21 But now, apart from the Torah, God’s righteousness has been manifested, being witnessed by the Torah and the Prophets. 22 God’s righteousness is unveiled through faith in Iēsous the Anointed One for all those who believe; for there is no partiality; 23 because all have offended and are shorn of God’s glory, 24 being undeservedly righteoused by his unmerited favor through the manumission which is in the Anointed Iēsous; 25 whom God publicly displayed as the seat of sacrifice and is appropriated through faith in his blood. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in God’s clemency he left unpunished the offences previously performed; 26 for the demonstration of his righteousness at the present time, so that God would be righteous and the righteouser of the one who has faith in Iēsous.
But that is not the end of the matter. Death and condemnation are not the last words. God has now revealed his saving justice, which comes as a shock and a surprise, because it is revealed entirely apart from the precepts and parameters of the Jewish Law, and yet the Law and the prophets paradoxically pointed ahead to it. This saving justice is displayed through faith in Messiah Jesus for everyone who believes. No distinctions or exceptions can be made because everyone has done evil things and have been shunned from the glory of God. And yet believers are – without respect to their deservedness or worth – declared to be righteous based on God’s unmerited and unrepayable kindness as expressed in the redemption that comes through Messiah Jesus. He is the one who God presented as the atoning sacrifice of mercy to propitiate his wrath and to expiate our wrongdoing when we put our faith in the blood of Jesus’ atoning death. In this way, God shows his justice by overlooking the sins that we had earlier committed, in his merciful patience he demonstrates his righteous character, and so proves himself to be righteous and to declare righteous those who have faith in Jesus.
- The “but now” (Gk. nuni de) is not just logical, but also temporal, God has acted in the present to reveal his saving power in Jesus.
- On “God’s righteousness” or “righteousness of God,” see 1.17.
- Debate surrounds whether dia pistis Iēsous Christ should be translated as “through faith in Christ” (e.g. NIV, NRSV, ESV) or the “faithfulness of Christ” (NET, CEB). See similarly, Gal. 2.16, 20; 3.22; Eph 3.12; and Phil 3.9, plus discussion in Bird and Sprinkle, Faith of Jesus Christ. Theologically speaking, the idea of being saved by the faithfulness/obedience of Jesus is perfectly valid (e.g. Rom 5:19 and Phil 2:8). However, grammatically speaking, a genitive noun usually defines or restricts the head term so that “Christ” defines the manner or extent of “faith,” it does not determine the subject of the action, which must be decided by context. In addition, given the context which majors on the theme of faith (Rom 3.22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30), and Paul’s use of dia/ek to indicate faith as the instrument for attaining salvation, a translation of “through faith in Jesus Christ” is far more likely.
- Or “declared righteous by grace.”
- Gk. hilastērion can refer to the place of atonement, the mercy seat on the lid of the ark of the covenant (Exod 25:22; Lev 16:2; Heb 9.5), or else refer to the concept of atonement as either expiation (removing sin) or propitiation (removing wrath).
- The phrase “in/by his blood” could modify either hilasterion (i.e. “propitiated by his blood”) or be the subject of pistis (i.e. “by faith in his blood”).