Isaiah 5:16
The promises made through -Romans 4:13
Have, on believing -Romans 4:5,11,24
Exalted in righteousness Psalms 89:16
Desire to be found in -Philippians 3:9
Glory in having -Isaiah 45:24,25
Exhortation to seek righteousness -Matthew 6:33
The Gentiles attained to -Romans 9:30
Blessedness of those who have -Romans 4:6
Ignorant of -Romans 10:3
Stumble at righteousness by faith -Romans 9:32
Submit not to -Romans 10:3
Abraham -Romans 4:9,22; Galatians 3:6
Paul -Philippians 3:7-9
Righteousness in General
Is obedience to God’s law -Deuteronomy 6:25; Romans 10:5; Luke 1:6; Psalms 1:2
God loves -Psalms 11:7
God looks for -Isaiah 5:7
Is the Sun of -Malachi 4:2
Loves -Psalms 45:7; Hebrews 1:9
Was girt with -Isaiah 11:5
Put on, as breast-plate -Isaiah 59:17
Was sustained by -Isaiah 59:16
Preached -Psalms 40:9
Fulfilled all -Matthew 3:15
Is made to his people -1 Corinthians 1:30
Is the end of the law for -Romans 10:4
Has brought in everlasting -Daniel 9:24
Shall judge with -Psalms 72:2; Isaiah 11:4; Acts 17:31; Revelation 19:11
Shall reign in -Psalms 45:6; Isaiah 32:1; Hebrews 1:8
Shall execute -Psalms 99:4; Jeremiah 23:6
None, by nature have -Job 15:14; Psalms 14:3; Romans 3:10
Cannot come by the law -Galatians 2:21; 3:21
No justification by works of -Romans 3:20; 9:31,32; Galatians 2:16
No salvation by works of -Ephesians 2:8,9; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5
Unregenerate man seeks justification by works of -Luke 18:9; Romans 10:3
The blessing of God is not to be attributed to our works of -Deuteronomy 9:5
Have, in Christ -Isaiah 45:24; 54:17; 2 Corinthians 5:21
Have, imputed -Romans 4:11,22
Receive, from God -Psalms 24:5
Are renewed in -Ephesians 4:24
Are led in the paths of -Psalms 23:3
Are servants of -Romans 6:16,18
Characterised by -Genesis 18:25; Psalms 1:5,6
Know -Isaiah 51:7
Do -1 John 2:29; 3:7
Work, by faith -Hebrews 11:33
Follow after -Isaiah 51:1
Put on -Job 29:14
Wait for the hope of -Galatians 5:5
Pray for the spirit of -Psalms 51:10
Hunger and thirst after -Matthew 5:6
Walk before God in -1 Kings 3:6
Offer the sacrifice of -Psalms 4:5; 51:19
Put no trust in their own -Philippians 3:6-8
Count their own, as filthy rags -Isaiah 64:6
Should seek -Zephaniah 2:3
Should live in -Titus 2:12; 1 Peter 2:24
Should serve God in -Luke 1:75
Should yield their members as instruments of-Romans 6:13
Should yield their members servants to -Romans 6:19
Should have on the breast-plate of -Ephesians 6:14
Shall receive a crown of -2 Timothy 4:8
Shall see God’s face in -Psalms 17:15
Of saints endures forever -Psalms 112:3,9; 2 Corinthians 9:9
An evidence of the new birth -1 John 2:29
The kingdom of God is -Romans 14:17
The fruit of the Spirit is in all -Ephesians 5:9
The Scriptures instruct in -2 Timothy 3:16
Judgments designed to lead to -Isaiah 26:9
Chastisements yield the fruit of -Hebrews 12:11
Has no fellowship with unrighteousness -2 Corinthians 6:14
Be preachers of -2 Peter 2:5
Reason of -Acts 24:25
Follow after -1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22
Be clothed with -Psalms 132:9
Be armed with -2 Corinthians 6:7
Pray for the fruit of, in their people -2 Corinthians 9:10; Philippians 1:11
Keep saints in the right way -Proverbs 11:5; 13:6
Judgment should be executed in -Leviticus 19:15
THEY WHO WALK IN, AND FOLLOW
Are righteous -1 John 3:7
Are the excellent of the earth -Psalms 16:3; Proverbs 12:26
