Summary: Traces the righteousness of God in Romans
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” (Romans 1:16-17, NIV).
These two verses compound the bulk of the entire letter of Romans. They introduce the theme of the letter which is: THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD AS REVEALED IN/BY THE GOSPEL. Throughout the book, Paul will trace the state of both Jews and Gentiles as he build his case for God’s righteousness that should be the basis for this divided group of believers to live together in harmony as the people of God.
There are five sections in the book of Romans. Each one of them can be condensed in one word and each one reveals the righteousness of God. Since this is the natural way the book of Romans is organized, we will trace the righteousness of God in these sections and words.
Paul says that the Gospel is “the power of God for the salvation of everyone” (1:16). This statement infers the need to be saved. It is a need to be saved from condemnation.
God revealed Himself in the nature. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20, NIV). Because God has revealed Himself, the Gentiles cannot claim that they didn’t know. The evidence that they were shown was enough to point them to God and have them desire Him, but they chose “to suppress the truth” (1:18) and gave themselves in wild living. The evidence that they had was not enough to save, but it was enough to condemn.
God revealed Himself in the man’s conscience. “Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.” (Romans 2:14-15, NIV). This is another revelation that God gave to the Gentiles, which they also chose not to respect. Therefore, God’s righteousness in condemning the Gentiles is shown clear. God has offered opportunity to them to respond, but they chose not to.
God reveled Himself in the Law. Paul’s argument in 2:17-28 is that the Jews’ privilege was that they were entrusted with greater revelation. It was the revelation of the Law. But what they did was that they worshipped the Law and not the God who gave the Law. Therefore, they rejected God’s Messiah and fell under condemnation. With greater revelation, they also had greater responsibility.
Both Jews and Gentiles are under sin. “What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one…” (Romans 3:9-10, NIV). Both Jews and Gentiles were given revelation. Both chose to reject the revelation. Both fell under condemnation. God’s righteousness is revealed in giving mankind opportunity, which they chose to reject. God’s righteousness is not negated by man’s refusal to respond.