Arguments for the proposition, 1:18-5:21

Argument #2

Part 1


Argument #2: The impartial nature of God's righteous vindication of the just in Christ, 3:21-4:25;

Part 1: The righteous reign of God, irrespective of a person's standing under the law of Moses, justifies a person on the basis of the faithful sacrifice of Christ appropriated through faith.


So far, Paul has established the universality of sin and the impartial nature of God's righteous condemnation of sin. He has then reminded self-righteous nomistic believers that they too are infected by the stain of sin, the consequence of which is divine condemnation. With law-bound believers in mind, Paul has examined the place of the law in the righteous judgment of God, making the point that the law of Moses does not restrain sin and shape holiness for divine approval, but actually exposes sin, enacting the law's curse and the "wrath and fury" of God's condemnation.

Paul now goes on to develop his thesis that A person who is set right with God through faith, possesses the fullness of new life in Christ, and this apart from law-obedience. First, that the person who is righteous before God is righteous out of faith, Hab.2:4.

In v21-26, Paul establishes the basis for the realisation of that other aspect of the righteousness reign of God, namely his impartial vindication of a people for himself / his setting a people right with him / his justification of the lost, in which state they may freely appropriate the fullness of his promised blessings - new life. The realisation of this prophetic hope is found in "the faithfulness of Jesus Christ" (not "faith in Jesus Christ", rather "faith / faithfulness of Jesus Christ", ie., his submission to the divine will through his atoning work, the benefits of which are appropriated through faith).

Then, in v27-31, Paul goes on to draw out a conclusion. Given that a believer's standing in the sight of God rests on the faithfulness of Jesus, not on the faithfulness of the believer, the boast of those Jewish believers and their Gentile disciples ("the weak" = law-bound believers) that their commitment to the law of Moses furthers covenant compliance and therefore appropriates God's favour, is wiped away ("excluded"). In the impartial vindication of God, a person stands eternally approved, favoured and blessed in the sight of God ("justified"), as an act of divine grace (covenant mercy), on the basis of faith (Christ's faithfulness and our faith in his faithfulness), which favour is not enhanced by law-obedience.


i] Context: See 1:1-7. In this Paul's second main argument in support of his proposition / thesis, 3:21-4:25, he sets out to establish the impartial nature of God's righteous vindication of the just in Christ. First, he presents his argument, 3:21-31, and then illustrates it with the example of Abraham, 4:1-25.

The contextual structure presents as follows:

The proposition, 3:21-31:

Bestowal of righteousness of God apart from the law, v21-26;

Implications - boasting under the law is excluded, v27-31.

The example of Abraham, 4:1-25:

His righteousness was a gift of grace through faith, v1-12;

His promised blessings were a gift of grace through faith, v13-25:

By grace, v14-17a;

Through faith, v17b-25.


ii] Background: The Nomist heresy 1:8-15.


iii] Structure: Vindication under the righteous reign of God:

The upside of the righteousness of God", v21-26;

The exclusion of boasting under the law, v27-31.


iv] Thesis:


The righteous reign of God,
out of faith,
apart from the law,
facilitates the fullness of new life in Christ


Paul bases his thesis on the text "He who is righteous / just out of faith will live", Hab.2:4., namely:

The grace of God

realised in his righteous reign

(his setting all things right)

in justification

(in judging right / setting right a people before him),

out of faith

(based on Christ's faithfulness + our faith response),

establishes the righteousness of God's children

(covenant compliance),

facilitating God's promised covenant blessings

(full appropriation of his promised new life through the Spirit),

and its fruit, the works of the law

(the application of brotherly love).


Those who rest in faith upon the faithfulness of Christ, his "sacrifice of atonement", stand eternally right in God's presence and so receive the fullness of his promised new life, and this "apart from the law." So therefore, all "boasting" before God, on the basis of a person's faithful attention to the law, is "excluded".


v] Interpretation:

An eternal right-standing in the sight of God is independent of obedience to the Mosaic law, v21; it is "apart from the law", cwriV nomou. This implies that justification (covenant compliance, of being right before God) was possible for an Old Testament saint (Christ's sacrifice is retrospective for them), yet what part did the "law" play in this? Covenant inclusion for the children of Abraham always rested on an act of grace appropriated through faith (a faith like Abraham's). The Sinai covenant, law, served to hold the people to this fact, while guiding the fruit of faith, godliness / ethics.

Sanders (see the new perspective on Paul), argues (on the basis of his research into the religion of second temple Judaism) that Jews of the first century saw their covenant membership / salvation, a membership based on grace, maintained by obedience to the law ("covenant nomism"). It is certainly likely that this thinking was dominant among Jewish believers and their Gentile converts ("the weak", 15:1). Clearly, "the weak" held that a believer's standing before God is maintained by obedience to the law of Moses, progressing holiness / sanctification for divine blessing. Yet, this is heresy, the very heresy that Paul is arguing against, given that a person's justification is inclusive of the fullness of the promised divine life (holiness, ......).

