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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Romans 1:17



For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."

Adam Clarke Commentary

For therein - In the Gospel of Christ.

Is the righteousness of God - God's method of saving sinners.

Revealed from faith to faith - Shown to be by faith, and not by the works of any law; for Abraham, the father and founder of the Jewish people, was justified by faith, before even the law was given; and by believing, in reference to the spiritual object held forth in the various ordinances of the law, and now revealed under the Gospel, he and all his believing descendants have been justified. And thus the faith of the old covenant led on to the faith of the new covenant, which shows that salvation has been by faith from the call of Abraham to the present time. And, from the beginning, all that were just or righteous in the earth became such by faith, and by this principle alone they were enabled to persevere; as it is written, The just shall live by faith. That δικαιοσυνη, which we translate righteousness in this verse, signifies God's method of saving mankind by faith in Christ, is fully evident from the use of the term in  Romans 9:30; : The Gentiles which followed not after Righteousness - who had no knowledge by revelation, of God's method of justifying and saving sinners, have attained to Righteousness - have had imparted to them God's method of salvation by faith in Christ.  Romans 9:31; : But Israel, the Jews, which followed after the law of righteousness - that law, the end or object of which is Christ, and through him justification to all that believe ( Romans 10:4;), have not attained to the law of righteousness - have not found out the genuine plan of salvation, even in that law which so strongly and generally proclaims justification by faith. And why have they not found it?  Romans 9:32; : Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law - they did not discern that even its works or prescribed religious observances were intended to lead to faith in that glorious Mediator of whom they were the types and representatives; but the Jews trusted in the observances themselves, hoping to acquire justification and final salvation by that means. For they stumbled at the stumbling-stone - at the doctrine of Christ crucified as the only sure ground on which the expectation of future salvation can be founded. Therefore, being ignorant of God's righteousness - God's method of saving sinners, and going about to establish their own righteousness - their own method of salvation, by the observance of those rites and ceremonies which should have led them by faith to Christ, they did not submit themselves to the righteousness of God - they would not submit to be saved in God's way, and therefore rejected, persecuted, and crucified the Lord Jesus; see  Romans 10:3. This collation of passages most evidently shows that the word righteousness here means simply God's method of saving sinners, or God's way of salvation, in opposition to the ways and means invented by the fancies or prejudices of men.

There are few words in the sacred writings which are taken in a greater variety of acceptations than the word צדקה  tsedakah  in Hebrew, and δικαιοσυνη  in Greek, both of which we generally translate righteousness. Our English word was originally rightwiseness, from the Anglo-Saxon justice, right, and to know; and thus the righteous man was a person who was allowed to understand the claims of justice and right, and who, knowing them, acted according to their dictates. Such a man is thoroughly wise; he aims at the attainment of the best end by the use of the best means. This is a true definition of wisdom, and the righteous man is he that knows most and acts best. The Hebrew צדק   tsadak, in its ideal meaning, contains the notion of a beam or scales in equipoise, what we call even balance; and it is well known that in all the personifications of Justice, both ancient and modern, she is represented as a beautiful female with a bandage on her eyes, and a beam and scales in her hand, so perfectly poised that neither end preponderates.

The Greek word δικαιοσυνη  has been derived from διχαζω, to divide; and hence δικη, justice, because it is the property of this virtue to divide to each his due. With other etymologies it is useless to trouble the reader. Both the noun δικαιοσυνη and the verb δικαιοω  have a great variety of meaning in the New Testament; but they are all reducible to this original idea, acting according to the requisitions of justice or right. It may not be improper to notice some of the chief of these acceptations in this place.

  1. The act of distributing to each man his due is the sense of the word,  Acts 17:31; : He will judge the world in Righteousness, i.e. according to the principles of eternal justice and rectitude. See also  Revelation 19:2; : In Righteousness doth he judge and make war.
  • It signifies a holy life, as proceeding from piety towards God.  Luke 1:75; : Might serve him in holiness and Righteousness all the days of our life.
  • It signifies benignity, liberality, and particularly almsgiving, as justice and righteousness require us, being only stewards of God's bounty, to share it with the necessitous.  Matthew 6:1; : Take heed that ye do not your Alms, δικαιοσυνην, your Righteousness, before men.  Romans 3:5; : But if our unrighteousness commend the Righteousness, the benignity of God.  2 Corinthians 9:10; : Increase the fruits of your Righteousness, i.e. of your liberality.
  • It signifies God's method of saving sinners; the way which is agreeable to his righteousness and liberality. See the former part of this note, and the scriptures there referred to.
  • It signifies the reward or issue of liberality.  2 Corinthians 9:9; : He hath scattered abroad; he hath given to the poor; his Righteousness - the reward of his bounty, remaineth for ever. See  Psalm 112:9.
  • It signifies the whole collection of graces, which constitute the complete Christian character.  Matthew 5:6; : Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after Righteousness - they who ardently long for the full salvation of God.  Matthew 5:10,  Matthew 5:20; : If your Righteousness exceed not the righteousness, etc.  Matthew 6:33; : Seek the kingdom of God and his Righteousness.
  • It signifies the result of faith in God and submission to his will, exemplified in a holy and useful life.  Hebrews 11:7; : By faith Noah prepared an ark, and became heir of the Righteousness which is by faith - he escaped the deluge and became the instrument of repeopling the world.
  • It signifies an exact observance of religious ordinances and precepts.  Philippians 3:6; : Touching the Righteousness which is of the law, blameless - having lived in an exact conformity to all the Mosaic precepts. In this sense it is to be understood,  Matthew 3:15; : Thus it becomes us to fulfill all Righteousness - to observe every precept of the law.
  • It signifies the favor or pardoning mercy of God.  Romans 4:6; : The blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth Righteousness - without works - the man is happy to whom God has granted the remission of sins, without respect to his observance of the law of Moses.
  • In  2 Corinthians 5:21, δικαιοσυνη, righteousness, is put for δικαιος, righteous: That we might become the righteousness of God - that we might receive such a righteousness or holiness, such a salvation, as is worthy of God's grace to impart, and such as the necessities of mankind require.
  • A few of the leading acceptations of the verb δικαιοω, which we translate to justify, may be here properly subjoined, as this verb is so repeatedly used in this epistle.
    1. It signifies so declare or pronounce one just or righteous; or, in other words, to declare him to be what he really is.  1 Timothy 3:16; : He was Justified in the Spirit. - By the almighty power of the Spirit he was proved to be the True Messiah.
  • To esteem a thing properly.  Matthew 11:19; : Wisdom is Justified of her children. - Wisdom, propriety of conduct, is properly estimated by wise men.
  • It signifies to approve, praise, and commend. The publicans Justified God,  Luke 7:29; praised him for calling them to such a state of salvation.  Luke 16:15; : Ye are they which Justify yourselves before men - Ye are self-commended, self-applauded, and self-praised. In this sense it is often used in the Greek apocryphal books. Ecclus. 7:5: Justify not thyself before the Lord - Do not applaud thyself in the presence of thy - Maker. Ecclus.10:29: Who will Justify (praise or applaud) him that sinneth against his own soul. Ecclus 18:2: The Lord only is righteous, δικαιωθησεται, shall be Justified, i.e. praised, because there is none other but he.
  • The verb δικαιοομαι  is used to clear from all sin.  1 Corinthians 4:4; : For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby Justified - A man's own consciousness of integrity is not a proof that he is clear from all sin in the sight of God.
  • A judge is said to justify not only when he condemns and punishes, but also when he defends the cause of the innocent. See Eurip. Heraclid. ver. 190. Thucyd. iii. p. 200. Polyb. iii. 31, and Schleusner on δικαιοω . Hence δικαιουσθαι  is taken in a forensic sense, and signifies to be found or declared righteous, innocent, etc.  Matthew 12:37; : By thy words shalt thou be Justified - thou shalt be declared to be righteous.  Romans 3:4; : That thou mightest be Justified in thy saying - that thou mightest be proved to be true in what thou hast said.
  • It signifies to set free, to escape from.  Acts 13:39; : And by him all that believe are Justified from all things, from which ye could not be Justified by the law - by faith in Christ a man escapes those evils which, otherwise, the law of Moses would inflict upon him.  Romans 6:7; : For he that is dead, δεδικαιωται, is Justified, properly rendered by our translators, is Freed from sin.
  • It signifies also to receive one into favor, to pardon sin.  Romans 8:30; : Whom he called, them he also Justified - he received them into favor and pardoned their sins.  Luke 18:14; : This man went down to his house Justified - he humbled himself, repented of his iniquity, and God forgave his sin.  Romans 3:20; : By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be Justified - no soul can have his sins forgiven through the observance of the Mosaic law.  Romans 4:2; : If Abraham were Justified (had his sin pardoned) by works.  1 Corinthians 6:11; : Such were some of you, but ye are Justified - ye are received into the Divine favor, and have your sins forgiven. See  James 2:21-25;  Romans 3:24,  Romans 3:28;  Romans 5:1,  Romans 5:9;  Galatians 2:16,  Galatians 2:17;  Galatians 3:11,  Galatians 3:24;  Galatians 5:4;  Titus 3:7. In all these texts the word justify is taken in the sense of remission of sins through faith in Christ Jesus; and does not mean making the person just or righteous, but treating him as if he were so, having already forgiven him his sins.
  • The just shall live by faith - This has been understood two ways:
    1. That the just or righteous man cannot live a holy and useful life without exercising continual faith in our Lord Jesus: which is strictly true; for He only who has brought him into that state of salvation can preserve him in it; and he stands by faith.
     2. It is contended by some able critics that the words of the original text should be pointed thus: 'ο δε δικαιος εκ  πιστεως,  ζησεται . The just by faith, shall live; that is, he alone that is justified by faith shall be saved: which is also true; as it is impossible to get salvation in any other way. This last meaning is probably the true one, as the original text in  Habakkuk 2:4, speaks of those who believed the declarations of God when the Chaldeans besieged Jerusalem, and, having acted conformably to them, escaped with their lives.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

    For - This word implies that he is now about to give a “reason” for what he had just said, a reason why he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. That reason is stated in this verse. It embodies the substance of all that is contained in the Epistle. It is the doctrine which he seeks to establish; and there is not perhaps a more important passage in the Bible than this verse; or one more difficult to be understood.

    Therein - In it, ἐν οὕτῳ en houtōthat is, in the gospel.

    Is the righteousness of God - δικαιοσύνη Θεοῦ dikaiosunē TheouThere is not a more important expression to be found in the Epistle than this. It is capable of only the following interpretations.

    (1) some have said that it means that the attribute of God which is denominated righteousness or justice, is here displayed. It has been supposed that this was the design of the gospel to make this known; or to evince his justice in his way of saving people. There is an important sense in which this is true Romans 3:26. But this does not seem to be the meaning in the passage before us. For,

    (a)The leading design of the gospel is not to evince the justice of God, or the attribute of justice, but the love of God; see John 3:16; Ephesians 2:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:16; 1 John 4:8.

    (b)The attribute of justice is not what is principally evinced in the gospel. It is rather mercy, “or mercy in a manner consistent with justice,” or that does not interfere with justice.

    (c)The passage, therefore, is not designed to teach simply that the righteousness of God, as an attribute, is brought forth in the gospel, or that the main idea is to reveal his justice.

    (2) asecond interpretation which has been affixed to it is, to make it the same as goodness, the benevolence of God is revealed, etc. But to this there are still stronger objections. For.

    (a)It does not comport with the design of the apostle‘s argument.

    (b)It is a departure from the established meaning of the word “justice,” and the phrase “the righteousness of God.”

    (c)If this had been the design, it is remarkable that the usual words expressive of goodness or mercy had not been used. Another meaning, therefore, is to be sought as expressing the sense of the phrase.

    (3) the phrase “righteousness of God” is equivalent to God‘s “plan of justifying people; his scheme of declaring them just in the sight of the Law; or of acquitting them from punishment, and admitting them to favor.” In this sense it stands opposed to man‘s plan of justification, that is, by his own works: God‘s plan is by faith. The way in which that is done is revealed in the gospel. The object contemplated to be done is to treat people as if they were righteous. Man attempted to accomplish this by obedience to the Law. The plan of God was to arrive at it by faith. Here the two schemes differ; and the great design of this Epistle is to show that man cannot be justified on his own plan, to wit, by works; and that the plan of God is the only way, and a wise and glorious way of making man just in the eye of the Law. No small part of the perplexity usually attending this subject will be avoided if it is remembered that the discussion in this Epistle pertains to the question, “how can mortal man be just with God?” The apostle shows that it cannot be by works; and that it “can be” by faith. This latter is what he calls the “righteousness of God” which is revealed in the gospel.

    To see that this is the meaning, it is needful only to look at the connection; and at the usual meaning of the words. The word to “justify,” δικαιόω dikaioōmeans properly “to be just, to be innocent, to be righteous.” It then means to “declare,” or treat as righteous; as when a man is charged with an offence. and is acquitted. If the crime alleged is not proved against him, he is declared by the Law to be innocent. It then means to “treat as if innocent, to regard as innocent;” that is, to pardon, to forgive, and consequently to treat as if the offence had not occurred. It does not mean that the man did not commit the offence; or that the Law might not have held him answerable for it; but that the offence is forgiven; and it is consistent to receive the offender into favor, and treat him as if he had not committed it. In what way this may be done rests with him who has the pardoning power. And in regard to the salvation of man, it rests solely with God. and must be done in that way only which he appoints and approves. The design of Paul in this Epistle is to show how this is done, or to show that it is done by faith. It may be remarked here that the expression before us does not imply any particular manner in which it is done; it does not touch the question whether it is by imputed righteousness or not; it does not say that it is on legal principles; it simply affirms “that the gospel contains God‘s plan of justifying people by faith.”

    The primary meaning of the word is, therefore, “to be innocent, pure, etc.” and hence, the name means “righteousness” in general. For this use of the word, see Matthew 3:15; Matthew 5:6, Matthew 5:10, Matthew 5:20; Matthew 21:32; Luke 1:75; Acts 10:35; Acts 13:10; Romans 2:26; Romans 8:4, etc.

    In the sense of pardoning sin, or of treating people as if they were innocent, on the condition of faith, it is used often, and especially in this Epistle; see Romans 3:24, Romans 3:26, Romans 3:28, Romans 3:30; Romans 4:5; Romans 5:1; Romans 8:30; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:8, Galatians 3:24; Romans 3:21-22, Romans 3:25; Romans 4:3, Romans 4:6, Romans 4:13; Romans 9:30, etc.

    It is called “God‘s” righteousness, because it is God‘s plan, in distinction from all the plans set up by people. It was originated by him; it differs from all others; and it claims him as its author, and tends to his glory. It is called his righteousness, as it is the way by which he receives and treats people as righteous. The same plan was foretold in various places where the word “righteousness” is nearly synonymous with “salvation;” Isaiah 56:5 “My righteousness is near, my salvation is gone forth;” Isaiah 56:6, “My salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished;” Isaiah 56:1, “My salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed;” Daniel 9:24, “To make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness.”

    (There is yet another sense lying on the very surface of the passage, and adopted by nearly all the evangelical expositors, according to which “the righteousness of God” is that righteousness, which Christ worked out in his active and passive obedience. This is a righteousness which God hath devised, procured, and accepted. It is therefore eminently His. It is imputed to believers, and on account of it they are held righteous in the sight of God. It is of the highest importance that the true meaning of this leading expression be preserved; for if it be explained away, the doctrine of imputed righteousness is materially affected, as will appear in a subsequent note.

    That the phrase is to be understood of the righteousness which Christ has procured by his obedience and death, appears from the general sense of the original term δικαιοσύνη dikaiosunēMr. Haldane in a long and elaborate comment on Romans 3:21, has satisfactorily shown that it signifies “righteousness in the abstract, and also conformity to law,” and that “Wherever it refers to the subject of man‘s salvation, and is not merely a personal attribute of Deity, it signifies that righteousness which, in conformity with his justice, God has appointed and provided.”

    Besides, if the expression be understood of “God‘s plan of justifying men,” we shall have great difficulty in explaining the parallel passages. They will not bend to any such principle of interpretation, In Romans 5:17, this righteousness is spoken of as a “gift” which we “receive,” and in the Romans 5:18 and Romans 5:19 verses, the “righteousness of one” and “the obedience of one,” are used as convertible terms. Now it is easy to understand how the righteousness which Christ has procured by his obedience, becomes “a gift,” but “a plan of justification” is appropriately said to be declared, or promulgated. It cannot be spoken of in the light of a gift received. The same observation applies with still greater force to the passage in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For he hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” How would this passage appear, if “plan of justification” were substituted for righteousness of God?

    In Philemon 3:9, Paul desires to be found in Christ, “not having his own righteousness, which is of the land, but what is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Is not his own righteousness what he could attain to by his works or obedience, and is not the righteousness of Christ what Jesus had procured by his obedience?

    Lastly, in Romans 10:3, the righteousness of God is thus opposed to the righteousness of man, “they being ignorant of God‘s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.” Now what is that righteousness which natural people seek to establish, and which is especially called “their own?” Doubtless it is a righteousness founded on their own works, and therefore what is here properly opposed to it is a righteousness founded on the “work of God. See Haldane, Hodge, Scott, Guyse, etc.” This meaning of the term furnishes a key to unlock “all” the passages in which it is used in connection with the sinner‘s justification, whereas any other sense, however it may suit a few places, will be found generally inapplicable.)

    In regard to this plan it may be observed;

    (1)That it is not to declare that people are innocent and pure. That would not be true. The truth is just the reverse; and God does not esteem men to be different from what they are.

    (2)it is not to take part with the sinner, and to mitigate his offences. It admits them to their full extent; and makes him feel them also.

    (3)it is not that we become partakers of the essential righteousness of God. That is impossible.

    (4)it is not that his righteousness becomes ours. This is not true; and there is no intelligible sense in which that can be understood.

    (It is true indeed that the righteousness of Christ cannot be called ours in the sense of our having actually accomplished it in our own persons. This is a view of imputation easily held up to ridicule, yet there is a sense in which the righteousness of Christ may be ours. Though we have not achieved it, yet it may be so placed to our account that we shall be held righteous, and treated as such. I have said, first, we shall be held righteous, and then treated as such; for God treats none as righteous who in some sense or other are not really so. See the note at Romans 4:3.)

    But it is God‘s plan for pardoning sin, and for treating us as if we had not committed it; that is, adopting us as his children, and admitting us to heaven on the ground of what the Lord Jesus has done in our stead. This is God‘s plan. People seek to save themselves by their own works. God‘s plan is to save them by the merits of Jesus Christ.

    Revealed - Made known, and communicated. The gospel states the fact that God has such a plan of justification; and shows the way or manner in which it might be done. The fact seems to have been understood by Abraham, and the patriarchs Romans 3:22, Romans 3:30; Romans 9:30; Romans 9:32; Romans 10:6, etc.

    (5) the passage which he immediately quotes shows that he did not speak of different degrees of faith, but of the doctrine that people are to be justified by faith.

    To faith - Unto those who believe (compare Romans 3:22); or to everyone that believeth, Romans 1:16. The abstract is here put for the concrete. It is designed to express the idea, “that God‘s plan of justifying people is revealed in the gospel, which plan is by faith, and the benefits of which plan shall be extended to all that have faith, or that believe.”

    As it is written - See Habakkuk 2:4.

    The just shall live by faith - The Septuagint translate the passage in Habakkuk, ‹If any man shall draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him, but the just by my faith,” or by faith in me, “shall live.” The very words are used by them which are employed by the apostle, except they add the word “my,” μοῦ moumy faith. The Syriac renders it in a similar manner, “The just by faith shall live.” The meaning of the Hebrew in Habakkuk is the same. It does not refer originally to the doctrine of justification by faith; but its meaning is this, “The just man, or the righteous man, shall live by his confidence in God.” The prophet is speaking of the woes attending the Babylonish captivity. The Chaldeans were to come upon the land and destroy it, and remove the nation, Romans 1:6-10. But this was not to be perpetual. It should have an end Romans 2:3, and they who had confidence in God should live Romans 1:4; that is, should be restored to their country, should be blessed and made happy. Their confidence in God should sustain them, and preserve them. This did not refer primarily to the doctrine of justification by faith, nor did the apostle so quote it, but it expressed a general principle that those who had confidence in God should be happy, and be preserved and blessed. This would express the doctrine which Paul was defending. It was not by relying on his own merit that the Israelite would be delivered, but it was by confidence in God, by his strength and mercy. On the same principle would men be saved under the gospel. It was not by reliance on their own works or merit; it was by confidence in God, by faith, that they were to live.

    Shall live - In Habakkuk this means to be made happy, or blessed; shall find comfort, and support, and deliverance. So in the gospel the blessings of salvation are represented as life, eternal life. Sin is represented as death, and man by nature is represented as dead in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1. The gospel restores to life and salvation, John 3:36; John 5:29, John 5:40; John 6:33, John 6:51, John 6:53; John 20:31; Acts 2:28; Romans 5:18; Romans 8:6. This expression, therefore, does not mean, as it is sometimes supposed, the “justified by faith” shall live; but it is expressive of a general principle in relation to people, that they shall be defended, preserved, made happy, not by their own merits, or strength, but by confidence in God. This principle is exactly applicable to the gospel plan of salvation. Those who rely on God the Saviour shall be justified, and saved.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

    The Biblical Illustrator

    Romans 1:17

    For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith.

    Righteousness revealed

    I. The gospel is a revelation of God’s righteousness.

    1. Righteousness is a regard to what is right.

    2. God is essentially a righteous Being. He knows what is due from each to the rest, and from all to Himself, and also sees and acknowledges what is due from Him to them. The foundation and standard of all righteousness are to be found in His nature and character. He has no desire, and can have no temptation to do that which is unjust. The Judge of all the earth must do right.

    3. He loves righteousness in others, and hates iniquity. Whether we rob God or our neighbours, it is alike abhorrent to Him. He shows His love of righteousness--

    4. The gospel is not merely a display of mercy, but of righteousness. He could not bestow forgiveness on sinners in violation of righteousness.

    II. The object of the gospel is to raise man to righteousness.

    1. Man was at first made upright. In the enjoyment of this righteousness he possessed life. But by transgression he fell. Instantly his understanding was darkened, his conscience perverted, his heart disordered, and his happiness destroyed. He lost his life.

    2. God’s purpose in the gospel is to make us again righteous; to deliver us from condemnation and renew our souls in virtue and truth. This is the same thing as to recover us from death to life. By being righteous we live, by being unrighteous we die.

    III. Faith, as the instrument of man’s recovery to righteousness.

    1. Faith is mentioned in opposition to legal works. We might be righteous if we could keep the whole law unfalteringly and unceasingly. But we have not, and cannot do so. Hence we are shut out from works, and shut up to faith. We cannot acquire a righteousness of our own, but must be content to let God give us one.

    2. Faith is not to be confounded with feelings. It may lead to certain emotions of the soul, but it does not consist of them. The object of faith is not to be found within ourselves; it lies without.

    3. What, then, is faith?

    4. Faith is a noble and worthy instrument of our salvation. It is not to be disdained as inferior to reason. Rather it is reason’s highest and most enlightened exercise. Faith gives reason wings, wherewith she mounts to regions of truth otherwise beyond her reach.

    5. Faith is necessary as the means of salvation. It is not an arbitrary condition of salvation, but indispensable in the very nature of things; and, being such, it is all that is demanded, for “whosoever believeth,” whatever else he lacks or hath, “shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (T. G. Horton.)

    The righteousness of God

    The two statements of the previous verse are here explained and confirmed. The gospel is the saving power of God, because it reveals a Divine righteousness which is itself salvation. The first of these propositions declares to us what gives the gospel its saving property. It has many excellences which may well recommend it. It inculcates a morality which in purity and completeness is unapproached. It presents us with its historical embodiment in a character equally lofty and unique. It contains the noblest and most attractive conception of God which has ever dawned upon the world, while it invests men with a new and unspeakable dignity by bringing life and immortality to light. Yet while all this is true, it remains that what constitutes the gospel saving power is that revelation of righteousness of which the apostle here speaks, Whatever else it may do for you in awakening conscience, in haunting you with an ideal which you have never really embraced, in sobering you with convictions of judgment and eternity, it will not save you unless this righteousness be apprehended. And what in the last resort will it have done for you if it has failed to save you?

