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The Hundred-Seventy-Seventh (Romans Part 6)

I hope you had a wonderful week!  Are you ready to continue trying to figure out what Paul was saying to the church in Rome?  Last week, we started chapter 3 of Romans and found that he was trying to get the church members to realize that regardless of who you are or what your background is, your natural state is that of unrighteousness.  You can be a Jew, Greek, or Gentile and it has no bearing on the fact that no matter what you do, even if you try to follow the law down to every detail, it does not give you righteousness.

That does not mean we stop trying to obey YHWH and Yeshua's commandments, and it certainly does not mean there is no hope as we'll find out this week.  We're moving on to the remaining portion of chapter 3 (verses 21-31), and Paul is going to tell those in Rome how we can receive righteousness.  First, let's take a look at the word Paul uses for righteousness.

The word used for righteousness here is dikaiosyne.  Strong's concordance tells us this word means righteousness and justice.  If we look at the HELPS Word-Studies, we find that it comes from the word dike, which means a judicial verdict, or more properly a verdict of approval.  In the context of Paul's writing, he is referring to a judicial verdict of approval from YHWH.  

Paul says that this righteousness was revealed apart from the law.  In other words, it wasn't the law that showed us righteousness in this case.  He amplifies this by pointing out that this showing of righteousness was testified/witnessed of by that same law and also the prophets: the Torah.  The word used for testify or witness here is martureo, which is where we get our English word martyr from.   

The next sentence is the culmination we talked about last week.  Paul took the time to go through all the examples of why everyone is unrighteous, all to get to the point of saying that faith in Yeshua is what gives us righteousness...what gives everyone righteousness, no matter who they are.  Whoever believes in Yeshua receives YHWH's approval.  

Interestingly, Paul actually gives a reason for why everyone has this opportunity: everyone has sinned and fallen short of YHWH's glory.  Non-believers, or Gentiles, and believers alike have all made mistakes and missed the mark on following YHWH's and Yeshua's commandments.  Therefore, we have all not met the standard that gives us YHWH's glory.  Strong's concordance tells us that doxa, which is the Greek word used for glory, also means honor or praise.  So, because we are sinful, we do not meet the criteria required for YHWH to give us His praise.

Paul goes on to say everyone is justified by YHWH's grace through Yeshua's redemption.  The Greek word used for justified is of the same root word as that of the Greek word used for righteousness we looked at earlier.  This is the verb form, so it is the action of being made righteous.  Making us righteous is done freely by YHWH, and the word used for freely here is dorean, which means as a gift, or unearned.  In other words, YHWH isn't giving it as an obligation for something we did.   

The root word for this adverb is dorea, and HELPS Word-Studies tells us that the type of giving this word is used for is that which shows, or emphasizes, the desire of the giver to be kind and charitable.  The first use of this word is when Yeshua is talking to the woman at the well, and His ability to give her living water (John 4:10).  Yeshua was revealing to her the exact thing Paul is talking about here without just coming out and saying it.

This giving of righteousness only occurs because of Yeshua, however.  It is through the redemption that is in Him that we are able to receive it.  It's a small word, but this Greek word for "in" means that the redemption is from within Yeshua.  The reason being that the Greek word for redemption, apolutrosis, means a release that occurs due to a payment of ransom.  Or more literally, buying back that which was lost: our lives.  The death of Yeshua's body is what the payment was, and the release is our being released from death, which is the cost of our sin (Romans 6:23).   

Paul explains next why this had to occur: YHWH's righteousness required it.  He, being the Creator of literally everything, could have just decided to absolve us of all our sin.  He has the authority to do that.  However, that would not be just or righteous because sin requires some sort of payment in order for it to be absolved.  Doing something wrong requires the person that did it to do something to make it right.  Man requires paying money or jail time for things done wrong that are considered "small."  More important, or egregious, things actually require someone's life as payment, whether it's through literal death or figuratively by removing them from society and preventing them from doing anything meaningful (by worldly standards) with their life. 

The rest of this chapter, Paul emphasizes all the things he previously explained.  Now that the readers understand where he was going with all those explanations, he repeats himself to drive the points home.  No one can say that he or she is better than someone else, or that he or she achieved their righteousness based on what they did according to the law's requirements (verse 27).  

It's not just that we can't brag about our works because they have no bearing on how righteous we are, it's that there's no point to bragging because our righteousness is based on our faith in Yeshua.  Some translations call this a difference of the "law of works" and the "law of faith," but that sort of confuses things like there is some commandment to have faith.  There is no such thing.  There is an opportunity for you to choose to have faith, YHWH didn't command you to have faith.  A better translation, as given by the Berean Standard Bible, is that these are principles, rather than laws.  Yes, YHWH's commandments do require works, but it's not called a law of works it's just called YHWH's Law.  And in Paul's statement here he's not just limiting it to that Law, he's also referring to those that think they can do good things, not necessarily delineated in YHWH's Law, to achieve righteousness.  

Again Paul emphasizes that no matter who you are, YHWH justifies everyone based on the same faith because He is the God of everyone, not just Jews or Gentiles.  He is the only one that passes judgment in the end.  We looked at the Greek words translated to Gentiles a couple weeks ago, and in this case Paul uses ethnos which is truly intended to mean Gentiles, or non-believers.  Those that are of the world.  And then, just to put an exclamation point on it and make sure there's no confusion by what he means, Paul reminds the church in Rome that none of this means that we get rid of, or abolish, YHWH's Law.  In fact, we stand it up, or uphold it as it is still the standard by which we should, and will, be held to when we are judged by what we did in these bodies (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Hopefully, so far, we're helping to put together a picture of Paul's message to the believers in Rome, and effectively to us as well.  Many times, pieces and parts of his writings are used as a basis for certain beliefs when in actuality in the context of Paul's message he may have been saying the complete opposite.  When studying his letters, it's important to take deeper looks into smaller, key statements he made but always keeping it in context to the bigger picture of what he was trying to get across when making that statement.  Next week, he'll take a trip down memory lane to talk about a key historical figure that also received his righteousness by faith.  Someone very important to both Jew and Gentile alike.

Shabbat shalom and YHWH bless you! 

-Rob and Sara Gene

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