10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;

25 … in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Advantage of the Jews

The fact that both Gentile and Jew need righteousness does not imply the Jews have no advantages.  They do — in their possession of God’s very words in Scripture.  The failure of some to respond to those words of revelation does not alter the truth of the words.  Nor will Israel’s failure dishonor God, for the Jews will be judged by the law in which they trust, and thus God’s faithfulness to his Word will be established.

1 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? 2 Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God.

Proof of Need for Righteousness

What then does the OT say about righteousness?  Paul has earlier pointed to empirical evidence of mankind’s need.  Now he proves his thesis by quotes from the very OT law in which the Jews mistakenly hoped:  “There is no one righteous, not even one.”

10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;

11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.

12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

13 “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”

14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”

15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;

16 ruin and misery mark their ways,

17 and the way of peace they do not know.”

18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Purpose of the Law

This teaching is stunning to the Jew of NT times, who thinks of law as God’s way of salvation.  If the law is not God’s way to make men holy, what then is its purpose?  To Paul the answer is clear.  Law reveals God’s standards of right and wrong behavior in order to make men conscious of sin.  When we honestly measure ourselves against the holiness revealed in the law, we are all silenced, for we all fail to keep that law and thus stand guilty before God.

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

Righteousness Provided

Christ’s death reveals how God can be “just” in his offer of a salvation by faith to those who have sinned.  God has not permitted sin to go unpunished.  Instead God chose, in Jesus’ sacrifice of atonement, to himself bear the punishment which justice decrees.

Righteousness is now available to Jew and Gentile alike through faith.  Thus it is clear that justification is a matter for faith and something totally apart from “observing the law.”

Faith does not make law irrelevant.  Instead it upholds the law, by giving it the role God always intended for it, as a revelation to humanity of each person’s need for righteousness which can only be found through faith.

22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

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