    I. What, then, is the righteousness of God?

    1. The ostensible meaning might seem to be the righteousness which is an attribute of God. But it cannot be said that this in any special sense is a revelation of the gospel, for it was the great theme of Old Testament teaching. Moreover, it is impossible to see how the revelation of it could constitute a saving power. We can understand how it might awaken conscience and deepen the conviction of sin. But this would only make our condemnation more obvious and inevitable.

    2. The righteousness of God, as is evident from the quotation in Habakkuk, as well as from other parallel expressions, is the righteousness of which God is the author, which He provides and bestows, so that the man who acquires it becomes thereby a righteous man. Now, this is precisely what we need.

    3. Thus understood, it is not difficult to see how the gospel becomes thereby the power of God to salvation. For--

    II. The gospel is the saving power of God because it is from faith to faith.

    1. This righteousness of which the apostle has spoken is not due to our own works, which do not contribute to it anything whatever. When it becomes ours it is due entirely to faith, which appropriates Christ, and by resting upon Him enters into it and invests us with all its prerogatives. “We are found in Him, not having our own righteousness,” etc.

    2. And just as it is due to faith, so also it is designed to produce faith. The more thoroughly its character is understood, the more perfectly its completeness and satisfactoriness in all points is perceived, the more will faith be confirmed. For if anything weakens faith it is just our not being sure of our rightness with God, or of the foundation on which that rightness depends. On the other hand, if the ground of our acceptance be clearly distinguished and seen in its length and breadth in Christ Jesus, we learn more boldly to appropriate the contents of His salvation. Here lies the secret of its power to transform you and lift you up. There is no other sure foothold for us. But this is sure. (C. Moinet, M. A.)

    The righteousness of God for justification revealed in the gospel as being by faith

    I. There is a righteousness of God available foe sinful men. This righteousness is revealed as a “free gift” of God (Romans 5:16-17), of which they become possessed “in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21), and this, not as a result of their own striving or legal obedience (Romans 10:3; Philippians 3:8-9), but simply by faith in Him (Romans 3:21-22).

    1. It is manifest therefore that this “righteousness of God” does not denote--

    2. What then is this “righteousness of God”? It is that one righteousness of Christ which He affected for us in His obedience unto death. To establish valid ground for the justification of the sinner, it is obvious that mere innocence was not enough; nor the most splendid achievements of active righteousness. That which law demands, in regard to an offender, is the endurance of penalty. When that has been endured, the law relaxes its grasp, and sets the prisoner free. Then he goes forth justified, so as that he cannot be again legally touched on account of the offences for which he has already suffered. It is quite true that such a righteousness could never be won for himself by a sinful man; for a sinful act in him induces at once a sinful character, and the fact and guilt of sin go on increasing with the progress of his being. Hence, in the Scriptures, the possibility of any man being justified before God on the ground of his own righteousness, however accomplished, is never once imagined. But these Scriptures do maintain that “as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of One, the free gift (namely, of righteousness) came upon all men unto (or for) justification of life” (Romans 5:18). But that righteousness is preeminently the righteousness of suffering. Therefore it is written that “He was delivered [namely, to suffer unto death] on account of our offences, and [that having so suffered, and thereby earned the legal claim for our discharge, He] was raised again on account of our justification” (Romans 4:25). This, then, we apprehend, is “the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe” (Romans 3:22). It is this which, being conferred upon believers as a free gift of grace, secures for them the legal ground on which they can be justified. To impute this to them is to put them in possession of that which insures for them a full discharge from all liability to arrest, imprisonment, or punishment on account of their own past offences. In Christ, the demand of the law has been met on their behalf. They were arrested in Him, condemned in Him, led forth to be crucified in Him, suffered the extreme penalty of the law in Him, and are now also “made the righteousness of God in Him.”

    II. This righteousness is revealed in the gospel, not indeed exclusively, but specially, preeminently, and perfectly. The righteousness itself, in its true ground and nature, had not been before revealed. Indeed, till the Holy One and the Just had given exhibition of it in His own actual human history, it could not be. Yet, even in the Old Testament times, thus much was known, namely--

    1. That no man could, in his own right, claim to be legally justified--he had no righteousness which could command that result; and yet--

    2. That some men should, through gracious Divine provision, inherit the rewards of righteousness; righteousness should be imputed to them; they should be justified and treated as righteous (Psalms 24:5; Isaiah 45:24-25; Isaiah 61:10). What constituted that righteousness had not yet been disclosed. It was indeed faintly foreshadowed by those perpetual sacrifices, which could not make the offerers perfect, but without reference to which the plea for mercy could not be successfully urged. This plea failed indeed to supply any solid ground of hope, and yet there was hope, a hope which in some sense was sustained by it (Psalms 51:16-17). But that hope was ever reaching onward into the coming age, for that One who would make an end of transgression and bring in an everlasting righteousness, and whose name was fore announced as “The Lord our righteousness” (Daniel 9:24; Jeremiah 23:6). But now, in the gospel of Christ, this Hope of Israel has actually come, and accomplished His work of righteousness for sinners.

    III. This righteousness is here revealed to be from faith to faith, or by faith for belief.

    1. Of faith, or by faith. Men attain possession of it by faith, and by faith only (Romans 4:16). Hence the protest of St. Paul to the “dissembling” Peter (Galatians 2:15-16).

    2. By faith for belief. The righteousness of God, as the ground of justification, is proclaimed to men in the gospel, as being by faith, in order that they may believe and be justified. So the testimony that the faith of Abraham was counted to him for righteousness, had been put upon record, not for his sake alone, but for ours also (Romans 4:23-25). And the whole mystery concerning the righteousness of God is made known to all nations for the obedience of faith (Romans 16:25-26).


    1. A salvation grounded in the righteousness of God must, when clearly apprehended, afford an equal satisfaction to reason, judgment, and conscience.

    2. A salvation which is by faith is possible to all.

    3. Salvation on any other terms would be impossible. (W. Tyson.)

    God’s righteousness of faith

    It is a “righteousness” because on it the acquittal of accused and sinful men justly proceeds. It is “God’s righteousness” because provided by the Triune God through the human passion of the Second Person. It is “God’s-righteousness-of-faith,” because, in order to our becoming justified by it, faith is the solitary condition. The relation of gospel righteousness is thus expressed by its very name on both sides. As it respects God, it is His, as opposed to its being mine: He is its Author, Achiever, Proprietor. But it comes to me, stands me in stead, is reckoned to me for acquittal “by faith.” This expression stands opposed to another often recurring--“by law-works” (Romans 3:20), i.e., personal acts of obedience carrying with them some merit in God’s sight. If men could accomplish these they would have a righteousness of their own, not God’s, arising out of such “law works.” But in sharp contrast to this self-provided righteousness stands the gospel righteousness provided by Another. Thus the whole of this composite title, “God’s-righteousness-by-faith,” is at every point clean contrary to “Man’s-righteousness-by-works,” and accordingly the apostle through nearly three following chapters endeavours to abolish the latter that he may establish the former, and shut us up to accept it. (J. Oswald Dykes, D. D.)

    The righteousness of God

    All our conceit about our past righteousness must be completely overthrown. Perhaps we flatter ourselves that all is well, because we have been baptized, or have come to the communion, like one who was visited, a few days ago, by an elder. Seeing that she was sick, and near to die, he asked her: “Have you a good hope?” “Oh, sir, yes; a good and blessed hope.” “And pray,” said he, “what is it?” “Well,” she said, “I have taken the sacrament regular for fifty years.” What think ye of that in a Christian country, from the lips of one who had attended a gospel ministry? Her confidence was built upon the mere fact of her having attended to an outward ceremony, to which, probably, she had no right whatever! There are hundreds and thousands who are thus resting upon mere ceremonies. They have been churchgoers or chapel goers from their youth up. They have never been absent, except under sickness, from their regular place of worship. Good easy souls! if these are the bladders upon which they hope to swim in eternity, they will surely burst, to their everlasting destruction. Some base their confidence on the fact that they have never indulged in the grosser vices; others that they have been scrupulously honest in their commercial transactions. Some that they have been good husbands; others that they have been charitable neighbours. I know not of what poor flimsy tissue men will not make a covering to hide their natural nakedness. But all this must be unravelled--every stitch of it. No man can put on the robes of Christ’s righteousness till he has taken off his own. Christ will never go shares in our salvation. God will not have it said that He partly made the heavens, but that some other spirit came in to conclude the gigantic work of creation, much less will He divide the work of our salvation with any other. He must be the alone Saviour, as He was the alone Creator. In the wine press of His sufferings Jesus stood alone; of the people none were with Him: no angel could assist Him in the mighty work; in the fight He stood alone, the solitary Champion, the sole Victor. So too thou must be saved by Him alone, resting on Him entirely, and counting thine own righteousness to be but dross and dung, or else thou canst never be saved at all. It must be down with Shebna, or else it cannot be up with Eliakim. It must be down with self, or it can never be up with Christ. Self-righteousness must be set aside to make room for the righteousness of Jesus; otherwise it can never be ours. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

    From faith to faith indicates

    I. The exclusiveness of faith. Faith all in all in a man’s justification. Works not in the account. Not from faith to worlds, but from faith to faith (Romans 3:22; Rom_3:28).

    II. The growth of faith. From one degree of faith to another. Advance made in clearness, simplicity, strength.

    III. The many sidedness of faith. From one kind of faith to another. From faith which saves to faith for still further blessings. From faith which justifies to faith which sanctifies. From faith of the intellect to faith of the heart. (T. Robinson, D. D.)

    The just shall live by faith.

    The life of faith. The harmony of the Old Testament teaching and the New

    The apostle quotes from Habakkuk, who mourns the vileness and lawlessness around. He foresees as its retribution the rapid and complete conquest by the Chaldeans. He appeals to the character of God; and expresses for himself and the godly in Judaea an assurance of deliverance grounded on God’s character, “We shall not die.” He betakes himself to the watchtower, and awaits the reply of God. In solemn tones God proclaims the destruction of the proud Chaldeans; and declares that while others perish, the righteous man shall live, shall live by his faith. In the Old Testament, as in chap. 3:3, the words “faith” and “faithful” denote, not belief--as almost always in the New Testament--but faithfulness, that constancy and stability of character which makes a man an object of reliance to others. In these words God assumes that faithfulness is an element of the righteous men’s character; and declares that by his faithfulness he shall survive. It is quite evident that this faithfulness arises from belief of the Word of God. Habakkuk 1:12 is an expression of belief. The prophet is unmoved because he leans upon the veracity of God. “Shall live” refers primarily to the present life. The righteous shall escape when others perish. But in this sense the promise is only partially fulfilled. And the incompleteness of its fulfilment in the present life was a sure proof that there is a life to come. Thus in the Old Testament God proclaims in face of the coming storm, that the righteous man will survive by his faith. In Paul’s day God spoke again. In face of the tempest so soon to overwhelm the Jewish nation, and some day to overwhelm the world, God proclaims that the man of faith shall live. Therefore God’s word in the gospel is in harmony with His word to Habakkuk. This harmony, amid so much divergence, confirms the words both of prophet and apostle. (Prof. J. A. Beet.)

    The life of faith

    1. The soul is the life of the body.

    2. Faith is the life of the soul.

    3. Christ is the life of faith. (J. Flavel.)

    High living

    The secret of all living is living by faith. Faith is the Christian’s vital principle. “No man’s religion,” it has been said, “survives his morals”; and it is equally true to assert that no man’s religion survives his faith, for the just shall live by faith, if he lives at all in the higher sense of the word. Other graces may be necessary to his comfort, to his completeness as a man of God, but faith is necessary to his very existence.

    1. This faith by which the just are to live is to be in continual operation from first to last. The just shall live by faith, and that not at any one stage of their career, but all the way through, from the moment they leave the house of bondage till they plant their footstep on Canaan’s happy shore. Faith is not to be exercised only occasionally. It is not to be kept for great occasions, or for dire emergencies. It is to resemble not the rushing torrent of Kishon’s brook, sweeping all before it for the time, but the steady flow of Siloah’s quiet waters, which make glad perpetually the city of God.

    2. Faith as a principle of living is intensely practical. It is not a garment to be worn on Sundays, but the ordinary workday garb, which we are to wear in the farmyard and the field, in the shop and in the marketplace.

    3. This principle of faith is exclusive of every other that may compete with it. There is not a word here in favour of living by feeling. Our feelings are too variable to rely on. Such a one must needs live jerkily, inconsistently, uncomfortably. But, behold, I show unto you a more excellent way. The just shall live by faith. That is a form of living which is not liable to the ebbs and flows incident to a state of emotionalism, for faith fixes on a Saviour who never alters, on a righteousness which is always the same, and on a promise which is forever sure. There is another class who are accustomed to live by experience. The same objection applies here. There are so many ups and downs, even in the best experience, that to build upon it is to build upon a quaking bog. The just have more stable comforts, for they live by faith, and faith walks above experience, singing of heaven’s brightness when earth is dark around her, and boasting of pardon when sin makes itself felt most consciously. When Ralph Erskine lay upon his death bed one of the bystanders said to him, “I hope, sir, you have some blinks of sunshine to cheer you in the valley.” The answer was: “I had rather have one promise of my God than all the blinks of sunshine that ever shone.” “The just shall live by faith.”

    4. The faith here spoken of is applicable to all kinds of living. If the just are to live by faith, the faith must be capable of adjustment to every variety of life that the just may be called upon to lead. “We talk of human life as a journey,” says Sydney Smith, “but how variously is the journey performed.” Variously indeed. It is a Pilgrim’s Progress to us all, but to no two pilgrims is the progress the same.

    5. But it is time to ask the question, By faith in what?

    Faith: life

    (text and Habakkuk 2:4; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38):--When the Spirit frequently repeats Himself, He thereby appeals for special attention. A doctrine so often declared--

    1. Must be of the first importance.

    2. Should be constantly preached.

    3. Should be unhesitatingly received by the hearer. We will treat the four texts--

    I. As one:

    1. Life is received by the faith which makes a man just. A man begins to live--

    2. Life is sustained by the faith which keeps a man just.

    (a) As a child and as a servant.

    (b) As a pilgrim proceeding and a warrior contending.

    (c) As a pensioner enjoying, and as an heir expecting.

    (a) In joy and sorrow.

    (b) In wealth and poverty.

    (c) In strength and weakness.

    (d) In labouring and languishing.

    (e) In life and death.

    3. Hearty belief in God, His Son, His promises, His grace, is the soul’s life, neither can anything take its place. “Believe and live” is a standing precept both for saint and sinner (1 Corinthians 13:13).

    II. Separately.

    1. Habakkuk exhibits faith as enabling a man to live on in peace and humility, while as yet the promise has not come to its maturity. While waiting, we live by faith and not by sight. We are thus--

    2. Paul in the text exhibits faith as working salvation from the evil which is in the world through lust. The chapter presents an awful view of human nature, and implies that only faith in the gospel can bring us life in the form of--

    3. Galatians exhibits faith as bringing us that justification which saves us from the sentence of death. Nothing can be plainer than the declaration that no man is justified before God except by faith.

    4. Hebrews exhibits faith as the life of final perseverance.


    1. What can you do who have no faith? In what other way can you be accepted with God?

    2. On what ground can you excuse your unbelief?

    3. Will you perish sooner than believe? (C. H. Spurgeon.)

    Rectitude and faith

    The just man is the righteous man--the man who is right--right with God, with man, with his environments, with himself. Faith is what keeps a man right in every department of life. A man can only live rightly as he lives by faith.

    I. On what may be called his secular side.

    1. Intellectually. Faith is necessary to mental soundness, and to efficient mental work. First principles must be taken for granted; results of previous workers must be accepted. To be ever digging foundations and discussing axioms not only wastes time, but unsettles and enervates the mind, and incapacitates it for healthy work. The just thinker works from established conclusions to first results.

    2. Commercially. All business would be at a standstill but for faith--faith in self, faith in others, faith in success. The distrustful man is unjust to himself and all concerned, and eventually dies in bankruptcy.

    3. Domestically. Family life is dead where the members distrust each other, but flourishes in full vigour when there is honest and implicit faith between husband and wife, etc.

    4. Politically. Where there is no faith in principles, but only a scramble after place and power, political injustice supervenes and political life dies.

    II. His spiritual side.

    1. As a religious character.

    2. As a Christian worker. His is preeminently a work of faith, and only as such can he rightly perform it. He requires faith which--

    3. As a Bible student. Faith--

    4. As an immortal being. Faith links the future with the present, makes both one, and sets the believer right with both. (J. W. Burn.)

    The office of faith

    It is not dead: but living and active. It is not something by which we conceive of ourselves as interested in that which is infinitely removed from us. It is the hand by which we grasp the Saviour near to us; making Him, with all His wealth and all His righteousness, our own; so that, in having Him, we become both righteous and rich. It is the tendrils by which the branches of the vine do cling around their all-supporting stem; it is also the common vessels by which, from the root, the sap is conducted to the branches and leaves. It is that system of nerves by which all the parts of the body are consciously connected with the head. It is very artery, the aorta, by which from the heart life is conveyed; so that by its habitual action the very lowest extremities are continually invigorated and warmed. (Wm. Elliott.)

    The conversion of Martin Luther

    Near the splendid church of St. John de Lateran is the famous Scala Sancta, or Sacred Stair, supposed to have been brought from Jerusalem--the same steps down which our Saviour walked from Pilate’s hall of judgment to the hill of Calvary. These steps are twenty-five in number, made of solid marble, and covered with wood to keep them from being worn away by the knees of the climbing pilgrims. These pilgrims on Easter week come from all parts of the world. They are of different colours, and ranks, and ages, and I watched them beginning to climb this “holy stair,” slowly creeping up, counting their beads, crossing their faces, and muttering their “Ave Marias and Paternosters” as they went. Near the top was a full-sized image of the Saviour made of wood, crowned with thorns, and wearing the marks of His wounds on His temples, and hands, and side, and feet. Around this “image” of Jesus a group, of women were gathered. It was sad to see their pitiful looks and hear their groaning prayers, as they beat their breasts and kissed each wound, from the pierced feet to the thorn-crowned head. Poor people! they were quite in earnest, but they were sadly self-deceived. They thought that for every step they climbed, they received indulgence or pardon for the sins of a year! Therefore, when they reached the top, they thought that sins of twenty-five years were blotted out; so that, taking their average life at fifty, two visits to the Sacred Stair would carry them to the “gates of heaven.” I thought of a noble man--namely, Martin Luther--who, three centuries ago, found the light of the gospel on that same stair. Dressed as a monk, with his shaven head and bare knees, he was creeping up those marble steps, hoping thereby to calm his troubled conscience and work his way to heaven, when all at once the voice of God was heard crying in his soul, “The just shall live by faith.” Obedient to the heavenly voice, he saw his error of trying to earn his title to salvation by his own pains and works; and leaving the city in disgust, he went home to nail his “Theses” to the church door at Wittenberg, and to kindle the fire of the glorious Reformation.


    Now we talk so much in Christian teaching about this “faith” that, I fancy, like a worn sixpence in a man’s pocket, its very circulation from band to hand has worn off the lettering. And many of us, from the very familiarity of the Word, have only a dim conception of what it means. It may not be profitless, then, to remind you, first of all, that this faith is neither more nor less than a very familiar thing which you are constantly exercising in reference to one another, that is to say, simple confidence. You trust your husband, your wife, your child, your parent, your friend, your guide, your lawyer, your doctor, your banker. Take that very same emotion and attitude of the mind by which you put your well-being, in different aspects and provinces, into the hands of men and women round about you; lift the trailing flowers that go all straggling along the ground, and twine them round the pillars of God’s throne, and you get the confidence, the trust of praises and glories of which this New Testament is full. There is nothing mysterious in it, it is simply the exercise of confidence, the familiar cement that binds all human relationship together, and makes men brotherly and kindred with their kind. Faith is trust, and trust saves a man’s soul. Then remember, further, that the faith which is the foundation of everything is essentially the personal trust reposing upon a person, upon Jesus Christ. You cannot get hold of a man in any other way than by that. The only real bond that binds people together is the personal bond of confidence, manifesting itself in love. And it is no mere doctrine that we present for a man’s faith, but it is the Person about which the doctrine speaks. We say, indeed, that we can only know the Person on whom we must trust by the revelation of the truths concerning Him which make the Christian doctrines; but a man may believe the whole of them, and have no faith. And what is the step in advance which is needed in order to turn credence into faith--belief in a doctrine into trust? In one view it is the step from the doctrine to the Person. When you grasp Christ, the living Christ, and not merely the doctrine, for yours, then you have faith. (A. Maclaren D. D.)

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    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

    Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Romans 1:17". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

    Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

    For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith to faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall five by faith.

    First, the expression "a righteousness of God" should be read "the righteousness of God," as in KJV and RSV. One may only conjecture as to why the English Revised Version (1885) translators gave such a rendition, especially in view of the fact that they rendered the parallel expression a moment later, in verse 18, as "the wrath of God." Barmby noted that "`A wrath of God' has no intelligent meaning,"

    Regarding the broader question of "the righteousness of God," if this refers to the righteousness imputed by God to human beings (forensic righteousness), or the eternal righteousness of God's character (intrinsic righteousness), the evidence indicates that the latter is meant, not only here, but throughout Romans. We shall not go into the exhaustive dissertations of scholars on this place. The writer finds himself in strong agreement with Barmby; and, therefore, Barmby's critical exegesis is summarized in that commentator's own words. Convincing as Barmby's analysis is, however, the overriding consideration in accepting the "righteousness" of this verse as a reference to God's intrinsic righteousness, rather than to man's forensic, or imputed righteousness, is found in Romans itself (Romans 3:25,26), where God's righteousness in "passing over the sins done aforetime" is the real key to the meaning of "righteousness" throughout the epistle, plainly referring to an attribute of God, and not to any imputed righteousness of people; and even in the places where the latter is spoken of, the great consideration in the background is always God's intrinsic righteousness. A paraphrase of Barmby's summary on this question is:

    It is usual to interpret this as meaning man's imputed or forensic righteousness; but if Paul meant that, why did he not use the words he used in Philippians 3:9, where he WAS speaking of that? The phrase suggests the sense in which the words are continually used in the Old Testament. The quotation from Habakkuk does not refute this meaning. The Old Testament usage of the term "righteousness" in Psalms 18:2 undoubtedly means "God's righteousness"; and the constant use of the phrase in a known sense in the Orr would naturally lead us to think that when Paul used it, he would have used it in the same sense. It is maintained in this commentary (with all due deference to the distinguished ancients and moderns who have held otherwise) that not only in this opening passage, but throughout the epistle, this phrase means God's own eternal righteousness, and that even in passages where a righteousness that is of faith is spoken of as communicated to man, the essential idea beyond is still that of God's own righteousness including believers in itself.From faith to faith ... Hodge declared this to mean "by faith alone";[29] or "entirely by faith";[30] Dodd, as quoted by Murray, rendered it, "by faith from beginning to end";[31] and the New English Bible has "a way that starts with faith and ends with faith."[32] The student who strives for accuracy in understanding God's word will at once be impressed with the truth that such paraphrases as those just cited can in no sense be honored as TRANSLATIONS of what the Holy Spirit wrote through Paul. Upon a disputed passage like this, the greatest degree of accuracy, according to Bruce, is the version used in this commentary, that is, the English Revised Version (1885). He said:

    The Bible text used throughout, except where otherwise indicated, is the English Revised Version of 1881. This remains, in spite of many more recent translations (including the New English Bible of 1961) the most helpful English version of the New Testament for purposes of accurate study.[33]

    Paul, therefore, wrote none of the phrases mentioned above, but "from faith to faith," and any paraphrase of the meaning would have to be something that does not violate that text. The Phillips New Testament has such a paraphrase, thus: "a process begun and continued by their faith. Certainly, the notion that Paul meant "faith alone" by this expression should be rejected out of hand, especially in view of the fact that the expression "faith alone" occurs never in Paul's writings, and only once in the New Testament, where James declared that people are "not justified by faith alone" (James 2:24).

