Pauls footsteps #262

With Rom.3:22 we come to the positive explanation that Paul has been wanting to get to ever since Rom.1:16, 17. Before he explained this passage he wanted to make it clear that everybody needed this salvation and that we could not obtain it by any human condition or achievement – not by birth into the covenant people, or by having or keeping the law.  

The law’s function was to point out sin (Rom.3:20), it had no power to save. It could only condemn. Everybody, even the good churchgoing Jews, were under condemnation, with no way out.  

Now Paul can pick up on his statement about the gospel of righteousness by faith that he had set forth in Rom.1:16, 17. He is now ready to explain what he meant by the phrase. We should all now be ready to listen since we have no hope outside of God’s gracious offer.  

Righteousness is an important word in Romans, appearing more than thirty times. The phrase “righteousness of God”, as found in v22, shows up eight times in Romans, but only twice in all the rest of Paul’s letters combined. I remember when I was studying NT Greek having to write an essay on this phrase.  

“God’s righteousness” or “righteousness from God” can refer to either God’s character or His gift. In the context of Rom.3:21, 22 it has in mind that righteousness which God has provided and offers to those who have faith in Christ as a gift. To Paul, this righteousness is humanity’s greatest need. Thus it stands at the very centre of his presentation and understanding of the good news.   

Salvation is not automatic. It must be accepted. It has a condition, and that condition is “faith in Jesus Christ.”  Faith, in the context of Roman’s, is concentrating your hope on God instead of yourself and establishing a relationship between yourself and God that is not based on morality but is based on the saving act of grace through Jesus Christ. It involves believing and trusting. Just as the first step in sin involved distrust in God (Gen.3:1-6), so the first step towards Him is trusting faith.

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