• Brian O'Kelly

26 - Romans 3 (Part 2)


Romans 3 (Part 2)


1. Last time we were together we were working on the first half or first part of chapter 3 of Romans. We have determined that chapter 1 was an indictment of the Gentiles chapter 2 was an indictment of the Jews in chapter 3 elaborated on that point indicating that both Jews and Greeks were sinners before God.

2. In the later part of the chapter Paul now begins to provide the solution to demonstrate the answer to the sin problem. Paul has spent 2 ½ chapters laying out his case and demonstrating that there is no shortage of guilty parties. He now enters into another two and ½ chapters basically through Romans five where he has a discussion about God’s glory and about how the Christian may obtain righteousness through the blood of Jesus.

3. Here’s our text for today

3.1. 21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. 29 Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, 30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

4. Let’s go ahead and begin unpacking our text:

5. 21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;

5.1. So what is this righteousness of God? Whenever we see the word “of” what we are seeing is what is called a “genitive”. And genitive is just like it sounds, it is the thing from which something is generated. In this case God’s righteousness. But we must understand that when we see of it can always mean two things for example if I say hello “the honesty of that man” talking about one of his personal qualities. But “of” can also mean “from”as in “Paul of Tarsus”. So in this case, we can speculate on whether “the righteousness of God” is describing a personal quality of God, which would not be even the slightest problematic. On the other hand, it could mean a righteousness that emanates from God or comes from God which also would not be problematic in the slightest. There’s a distinct possibility that it means one or the other or both.

5.2. Paul tells us then at the end of the phrase that this righteousness is revealed apart from the law because the law itself as well as the prophets testified to the fact that even before the law was given there was a righteousness that was (in my view) both from and a quality of God that didn’t require the law to be seen. The law was necessary to show man’s unrighteousness, but there was no such need to show that God was righteous and that there were some righteous people who were righteous because they were Godly. Like Lot.

5.2.1. Genesis 5:4- 6 4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” 5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

5.2.2. Hebrews 11:4-13 4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. 7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. 8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she[d] bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. 13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

5.3. Paul is beginning here to make the case that he will ultimately make in chapters nine through 11 that salvation both in the Old covenant and the New covenant is by faith, by the act of believing that God himself is faithful. Paul argues that the same God who is the God of Israel and asked people to be saved by faith, demonstrating the same through the keeping of the law, is now asking people to be saved by faith, demonstrating this through the Christian life.

5.4. Sometimes you’ll hear people say that in the Old Testament the path to salvation is through the rituals and acts of the law. This is simply not true. Following the law and trying to please God is a function of belief in God. If you remember in the book of James we have these verses:

5.4.1.1. James 1:22 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.

5.4.1.2. James 2:14 14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?

5.4.1.3. James 2:18 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

5.4.2. James is not making a case for salvation by works as some have thought. If you look closer at verse 14 of chapter 2, what James says is “what does it profit my brethren if someone says he has faith, but does not have works”. And that’s why in chapter 18 he says I’ll show you my faith by my works. In other words if you believe something, really believe it, you’ll act on it. If I told each of you that if you send me hundred dollars I’d send you back $1 million, if you believed it would all be writing a check. But there’s no “faith” on your part that this will happen. It doesn’t even matter if you become the evangelist telling people that they need to check out this show and send me hundred dollars and they can have a million if you don’t do it yourself it’s a sign that you are smart enough not to believe that.

5.4.3. You may have heard some people say that they have made Jesus savior and they are still trying to make Him Lord. This simply cannot be. If you believe that Jesus is the Lord you will be doing what he says to do. Remember our discussion in chapter 1 or Paul uses the term bondservant. Slaves don’t say to their masters, “hey thanks for the command, not sure if I’m gonna do that but I’ll you back to you later. Of course not, this is a ridiculous proposition. If you are a slave, obeying your master is not optional, and, you expect that if your disobedience is discovered, there will be consequences. We all know the famous verse in Proverbs 9:10 ““The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,”

6. 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

6.1. This is a commonly known verse, and it is one that the reformed theologians, the Calvinists use to demonstrate total depravity. We all have sinned, some more than others; but all of us have fallen short of the goal God has for us.

6.2. What this doesn’t say what the Calvinist would have it say, that man is wholly corrupt or that man can’t love God, can’t seek God, isn’t interested in God no matter what you say or do, no matter what happens, the only way that someone can be saved is a God himself steps in and changes their mind even against their will.

6.3. If you’re interested in a more thorough explanation of reformed theology and its alternative, visit thefootlight.com website or on whatever platform you’re on, YouTube, Facebook, Gab etc. and check out episodes 16 through 19 where I spend the better part of four hours going deep into what the reformers taught and comparing it with what the Bible teaches.