    "As it is written, But the righteous shall live by faith ..." is a quotation from Habakkuk 2:4 and is understood as Old Testament support of the principle of salvation by faith, it being the great end of the Christian religion to produce faith in all people, inasmuch as it may be possible. Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6); and the statement here that the just shall live by faith is emphasis upon the fact of man's utter inability to live without it.

    The two verses just considered are the theme of the Book of Romans, namely, God's Eternal Righteousness as Revealed in the Gospel. Immediately upon announcement of this theme, Paul launched into the section vindicating God's righteousness in accounting all people sinners and fully deserving God's wrath.

    [29] Charles Hodge, op. cit., p. 32.

    [30] Ibid.

    [31] John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1968), Vol. 1, p. 31.

    [32] New English Bible.

    [33] F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Ephesians (Westwood, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1961), p. 7.

    Copyright Statement
    James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

    Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

    For therein is the righteousness of God revealed,.... By "the righteousness of God", is not meant the essential righteousness of God, the rectitude of his nature, his righteousness in fulfilling his promises, and his punitive justice, which though revealed in the Gospel, yet not peculiar to it; nor the righteousness by which Christ himself is righteous, either as God, or as Mediator; but that righteousness which he wrought out by obeying the precepts, and bearing the penalty of the law in the room of his people, and by which they are justified in the sight of God: and this is called "the righteousness of God", in opposition to the righteousness of men: and because it justifies men in the sight of God; and because of the concern which Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit, have in it. Jehovah the Father sent his Son to work it out, and being wrought out, he approves and accepts of it, and imputes it to his elect: Jehovah the Son is the author of it by his obedience and death; and Jehovah the Spirit discovers it to sinners, works faith in them to lay hold upon it, and pronounces the sentence of justification by it in their consciences. Now this is said to be "revealed" in the Gospel, that is, it is taught in the Gospel; that is the word of righteousness, the ministration of it; it is manifested in and by the Gospel. This righteousness is not known by the light of nature, nor by the law of Moses; it was hid under the shadows of the ceremonial law, and is brought to light only by the Gospel; it is hid from every natural man, even from the most wise and prudent, and from God's elect themselves before conversion, and is only made known to believers, to whom it is revealed:

    from faith to faith; that is, as say some, from the faith of God to the faith of men; from the faith of preachers to the faith of hearers; from the faith of the Old to the faith of the New Testament saints; or rather from one degree of faith to another; for faith, as it grows and increases, has clearer sights of this righteousness, as held forth in the Gospel. For the proof of this, a passage of Scripture is cited,

    as it is written, Habakkuk 2:4;

    the just shall live by faith: "a just", or righteous man is, not everyone who thinks himself, or is thought by others to be so; nor are any so by their obedience to the law of works; but he is one that is made righteous by the righteousness of Christ imputed to him, which is before said to be revealed in the Gospel. The life which this man lives, and "shall live", does not design a natural or corporeal life, and a continuance of that, for such die a natural death, as other men; nor an eternal life, for though they shall so live, yet not by faith; but a spiritual life, a life of justification on Christ, of holiness from him, of communion with him, and of peace and joy; which spiritual life shall be continued, and never be lost. The manner in which the just lives, is "by faith". In the prophet Habakkuk, the words are, "the just shall live" באמונתו, "by his faith" Habakkuk 2:4); which the Septuagint render, "by my faith": and the apostle only reads, "by faith", omitting the affix, as well known, and easy to be supplied: for faith, when given by God, and exercised by the believer, is his own, and by it he lives; not upon it, but by it upon Christ the object of it; from whom, in a way of believing, he derives his spiritual life, and all the comforts of it.

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    Gill, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

    Geneva Study Bible

    6 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from z faith to faith: 7 as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

    (6) The confirmation of the former proposition: we are taught in the gospel that we are instituted before God by faith, which increases daily, and therefore also saved.

    (z) From faith, which increases daily. {(7)} The proof of the first as well as of the second proposition, out of Habakkuk, who attributes and gives to faith both justice and life before God.

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    Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

    For therein is the righteousness of God revealed — that is (as the whole argument of the Epistle shows), GOD‘S JUSTIFYING RIGHTEOUSNESS.

    from faith to faith — a difficult clause. Most interpreters (judging from the sense of such phrases elsewhere) take it to mean, “from one degree of faith to another.” But this agrees ill with the apostle‘s design, which has nothing to do with the progressive stages of faith, but solely with faith itself as the appointed way of receiving God‘s “righteousness.” We prefer, therefore, to understand it thus: “The righteousness of God is in the gospel message, revealed (to be) from (or ‹by‘) faith to (or ‹for‘) faith,” that is, “in order to be by faith received.” (So substantially, Melville, Meyer, Stuart, Bloomfield, etc.).

    as it is written — (Habakkuk 2:4).

    The just shall live by faith — This golden maxim of the Old Testament is thrice quoted in the New Testament - here; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38 - showing that the gospel way of “LIFE BY FAITH,” so far from disturbing, only continued and developed the ancient method.

    On the foregoing verses, Note

    (1). What manner of persons ought the ministers of Christ to be, according to the pattern here set up: absolutely subject and officially dedicated to the Lord Jesus; separated unto the gospel of God, which contemplates the subjugation of all nations to the faith of Christ: debtors to all classes, the refined and the rude, to bring the gospel to them all alike, all shame in the presence of the one, as well as pride before the other, sinking before the glory which they feel to be in their message; yearning over all faithful churches, not lording it over them, but rejoicing in their prosperity, and finding refreshment and strength in their fellowship!

    (2). The peculiar features of the gospel here brought prominently forward should be the devout study of all who preach it, and guide the views and the taste of all who are privileged statedly to hear it: that it is “the gospel of God,” as a message from heaven, yet not absolutely new, but on the contrary, only the fulfillment of Old Testament promise, that not only is Christ the great theme of it, but Christ in the very nature of God as His own Son, and in the nature of men as partaker of their flesh - the Son of God now in resurrection - power and invested with authority to dispense all grace to men, and all gifts for the establishment and edification of the Church, Christ the righteousness provided of God for the justification of all that believe in His name; and that in this glorious Gospel, when preached as such, there resides the very power of God to save Jew and Gentile alike who embrace it.

    (3). While Christ is to be regarded as the ordained Channel of all grace from God to men (Romans 1:8), let none imagine that His proper divinity is in any respect compromised by this arrangement, since He is here expressly associated with “God the Father,” in prayer for “grace and peace” (including all spiritual blessings) to rest upon this Church (Romans 1:7).

    (4). While this Epistle teaches, in conformity with the teaching of our Lord Himself, that all salvation is suspended upon faith, this is but half a truth, and will certainly minister to self-righteousness, if dissociated from another feature of the same truth, here explicitly taught, that this faith in God‘s own gift - for which accordingly in the case of the Roman believers, he “thanks his God through Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:8).

    (5). Christian fellowship, as indeed all real fellowship, is a mutual benefit; and as it is not possible for the most eminent saints and servants of Christ to impart any refreshment and profit to the meanest of their brethren without experiencing a rich return into their bosoms, so just in proportion to their humility and love will they feel their need of it and rejoice in it.

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    This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

    Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

    For therein (γαρ εν αυτωιgar en autōi). In the gospel (Romans 1:16) of which Paul is not ashamed.

    A righteousness of God (δικαιοσυνη τεουdikaiosunē theou). Subjective genitive, “a God kind of righteousness,” one that each must have and can obtain in no other way save “from faith unto faith” (εκ πιστεως εις πιστινek pisteōs eis pistin), faith the starting point and faith the goal (Lightfoot).

    Is revealed (αποκαλυπτεταιapokaluptetai). It is a revelation from God, this God kind of righteousness, that man unaided could never have conceived or still less attained. In these words we have Paul‘s statement in his own way of the theme of the Epistle, the content of the gospel as Paul understands it. Every word is important: σωτηριανsōtērian (salvation), ευαγγελιονeuaggelion (gospel), αποκαλυπτεταιapokaluptetai (is revealed), δικαιοσυνη τεουdikaiosunē theou (righteousness of God), πιστιςpistis (faith) and πιστευοντιpisteuonti (believing). He grounds his position on Habakkuk 2:4 (quoted also in Galatians 3:11). By “righteousness” we shall see that Paul means both “justification” and “sanctification.” It is important to get a clear idea of Paul‘s use of δικαιοσυνηdikaiosunē here for it controls the thought throughout the Epistle. Jesus set up a higher standard of righteousness (δικαιοσυνηdikaiosunē) in the Sermon on the Mount than the Scribes and Pharisees taught and practised (Matthew 5:20) and proves it in various items. Here Paul claims that in the gospel, taught by Jesus and by himself there is revealed a God kind of righteousness with two ideas in it (the righteousness that God has and that he bestows). It is an old word for quality from δικαιοςdikaios a righteous man, and that from δικηdikē right or justice (called a goddess in Acts 28:4), and that allied with δεικνυμιdeiknumi to show, to point out. Other allied words are δικαιοωdikaioō to declare or make δικαιοςdikaios (Romans 3:24, Romans 3:26), δικαιωμαdikaiōma that which is deemed δικαιοςdikaios (sentence or ordinance as in Romans 1:32; Romans 2:26; Romans 8:4), δικαιωσιςdikaiōsis the act of declaring δικαιοςdikaios (only twice in N.T., Romans 4:25; Romans 5:18). ΔικαιοσυνηDikaiosunē and δικαιοωdikaioō are easy to render into English, though we use justice in distinction from righteousness and sanctification for the result that comes after justification (the setting one right with God). Paul is consistent and usually clear in his use of these great words.

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    Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

    Vincent's Word Studies

    For therein is the righteousness of God revealed ( δικαιοσύνη γὰρ Θεοῦ ἐν ἀυτῷ ἀποκαλύπτεται ).

    Rev., more correctly, therein is revealed a righteousness of God. The absence of the article denotes that a peculiar kind of righteousness is meant. This statement contains the subject of the epistle: Righteousness is by faith. The subject is not stated formally nor independently, but as a proof that the Gospel is a power, etc.

    This word δικαιοσύνη righteousnessand its kindred words δίκαιος righteousand δικαιόω tomake righteous, play so important a part in this epistle that it is desirable to fix their meaning as accurately as possible.

    Classical Usage. In the Greek classics there appears an eternal, divine, unwritten principle of right, dwelling in the human consciousness, shaping both the physical and the moral ordering of the world, and personified as Themis ( Θέμις ). This word is used as a common noun in the phrase θέμις ἐστὶ itis right (fundamentally and eternally), like the Latin fas est. Thus Homer, of Penelope mourning for Ulysses, θέμις ἐστὶ γυναικός itis the sacred obligation of the wife (founded in her natural relation to her husband, ordained of heaven) to mourn (“Odyssey,” 14,130). So Antigone appeals to the unwritten law against the barbarity of refusing burial to her brother.

    “Nor did I deem thy edicts strong enough,

    That thou, a mortal man, shouldst overpass

    The unwritten laws of God that know not change.”

    Sophocles, “Antigone,” 453-455.

    See, also, “Odyssey,” 14,91; Aristophanes, “Clouds,” 140; “Antigone,” 880.

    This divine ordering requires that men should be shown or pointed to that which is according to it - a definite circle of duties and obligations which constitute right ( δίκη ). Thus what is δίκαιος righteousis properly the expression of the eternal Themis. While δίκη and θέμις are not to be distinguished as human and divine, δίκη has a more distinctively human, personal character, and comes into sharper definition. It introduces the distinction between absolute right and power. It imposes the recognition of a moral principle over against an absolutely constraining natural force. The conception of δίκη is strongly moral. Δίκαιος is right; δικαιοσύνη is rightness as characterizing the entire being of man.

    There is a religious background to the pagan conception. In the Homeric poems morality stands in a relation, loose and undeveloped indeed, but none the less real, to religion. This appears in the use of the oath in compacts; in the fear of the wrath of heaven for omission of sacrifices; in regarding refusal of hospitality as an offense against Zeus, the patron of strangers and suppliants. Certain tribes which are fierce and uncivilized are nevertheless described as δίκαιοι righteous“The characteristic stand-point of the Homeric ethics is that the spheres of law, of morals, and of religion are by no means separate, but lie side by side in undeveloped unity.” (Nagelsbach).

    In later Greek literature this conception advances, in some instances, far toward the christian ideal; as in the fourth book of Plato's “Laws,” where he asserts that God holds in His hand the beginning, middle, and end of all things; that justice always follows Him, and punishes those who fall short of His laws. Those who would be dear to God must be like Him. Without holiness no man is accepted of God.

    Nevertheless, however clearly the religious background and sanction of morality may be recognized, it is apparent that the basis of right is found, very largely, in established social usage. The word ethics points first to what is established by custom. While with Mr. Grote we must admit the peculiar emphasis on the individual in the Homeric poems, we cannot help observing a certain influence of social sentiment on morals. While there are cases like the suitors, Paris and Helen, where public opinion imposes no moral check, there are others where the force of public opinion is clearly visible, such as Penelope and Nausicaa. The Homeric view of homicide reveals no relation between moral sentiment and divine enactment. Murder is a breach of social law, a private and civil wrong, entailing no loss of character. Its penalty is a satisfaction to the feelings of friends, or a compensation for lost services.

    Later, we find this social aspect of morality even more strongly emphasized. “The city becomes the central and paramount source of obligation. The great, impersonal authority called 'the Laws' stands out separately, both as guide and sanction, distinct from religious duty or private sympathy” (Grote). Socrates is charged with impiety because he does not believe in the gods of the state, and Socrates himself agrees that that man does right who obeys what the citizens have agreed should be done, and who refrains from what they forbid.

    The social basis of righteousness also appears in the frequent contrast between δίκη and βία , right and force. A violation of right is that which forces its way over the social sanction. The social conception of δίκαιος is not lost, even when the idea is so apprehended as to border on the christian love of one's neighbor. There is a wrong toward the gods, but every wrong is not in itself such. The inner, personal relation to deity, the absolute and constraining appeal of divine character and law to conscience, the view of duty as one's right, and of personal right as something to be surrendered to the paramount claim of love - all these elements which distinguish the christian conception of righteousness - are thus in sharp contrast with a righteousness dictated by social claims which limit the individual desire or preference, but which leave untouched the tenacity of personal right, and place obligation behind legitimacy.

    It is desirable that the classical usage of these terms should be understood, in order to throw into sharper relief the Biblical usage, according to which God is the absolute and final standard of right, and every wrong is a sin against God (Psalm 51:4). Each man stands in direct and primary relation to the holy God as He is by the law of His own nature. Righteousness is union with God in character. To the Greek mind of the legendary age such a conception is both strange and essentially impossible, since the Greek divinity is only the Greek man exaggerated in his virtues and vices alike. According to the christian ideal, righteousness is character, and the norm of character is likeness to God. This idea includes all the social aspects of right. Love and duty toward God involve love and duty to the neighbor.

    Here must be noted a peculiar usage of δίκαιος righteousand δικαιοσύνη righteousnessin the Septuagint. They are at times interchanged with ἐλεημοσύνη mercyand ἔλεος kindnessThe Hebrew chesed kindness, though usually rendered by ἔλεος , is nine times translated by δικαιοσύνη righteousnessand once by δίκαιος righteousThe Hebrew tsedakah usually rendered by δικαιοσύνη , is nine times translated by ἐλεημοσύνη mercyand three times by ἔλεος kindnessCompare the Heb. and Sept. at Deuteronomy 6:25; Deuteronomy 24:13(15); Genesis 19:19; Genesis 24:27. This usage throws light on the reading δικαιοσύνην , Rev., righteousness (kindness? ), instead of ἐλεημοσύνην mercyA.V., alms, Matthew 6:1. Mr. Hatch (“Essays in Biblical Greek”) says that the meaning kindness is so clear in this passage that scribes, who were unaware of its existence, altered the text. He also thinks that this meaning gives a better sense than any other to Matthew 1:19“Joseph, being a kindly ( δίκαιος , A.V., just ) man.”

    1. In the New Testament δίκαιος is used both of God and of Christ. Of God, 1 John 1:9; John 17:25; Revelation 16:5; Romans 3:26. Of Christ, 1 John 2:1; 1 John 3:7; Acts 3:14; Acts 7:52; Acts 22:14. In these passages the word characterizes God and Christ either in their essential quality or in their action; either as righteous according to the eternal norm of divine holiness (John 17:25; 1 John 3:7; Romans 3:26), or as holiness passes into righteous dealing with men (1 John 1:9).

    2. Δίκαιος is used of men, denoting their normal relation to the will and judgment of God. Hence it means virtuous, upright, pure in life, correct in thinking and feeling. It stands opposed to ἀνομία lawlessness ἁμαρτία sin ἀκαθαρσία impuritya contrast wanting in classical usage, where the conception of sin is vague. See Romans 6:13, Romans 6:16, Romans 6:18, Romans 6:20; Romans 8:10; 2 Corinthians 6:7, 2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 5:9; Ephesians 6:14; Philemon 1:11; James 3:18.

    Where δικαιοσύνη righteousnessis joined with ὁσιότης holiness(Luke 1:75; Ephesians 4:24), it denotes right conduct toward men, as holiness denotes piety toward God. It appears in the wider sense of answering to the demands of God in general, Matthew 13:17; Matthew 10:41; Matthew 23:29; Acts 10:22, Acts 10:35; and in the narrower sense of perfectly answering the divine demands, guiltless. So of Christ, Acts 3:14; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 2:1.

    3. It is found in the classical sense of it is right, Philemon 1:7, or that which is right, Colossians 4:1. This, however, is included within the Christian conception.

    Δικαιοσύνη righteousnessis therefore that which fulfills the claims of δίκη right“It is the state commanded by God and standing the test of His judgment; the character and acts of a man approved of Him, in virtue of which the man corresponds with Him and His will as His ideal and standard” (Cremer).

    The medium of this righteousness is faith. Faith is said to be counted or reckoned for righteousness; i.e., righteousness is ascribed to it or recognized in it. Romans 4:3, Romans 4:6, Romans 4:9, Romans 4:22; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23.

    In this verse the righteousness revealed in the Gospel is described as a righteousness of God. This does not mean righteousness as an attribute of God, as in Romans 3:5; but righteousness as bestowed on man by God. The state of the justified man is due to God. The righteousness which becomes his is that which God declares to be righteousness and ascribes to him. Righteousness thus expresses the relation of being right into which God puts the man who believes. See further, on justified, Romans 2:13.

    Is revealed ( ἀποκαλύπτεται )

    Emphasizing the peculiar sense in which “righteousness” is used here. Righteousness as an attribute of God was revealed before the Gospel. Righteousness in this sense is a matter of special revelation through the Gospel. The present tense describes the Gospel in its continuous proclamation: is being revealed.

    From faith to faith ( ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν )

    Rev., by faith unto faith. According to the A.V. the idea is that of progress in faith itself; either from Old to New Testament faith, or, in the individual, from a lower to a higher degree of faith; and this idea, I think, must be held here, although it is true that it is introduced secondarily, since Paul is dealing principally with the truth that righteousness is by faith. We may rightly say that the revealed righteousness of God is unto faith, in the sense of with a view to produce faith; but we may also say that faith is a progressive principle; that the aim of God's justifying righteousness is life, and that the just lives by his faith (Galatians 2:20), and enters into “more abundant” life with the development of his faith. Compare 2 Corinthians 2:16; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Romans 6:19; and the phrase, justification of life, Romans 5:18.


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    Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

    Wesley's Explanatory Notes

    For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

    The righteousness of God — This expression sometimes means God's eternal, essential righteousness, which includes both justice and mercy, and is eminently shown in condemning sin, and yet justifying the sinner. Sometimes it means that righteousness by which a man, through the gift of God, is made and is righteous; and that, both by receiving Christ through faith, and by a conformity to the essential righteousness of God. St. Paul, when treating of justification, means hereby the righteousness of faith; therefore called the righteousness of God, because God found out and prepared, reveals and gives, approves and crowns it. In this verse the expression means, the whole benefit of God through Christ for the salvation of a sinner.

    Is revealed — Mention is made here, and Romans 1:18, of a twofold revelation,-of wrath and of righteousness: the former, little known to nature, is revealed by the law; the latter, wholly unknown to nature, by the gospel. That goes before, and prepares the way; this follows. Each, the apostle says, is revealed at the present time, in opposition to the times of ignorance.

    From faith to faith — By a gradual series of still clearer and clearer promises.

    As it is written — St. Paul had just laid down three propositions: 1. Righteousness is by faith, Romans 1:17: 2. Salvation is by righteousness, Romans 1:16: 3. Both to the Jews and to the gentiles, Romans 1:16. Now all these are confirmed by that single sentence, The just shall live by faith - Which was primarily spoken of those who preserved their lives, when the Chaldeans besieged Jerusalem, by believing the declarations of God, and acting according to them. Here it means, He shall obtain the favour of God, and continue therein by believing. Habakkuk 2:4

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    Wesley, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

    Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

    Therein; that is, in the gospel, which was named in the beginning of the Romans 1:16.--The righteousness of God; righteousness in the sight of God; that is, justification, as is evident from the use of this language in Romans 3:21-24.--From faith to faith; an expression the specific interpretation of which, in this connection, is not settled. The general idea of the passage is clear,--that in the gospel is revealed the way by which the sincere believer is justified and saved.--As it is written; Habakkuk 2:4.

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    Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". 1878.

    Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

    17.For (39) the righteousness of God, etc. This is an explanation and a confirmation of the preceding clause — that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. For if we seek salvation, that is, life with God, righteousness must be first sought, by which being reconciled to him, we may, through him being propitious to us, obtain that life which consists only in his favor; for, in order to be loved by God, we must first become righteous, since he regards unrighteousness with hatred. He therefore intimates, that we cannot obtain salvation otherwise than from the gospel, since nowhere else does God reveal to us his righteousness, which alone delivers us from perdition. Now this righteousness, which is the groundwork of our salvation, is revealed in the gospel: hence the gospel is said to be the power of God unto salvation. Thus he reasons from the cause to the effect.

    Notice further, how extraordinary and valuable a treasure does God bestow on us through the gospel, even the communication of his own righteousness. I take the righteousness of God to mean, that which is approved before his tribunal; (40) as that, on the contrary, is usually called the righteousness of men, which is by men counted and supposed to be righteousness, though it be only vapor. Paul, however, I doubt not, alludes to the many prophecies in which the Spirit makes known everywhere the righteousness of God in the future kingdom of Christ.

    Some explain it as the righteousness which is freely given us by God: and I indeed confess that the words will bear this sense; for God justifies us by the gospel, and thus saves us: yet the former view seems to me more suitable, though it is not what I make much of. Of greater moment is what some think, that this righteousness does not only consist in the free remission of sins, but also, in part, includes the grace of regeneration. But I consider, that we are restored to life because God freely reconciles us to himself, as we shall hereafter show in its proper place.

    But instead of the expression he used before, “to every one who believeth,” he says now, from faith; for righteousness is offered by the gospel, and is received by faith. And he adds, to faith: for as our faith makes progress, and as it advances in knowledge, so the righteousness of God increases in us at the same time, and the possession of it is in a manner confirmed. When at first we taste the gospel, we indeed see God’s smiling countenance turned towards us, but at a distance: the more the knowledge of true religion grows in us, by coming as it were nearer, we behold God’s favor more clearly and more familiarly. What some think, that there is here an implied comparison between the Old and New Testament, is more refined than well-founded; for Paul does not here compare the Fathers who lived under the law with us, but points out the daily progress that is made by every one of the faithful.

    As it is written, etc. By the authority of the Prophet Habakkuk he proves the righteousness of faith; for he, predicting the overthrow of the proud, adds this — that the life of the righteous consists in faith. Now we live not before God, except through righteousness: it then follows, that our righteousness is obtained by faith; and the verb being future, designates the real perpetuity of that life of which he speaks; as though he had said, — that it would not be momentary, but continue forever. For even the ungodly swell with the false notion of having life; but when they say, “Peace and safety,” a sudden destruction comes upon them, (1 Thessalonians 5:3.) It is therefore a shadow, which endures only for a moment. Faith alone is that which secures the perpetuity of life; and whence is this, except that it leads us to God, and makes our life to depend on him? For Paul would not have aptly quoted this testimony had not the meaning of the Prophet been, that we then only stand, when by faith we recumb on God: and he has not certainly ascribed life to the faith of the godly, but in as far as they, having renounced the arrogance of the world, resign themselves to the protection of God alone. (41)

    He does not indeed professedly handle this subject; and hence he makes no mention of gratuitous justification: but it is sufficiently evident from the nature of faith, that this testimony is rightly applied to the present subject. Besides, we necessarily gather from his reasoning, that there is a mutual connection between faith and the gospel: for as the just is said to live by faith, he concludes that this life is received by the gospel.