For an Old Testament saint, covenant standing (being right with God) always rested on faith, not obedience, cf., the example of Abraham, ch. 4. The Mosaic law / Torah served primarily to expose sin and thus refocus faith in the mercy of God, serving then as a guide to the life of faith. The Old Testament saint, faced with their sin and the inability of the sacrificial system to atone for wilful sin (it only covered inadvertent sin, although this is disputed by new perspective scholars), could only look in faith to a merciful God for the provision of a perfect sacrificial lamb. "And now" says Paul, "(in Christ) a righteousness of God (here, the saving activity of God) is manifested (and also appropriated) apart from the law, a reality to which the scriptures testify." For Paul, the Christian life proceeds as it began, by grace through faith. A person stands eternally right before God "independently of the law", NEB.


dia pistewV Ihsou Cristou, "by means of / through faith / faithfulness of Jesus Christ", v22. See extra notes on Galatians 2:16.

The noun "faith" is usually understood as "committal of oneself to Christ on the basis of the acceptance of the message concerning him", Burton; "Faith in Christ is the sole and sufficient means of justification", Fung. The trouble is that pistiV in Gk. at the time, and in the Septuagint (the Gk. OT), didn't mean "faith / trust" directed toward someone, but rather "reliability / fidelity / firmness / faithfulness / trustworthiness." This sense seems also to dominate the NT, including Paul's letters.

Although not widely accepted, it is more than likely that the "faith" here is actually generated by Christ (subjective genitive), or belongs to Christ (possessive), or generally describes Christ's character (adjectival, descriptive). So, our right-standing before God rests on Christ's "faith / faithfulness" to the will of God expressed in his obedience to the way of the cross on our behalf; "Christ's trustful obedience to God in the giving up of his own life for us", Martyn, (cf. also Gal.2:20. "I live in faith, that is to say, in the faith of the Son of God", Martyn). It has been argued that the faithfulness belongs to God and is realised in Christ, "God's faithfulness revealed in Christ", so Hebert, Bath, but it seems more likely that here, at least, Paul is speaking of Christ's own faith / faithfulness.

So, the genitive "of Jesus Christ" is most likely subjective, or possessive, "through the faith / faithfulness of Christ", rather than the more widely accepted objective genitive, "faith in Jesus Christ", where Christ is the object of the faith, so NIV etc. Christ's faithfulness, evident in the cross, rests on the Father's faithfulness to his promises, the appropriation of which (the promises of God worked out in the cross) is to we who (episteusamen) believe, cf. Gal.2:16, Rom.3:22. "A person is ... justified ...... by means of the faith / faithfulness of Christ Jesus."


dikaiow, "justified" - made right or declared right, v24. See extra notes on Galatians 2:16.

This verb is most often defined as "declared right." The word leans toward a forensic sense rather than an ethical one, ie., it concerns judicial innocence, not moral rectitude. The debate over "declared righteous" and "made righteous" is one of long standing, but in end what God declares right (approved) is right; see Barrett for the argument on "made righteous." "Made right, or possibly the less confronting "set right", "put right", TEV, or "judged right / judged covenant compliant / judged in the right with God / counted as right", identifies a state of "being in the right with God", Dumbrell. This state of "being right" in the sight of God is complete and eternal and is comparable to Christ's state of "being right" (and this because we are "in Christ") and rests wholly on God's mercy in the faithfulness of Christ appropriated through faith, and not on a person's attention to ethics, whether Old or New Testament law.


nomoV, "law", in v27. Paul generally uses the term "law" to refer to the Law of Moses, the Torah. In v27 it is often argued that he has changed the meaning of the word. Hendrickson opts for "basis", "law", in the sense of "a general rule", "a norm" or "a principle", which is then carried to "on the principle of doing deeds?" Moffatt = justification on the basis of performance, and "the principle of faith" = justification on the basis of faith.

Although this view is widely accepted, it seems more likely that Paul is still using "law" in the sense of "the law of Moses / Torah", see Schreiner. If this is the case then in v26 Paul is identifying two aspects of the law of Moses: i] "the law of works", law as it relates to obedience as a means of promoting divine blessing and: ii] "the law of faith", the law as it relates to faith as a means of progressing the Christian life. Glorying before God on the basis of obedience to the law is "excluded" by a glorying before God in a faith which fulfils ("upholds", see v31) the law. Possibly, although unlikely, "law of faith" refers to the law of Christ, laws appropriate to Christians, eg. "the law of love."


ergwn nomou, "works of law", v27. See also 2:20 and the extra note in "Interpretation".