6.4. Also by the way the footlight.com website, where you can find all the prior classes, we are just getting rolling here so there are about 25 lectures at this point, most of those so far being around the foundational ideas of Christianity. The website is also where you can get links to follow the podcast wherever you get your audio as well as ways to support the footlight. On a remind you that none of the money that comes and goes to me, I’m a volunteer. However, there are costs associated with operating the program, most of which are paid for by me at this point. If we get to a point where the income begins to exceed current expenses everything over the will go into promotion of the broadcast or expansion onto additional platforms.

7. 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

7.1. the idea of being redeemed here is similar to the idea of a pawnshop. Or more accurately the idea of someone in the debtor’s prison. In the case of a pawnshop item is held captive by someone until payment is made, in a debtor’s prison it is the debtor who is held captive until someone pays their debt. This is the idea of redemption that there was a payment to be made and without that payment would still be dead in our sins and trespasses

8. 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed

8.1. This word propitiation is not one that we commonly use, in fact, in my case if it hadn’t been for this Bible verse, I’m not sure I would’ve ever heard or use the word or even known what it means.

8.2. Merriam-Webster defines it as follows: The act of gaining or regaining the favor or goodwill of someone or something. It’s a synonym for appeasement.

8.3. The NIV in a number of other modern translations, translate this instead of “propitiation by his blood” as “sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood”

8.4. Some have promoted the idea that God is really angry at mankind, and that he’s prepared to take out his anger on man and that Jesus steps in and says “hey dad, give them a break, I love them” and God says well, after all, you’re my son, so I’ll grant you this favor.

8.4.1. It does say even in chapter 2 of this very book Romans and verse 5 “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God”

8.4.2. The wrath of God is for those with “impenitent hearts”

8.4.3. 2 Peter 3:7 “But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”

8.4.4. Those reserved for fire are the ungodly.

8.5. This idea that God is angry and maybe even has a bad temper and therefore Jesus had to stand in his way and offer an appeasement is at odds with John 3:16 “for God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life”

8.6. The default is “perishing” because of an impenitent and ungodly heart.

8.7. The last half of verse 25, “because in his forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed”

8.8. When a person repents, it means they have rethought their position and decided to move in a different direction. What it doesn’t do is to expunge the record of prior wrongs, prior sins, that still requires justice.

8.8.1. Justice is part of God’s character. If we look around our society now, we see criminals not being prosecuted, victim is not being protected the police being weakened, and the result is a disaster and a society where people are becoming suspicious of each other and of the authorities. This is what my friend Todd Herman has called the “low trust society”. For God to be just, evildoers must be punished, or there is no justice. But God can be just and merciful at the same time. He can declare the sentence due to the sinner. And at the same time he can erase the debt.

8.8.2. When you consider the criminal justice system we determine that after the commission of crime someone “owes us” five years of their life incarcerated or a certain financial amount that must be satisfied before release.

8.8.3. The idea here of “passing over”, is that while we deserved punishment and wrath for our behavior prior to salvation, the blood of Jesus has been counted to pay our sentence.

9. 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

9.1. If God didn’t have justice as part of his character, it would be difficult to say the he is righteous. So he is just when he judges and he is just when he forgives and offers mercy for prior sins, he can both be the definer and exacter of justice as well as the one offering mercy and forgiveness to the criminal.

10. 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith.

10.1. All we have done to gain salvation is to believe in the salvation God provided for us. The law didn’t provide it and your works don’t provide it, God provided salvation and no one should boast about it or think they are special. This is yet another problem with reformed theology. If you have the idea that God has picked winners and losers, then if you’re a believer yet I think that you’re on the side that he chose and everyone he didn’t choose is on the losing side. It’s been my observation that often times Calvinists have an arrogant bearing about themselves because they do in fact think that they are special because after all God chose them.

11. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.

11.1. Remember back in chapter 2 and verse 13 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

11.2. Those who obey the law are those who believe and we can see their belief through their actions.

12. 29 Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, 30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.

12.1. He is the same God of His historic people and now the Gentiles who have been invited in through the exact same process that he is always used “by faith”. Faith has always been the indispensable component of salvation. Without faith that God is good and just and able to save, you will not be saved. This is the argument presented later in chapter 9 and verses nine through 13.

12.1.1. Romans 10:9-109 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

12.1.2. And pay particular attention to the text in verse 11 “anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame” – Anyone. And what do they have to do, believe. And verse 12, “there is no difference” in verse 13 “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord”

13. 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

13.1. The law is established because it has done its work of showing us our sin and driving us to faith in Jesus as Savior. In other words, without the law we would have no idea that we even need Jesus or Savior of any kind. If there were no impending bad consequences, then what would we need saving from? The entire point of the law seems to be to demonstrate our need for a Savior