Romans 3:26
To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus.
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(26) To declare.—The second object of the death of Christ was to remove the misconceptions that might be caused by the apparent condoning of sins committed in times anterior to the Christian revelation. A special word is used to indicate that these sins were not wiped away and dismissed altogether, but rather “passed over” or “overlooked.” This was due to the forbearance of God, who, as it were, suspended the execution of His vengeance. Now the Apostle shows by the death of Christ that justice that had apparently slept was vindicated.

Thus God appeared in a double character, at once as just or righteous Himself, and as producing a state of righteousness in the believer. Under the Old Testament God had been revealed as just; but the justice or righteousness of God was not met by any corresponding righteousness on the part of man, and therefore could only issue in condemnation. Under the New Testament the justice of God remained the same, but it was met by a corresponding state of righteousness in the believer a righteousness, however, not inherent, but superinduced by God Himself through the process of justification by faith. In this way the great Messianic condition of righteousness was fulfilled.

3:21-26 Must guilty man remain under wrath? Is the wound for ever incurable? No; blessed be God, there is another way laid open for us. This is the righteousness of God; righteousness of his ordaining, and providing, and accepting. It is by that faith which has Jesus Christ for its object; an anointed Saviour, so Jesus Christ signifies. Justifying faith respects Christ as a Saviour, in all his three anointed offices, as Prophet, Priest, and King; trusting in him, accepting him, and cleaving to him: in all these, Jews and Gentiles are alike welcome to God through Christ. There is no difference, his righteousness is upon all that believe; not only offered to them, but put upon them as a crown, as a robe. It is free grace, mere mercy; there is nothing in us to deserve such favours. It comes freely unto us, but Christ bought it, and paid the price. And faith has special regard to the blood of Christ, as that which made the atonement. God, in all this, declares his righteousness. It is plain that he hates sin, when nothing less than the blood of Christ would satisfy for it. And it would not agree with his justice to demand the debt, when the Surety has paid it, and he has accepted that payment in full satisfaction.At this time - The time now since the Saviour has come, now is the time when he manifests it.

That he might be just - This verse contains the substance of the gospel. The word "just" here does not mean benevolent, or merciful, though it may sometimes have that meaning; see the Matthew 1:19 note, also John 17:25 note. But it refers to the fact that God had retained the integrity of his character as a moral governor; that he had shown a due regard to his Law, and to the penalty of the Law by his plan of salvation. Should he forgive sinners without an atonement, justice would be sacrificed and abandoned. The Law would cease to have any terrors for the guilty, and its penalty would be a nullity. In the plan of salvation, therefore, he has shown a regard to the Law by appointing his Son to be a substitute in the place of sinners; not to endure its precise penalty, for his sufferings were not eternal, nor were they attended with remorse of conscience, or by despair, which are the proper penalty of the Law; but he endured so much as to accomplish the same ends as if those who shall be saved by him had been doomed to eternal death.

That is, he showed that the Law could not be violated without introducing suffering; and that it could not be broken with impunity. He showed that he had so great a regard for it, that he would not pardon one sinner without an atonement. And thus he secured the proper honor to his character as a lover of his Law, a hater of sin, and a just God. He has shown that if sinners do not avail themselves of the offer of pardon by Jesus Christ, they must experience in their own souls forever the pains which this substitute for sinners endured in behalf of people on the cross. Thus, no principle of justice has been abandoned; no threatening has been modified; no claim of his Law has been let down; no disposition has been evinced to do injustice to the universe by suffering the guilty to escape. He is, in all this great Transaction, a just moral governor, as just to his Law, to himself, to his Son, to the universe, when he pardons, as he is when he sends the incorrigible sinner down to hell. A full compensation, an equivalent, has been provided by the sufferings of the Saviour in the sinner's stead, and the sinner may be pardoned.

And the justifier of him ... - Greek, "Even justifying him that believeth, etc." This is the uniqueness and the wonder of the gospel. Even while pardoning, and treating the ill-deserving as if they were innocent, he can retain his pure and holy character. His treating the guilty with favor does not show that be loves guilt and pollution, for he has expressed his abhorrence of it in the atonement. His admitting them to friendship and heaven does not show that he approves their past conduct and character, for he showed how much he hated even their sins by giving his Son to a shameful death for them. When an executive pardons offenders, there is an abandonment of the principles of justice and law. The sentence is set aside; the threatenings of the law are departed from; and it is done without compensation. It is declared that in certain cases the law may be violated, and its penalty "not" be inflicted. But not so with God. He shows no less regard to his law in pardoning than in punishing. This is the grand, glorious, special feature of the gospel plan of salvation.