This is a technical term often used by Paul, the meaning of which has long been debated:

i"Works of the law" are those deeds done in obedience to the law of Moses for the purpose of restraining sin and shaping holiness in the life of a believer for the appropriation of the fullness of new life blessings (= nomism);

iThe conservative / reformed / Lutheran view is that "works of the law are works in which the persons who do them trust as if they are justified by doing them and they are righteous on account of their works", Luther, "the means of self righteousness", Bultmann (= legalism);

iThe new perspective trio of Sanders, Dunn (with some adjustments) and Wright, argue that "works of the law" are the elements of Jewish particularity which, under the new covenant, no longer apply and thus no longer separate Jew from Gentile.

These notes stand with the first option, ie., Paul confronts nomism, not legalism. "By means of what law is boasting excluded? By the means of the law of works / which requires works?"


vi] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 3:21

Argument #2, Part 1: The righteous reign of God, irrespective of a person's standing under the law of Moses, justifies a person on the basis of the faithful sacrifice of Christ appropriated through faith, v21-31:

i] The upside of "the manifestation of the righteousness of God", v21-26. "But now, apart from the law, a righteousness of God has been manifested / disclosed, being attested / disclosed by the law and the prophets." Having established that law-obedience has nothing to do with a person's right-standing before God, Paul reminds his readers that the righteousness reign of God, his setting all things right, of which the Old Testament scriptures testify, has become a reality in Christ, and this "apart from law" (independent of obedience to the law), v21-22. God's setting all things right rests on the faithfulness of Jesus Christ (not "faith in Jesus Christ"), it rests on Christ's faithful obedience on the cross, and it is appropriated through a personal reliance on what Jesus has done for us ("to all who believe").

An excellent overview of Paul's argument in these verses may be found in Stuhlmacher's essay in "Reconciliation, Law and Righteousness", Fortress, 1986.

de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument to a major contrasting point. Paul has established the universality of sin and the nondiscriminatory nature of God's condemnation of sin, either for those outside, or under the law. But the other side of "God's righteousness", his setting all things right, now manifested in Christ, is also at work, and this for those with a faith like Abraham's.

nuni "now" - now. Either expressing a logical step in the argument, or a step in time terms, or both, Barrett. Temporal seems best. The condemnation of sinners and the vindication of the righteous by faith, both of which evidence the righteousness of God, functioned for covenant members without the evidential vindication of the faithful. Sin reigned, and those with a faith like Abraham's could only but cry out to God for mercy, only glimpsing how God might enable their salvation, given that the blood of bulls and goats could never cover their sin. "But now", as attested by the Old Testament scriptures, the righteous reign of God for the salvation of the faithful is realised through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ."

qeou (oV) gen "[a righteousness] from God / of God" - [righteousness] of god. For the genitive "of God", see 1:17. Best treated as possessive / subjective, "the saving activity of God", Talbert. Although the interpretation of this phrase is anything but settled, these notes on Romans take "the righteousness of God" to mean the righteous rule of God, his setting all things right - the vindication of the righteous, Ps.9:3-4; the defence of his people, Deut.33:21, 1Sam.12:7, Mic.6:5; the punishment of the wicked, Ps.9:3-4. God's righteousness, his righteous rule, his setting all things right, his "activity in the process of global transformation", Jewett, his restoration of the whole creation, ..........., is primarily relational, ie., it expresses his "dynamic fidelity to his covenant promises / covenant faithfulness", Dumbrell. "God does make us acceptable to him", CEV.

cwriV + gen. "apart [from law / the law]" - without [law]. Expressing separation; see above. Some argue that Paul's use of nomoV, "law", here refers to law in general, eg. the conscience of a Gentile, but this is unlikely. In this context, "law" surely means the Law of Moses, the Torah, although Jewett argues for "every kind of law."

pefanerwtai (fanerow) perf. pas. "has been made known" - has been manifest, made clear, revealed, made known. Possibly a divine / theological passive. The sense here is "revealed", as of divine revelation, therefore "manifested". That which God manifests, here his "righteousness", is applied / made real, and may be freely appropriated, ie., what God says he does. The perfect emphasises the fact that righteousness has been "revealed" apart from the law. Paul's thesis derives from God, as revealed in the scriptures ("the Law and the Prophets" - an OT technical term) and so is not of his own making.

uJpo + gen. "-" - [being witnessed to, attested to] by. Here expressing agency, or means; "by / through the Law and the Prophets." The participle marturoumenh, "being attested to" is possibly adjectival, attributive, limiting "righteousness", "which is already attested to by the Law and the Prophets", Barclay. Possibly adverbial, concessive, "although the Law and Prophets bear witness to it", ESV.

tou nomou (oV) gen. "the law [and the prophets]" - the law [and the prophets]. The "law", here in the sense of the five books of Moses, + "prophets" = scriptures.


