“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” (3:21-22). The eleventh occurrence of ‘pistis/faith’ in Paul’s Letter To The Romans. There are no words to describe this ‘Faith Statement’ given here in the 3rd chapter where this specific word for faith is used not ten, but eleven times. Passionate, zealous, awesome, powerful, come to my mind. I only pray that the redemption that he sees for Christendom can be seen as he says— “for all who believe”!
In running the numbers across this letter, there can be no doubt as to what Paul is saying to the Church at Rome. Four words (how plain does it get) can be counted in use upward of 60 times each. 1) ‘dikaiosune/RIGHTEOUSNESS’ which we have already spent several weeks in just a simple introduction of this word as used by Paul in the opening chapter of this letter; ‘righteousness’ is used not less than 66 times in the Romans Letter.
So high, so wide— can’t get over it, can’t go around it. 2) ‘pistis/FAITH’; into seven years of writing weekly concerning this word to arrive now at the most passionate, zealous, awesome, powerful faith statement of all; used no less than 62 times in this Letter. 3) ‘(h)amartia/SIN’ used no less that 60 times; and 4) ‘nomos/LAW’ used no less than 78 times in this Letter (to include the already seen rare use by Paul of ‘dike’).
Between the previous uses of ‘pistis/faith’ in vs 3:3 and the next, current use in 3:22 lies a key portion of ‘proof text’ that substantiates Paul’s argument regarding the ‘new life of faith in Christ’. Never to underestimate the ‘it is written’ formula of New Testament, it must be borne in mind that it is ‘perfect tense’ which is reference to ‘divine truth’ that is first ‘revealed’, then ‘written’ and ‘preserved’ as scripture.
As ‘perfect tense’ it is a ‘completed act’, but— it has continuous results. Used throughout the New Testament, it’s writer’s are constant in their reference to Old Testament scripture as ‘word action’ that cannot be changed, it’s ‘tamper proof’; yet is a very present action— ‘perfect tense’ is past, present and future!
Using an extensive knowledge of the Psalter, Paul uses the ‘it is written’ formula twice in this chapter. But, what stops one ‘in his tracks’ is the flow of the OT scriptural application to human nature: None is righteous. No one understands. No one seeks God. (ouch)!!! All have turned aside. Together they have gone wrong. No one does good. Their throat is an open grave. (My Lord)!!! They use their tongue to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood. In their paths are ruin and misery. The way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.
In the ‘past tense’ of this diatribe, the Psalmist speaks of a people who have all but forgotten God. Paul bears this in mind in ‘lamenting’ the question, what good is the Law to a people who live ‘lawlessly’? In the ‘present tense’ of this ‘it is written’, for some reason, this ‘Tea Party’ group of contemporary America comes to my mind.
Easy to recognize (and use) the ‘it is written’ verses here describing human nature in it’s original ‘third person’. No problem seeing the ‘log’ in my brother’s eye. But to use it as a confession, try FIRST PERSON!! Then, as an ‘affirmation of faith’ by removing the negatives and turning towards God.
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