21But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25Whom 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; 26To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (The King James Version, 1769.)
But now the righteousness of God
It seems to me that God is righteous and that this is what the text is referring to. This passage is talking about God's own personal righteousness. Is this a given? Not to those who are at the receiving end of his punishment. The residents of Sodom would not think God righteous. Today, the parent that loses a child wonders what kind of a God would let that happen. Even those who believe God is righteous, according to the law, makes him a hard task master waiting to punish those who stray. In the eyes of most, God's own righteousness is believed not to exist or is too harsh, so harsh it is not fair.
without the law is manifested
How can God's righteousness be manifested if he doesn't hold up his own actions according to the law? This sounds so contradictory, to be justified without, referring to or basing it upon, the law. Without the written (or oral) law how can anyone judge what is right or wrong? Can such a righteousness be shown to exist?
being witnessed by the law and the prophets
The answer to the question is, yes! Ancient history shows that it exists. Within the law, testimony is given that such a thing does exist. The prophets write of righteousness apart from the law. This righteousness is called, "The Law of Faith." If you believe God, you trust God, that his word is true... That faith is accounted to you, put on your account, put in your favour, as righteousness. Just as Abraham believed God and his faith was accounted for righteousness.
Even the righteousness of God
God truly is righteous. But there is that righteousness that comes from faith. God himself has faith. He knows he is truth. He knows he can be trusted. He knows he will do what's right. This faith is two directional.
which is by faith of Jesus Christ
God the Father has faith that Jesus Christ will live a sinless life. That Jesus will be obedient to the Father even to the point of death. He also knows that Jesus (the Son of God, the Word of God, God) trusts him to raise him from the dead. What of Jesus? He knew from the foundation of the world what part he would play in Man's salvation. He knew he could trust the Father to do his part as well.
unto all and upon all them that believe
Jesus is the window through which we peer to glimpse
the righteousness of God through the law,
the righteousness of God the Father through his faith in the Son,
the righteousness of the Son of God through his faith in the Father.
This righteousness of God can be seen by us. His righteousness is evident through the acts of Jesus. It is manifested, shown, declared... use what ever word you want. However it is only seen by those whom; the Spirit is leading to the Father through Jesus, and to those who have already accepted the invitation.
for there is no difference
No difference between whom? No difference between those who have "The Law" which are the Jews and those of us who do not have "The Law" which are the Gentiles of the world.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
No matter how good we have tried to be, everyone of us, has failed at some point. Even without the law, our own conscience told us what we were doing was wrong... until we hardened our hearts and could no longer tell the difference between what was right and wrong, good or evil.
Being justified freely by his grace
This is a gift of God. No one can earn this position of being right with God. Not the Jew following the strictness of the law nor anyone else who just tried to do what is right without the law. It is God who pronounces upon individuals that they are just, good, acceptable in his sight.
through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus
That is not to say that this "justified freely" came without a cost. You don't have to pay a price for your sin. Jesus will be the person to pay that price. The work is done wholly by Jesus and no one else.
Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation
Propitiation? It is that which makes you clean. Sin is the stain that God the Father sees when he looks on man. He could wipe us out but love constrains him. This situation cannot go on forever. It must be dealt with. Something or someone... or both, needs to be done to handle the sin which separates us from God's full presence. This propitiation is a person, an act and a substance. It is found and done by the person called Jesus.
through faith in his blood
The substance? It is the blood of Jesus! Understand that Jesus took the blood that came from his dead body. The blood that pooled at the foot of the cross? The blood was then sprinkled on the mercy seat that is found in the temple of God in heaven. If you agree with the Father, that the blood of Jesus is pure and can satisfy God's judgement, then your faith will be accounted as righteousness.
to declare his righteousness
Now I wrote, "that the blood of Jesus is pure," for only he who lead a perfect life without sin can have pure blood. If you accept that fact you are declaring with the Father that Jesus was, is and ever will be, righteous.
Do not think that any of this is your righteousness. We are not talking about your righteousness but, God the Father's righteousness and faith... about Jesus' righteousness and faith.
for the remission of sins that are past
The Father sending his Word the to earth, born of a virgin, in the flesh, who is called Jesus, was for the remission of sins that are past. Past? It is his blood that cleanses the slate of all marks against all who ever lived.
through the forbearance of God
Forbearance? Do you know that "the soul that sinneth shall die?" Yet time passed and sinners continued to live like all others. (well there were some exceptions like Sodom and others) So most were never killed for the sin which they have committed. Whether under the law or not, sin is sin and death comes to the sinner. Then why were they still alive? Why was mankind still on the earth? Tolerance... Godly tolerance... he waits and does not punish... yet. Oh they deserved it. But he is kind, patient and loving. He is merciful and full of grace. He had plans to save. How long was this to go on? Until the work was done, and Jesus has done it.
To declare, I say, at this time
Now that salvation of man has been purchased by Jesus
Now that the Holy Spirit can be given to man, inwardly and upon him
Now at this time God declares...
his righteousnessThis is such an important point. I have tried to emphasize it throughout this page. It is God alone who is righteous. He sent his Son to die for sin. The Son died to set you free from sin's penalty.
that he might be justJust... this is extreme justice. Such a holy God could not let sin slip by without acting upon it. And God did act upon it. He took the sin out of the way. It was legally and fully paid for with the blood of the one true innocent person who ever lived.
and the justifierAnd now God can be the justifier... He is the one who can now say who is right with God. Who can receive the Spirit. Who can enter heaven. Who can... the list of good things goes on and on. What does God the Father look for in a person?
of him which believeth in JesusFaith! God always has been looking for faith: Adam to Enoch to Noah to Abraham. Even the children of Israel, when given the law by Moses, had to gain acceptance through faith or it became a snare filled with dead works. The Christian today also must be aware that faith is the essential key and not fall into the trap of works as a means for approval.
Only God is Righteous!
Only God is Just!
He did it all!
And we who believe what the Father and his Son have done...
Website administrator: Joseph A Raymond
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada