“But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” vss. 21-22a
Paul was attempting to give the congregation in Rome a more theological perspective of what had happened through Jesus. As part of his argument he takes pain to explain that the righteousness of God is in no way a response to the law or human obedience. Instead, he implies that the righteousness of God has been present from the beginning, that it existed even prior to the law, and it was obvious in the Torah and the writings of the prophets. For the sake of order commandments and laws were written and observed but those regulations only served to reveal human sin. It was in Jesus Christ, the second incarnation of God (the first being creation itself), that the already existing righteousness of God was clearly revealed. And now, Paul says, through faith in Jesus Christ, all humanity can share in that God-given righteousness. And it’s totally a gift from God! That was Martin Luther’s great insight as he studied the book of Romans back in the early sixteenth century. He had presumed that he could never become good enough to deserve the righteousness of God. And then he saw the truth–righteousness wasn’t something to be earned–it came as a gift, by grace. And, as his eyes were opened, a great load was lifted from his shoulders–he was set free to be!
Thought for the Day: What am I free to be?