"The righteousness of God (which is manifested and applied apart from the law) is realised in the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe."

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, here to an explanation, "that is ...."

dia + gen. "through" - [a righteousness of god] by means of. Some argue that the preposition here takes a causal, rather than instrumental sense - "they gained right standing because they believed in Jesus", but an instrumental sense is best where "faith" is taken as "faithfulness".

pistewV Ihsou "faith in Jesus" - faith, faithfulness of jesus. The obvious question is, are we dealing with a subjective or objective genitive? Most commentators opt for an objective genitive, Christ being the object of the faith, "by believing in Jesus", Moffatt, etc., Yet, as already noted, subjective, or better just adjectival, possessive, seems more likely = Christ's faith, or more properly, his faithfulness; See above. "Through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ", is argued by Longenecker and others as being not only logical, but better grammar. Taken as an objective genitive we end up with a pleonasm (redundant words), "through faith in Jesus to those who have faith in Jesus", better, "the righteousness of God is manifested (and therefore realised) by means of the faithfulness of Christ (the cross) for all who put their trust in God (in all ages, including the father of faith, Abraham)."

eiV + acc. "to" - into, to [all]. Here, the sense is "with respect to", BAGD, but possibly spatial, expressing direction of the action, "extending to all", "reaching unto and extending over all", Lightfoot.

touV pisteuontaV (pisteuw) pres. part. "who believe" - the ones believing. The participle serves as a substantive. "Faith in Jesus brings us to an understanding of what God's purposes are, includes us in them and puts us right with God", Dumbrell.


Paul now explains how there is no "distinction" in God's righteousness in that all sin and are condemned (irrespective of a person's standing under the law) and all (those who believe) are justified (again irrespective of a person's standing under the law) by means of the redemption wrought by Christ, v22b-24.

gar "-" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the righteousness of God is through faith for all who believe, "because .....", ie., "is universally available", Harvey.

ou .... diastolh "[there is] no difference / between Jew and Gentile" - [there is] no distinction. Predicate nominative. When it comes to sin, all have sinned, Jew and Gentile alike, and God treats all equally. Note Paul's repetition of "all". "God treats everyone alike", CEV.

gar "for" - because. Extending the causal clause introduced by the first gar, explaining why there is no difference between a person under the law and a person outside the law; "because all have sinned ...."

hJmarton (aJmartanw) aor. "sinned" - [all] missed the mark, sinned. The aorist is probably gnomic indicating a universal truth; all humans have sinned from Adam onward. A constative sense is also present where the action of the sinning is viewed in its entirety.

kai "and" - and. It is likely that a consecutive sense is present here; "and as a result ...."

uJsterountai (uJsterew) pres. mid. "fall short" - lack, miss out, fail to reach, come short. The present tense indicating the continuation of the action of falling short, while the middle voice identifies that this lack is for themselves, a lack that they are aware of; they "feel want."

thV doxhV (a) "of the glory" - of the glory. Genitive of direct object after the verb uJserew, a verb of separation. The manifestation of divine wonder, here possibly of God's gracious kindness in salvation. So, "is far away from God's saving presence", TEV, therefore, "far away from the God who saves", TH. "Deprived of the divine glory", REB, sticks with NIV etc. which touches on the idea that humanity was to share divinity, but this was lost through sin (later to be restored in Christ).

qeou (oV) "God" - of god. The genitive may be taken as adjectival, possessive, in that the glory belongs to God, or verbal, subjective, in that the glory radiates from God and we have failed to receive it. As objective genitive is unlikely, ie., failing to glorify / give glory to God.


All those who believe in Christ, whether they are believers who are committed to the Mosaic law, or Gentile believers who live quite apart from the Mosaic law, can eternally share in the gift of perfect right-standing before God, with all its attendant blessings, and this on the basis of Christ's sacrificial work on the cross.

dikaioumenoi (dikaiow) pres. part. "and all are justified" - being justified. The participle forms a participial clause which stands beside the action of the main clause, probably best classified as attendant circumstance, ie. while humanity was sinning, God was justifying; "all of us have sinned and fallen short of God's glory. But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Jesus Christ, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins", CEV. Cranfield argues that the participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting panteV, "all", v23. Obviously, it is the "all who believe" who are "justified", not the all who "have sinned." Paul is explaining that "there is no distinction" for those under, or without the law, as regard sin, but also as regard justification, since justification derives from God's covenant faithfulness, not our obedience.

dwrean adv. "freely" - without cost, for nothing, a gift freely given. Adverb of manner. "Believers are justified as a gift", Davies. The accusative noun here is used adverbially, "in the manner of a gift", Morris. "For nothing", Moffatt; "by God's free grace alone", NEB.

