But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it.
Some scholars consider Romans 3:21-26 not only the key paragraph in the Book of Romans, but the key paragraph in the Bible. This is the heart of the gospel, a packed summary of what God does for us in Christ on the cross. There are so many key theological terms in the passage: righteousness, law, faith, sin, justification, grace, redemption, propitiation, blood.
Paul begins with the righteousness of God: But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law. This term, righteousness, is a vital term in the Book of Romans. Sometimes in the Bible the term refers to God’s righteous character. At other times the term is used almost synonymously for God’s salvation or deliverance. Quite often the term refers to God’s gift of righteousness to us, or God’s gift of right standing with him. That is the meaning of the term righteousness here in Romans 3:21. The righteousness of God is God’s gift of our right standing with him.
How do we get this right standing with God? Through faith. “The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (3:22). The verse is especially emphatic because the words faith and believe are two forms of the same root word in Greek. It is like Paul is saying: “The righteousness of God comes through belief in Jesus Christ, for all who believe.” We receive the gift of being right with God through faith in Christ, which means through believing in Christ or through trust in Christ or through reliance on Christ and not ourselves.
It is noteworthy that this root word for faith occurs twice in verse 22 and twice more in verses 25 and 26. Furthermore, in the theme passage of the Book of Romans, Romans 1:16-17, the word occurs four times. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith” (1:16-17).
The Bible is so emphatic: We received the gift of right standing with God not because of what we do, but because of our faith or belief in what Christ has done for us.
Lord, all my hope, all my trust, is in Jesus Christ to save me.