    We have now the principal point or the main hinge of the first part of this Epistle, — that we are justified by faith through the mercy of God alone. We have not this, indeed as yet distinctly expressed by Paul; but from his own words it will hereafter be made very clear — that the righteousness, which is grounded on faith, depends entirely on the mercy of God.

    There is more difficulty connected with the following words , ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν. The view which [Calvin ] gives was adopted by some of the Fathers, such as [Theophylact ] and [Clemens Alexandrinus ]; and it is that of [Melancthon ], [Beza ], [Scaliger ], [Locke ], and many others. From [Poole ] we find that [Chrysostom ] gave this exposition, “From the obscure and inchoate faith of the Old Testament to the clear and full faith of the New;” and that [Ambrose ] ’s exposition was the following, “From the faith or fidelity of God who promises to the faith of him who believes.” But in all these views there is not that which comports with the context, nor the construction very intelligible-”revealed from faith,” What can it mean? To render the passage intelligibly , ἐκ πίστεως must be connected with δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ, as suggested by [Hammond ], and followed by [Doddridge ] and [Macknight ]. Then it would be, “The righteousness of God by faith or, which is by faith:” this is revealed in the gospel “to faith,” that is, in order that it may be believed; which is often the force of εἰς before a noun; as, εἰς τὴν ἀνομίαν — in order to do wickedness; or, εἰς ἁγιασμόν in order to practice holiness, Romans 6:19 [Chalmers ], [Stuart ], [Barnes ], and [Haldane ] take this view. The verse may be thus rendered, —

    For the righteousness of God by faith is in it revealed in order to be believed, as it is written, “The just shall by faith live.” The same truth is conveyed in Romans 3:22; and similar phraseology is found in Philippians 3:9.

    [Barnes ] seems fully to express the import of the passage in these words, “God’s plan of justifying men is revealed in the gospel, which plan is by faith, and the benefits of which plan shall be extended to all that have faith or that believe.” — Ed.

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    Calvin, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

    Vv. 17. "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed by faith for faith: as it is written, But the just shall live by faith."

    The first part of this verse is a repetition of Romans 1:16, in more precise language. Paul explains how this power unto salvation, which should save the believer, acts: it justifies him. Such is the fundamental idea of the Epistle.

    The term righteousness of God cannot here mean, as it sometimes does, for example, Romans 3:5; Romans 3:25, an attribute of God, whether His perfect moral purity, or His retributive justice. Before the gospel this perfection was already distinctly revealed by the law; and the prophetic words which Paul immediately quotes: "The just shall live by faith," prove that in his view this justice of God is a condition of man, not a divine attribute.

    In what does this state consist? The term δικαιοσύνη, justice, strictly designates the moral position of a man who has fully met all his obligations (comp. Romans 6:13; Romans 6:16; Ephesians 5:9; Matthew 5:17, etc.). Only here the complement: of God, and the expression: is revealed by the gospel, lead us to give the term a more particular sense: the relation to God in which a man would naturally be placed by his righteousness, if he were righteous, and which God bestows on him of grace on account of his faith. Two explanations of this notion meet us. They are well stated by Calvin: "Some think that righteousness consists not merely in the free pardon of sins, but partly also in the grace of regeneration." "For my part," he adds, "I take the meaning to be that we are restored to life, because God freely reconciles us to Himself." On the one hand, therefore, an inward regeneration on the ground of which God pardons; on the other, a free reconciliation on the ground of which God regenerates. In the former case: God acting first as Spirit to deposit in the soul the germ of the new life (to render man effectually just, at least virtually), and afterwards as judge to pardon; in the latter, God acting first as judge to pardon (to declare man just), and afterwards as Spirit to quicken and sanctify.

    The first of these views is that of the Catholic Church, formulated by the Council of Trent, and professed by a number of Protestant theologians (among the earlier, Osiander; Beck, in our day). It is the point of view defended by Reuss and Sabatier. The latter defines justification: "the creation of spiritual life." The second notion is that round which the Protestant churches in general have rallied. It was the soul of Luther"s religious life; and it is still the centre of doctrinal teaching in the church which claims the name of this Reformer. We have not here to treat the subject from a dogmatical or moral point of view. We ask ourselves this one thing: Which of the two views was the apostle"s, and best explains his words?

    In our verse the verb reveals itself, or is revealed, applies more naturally to a righteousness which is offered, and which God attributes to man in consequence of a declaration, than to a righteousness which is communicated internally by the gift of the Spirit. The instrument of appropriation constantly insisted on by the apostle, faith, also corresponds better to the acceptance of a promise than to the acceptance of a real communication. The contrast between the two evidently parallel phrases: "The righteousness of God is revealed," Romans 1:17, and: "The wrath of God is revealed," Romans 1:18, leads us equally to regard the righteousness of God as a state of things which He founds in His capacity of judge, rather than a new life conveyed by His Spirit. The opposite of the new life is not the wrath of the judge, but the sin of man.

    In Romans 4:3, Paul justifies his doctrine of the righteousness of God by the words of Moses: "Now Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness" (counted as the equivalent of a righteous and irreproachable life). The idea of counting or imputing applies better to a sentence which ascribes than to an act of real communication.

    In the same chapter, Romans 1:7-8, the notion of the righteousness of God is explained by the terms pardon and non-imputation of sin. There is evidently no question there of positive communication, of a gift of spiritual life.

    In chap. Romans 5:9-10, Paul contrasts with justification by the blood of Christ and with reconciliation by His death, as the foundation of salvation, deliverance from wrath (in the day of judgment), by the communication of His life, as the consummation of salvation. Unless we are to convert the copestone into the basis, we must put justification by the blood first, and the communication of life by the Spirit second; the one, as the condition of entrance into the state of salvation here below; the other, as the condition of entrance into the state of glory above.

    The very structure of the Epistle to the Romans forbids us to entertain a doubt as to the apostle"s view. If the communication of spiritual life were, in his judgment, the condition of pardon, he must have begun his Epistle with chaps. 6-8 , which treat of the destruction of sin and of the gift of the new life, and not with the long passage, Romans 1:18 to Romans 5:21, which refers wholly to the removal of condemnation, and to the conditions, objective and subjective, of reconciliation.

    Finally, it is contrary to the fundamental principle of Paul"s gospel, entire freeness of salvation, to put regeneration in any degree whatever as the basis of reconciliation and pardon. It is to make the effect the cause, and the cause the effect. According to St. Paul, God does not declare man righteous after having made him righteous; He does not make him righteous till He has first declared him righteous. The whole Epistle to the Romans excludes the first of these two principles (which is no other than the Judaizing principle ever throwing man back on himself), and goes to establish the second (the evangelical principle which detaches man radically from himself and throws him on God). See on the transition from chap. 5 to chap. 6

    We add here, as a necessary supplement, a study on the meaning of the word δικαιοῦν, to justify.

    Excursus on the use of the word δικαιοῦν, to justify.

    Excursus on the use of the word δικαιοῦν, to justify.

    The question is this: Are we to understand the word δικαιοῦν, to justify, in the sense of making just or declaring just?

    Verbs in οω have sometimes the meaning of making: δηλόω, to make clear; δουλόω, to make a slave; τυφλόω, to make blind. But this use of the termination οω does not form the rule; this is seen in the verbs ζημιόω, to punish; μισθόω, to hire; λουτρόω, to bathe; μαστιγόω, to scourge.

    As to δικαιόω, there is not an example in the whole of classic literature where it signifies: to make just. With accusative of things it signifies: to think right. The following are examples: Thucyd. 2:6 : "Thinking it right ( δικαιοῦντες) to return to the Lacedemonians what these had done them." 4:26: "He will not form a just idea of the thing ( οὐκ ὀρθῶς δικαιώσει)." Herod. 1.133: "They think it good ( δικαιεῦσι) to load the table." Justin, Cohort. ad Gentil. (2:46 , ed. Otto): "When he thought good ( ἐδικαἱωσε) to bring the Jews out of Egypt." Finally, in ecclesiastical language: "It has been found good ( δεδικαίωται) by the holy Council."

    With accusative of persons this verb signifies: to treat justly, and most frequently sensu malo, to condemn, punish. Aristotle, in Nicom.Romans 5:9, contrasts ἀδικεῖσθαι, to be treated unjustly, with δικαιοῦσθαι, to be treated according to justice. Eschylus, Agam. 391-393 , says of Paris, that he has no right to complain if he is judged unfavorably ( δικαίωθείς); let him reap what is his due. Thucyd. 3:40: "You will condemn your own selves ( δικαιώσεσθε)." Herod. 1.100: "When any one had committed a crime, Dejoces sent for him and punished him ( ἐδικαίευ)." On occasion of the vengeance which Cambyses wreaked on the Egyptian priests, Herodotus says (Romans 3:29): "And the priests were punished ( ἐδικαιεῦντο)." So we find in Dion Cassius: δικαιοῦν; and in Elian: δικαιοῦν τῷ θανάτῳ, in the sense of punishing with death.

    Thus profane usage is obvious: to think just, or treat justly (most frequently by condemning or punishing); in both cases establishing the right by a sentence, never by communicating justice. Hence it follows that, of the two meanings of the word we are examining, that which comes nearest classical usage is undoubtedly to declare, and not to make just.

    But the meaning of the verb δικαιοῦν, to justify, in the New Testament, depends less on profane Greek than on the use of the Old Testament, both in the original Hebrew and in the version of the LXX. This, therefore, is what we have, above all, to examine. To the term justify there correspond in Hebrew the Piel and Hiphil of tsadak, to be just. The Piel tsiddek, in the five cases where it is used, signifies not to make just inwardly, but to show or declare just. The Hiphil hits"dik appears twelve times; in eleven cases the meaning to justify judicially is indisputable; for example, Exodus 23:7 : "For I will not justify the wicked," certainly means: I will not declare the wicked just; and not: I will not make him just inwardly; Proverbs 17:15 : "He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, are abomination to the Lord." Any other meaning than that of declaring just is absurd. So with the others. In the twelfth passage only, Daniel 12:3, the word may be understood either in the sense of making just, or of presenting as just. (The LXX. translate differently altogether, and without using the word δικαιοῦν.)

    It is on this almost uniform meaning of the verb tsadak in the Piel and Hiphil that Paul and the other writers of the New Testament founded their use of the word δικαιοῦν, to justify. For this word δικαιοῦν is that by which the Hebrew word was constantly rendered by the LXX.

    The use of the word δικαιοῦν, to justify, in the New Testament, appears chiefly from the following passages:

    Romans 2:13 : the subject is the last judgment; then, one is not made, but recognized and declared just; 3.4: God is the subject; God is not made, but recognized or declared just by man; Romans 3:20 : to be justified before God cannot signify: to be made just by God; the phrase before God implies the judicial sense; Romans 4:2 : to be justified by works; this phrase has no meaning except in the judicial sense of the word justify; 1 Corinthians 4:4 : Paul is not conscious of any unfaithfulness; but for all that he is not yet justified; a case where it is impossible to apply any other meaning than the judicial. The reader will do well to consult also Matthew 11:19 and Luke 7:35 ("wisdom [God"s] is justified of her children"); Luke 7:29 (the publicans justified God); Matthew 12:37 ("by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned"); Luke 10:29 ("he, wishing to justify himself"), Luke 16:15 ("ye are they who justify yourselves"), Luke 18:14 ("the justified publican"); Acts 13:39 ("to be justified from the things from which they could not have been justified by the law"); James 2:21; James 2:24-25 ("to be justified by works").

    There is not a single one of these passages where the idea of an inward communication of righteousness would be suitable. In favor of this meaning the words, 1 Corinthians 6:11, have sometimes been quoted. If the passage be carefully examined in its context, Romans 6:1-10, it will clearly appear that it forms no exception to the constant usage of the New Testament, as it has been established by the collective showing of the passages just quoted.

    That from a dogmatic point of view this notion of justification should be rejected as too external and forensic, we can understand, though we are convinced that thereby the very sinews of the gospel are destroyed. But that, exegetically speaking, there can possibly be two ways of explaining the apostle"s view, is what surprises us.

    The notion of the righteousness of God, according to Paul, embraces two bestowals of grace: man treated—(1) as if he had never committed any evil; (2) as if he had always accomplished all the good God could expect from him. The sentence of justification which puts man in this privileged state in relation to God is the δικαίωσις, the act of justification. In virtue of this act "man has henceforth," as Hofmann says, "the righteousness of God for him, and not against him."

    What is the meaning of the genitive θεοῦ, of God, in the phrase: righteousness of God? Luther"s interpretation, maintained by Philippi, is well known: a righteousness valid before God (Romans 3:20; Galatians 3:11). But this meaning of the complement is very forced. Baur makes it a genitive of quality: a righteousness agreeable to the nature of God. Is it not simpler to take it as a genitive of origin: a justice which has God Himself for its author? We are led to this sense also by the parallel expressions: "The righteousness that cometh from God" ( ἡ ἐκ θεοῦ δικαιοσύνη), Philippians 3:9; "the righteousness of God" ( ἡ τοῦ θεοῦ δικαιοσύνη) opposed to our own righteousness, Romans 10:3. Of course a righteousness of which God is the author must correspond to His essence (Baur), and be accepted by Him (Luther).

    The word ἀποκαλύπτεται, is revealed or reveals itself, denotes the act whereby a thing hitherto veiled now bursts into the light; compare the parallel but different expression, πεφανέρωται, has been manifested, Romans 3:21. The present, is being revealed, is explained here by the regimen in it, ἐν αὐτῷ—that is to say, in the gospel. This substantive should still be taken in the active sense which we have given it: the act of evangelical preaching. It is by this proclamation that the righteousness of God is daily revealed to the world.

    The expression ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν, from faith to faith, has been interpreted very variously. Most frequently it has been thought to signify the idea of the progress which takes place in faith itself, and in this sense it has been translated: from faith on to faith. This progress has been applied by some Fathers (Tert., Origen, Chrysost.) to the transition from faith in the Old Testament to faith as it exists in the New. But there is nothing here to indicate a comparison between the old and new dispensations. The Reformers have taken the progress of faith to be in the heart of the individual believer. His faith, weak at first, grows stronger and stronger. Calvin: Quotidianum in singulis fidelibus progressum notat. So also thought Luther and Melanchthon; Schaff: "Assimilation by faith should be continually renewed." But the phrase thus understood does not in the least correspond with the verb is revealed; and, what is graver still, this idea is utterly out of place in the context. A notion so special and secondary as that of the progress which takes place in faith is inappropriate in a summary which admits only of the fundamental ideas being indicated. It would even be opposed to the apostle"s aim to connect the attainment of righteousness with this objective progress of the believer in faith. It is merely as a curiosity of exposition that we mention the view of those who understand the words thus: by faith in faith—that is to say, in the faithfulness of God (Romans 3:3). Paul"s real view is certainly this: the righteousness of God is revealed by means of the preaching of the gospel as arising from faith ( ἐκ πίστεως), in this sense, that it is nothing else than faith itself reckoned to man as righteousness. The ἐκ, strictly speaking, out of, which we can only render by means of the preposition by, expresses origin. This clause is joined to the verb is revealed by the phrase understood: as being. This righteousness of faith is revealed at the same time as being for faith, εἰς πίστιν. This second clause signifies that the instrument by which each individual must personally appropriate such a righteousness is likewise faith. To make this form of expression clear, we have only to state the opposite one: Our own righteousness is a righteousness of works and for works—that is to say, a righteousness arising from works done and revealed with a view to works to be done. Our formula is the direct opposite of that which described legal righteousness. To be exact, we need not say that to faith here is equivalent to: to the believer. Paul is not concerned with the person appropriating, but solely with the instrument of appropriation, and his view in conjoining these two qualifying clauses was simply to say: that in this righteousness faith is everything, absolutely everything; in essence it is faith itself; and each one appropriates it by faith. These two qualifying clauses meet us in a somewhat different form in other passages; Romans 3:22 : "The righteousness of God through faith in Christ unto (and upon) all them that believe;" Galatians 3:22 : "That the promise by faith of Jesus may be given to them that believe;" Philippians 3:9 : "Having the righteousness which is by faith in Christ, the righteousness of God for faith." We need not, however, paraphrase the words for faith, with some commentators, in the sense: to produce faith. The εἰς for, seems to us to indicate merely the destination. It is a righteousness of faith offered to faith. All it has to do is to take possession of it. Of course we must not make a merit of faith. What gives it its justifying value is its object, without which it would remain a barren aspiration. But the object laid hold of could have no effect on man without the act of apprehension, which is faith.

    The apostle is so convinced of the unity which prevails between the old and new covenants, that he cannot assert one of the great truths of the gospel without quoting a passage from the Old Testament in its support. He has just stated the theme of his Epistle; now comes what we may call the text: it is a passage from Habakkuk (Romans 2:4), which had evidently played an important part in his inner life, as it did decisively in the life of Luther. He quotes it also Galatians 3:11 (comp. 10:37). With all that prides itself on its own strength, whether in the case of foreign conquerors or in Israel itself, the prophet contrasts the humble Israelite who puts his confidence in God alone. The former will perish; the latter, who alone is righteous in the eyes of God, shall live. The Hebrew word which we translate by faith, emounah, comes from the verb aman, to be firm; whence in the Hiphil: to rest on, to be confident in. In the Hebrew it is: his faith (emounatho); but the LXX. have translated as if they had found emounathi, my faith (that of God), which might signify either my faithfulness, or faith in me. What the translators thought is of small importance. Paul evidently goes back to the original text, and quotes exactly when he says: "his faith," the faith of the believer in his God. In the Hebrew text it is agreed by all that the words by his faith are dependent on the verb shall live, and not on the word the just. But from Theodore Beza onwards, very many commentators think that Paul makes this subordinate clause dependent on the word the just; "The just by faith shall live." This meaning really seems to suit the context more exactly, the general idea being that righteousness (not life) comes by faith. This correspondence is, however, only apparent; for Paul"s saying, thus understood, would, as Oltramare acutely observes, put in contrast the just by faith, who shall live, and the just by works, who shall not live. But such a thought would be inadmissible in Paul"s view. For he holds that, if one should succeed in being righteous by his works, he would certainly live by them (Romans 10:5). We must therefore translate as in the Hebrew: The just shall live by faith; and the meaning is this: "the just shall live by faith" (by which he has been made just). Paul might have said: the sinner shall be saved by faith. But the sinner, in this case, he calls just by anticipation, viewing him in the state of righteousness into which his faith shall bring him. If he lives by his faith, it is obviously because he has been made just by it, since no one is saved except as being just. The word ζήσεται, shall live, embraced in the prophet"s view: 1. Deliverance from present evils (those of the Chaldean invasion), and, in the case of posterity, deliverance from evils to come; 2. The possession of divine grace in the enjoyment of the blessings of the Promised Land. These two notions are, of course, spiritualized by Paul. They become: deliverance from perdition and the possession of eternal life. It is the idea of σωτηρία, salvation, Romans 1:16, reproduced. The word shall live will also have its part to play in the didactic exposition which now begins, and which will develop the contents of this text. In fact, to the end of chap. 5 the apostle analyzes the idea of the righteousness of faith; the word shall live serves as a theme to the whole part from chaps. 6-8 , and afterwards, for the practical development, chaps. 12-14.

    The exposition of the righteousness of faith, which begins in the following verse, comprises three great developments: the description of universal condemnation, Romans 1:18 to Romans 3:20; that of universal justification, Romans 3:21 to Romans 5:11; and, following up this great contrast as its consummation, parallel between Adam and Christ (Romans 1:12-21). The idea of this entire part, i.-v., taken as a whole, is therefore: the demonstration of justification by faith.

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    Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books".

    James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary


    ‘For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.’

    Romans 1:17

    After affirmation of his not being ashamed of the gospel, the Apostle states his reason for making it his glory: ‘It is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.’ And then he explains how it avails to this end.

    I. There is no salvation without a justifying righteousness.

    II. Justifying righteousness is unattainable by the sinner’s own works.

    III. The gospel reveals a justifying righteousness.

    IV. This righteousness is wholly of God.


    ‘There are two things taught us by the phrase “revealed”—first, it is intimated that the subject of the gospel is something unknown, inconceivable before. It is a thing which by the gospel is unveiled, discovered—a new thing, which eye had not seen, nor ear heard. The righteousness it reveals is made known nowhere else. It is an apocalypse. The works of creation said nothing of such a righteousness. Questioned as to how man should be just with God, the oracles of nature were dumb. Heaven knew nothing of it—holy angels were just by innocence. The law said nothing of it. It was only, “Do, and live.” Created intellects could not conceive it. It was revealed to finite minds, like the first creation of light. The Divine mind alone could give birth to the thought, and the Divine heart alone prompt its execution. But the word “revealed” suggests that what was hid before is now clearly and impressively manifested. And here the gospel stands in contrast with previous dispensations.’

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    Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

    Ver. 17. The just shall live by faith] Habakkuk 2:4, that is, they shall enjoy themselves by their faith, in greatest disasters or dangers, when others are at their wits’ ends. That is the prophet’s sense; and the apostle not unfitly applieth it to prove justification by faith alone, for if a man live by faith he is just by faith.

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    Trapp, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

    Sermon Bible Commentary

    Romans 1:17 (R.V.)

    I. The most characteristic and weighty expression in this verse is of course God's righteousness, the revelation of which makes the gospel to be a saving power. The Pauline use of the word righteousness is this: righteousness is the condition of any man's being justified, vindicated in law or acquitted of blame by his righteous Judge. And the characteristic of the gospel— its joy and glory—lies here, that it has revealed how that condition of our justification has been reached. By its disclosure of that for the trustful acceptance of mankind, it becomes a message with power unto salvation.

    II. We are now in a position to see in what sense this righteousness revealed in the gospel is God's. It is God's in its inception; for He it was who in the beginning, when we were yet sinners, sent forth His Son. It is God's in its achievement; for He it was—the Son of the Father—who, in the fulness of time, made many righteous by His own obedience. It is God's in its revelation; for He it was—the Holy Spirit—who comforts us by His teaching, who first through the apostles of our Lord discovered it to all nations for the obedience of faith.

    III. God's righteousness of, or out of, faith. The relation of God's righteousness is thus expressed by its very name, on both sides—toward God and toward man. As respects God, it is His, in a sense, opposed to its being mine; His as its Author, Originator, meritorious Achiever, and proper Proprietor. The simple personal possessive marks His relation to it; it is God's. But as respects my relation to it—it comes to me, stands me in stead, is reckoned to me for my acquittal "by faith," in consequence of my believing and trusting in Him. Just because this righteousness is another's, it can only be made available for me by my relying upon that other and accepting it as a gratuitous present from His kindness. Because it is God's, it comes to me out of faith; and it is out of faith, that it may be by grace.

    J. Oswald Dykes, The Gospel according to St. Paul, p. 13.

    References: Romans 1:17.—G. Ireland, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiv., p. 222; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., p. 567; G. Matheson, Moments on the Mount, p. 83. Romans 1:18.—Homilist, vol. vi., p. 157; H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xii., p. 381; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., p. 561. Romans 1:18-21.—Bennett, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 325.

