Session 4: Romans 3.21-4.25: The Question of Romans
How can God save sinful Jews and Gentiles through faith in Jesus without violating his integrity or breaking his promise?
- Play: Session 4 Video
The middle of Romans 3 – 3.21ff – is the heartbeat of Romans. I’m not even kidding.
Douglas Moo: “Rarely does the Bible bring together in so few verses so many important theological ideas…. Here, more than anywhere else in Romans, Paul explains why Christ’s coming means ‘good news’ for needy, sinful people.”
Martin Luther claimed that this section was “the chief point, and the very central place of the Letter, and of the whole Bible.”
Here’s the problem though: This section is dense and compact and full of beautiful truth that it’s hard to squeeze it out without ruining the whole thing.
First, let me back up a bit. It’s time to get a good bird’s eye view of Romans.
- 1-4: Paul Explains the Gospel
- 5-8: Paul Explores Salvation…
- 9-11: Paul Engages a Problem…
- 12-16: Paul Encourages the Church…
For now, Romans 3.21-26. Lots of translation differences. I’m going to read what I think is the way Paul intended it…
3.21-26 is an answer, but what is the question. Ask the right question, understand the answer.
Here is the question, and I think it is the question of Romans. It’s a little long, but no one said Romans was easy: How can God save sinful Jews and Gentiles through faith in Jesus without violating his integrity or breaking his promise?
Note the twofold problem with salvation by grace through faith:
Is God letting people off the hook (by not punishing sin)?
Has God abandoned his covenant promise to save through Israel? We’re pretty good at answering one part of the question. How can God save us through Jesus without violating his integrity as a judge, without punishing wrongdoing as his own character demands?
Jesus died as a propitiation to redeem us from sins.
- Hilasterion – “Place of atonement” representing the means of atonement
- Jesus bore the wrath of God and so freed us from that necessary consequence for sin.
This is what we catch: Jesus’ sacrificial death proves God to be just and the one who justifies. Case isn’t closed, however. What about Israel? What about the covenant?
This is the second part of the question: Paul frames Jesus death as an act of faithfulness.
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