But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;…
The apostle shows —
I. THAT IT IS A DIVINE RIGHTEOUSNESS, not a human. That righteousness which we had lost in Adam was but a human thing, finite like him who lost it; but that which we gain is Divine and forms an infinite compensation. It is called the righteousness of God, because it is —
1. Provided by Him.
2. Founded on the doings and sufferings of the Son of God.
3. Provides such a compensation for human unrighteousness, that it not only takes it all away, but brings in a new and far higher and surer footing for the sinner to rest on.
II. THAT IT IS A RIGHTEOUSNESS WITHOUT THE LAW. Not an unlawful righteousness — one not based on law, or one in providing which law has been set aside, but one which, in so far as we are concerned, has nothing to do with law at all. It is not a righteousness which asks any doing or obeying on our part to complete it, for then it would cease to be "the righteousness of God," and would become "the righteousness of man." In so far as God and Christ are concerned, it has everything to do with law, but in so far as we are concerned it has nothing to do with it.
III. THAT IT HAS BEEN "MANIFESTED." It is not a thing hidden from view. God has been at infinite pains to bring it forward both on our account and on His.
IV. THAT IT IS A RIGHTEOUSNESS WITNESSED BY THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS. It is not something now come to light for the first time; it is something which has been proclaimed from the beginning. To this the eye of every saint, from Abel downward, has been directed — on this the feet of every saint have stood, this every type and prophecy and sacrifice has set forth.
V. THAT IT IS A RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS BY THE FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST. It is not our faith that is our righteousness. If it were so, then faith would be a work, and then should we be justified by our own acts. It is by believing that we are identified with Christ, so that His doing becomes ours; His suffering ours; His fulfilling of the law and obedience ours.
VI. THAT IT IS A RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR THE UNRIGHTEOUS. "For there is no difference: for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." It is our unrighteousness that fits us for this. How foolish, then, to say, "I am too great a sinner to be forgiven." It is like the sun. It is one sun, yet it is enough for and free to everyone.
(H. Bonar, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;