In it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
God’s righteousness is revealed; and the lost and sinful remain alive! In fact they are called the righteous. How can that be?
God makes His righteousness clear in the good news, that speaks simultaneously of His love. His righteousness and love concur fully. On the ground of His atoning death Jesus can offer salvation and justification freely through grace. Here it is merely hinted at; in the course of the epistle to the Romans the apostle develops the theme in greater detail.
Man has no righteousness of his own that would give him a standing before God. So our righteous God must punish all unrighteousness. But in the gospel God’s righteousness is revealed. He has a righteousness of His own and offers it to everyone in the gospel.
God’s righteousness can be obtained solely through faith, i.e. on the principle of faith not on the principle of works, as the law of Moses had required of the people of Israel. Any deserts of our own are excluded. “By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast ” (Ephesians 2:8).
The revelation of God’s righteousness in the gospel is “to faith”, for only the believer can benefit by it (cf. Romans 3:22). We must not exert ourselves, searching in religion or philosophy, but accept what God has revealed in the obedience of faith.
(to be continued next Sunday)