The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans

By G. Campbell Morgan

Chapter 7


i. JUSTIFICATION. Rom 3:21-25


1. The Scheme declared. Rom 3:21-22

a. "But "... The backward Look

The whole World guilty

b. "Now."

A Righteousness of God manifest.

In Harmony with Law and Prophets.

At the Disposal of Faith.

Jesus Christ the Object.

2. The Scheme developed. Rom 3:23-31

a. General Statement. Rom 3:23-24

Condemnation. Personal.

Justification. Relative.

b. Particular Statement. Rom 3:25-31

On the part of God. Rom 3:25-26

Method. Rom 3:25

Propitiation by Blood.

Appropriation by Faith.

The Activity of Righteousness.

Manifestation. Rom 3:26

Of Righteousness.

In Justice.

In Justification.

As to Man. Rom 3:27-31

Method. Rom 3:27-30

Exclusion of Glorying,

Exercise of Faith.

Inclusion of Jew and Gentile.

Manifestation. Rom 3:31

The Establishment of the Law.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


We now come to that part of the epistle which contains its supreme message. Having shown the condemnation under which the whole world is lying, the apostle sets forth God's way of salvation for lost men. His statement falls into three parts, the first dealing with justification; the second with sanctification; and the third with glorification; thus covering the whole of man's need, past, present, and future; and having regard to his standing before God, his conformity to the will of God, and his ultimate perfecting in fellowship with God.


The fundamental subject is that of justification, the section dealing with which may be divided into three parts. In the first of these the provision is announced; in the second the principle is illustrated; and in the third the privileges are described.


As everything which is to follow in the course of the letter is dependent upon the fundamental fact of justification we look for clearness and conciseness of statement, and I we are not disappointed. In broad and general terms the apostle first declared the scheme of salvation; and then particularly developed it.

1. The Scheme declared

The "But" with which the paragraph opens, necessarily recalls the argument of the world. The last finding of that argument was that "every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may be brought under the judgment of God." Thus the world is seen silent, having nothing to say; without righteousness, without excuse; having no ground on which to plead for mercy, and no method to suggest for its own salvation. It is the silence of helplessness and hopelessness.

To this silent and condemned race the evangel comes. "But now" begins the apostle. This "Now'' is God's great word, indicating a result following the accomplishment of a work, and suggesting a present and immediate application.

Now, to the silent world there is announced the fact that "a righteousness of God hath been manifested." This declaration links the commencement of the new section with the fundamental affirmation which announced that in the Gospel "is revealed a righteousness of God." This manifested righteousness, whatever it may be in itself, and whencesoever it may come, is at the disposal of the silent and condemned race. In this preliminary statement the apostle tabulated great facts concerning the righteousness with which he dealt more fully subsequently. First it is a righteousness witnessed to, by the "law and the prophets." Secondly, it is a righteousness appropriated by the faith of any, for "there is no distinction." Finally it is a righteousness resulting from "faith in Jesus Christ."

2. The Scheme developed

In this section the apostle dealt more explicitly with the second of the facts already referred to, as tabulated in the introductory declaration; taking this first because it is the central truth of the whole movement, namely, that this righteousness is at the disposal of those who believe.

This fuller detail he again introduced with a general statement. He repeated his charge against humanity, but in this case in such a way as to bring guilt home to individuals. There is a perpetual tendency in the heart of man to consent to the general statement that men are sinners, while there is a constant reluctance to confess personal guilt. In this summarized charge, therefore, the apostle passed from the thought of the sin of the race to the actual sin of the individual, as he declared that "All have sinned," rather than that, All are sinners. Not that the second statement is untrue, but that every individual has been guilty of disobedience to light, either with or without law, and that the personal aspect of sin issues in failure to realize the glory of God, and constitutes the ruin of the person.

Having thus repeated his charge in this more particular form, he declared the great provision of grace, by first naming the original source of justification in the words, "by His grace"; then declaring the medium through which that grace has operated in order to justification, in the phrase, "the redemption," a phrase fraught with infinite meaning, to be more fully unfolded as the argument proceeded; and finally naming the Person, "Christ Jesus," Who has accomplished that work of redemption, which issues in the justification of the sinner.

How closely these verses stand together revealing need and provision, ruin and redemption! Over against the sin of all is placed the grace of One; and at the disposal of those failing of the glory, is placed the infinite redemption of grace, which, as will be shown, issues at last in fullness of glory.

The apostle next proceeded to more particular dealing with this great subject; showing its method and manifestation both on the part of God and on the part of man. The method of God is that of setting forth, or presenting, Christ Jesus to men, to be a Propitiation. He is God's provision. Man is guilty, and consequently silent, having no method by which he can cancel his sin, or live the life of righteousness. God provides in the Person of His Son all that man needs. The first work of the Son in fulfillment of the Father's purpose is that of vindicating righteousness by making it clear that God sacrificed nothing of His requirement when in His forbearance He passed over "sins done aforetime." The work of the Son is a revelation of the method by which it was possible for God thus to act. This work was accomplished in the mystery of all that is symbolized by "His blood.'' Thus the work of the Cross is set at the heart of the evangel of salvation, and is seen to be a fulfillment of God's purpose by God's Son, for the vindication of God's righteousness in the activity of God's forbearance.

This, moreover, was for the demonstration of the righteousness of God, not only with regard to the "sins done aforetime," but also "at this present season." The result of the work of Christ is declared in a statement which is as startling as it is gracious, "that He might Himself be just," or righteous; "and the Justifier," or the One Who accounts as righteous; "him that hath faith in Jesus." This is the glorious evangel by the proclamation of which men come to know that a righteousness of God is now at the disposal of unrighteous man on condition of his faith in Jesus. The evangel is founded upon eternal justice, because the righteousness of God has been vindicated in the death of Jesus, and placed at the disposal of man by that death because of the perfection of the life which preceded the death. Here all human reason is baffled, and yet here faith finds foothold upon reason, which nothing can shake.

In the presence of this evangel man is still silent, and boasting is entirely excluded, for the justification of the sinner does not result from the operation of a law of works: it is entirely the act of God in response to faith.

Therefore justification is available to Jews and Gentiles alike, because it is the act of God, Who is the God of all; in answer not to works, but to faith. Here again the apostle was careful to guard himself from misinterpretation. Faith establishes rather than makes void the law. The law cannot produce justification, but justification will issue in the fulfillment of the law.