Study of Romans 3:21-31

The Righteousness of God Through Faith

Rom 3:21  But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 
Rom 3:22  even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 
Rom 3:23  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 
Rom 3:24  being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 
Rom 3:25  whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 
Rom 3:26  for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 
Rom 3:27  Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 
Rom 3:28  For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 
Rom 3:29  Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 
Rom 3:30  since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. 
Rom 3:31  Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law. 

v21 -22 – Paul now declares that we are not justified by the law, but by the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He does not dismiss the Law, it simply is not part of the justification process. This is shown in the story of Abram where it says, “Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” Gen 15:6. Paul speaks of this in chapter 4 as well. “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.  For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Rom 4:2-3.  It is through faith in Jesus Christ and His death, burial and resurrection. And this is for all believers. There is no difference between peoples, nationalities, or any other distinctions.

v23 – And why no distinctions? Because all have sinned and come short of God’s glory. And this is not just the past, but the present as well. For all HAVE sinned, and FALL SHORT. We have sinned, sin, and will sin. That is why salvation by works is impossible. It is through the grace of God, through faith.

v24 – Justification (to be declared righteous) is a free gift. We cannot be righteous, therefore we are freely justified by what Christ did. Nothing, absolutely nothing we have done. All we can do is trust God and believe that He paid the price for us.

v25 – God presented Christ to the world to be a propitiation (covering). In the Old Testament, the ‘mercy seat’ was placed over the Ark of the Covenant. They would meet with God at the Mercy Seat, and not under it, which contained the Law. Christ’s death, burial and resurrection covers our sins with the righteousness of Christ, and we ourselves our declared righteous even though we have sinned. But, as the verse says, God has passed over our sins previously committed through His precious grace when we, in faith, accept the work of Christ.

v26 – This was done in order to show Him as the just God that He is, but also the gracious God that He is. To simply forgive is not enough. He does not simply close His eyes to our sin, but deals with it. The penalty for that sin must be paid. This is the public display of the work God did. We could never pay that penalty. However, there was one who could, and that was Christ. He can now fully justify anyone who believes in the finished work of Christ.

v27 – Salvation is therefore a work totally separate from mankind. And because of this fact, there is no basis by which we can boast. If we could do anything toward our justification and salvation, we could shout it from the mountaintops. However, we cannot. This is 100% a God thing. It would be a payment for works done rather than a gift to us.

v28 – We are justified by faith in the finished work of Christ. It has nothing to do with keeping the Law, it has nothing to do with mechanical obedience.

v29-30 – Here Paul is now summing up this thought. Both the Jews and the Gentiles are saved in the same way. The Gentiles are guilty of sin (Rom 1:18-2:16) and the Jew is guilty of sin (Rom 2:17 – 3:8). And, he has shown that the solution to both is justification through faith. Faith in His son.

v31 – The law, by way of faith, is not nullified but established. In other words, it was not ignored. He did not simply pardon us, but paid the penalty the law required instead of requiring it of us. And because He was perfectly sinless, He had not penalty to pay, it was ours and ours alone. If we believe that Christ came to pay the penalty we truly owed, then we owe it no more. This is a beautiful concept. The penalty needed to be paid, we could not, but the one who could, did.

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