th/ cariti (iV itoV) dat. "by [his] grace" - in = by the grace [of him]. The dative is instrumental, expressing means, as NIV. "Grace", in the sense of something given freely and generously, even where this gift is undeserving. The Biblical sense of the word is something like "covenant mercy", ie., forgiveness bestowed on members of the covenant where a just condemnation would be more appropriate. "God treats us much better than we deserve", CEV, where this translation expresses "grace" in terms of the "overwhelming kindness of God."

dia + gen. "through" - through. Instrumental, expressing means / intermediate agency; "through, by means of."

thV apolutrwsewV (iV ewV) gen. "the redemption" - the deliverance by means of the payment of a price, redemption. The word finds its origin in the payment of a price for the release of prisoners. "Through the ransom provided in Christ Jesus", Moffatt; probably better than the softer "sets us free", CEV, "deliverance", Goodspeed. There is no indication to whom the ransom was paid; it was certainly not Satan.

thV "that came" - the. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the prepositional phrase "in Christ Jesus" into a nominal phrase, standing in apposition to "the redemption." The "redemption" in mind is "the one which was achieved in Christ."

en + dat. "by [Christ Jesus]" - in [christ jesus]. Possibly instrumental, as NIV, "the redemption that came by Christ Jesus", possibly expressing association, "the redemption that was in connection with Christ Jesus", or better local, expressing space, incorporative union, "the redemption that is ours in Christ Jesus."


Paul, in v25-26, explains how God has achieved the "redemption" (v24) of mankind. "God displayed his righteousness in offering the faithfulness of Christ (his submission to the cross) as a propitiatory sacrifice, having, in the past, graciously passed over human sin, in order to, on the one hand act rightly, while at the same time approve (justify) those who live out their lives in the faithfulness of Christ."

Verses 25-26 consists of a single relative clause outlining the redemptive work of Christ.

w}n "-" - whom (Jesus Christ). Accusative object in a double accusative construction.

proeqeto (protiqhmi) aor. mid. "presented" - [god] set forth publicly, displayed / purposed. The aorist is punctiliar, of a completed historical event. The sense, "purposed" is probably best here, "God appointed him", Phillips, although the public nature of what was done gives some weight to "put forward", NRSV. See Cranfield for "purposed".

iJlasthrion (on) "as a sacrifice of atonement" - a means of expiation, propitiation. Accusative complement of the direct object "who", standing in a double accusative construction and stating a fact about the object "who"; "whom God put forward as a propitiation", ESV. Given the context, "propitiation", in the terms of the turning aside of God's wrath from the sinner to the sacrifice (Christ), is a reasonable translation, AV, Moffatt, Phillips ....; see Cranfield p.216. "Expiating sin", eg., REB, in the sense of make amends for, is softer and often preferred by modern scholars in that it moves away from the idea of an angry God, although God's anger at sin is certainly not hidden in the scriptures. The NIV, as with NRSV..., has put stress on the "sacrifice", but the verb means "make atonement", not "offer a sacrifice." "The place of propitiation", ie., the mercy seat / dwelling place of God is possible, but unlikely, although Dumbrell thinks that Christ is both: "the place and means by which the atonement provided by God and made available in his divine magnanimity, was thus the blood-splattered Messiah."

dia + gen. "through" - through. Instrumental, expressing means; "by means of, through."

thV pistewV (iV ewV) "faith [in his blood] / [the shedding of his blood] - faith (to be received by faith) [in his blood]" - The NIV is literal translation of the Gk, while the TNIV has made it clear that "the faith" in mind is the act of believing in Christ's atonement (the preposition en, "in", being local, space / direction, rather than instrumental, "by"). Yet, it should be noted that the same difficulty that existed in v22 presents here. "Paul could well be saying that Christ's faithfulness in his blood (ie. his submission to a "sacrificial death", NEB) was the propitiatory sacrifice that God had purposed (cf. Phil.2:8)", Davies.

eiV "he did this to" - to, into, for. The preposition here may carry the sense of either, purpose or result. NIV etc. opts for purpose, but result seems more appropriate, "this served to ...."

endeixin (iV ewV) acc. "demonstrate" - an indication, revelation / proof, evidence, verification. Usually taken to mean a display: the means by which one knows that something is true, "to show", CEV. "Vindicate", Goodspeed, is very unlikely, but "show" seems somewhat shallow. The atonement doesn't just "reveal" (better than "proves") the righteousness of God, that he does right, particularly with respect to his mercy and kindness toward his creatures, but actually realises it. The revelation of the righteousness of God is not just a display of that righteousness, but also a divine enactment of it - here realised in the atonement; "this served to realise his righteousness."

