The Faithfulness of God
In his Letter to the Romans, Paul stresses the “righteousness of God” that is revealed whenever the Gospel is proclaimed. It is the “power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Moreover, in the Gospel, this “righteousness” is being proclaimed throughout the earth to “Jews and Greeks” alike. Salvation is now available for all men through the “faith of Jesus Christ,” His “Righteous One” (“From faith to faith… My Righteous One will live from faith”).
And by the “righteousness of God,” the apostle means HIS “righteousness” - God's faithfulness in providing salvation for His wayward creatures. And the genitive construction of the Greek clause, the “righteousness of God,” must be given its full weight.
Like the “goodness of God” and the “mercy of God,” it refers to something that belongs to Him, a characteristic that defines Who and What He is.
And that “righteousness” is found in and demonstrated by His concrete acts on behalf of humanity accomplished in His “Righteous One,” Jesus of Nazareth, the one who was “marked out as the Son of God according to a Spirit of Holiness, from a resurrection of the dead” - (Romans 1:4).
SIN SEPARATES FROM GOD
The second and third chapters of Romans present the Gospel as the Great Leveler. Both Jews and Gentiles have fallen short of the requirements of the Law. Therefore, both groups stand under its “just sentence.” Thus, short of divine intervention, both Jews and Gentiles alike are destined to suffer His “wrath” on the future “Day of Wrath.”
Every man is “without excuse” because all have sinned, and none is in a proper state to judge others. Regardless of ethnicity, whether “within the law” or “apart from the law,” all men and women are doomed to experience His “wrath” unless God provides for their redemption - (Romans 2:5-11).
In Chapter 2, Paul declares that “God will render to each one according to his works.” Here, the emphasis is on the future aspect of this “wrath.” It will be unleashed on “the day when God judges the secrets of men…through Christ Jesus.”
And elsewhere in his letters, Paul links the “Day of Wrath” to the moment when Jesus arrives from heaven - the “Day of the Lord.” At that time, all men will be judged by Him and receive their just desserts - (1 Thessalonians 1:10, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).
Next, using a series of scriptural proof texts, Paul demonstrates conclusively that “both Jews and Greeks are under sin” - “All have sinned and lack the glory of God” - therefore, men and women are NOT and cannot be reconciled with God “from the works of the Law.”
Instead, the Law serves to “expose sin” for what it is – the trespass of God’s clear commandments and righteous requirements - (Romans 3:9-18, 3:23).
But mercifully, the “righteousness of God” is being revealed through the proclamation of the Gospel - “through the faith OF Jesus Christ for all who believe.” In Christ, God declares all who believe “righteous by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” and all this is provided apart from the works required by the Torah - (Romans 3:22-24).
This has been done “with a view to showing forth of His righteousness in the present season.” In Paul’s teaching, the stress falls on the present reality of the “righteousness of God,” and this is demonstrated in the proclamation of the Gospel to all nations - clear evidence of His faithfulness to redeem men who respond in faith to Him - (Romans 1:16-18, 3:19-30).
Thus, the faithfulness of God is unveiled in the present whenever He declares men to be in right standing through the “faith of Jesus Christ,” and in response to their faith in him. The provision of salvation in Christ demonstrates the righteousness of God.
Paul speaks of His “righteousness” from an Old Testament perspective, that is, of “righteousness” as the faithfulness of God to His promises. Thus, He demonstrates His “righteousness” for all men to see, in the present tense, and in a most personal way, by providing redemption and the forgiveness of sins through the “faith of Jesus.”