I had a good time working through the Book of Romans in one of my recent classes for Bible school and thought I would share what I learned with all my readers!
The righteousness of God is often categorized as the main theme in the Book of Romans. “For in the gospel (of Jesus Christ) a righteousness form God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “the righteous will live by faith” (Romans 1:17 NIV, parentheses added). Paul major theme is that everything God does is just and right. To act rightly is part of His very nature.
It Romans 1:16-17, God’s righteousness is revealed. Paul highlights the righteousness that was given by God, the Gospel message of His Son Jesus Christ (1:16). The Gospel, or “good news”, bewildered the people. Jews demanded to see wondrous signs and the Greeks desired wisdom. A crucified Christ did not make sense in the mind of neither the Greek nor Jew. The Greeks ridiculed it and Christ became a stumbling block to the Jew. Although this message was contrary to many people’s thinking, God had a righteous plan. He is right in all of His ways and decisions. What many saw as a display of weakness in the Cross was actually God’s demonstration of righteousness and power.
Paul moves on in Romans 1:19-3:20 to explain the righteousness of God’s judgment and the need for a righteous Savior. He says that God’s power and divinity is evident through nature itself. Therefore, there is no excuse for any man to not respond to God (1:19-20). Because of this truth, God is right to judge everybody by the same standard. “All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law” (2:12). So whether you are a Gentile (apart from the law) or Jew (under the law), God will judge evenhandedly. It’s not those who hear God’s law that are declared right before Him, “but those who obey the law” (2:13). There is nobody who can declare righteousness before God, so how can anyone be before God? Paul answers this in the next section of Romans.
Romans 3:21-3:31 addressed God’s provision for sinful man. Jesus comes the way of righteousness to those who accept Him by faith. Because nobody could live up to the perfect standard of the law, God made a way possible to be righteous apart from the law (3:21) and it is by faith in His son Jesus Christ (3:22). Paul says that everyone has sinned and falls short of God’s glory, but Jesus Christ freely justifies those who put their faith in Him. (3:23-24). Jesus did this in order to be a sacrifice for us, so that we would not have to face God’s wrath. God provided this gracious way of salvation to demonstrate His justness and His righteousness to mankind.
The entirety of Romans 4 is all about righteousness by faith. Paul uses the great Old Testament figure Abraham as a model for this. “It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith” (4:13). Paul makes the point that the law was not in effect at the time of Abraham. Abraham did not have any law to guide his life before God. Abraham believed and obeyed God; “it was credited to him as righteousness” (4:1). Abraham was not called to obey a list of rules, but rather to believe and obey God.
Paul exhibits the righteousness of God by in Romans 5:1-8:39 by showing what God righteousness looks like in the way of holiness. Scripture states that because Christians are justified by faith, peace is now available between man and God. Not only that, but there is joy even in suffering because of the future that God has in store for everyone who keeps with in Christ (5:1-5). “For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” (6:6). Through Christ, life is no longer a hopeless struggle, but a victorious, free life. Believers are no longer slaves to death, but rather slaves to God (6:22). God also gave the Holy Spirit to believers to empower them to live life in this freedom. “But if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (8:13). By the Spirit the Christian is able to put to death the sinful desires and live free.
Paul shows God’s vindication of His righteousness in Romans 9-11:36 by showing God’s divine grace despite human unbelief. Israel was once God’s chosen people, but they rejected the Messiah, Jesus Christ. So God then made His grace and love available to the Gentiles. It would seem that God made a mistake or had given up on His chosen people. However, Paul puts a stop to any claim to this thinking. Paul explains that just like the time of Elijah, there is a remnant of Jews who are still faithful to God, and God will show them grace and mercy. Those who remain faithful to God are going to enter in God’s kingdom just like the Gentiles who are faithful to God (11:1-5).
In my own personal life, God’s righteousness becomes evident to me more every day that I walk with Him. There has been many times in my life that I did not think God was leading me down the right path. There were times I was upset with God because something didn’t go my way. In the end, God reminds me that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. God has also been right in my life and will continue to be right in my life for eternity. I am so very thankful that God made a way of righteousness available to me so that I may enter into relation with Him. To me, that is the ultimate display of love from God.