thV dikaiosunhV (h) gen. "justice / righteousness" - of righteousness, justice [of him]. The genitive is adjectival, epexegetic, limiting "demonstrate" by specifying, "a revelation / realisation, that is / namely, of his righteousness", but possibly verbal, objective. Most commentators opt for a moral sense, "justice", but "righteousness" is better. God's act of salvation in Christ realises the righteousness of God. Although unlikely, it is possible for the word to take a forensic sense here, "justification". See "the righteousness of God."

dia + acc. "because" - because of [the passing by of the sins having previously occurred]. The usual causal sense is most likely expressing reason. God's justice is highlighted because of his overlooking of sin and dealing with it in his own time through the sacrificial death of Jesus. Another possibility is to take the preposition to mean "with a view to", while taking the word "forbearance" to mean "forgiveness". So, God's justice is highlighted with a view to his forgiveness of sins previously committed.

en + dat. "in" - in [the forbearance of god]. Local, expressing space / sphere; "in the sphere of his forbearance" - of God withholding his judgment on sin. Through textual division this phrase was assumed to introduce v26.

thn paresin (iV ewV) dat. "he had left" - the overlooking, passing over, passing by. The setting aside of sins committed beforehand, to be dealt with at a later time. "Overlooked"", NEB, is better than "wiped out" ("forgave, remitted"), Phillips. Like Nelson, who chose to put the spy glass to his bad eye, God chose to wink at sin for a time.

twn ... aJmarthmatwn (a atwn) gen. "the sins" - of the sins. The genitive is usually treated as verbal, objective, in that the genitive "sins" receives the action of the verbal noun "overlooking".

progegonotwn (proginomai) perf. part. "committed beforehand" - having previously occurred. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "sins". The perfect tense emphasises a continuation of the condition. Possibly past sins, so Luther, "the sins of the past", REB, but also what is commonly called, recurrent sin, ongoing sin. In the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, God has chosen, in his mercy, to deal with sin, past, present and future.


God is a just God, and justice demands that sin is dealt with. Rather than deal with it in us, in a gracious act of kindness, God deals with it in Christ. Sin was punished in the person of Jesus who became the believing sinner's substitute. Therefore, God can justly approve the sinner who rests on the "faithfulness of Jesus" (his substitutionary sacrifice "in his blood").

proV + acc. "he did it to [demonstrate]" - toward [the display of the righteousness of him]. Possibly here expressing reference, "with reference to" / "with regard to his ....", but better taken to express purpose; "the enactment of the atonement (v25), in the forbearance of God, proV had as its purpose endeixin the realisation of his righteousness " - for endeixin, lit. "display", and dikaiousunhV, "righteousness [of him]", see v25.

en + dat. "at [the present time]" - in [the present time]. Temporal use of the preposition. The use of both prepositions eiV, in v25, and proV here with endeixin thV didaiosunhV autou, "the revelation / realisation of his righteousness", indicates that the enactment of the atonement was as a result of, and had as it purpose, the revelation / realisation of the righteousness of God. The addition of "at the present time" emphasises the nowness of this enactment; see v21.

eiV to einai "so as to be" - into = for the to be. This construction, the preposition eiV + the articular infinitive, usually expresses purpose, "in order that", but in this context result, or better, an actual result, seems more likely; "and consequently he is both just and justifier." The accusative subject of the infinitive is auton, "him", emphatic by use.

kai "and" - [just] and. Adjunctive, "and also"; God is a righteous God, a just God who condemns sin, "and also / as well as this", he is a God who sets the sinner (with faith) right. Note how some commentators draw a distinction here, taking "and" to mean "although", "and yet", Cranfield. "There is no antithesis between God's justice and his mercy", Stott.

dikaiounta (dikaiow) pres. part. "the one who justifies" - the one justifying. Although there is no article it seems likely that the participle here serves as a substantive, as NIV. God is both just and justifier; both right and the one who declares / makes right.

ton "those who have" - the. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the prepositional phrase ek pistewV Ihsou, "out of / on the basis of the faith / faithfulness of Jesus", into a nominal phrase.

ek + gen. "-" - out of, from. See ek, "derived from / on the basis of", in the sub-notes for Galatians 2:16.

pistewV Ihsou "faith in Jesus" - faith / faithfulness of jesus. We strike the same problem with the word "faith" which we faced in v22 and v25. The grammar again implies "the faithfulness of Jesus" rather than "faith in Jesus" ie., a subjective / descriptive / possessive genitive, rather than an objective genitive. Those who are justified, who are in the right with God, are those who ek, "draw from / live out their lives in", the faithfulness of Christ, his obedient submission to the cross on our behalf.


