About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Through Faith (ch. 3:21 Ė 31)
has just told his readers that the Law of Moses can never make anyone
fact, it points out how sinful we are.
That was one reason for the law in the first place according to
we go any farther, we need to understand what righteousness means.
Righteousness is being perfectly right in all things pertaining
to God. It
is more than a matter of the things we do.
It's a matter of who we are.
A righteous person does righteous things.
So, when Paul speaks of righteousness in his letter to the Romans
we should understand he's thinking of being like God, not simply doing
previously stated that we are all worthless, all unrighteous.
He has also stated that the only way one can be righteous is to
obey Godís Law in every small detail.
The problem is, as Paul also stated, obeying God's Laws in every
last detail is impossible.
That puts us in a bad situation. We
thus have a problem.
God demands righteousness from us because that is His nature.
He is perfect and right in every aspect of who He is.
He expects the same from His creation.
The problem that faced God was how He can get man to be
gave the Law of Moses to
in chapter 3 verse 21 we begin to see Godís answer to this problem.
Paul says, "But now a righteousness apart from law has been
This would be a shocking statement to the Jews since they knew
that righteousness came by obeying the Law of Moses.
This was one reason why the Jews attempted to kill Paul.
Paul is now telling the Jews, and everyone else, that there is a
way to become righteous, and it has nothing to do with the Law of Moses.
A matter of fact both the Law of Moses and Prophets have
testified to this righteousness.
Paul is saying that the Law and the Prophets foretold this new
way of making man righteous.
The Jewish leaders just didn't see what Paul was talking about in
the Law and Prophets. God
caused a blindness to come over them so they could not see this truth in
what we call the Old Testament.
verse 21 Paul uses the word "law" in two senses.
According to the NIV, he uses the word "law", and the
One thing we should understand is that the Greek language that
we've translated into English does not use capital letters.
So, when the NIV or any other translation inserts a capital
letter, as we see here, it's purely a matter of the translators thinking
With this in mind, Paul says that there is a righteousness apart
from "law" (no capital "L").
The probable reason for the NIV to not capitalize "law"
in this phrase is because the direct article "the" isn't in
the Greek text.
That suggests that
is the second part of the verse Paul does use the term "the
Law", suggest a specific law.
The NIV capitalize "Law" because the Greek has the
direct article "the" before the word "Law".
This tells me that the Law Paul had in mind was the Law of Moses.
Also, associating Law with the Prophets makes it clear that he is
thinking of the Law of Moses.
short, what Paul is saying here is that there is now a way for man to be
seen righteous in the eyes of God and it has nothing to do with law,
that is man's law, or, even the Law of Moses.
Again, this would have irritated the Jews exceedingly.
verse 22, this new righteousness comes by having faith in Jesus Christ,
or, trusting Jesus Christ.
Having this faith means we trust Jesus.
Many of us just don't understand the meaning of faith, even
though it is fundamental to being a Christian.
I suggest that if you substitute the word trust for faith as you
read the New Testament, you'll understand faith much better.
my thinking that the Evangelical world has watered down the word faith
in many ways.
Faith is more than a matter of believing in your mind that Jesus
existed and even died for your sins.
Faith is in fact, as the Greek word "pistis" that's
translated as "faith" in the New Testament implies, trusting
your life with Jesus.
I believe salvation is more than trusting Jesus for your eternal
trusting Jesus with your very life.
verse 22 Paul says that this righteousness is for all.
Why is it for all?
Because all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of
God, as we will see in verse 23.
If all have sinned, and all meaning both Jews and Gentiles, then
all are eligible to believe and become righteous in the eyes of God.
that this way of becoming righteous apart from law comes from God.
Paul must say this because the Jewish leadership does not believe
it is from God, and, the Gentiles, with their polytheistic paganism
background, also must know that this righteousness is from God, not from
verse 24 Paul says that all are justified freely through the redemption
that is found in Christ Jesus.
This is a great verse.
Our salvation is free because of Godís grace towards us.
It is free because we do not have to pay for it.
As a matter of fact, nothing we have comes close to the price
that this righteousness actually costs.
We do not have to earn it by obeying laws and doing good.
No good work that we might be able to perform even comes close to
obtaining the righteousness that Paul is talking about here.
We who are worthless and depraved can find salvation free of
charge. Salvation might be free, but it's not cheap.
Jesus paid a very great price for this salvation.
It is so expensive that only Jesus has the ability to pay for it.
Greek word "dorean' is translated as "freely" in the NIV
in verse 24. The basic
meaning of "dorean" means "a gift".