Him which believeth in Jesus - Greek, "Him who is of the faith of Jesus;" in contradistinction from him who is of the works of the Law; that is, who depends on his own works for salvation.

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 [2190]Lu 9:31; [2191]Heb 9:15; [2192]Heb 11:39, 40).

To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness; he repeats the final cause of justification, viz. the making the after said declaration of the righteousness of God, in the time of the gospel, and dispensation and ministry thereof, 2 Corinthians 6:2, which is taken out of Isaiah 49:8.

That he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus; i.e. that no wrong might be done to the essential purity of his nature, or rectitude of his will; nor yet to his immediate justice, by which he cannot but hate sin, and abhor the sinner as such; though in the mean time he gives a discharge to him that is of the faith of Jesus, (as it is in the original), or of the number of those that believe, and cast themselves upon a Saviour. To declare, I say, at this time, his righteousness,.... This end is further explained, it being to declare the righteousness of God "at this time", under the Gospel dispensation; in which there was such a display of the grace, mercy, and goodness of God:

that he might be just; that is, appear to be so: God is naturally and essentially just in himself; and he is evidentially so in all his works, particularly in redemption by Christ; and when and while he is

the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus: Jesus, the Saviour, is the object of faith, as he is the Lord our righteousness; the believer in Jesus is a real, and not a nominal one; God is the justifier of such in a declarative way, and God only, though not to the exclusion of the Son and Spirit; and which sentence of justification is pronounced by him on the foot of a perfect righteousness, which neither law nor justice can find fault with, but entirely approve of; and so he appears just and righteous, even though he justifies the sinner and the ungodly.

To declare, I say, {a} at this time his righteousness: that he might be {b} just, and the {c} justifier of him which {d} believeth in Jesus.

(a) That is, when Paul wrote this.

(b) That he might be found exceedingly truth and faithful.

(c) Making him just and without blame, but putting Christ's righteousness to him.

(d) Of the number of those who by faith lay hold upon Christ: contrary to whom are those who seek to be saved by circumcision, that is by the law.

Romans 3:26. Πρὸς τὴν ἔνδειξιν] Resumption of the εἰς ἔνδειξιν in Romans 3:25, and that without the δέ, Romans 3:22 (comp on Luke 1:71); while εἰς is exchanged for the equivalent πρός unintentionally, as Paul in Romans 3:30, and also frequently elsewhere (comp on Ephesians 1:7 and Galatians 2:16) changes the prepositions.[901] The article, however (see the critical notes), serves to set forth the definite, historically given ἔνδειξις, which is in accord with the progress of the representation; for Paul desires to add now with corresponding emphasis the historical element ἐν τῷ νῦν καιρῷ not previously mentioned. The resumption is in itself so obvious, and also in such entire harmony with the emphasis laid upon the ἔνδειξις τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὐτοῦ as the chief point, that for this very reason the interpretation of Rückert and Gurlitt (comp Beza), which joins πρὸς τὴν ἔνδειξιν κ.τ.λ[903] with ΔΙᾺ Τ. ΠΆΡΕΣΙΝ.… ΘΕΟῦ, and takes it as the aim of the ΠΆΡΕΣΙς or the ἈΝΟΧΉ (Baumgarten-Crusius; comp Hofmann and Th. Schott), at once falls to the ground. Mehring, rendering ΠΡΌς in reference to or in view of, understands the δικαιοσύνη in Romans 3:26 to mean imputed righteousness, and finds the ἔνδειξις of the latter, Romans 3:26, in the resurrection of Jesus; but a decisive objection to his view is that Paul throughout gives no hint whatever that his expressions in Romans 3:26 are to be taken in any other sense than in Romans 3:25; and a reference to the resurrection in particular is here quite out of place; the passage goes not beyond the atoning death of Christ.

