Righteousness Being Revealed by God, Romans 3:21-31

This is my installment for the Blogger Small Group post on Romans chapter 3:21-31. There is always time for anyone to join in if they like (see Blogger Small Group Rules/Guidelines). Right now we are several weeks into the group, which started in James.

No need to try and catch up, just start in the same place we are and post your opinions.

This week we dive into the theological rich area of justification by faith. Always a fun and exciting topic, one that we as Christians love to bounce around and argue about over various topics and pieces, so I am looking forward to reading the other members posts here today as well.

A Little Background on Romans 3:21-31

This section of scripture can be a little confusing or complicated, at least to me, but Paul is talking about righteousness being revealed by God. We do learn here, if we didn’t know already, that there is not one single human being (Jesus being the one single exception) that has ever, or ever will be able to meet the standards of God on his or her own merit.

I do have a few favorite verses and Romans 3:23 is one of them.

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

To me, this is the key verse in this section. There is no difference that exists between human beings because all have sinned.

A Little Run Through the Bible Dictionary

Sometimes there are big words in the Bible that we don’t understand fully, but there are some that I would deem as “religious” words that we turn off for one reason or another. I wanted to touch on a few that I have trouble with from time to time, just to remind myself of their meaning here in Romans 3.

I know I am not addressing the exact scriptures word by word or verse by verse, but I think these two terms below are important parts of this scripture, so today I just decided to focus on what they meant as a part of these passages in Romans (sorry for the deviation).

Righteousness

This word in the NT context is mainly used by Paul and one Bible dictionary talks about the Greek family of words that goes in to providing a proper definition of the word righteousness.

A single family of words expresses the concept. Dikaiosyne, which means “uprightness”, Dikaios is “just” and dikaioo means to “pronounce or treat a person as righteous or to vindicate or acquit”.

This was someone who met obligations to others in their community and to the “gods”, or in Jesus day it was viewed as behavioral conformity to the written or oral law. Here are a few other definitions I came across when looking this up.

  • adhering to moral principles
    wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
  • Righteousness (also called rectitude) in this article refers to the important theological concept in Islam, Judaism and Christianity. …
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Righteousness
  • The quality or state of being righteous; holiness; purity; uprightness; rectitude. Righteousness, as used in Scripture and theology, in which it chiefly occurs, is nearly equivalent to holiness, comprehending holy principles and affections of heart, and conformity of life to the divine law; A …
    en.wiktionary.org/wiki/righteousness
  • Righteousness is an attribute of moral purity belonging to God alone (John 17:25 ). It is He alone who is truly righteous. …
    www.carm.org/dictionary/dic_p-r.htm
  • The righteousness of faith is the gift of righteousness which the believer receives through the abundance of the Father’s grace. …
    www.biblestudy.org/beginner/basic-bible-teachings.html
  • Righteousness is the moral perfection of God that is the standard of what is right. God’s righteousness is expressed in the Ten Commandments. …
    www.cbcfargo.com/resources/promise/08.html
  • Living in truth, acting in justices. Life itself can be understood or viewed as motion or movement. It began at birth, and ends at death. One cannot reach the end without a means or vehicle. Thus, righteousness is the vehicle of life with truth as the guide and justice as the steerimg wheel.
    www.liberationconcepts.com/maat
  • Justification

    These two terms in the Bible are very similar. Sometimes Justification and Righteousness are used for the same meaning. In the NT terminology the word is dikaioo (same as used above) which means “to acquite” or “to vindicate”, or “to pronounce righteous”.

    Some other definitions are:

  • something (such as a fact or circumstance) that shows an action to be reasonable or necessary; “he considered misrule a justification for …
  • a statement in explanation of some action or belief
  • the act of defending or explaining or making excuses for by reasoning; “the justification of barbarous means by holy ends”- H.J.Muller
    wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
  • In Christian theology, justification is God’s act of declaring or making a sinner righteous before God. …
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justification (theology)
  • The early church said to rejoice in the fact that God had pronounced them righteous (or justified) for all those believing in Jesus (Acts 13:39).

    39 Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.

    Back to Romans 3:21-31

    So that is all fine and good but where does that leave us with today’s passage. We started off in Romans chapters 1-3 with Paul starting what would be his argument that none of us are “righteous” in God’s sight, until he hits today’s verses.

    Paul has now moved into an argument that righteousness is from God, given freely, and received by those of us who believe in his son Jesus Christ. This is the basis of all we are as Christians and something that we should all cling to.

    We can not be justified or righteous on our own account, none of us can.

    Do We Nullify the Law?

    This is something we/I struggle with. So do we follow the law or not. Is the law applicable today or not. Well, Paul answers that question right here. Paul says here in the greek“me genoito!” Meaning, may it not be or God forbid, or basically, not at all.

    I read a section in my study that put it like this:

    The purpose of the Mosaic Law is fulfilled and its place in God’s total plan is confirmed when it leads an individual to faith in Jesus Christ. Paul repeatedly affirmed that faith, not works of the Law, is the way of salvation. He wrote the word “faith” eight times in Romans 3:22-31 (and twice in v31).

    I think that says and shows the Law’s importance in our lives today. I know this was a little off topic but that is where I was led to go today, hope someone got something out of the information above, if not, I know I did.

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    5 thoughts

    1. I hear what you are saying, and as I mentioned in my post today, this is hard for me right now…”never will be able to meet the standards of God on his or her own merit.” This is an interesting book that I am glad we are taking slow. It allows us to look at things more closely.

      Michaels last blog post..Romans 21-31: Blogger Small Group

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    2. I don’t think that you went far off the topic. Doing word studies like this is a huge part of the inductive study approach to a passage. If you don’t really understand what the words mean in a passage then you will never fully get the passage.

      I think the reason that we don’t nullify the law is that it doesn’t need nullifying. Christ fulfilled it completely and therefore its place was confirmed. In a sense, we fulfilled it through Christ’s work of redemption.

      b/s last blog post..July 1, 2008

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    3. I loved your word studies, Scott. It’s amazing just how much meaning you can get from studying key words in your Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic resources. (Mine are all on the computer, so it’s really easy.)

      I already gave my interpretation of keeping the law a couple of times, so I won’t go into it again. It doesn’t vary from yours in actual practice anyway, so I’m not sure how much it matters. 😉

      Grace and Peace,

      Cindy

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