Are accepted with God -Acts 10:35
Are loved by God -Psalms 146:8; Proverbs 15:9
Are blessed by God -Psalms 5:12
Are heard by God -Luke 18:7; James 5:16
Are objects of God’s watchful care -Job 36:7; Psalms 34:15; Proverbs 10:3; 1 Peter 3:12
Are tried by God -Psalms 11:5
Are exalted by God -Job 36:7
Dwell in security -Isaiah 33:15,16
Are bold as a lion -Proverbs 28:1
Are delivered out of all troubles -Psalms 34:19; Proverbs 11:8
Are never forsaken by God -Psalms 37:25
Are abundantly provided for -Proverbs 13:25; Matthew 6:25-33
Are enriched -Psalms 112:3; Proverbs 15:6
Think and desire good -Proverbs 11:23; 12:5
Know the secret of the Lord -Psalms 25:14; Proverbs 3:32
Have their prayers heard -Psalms 34:17; Proverbs 15:29; 1 Peter 3:12
Have their desires granted -Proverbs 10:24
Find it with life and honour -Proverbs 21:21
Shall hold on their way -Job 17:9
Shall never be moved -Psalms 15:2,5; 55:22; Proverbs 10:30; 12:3
Shall be ever remembered -Psalms 112:6
Shall flourish as a branch -Proverbs 11:28
Shall be glad in the Lord -Psalms 64:10
Brings its own reward -Proverbs 11:18; Isaiah 3:10
Tends to life -Proverbs 11:19; 12:28
The work of, shall be peace -Isaiah 32:17
The effect of, shall be quietness and assurance for ever -Isaiah 32:17
Is a crown of glory to the aged -Proverbs 16:31
Are far from -Psalms 119:150; Isaiah 46:12
Are free from -Romans 6:20
Are enemies of -Acts 13:10
Leave off -Amos 5:7; Psalms 36:3
Follow not after -Romans 9:30
Do not -1 John 3:10
Do not obey -Romans 2:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:12
Love lying rather than -Psalms 52:3
Make mention of God, not it -Isaiah 48:1
Though favoured, will not learn -Isaiah 26:10; Psalms 106:43
Speak contemptuously against those who follow -Psalms 31:18; Matthew 27:39-44
Hate those who follow -Psalms 34:21
Slay those who follow -Psalms 37:32; 1 John 3:12; Matthew 23:35
Should break off their sins by -Daniel 4:27
Should awake to -1 Corinthians 15:34
Should sow to themselves in -Hosea 10:12
Vainly wish to die as those who follow -Numbers 23:10
The throne of kings established by -Proverbs 16:12; 25:5
Nations exalted by -Proverbs 14:34
Having imputed, without works -Romans 4:6
Doing -Psalms 106:3
Hungering and thirsting after -Matthew 5:6
Suffering for -1 Peter 3:14
Being persecuted for -Matthew 5:10
Turning others to -Daniel 12:3
Jacob -Genesis 30:33
David -2 Samuel 22:21
Zacharias -Luke 1:6
Abel -Hebrews 11:4
Lot -2 Peter 2:8
BEING WITNESSED BY THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS: marturoumene (PPPFSN) hupo tou nomou kai ton propheton: (Dt 18:15, 16, 17, 18, 19; Lk 24:44; Jn 1:45; 3:14,15; 5:46,47; Acts 26:22; Heb 10:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14) (Ro 1:2; 16:26; Acts 3:21-25; 10:43; 28:23; Gal 3:8; 1Pet 1:10)
As Barnhouse phrases it…
Righteousness without law, but righteousness witnessed by the law. The testimony of the law is perfect, showing that men are saved by the work of the Saviour. (Ibid)
Witnessed by the Law and the Prophets - This statement would be directed especially to the Jewish readers for they had access to the OT Law and prophets. The good news of God's provision of His righteousness was foretold in types and shadows of the Levitical sacrificial system which required the shedding of blood for atonement (covering of sin, not taking away of sin) and by direct prophecies as discussed below.