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    Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

    Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

    Romans 1:17. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed, &c.— The term Δικαιοσυνη Θεου plainly signifies here, and in several other passages of this epistle, not the essential righteousness of God's nature, but the manner of becoming righteous which God has appointed and exhibited in the Gospel (compare chap. 3:

    21, 22 Romans 10:3. Philippians 3:9. Matthew 6:33.); and the phrase may perhaps have the same sense in many passages of the Old Testament. See Isaiah 46:13; Isaiah 51:5-6; Isaiah 51:8; Isaiah 56:1. In this sense it seems better to render the original by justification; for righteousness, both in the sense and sound, is too remote from justified. In those places where it signifies moral rectitude in general, the word righteousness properly answers the sense of the Greek word. The justification of God revealed, in this verse, is plainly in opposition to the wrath of God revealed in the next, and therefore justification must be understood in a sense opposite to wrath. Some read this clause, the justification of God by faith is revealed to faith; but Vorstius, and after him Mr. Locke, seem rightly to judge the sense to be, "that the righteousness of God is all through from one end to the other, by faith; for the Gospel salvation is indeed from first to last of faith on our part." By faith we are admitted into our present state of grace and favour, chap. Romans 5:2.; by faith we continue in it, chap. Romans 11:20.; by faith we duly improve it, Jude, Romans 1:20.; and the faithful are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation, 1 Peter 1:5. But then a progression or increase is at the same time implied; for this mode of speaking is applied to things measurable orimprobable, and denotes a succession, accession, or improvement; εκ, from, signifying the point whence the progress or increase begins; and εις, to, signifying the point to which it tends. Thus, first, in things measurable, Exodus 26:28. The bar shall reach from end to end. Secondly, in things improveable, Psalms 84:7. They go from strength to strength, that is, with a still greater degree of strength. Jeremiah 9:3. They proceed from evil to evil; that is to say, grow worse and worse. 2 Corinthians 3:18. From glory to glory; that is, from one degree of glory to another: and so here the salvation which God has provided the Gospel is from faith to faith, or wholly of faith on our part, by way of progress and improvement from the first faith to a still higher degree; signifying the advances that we ought to make in this grand principle of our religion. And this agrees very well with the Apostle's quotation, Habakkuk 2:4 the just shall live by his faith;—that is, he who believes, and improves his faith into a constant principle of righteousness, and through faith continues to work righteousness, shall live;—But if ye draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them that draw back unto perdition,—having cast off their first faith,—but of them that believe, by a progressive faith, unto the saving of the soul, Hebrews 10:38-39. Mr. Locke thinks, that the design of the quotation from Habakkuk is to prove, that, whoever are justified either before, without, or under the law of Moses, or under the Gospel, are justified not by works, but by faith alone. See Galatians 3:11.

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    Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

    Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

    Here the apostle produces an argument, to prove that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation; Because by it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith: That is, the righteousness of the Mediator, called the righteousness of God, because it is of his providing, and of his approving and accepting, and for the sake of which God pardons our unrighteousness, and receives us graciously. This righteousness is by the gospel revealed to beget faith in men, even such a faith as goes from faith to faith; that is, groweth and increaseth from one degree and measure to another: And thus the apostle falls upon his main proposition, which is the scope and design of this epistle; namely, that there is no possible way for the justification of a sinner, either Jew or Gentile, but by faith in the Mediator.

    Learn hence, That the righteousness whereby we are justified in the sight of God, is discovered to us in the gospel, to be only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as the appointed Mediator betwixt God and us; The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith: The apostles proves this by a citation out of the prophet Habakkuk; The just shall live by faith; that is, As the pious Jews in the time of the Babylonian captivity did live and find comfort in their troubles, by faith and affiance in God; in the like manner the apostle shews, that he that is evangelically just or religious, shall live a life of grace on earth, and glory in heaven, by faith in Christ; that is, depending upon the merits and righteousness of the Mediator, in the way of holiness and strict obedience to his commands.

    Learn hence, That a justified man lives a more holy, useful, and excellent life than other men; his life is from God, his life is with God: yea, he lives the life of God himself.

    2. That whatever life a justified man lives, (in a more excellent manner than other men) he lives that life by virtue of his faith, The just shall live by faith.

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    Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. 1700-1703.

    Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

    17.] An explanation, how the gospel is the power of God to salvation, and how it is so to the believer:—because in it God’s righteousness (not His attribute of righteousness,—‘the righteousness of God,’ but righteousness flowing from, and acceptable to Him) is unfolded, and the more, the more we believe. I subjoin De Wette’s note on δικ. θεοῦ. “The Greek δικ. and the Heb. צְדָקָה are taken sometimes for ‘virtue’ and ‘piety’ which men possess or strive after,—sometimes imputatively, for ‘freedom from blame’ or ‘justification,’ The latter meaning is most usual with Paul: δικ. is that which is so in the sight of God (ch. Romans 2:13), the result of His justifying forensic Judgment, or of ‘Imputation’ (ch. Romans 4:5). It may certainly be imagined, that a man might obtain justification by fulfilling the law: in that case his righteousness is an ἰδία ( δικαιοσύνη) (ch.Romans 10:3), a δικ. ἐκ τοῦ νόμου (Philippians 3:9). But it is impossible for him to obtain a ‘righteousness of his own,’ which at the same time shall avail before God (ch. Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16). The Jews not only have not fulfilled the law (ch. Romans 3:9-19), but could not fulfil it (Romans 7:7 ff.): the Gentiles likewise have rendered themselves obnoxious to the divine wrath (Romans 1:24-32). God has ordained that the whole race should be included in disobedience. Now if man is to become righteous from being unrighteous,—this can only happen by God’s grace,—because God declares him righteous, assumes him to be righteous, δικαιοῖ (Romans 3:24; Galatians 3:8):— δικαιοῦν is not only negative, ‘to acquit,’ as הַצְדִּיק, Exodus 23:7; Isaiah 5:23; ch. Romans 2:13 (where however see my note), but also positive, ‘to declare righteous:’ but never ‘to make righteous’ by transformation, or imparting of moral strength by which moral perfection may be attained. Justificatio must be taken as the old protestant dogmatists rightly took it, sensu forensi, i.e. imputatively. God justifies for Christ’s sake (ch. Romans 3:22 ff.) on condition of faith in Him as Mediator: the result of His justification is δικαιοσύνη ἐκ πίστεως, and as He imparts it freely, it is δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ (gen. subj.) or ἐκ θεοῦ, Philippians 3:9; so Chrys. &c. ( δικ. θεοῦ is ordinarily taken for δικ. παρὰ θεῷ, as Luth.: ‘die Gerechtigfeit die vor Gott gilt:’ compare ch. Romans 2:13; Romans 3:20; Galatians 3:11; but that this is at least not necessary, see 2 Corinthians 5:21). This justification is certainly an objective act of God: but it must also be subjectively apprehended, as its condition is subjective. It is the acquittal from guilt, and cheerfulness of conscience, attained through faith in God’s grace in Christ,—the very frame of mind which would be proper to a perfectly righteous man,—if such there were,—the harmony of the spirit with God,—peace with God. All interpretations which overlook the fact of imputation (the R.-Cath., that of Grotius, Baumgarten-Crusius, &c.) are erroneous.” To say, with Jowett, that all attempts to define δικαιος. θεοῦ are “the after-thoughts of theology, which have no real place in the interpretation of Scripture,” is in fact to shut our eyes to the great doctrinal facts of Christianity, and float off at once into uncertainty about the very foundations of the Apostle’s argument and our own faith: of which uncertainty his note here is an eminent example.

    ἐν αὐτῷ] in it, ‘the gospel:’ not, in τῷ πιστεύοντι.

    ἀποκαλύπτεται] generally used of making known a thing hitherto concealed: but here of that gradually more complete realization of the state of justification before God by faith in Christ, which is the continuing and increasing gift of God to the believer in the Gospel.

    ἐκ πίστεως] “ ἐκ points to the condition, or the subjective ground. πίστις is faith in the sense of trust, and that (a) a trustful assumption of a truth in reference to knowledge = conviction: (b) a trustful surrender of the soul, as regards the feeling. Here it is especially the latter of these: that trust reposed in God’s grace in Christ, which tranquillizes the soul and frees it from all guilt,—and especially trust in the atoning death of Jesus. Bound up with this (not by the meaning of the words, but by the idea of unconditional trust, which excludes all reserve) is humility, consisting in the abandonment of all merits of a man’s own, and recognition of his own unworthiness and need of redemption.” De Wette.

    εἰς πίστιν] ἀπὸ πίστεως ἄρχεται κ. εἰς πιστεύοντα λήγει (Œcum.) seems the most probable interpretation, making πίστιν almost = τοὺς πιστεύοντας, see ch. Romans 3:22; but not entirely,—it is still the aspect, the phase, of the man, which is receptive of the δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ, and to this it is revealed. The other interpretations,—‘for the increase of faith’ (Meyer),—‘that faith may be given to it’ (Fritzsche, Tholuck, Krebs),—‘proceeding from faith, and leading to a higher degree of faith’ (Baumg.-Crus.),—do not seem so suitable or forcible. It will be observed that ἐκ π. εἰς π. is taken with ἀποκαλύπτεται, not with δικαιοσύνη. The latter connexion would do for ἐκ π., but not for εἰς π.

    καθὼς γέγρ.] He shews that righteousness by faith is no new idea, but found in the prophets. The words (ref.) are cited again in Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38, in the former place with the same purpose as here. They are used in Habakkuk with reference to credence given to the prophetic word: but properly speaking, all faith is one, in whatever word or act of God reposed: so that the Apostle is free from any charge of forcing the words to the present purpose. The two ways of arranging them, ὁ δίκαιοςἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται, and ὁ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεωςζήσεται, in fact amount to the same: if the former, which is more agreeable to the Heb., be taken, ζήσεται must mean, ‘shall live on,’ endure in his δικαιοσύνη, by means of faith, which would assert that it was a δικαιοσύνη of faith, as strongly as does the latter. See by all means, on the quotation, Umbreit’s note: and Delitzsch, der Proph. Habakuk, p. 51 ff. This latter remarks (I quote from Philippi), “The Apostle rests no more on our text than it will bear. He only places its assertion, that the life of the just springs from his faith, in the light of the N. T.”

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    Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

    Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

    Romans 1:17 illustrates and gives a reason for the foregoing affirmation: δύναμις θεοῦ ἐστιν εἰς σωτ. π. τ. πιστ., which could not be the case, unless δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ κ. τ. λ(400)

    The following remarks may serve exegetically to illustrate the idea of δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ, which in the Gospel is revealed from faith:

    ἀποκαλύπτεται] is revealed; for previously, and in the absence of the Gospel, the δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ was and is something quite hidden in the counsel of God, the knowledge of which is first given in the Gospel (comp Romans 16:25; Acts 17:30). The prophecies of the Old Testament were only preparatory and promissory (Romans 1:2), and therefore were only the means of introducing the evangelical revelation itself (Romans 16:26). The present is used, because the Gospel is conceived of in its continuous proclamation. Comp the perfect, πεφανέρωται, Romans 3:21, and on the other hand the historical aorist φανερωθέντος in Romans 16:26. Through the ἀποκάλυψις ensues the φανεροῦσθαι, through the revelation the being manifest as object of knowledge.

    ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν] may not be connected with δικαιοσ. (Luther, Hammond, Bengel, Koppe, Rückert, Reiche, Tholuck, Philippi, Mehring, and others), but rather—as the only arrangement which the position of the words admits without arbitrariness—with ἀποκαλύπτεται. So also van Hengel and Hofmann; comp Luke 2:35. The δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ, namely, is revealed in the Gospel ἐκ πίστεως, inasmuch as in the Gospel faith on Christ is made known as the subjective cause from which righteousness comes. Thus the Gospel, as the ῥῆμα τῆς πίστεως (Romans 10:8) and λόγος τῆς καταλλαγῆς (2 Corinthians 5:19), makes the divine righteousness become manifest from faith, which it in fact preaches as that which becomes imputed; for him who does not believe the ἀκοὴ πίστεως (Galatians 3:2), it leaves this δικαιοσύνη to remain a locked-up unrevealed blessing. But it is not merely ἐκ πίστεως, but also εἰς πίστιν; to faith (comp 2 Corinthians 2:16). Inasmuch, namely, as righteousness is revealed in the Gospel from faith, faith is aimed at, i.e. the revelation spoken of proceeds from faith and is designed to produce faith. This sense, equivalent to “ut fides habeatur,” and rightly corresponding alike with the simple words and the context, is adopted by Heumann, Fritzsche, Tholuck, Krehl, Nielsen, and van Hengel. It is not “too meaningless” (de Wette), nor “saying pretty nearly nothing” (Philippi); but is on the contrary emphatically appropriate to the purpose of representing faith as the Fac totum (“prora et puppis,” Bengel, Comp Baur, II. p. 161). See also Hofmann, Schriftbew. I. p. 629 f. comp Romans 6:19; 2 Corinthians 2:16. Therefore εἰς πίστιν is not to be taken as equivalent to εἰς τὸν πιστεύοντα, for the believer (Oecumenius, Seb. Schmid, Morus, Rosenmüller, Rückert, Reiche, de Wette, Olshausen, Reithmayr, Maier, and Philippi), a rendering which should have been precluded by the abstract correlative ἐκ πίστεως. Nor does it mean: for the furtherance and strengthening of faith (Clem. Al. Strom. v. 1, II. p. 644 Pott., Theophylact, Erasmus, Luther, Melancthon, Beza, Cornelius à Lapide, and others, including Köllner; comp Baumgarten-Crusius, Klee, and Stengel); for the thought: “from an ever new, never tiring, endlessly progressive faith” (Ewald; comp Lipsius, Rechtfertigungsl. p. 7, 116, and Umbreit), is here foreign to the connection, which is concerned only with the great fundamental truth in its simplicity; the case is different in 2 Corinthians 3:18. Quite arbitrary, moreover, was the interpretation: “ex fide legis in fidem evangelii” (Tertullian; Comp Origen, Chrysostom, Theodoret: δεῖ γὰρ πιστεῦσαι τοῖς προφήταις, καὶ διʼ ἐκείνων εἰς τὴν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου πίστιν ποδηγηθῆναι, Zeger, and others). Finally, to take πίστιν as faithfulness, and to understand πίστις εἰς πίστιν in the sense of faith in the faithfulness of God (Mehring), is to introduce what is neither in the words nor yet suggested by the context. Ewald in his Jahrb. IX. p. 87 ff., interprets: faith in faith, the reference being to the faith with which man meets the divine faith in his power and his good will (?). But the idea of “faith from beneath on the faith from above,” as well as the notion generally of God believing on men, would be a paradox in the N. T., which no reader could have discovered without more clear and precise indication. After ἐκ πίστ. every one could not but understand εἰς πίστ. also as meaning human faith; and indeed everywhere it is man that believes, not God.

    The δέ is, without having any bearing on the matter, adopted along with the other words from the LXX. Comp on Acts 2:17. A contrast to the unrighteous who shall die (Hofmann) is neither here nor in Habakkuk 2:4 implied in the text.

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    Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.

    Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

    Romans 1:17. δικαιοσὑνη θεο͂ υ, the righteousness of God) The righteousness of God is frequently mentioned in the New Testament, often in the books of Isaiah and Daniel, most often in the Psalms. It sometimes signifies that righteousness, by which God Himself is righteous, acts righteously, and is acknowledged to be righteous, ch. Romans 3:5; and also that righteousness, as it is termed in the case of [when applied to] men, either particular or universal, in which grace, and mercy also, are included, and which is shown principally in the condemnation of sin, and in the justification of the sinner; and thus, in this view, the essential righteousness of God is evidently not to be excluded from the business of justification, ch. Romans 3:25, etc. Hence it sometimes signifies this latter righteousness, by which a man (in consequence of the gift of God, Matthew 6:33) becomes righteous, and is righteous; and that, too, either by laying hold of the righteousness of Jesus Christ through faith, ch. Romans 3:21-22, or by imitating that [the former spoken of] righteousness of God, in the practice of virtue, and in the performance of good works, James 1:20. That righteousness of faith is called the righteousness of God by Paul, when he is speaking of justification; because God has originated and prepared it, reveals and bestows it, approves and crowns it with completion (comp. 2 Peter 1:1), to which, therefore, men’s own righteousness is opposed, Romans 10:3; with which comp. Philippians 3:9. Moreover, we ourselves are also called the righteousness of God, 2 Corinthians 5:21. In this passage, as well as in the statement of the subject [Proposition], the righteousness of God denotes the entire scheme of beneficence of God in Jesus Christ, for the salvation of the sinner.— ἀποκαλύπτεται, is revealed) Hence the necessity of the Gospel is manifest, without which neither righteousness nor salvation is capable of being known. The showing forth [‘declare.’—Engl. vers.] of the righteousness of God was made in the death of Christ, ch. Romans 3:25, etc. [ ἔνδειξιν τ. δικαιοσύνης]; the manifestation and revelation of that righteousness of God, which is through faith, are made in the Gospel: ch. Romans 3:21, and in this passage. Thus there is here a double revelation made; (comp. Romans 1:18 with this verse) namely, of wrath and of righteousness. The former by the law, which is but little known to nature; the latter, by the Gospel, which is altogether unknown to nature. The former precedes and prepares the way; the latter follows after. Each is a matter of revelation ( ἀποκαλύπτεται), the word being expressed in the present tense, in opposition to the times of ignorance, Acts 17:30.— ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν, from faith to faith) Construe the righteousness which is of or from faith, as we have presently after the just from faith [i.e. he who is justified,—whose righteousness is, of faith]. The phrase, from faith to faith, expresses pure faith; for righteousness of, or from faith, subsists in faith, without works. εἰς denotes the destination, the boundary, and limit; see ch. Romans 12:3, and notes on Chrysostom’s work, De Sacerd, p. 415. So 1 Chronicles 17:5. I have gone [lit. in the Heb. I was or have been] מאהל אל אהל from tent to tent, where one and another tent [different tents] are not intended; but a tent [the tabernacle] as distinguished from [or independently of] a house or temple. Faith, says Paul, continues to be faith; faith is all in all [lit. the prow and stern] in the case of Jews and Gentiles; in the case of Paul also, even up to its very final consummation, Philippians 3:7-12. Thus εἰς sounds with a beautiful effect after ἐκ, as ἀπὸ and εἰς, 2 Corinthians 3:18, concerning the purest glory. It is to avoid what might be disagreeable to his readers, that Paul does not yet expressly exclude works, of which, however, in this Statement of Subject [Proposition], an exclusion of some kind should otherwise have appeared. Furthermore, the nature of a proposition, thus set forth, bears, that many other things may be inferred from this; for inasmuch as it is not said, ἐκ τῆς πίστεως εἰς τὴν πίστιν, from the faith to the faith, but indefinitely ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν from faith to faith, so we shall say [we may say by inference] from one faith to another, from the faith of God, who makes the offer, to the faith of men, who receive it, ch. Romans 3:2, etc.; from the faith of the Old Testament, and of the Jews, to the faith of the New Testament, and of the Gentiles also, ch. Romans 3:30; from the faith of Paul to the faith of the Romans, ch. Romans 1:12; from one degree of faith to still higher degrees, 1 John 5:13; from the faith of the strong to the faith of the weak, ch. Romans 14:1, etc.; from our faith, which is that of expectation, to the faith, which is to be divinely made good to us, by the gift of life [“The just shall live by faith”].— καθως, as) Paul has just laid down three principles: I. Righteousness is [of, or] from faith, Romans 1:17 : II. Salvation is by righteousness, Romans 1:16 : III. To the Jew and to the Greek, Romans 1:16. What follows confirms the whole, viz., the clause, the just by faith, shall live, which is found in the prophetical record, Habakkuk 2:4; see notes on Hebrews 10:36, etc. It is the same Spirit, who spoke by the prophets the Words, that were to be quoted by Paul; and under whose guidance Paul made such apposite and suitable quotations, especially in this epistle.— ζήσεται, shall live) some of the Latins, in former times, wrote the present ‘lives’ for the future “shall live” (vivit for vivet);(10) an obvious mistake in one small letter, and not worthy of notice or refutation. Baumgarten, following Whitby, refutes it, and observes, that I have omitted to notice it.

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    Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    It will give light to this whole Epistle, to explain what is here meant by

    the righteousness of God. Some do thereby understand the whole doctrine of salvation and eternal life, which is revealed in the gospel; and they make it the same with the faith of God, Romans 3:3, and with the truth of God, Romans 3:7. Others, by the righteousness of God, do understand that righteousness whereby a man is justified, or stands just and righteous in the sight of God: and it is called the righteousness of God, to distinguish it from our own righteousness, Romans 10:3, and because it is appointed, approved, and accepted by him, it being such as he himself can find no fault with. Further, it is called

    the righteousness of God, because it was performed by him, who is God as well as man, and imputed unto us: hence he is said to be made righteousness unto us, and we are said to be made the righteousness of God in him; we having his righteousness, as he had our sins, viz. by imputation. This is often called the righteousness of faith, because by faith it is apprehended and applied. And again, it is called the law of righteousness, Romans 9:31, in opposition to that law of righteousness whereby the unbelieving Jews sought to be justified.

    Revealed; the law of God discovers no suchway of justifying a sinner, nor is it taught by reason or philosophy: the gospel only makes a revelation of it; which occasioned the apostle’s glorying in it.

    From faith to faith: this apostle seems to delight in such repetitions, and there is an elegancy in them: see Romans 6:19 2 Corinthians 2:16 2 Corinthians 3:18. The words are variously interpreted: from the fiath of the Old Testament to the faith of the New; so that no person ever was or shall be justified in any other way. Or, from a lesser faith to a greater; not noting two faiths, but one and the same faith increasing to perfection. He saith not, from faith to works, or from works to faith; but from faith to faith, i.e. only by faith. The words to be must be understood: q.d. The gospel reveals the righteousness of God to be from faith to faith. The beginning, the continuance, the accomplishment of our justification is wholly absolved by faith.

    The just shall live by faith: some refer these words, by faith, to the subject of this proposition, the just; and thus they render it: The just by faith shall live; and so read, the foregoing proposition is the better proved thereby. There is some diffculty to understand the fitness of this testimony to prove the conclusion in hand; for it is evident, that the prophet Habakkuk, in whom these words are found, doth speak of a temporal preservation; and what is that to eternal life?

    Answer. The Babylonian captivity figured out our spiritual bondage under sin and Satan; and deliverance from that calamity did shadow forth our deliverance from hell, to be procured by Christ: compare Isaiah 40:2-4, with Matthew 3:3. Again, general sentences applied to particular cases, are not thereby restrained to those particulars, but still retain the generality of their nature: see Matthew 19:6. Again, one and the same faith apprehends and gives us interest in all the promises of God; and as by it we live in temporal dangers, so by it we are freed from eternal destruction.

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    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Romans 1:17". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

    Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

    Therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; in the original the words "from faith" are the same that are often elsewhere rendered "of faith," chap Romans 4:16; Romans 10:6; Galatians 3:7; Galatians 3:9; Galatians 3:12; and they may be so rendered here. This will give the following meaning: In it is revealed the righteousness of God; a righteousness which is of faith, and which is given to faith. The righteousness of God is here, as often elsewhere in Paul’s writings, not God’s personal righteousness, but the righteousness which he gives to sinners through their faith in Christ; in other words, it is his justifying grace, by which he freely pardons their sins, and accepts and treats them as righteous for Christ’s sake. This righteousness is said to be "of faith," in contrast with that which is "of the law," chap Romans 10:5, such as the holy angels have, and such as the Jews vainly sought to obtain by observing the precepts of the Mosaic law. Chap Romans 10:3; Philippians 3:9. The apostle adds that this ighteousness which is "of faith" is also "to faith," since it must be received and appropriated by each one’s personal faith.

    Shall live by faith; Habakkuk 2:4. What the prophet says of faith, in the general sense of confidence in God and his word, the apostle rightly applies to faith in Christ; since all true faith is, in its essence, the same.

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    Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

    Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

    17. γὰρ. The Gospel is GOD’s power, with this wide range and single condition, because in it GOD’s righteousness (which man needs if he is to answer to his true destiny) is revealed for man’s acceptance as beginning, as far as the human condition is concerned, from faith and promoting faith.

    δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ, not ‘a righteousness of GOD,’ but’ GOD’s righteousness,’ i.e. righteousness as belonging to the character of GOD and consequently required by Him in the character of men: so distinguished from any righteousness which man sets up for himself and thinks to acquire by himself; cf. Romans 10:3; Philippians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 4:24; 1 John 2:29; Matthew 6:33; and below, Romans 6:13 f. Cf. S. H. “It is righteousness active and energizing; the righteousness of the Divine Will as it were projected and enclosing and gathering into itself human wills.” Cf. Psalms 18:2 ib[69]

    This ‘righteousness’ is in fact man’s σωτηρία, true state of health; and the Gospel, revealing it as following upon faith, puts it in the power of every faithful man to reach. Hence the Gospel is GOD’s power, etc.