εἰς τὸ εἶναι Κ.Τ.Λ[905] cannot stand in an epexegetical relation to the previous εἰς ἔνδειζιν κ.τ.λ[906] because that ἜΝΔΕΙΖΙς has in fact already been doubly expressed, but now the further element καὶ δικαιοῦντα Κ.Τ.Λ[907] is added, which first brings into full view the teleology of the ἱλαστήριον. εἰς τὸ εἶναι κ.τ.λ[908] is therefore the definition presenting the final aim of the whole affirmation from ὋΝ ΠΡΟΈΘΕΤΟ to ΚΑΙΡῷ. It is its keystone: that He may be just and justifying the believers, which is to be taken as the intended result (comp on Romans 3:4): in order that, through the ἹΛΑΣΤΉΡΙΟΝ of Christ, arranged in this way and for this ἜΝΔΕΙΞΙς, He may manifest Himself as One who is Himself righteous, and who makes the believer righteous (comp ἹΛΑΣΤΉΡ. ΔΙᾺ Τ. ΠΊΣΤΕΩς, Romans 3:25). He desires to be both, the one not without the other. The εἶναι however is the being in the appearance corresponding to it. The “estimation of the moral public” (Morison) only ensues as the consequence of this. Regarding τὸν ἐκ πίστ. comp on ΟἹ ἘΞ ἘΡΙΘΕΊΑς, Romans 2:8. The ΑὐΤΌΝ however has not the force of ipse or even alone (Luther), seeing it is the subject of the two predications δίκαιον κ. δικαιοῦντα; but it is the simple pronoun of the third person. Were we to render with Matthias and Mehring[912] καὶ δικαιοῦντα: even when He justifies, the καί would be very superfluous and weakening; Paul would have said ΔΊΚΑΙΟΝ ΔΙΚΑΙΟῦΝΤΑ, or would have perhaps expressed himself pointedly by ΔΊΚΑΙΟΝ Κ. ΔΙΚΑΙΟῦΝΤΑ ἈΔΊΚΟΥς ἘΝ ΠΊΣΤΕΩς ʼΙ. Observe further that the justus et justificans, in which lies the summum paradoxon evangelicum as opposed to the O. T. justus et condemnans (according to Bengel), finds its solution and its harmony with the O. T. in τὸν ἐκ πίστεως (see chap. 4, Romans 1:17). The Roman Catholic explanation of inherent righteousness (see especially Reithmayr) is here the more inept. It is also to be remarked that according to Romans 3:24-26 grace was the determining ground in God, that prompted Him to permit the atonement. He purposed thereby indeed the revelation of His righteousness; but to the carrying out of that revelation just thus, and not otherwise, namely through the ἱλαστήριον of Christ, He was moved by His own χάρις. Moreover the ἜΝΔΕΙΞΙς of the divine righteousness which took place through the atoning death of Christ necessarily presupposes the satisfactio vicaria of the ἱλαστήριον. Hofmann’s doctrine of atonement (compensation)[913] does not permit the simple and—on the basis of the O. T. conception of atoning sacrifice—historically definite ideas of Romans 3:25-26, as well as the unbiassed and clear representation of the ἀπολύτρωσις in Romans 3:24 (comp the ΛΎΤΡΟΝ ἈΝΤΊ, Matthew 20:28, and ἈΝΤΊΛΥΤΡΟΝ, 1 Timothy 2:6) to subsist alone with it. On the other hand these ideas and conceptions given in and homogeneously pervading the entire N. T., and whose meaning can by no means be evaded, exclude the theory of Hofmann, not merely in form but also in substance, as a deviation evading and explaining away the N. T. type of doctrine, with which’ the point of view of a “befalling,” the category in which Hofmann invariably places the death of Jesus, is especially at variance. And Faith in the atoning death has not justification merely “in its train” (Hofmann in loc[915]), but justification takes place subjectively through faith (Romans 3:22; Romans 3:25), and indeed in such a way that the latter is reckoned for righteousness, Romans 4:5, consequently immediately (ἐξαίφνης, Chrysostom).

[901] Comp. Kühner, II. 1, p. 475 f.

[903] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[905] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[906] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[907] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[908] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[912] They are joined by Ernesti, Ethik d. Ap. P. p. 32.