The tragedy is that although the Jews had such privileged exposure to the witness of the OT Law and Prophets, they were blind to the fact that these witnesses testified about their own Messiah, Who Himself declared (addressing unbelieving Jews)…
You search (implies diligent scrutiny in investigating) the Scriptures (see graphe), because you think that in them (in the Law and the Prophets - referring to the very words themselves!) you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me (the main subject of the OT was and is the coming of Messiah) and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life. (Jn 5:39, 40)
John MacArthur comments: In other words, the Law and the Prophets did not show men how to achieve their own righteousness but pointed to the coming Messiah, the Savior and Son of God, who Himself would provide the righteousness that God demands of men (Jer 23:6, 1Cor 1:30). Although the full revelation of salvation through Christ was not given in the Old Testament, that had always been the way of salvation to which that testament pointed. (MacArthur, J: Romans 1-8. Chicago: Moody Press or Logos)
Note that the real reason people do not accept the Christ as Savior is not because they cannot understand the gospel or find it impossible to believe on Him. The real fault lies in man’s own will (unwilling to come to Me). Men love their sins more than they love the Savior. They do not want to give up their wicked ways (cp Jn 3:19, 20).
The OT Scriptures indeed do give eloquent and ample testimony (witness) to the truth of the righteousness of God apart from the law…
The law - Ge 15:6 (Ga 3:6, 7, 8, 9, He 11:8) & Ge 7:1 (cp Heb 11:7)
The prophets - Isa 53:11; 45:24, 25, Je 23:5, 6, 33:16 (cp Psalms - Ps 71:2, 15, 16, 19, 24, cp 1Co 1:30, Php 3:9)
In presenting these "two OT witnesses", Paul also makes the point that God's righteousness that made justification possible, though new in the sense that it is only now fully disclosed, is nevertheless an old righteousness, predicted and foreshadowed in the Old Testament. Men have always been justified by faith, the OT saints by looking forward (in terms of time) to the Cross and the NT saints by looking backward to the Cross. This truth about the OT also serves to prepare the reader for the discussion of God's dealings with Abraham and David which are considered in Romans 4:1ff, 6, 7, 8,
Witnessed (3140) (martureo from martus = witness) means to testify, give evidence, give testimony, bear record, affirm that one has seen or heard or experienced something or provide information about a person or an event concerning which the speaker has direct knowledge
As Morris says this witness points out that God's way for a man to become righteous…
is not some minor truth tucked away in an obscure corner of Scripture, but a great truth blazoned forth in both law and prophets. And the present participle “being witnessed to” indicates that the testimony of the Old Testament continues. (Ibid)
Martureo is in the present tense (continuous activity) and passive voice (manifestation is occurring from an outside source) which indicates that this God-kind of righteousness continually being made plain by God Himself (via the OT Law and prophets) to those in the New Testament era.
To say it another way doctrine of justification by faith was foreshadowed by the OT Law and foretold by the OT prophets.
Martureo is used 76 times in the NT - Mt 23:31; Lk. 4:22; Jn 1:7, 8, 15, 32, 34; 2:25; 3:11, 26, 28, 32; 4:39, 44; 5:31, 32, 33, 36, 37, 39; 7:7; 8:13f, 18; 10:25; 12:17; 13:21; 15:26, 27; 18:23, 37; 19:35; 21:24; Acts 6:3; 10:22, 43; 13:22; 14:3; 15:8; 16:2; 22:5, 12; 23:11; 26:5; Ro 3:21; 10:2; 1Co. 15:15; 2 Co. 8:3; Ga 4:15; Col. 4:13; 1Ti 5:10; 6:13; Heb. 7:8, 17; 10:15; 11:2, 4, 5, 39; 1Jn 1:2; 4:14; 5:6, 7, 9, 10; 3 Jn. 1:3, 6, 12; Re 1:2; 22:16, 18, 20
Law (3551) (nomos) in this context refers to the Pentateuch (the Torah), the books of Moses, the first 5 books of the Old Testament.