ii] Boasting of an assumed standing under the law is excluded and this because all believers, those under the law (law-bound Jewish believers and their Gentile associates) and those outside the law (Gentile believers), are justified by faith apart from the law, v27-31 (v31 is transitional).

pou "where" - where. Interrogative particle; "what room is there for boasting?", Zerwick.

oun "therefore" - therefore. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion; "therefore".

hJ kauchsiV (iV ewV) "is boasting" - is the boasting. Nominative subject of an assumed verb to-be. "Glorying / boasting" as an act. Paul refers a number of times to "glorying". "Glorying", in itself, is a positive attribute, but "glorying / boasting" about one's standing before God on the basis of religious observance, particularly law-obedience, is anything but positive. The way of faith excludes such boasting. New perspective commentators tend toward the idea that the boast is in possessing the law, as against the Gentiles who don't possess it. Paul's argument would then be against those Jews who possess the law, but who lack faith and therefore fail to keep it.

exekleisqh (ekkleiw) aor. pas. "it is excluded" - it was eliminated, excluded, shut out, not allowed. Being aorist underlines the definite end of any ground for boasting, and the passive is theological / divine. The sense of the word is "to have the door shut in one's face", Jewett.

dia + gen. "on / because of" - through, by means of. Instrumental; "by means of what kind of law is boasting excluded?" = "through what law?"

poiou gen. pro. "what" - what kind of [law] Interrogative pronoun. Most commentators suggest simply "what?" As for nomou, "law", it is often assumed that Paul is playing with words here, so "what principle?" Yet, "what kind of law" is probably Paul's intended sense; he still has in mind the Law of Moses (which logically extends to God's law in general, including Jesus' ethical teachings). See "What does Paul mean by 'law'?" in Interpretation above.

twn ergwn (on) gen. "on that of observing the law? / the law that requires works?" - the law of the works? Assumed genitive "law" stands in apposition to nomou, "law"; "the law of works" (the article is generic). The genitive "of the works" is adjectival, attributive / idiomatic, "The law which is unrealised in works", ie., the law as it relates to obedience / works as a means of promoting divine blessings. See nomoV in Interpretation above. "By means of what law is boasting excluded? By means of the law which is operative in works? No way!"

alla "-" - [no] but. Strong adversative establishing a counterpoint, "No, but ...."; "Certainly not, rather, boasting is excluded by means of the law of faith / which requires faith."

dia + gen. "on / because of" - through, by means of. Instrumental, as above.

pistewV (iV ewV) gen. "[that] of faith / [the law] that requires faith" - [a law] of faith. The genitive is adjectival, attributive / idiomatic, limiting nomou, "law", "the law which is operative in faith", ie., the law as it relates to faith as a means of progressing the Christian life. What "faith" is in mind? Possibly the act of believing, trusting, relying on Jesus, but possibly also in the wider sense of the faithfulness of Christ appropriated through faith. "Boasting is excluded by means of the law which is operative in faith."


Paul now explains why boasting in works is a waste of time: "Human boasting in works is ruled out because it is my contention that a person stands in the right with God through faith, and that their attention to the law has nothing whatsoever to do with it."

gar "for" - for. Variant reading oun, drawing a logical conclusion, would indicate that this verse serves as a summary of Paul's premise underlying the argument in v21-27; "Our argument, therefore, is that a person ....."

logizomeqa (logizomai) pres. "we maintain" - we reckon, consider, think. The rational conclusion of a thinking person, "we conclude", AV, "we hold", Moffatt, = "we believers hold". Possibly more specifically, "we apostles hold", or even as a royal plural, so "I contend." "It is our argument that ....", Barclay.

dikaiousqai (dikaiow) pres. mid/pas. inf. "that [a person] is justified" - [a man] to be justified. The infinitive serves to introduce a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing the content of the argument / what is maintained. For "justified" see notes on Galatians 2:16. "We see that people are acceptable to God because they have faith, and not because they obey the law", CEV.

pistei (iV ewV) dat. "by faith" - in = by faith. The dative is instrumental, expressing means. "Faith", for Paul, usually includes Christ's faithfulness + our faith response; see notes on Galatians 2:16

cwriV + gen. "apart from" - apart from. Expressing separation; "apart from, without, independently of."

ergwn (on) "observing [the law] / works of the law" - works of law. See above. "Doing something the law tells us to do", JB.


The adjunctive h] introduces a second argument against boasting in works. "Human boasting in works is ruled out because it limits God's reign to those committed to covenant Law, when God is God over the whole of humanity."