    As the σωτηρία is that state of man in which he has made his own the righteousness of GOD and so worked out in himself that image of GOD (cf. John 1:12) in which he was created, so we shall presently see the converse is true—the damnation, destruction, of man lies in his forsaking that task and reproducing in himself the image of the beasts.

    ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν, resulting, as far as the individual is concerned, from faith and promoting faith. It is of the nature of personal trust in one who is worthy of trust to deepen and widen itself. Psalms 83:7 (Psalms 84:8) (S. H.) is a good |[70]: but 2 Corinthians 2:16 (ib[71]) is different. It is important to observe that man’s faith is the source of man’s righteousness only in a secondary degree. The primary source is GOD’s grace.

    ἀποκαλύπτεται. The Gospel is not a new principle in GOD’s dealings with man, but a fresh revelation of what has always been there. This is emphasised by the quotation from Habakkuk, and the argument about Abraham in c. 4.

    καθὼς γέγραπται, Habakkuk 2:4. N. that in Hab. the reference is to dangers from external foes and loyalty to Israel’s king. This is a good instance of the way in which S. Paul applies what is occasional and local to the spiritual experience of man.

    ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται. The stress is on ἐκ πίστεως—the life which the man seeks to live, modelling himself, in his degree, on the righteousness of GOD, requires and results from trust in GOD.

    N. S. Paul seldom reaches such a degree of abstraction in his statements as he does in these verses. It is due to his desire to state in the most summary form the character of the Gospel as he conceived it. But recalling Romans 1:2-7, we see that we are not even here dealing with merely abstract principles: the Gospel itself is essentially concrete in the Person of the Son: the power of GOD is no impersonal force, but Christ Himself quickening men (cf. Philippians 3:12); salvation and faith are no mere technical terms, but personal activities and conditions; GOD’s righteousness is not a system of laws or ethics, but the character revealed in Jesus Christ; our righteousness is that same character realised in ourselves.

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    "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

    William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

    17. “For the righteousness of God is revealed in him from faith unto faith,” i. e., from the faith of justification unto the faith of sanctification, and downward to glorification, whether through translation, if so fortunate as to be on the earth when the Lord takes up his Bride, or resurrection, bearing us on to an eternal participation of the transfiguration glory. “As has been written: but the just shall live by faith.” This is the battle shout of God’s saints in all ages and dispensations. So long as the lion’s mouth and the burning stake kept Christianity low down at the feet of Jesus, she was more than a match for the world, the flesh and the devil, and so proved the first three centuries. When the Emperor Constantine suddenly promoted the church from bloody martyrdom to the imperial palace, it marks an awful epoch of retrogression in her history, plunging heedlessly into the paganized heresies of debauched Romanism, ere long eclipsing every ray from the glorious Son of Righteousness, burying every grand cardinal truth of God’s precious Word deep in the rubbish of priestcraft and legalistic idolatry. You must not think that God’s true people were not found on the earth in all by-gone ages. They were; but after the Constantian apostasy, outside of the Catholic Church, anathematized by the popes and persecuted unto death; first called Novations, A. D. 251; at a later date Waldensees, Albigenses and still later Moravians, who were instrumental in the conversion and sanctification of John Wesley. God used Martin Luther and his compeers to dig up out of papal rubbish the great cardinal truth of justification by the free grace of God, through Christ, received and appropriated through faith alone independently of popery, prelacy and priestcraft. This glorious truth flashed into his mind while doing penance at Rome under the eye of the pope, while on his bare and bleeding knees, climbing up and down the stone stairway of Pilate, up which Jesus walked when He stood at Pilate’s bar, and which they claim had been transported from Jerusalem to Rome during the Crusades. Meanwhile climbing up and down this stairway a supernatural voice, as he said and always believed, rang out from heaven this familiar Scripture: “The just shall live by faith.”

    That moment Luther abandoned all of his castigatory penances, left Rome, returned to Germany, and shook the whole world by preaching this great law of God’s kingdom, utterly upsetting all the chicanery of intriguing priests who for centuries had held the world in a dark delusion. Luther spent his life in the establishment of this great fundamental doctrine. John Wesley was converted while listening to the reading of Luther’s preface to Romans, beautifully and triumphantly setting forth this great fundamental Bible doctrine. God used him not to spend his life in the old tracks of Luther, his gospel father, but to move on with his fire-baptized contemporaries in the grand evolution out of legalistic dry-bones, restoring to the world the precious vital truth of entire sanctification by the free grace of God in Christ, received and appropriated by faith alone. It is the glory of the present holiness movement not only appreciatively to walk in the track of our gospel predecessors, but under the leadership of the Holy Ghost, sitting meek and lowly at the feet of Jesus, still deeper to explore the wonders of revealed truth, bringing to the light the beautiful scriptures expository of the Lord’s return to the earth, the glorious millennial theocracy, the final and triumphant restitution under the mediatorial reign; at the same time encouraging woman’s ministry and divine healing, so prominent in the apostolic age.

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    Godbey, William. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament".

    Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

    ‘For within it is revealed a righteousness of God from faith, unto faith, as it is written, “But the righteous will live by faith.” ’

    We should note immediately here the co-relation between ‘salvation’ and ‘the righteousness of God’. The Good News is ‘the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16) - for therein is the righteousness of God revealed (Romans 1:17)’. Salvation and God’s righteousness go hand in hand. This immediately turns our minds to Scriptural passages which equate the two as God comes to His people in salvation and in His righteousness (e.g. Isaiah 46:13; Isaiah 51:12; etc). The stress is not only on the fact that God saves, but also on the fact that He does so righteously in accordance with what He is. Paul then interprets that as signifying that if God had not brought us righteousness as a gift to be set to our account there could have been no salvation. For what is being underlined is that God is righteous, and that there could therefore be no salvation without righteousness. In other words, when thinking in terms of a righteous God salvation and divine righteousness, are ‘soul-mates’. If we are to be saved it must be in righteousness, and God must in some way bring to us righteousness, because God, being God, must save righteously.

    So the content of the Good News is now made clear. It reveals a righteousness of God resulting from faith (out of faith), which is offered to those who believe (unto faith). Or alternately a righteousness of God which is the consequence of ‘ever-increasing faith’ (‘out of faith unto faith’). But what is this ‘righteousness of God’ to which Paul refers? It clearly has in mind that God is truly righteous, that is, is fully ‘right’ in all that He is and does. But equally clearly there is more to it than that. For this ‘righteousness of God’ here referred to is not simply seen by Paul as an attribute of God, but as something which God actually applies to believers. This comes out in that it is immediately applied in terms of Scripture to believing man as a consequence of his faith. For Paul directly connects it with the Old Testament dictum that ‘the righteous by faith will live’ (Romans 1:17; compare Habakkuk 2:4). And as he will bring out later he sees this righteousness as a gift from God associated with the grace of God (Romans 5:17). It is a righteousness which is applied to man without him having to do anything towards it, while he is still ungodly (Romans 4:6). Yet that it is somehowGod’srighteousness is equally very important, for only that righteousness could be truly acceptable to God. It is in no way the righteousness of men, or indicative of or resulting from, man’s actions, for if it were it would be defiled. It would come short of what God requires. Man’s only part in it is to receive it.

    Nor, we will learn later, does it signify a righteousness indicative of man’s behaviour, a righteousness which he builds up with God’s help. It is not ‘of works’ (Romans 3:28; Romans 4:4-5). This comes out very specifically in Paul’s use of the term in Romans (see note below), and in the fact that it would be contrary to the intrinsic meaning of the verb dikaio-o, together with its related nouns and adjectives, which imply a righteousness which is in some way reckoned to a man’s account (see Romans 4:3), making him legally acceptable in the eye’s of God’s justice, not a righteousness which is wrought within him. The dikaio-o group are forensic terms speaking of how a man is looked on by his Judge, not of how he actually is in himself. Indeed the verb dikaio-o, which like all o-o verbs in the moral dimension signifies ‘to deem, to account, to reckon’, can regularly be translated as ‘deem as righteous’, ‘reckon as righteous’ (Romans 4:5). It is describing a judicially declared righteousness, not an actual state (thus similarly ‘the wicked can be justified for a reward’, they can be declared righteous by a judge even when they are not). For man’s need is to be ‘put in the right with God’ legally, in the eyes of the Judge of all men. And that is what this righteousness achieves.

    Of what then does this ‘righteousness of God’ consist? It is revealed to be the righteousness made available through Christ’s sacrifice of Himself (Romans 3:24-28). It is in essence His righteousness. It is ‘through the one act of righteousness (of Jesus Christ)’ that the free gift comes to all unto justification of life’ (Romans 5:18). It is ‘through the obedience of the One’ that the many can be ‘made’ (constituted, designated, appointed) righteous (Romans 5:19). ‘Christ is the end of the law unto righteousness to all who believe’ (Romans 10:4). It is ‘the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all who believe’ which results in men being freely accounted as righteous through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:22; Romans 3:24). Indeed, ‘If Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, and the Spirit is life because of righteousness’ (Romans 8:10). In the words of Paul elsewhere, ‘Christ is made unto us righteousness’ (1 Corinthians 1:30). We are ‘made the righteousness of God in Him’ (2 Corinthians 5:21). And it is apparent from the latter that we are ‘made the righteousness of God in Him’ by being incorporated into Him in all His righteousness, in the same way as He is united with our sin. Thus to put it in the simplest of terms, it is the righteousness of Christ set to our account.

    Note On The Righteousness of God.

    In the light of Old Testament usage we are justified in seeing in the phrase ‘the righteousness of God’ more than simply a description of one of God’s attributes (His rightness in all that He purposes and does in accordance with the righteous requirements of His own nature), even though that must always be seen as present in the background. For in both the Psalms and in Isaiah ‘His righteousness’ often parallels ‘His salvation’ and appears to signify ‘righteous deliverance’ with the idea probably being that He acts righteously on His people’s behalf, and upon His people, in fulfilling His covenant promises of deliverance and bringing them in line with His covenant.

    Consider, for example, in the Psalms:

    · ‘My mouth will show forth your righteousness, and your salvation all the day’ (Psalms 71:15).

    · ‘The LORD has made known His salvation, His righteousness has He openly shown in the sight of the nations’ (Psalms 98:2).

    · ‘My eyes fail for your salvation, and for the word of your righteousness’ (Psalms 119:23).

    It will be observed in each case that righteousness (righteous deliverance?) and salvation are almost synonymous ideas, with the possible reservation that ‘righteousness’ includes the added extra of the fulfilling of His covenant faithfulness.

    Again in Isaiah we find:

    o ‘Drop down, you heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness (rain as provided in accordance with His covenant promises). Let the earth open and bring forth salvation (fruitfulness) and let righteousness (righteous provision in accordance with His promises) spring up together, I the LORD have created it’ (Isaiah 45:8). Here ‘righteousness’ is describing the fruit of God’s faithfulness provided in accordance with His righteous promises. They are seen as God-produced and God-given. But as in Isaiah 44:3-4 we must also see this in terms of a spiritual application, with the ‘pouring down of righteousness’ referring to the Spirit being poured down (Isaiah 44:3), and ‘righteousness springing up’ referring to spiritual fruitfulness (Isaiah 44:4). These are the ways in which He brings about His righteous deliverance.

    o ‘I will bring near My righteousness, it will not be far off, and my salvation will not linger, and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory’ (Isaiah 46:13). Here the idea of covenant deliverance on behalf of His people is central.

    o ‘My righteousness is near, My salvation is gone forth, and My arms will judge the people, the isles will wait on Me, and on My arm will they trust’ (Isaiah 51:5). Here God’s righteous deliverance comes forth and results in ‘faith in God’s arm’ in those who benefit by that deliverance.

    o ‘My salvation will be for ever, and my righteousness will not be abolished’ (Isaiah 51:6). ‘My righteousness will be for ever, and My salvation from generation to generation’ (Isaiah 51:8). Note here how the two ideas of salvation and righteousness (righteous deliverance) can be interchanged in the two verses. And both are eternal in effect.

    o ‘Thus says the LORD, Maintain justice and do righteousness, for My salvation is near to come, and My righteousness to be revealed’ (Isaiah 56:1). Here we have an important distinction between men doing righteousness and God’s righteousness being revealed. The ‘revealing of the righteousness of God’ is clearly a distinct idea from that of ‘men doing righteousness’. It is describing God acting in righteous deliverance in accordance with His covenant responsibility.

    o ‘And He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head, and He put on garments of vengeance for clothing --- and a Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who return from transgression in Jacob, says the LORD’ (Isaiah 59:17; Isaiah 59:20), and He then goes on to speak of His Spirit being upon them and His words being in their mouths (Isaiah 59:21). Here we have a linking of God’s coming in righteousness with God’s coming in vengeance (wrath), an idea prominent in Romans 1:17-18, and here linked also with the coming of a Redeemer (Romans 3:24) and of the Spirit (Romans 5:5; Romans 8:1-16).

    o ‘I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul will be joyful in my God, for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and a bride adorns herself with her jewels’ (Isaiah 61:10) with the result that ‘the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations’ (Isaiah 61:11). Here righteousness and salvation are depicted as very much outward adornments with which God adorns His own as He acts in saving deliverance, and they result in righteousness springing forth. The act of clothing and covering do, however, presumably include the idea of the application of His salvation and righteousness to His people.

    The central thought in all these verses is of God’s righteousness being revealed in that He acts righteously in deliverance, although the detail is never specified. As we can see this is also linked with the coming of the Holy Spirit, the coming of a Redeemer, and the inculcation of faith in men’s hearts in response to His activity. These are all ideas which are prominent in Romans. And it is contrasted with God revealing Himself in vengeance, again an idea found in Romans. This presents a strong case for seeing ‘the revealing of the righteousness of God’ as indicating the revealing of His covenant faithfulness in His saving activity as He acts to save and vindicate His people.

    On the other hand the final verse in the series does add a new dimension in terms of the thought of His people being ‘clothed with the garments of salvation’ and ‘covered with a robe of righteousness’, with the idea of this being that they are adornments which reveal celebration because of their new relationship.

    To these verses may then be added the following:

    · ‘In the LORD will all the seed of Israel be declared (or accounted) righteous, and will glory’ (Isaiah 45:25).

    · ‘Their righteousness which is of Me’ (Isaiah 54:17).

    · ‘From the travail of His soul He will see (light) and will be satisfied. By His knowledge (or humiliation) will My Righteous Servant make many to be accounted righteous, for He will bear their iniquities’ (Isaiah 53:11 MT). The addition of ‘light’ is found in LXX and in the Isaianic Hebrew scrolls at Qumran, although LXX differs from MT in other ways.

    In these verses we have specific reference to the ‘accounting as righteous’ of His people, rather than to their specifically being delivered, although no doubt as a part of their deliverance.

    At first sight the idea of ‘God’s righteous deliverance’ might appear to fit excellently with the words, ‘therein (in the Gospel) is the righteousness of God revealed out of faith unto faith’ (Romans 1:17). For Paul is about to outline aspects of that deliverance. But we must immediately enter a caveat. For in Romans 1:17 Paul immediately defines his meaning in terms of the Scriptural citation, ‘the righteous out of faith will live’ (or ‘the righteous will live by faith’), and this fairly and squarely equates ‘the righteousness of God out of faith’ with a righteousness which is bestowed in some way on those who believe. Thus he is incorporating the ideas in Isaiah 45:25; Isaiah 54:17; Isaiah 53:11.

    What is more this distinction continues to be made throughout Romans. For this ‘righteousness of God’ which is shown forth is stated to be ‘the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all those who believe’ (Romans 3:22) as a result of their being ‘accounted righteous freely through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through His blood’ (Romans 3:24). It is thus a bestowed righteousness. And by it God reveals His own righteousness in passing over ‘sins done aforetime’, and in accounting as righteous those (of the ungodly) who believe in Jesus whilst Himself still being seen as righteous (Romans 3:26).

    This idea of men being ‘accounted righteous’ or as having ‘righteousness imputed to them’, is then illustrated in the life of Abraham and in the words of David, and is prominent in the verses that follow. See Romans 4:3; Romans 4:5-6; Romans 4:9; Romans 4:22. That this righteousness is ‘from faith’ comes out in Romans 3:22; Romans 3:26; Romans 4:3; Romans 4:9; Romans 4:11; Romans 4:13. That it is apart from works comes out in Romans 4:5-6. It is ‘accounted’ by grace, not merited. Thus what is prominent in Romans is a bestowed righteousness which is received by faith and apart from works, in line with the Hebrew text of Isaiah 53:11. This is doubly emphasised by the fact that those who are accounted as righteous are ‘the ungodly’ whose faith is counted for righteousness (Romans 4:6). They can be accounted as righteous even while they are ungodly, because it is on the basis of the sacrificial death of Christ (Romans 3:24-25). For ‘while we were yet weak --- Christ died for the ungodly’ (Romans 5:6).

    This idea of the bestowal of righteousness is further emphasised in Romans 5:17 where Paul speaks of ‘receiving the gift of righteousness’, something amplified by the words, ‘even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came on all men unto justification of life’ (Romans 5:18). which is further amplified by the words, ‘so by the obedience of One will many be made righteous’ (Romans 5:19; reflecting Isaiah 53:11). The righteousness that is gifted and received is the righteousness of ‘the One’, and it is the righteousness of One Who was fully obedient, the One clearly being the Lord Jesus Christ. And it should be noted further that what parallels ‘reigning sin’ in Romans 1:21 is NOT ‘reigning righteousness’, but ‘reigning grace through righteousness’, the righteousness of the One previously described.

    In this regard it should be noted that the main verb rendered as ‘account as righteous’ is dikaio-o, which in all its uses is a forensic term and refers to how a man is seen in the eyes of a court when pronouncing judgment. It says nothing about whether he actually is ‘righteous’ and nowhere means ‘to make righteous’. It signifies rather being seen as righteous from a legal point of view (whether righteous or not). And it is significant in this regard that men can be ‘justified’ (‘accounted as righteous’) by the wicked for a reward (Isaiah 5:23 LXX Proverbs 17:15 LXX), just as God Himself can account as righteous those who are ungodly (Romans 4:5; Romans 5:6), although in His case on the righteous grounds of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.

    So what is primarily in Paul’s mind when he speaks of the righteousness of God is the means by which men can be accounted as righteous and seen as judicially acceptable to God when they receive from Him the gift of righteousness, which is received by faith (Romans 1:17; Romans 3:22; Romans 3:25-26; Romans 3:28; Romans 3:30; Romans 4:3; Romans 4:5; Romans 4:9; Romans 4:11; Romans 4:13, Romans 5:1), and bought for them through the shedding of His blood (Romans 3:24-25; Romans 5:9). And he underlines the fact that it has nothing to do with how a man behaves (Romans 3:28; Romans 4:2; Romans 4:4-6). It has nothing to do with his ‘works’. To seek to distinguish between ‘faith works’ and ‘law works’ has no support in Romans 1-5. It has in mind all works. All works are excluded. In Romans 1-5 a man can be accounted righteous solely on the basis of the work and righteousness of Christ, appropriated through faith, and not in any other way.

    What, however, must be accepted, and is positively stated by Paul, is that once a man has been accounted as righteous by faith in Jesus Christ, it must result in a life of righteousness, as chapter 6 makes clear. And we may call these ‘faith works’ if we wish. But what is equally made clear by Paul is that this righteousness of life follows on from ‘justification’, and is not a part of it. It comes to us ‘having been justified by faith’ (Romans 5:1). It is a consequence of justification not a grounds for it. Thus in Paul’s argument from chapter 1 to chapter 8 the idea of justification (being accounted as righteous) and of ‘the righteousness of God’ does not appear after chapter 5 (except in the concluding remarks in Romans 8:30; Romans 8:33) simply because what he is describing in terms of the righteousness of God is the way of being ‘justified’ (fully acceptable as ‘in the right’) in the sight of God. With regard to what is described in chapter 6 onwards other terminology is used.

    So we may conclude this note by stressing that while the idea of ‘His righteousness’ (the righteousness of God) in Isaiah was possibly of wider scope, probably on the whole including within it not only the making acceptable of Israel before God, but also their final actual transformation resulting from it, in Romans the idea is mainly restricted to the idea of the ‘justification by faith’ (Romans 5:1) which takes place at the beginning stage in the salvation process (Romans 8:29-30) prior to that transformation. Paul’s concern is with how the righteousness of God can bring about our acceptability with God now, in the light of the judgment to come. What follows that in sanctification and glorification he deals with using different terminology. This can only be seen as deliberate.

    End of Note.

    This righteousness of God is ‘from faith -- to faith.’ Many interpret this as signifying ‘the righteousness of God out of faith (resulting from faith)’ which is ‘revealed to faith’. For the phrase ‘the righteousness of God out of faith’ compare Romans 9:30. However the closest parallel to the whole phrase is found in 2 Corinthians 2:16 where ‘from death unto death’ and ‘from life unto life’ may be seen as presenting the repetition of the words ‘death’ and ‘life’ as indicating a growth in intensity. If we apply that here we have the meaning, ‘from an evergrowing faith’. It makes little difference to the overall meaning. On the other hand, the uses in 2 Corinthians are not exact parallels with here. In ‘the savour of death’ the emphasis is on death as explaining savour, whilst in ‘the righteousness --- of faith’ the emphasis is on righteousness, not on faith as explaining righteousness. Thus we may well feel that the first interpretation fits the context better. What is of vital importance is that we see the connection between the righteousness of God and its reception by faith.

    The Righteousness Of God And The Wrath Of God.

    In the movement from Romans 1:17, dealing with the righteousness of God, to Romans 1:18, dealing with the wrath of God, we are faced with the starkest of contrasts. We move from brilliant light on the one hand into awful darkness on the other. In Romans 1:17 all is light. Those who believe partake in and experience the righteousness of God. They are seen as righteous in His sight. Their future is bright and secure. And this partaking in His righteousness will form the basis of Romans 3:24 to Romans 5:21. In contrast those who do not believe are guilty of ungodliness and unrighteousness, and they are subject to the wrath of God. They walk in darkness. They have no light. Their future is bleak indeed. And this is because God has not come to them in righteousness. A description of their state forms the basis of Romans 1:18 to Romans 3:23.

    We have already seen that in the Old Testament the righteousness of God is constantly placed in parallel with the salvation of God (e.g. Isaiah 45:8; Isaiah 46:13; Isaiah 51:5; Isaiah 51:8; Isaiah 56:1; Isaiah 61:10). As He comes to save He also comes to ‘rightify in His sight’, if we may coin a word. And this righteousness is something that God applies to the believer (which is necessary, unless they are seen as righteous He cannot have dealings with them), and implants in the believer as He comes to save, for they become ‘trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord’ (Isaiah 61:3), and that not as a result of their own activity, but of God’s. It is all of God. We can compare the idea in 2 Corinthians 5:21 where Jesus is ‘made sin for us’ so that we might be ‘made the righteousness of God in Him’. We cannot define how Jesus could be ‘made sin’. It is beyond our conception. Certainly it did not mean that He had sinned. But it did mean that He was made deserving of punishment (even though we must accept that it was in our place). It suggests that it was more than imputed. It became a part of Him to such an extent that God had to treat Him as though He was sinful. And in the same way God’s righteousness becomes a part of us when we believe. It is not our righteousness that is in mind, and it does not mean that we can say that we are wholly righteous in practical terms, for we are not. But it does mean that God sees us in every way as righteous, because He sees us in terms of the righteousness of Christ (Romans 5:18-19), and that He then commences the work of making us righteous. This was the significance of the Old Testament ‘righteousness of God’. But it must be stressed that Paul never applies the term ‘the righteousness of God’ to God’s work of making us righteous. He limits it to God accounting us as righteous. God’s work of making us righteous is explained in terms of our dying with Christ and living in Him and of the work of the Holy Spirit (6-8), not in terms of justification and the righteousness of God.