Prophets (4396) (prophetes from pró = before or forth + phemi = tell) means literally a foreteller of future events, who in the OT spoke by divine inspiration (cp 2Pe 1:20, 21-notes). In the present passage, prophetes refers to the prophetic books in the Old Testament (cp Mt 26:56 - so called "major" prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah, and the "minor" prophets).
The phrase the Law and the prophets was commonly used to encompass all of God’s written Word in the OT (Mt 7:12; 22:40; Lk. 16:16, 22:44; Jn 1:45, Acts 13:15, 26:22). Jesus used this same phrase declaring…
Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. (Mt 5:17-note).
Paul's point is that the righteousness he was describing was not a new kind of righteousness but had been spoken of throughout the Old Testament and thus has always been available to those who would receive it by faith. For example the psalmist testifies that
Phinehas stood up and interposed (thus manifesting his faith - this was during the event in which the men of Israel played the harlot with Moab - Nu 25:1) and so the plague was stayed. And it was reckoned (Lxx = logizomai = imputed, credited) to him for righteousness, To all generations forever. (Ps 106:31)
Furthermore the Law and the Prophets spoke of God's righteousness in the form of shadows (cf Col 2:17-note) that were presented in the sacrificial system (ceremonial law) that required the shedding of blood for atonement.
God's righteousness was foretold by direct prophecies as for example in Isaiah, where God declared
My righteousness is near (in the form of God's Servant, the Messiah) My salvation has gone forth, and My arms will judge the peoples. The coastlands will wait for Me, and for My arm they will wait expectantly. Lift up your eyes to the sky. Then look to the earth beneath; for the sky will vanish like smoke, and the earth will wear out like a garment, and its inhabitants will die in like manner, but My salvation shall be forever, And My righteousness shall not wane. (Isa 51:5-6)
Later through the prophet Isaiah Jehovah clearly states
"Preserve justice, and do righteousness, for My salvation is about to come (He is prophesying the coming of Messiah) and My righteousness (which also would be Personified in the Messiah) to be revealed." (Isa 56:1)
Don't misunderstand this verse in Isaiah. We don’t do righteousness to merit salvation. We commit ourselves to do what is right because are already made righteous by faith.
In Romans 5 Paul gives two examples of this OT witness, Abraham and David, both of whom bear testimony that the righteousness of God become available to men by faith, even though neither man knew the fullness of how it was to come about through the life and death of the Messiah.
In the first chapter of Romans Paul has also already given witness from the OT prophet Habakkuk who declared
the righteous will live by his faith. (Hab 2:4 in Ro1:17-note)
Isaiah probably saw the shadow of the Messiah more clearly than any other OT writer, predicting both His suffering life and His substitutionary death writing that
As a result of the anguish of His (Messiah's) soul, He (God the Father) will see it and be satisfied. By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant (cf 1Cor 1:30), will justify (declare righteous those who believe) the many, as He will bear their iniquities (speaking of Christ's substitutionary sacrifice). (Isa 53:11)
WHY THE LAW? The Mosaic Laws were not given as a means of achieving righteousness but of describing God’s righteousness and showing the impossibility of men living up to His standard of perfection.
WHY THE SACRIFICES? The Mosaic sacrifices were not prescribed as a means of atoning for sin but of symbolically pointing to Jesus Christ, Who Himself became the Sin Bearer and Sacrifice for the whole world. The commandments, rituals, sacrifices, and godly principles taught in the OT were, and still are, a part of His divinely inspired Word. But the Scriptures could never remove sin, forgive sin, atone for sin, or give a new and righteous life to a sinner… no matter how zealously and sincerely he tried to abide by them.
