The Righteousness of God (Romans 1:17)

“Perhaps there is a danger in over-emphasizing the action of God for all of creation and missing the “call to salvation” the Gospel offers to individual sinners.

It is also possible Evangelical Christianity has so over-emphasized personal righteousness in salvation that we have missed Paul’s point: it is God’s righteousness that is demonstrated in his offer of salvation. Certainly Paul is talking about the problem of our sin, but the emphasis is on the sovereign God who solved that problem because he is a righteous judge.”

Reading Acts

Longenecker and Still have stimulating section on the “righteousness of God” in Romans (Thinking through Paul, 174-7). Prior to the Reformation, the phrase referred to the justice of God and his righteous judgment of sin. Think of the Renaissance paintings depicting God as a fearsome judge presiding over the judgment of sinners.

RighteousnessAfter Martin Luther, however, the definition of the righteousness of God was expanded to include God’s graciousness and gift of mercy give to those who believe. Rather than the “justice of God” punishing sinners, justification referred to a gracious act of God by which he imputed his righteousness to those who have faith. This is the sense of justification has dominated systematic theology as well as Pauline studies since the reformation. In fact, “justification by faith” is usually made the “center” of Pauline theology.

This emphasis led to the unfortunate result of anti-Judaism in biblical studies…

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About Michael R. Jones

Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Paul's theology of suffering.
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