[913] “In consequence of man’s having allowed himself to be induced through the working of Satan to sin, which made him the object of divine wrath, the Triune God, in order that He might perfect the relation constituted by the act of creation between Himself and humanity into a complete fellowship of love, has had recourse to the most extreme antithesis of Father and Son, which was possible without self-negation on the part of God, namely, the antithesis of the Father angry at humanity on account of sin, and of the Son belonging in sinlessness to that humanity, but approving Himself under all the consequences of its sin even unto the transgressor’s death that befell Him through Satan’s agency; so that, after Satan had done on Him the utmost which he was able to do to the sinless One in consequence of sin, without obtaining any other result than His final standing the test, the relation of the Father to the Son was now a relation of God to the humanity beginning anew in the Son,—a relation no longer determined by the sin of the race springing from Adam, but by the righteousness of the Son.” Hofmann in the Erl. Zeitschr. 1856, p. 179 f. Subsequently (see espec. Schriftb. II. 1, p. 186 ff.) Hofmann has substantially adhered to his position. See the literature of the entire controversy carried on against him, especially by Philippi, Thomasius, Ebrard, Delitzsch, Schneider, Weber, given by the latter, vom Zorne Gottes, p. xliii. ff.; Weizzäcker in the Jahrb. f. Deutsche Theol. 1858, p. 154 ff. It is not to the ecclesiastical doctrine, but to Schleiermacher’s, and partially also Mencken’s subjective representation of it, that Hofmann’s theory, although in another form, stands most nearly related. Comp. on ver. 24; and for a more detailed account Ritschl, Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung, 1870, I. p. 569 ff., along with his counter-remarks against Hofmann at p. 575 ff. As to keeping the Scriptural notion of imputed righteousness clear of all admixture with the moral change of the justified, see also Köstlin in the Jahrb. für Deutsche Theol. 1856, p. 105 ff., 118 ff., Gess, in the same, 1857, p. 679 ff., 1858, p. 713 ff., 1859, p. 467 ff.; compared however with the observations of Philippi in his Glaubenslehre, IV. 2, p. 237 ff., 2nd edition.

[915] n loc. refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.26. at this time] The word translated “time” means usually occasion, “special time,” “due time.” Same word as ch. Romans 5:6. Such a sense is natural here. The “declaration” of God’s righteousness in pardon was made not only “at this time,” as distinct from a previous age (that of the O. T.), but “at this due time,” the crisis fixed by the Divine purpose.

that he might be] i.e., practically, “might be seen to be,” “that He might be in His creatures’ view.”

just] With the justice of a judge; giving full honour to the Law.

and the justifier] “And” here plainly = even whilst. The Cross reconciled two seeming incompatibles—jealousy for the Law, and judicial acquittal of the guilty.

him which believeth] Lit. him who is out of, or from, faith. This Gr. idiom may mean “one who belongs to the class of faith,” i.e. of the faithful, the believing. Nearly the same Gr. occurs Hebrews 10:39.

in Jesus] Some critics omit these words, but without sufficient reason.Romans 3:26. [Romans 3:25, Engl. Vers.] Ἐν, in marks the time of forbearance [but Engl. Vers., through]. The antithesis [to that, the time of forbearance] is, in the present time [ἐν τῷ νῦν καιρῷ] where also the νῦν, present, corresponds to the προ, before, in προγεγονότωνεἰς τό εἷναι αὐτόν δίκαιον καὶ δικαιοῦντα, that He might be just and the justifier) The justice of God not merely appeared, but really exercised itself in the blood-shedding of Christ. Comp. the notes on the preceding verse, αὐτὸν, He Himself, in antithesis to the person to be justified. We have here the greatest paradox, which the Gospel presents; for, in the law, God is seen as just and condemning; in the Gospel, He is seen as being just Himself, and, at the same time, justifying the sinner.—τὸν ἐκ πίστεως) him who is of faith [who believeth, Engl. Vers.] comp. the ἐκ, ch. Romans 2:8, [ἐξ ἐριθείας, influenced by contention].At this time (ἐν τῷ νῦν καιρῷ)

Lit., in the now season. Rev., at this present season. See on Matthew 12:1. The contrast is with the past, not with the future.

Just and the justifier (δίκαιον καὶ δικαιοῦντα)

The sense and yet, often imported into καὶ and, is purely gratuitous. It is introduced on dogmatic grounds, and implies a problem in the divine nature itself, namely, to bring God's essential justice into consistency with His merciful restoration of the sinner. On the contrary, the words are coordinate - righteous and making believers righteous. It is of the essence of divine righteousness to bring men into perfect sympathy with itself. Paul's object is not to show how God is vindicated, but how man is made right with the righteous God. Theology may safely leave God to take care for the adjustment of the different sides of His own character. The very highest and strongest reason why God should make men right lies in His own righteousness. Because He is righteous He must hate sin, and the antagonism can be removed only by removing the sin, not by compounding it.

Him which believeth in Jesus (τὸν ἐκ πίστεως Ἱησοῦ)

Lit., him which is of faith in Jesus. See on Romans 3:22. Some texts omit of Jesus. The expression "of faith" indicates the distinguishing peculiarity of the justified as derived from faith in Christ. For the force of ἐκ out of, see on Luke 16:31; see on John 8:23; see on John 12:49; see on 1 John 5:19.

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