It's used as an adverb in this verse, thus the English
translation as "freely". Another
way you might put this verse is, "God gifted your justification by
faith in Jesus". When
thinking of justification being a gift due to God's grace, it always
reminds me of Ephesians 1:8 where Paul says that God has lavished His
grace on us. If you
understand how depraved we are, something I've mentioned previously, the
idea of God lavishing His grace on us is utterly amazing.
the word "justify" in verse 24.
It's another theological word that many don't seem to be able to
is the old saying that explains it pretty well.
Justification means, "Just as if I had never sinned."
Justification, or to justify, is translated from the Greek word "dikoisis".
You might notice both righteousness and justify are from the same
Greek root word.
To justify a person is to pronounce him to be just, or, to be
living according to the just standards of God.
Justification implies that God, the just Judge, has removed the
designation of guilty sinner that condemns us to eternal death.
Justification is a legal pronouncement by God.
I say legal, because God had contracted, or agreed, or covenanted
with, Himself to do this for us.
A covenant is a legal contract.
also the word "redemption" in verse 24.
The Greek word translated as redeem or redemption in the New
Testament is "exagorozo", which simply means "to buy or
There is another Greek word translated as redeem in the New
Testament and it is the word "lutroo".
This is the word that is used here in Romans 3:24.
Lutroo is more specific.
It means a release once a ransom is paid.
is a slight difference between exagorazo and lutroo.
Exagorazo puts the emphasis on the price that has been paid,
while lutroo stresses the actual releasing once the price has been paid.
therefore, is the purchasing of someoneís freedom.
The word is often used when someone buys out a slaveís freedom.
This is exactly what Jesus did for us.
He purchased, or bought out, our freedom from the penalty for our
price that Jesus paid was His own blood, His very human life.
The Scripture says that He "purchased our freedom with His
need to understand that Jesus purchased this freedom from God, not the
devil as many think.
As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21, ďGod made Him (Jesus)
who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the
righteousness of God.Ē
verse 25 we see the word "atonement".
The Greek word "hilaskomai" is the word that is
translated as "atonement" here.
Not all translations translate hilaskomai as atonement here but
the NIV does.
There's another Greek word, that being, "katallasso" is
the word that is translated as "atonement" in the most of the
This word means "to change".
"Katallasso" was the word often used in the exchange of
money in Paulís day.
Today we might say, "Can you change (katalasso) a ten dollar
bill into two five dollar bills?"
in the Biblical sense means that God has changed us from being His enemy
to being His friend.
Katalasso is often translated reconcile in the New Testament.
So, when we hear the word "atonement", we need to
understand it to mean becoming friends with God.
Jesusí shed blood on the cross has taken away our enemy status.
short, the word "atonement" is the process by which God
provides what is necessary for us to be His friends.
25 says, "God presented Him (Jesus) as an atoning sacrifice."
As I mentioned above, the Greek word translated as
"atoning" here is not the one usually translated as atonement
in the New Testament.
The specific thought here is that God made Jesus to be a
sacrifice that turned away Godís wrath from us.
Why was His wrath turned away from us?
It was turned away because Godís wrath was poured out on Jesus
on the cross.
Jesus experienced God's wrath for us. Therefore God no longer has
to pour out His wrath on us who have received His provision for us on
is my paraphrase of Romans 3:23 to 25.
"Everyone, both Jew and Gentile, have sinned and have fallen
short of the glory and righteousness of God.
Therefore, God has freely and without cost, declared us totally
righteous, just as He Himself is totally righteous.
He does this because He punished Jesus instead of us.
God poured out His wrath on Jesus, paving the way for us to be
verse 25 Paul states that God declares us as righteous when we have
faith in the blood of Jesus.
We must remember that in Old Testament times, the shedding of a
lamb's blood provided temporary atonement for sins.
Now, the blood of Jesus provides that atonement, but there is one
more thing to consider.
Paul says that it is our faith in the sacrifice of Jesus that
causes us to be considered as righteous in the eyes of God.
Without faith, there is no redemption, no atonement, and no
Simply put, the cross of Christ provides the means for anyone to
be saved. What
it doesn't do is save everyone.
It only saves those with faith, those who trust the cross for
says in verse 25 and 26 that God did all of this for us to demonstrate
What does this mean?
Paul continues to say that sins committed in the past, in Old
Testament times, were not punished.
Because God is just, He cannot go on forever avoiding punishing
people for their sins.
So, to satisfy His sense of justice, God punished Jesus for all
of our sinfulness.
This satisfied Godís justice and showed His mercy towards us at
the same time.
God could now feel good because someone was punished for sin,
even though it was Jesus, His Son, who was punished.
