World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
3. God's Faithfulness
1What advantage then hath the Jew? or what is the profit of circumcision? 2Much every way: first of all, that they were intrusted with the oracles of God. 3For what if some were without faith? shall their want of faith make of none effect the faithfulness of God? 4God forbid: yea, let God be found true, but every man a liar; as it is written,
That thou mightest be justified in thy words,
And mightest prevail when thou comest into judgment.
5But if our righteousness commendeth the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who visiteth with wrath? (I speak after the manner of men.) 6God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world? 7But if the truth of God through my lie abounded unto his glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner? 8and why not (as we are slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say), Let us do evil, that good may come? whose condemnation is just. 9What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we before laid to the charge both of Jews and Greeks, that they are all under sin; 10as it is written,
There is none righteous, no, not one;
11There is none that understandeth,
There is none that seeketh after God;
12They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable;
There is none that doeth good, no, not, so much as one:
13Their throat is an open sepulchre;
With their tongues they have used deceit:
The poison of asps is under their lips:
14Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
15Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16Destruction and misery are in their ways;
17And the way of peace have they not known:
18There is no fear of God before their eyes.
19Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it speaketh to them that are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may be brought under the judgment of God: 20because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for through the law cometh the knowledge of sin. 21But now apart from the law a righteousness of God hath been manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ unto all them that believe; for there is no distinction; 23for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; 24being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, in his blood, to show his righteousness because of the passing over of the sins done aforetime, in the forbearance of God; 26for the showing, I say, of his righteousness at this present season: that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus. 27Where then is the glorying? It is excluded. By what manner of law? of works? Nay: but by a law of faith. 28We reckon therefore that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yea, of Gentiles also: 30if so be that God is one, and he shall justify the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith. 31Do we then make the law of none effect through faith? God forbid: nay, we establish the law.
25, 26. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation—or "propitiatory sacrifice."
through faith in his blood—Some of the best interpreters, observing that "faith upon" is the usual phrase in Greek, not "faith in" Christ, would place a "comma" after "faith," and understand the words as if written thus: "to be a propitiation, in His blood, through faith." But "faith in Christ" is used in Ga 3:26 and Eph 1:15; and "faith in His blood" is the natural and appropriate meaning here.
to declare his righteousness for the remission—rather, "pretermission" or "passing by."
of sins—"the sins."
that are past—not the sins committed by the believer before he embraces Christ, but the sins committed under the old economy, before Christ came to "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself."
through the forbearance of God—God not remitting but only forbearing to punish them, or passing them by, until an adequate atonement for them should be made. In thus not imputing them, God was righteous, but He was not seen to be so; there was no "manifestation of His righteousness" in doing so under the ancient economy. But now that God can "set forth" Christ as a "propitiation for sin through faith in His blood," the righteousness of His procedure in passing by the sins of believers before, and in now remitting them, is "manifested," declared, brought fully out to the view of the whole world. (Our translators have unfortunately missed this glorious truth, taking "the sins that are past" to mean the past sins of believers—committed before faith—and rendering, by the word "remission," what means only a "passing by"; thus making it appear that "remission of sins" is "through the forbearance of God," which it certainly is not).
26. To declare … at this time—now for the first time, under the Gospel.
his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus—Glorious paradox! "Just in punishing," and "merciful in pardoning," men can understand; but "just in justifying the guilty," startles them. But the propitiation through faith in Christ's blood resolves the paradox and harmonizes the discordant elements. For in that "God hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin," justice has full satisfaction; and in that "we are made the righteousness of God in Him," mercy has her heart's delight!
Note, (1) One way of a sinner's justification is taught in the Old Testament and in the New alike: only more dimly during the twilight of Revelation; in unclouded light under "its perfect day" (Ro 3:21). (2) As there is no difference in the need, so is there none in the liberty to appropriate the provided salvation. The best need to be saved by faith in Jesus Christ; and the worst only need that. On this common ground all saved sinners meet here, and will stand for ever (Ro 3:22-24). (3) It is on the atoning blood of Christ, as the one propitiatory sacrifice which God hath set forth to the eye of the guilty, that the faith of the convinced and trembling sinner fastens for deliverance from wrath. Though he knows that he is "justified freely, by God's grace," it is only because it is "through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" that he is able to find peace and rest even in this (Ro 3:25). (4) The strictly accurate view of believers under the Old Testament is not that of a company of pardoned men, but of men whose sins, put up with and passed by in the meantime, awaited a future expiation in the fulness of time (Ro 3:25, 26; see on Lu 9:31; Heb 9:15; Heb 11:39, 40).