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21 May 2020

Present Demonstration of God's Righteousness

SYNOPSIS:  The “righteousness of God” refers not to an absolute moral standard but to the faithfulness of God to His promises.

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Chapters 2 and 3 of the letter to the Romans presents the gospel as the Great Leveler; both Jews and Gentiles have fallen short and, therefore, both stand under the just “sentence of God,” both are destined for “wrath,” at least potentially.

All men and women are “without excuse” because each person has sinned, therefore, no one is in a valid position to judge others. Without Divine assistance, all men and women, regardless of race, whether “within the law” or “apart from the law,” are doomed to experience God’s final wrath on a coming “day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,” for “there is no respect of persons with God.”

On a future day, “God will render to each one according to his works.” The future aspect of His wrath is emphasized in this section of the letter, although Paul does not state precisely when it will be inflicted on sinful humanity. But it will be poured out on “the day on which God judges the secrets of men…through Christ Jesus.” Elsewhere, he links this “day of wrath” with the day on which Jesus will arrive “from heaven” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

The Apostle includes in his description that it will be a day of the “revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” He uses this same word, “revelation” or apokalypsis, for the “revelation of Jesus from heaven,” which occurs at the end of the age. And Paul states in no uncertain terms that God will “judge the world” at that time (Romans 2:5, 3:6, 1 Corinthians 1:7, 2 Thessalonians 1:7).

Using a series of scriptural proof-texts, Paul demonstrates that “both Jews and Greeks are all under sin”;  all have sinned and lack the glory of God,” therefore, men and women are not set right with God “from the works of the Law.” The Law, instead, serves to “expose sin.” (Romans 3:9-18, 3:23).
The “righteousness of God” is now being revealed by means of the proclamation of the Gospel, “through the faith of Jesus Christ for all who believe.” God declares those who believe in Jesus to be “righteous by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” and this apart from the works required by the regulations of the Mosaic Law (Romans 3:22-24).
This has been done “with a view to a showing forth of His righteousness in the present season.” In this paragraph, the stress falls on the present reality of God’s righteousness, which is being demonstrated in the proclamation of the gospel to all nations, clear evidence of His faithfulness to redeem and set right all men who respond in faith (Romans 3:19-30).
The faithfulness of God is on display and demonstrated in the here and now whenever He declares men and women to be in right-standing before him because of the “faith of Jesus Christ,” and their response to it in faith.
It is this provision of forgiveness and salvation that demonstrates the righteousness of God. Paul speaks of His “righteousness” from an Old Testament perspective; “righteousness” refers to His faithfulness to His promises, not to an abstract concept of some absolute moral standard required by God or inherent in His nature. By providing the means of escape from future “wrath,” God is more than faithful to His promises.

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