Ioudaiwn (oV) gen. "of Jews" - [or is he the god] of jews [only]? The genitive is adjectival, of subordination, or just possessive; "Is God the God over Jews only?" As already noted, Paul's "Jew" is representative of those who are committed to the Mosaic Law in order to improve their covenant standing by restraining sin and advancing holiness through law-obedience. Paul particularly has in mind law-bound nomist believers, both believing Jews and their Gentile associates, as opposed to Gentile believers who live apart from the Mosaic law; See "Interpretation", IoudaioV, 2:17-29.

ouci "is he not" - [and = also] not [of gentiles]? Introducing a rhetorical question expecting an affirmative answer. Paul is making the point that there is only one God and therefore he is God over all humanity.

nai kai "Yes" - yes and [of gentiles]. Emphatic ascensive; "certainly even."


With eiper, Paul introduces the reason why God is God over all humanity, and not just the "Jew", namely, because God is one, and it is because he is one that he has one way to justify both the circumcised and the uncircumcised.

eiper "since" - since [there is one god]. This conjunction draws a logical conclusion, possibly conditional, NEB, but more likely causal here; "He must be the God of the Gentiles also, since / because there is only one God."

peritomhn (h) "[who will justify] the circumcised" - [who will justify] circumcision. With the pronoun o}V, "who", introducing an attributive modifier of "God", limiting "God" by further describing him. As already noted, Paul primarily has in mind "circumcised" law-bound nomist believers (most of whom would be Jews). They, like uncircumcised Gentile believers, have only one way to stand right before God, and that is by faith, and not law-obedience.

ek + gen. "by [faith]" - out of, from = on the basis of. The use of two prepositions here with "faith" is somewhat confusing. The circumcised are ek faith, "out of", expressing source / origin, and the uncircumcised are dia faith, "through, by means of", expressing means. "By means of" may also apply to ek "out of", since this preposition is sometimes instrumental, in which case ek is a stylistic usage, so Moule. Jewett suggests that Paul used a "variety of formulations", although "on the basis of" seems to be the primary idea of how "faith" is applied. Dumbrell agrees that the intended sense is similar, but that Paul is simply noting Israel's prior place in the realisation of the covenant. Israel's salvation was on the basis of God's covenant faithfulness appropriated through faith, similarly, the salvation of believing Gentiles is by means of the same faith / faithfulness (God's faithfulness realised in Christ and our faith response); "he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith", NRSV.

dia + gen. "through" - [and uncircumcision] through. Instrumental, expressing means.

thV pistewV "that same faith" - the faith. Again probably Paul's used of "faith" in a technical sense, ie., faith in the faith / faithfulness of Jesus.


Paul concludes by rejecting the false inference from his argument that faith dispenses with law. As far as Paul is concerned, faith validates the law. The opening clause is formed as a question; "then do we overthrow the law by proposing that justification for both believing Jews and Gentiles is on the basis of faith (Christ's faithfulness + our faith in Christ's faithfulness) apart from the law?"

Paul's answer is "not for a moment." Paul's gospel of a right-standing before God, realised on the basis of faith rather than works of the law, does not devalue ("nullify") the law, but rather "fulfils (Heb. qiyyem) the law". What the law pointed to, namely justification, faith "fulfilled / completed" - "faith is confirmed by the law", Cranfield. Paul's phrase "the law of faith" in 3:27 assists in our understanding of "fulfils the law." Clearly "law" here is "the law of Moses" (although this is disputed by many). Paul's question "by what kind of law?" is answered with the words "by God's law", "that is, by God's law, not misunderstood as the law which directs men to seek justification as a reward for their works, but properly understood as summoning men to faith", Cranfield. Thus, Paul's gospel fulfils the law.

oun "then" - therefore. Inferential, here a false inference.

katargoumen (katargew) "do we, [then] nullify" - do we [therefore] annul, make of no affect, render inactive, render powerless. Probably not "do away with it", but rather "suggest that the law is worthless."

nomon (oV) "law" - law [through faith]? Accusative object of the verb "to annul." "Law", in the sense of "the law of Moses", is likely, although there is no article which may imply that Paul is referring to natural law as well as the law of Moses - all divine law however or wherever revealed. Note Turner's view that the first use of "law" in this verse means "the law of Moses" and that the second use of "law" means "principle", but this is unlikely.

mh genoito "not at all!" - may it not be. An emphatic "no".

alla "rather" - Adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "on the contrary ...."

iJstanomen (iJsthmi) "we uphold [the law]" - [law] we confirm. "We establish the law", "we are giving the law its true value", JB, or probably better, we "fulfil the law", Bruce. The way that faith "upholds / fulfils / completes" the law is open to some debate. The possibilities are as follows:

ifaith is counted as obedience to law;

ithe function of the law to expose sin and lead to faith for justification fulfils the law;

ifaith in the obedience of Christ who on our behalf fulfils the law;

ifaith fulfils the law in that it prompts Christ-likeness in a believers walk in the Spirit ......???.


Romans Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]