Romans Chapter 3 Verses 21-28
Righteousness of God
Chapter 3, Verses 21-28
Rom. 3:21 "But now the righteousness of
God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the
prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus
Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no
difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in
Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through
faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of
sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I
say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the
justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. 27 Where is boasting then? It
is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds
of the law."
"But now the righteousness of God without
the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets."
Paul had previously established that we are not justified by the deeds
of the law. Therefore, for someone to be righteous, then it had to
happen in some way other than by the works of the law. The
righteousness of God is referring to the imputed righteousness of Jesus
Christ bestowed upon undeserving creatures. Paul says that this
righteousness is manifested. The way that it is manifested is that the
law and the prophets witness it. Thus, the law and the prophets are
witnesses of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ bestowed upon the
The "law and the prophets" is a phrase
that refers to the Old Testament scriptures. The first 22 books of the
Old Testament comprise what is known as the law and the last 17 books of
the Old Testament comprise what is known as the prophets. The Lord said
to some unbelieving Jews, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think
ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." The
scriptures the Lord referred to were the Old Testament scriptures for at
that time the New Testament had not been written. The Jews thought that
they could work the law to be justified, but the Lord said the
scriptures were a testimony of him. We cannot work the law to become
justified, but the scriptures testify to us that we are justified
through the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.
"Even the righteousness of God which is by
faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there
is no difference." The first thing we want to note about this verse is
that the righteousness of God comes through the faith of Jesus Christ
and not by the believers' faith. Jesus' covenant faithfulness makes the
elect righteous in the eyes of a just and holy God. According to the
covenant of redemption God foreknew, predestinated, called, justified,
and glorified a people. According to the covenant will of God, Jesus
calls the elect to spiritual life, justifies them by his blood on the
cross, and glorifies them in the resurrection. Jesus is faithful to
accomplish all of this as he said, "For I came down from heaven, not to
do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
And this is the Father's will which hath
sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but
should raise it up again at the last day." Thus, by his covenant
faithfulness Jesus imputes his righteousness unto all that believe and
upon all that believe for there is no difference.
"For all have sinned, and come short of
the glory of God." If righteousness came by our keeping the law, then
there would be none that ever could be righteous for we have all sinned,
and come short of the glory of God." One sin is enough to make us
completely and forever unrighteous. Therefore, righteousness must come
by some means other than by the law.
"Being justified freely by his grace
through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Our eternal
justification from sin is by the grace of God through the redemptive
work of Jesus Christ. We are righteous because of what Christ has done
for us and because of the unmerited favor of God. If we had done
anything to bring about our righteous state then it would not be by the
grace of God. However, we could do nothing to make ourselves righteous,
but God made us righteous despite ourselves.
"Whom God hath set forth to be a
propitiation through faith in his blood." Propitiation means an atoning
victim. God made Christ an atoning victim or sacrifice for us to atone
for our sins. The faith in the above verse is God's faith and not our
faith. God had faith in the blood of Christ. God had faith in the
blood of Christ before Christ's blood was ever shed: "to declare his
righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the
forbearance of God." Before Christ ever died, God had been remitting
the sins of the elect who lived before the coming of Christ. God had
faith that Christ would fulfill the covenant of redemption and therefore
God remitted the sins of those who lived before Christ even though
Christ had not yet died.
"To declare, I say, at this time his
righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which
believeth in Jesus." God cannot just gloss over sin. Sin must be
punished. Without the wrathful judgment of sin, none could be made
righteous. God would be unjust not to punish sin. Yet God forbearance
of the punishment of sin is possible because God trusted in the covenant
work of Jesus. Even though multitudes of the elect lived before Christ
died, yet God is still just because he had faith that Christ would die
to redeem them from their sins and God remitted their sins.
God is the justifier of him which
believeth in Jesus. Our belief does not justify us. Our belief,
however, is an evidence that we are of the elect and Christ is our
"Where is boasting then? It is excluded.
By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we
conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the
law." We have absolutely nothing in which we can boast. We can do
nothing and we did nothing to bring about our justification from sin.
Our works under the law or our works under any religious system or our
faith cannot make us righteous. We must conclude that we are justified
by the covenant faith of Jesus Christ and by God's faith in his covenant
Rom. 3:29 "Is he the God of the Jews only?
is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 30 Seeing it
is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and
uncircumcision through faith. 31 Do we then make void the law through
faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law."
"justify," means "to make or declare righteous."
"Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not
also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also." The vast majority of
the Jews of that day believed that God was the God of the Jews only.
Furthermore, many Gentiles believed that the God of the Jews was not
their God. Yet Paul has proven in Chapters 2 and 3 that God's covenant
people consists of both Jews and Gentiles. In Romans chapter 2, Paul
had shown that God's judgment rested upon both the Jews and the
Gentiles. He also showed that circumcision did not mean anything unless
you keep the law. If an uncircumcised person kept the law then his
uncircumcision was counted as circumcision.
Paul also showed that true circumcision
was not of the flesh, but of the heart and by the Spirit. He also
showed that among the Gentiles, there were those who did by nature the
things contained in the law and thus they showed that they had the law
of God written in their hearts and minds. Thus, Paul had proved that
God is the God of both the Jews and the Gentiles.
"Seeing it is one God, which shall justify
the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith." In verse
24, Paul used the phrase, "being justified," and in verse 28, Paul used
the phrase, "is justified," The phrases, "being justified" and "is
justified," indicate a justification that has already taken place.
Whereas, the phrase, "shall justify," indicates a justification to take
place in the future. Clearly, these are not the same justifications.
The justification in verses 24 and 28 is
by the grace of God through the faithfulness of Christ to shed his
atoning blood for the sins of those justified. This justification is
complete and is effectual through eternity. The courtroom where this
justification took place is the courtroom of glory where God sits as
judge over his people.
The justification in verse 30 is and will
be brought about by God's people, both among the Jews and the Gentiles,
who trust in the covenant justification that took place in the courtroom
of glory. When we trust in the complete covenant work of Christ, we are
justified in the courtroom of our heart and mind. This trust does not
make us righteous, but it declares to our heart that we are righteous
through the atoning blood of Christ and brings to us comfort and peace.
This justification by faith will be more fully developed in Romans
"Do we then make void the law through
faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." Verse 27 spoke of two
laws: the law of works, and the law of faith. The law that we establish
through faith is the "law of faith."