21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
The Central Passage to Understanding the Bible
Martin Luther believed the above passage was the central passage to understanding the Bible. It is a link between the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament. The ‘but now’ connects the old to the new. In the beginning of Romans we see that under the Old Testament a case was made through God’s revelation which condemned mankind. There was no hope because all humanity starts life in an estranged condition. The Old Testament points forward to a coming salvation, but in the first century that mysterious salvation was revealed to the world.
Faith/Belief is central to God’s salvation. Only those who believe actually take hold of what God has provided. Everyone needs saving, everyone can be saved, only those who believe are actually saved.
Legal language and commercial language are combined in this paragraph. Legally, Jesus takes on the punishment which sin demands. We are therefore declared ‘not guilty’. Commercially, God purchases his children from slavery to sin. In either case, God has brought about the salvation of the same wretches that know themselves to be condemned because of chapters 1-3.
Father, thank you for the justification that you have provided. Thank you for the redemption. You have reached so far into the depths of our darkened world and you have brought light and life to us. May we be grateful.
- With what words does this paragraph begin?
- What words are repeated in this passage?
- Why might Luther have called this passage the central passage of scripture?
- How do you define justification and redemption?
- What difference does being freely justified and redeemed make to you?