One of the central parts of the Bible – although the entire Bible is important and not to be taken apart – but if one had to decide for a central passage, then Romans 3:21-26 is to be considered as one of the most central ones.
What is said here, and who says it?
The writer of this letter is Apostle Paul. All of his letters are “central“ parts of the Bible, but Romans is the longest and most encompassing one. And within Romans, this passage in chapter 3 summarizes in few words the message the Apostle wants to deliver.
Something extraordinary has occurred in the history of mankind, and this event affects each single person living on this earth. So it must be proclaimed and brought to each one's understanding. No one can live without knowing of and participating in this occurrence.
The event in one word is: Christ. In more words: Jesus Christ, the son of God, gave his life on the cross for all people to have forgiveness of their sins and to gain eternal life through faith in him.
This message is explained in the letter to the Romans, mainly in chapters 1-8, more summarized in chapters 1-3.
After the opening in the first 15 verses of the letter, Ro 1:16-17 are a concise portayal of the gospel as introduction to the following explanation.
Ro 1:18 – 3:20 describes the present condition of humankind, the total depravity and complete subjection to sin and death, with no way out.
Before this unspeakable, pitch black background, the gospel of Jesus Christ, as described in 3:21-26, breaks through as an unbelievably bright light, that leaves its witnesses unspeakably astonished, yet at the same time drives them to testify unceasingly this immeasurable grace and love of God revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Christ, his son.
What is this gospel of Jesus Christ?
Ro 1:16 describes it as “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes“ - this is the quality and effect of the gospel -
1:17 explains the content: in the gospel, “a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith“.
Apostle Paul quotes the Old Testament to show that this truth has been known since long before: “just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith“ “(v17). Later, in Ro 4, Paul explains that this truth has already been revealed through Abraham, the ancestor of faith.
Now we know the effectiveness of the gospel, it saves. And we know that this effect is gained through faith.
In the following part, Ro 1:18 – 3:20, Paul explains why and from what we need to be saved – from sin and death – and from 3:21 he finally explains the content and subject of this faith that saves: it is Jesus Christ, and what he has done for us.
He has brought to us the righteousness that we need in order to live. Being unrighteous means being punishable to death. We have lost our righteousness through our sin, and there was no way for us to gain it back by ourselves.
Righteousness and sin are defined by the law. It is impossible for us to be righteous according to the standard of the law. So we cannot help but die. Unless something impossible happens...
And this impossibility became possible: God, by his immeasurable grace, granted us righteousness. He declared us righteous, through faith in Jesus Christ.
God accepted the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, the sacrifice that redeemed us once and forever from our sin. Believing in Jesus Christ and his love that he revealed through his deed, we gain the righteousness that gives us eternal life.
Facing this event, this unbelievable grace revealed in Jesus Christ – what can we say? Right – nothing, it leaves us speechless, in awe-stricken silence. And it is good to have this moment of silence in awe, and allow it to transform into deep, joyful thankfulness.
This thankfulness may turn into bold proclamation of the great news of the gospel to the world, for all people to be saved, and to be equally thankful to God our father, and to our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.