Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 3 Study # 4
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
1901 ASV Translation:
24 being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Textual Issues: There are no textual variations in 3:24 between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26.
June 28, 2005
- I. Our Text's Context: it is directly within Paul's reduction of the "Jew" to the status of "typical human being".
- A. He asked, in 2:9, whether the Jew was morally superior to the Gentile and, then, answered his own question with the declaration that he had "proved" that, as far as being a morally corrupt part of Adamic humanity was concerned, the playing field was perfectly level...all are "under sin".
- B. Then, in 3:22-23, the text just preceding this verse, he said that there is "no distinction" between Jew and Gentile for "all have sinned" and "all" are "bereft" of God's glory.
- 1. Here Paul makes it clear once again that he is convinced that behavior arises from the "glory", or "essential character" of the individual whose actions are under consideration.
- 2. If one is "bereft" of the "glory" of God, he will, in no wise, be able to reproduce the righteousness of God. Herein is the necessity of the doctrines of the "re-creation" of man and the indwelling of God's Spirit within him.
- C. Thus, Paul's statements in our text are directly related to God's provision for both Jew and Gentile as fallen human beings.
- II. The Issue of our Text.
- A. The larger issue, throughout Paul's letter to the Romans to this point, has always been the enormous level of conflict between God and men.
- 1. He introduced this issue in 1:18 with the declaration that God was continually making His wrath clear by way of manifestation.
- 2. He continued dealing with the reality of, and the results of, this enormous conflict in all that he wrote beyond 1:18 -- conflict between man and God and between man and man.
- 3. That Romans 5:1 stands as a kind of "summary conclusion" of the benefit to having "justification by faith" established -- the possession of peace with God -- also goes a long way toward emphasizing the fact that this enormous conflict is to be seen as the major issue behind all of the words so far.
- B. The "point" toward which Paul has been driving since he introduced the problem of conflict has been the answer to the question: How can this conflict be resolved?
- 1. He spent the entire text of 1:18-3:20 attempting to establish the fact, in his readers' minds, that the resolution cannot be rooted in, or based upon, man's behavior...for he is bereft of the "glory" that would make that possible.
- 2. He introduced a different foundation in 3:21-22: a righteousness founded upon both the faith of, and behavior of, Jesus Christ, the Human Manifestation of the glory of God.
- C. Thus, our text is a part of his explanation of this different foundation.
- III. The Doctrine of Our Text.
- A. It declares that "justification" is at least part of the answer to the "problem" of the enormous conflict.
- 1. What does it mean, then, to be "justified"?
- a. There are two major "positions" on this issue.
- 1) The view of many within the pale of visible Christianity is that man's justification involves a kind of "infusing" of the glory of God in man so that he is no longer "bereft" of the necessary glory, and no longer incapable of "doing what is required". In effect, man is restored to the "unfallen Adam" condition...Jesus died for original sin to give us a second chance.
- 2) The view of Reformational Protestantism is that man's justification involves a decree of God in which He "posts" the righteousness of Jesus Christ to the "account" of every believer in Jesus. In effect, man is positioned "in" Jesus so that whatever He did is credited to those "in" Him and the actual actions of man either before, or after, his "justification" have nothing to "contribute".
- b. There is no question that there will be no real erasure of "conflict" between God and men until men are actually "practicing" the righteousness of God.
- 1) Even if it be granted that "justification" alters God's attitude toward man from the "wrath" of "not My children" to the "mercy" of "My sons" (Romans 9:22-27), it still cannot be effectively argued that man's on-going sins do "nothing" in respect to generating conflict.
- 2) Nor can it be effectively argued that "justified man" no longer sins in the sense that men no longer do things that create conflict between them and God and between them and other men.
- c. The question is this: does "justification" actually "erase" the conflict, or does it "only" lay the foundation for the eventual erasure of that conflict?
- 1) In the light of the biblical and historical reality that man continues to sin beyond the point of his justification, we can only say that justification lays the foundation for eventual success.
- 2) It is impossible, then, to claim that justification actually accomplishes the erasure of conflict.
- d. The answer, then, to our question of what it means to be "justified" is that it means that a person has been placed "into" Jesus Christ so that He is both Author and Finisher of the process that ultimately brings all of the children of God to the exercise of the glory of God.
- 1) This means that "justification" is not an "infusing of Jesus into man so that man becomes a possessor of the glory needed to empower godly actions" but an "implanting of man into Jesus so that man becomes a possessor of the consequences of the actions of Jesus on his behalf".
- 2) This does not mean that there is nothing else that occurs that addresses the need of man for the glory of God; it only means that justification is not that something else. There are actually more than 35 different things that occur at the point when a man is reconciled to God. Justification is the "bottom line" and "first fundamental change" that occurs in respect to man's standing before God. It fundamentally addresses the "wrath" of God and effectively turns it aside.
- 2. How, then, is a person "justified"?
- a. First, Paul calls it "a thing done freely".
- 1) The meaning of "freely" boils down to "without a cause that is rooted in the one to whom/for whom a thing is done."
- a) John 15:25 highlights this meaning.
- b) 2 Corinthians 11:7 also highlights this meaning.
- c) Galatians 2:21 ties this meaning to the idea of "unnecessarily" -- there was not only no "necessity" in man; there was also no "necessity" in the condition of man.
- 2) This absolutely erases any sense of "necessity" rooted in any kind of "obligation" in God because of some "leverage" man possesses over Him.
- a) In the context, Paul is not saying that when a man "believes" God, God comes under no "obligation" (integrity carries its own "obligations").
- b) Rather, he is saying that man has no "legal" foundation for expecting that God "should" or "ought" or "must" grant him a decree of justification.
- b. Then, Paul says it is "a thing done by His grace".
- 1) Because of Romans 4:4 and 11:6, many have simply made "freely by His grace" a kind of redundant repetition.
- 2) But, though related, "freely" and "grace" are not the same thing.
- a) "Freely", as already observed, overlaps "grace" as Romans 4:4 and 11:6 declares, but its focus is upon the absence of "humanly imposed necessity".
- b) "Grace", on the other hand, though having connections with the absence of humanly acquired leverage on God, is really more about who is doing the producing than it is about why it is being produced. The "grace of God" is "God in action, doing for another what 'necessity' requires". In a sense, "grace" is the unmerited action of God to bring good into play. In this sense, the "unmerited" aspect is the overlap with "freely", but the real issue is that God has taken on the problem so that incompetent man can really have the desired result as Romans 4:16 brings to light. Grace makes the promise sure because the fulfillment is God-dependent, not man-dependent.
- c. And then, Paul says it is "a thing done by the agency of the redemption which Jesus Christ provided".
- 1) The genitive form of "redemption" is commented on by A.T. Robertson (page 582 of A Grammar of the Greek New Testament) in respect to the word "through" when he says "...the agent is conceived as coming in between the non-attainment and the attainment of the object in view." What this means is that Paul saw the redemption which Jesus provided as coming between the non-attainment of a righteous standing before God on the basis of Law and the actual attainment of such a standing on the basis of Grace. It was the redemption that stepped between the hopelessness of human performance of Law and the hopefulness of Christ's performance in Grace.
- 2) The "redemption" issues are multiple...
- a) Primary to "redemption" is the "deliverance" that is accomplished. This deliverance is in view of a "bondage" (as per Romans 3:9's "under sin"). This focus is in view in Hebrews 11:35; Ephesians 1:14; and Romans 8:23.
- b) Primary also to "redemption" is the "method" of that deliverance: the payment of a price placed upon those who are bound. The "price" is referred to by the Scriptures as "the blood of Christ".