Sunday, October 26, 2014

Rambling through Romans (20): 3:21-31(5)

21 But now God’s righteousness has been revealed apart from the Law, which is confirmed by the Law and the Prophets. 22 God’s righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him. There’s no distinction. 23 All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, 24 but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus. 25 Through his faithfulness, God displayed Jesus as the place of sacrifice where mercy is found by means of his blood. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness in passing over sins that happened before, 26 during the time of God’s patient tolerance. He also did this to demonstrate that he is righteous in the present time, and to treat the one who has faith in Jesus as righteous.

27 What happens to our bragging? It’s thrown out. With which law? With what we have accomplished under the Law? 28 No, not at all, but through the law of faith. We consider that a person is treated as righteous by faith, apart from what is accomplished under the Law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Isn’t God the God of Gentiles also? Yes, God is also the God of Gentiles. 30 Since God is one, then the one who makes the circumcised righteous by faith will also make the one who isn’t circumcised righteous through faith. 31 Do we then cancel the Law through this faith? Absolutely not! Instead, we confirm the Law.

Paul’s “big but” now reaches a climax (vv.27-31).  “Apart from the Law” yet “conforming the Law.”  That where he ends up.  Remember, Paul’s concern here is with the people of God, not the individual (v/29).  The Gentiles qua Gentiles are not God’s people.  Nor are the Jews qua Jews God’s people (see Romans 4).  No, God’s intention has always been the Jews would spread God’s blessings to everyone so that ultimately Jew and Gentile together (everyone) will be one people living with God in fellowship and communion.

Ethnic boasting is nullified (v.27). The “law of faith” (v.28) is the operative dynamic in belonging to God’s people. The Law given to the Jews is not an ethnic boundary marker but rather a prescription for the life of those who are God’s people, not a way to become God’s people. And the Jews were to be the means by which everyone else becomes a part of God’s people by faith.  God is the God of the Gentiles as well as the Jews, after all (v.29)!

And this is precisely the Law’s intent!  It is designed to shape a people whose life together will draw those outside to their God by faith (Deuteronomy 4:5-8).  This is the way the Jews “confirm” the Law.  Its intent was to call people to faith in Israel’s God, not to be a way of becoming God’s people by keeping its standards.  The Law is the way of life of God’s people, not the entrance requirements of joining that people.  The Law itself points to the grace of Israel’s God as the way one joins God’s people (Exodus 20:1-2).

And this sets the stage for Paul’s introduction of Abraham into his argument.

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