    In contrast to the righteousness of God is man in ungodliness and unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). As ungodly and unrighteous man is subject to the wrath of God (i.e. God’s response to sin as a result of His total aversion to sin), and Paul then goes on to detail how man’s state of ungodliness and unrighteousness came about. It came about because they did not believe, and it had awful consequences, for it resulted in God giving them up to uncleanness (Romans 1:24) and to an unfit mind (Romans 1:28). Yet in spite of this man did not see himself as unrighteous, and so Paul sets about demonstrating that he is.

    The theme of ungodliness is especially apparent in Romans 1:21-27, and is taken up in Romans 4:5; Romans 5:6 where we learn that it was while we were ungodly that Christ died for us. The theme of unrighteousness is taken up in Romans 1:29, where it is specifically amplified in terms of a long list of sins; in Romans 2:8 where it is contrasted with truth; and in Romans 3:5 where man in his unrighteousness is compared to God in His righteousness. But we must not differentiate the terms too specifically. Ungodliness includes unrighteousness, and unrighteousness includes ungodliness. They are different sides of the same coin.

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    Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

    Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans

    Fortherein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

    The righteousness of God. — This phrase may, according to circumstances, mean either the personal attribute of God, or, as in this place, the righteousness which God has provided, which He has effected, and which He imputes for justification to all His elect. It is through this righteousness, revealed in the Gospel, that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Paul reverts to its manifestation, ch. 3:21, where the signification of this most important expression will be fully considered. At present it is sufficient to remark that the grand object of the Apostle is to show that man, having lost his own righteousness, and thereby fallen under condemnation, God has provided for him a righteousness — the complete fulfillment of the law in all its threatenings and all its precepts — by which, being placed to his account through faith, he is acquitted from guilt, freed from condemnation, and entitled to the reward of eternal life. Is revealed — This expression regards the assertion in the second verse of this chapter, that the Gospel had formerly been promised by the Prophets. The righteousness of God must be contemplated at three periods: first, at the period when God purposed it; second, at the period when He promised it; and third, at the period when He revealed it. He purposed it in His eternal decrees, He promised it after the fall, and now it is actually revealed in the Gospel. Paul does not say that it began only under the Gospel to display its efficacy, or that it was not known under the Mosaic dispensation; on the contrary, he was about to show that the Prophet Habakkuk had referred to it, and in the fourth chapter he proves that Abraham was justified by the imputation of this same righteousness; but he here declares that its full and perfect revelation was made by the Gospel, in which it is testified that at length it has been ‘brought in,’ as had been promised, Daniel 9:24. Looking forward to the revelation of this righteousness, the Prophet Isaiah, 56:1, writes, ‘Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment, and do justice; for My salvation is near to come, and My righteousness to be revealed.’ The Prophet thus announced in his time that it was near to be revealed, and the Apostle affirms that it is now revealed. From faith to faith. — Various interpretations have been given of this phrase, although there appears to be little difficulty in ascertaining its meaning. Some explain it as signifying from the faith of the Old Testament to the faith of the New; some, from one degree of faith to another; some, from the faith of the Jew to the faith of the Gentile; and others, altogether of faith. The expression is evidently elliptical; and in order to understand it, it is necessary to observe that the literal rendering is not ‘from faith to faith,’ but ‘by faith to faith.’ The same words in the original are thus translated in the same verse: ‘The just shall live by faith.’ The meaning, then, is, the righteousness which is by faith, namely, which is received by faith, is revealed to faith, or in order to be believed. This is entirely constant with what the Apostle says in ch. 3:22, where he reverts to the subject, and announces that the righteousness of God, which is by, or through, faith of Jesus Christ, is unto all and upon all them that believe.

    There is then no difficulty in this expression, especially since the meaning is placed beyond dispute in this passage, where the same truth is fully expressed. As it is written. — Here is a reference to the Old Testament Scriptures, as attesting what had just been affirmed, thus proving the correspondence between the Old Testament and the New, as was also shown in the second verse of this chapter, and teaching us to rest our faith on the testimony of the Scriptures, in whatever part of them it is found. The just shall live by faith, or rather, following the order of the words in the original, be just, or the righteous, by faith shall live. The doctrine, however, is substantially the same in whichsoever of these ways the phrase is rendered, and the meaning is, they who are righteous by faith, that is, by having the righteousness of God which is received by faith imputed to them, shall live. Paul repeats the same declaration in two other places, namely, in Galatians 3:11, where he proves that men cannot be justified by the law, and also in Hebrews 10:38, where he is exhorting those to whom he writes to continue firm in the faith; and immediately afterwards, explaining the meaning of that expression, he shows at large, in the following chapter, that men were saved by faith before, as well as after, the coming of the Messiah. In both cases the eye of faith was steadfastly fixed on the same glorious object. Before His advent, faith rested on that event, considered in the promise. After the coming of the Messiah, faith rejoices in the accomplishment of the promise. Thus it is only by faith in the testimony of God, as receiving His righteousness wrought by the Messiah, that man can be just or righteous in His sight. The passage itself is quoted from the prophecies of Habakkuk, and is generally supposed to relate, in its primary sense, to the deliverance from the Babylonish captivity, which was a type of the deliverance obtained by the Gospel. Through faith in the Divine promises the first was obtained, and the second in like manner is obtained through faith. But in whatever sense the Prophet used these words, the Apostle, speaking by the same Spirit, assigns to them their just and legitimate extension. They are true in respect to an earthly and temporal deliverance, and are equally true in respect to a spiritual deliverance.

    Many, however, understand such quotations, where the Apostle says it is written , as mere accommodation, not implying prediction of the thing to which they are applied. This is a most unwarrantable and baneful method of handling the word of God. It is in this light that Professors Tholuck and Stuart, in their Commentaries on this Epistle, often view this form of expression. But, on the contrary, it is always used as introducing what is represented as a fulfillment of prediction, or an interpretation of its meaning. If Neologians are to be held guilty for explaining the miracles of Christ on natural principles, are they less criminal who explain, as mere accommodation of Scripture language, what is quoted by an Apostle as a fulfillment of prophecy? Several quotations from the Old Testament in this Epistle are explained by both these authors on the above Neological principle. Professor Stuart, on this passage, says, ‘It is not necessary to suppose, in all cases of this nature, that the writer who makes such an appeal regards the passage which he quotes as prediction. Plainly this is not always the case with the writers of the New Testament, as nearly all commentators now concede.’ Professor Tholuck remarks that ‘the pious Jew loved to use Bible phrases in speaking of the things of common life, as this seemed to connect, in a manner, his personal observations and the events of his own history with those of holy writ.’ He adds, that the Talmud contains numerous quotations introduced by such forms, ‘without,’ he continues, ‘there being understood any real fulfillment of the text in the fact which is spoken of. This practice was also followed by the Apostles.’ 7 The subject of quotation by accommodation is one of such paramount importance, involving so deeply the honor of the Holy Scriptures, and at the same time is so lightly thought of by many, that it challenges the most serious attention.

    Nothing can be more dishonorable to the character of Divine revelation, and injurious to the edification of believers, than this method of explaining the quotations in the New Testament from the Old, not as predictions or interpretations, but as mere illustrations by way of accommodation. In this way many of the prophecies referred to in the Epistles are thrust aside from their proper application, and Christians are taught that they do not prove the very things the Apostles adduced them to establish.

    The great temptation to this manner of understanding them, is the fact that such prophecies generally, as they lie in the Old Testament, are obviously applied to temporal events, whereas, in the New, they are applied to the affairs of Christ and His kingdom. But this is a difficulty to none who understand the nature of the Old Testament dispensation, while the supposition that it is a difficulty, argues an astonishing want of attention to both covenants. Not only the ceremonies, but the personages, facts, and whole history of the Jewish people, have a letter and a spirit, without the knowledge of which they cannot be understood either in their true sense, or in a sense at all worthy of God. That the Old Testament predictions, then, should primarily refer to temporal events in the Jewish history, and in a secondary but more important view, to the Messiah and the Gospel, is quite in accordance with what is taught us everywhere by the New Testament. 8 Instead of creating a difficulty, this peculiarity is entirely consistent with the prominent features of Christianity, and calls for fresh admiration of the Divine wisdom. It is one of those characteristics which prove the Bible to be God’s own book; and, as usual, men’s attempts to mend it only serve to mar its beauty and obscure its evidence. In Galatians 3:10, it is asserted that ‘as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse.’ Why are they affirmed to be under the curse?

    Because it is written, ‘ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.’ The phrase it is written is used here to connect an inference or conclusion with the premises on which it is founded. The assertion, that all who are of the works of the law are under the curse, is founded on the thing said to be written. The phrase, then, is indicative of true fulfillment or interpretation of meaning.

    In like manner, what is spoken of, Matthew 13:14, and John 12:39,40, is, in Romans 11:8, introduced with the phrase ‘it is written.’ By the same phrase also is introduced, Galatians 4:27, the reference to the prophecy of Isaiah, 54:1. This must be prediction, because there does not appear to be any reference to a subordinate event in the Jewish history. It is an immediate prophecy of the calling of the Gentiles.

    We learn from Galatians 4:21-26, that even the history of Abraham’s family was typical, and the recorded facts of ancient times are explained as predictions of Gospel times. ‘Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?’ In what respect could they hear the law on the point referred to? In the events that took place in Abraham’s house. These facts are represented as a part of the law, and the spiritual truth at the proper interpretation.

    Not only is the phrase ‘it is written’ always applied to indicate prediction or interpretation, but it was so understood and applied in our Lord’s time.

    When the priests and scribes were asked where Christ should be born, they answered, in Bethlehem, for thus it is written , Matthew 2:5. This phrase, then, they employed to indicate true fulfillment of prediction.

    This very reference to Habakkuk is explained, Galatians 3:11, as prediction. It is asserted in the beginning of the verse, that no man can be justified by the law, because it is written by the Prophet. Here the impossibility of justification by the law is founded on the prophecy quoted. But if this prophecy related only to a temporal event in the Jewish history, the fact being so written would not bear out the conclusion. That the prophecy there refers to the justification of sinners before God, as its true and most important meaning, is the necessary sense of the passage. So little foundation have the above-named writers for their bold perversions of the word of God on their, point. Their doctrine respecting it manifests great ignorance of Scripture.

    The passage in Matthew 2:15, has been supposed by some to be utterly incapable of interpretation, in the sense of real fulfillment, as prediction. ‘Out of Egypt have I called My Son.’ The prophecy there referred to is found in Hosea 11:1, and evidently refers to the calling of the Israelites out of Egypt. How then can it be the fulfillment of the prophecy according to the application in the Evangelist? Nothing is more easy than the solution of this supposed insuperable difficulty. The words of the Prophet have, in the primary or literal sense, a reference to the historical event — the calling of the Israelites, as nationally the typical Son of God, out of the land of Egypt; and, in the secondary or spiritual sense, couched under the figure, they refer to the calling of the true Son of God out of Egypt, where He had gone to sojourn in order to accomplish this prediction. The Son of God is, in Isaiah 49:3, expressly addressed under the name of Israel. It argues the highest presumption, and even blasphemy, to explain this quotation on the principle of accommodation, when the Evangelist says ‘that it might be fulfilled,’ and thus intimates that this event was one predetermined in the counsels of Eternity. Is mere accommodation fulfillment in any sense? How must infidels sneer at such violent efforts to explain away a difficulty, which is, after all, imaginary.

    The language here used by the Evangelist establishes beyond all contradiction the double reference of many of the prophecies of the Old Testament.

    Some commentators refer to Acts 28:25, as an example of a passage which the Apostle quotes as prediction, when it is not prediction. This Scripture is supposed to have reference to the Jews, as neglecting all warnings till they were finally carried into captivity. It may have such a reference. But this is not so certain as that it has the secondary reference to the state of the Jews with respect to the rejection of the Gospel.

    Instead, then, of being received as applied to the latter by way of accommodation, or as illustrative of the same principle, there is no absolute certainty of a primary reference; but there can be no doubt that it predicts the unbelief and hardness of heart manifested by the Jews in the time of our Lord, and afterwards. This is irresistibly evident from Matthew 13:14. Here it is expressly said to be a fulfilling of the prophecy, that ‘in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith,’ etc. The unbelief of the Jews is here, in express words, stated as the fulfillment of this same prophecy. Is it not wonderful blindness, is it not the most profane temerity, to explain as mere accommodation what the Holy Spirit asserts to be a real fulfillment? The same prophecy is referred to in John’s Gospel as fulfilled in the Jews of our Lord’s time, ch. 12:39, ‘Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again.’

    What can more strongly express prediction? Belief was impossible, because of the prediction. They were the words of God, and, therefore, must be fulfilled. As this is a subject of so much importance, demanding the serious attention of all who tremble at the word of God, and one which is so frequently, I may say so generally, misrepresented, I shall further repeat the following remarks respecting it, from my Book of Evidences, vol. 1: p. 450, third edition, on the Old Testament prophecies: — ‘It is not as setting aside the literal application of such passages, that the Apostles quote them in their spiritual import; nor in the way of accommodation, as is often erroneously asserted: but in their ultimate and most extensive significations. Nothing has been more mischievous, more audacious, and more dishonorable to the character of revelation, than the doctrine that represents the New Testament writers as quoting the Old Testament prophecies by way of accommodation. It is based on the supposed difficulty or impossibility of explaining the agreement in the literal accomplishment. To this it may be replied, that satisfactory solutions of the cases of difficulty have been given. But though no satisfactory solution were given, the supposition would be inadmissible. It contradicts most explicitly the Spirit of God, and must be rejected, let the solution be what it may. The New Testament writers, in quoting the Old Testament prophecies, quote them as being fulfilled in the event which is related. If it is not truly fulfilled, the assertion of fulfillment is false. The fulfillment by accommodation is no fulfillment in any real sense of the word. This interpretation, then, cannot be admitted, as being palpably contradictory to the language of inspiration. To quote the Old Testament prophecies in this way, could not, in any respect, serve the purpose of the writers of the New Testament. What confirmation to their doctrine could they find from the language of a prophecy that did not really refer to the subject to which they applied it, but was merely capable of some fanciful accommodation? It is ascribing to these writers, or rather to the Spirit of God, a puerility of which every writer of sound judgment would be ashamed. The application of the language of inspiration by way of accommodation, is a theory that has sometimes found patrons among a certain class of writers; but a due respect for the inspired writings will ever reject it with abhorrence. It is an idle parade of ingenuity, even when it coincides in its explanations with the truths of the Scriptures; but to call such an accommodation of Scripture language a fulfillment, is completely absurd. There is nothing in Scripture to warrant such a mode of explanation.’ ‘To say,’ observes Mr. Bell, on the Covenants, ‘that these Scriptures had no relation to these events, what is this but to give the inspired penman the lie? The question is not what the Old Testament writers intended in such and such sayings, but what the Spirit which was in them did signify.

    The Prophets might often not know the full extent of their own prophecy, but certainly the Spirit, by which they spake, always did. The Spirit in the Old Testament writers was the same who inspired those of the New, Corinthians 4:13; therefore, when the latter quote the words of the former as predictive of, and fulfilled in, certain events, the Holy Spirit is pointing out what He Himself intended. And who dare say but that He may point out more fully under the New Testament what He intended in the Old, than ever could have entered into the heart of man? 1 Corinthians 2:9,10. Surely the only wise God must be allowed to know the full sense of His own words. When the Evangelists or Apostles tell us that such and such Scriptures were fulfilled in such events, they do not give a new sense to these Scriptures which they never had before, but only show what before was latent with us. To say that any of their quotations from the Old Testament are mere allusions, or only used by way of accommodation to their purpose, beyond the true sense of the words and the intention of the Holy Ghost, effectually cuts the sinews of their argumentation, and, of course, destroys the proofs they adduce,’ p. 56. The misunderstanding, or rather denial on this point, of the plain import of Scripture, in representing the New Testament writers as quoting from the Old Testament in the way of accommodation, appears to originate, so far as concerns Professors Tholuck and Stuart, in their want of acquaintance with the nature of the inspiration of the Bible. Were this not the case, they could not have ventured to take such liberties with the Scriptures as appear in their Commentaries. 9 The declaration in the 16th and 17th verses, that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek, because therein is the righteousness of God revealed, serves as the text or ground of the whole of the subsequent disquisition in this and the following nine chapters.

    7: In the Presbyterian Review, No. 30: p. 237, it is observed, ‘This idea of quotation by accommodation is as old as the time of Aarias Montanus;’ and, after remarking that in the above passage it is visited with merited castigation, the reviewer adds, ‘Professor Tholuck’s authority, indeed, in any matter in which the honor of inspiration is involved, is not very high; so at least we think all who have escaped the chilling influence of Socinianism must acknowledge respecting any writer, who in one place tells us that “Paul probably used certain words, without attaching to them any definite idea” (p. 156); in another, suggests the supposition that the Apostle “had forgotten what ought to have followed” (p. 157); and, in the present verse, informs us that, with the view of better adapting the declaration of the Prophet to his subject, he gave a “violent construction to the translation of the Septuagint;” and whatever Tholuck’s authority may be, Stuart’s is no greater; for water cannot rise higher than its source; and on this subject of accommodation, with the exception of the very obnoxious sentiment which we have just cited, the American critic is no more than the copyist of the German.”
    8: See the author’s book On the Evidences, etc., on the primary and secondary senses of prophecy, and its division into three branches, vol. 1: p. 445, 3rd edition.
    9: On the subject of Inspiration see the author’s work on The Authenticity and Inspiration of the Holy Scripture and Dr. Carson’s unanswered and unanswerable treatise on The Theories of Inspiration by the Rev. Daniel Wilson (now Bishop of Calcutta), the Rev. Dr. Pye Smith, and th e Rev. Dr. Dick, proved to be erroneous, and his Refutation of Dr. Henderson’s Doctrine on Divine Inspiration, with a Critical Discussion, on 2 Timothy 3:16.

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    Haldane, Robert. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans and Hebrews". 1835.

    Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

    17. For—From treating of the Romans, himself, and the Gospel, the apostle gracefully glides into the great thesis or topic of his epistle, namely, justification by faith in Christ revealed in the Gospel. Thus the closing point of the exordium is the starting point of the whole treatise.

    Righteousness of God—A phrase used in this epistle not to signify, as it usually does, the attribute of righteousness with which God is invested, but that righteousness with which God would invest man in order that man may come into likeness and unity with himself.

    From faith to faith—There are three meanings, to mention no more, given by commentators to this phrase:

    1. Like the phrase from glory to glory, in 2 Corinthians 3:18, it may describe the successive stages of growing faith. Yet, though approved by Tholuck, this meaning has no relevancy to the present train of thought, and does not connect well with the adjoining clauses. 2. Better is that suggested by Augustine: from the faith of those preaching to the faith of those hearing; or, in fuller terms, from the faith of a faithful Church and ministry to the faith of a listening world. This connects well with revealed, and lies in the train of thought with a forcible meaning. 3. Best of all is that of Bengel, which refers it to the righteousness of God, being revealed as both derived from faith and offered to faith. It is, as Bengel says, “by faith from bow to stern.” This blends well also with the second meaning. As faith is the source whence we obtain our righteousness, so we offer that righteousness to the faith of the world. Justification originating from faith is offered to faith.

    Written—(Habakkuk 2:4.) The words in the Old Testament promise a temporal deliverance and life from the invasion of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans to the man who trusted in Jehovah. This must not, however, be viewed as a scrap, quoted merely like a piece of poetry verbally pat to the occasion. The higher meaning developed by inspiration lies concealed in the lower by that same Spirit. Faith in God is man’s tie of unity to God under both dispensations. The man so united to God, according to the prophet’s promise, would live through the approaching judgment of God. The man so united by faith to God shall live even through the judgment trial by the Son of man. That is, true faith in God, planted in the soul, is the vital seed and principle of eternal life. Paul’s view of the passage was accepted by Jewish writers. Wetstein cites the following: “The Israelites shall in the future age (or world) sing a new song, according to Psalms 98. By whose merit will Israel sing the song? By the merit of Abraham, because he believed God. (Genesis 15.) This is the faith by which Israel will possess, of which the Scripture speaks, Habakkuk 2.” (On the Jewish belief of the salvation of all Jews, see page 350.)

    If the Hebrew would permit, it would appear more suitable to Paul’s purpose to accept the rendering, The just by faith shall live. The text would then show that faith is the antecedent condition of being just. Yet, as it stands, it shows that faith is the condition of life, and so of that justification that is unto life. And so the apostle has borrowed from the prophet the motto, the proposition, the thesis of his epistle, THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH. Thenceforward to the close of the eleventh chapter extends his argument, wherein he shows the Ruin, the Remedy, the process by which the Remedy applies and operates, and the Defence of the whole.

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    Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

    Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

    In this verse Paul explained what he meant when he said that when a person believes the gospel he or she is saved ( Romans 1:16). What makes the gospel powerful is its content. The salvation that God has provided and offers is in keeping with His righteous character (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

    What did Paul mean by "the righteousness of God?" With the exception of 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul used this phrase only in Romans , where it appears eight times ( Romans 1:17; Romans 3:5; Romans 3:21-22; Romans 3:25-26; Romans 10:3 [twice]). It could be an attribute of God, either His rectitude or His faithfulness. It could be a status that God gives to people. Or it could be an activity of God, specifically, His saving action.

    "For Paul, as in the OT, "righteousness of God" is a relational concept. Bringing together the aspects of activity and status, we can define it as the act by which God brings people into right relationship with himself." [Note: Moo, p74. See pages70-74for the reasons this is the best conclusion. He also wrote a good excursus on ""Righteousness" Language in Paul," pp79-90.]

    The gospel makes the righteousness of God manifest.

    What does "from faith to faith" (NASB) mean? Was Paul describing the way God has revealed His righteousness or how people should receive it? The position of this phrase in the sentence favors the first option. The idea might be that God"s righteousness comes from one person who exercises faith to another person who exercises faith. Still, if that is what Paul intended, he should have used the Greek preposition apo that views "from" as a point of departure. Instead he used ek that indicates the basis of something (cf. Romans 3:16; Romans 5:1; Galatians 2:16). Probably the phrase refers to how people receive God"s righteousness. The idea seems to be that faith is the method whereby we receive salvation whatever aspect of salvation may be in view and whomever we may be. The NIV interpretation is probably correct: "by faith from first to last." We might say that every aspect of God"s salvation comes to us only by faith. That is true whether we are speaking of justification (past salvation from the penalty of sin), practical sanctification (present salvation from the power of sin), or glorification (future salvation from the presence of sin). Trusting God results in full salvation.

    The words of Habakkuk 2:4 support Paul"s statement. Faith is the vehicle that brings the righteousness of God to people. The person who believes the good news that the righteous God has proclaimed becomes righteous himself or herself. The Pharisees, one of which Paul had been, taught that righteousness came through keeping the Mosaic Law scrupulously (cf. Matthew 5:20). The gospel Paul proclaimed, on the other hand, was in harmony with what Habakkuk had revealed (cf. Romans 1:2). Many students of Romans believe that Habakkuk 2:4 is the "text" of Romans , and what follows is exposition of that Scripture text. Thomas suggested the following outline: Romans 1:1 to Romans 3:20 : the righteous; Romans 3:21 to Romans 4:25 : by faith; and Romans 5:1 to Romans 16:26 : shall live. [Note: Thomas, p63.]

    Romans 1:16-17 are the key verses in Romans because they state the theme of the revelation that follows. Paul"s message was the gospel. He felt no shame declaring it but was eager to proclaim it because it was a message that can deliver everyone who believes it. It is a message of how a righteous God makes people righteous righteously. The theme of the gospel is the righteousness of God, and the theme of Romans is the gospel. [Note: Moo, pp22-30 , Witmer, p437.]

    "Here we have the text of the whole Epistle of Romans: First, the words "the gospel"-so dear to Paul, as will appear. Next, the universal saving power of this gospel is asserted. Then, the secret of the gospel"s power-the revelation of God"s righteousness on the principle of faith. Finally, the accord of all this with the Old Testament Scriptures: "The righteous shall live by faith."" [Note: Newell, p18.]