In one moment of time God both loved us and satisfied His sense
of justness. What
great love He has for us. This
is why I say that both love and justice met together at the cross.
the word "forbearance" in verse 25.
This suggests to me that God really didn't want to punish anyone
for their sins.
He waited as long as He could before He dealt with our sin
problem, and, when He did, He punished Jesus instead of us.
again the element of faith in verse 26.
We are justified before God only when we have faith, only when we
trust His provision of justification.
If one has no faith, he is not justified.
He remains guilty.
verse 27 Paul asks, "Where is boasting, on what principle, and, on
that of observing the Law?
Paul is now wrapping up this part of his argument.
He's getting back to where he began earlier in this chapter and
also in chapter 2.
He gets back to the boasting in the Law.
In Paul's mind, he has just proved that boasting in one being
righteous on grounds of the Law of Moses, or, any other human law, is
concludes, if one is to boast at all, it must be based on faith, not
observance of any law.
28 is another one of those key verses.
It says, "We
maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from the law."
for reasons stated earlier, I believe "the law" is in
reference to the Law of Moses.
Let me say, if God says that His own law justifies no one, then
any law that we make up certainly is meaningless when it comes to our
think any differently would be telling Jesus what He did on the cross
was not good enough, and we need to add a couple more things to improve
on Jesus' sacrifice.
What a horrible thought.
Sad to say, we have done this many times throughout church
28 is a very forceful and dramatic statement.
I do not know how many Jews there were in the Roman church that
Paul was writing to.
We do know from the last chapter of Acts that Paul did address
the non-Christian Jewish leaders in
verse 29 Paul asks, "Is God not the God of the Gentiles as
Again, this would have irritated the Jewish leadership, but, if
the Law of Moses has nothing to do with God's salvation, then, God is
indeed the God of the Gentiles too.
It's only a logical conclusion.
Besides, it was God who made all peoples anyway.
need to note something very important here. Your understanding of what I
am about to say will determine how you view end time prophecy.
Paul says that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile
need to understand that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile
when it comes to faith and salvation.
That is the context of Paul's words here.
We've all sinned, and we all can be saved.
Paul is only talking about salvation by faith.
There remains a difference between Jew and Gentile when it comes
to what I call prophetic history. Without going into great detail,
through the Abrahamic Covenant found in Genesis 12:1 to 3 and elsewhere,
God promised the nation of Israel
certain things that would last forever.
He promised that they'd be a great nation and that they'd have a
particular portion of land, among other things.
Some of these promises have not yet been fulfilled.
God will fulfill them.
will always be a distinct and special nation in God's sight forever.
There are so many passages that point this out.
Paul also speaks to this later on, in chapter 9 through 11.
He has to clarify the Jewish place in prophetic history in this
book of Romans because of what he has just said about there being no
difference between Jew and Gentile in this passage.
verse 30 Paul goes back before the Law of Moses was given to Israel. He
brings up the issue of circumcision.
He says yet another thing that would totally irritate the Jewish
leaders, and that is that circumcision is meaningless when it comes to
is by faith alone, whether one is circumcised or not.
It makes no difference.
verse 31 Paul makes it clear that he is not nullifying the Law of Moses
by what he just said.
He says that he still upholds the Law. That
is to say, Paul still believes there is a place for the Law of Moses,
but its place has nothing to do with salvation of the individual.
We should remember that there is a lot of prophecy in the books
of the Law.
The Law actually predicts Israel's future, which by the way, has yet to be fulfilled.
For this reason, the Law of Moses is still significant.
Paul's words "we uphold the law" can easily misunderstood. Some would suggest then that Paul obeyed the Law. Paul's belief of how the Law of Moses should be understood in this New Testament era was a point of contention in the first generation church, especially among the Jewish Christians. We can't use this verse to support the idea that Paul upheld the Law as a means to salvation. That is clear, but, did he still obey the Law, but not as a means of salvation?
Greek word "hisemi" is translated as "uphold" in the
NIV in verse 31.
This word simply means to stand.
So, I believe Paul did not have obedience to the Law in mind.
What I believe he had in mind was that the Law of Moses still had
use. It wasn't to be discarded.
It still has a purpose until all aspects of the Law are fulfilled
at the return of Jesus.
my understanding that while with the Jewish Christians, Paul obeyed the
Law in order to not offend them.
When with the Gentiles, obedience to the Law was not as important
to him because the Law was never given to them.
This is what the Acts 15 conference was all about.
The conclusion of that gathering was that the Gentiles were not
obligated to obey the Law of Moses, which, Paul agreed to, thus would be
fundamental to Paul's view of the Law to obey.