Robert Haldane has an excellent note on this verse writing that…
In the first part of this verse, “without law,” where the article (Ed: "the" is not present before law in the Greek) is wanting, signifies law indefinitely,—whatever has been delivered to man by God as His law, and in whatever way; but here, with the article, it refers to the five books of Moses, thus distinguished from the writings of the Prophets, according to the usual division of the Old Testament Scriptures, and adopted by our Lord, Lk 24:44. This righteousness was obscurely testified in the first promise respecting the bruising of the serpent’s head (Ge 3:15). It was expressly named in the declaration of the manner of Abraham’s justification, where it is recorded that he believed in the Lord, and He counted it to him for righteousness, Genesis 15:6; as also in the covenant which God made with him, of which the sign—that is, circumcision—was a seal or pledge of the righteousness which is by faith; and when it was promised that the blessing of Abraham, which is this righteousness, was to come on all nations; Genesis 12:3. It was intimated in the writings of Moses, in every declaration of the forgiveness of sin, and every call to repentance. All the declarations of mercy that are to be found in the law of Moses belong to the Gospel. (Ed: A beautiful thought!) They are all founded on the Messiah and His righteousness, and are made in consequence of God’s purpose to send His Son in the fullness of time into the world (Gal 4:4), and of the first promise respecting the seed of the woman (cp Gal 3:16 where "offspring" = seed).
The righteousness of God was witnessed not only in all the declarations of mercy and calls to repentance, but also by the whole economy of the law of which Moses was the mediator. Abraham was chosen, his posterity collected into a nation, and a country appropriated to them, that from the midst of them, according to His promise, God might raise up a Prophet, who, like unto Moses, was to be a Lawgiver and Mediator, to whom, turning from Moses, they should listen so soon as He appeared, Deuteronomy 18:15, 19. The law of everlasting obligation was given to that nation, and renewed after it had been broken by them, and then solemnly deposited in the ark of the testimony (covenant), in token that it should be preserved entire, and in due time fulfilled by Him of whom the ark was a type (see Typology - Study of Biblical types)
The sacrifices offered by the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), and the whole of the ceremonial law in all its typical ordinances and observances, bear their direct though shadowy testimony to the righteousness of God, of which Noah was alike a preacher and an heir, 2 Peter 2:5-note; Hebrews 11:7-note.
The righteousness of God was witnessed by the Prophets. Of their testimonies to it the following are a few examples from the Psalms:—“Deliver me from blood–guiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation; and my tongue shall sing aloud of Thy righteousness.” Psalm 51:14. “My mouth shall show forth Thy righteousness and Thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof. I will go in the strength of the Lord God; I will make mention of Thy righteousness, even of Thine only. Thy righteousness, also, O God, is very high. My tongue also shall talk of Thy righteousness all the day long,” Psalm 71:15, 16, 19, 24. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Righteousness shall go before Him, and shall set us in the way of His steps,” Psalm 85:10, 13. “In Thy name shall they rejoice all the day; and in Thy righteousness shall they be exalted,” Psalm 89:16. “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,” Psalm 119:142. “They shall abundantly utter the memory of Thy great goodness, and shall sing of Thy righteousness,” Psalm 145:7.
The righteousness of the Messiah, as connected with salvation, is the constant theme of the Prophets, especially of Isaiah. “The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; He will magnify the law, and make it honorable,” Isaiah 42:21. “Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness; let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it,” Isaiah 45:8. The heavens were to drop down this righteousness, and the skies were to pour it down, while men’s hearts, barren like the earth without rain, were to be opened to receive it by faith, having no part in doing anything to procure the gift. “Surely, shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength: In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory,” Isaiah 45:24, 25. “I bring near My righteousness; it shall not be far off, and My salvation shall not tarry; and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel My glory,” Isaiah 46:13. “My righteousness is near; My salvation is gone forth—My salvation shall be for ever, and My righteousness shall not be abolished. Hearken unto Me, ye that know righteousness,” Isaiah 51:5, 7. “By His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many,” Isaiah 61:11. “This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord,” Isaiah 54:17. “Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for My salvation is near to come, and My righteousness to be revealed,” Isaiah 56:1. “For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations,” Isaiah 61:11. “For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth And the Gentiles shall see Thy righteousness, and all kings Thy glory,” Isaiah 62:1, 2.
“Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is His name whereby He shall be called, Jehovah Our Righteousness,” Jeremiah 23:5. “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteous,” Daniel 9:24. “It is time to seek the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness upon you,” Hosea 10:12. To Balaam, who beheld the Savior at a distance, He appeared as a star; “There shall come a Star out of Jacob,” Numbers 24:17; while to Malachi, the last of the Prophets, on His nearer approach, He appeared as the sun. “But unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings,” Malachi 4:2.