The Daily Word of Righteousness

"Workless Grace"

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: (Romans 3:21,22)

What has been manifested and witnessed to by the Law and the Prophets?

A righteousness from God apart from the Law.

Let us repeat our earlier comment. We Gentiles have interpreted Paul's "righteousness of God without the law" to mean, "righteousness of God apart from godly living"—a destructive error.

The following quotation from Taylor (Tyndale House Publishers. Living Letters by Kenneth N. Taylor), quoted in The New Testament from 26 Translations, comments on Romans 3:21: "But now God has shown us a different way to heaven—not by being ‘good enough' and trying to keep his laws."

Apart from the fact that finding the way to Heaven is never presented by Paul as being the goal of salvation, nor does going to Heaven have anything to do with the context of Romans 3:21, a Gentile would understand "not by being ‘good enough' and trying to keep his laws" to mean God has given us a plan of salvation whereby we may live in immorality without affecting our relationship to God.

Not having read enough of Taylor's work to know whether he takes care of this problem in his text or notes, we do realize we have a good illustration, in this fragment of his commentary, of the manner in which the Apostle Paul has been interpreted.

The expression "the righteousness of God without the law" means vastly more than an imputed (ascribed) righteousness. The righteousness of God without the Law comes as we leave Moses and are married to Christ. Our marriage to Christ, requiring as it does an intense interaction with the living Christ in every detail of life, produces a righteousness of character and behavior that the Law never could produce.

We leave one source of godly character and behavior, the Law of Moses observed by a devout heart, and go to another source of godly character and behavior, which is the forming and dwelling of Christ in us.

When studying Romans, we must keep in mind that Paul had an ongoing battle with Jewish theologians and teachers who were insisting that righteousness could come by the Law of Moses. Some of the Jewish teachers had become Christians and they believed that the new converts must follow Moses as well as Christ. Paul's argument against mixing Moses with Christ must be seen from the standpoint of Divine grace being another means of producing godly behavior; otherwise, Paul appears to be saying the grace of the new covenant can function apart from the formation of a transformed moral nature.

Paul's employment of the term works does not refer to upright, godly behavior, but to the Law of Moses or a similar body of religious observances. The Law of Moses, and the new covenant, have precisely the same objective: to cause us to practice righteousness, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.

To be continued.