    This first section of Romans ( Romans 1:1-17) introduces the subject of this epistolary treatise by presenting the gospel as a message that harmonizes with Old Testament revelation. It is a message that concerns Jesus, the Messiah and Lord. It is a powerful message since it has the power to save anyone who believes it.

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    Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

    Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

    Romans 1:17. For. The proof of Romans 1:16, especially of the assertion that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation,

    Therein; in the gospel.

    God’s righteousness. The word ‘righteous,’ so frequent in the Old Testament, is used of conformity to law, equivalent to holy, perfect. It is applied absolutely to God alone, and the entire family of similar terms has a religious significance. ‘Righteousness,’ when used of man, means conformity to the holy will and law of God, as the ultimate standard of right; when used of God, it expresses one of His attributes, essentially the same with His holiness and goodness, as manifested in His dealings with His creatures, especially with men. Closely allied with these words is another, meaning to declare or pronounce one righteous, expressed in English by the word ‘justify,’ derived from the Latin equivalent of ‘righteous.’ It is unfortunate that the correspondence cannot be preserved. In this verse ‘God’s righteousness,’ in itself, might mean: (1) a righteousness which belongs to God; (2) a righteousness which comes from God; (3) a righteousness which He approves. But the discussion in chaps. 3, 4, leaves no room for doubting that the correct meaning is (2), a righteousness of which God is the author, and that too His free gift, so that it is reckoned to the believer (chap. Romans 3:21-25). But while this is to be insisted upon as the prominent thought, it must be borne in mind: (a) That neither here nor elsewhere is ‘righteousness’ exactly equivalent to ‘justification,’ or God’s method of justification, (b) That this revelation of ‘righteousness from God,’ by imputation, grows out of the righteousness which belongs to God; in the gospel He reveals His own righteousness by revealing that He is ‘just and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus’ (chap. Romans 3:26); nothing shows His righteousness so plainly as the death of Christ for our Redemption, (c) Hence this ‘righteousness from God,’ freely reckoned to the believer, necessarily leads to a change of character in the sinner who believes, so that the righteousness imputed ‘becomes righteousness inwrought.’ This is necessarily the case: because when God accounts a man righteous, He is pledged to make him so; because faith which lays hold on this imputed righteousness brings the justified man into living fellowship with Jesus Christ, who gives him the Holy Spirit; and because on the human side this method of pardon and reconciliation affords motives for well-doing, which that Holy Spirit uses to fulfil the pledge God makes of sanctifying the believer. It has been found that a denial of the fundamental sense (righteousness from God, imputed by Him) leads to a practical obscuration of both the other senses; while God has been proven righteous and man made righteous by the maintenance of the truth that in the gospel He reveals a righteousness which He puts to the account of the believer.

    Revealed. The present tense indicates continued action: it is being revealed, it is continuously proclaimed and made known. In the Old Testament it was promised and prepared for, but first made known fully in the gospel.

    From faith to faith. This is to be joined with ‘revealed,’ not with ‘righteousness.’ The righteousness is revealed ‘from faith’ as the starting-point, and ‘to faith’ as its aim, continually producing new faith. This is substantially the generally accepted explanation. (It is improper to refer ‘from faith’ to God’s faithfulness.) The gospel makes known constantly that faith on Christ is the subjective cause of the righteousness from God, the condition of its imputation, the organ which appropriates it; and it further makes known that thus faith is produced; faith is the beginning and end, the vital principle is ever the same. ‘Faith,’ in the New Testament, has well-nigh invariably the subjective sense, not what is believed, but believing. It includes knowledge and belief, assent and surrender, appropriation and application; and hence cannot be limited to a purely intellectual credence.

    As it if written. By this passage (Habakkuk 2:4), Paul would show that this revelation of righteousness from God, from faith and to faith, is in accordance with the Old Testament Scripture, and hence according to the divine plan.

    The righteous. The rendering ‘just’ obliterates the verbal correspondence with ‘righteousness.’ Paul here refers to one who possesses the righteousness from God, If this were not the case the quotation would lack point.

    Shall live by faith; or, ‘the righteous by faith shall live.’ The former view of the connection agrees better with the original prophecy of Habakkuk, where ‘faith’ is equivalent to ‘faithfulness’ (both having the same fundamental idea of trust in God). The latter, however, is accepted by some, on the Sound that Paul, in this case, is seeking to prove from the Old Testament, not a life by faith, but the revelation of righteousness by faith. (‘By’ here is the same word as that rendered ‘from’ in the preceding clause.) In any case, Paul clearly holds that if the righteous man truly lives, it is because he has been accounted righteous by faith; comp. Galatians 3:11, where the same passage is quoted. In favor of the connection ‘live by faith,’ we may urge the greater emphasis which falls upon ‘by faith’, in accordance with the order of the Greek.

    We add a paraphrase of these important verses: To you Romans also I am ready to preach, for even in your imperial city I would not be ashamed of the gospel. How can I be ashamed of it before any sinful man, since it is that through and in which God’s power works so as to save men, all of whom are sinful, and any one of whom can be thus saved when he believes

    whether he be of God’s ancient people, to whom it was first preached, or of the Gentiles. It is God’s power unto salvation because it brings to sinful men righteousness which comes from God, given freely by Him, so that they are accounted righteous (and made righteous because He so accounts them); and this, not by any impossible way, but revealed from faith as its starting-point and faith as its terminal point: whatever of righteousness man has comes by faith. And this was God’s way, predicted already in the Old Testament, for He there says: The man who is declared righteous lives by faith (or, the man who is righteous by faith lives).

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    Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

    Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

    Romans 1:17. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed — This expression sometimes means God’s essential, eternal righteousness, including both his holiness and justice, especially the latter, of which, together with his mercy, the word is explained, Romans 3:26; where we read, To declare his righteousness: that he might be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus; this his essential righteousness being eminently shown in condemning sin, and in justifying the penitent, believing sinner. But frequently the expression means that righteousness by which a man, through the grace of God, is accounted and constituted righteous, or is pardoned and renewed, namely, the righteousness of faith, of which the apostle speaks, Philippians 3:9, terming it the righteousness which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness of God (Gr. εκ θεου, from God) by faith: namely, acquittance from guilt, remission of sins, or justification through faith in Christ; or, as he expresses himself, Romans 4:5-8, faith imputed for righteousness, namely, through Christ’s obedience unto death, who was delivered for our offences, and raised for our justification. See this matter more fully explained in the notes on Romans 3:20-25; Romans 9:30-31; and Romans 10:3-9. The meaning of the apostle, in the verse now under consideration, would be more manifest if his words were more literally translated, which they are by Doddridge and Macknight, thus: For in it (namely, the gospel) the righteousness of God by faith is revealed to our faith, or, in order to faith. “This translation,” says the latter of these divines, “which results from construing the words properly, affords a clear sense of a passage which, in the common translation, is absolutely unintelligible. Besides, it is shown to be the right translation by other passages of Scripture, in which the expression, δικαιοσυνη εκ πιστεως, righteousness by faith, is found, Romans 3:22; Romans 9:30; Romans 10:6; Philippians 3:9. Righteousness by faith is called the righteousness of God, 1st, Because God hath enjoined faith as the righteousness which he will count to sinners, [through the mediation of his Son,] and hath declared that he will accept and reward it as righteousness. 2d, Because it stands in opposition to the righteousness of men: which consists in sinless obedience to the law of God. For if men gave that obedience, it would be their own righteousness, and they might claim reward as a debt.” We may observe, further, the righteousness of faith is termed the righteousness of God, because God appointed and prepared it, reveals and gives, approves and crowns it. It is said to be revealed, because, whereas it was but obscurely intimated to the Jews, in the covenant with Abraham, and in the types of the Mosaic law; it is now clearly manifested in the gospel to all mankind. The expression, in our translation, from faith to faith, is interpreted by some of a gradual series of still clearer and clearer discoveries; but the translation of the clause given above, namely, the righteousness of God by faith is revealed in order to faith, seems evidently to express better the apostle’s meaning. As it is written — St. Paul had just laid down three propositions: 1st, Righteousness is by faith, Romans 1:17; Romans 2 d, Salvation is by righteousness, Romans 1:16; Romans 3 d, Both to the Jews and to the Gentiles, Romans 1:16. Now all these are confirmed by that single sentence, The just shall live by faith: which was primarily spoken of those who preserved their lives, when the Chaldeans besieged Jerusalem, by believing the declarations of God, and acting according to them. Here it means, he shall obtain the favour of God, and continue therein, by believing. The words, however, may with propriety be rendered, The just by faith, that is, they who by faith are just, or righteous, (as δικαιοι signifies,) shall live. “This translation is agreeable both to the order of the words in the original, and the apostle’s design; which is to show that the doctrine of the gospel, concerning a righteousness by faith, is attested even by the prophets. Besides, it represents Habakkuk’s meaning more truly than the common translation. For in the passage from which the quotation is made, Habakkuk describes the different dispositions of the Jews about the time they were threatened by the Chaldeans. Some of their souls were lifted up; they presumptuously trusted in their own wisdom and power, and, contrary to God’s command, refused to submit to the Chaldeans, and were destroyed. But the just, or righteous, by faith, who believed God and obeyed his command, lived. However, as the reward of faith is not confined to the present life, persons who are just or good, by believing and obeying God, shall certainly live eternally.” — Macknight.

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    Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

    George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

    For the justice of God. He does not here mean that justice, by which God is just in himself, but that justice, or sanctification, which he communicates to men, and by which they are justified and sanctified. --- From faith to faith. That is, by faith, and an increase in faith, inasmuch as, by increasing in faith, we advance in virtues; as it is written, (Habacuc ii. 4.) the just man liveth by faith; including the love of God, hope, and other virtues. (Witham)

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    Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

    Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

    Romans 1:17 For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith unto faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall live by faith.

    "Therein" -i.e. in the Gospel message.

    "A righteousness of God"-not that God is righteous (the O.T. revealed that), but HOW GOD MAKES MAN RIGHTEOUS.

    "From faith unto faith"-some say, from "the faith-gospel" unto (the hoped for direction) my own personal faith. Others, from the faith demonstrated by Christ to bring about this salvation, to our own faith in Him.

    "As it is written"-quote from Habakkuk 2:4. The purpose of this quote seems to be to establish the fact that this had been in God"s plan all among, even the O.T. taught the fact that God"s true people were the one"s who lived by faith in Him. The New Testament reveals the fact that this faith must be exercised towards Christ and His sacrifice.

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    Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". 1999-2014.

    E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

    therein = in (Greek. en) it.

    the. Omit.

    righteousness of God = God"s righteousness.

    righteousness. Greek. dikaiosune. App-191.

    revealed. Greek. apokalupto. App-106.

    from. Greek. ek. App-104.

    to. Greek. eis. App-104. God"s righteousness is revealed on the ground of faith (faith-principle) (ek pisteos), as the absolute condition of salvation, and is operative only for those who believe (eis pistin). For the use of ek pisteos, Compare Romans 3:26, Romans 3:30; Romans 4:16; Romans 5:1; Romans 10:6; Romans 14:23. Galatians 1:2, Galatians 1:16.

    written. See Matthew 2:5 (first occ).

    just. Greek. dikaios. App-191.

    live. Quoted from Habakkuk 2:4. Compare Galatians 1:3, Galatians 1:11. Hebrews 10:38.

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    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

    For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

    For therein is THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD revealed.

    Though the sense of this great word, "THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD," will open upon us as we advance in the argument of this Epistle, it may be well to state here at the outset what we understand by it. First, then, it does not mean God's 'rectitude' or 'clemency,' as an attribute of His nature, or a feature of His moral government. (as Origen and Chrysostom among the fathers, and, with a certain modification, Osiander the reformer; and in our own day Hofmann, in his 'Schriftbeweis'). Everything said of this "righteousness" in the progress of the apostle's argument disproves such a notion. It must therefore mean that righteousness which God provides for men, or which He bestows upon men, or which He approves in men. These ideas, though distinct in themselves, do in the present case run into and presuppose one another. The predominant shade of thought, however, is perhaps not so much 'the divinely provided and divinely bestowed righteousness' (as Beza and others take it) as 'the divinely approved and divinely accepted righteousness,' (so Luther, Calvin, Fritzsche, Tholuck, etc.) See, for example, Romans 3:20 ("justified in his sight"); Galatians 3:11 ("justified in the sight of God"); Romans 2:13 ("just before God"); and 2 Corinthians 5:21 ("He was made sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him").

    Secondly, It does not mean 'an implanted and inherent righteousness worked in men by divine grace.' This is what the Church of Rome teaches (Canon. et Deoret. Conc. Trid.: Decr. 'De Justificatione,' 6: 7), though Estius expresses a very different doctrine, on Romans 2:12, Tertio; it is what Grotius and the Remonstrant (or Semipelagian) party in the Dutch Church held; and it is what in the present day a party in the Church of England, headed by Dr. Pusey, contend for as Being the doctrine of their own Church as well as that of Rome; while some otherwise sound Protestants, going along with them in this, are thus surrendering the citadel of Protestantism. In direct opposition to all these views is the teaching of this great Epistle throughout-that "the righteousness of God" is a righteousness 'reckoned' or 'imputed to us,' founded on the entire work of Christ in the flesh, or "His obedience unto death, even the death of the cross," in our behalf.

    The verse above quoted - "He was made sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God IN HIM" (2 Corinthians 5:21) - can mean nothing else than that it is the sinless One's being made sin for us, that gives us who believe our righteous standing before God. And since the "sin" which Christ was "made" for us, was certainly not any personal sin of His, nor sin infused into Him, but simply sin reckoned to Him, even so "the righteousness of God," which the believer is "made in him," can be neither any personal righteousness of his own, nor any righteousness infused into or worked in him, but a righteousness simply reckoned or imputed to Him. Nay, even as reckoned to us, it is still IN HIM that we are thus constituted righteous. True-and the truth is a fundamental one-the union between the believer and Christ being a real and vital one, constituting them one spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17), it is impossible that the justified believer, from the moment of this union, should be other than personally and inherently righteous, or truly holy. But this does not constitute his justifying righteousness-it is not this that makes him "the righteousness of God," But all this will unfold itself as we proceed with the apostle's argument.

    Such, then, is "the righteousness of God" which is to constitute the chief theme of this Epistle. But, next, it is revealed --

    From faith to faith , [ ek (Greek #1537) pisteoos (Greek #4102) eis (Greek #1519) pistin (Greek #4102)]. Some of the many senses put upon this rather difficult clause (which Estius carefully enumerates) may be dismissed at once as unworthy of notice: such as that it means, 'from the faith of the Law to the faith of the Gospel;' or, 'from the faith of the Old Testament to the faith of the New;' 'from a general faith in the Gospel to an appropriating faith in it to one's self;' 'from the faith of the preacher to the faith of the hearer;' 'from the faith of the promising God to the faith of the believing man.' But there are three other interpretations which claim more attention.

    First, 'From one degree of faith to another-from a weaker to a stronger-from a lower to a higher.' (So several of the fathers; and of the moderns, Erasmus, Luther, Melancthon, Calvin, Beza, Grotius, Estius, Meyer, etc.) But it is fatal to this view, as we think, that it introduces a foreign element into the apostle's argument-an argument which has nothing to do with progressive stages or degrees of faith, but solely with faith itself, as the appointed way of receiving the righteousness of God. Second, 'As it begins in faith, so in faith it ends-in other words, it is all of faith.' (So OEcumenius of the fathers; and of the moderns, Bengel, Alford, Hodge, Wordsworth.) But this makes one statement of what the apostle seems studiously to make two, and connects the words "righteousness" and "faith," while the apostle appears studiously to disjoin them.

    Third, and this we without hesitation adopt: Let it be observed that the words here rendered "from faith" [ ek (Greek #1537) pisteoos (Greek #4102)], wherever else they occur in this Epistle, mean 'by,' or 'through faith;' and they are so rendered by our translators themselves even in the sequel of this same verse - "as it is written. The just shall live by faith," Precisely so in Romans 3:30; Romans 4:16 ("of" or "by faith"); 5:1; 9:30,32 ("of faith" - "by faith"); 10:16. This is to us decisive in favour of rendering the clause thus: 'The righteousness of God is revealed [to be] of' or 'by faith, unto faith.' But what does 'unto faith' mean? It may mean either 'unto those who believe' [= eis (Greek #1519) tous (Greek #3588) pisteuontas (Greek #4100)], as Tholuck, Conybeare, Philippi; or (which we much prefer) 'in order to faith' [ eis (Greek #1519) to (Greek #3588) pisteutheenai (Greek #4100), or pisteusai (Greek #4100) heemas (Greek #2248)], as the same preposition is rendered in Romans 1:5 of this chapter, and in Romans 6:16; Romans 6:19; Romans 8:15; Romans 10:10; Romans 13:14. So DeWette, Olshausen, Fritzsche (whose remarks are worthy of special notice), Stuart, Scholefield, Bloomfield, Jowett. If this have less point (says the last-named critic, it is more in accordance with the style of Paul than the preceding explanations, and may be defended by the quotation from Habakkuk, which shows that the real stress of the passage is not on "to faith," but "from," or "by faith."

    As it is written (in Habakkuk 2:4), The just shall live by faith. This is precisely as in the Hebrew, except that there it is, 'by his faith' [ w

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    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

    Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

    (17) The gospel attains its end, the salvation of the believer, by revealing the righteousness of God, i.e., the plan or process designed by Him for men to become just or righteous in His sight. The essential part on man’s side, the beginning and end of that plan, is Faith. For which there was authority in the Old Testament, where it is said, “The just shall live by faith.”

    The righteousness of God.—By this is not meant, as might, perhaps, be supposed, an attribute of the divine nature—as if the essential righteousness of God were first made known through the gospel. St. Paul goes on to show in Romans 1:19-20, that so much at least of the nature of God might be known without any supernatural revelation. “Of God” means in the present instance “which proceeds from God.” And the “righteousness” which thus “proceeds from God” is that condition of righteousness in man into which he enters by his participation in the Messianic kingdom. The whole object of the coming of the Messiah was to make men “righteous” before God. This was done more especially by the death of Christ upon the cross, which, as we learn from Romans 3:24-26, had the effect of making God “propitious” towards men. The benefit of this act is secured to all who make good their claim to be considered members of the Messianic kingdom by a loyal adhesion to the Messiah. Such persons are treated as if they were “righteous,” though the righteousness that is thus attributed to them is not any actual merit of their own, but an ideal condition in which they are placed by God. This is the well-known doctrine of justification by faith. (See Excursus A: On the Meaning of the word Righteousness in the Epistle to the Romans, and Excursus E: On the Doctrine of Justification by Faith and Imputed Righteousness.)

    Revealed.—God’s purpose of thus justifying men is in process of being revealed or declared in the gospel. It is revealed theoretically in the express statements of the way in which man may be justified. It is revealed practically in the heartfelt acceptance of those statements and the change of life which they involved. To the Romans the moment of revelation was that in which they first heard the gospel. St. Paul wishes them to know the full significance—the philosophy, as it might be called—of that which they had heard.

    From faith to faith.—It is by faith that man first lays hold on the gospel, and its latest product is a heightened and intensified faith. Apart from faith, the gospel remains null and void for the individual. It is not realised. But when it has been once realised and taken home to the man’s self, its tendency is to confirm and strengthen that very faculty by which it was apprehended. It does that for which the disciples prayed when they said, “Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).

    The just shall live by faith.—The words are part of the consolatory answer which the prophet Habakkuk receives in the stress of the Chaldean invasion. Though his irresistible hosts sweep over the land, the righteous man who puts his trust in God shall live. Perhaps St. Paul intended the words “by faith” to be taken rather with “the just” than as they stand in the English version. “The just by faith,” or “The man whose righteousness is based on faith,” shall live.

    The Apostle uses the word “faith” in his own peculiar and pregnant sense. But this is naturally led up to by the way in which it was used by Habakkuk. The intense personal trust and reliance which the Jew felt in the God of his fathers is directed by the Christian to Christ, and is further developed into an active energy of devotion.

    “Faith,” as understood by St. Paul, is not merely head-belief, a purely intellectual process such as that of which St. James spoke when he said “the devils also believe and tremble”; neither is it merely “trust,” a passive dependence upon an Unseen Power; but it is a further stage of feeling developed out of these, a current of emotion setting strongly in the direction of its object, an ardent and vital apprehension of that object, and a firm and loyal attachment to it. (See Excursus B: On the Meaning of the word Faith.)

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    Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
    For therein
    from faith
    The just
    Habakkuk 2:4; John 3:36; Galatians 3:11; Philippians 3:9; Hebrews 10:38; 11:6,7

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    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

    Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians

    The reason why the gospel has the efficacy ascribed to it in the preceding verse, is not because of its pure morality, or because it reveals and confirms a future state of retribution, but because the righteousness of God is therein revealed. As this is one of those expressions which are employed to convey ideas peculiar to the gospel, its meaning is to be learned not merely from the signification of the words, but from parallel passages, and from the explanations given in the gospel itself of the whole subject to which it relates. That δικαιοσύνη cannot here be understood of a divine attribute, such as rectitude, justice, goodness, or veracity, is obvious, because it is a δικαιοσύνη ἐκ πίστεως, a righteousness which is by faith, i.e., attained by faith, of which the apostle speaks. Besides, it is elsewhere said to be without law, Romans 3:21 to be a gift, Romans 5:17, not to be our own, Romans 10:3, to be from God, Philippians 3:9. These and similar forms of expression are inconsistent with the assumption that the apostle is speaking of a divine attribute. The righteousness of God, therefore, must mean either the righteousness of which God is the author, or which he approves. Luther, Calvin, and many others, prefer the latter. "Die Gerechtigkeit die vor Gott gilt," is Luther's version. Calvin says, "Justitiam Dei accipio, quae apud Dei tribunal approbatur." Beza, Reiche, De Wette, Rückert, and others, prefer the former. These ideas are not incompatible. This righteousness is at once a δικαιοσύνη ης ἐκ θεοῦ, Philippians 3:9; and a δικαιοσύνη παρὰ τῷ θεῷ, Romans 2:13; Romans 3:20; Galatians 3:11. The gospel reveals a righteousness, which God gives, and which he approves; it is a righteousness, "qua quisquis donatus est, sistitur coram Deo, sanctus, inculpatus, et nullius labis possit postulari." Beza.

    This interpretation is confirmed by all that the Scriptures teach respecting the manner of our justification before God. The Bible represents God in the character of a moral governor or judge. Man is placed under a law which is the rule of his duty, and the standard by which he is to be judged. This law may be variously revealed, but it is ever substantially the same, having the same precepts, the same sanction, and the same promises. Those who comply with the demands of this law are δίκαιοι, righteous; those who break the law are ἄδικοι, unrighteous; to pronounce one righteous is δικαιοῦν, to justify; the righteousness itself, or integrity which the law demands is δικαιοσύνη. Those who are righteous, or who have the righteousness which the law requires, or who are justified, have a title to the favor of God.

    Now, nothing is more clearly taught in the Scriptures than that no man in himself is righteous in the sight of God. "There is none righteous, no not one; for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." It is no less clearly taught that no man can make himself righteous; that is, he cannot attain the righteousness which the law demands, and which is necessary to his acceptance with God. The reason is, that the law demands perfect obedience, which no one has rendered, or can render. It is hence plain that by the works of the law no flesh can be justified before God. Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16; δικαιοσύνη is not ἐκ νόμου, Galatians 3:21 or διὰ νόμοθ, Galatians 2:21, or ἐξ ἔργων, Galatians 2:16. Men are not justified ἰδίᾳ δικαιοσύνῃ by their own righteousness. Romans 10:3. And yet righteousness is absolutely necessary to our justification and salvation. Such a righteousness the gospel reveals; a righteousness which is χωρὶς νόμου, without the law; which is not of works; a δικαιοσύνη πίστεως or ἐκ πίστεως, which is by faith; a righteousness which is not our own, Philippians 3:9; which is the gift of God, Romans 5:17; which is ἐκ θεοῦ from God; which is imputed χωρὶς ἔργων without works. Christ is our righteousness, 1 Corinthians 1:30 or we are righteous before God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:21.

    From this contrast between a righteousness which is our own, which is of works, and that which is not our own, which is of God, from God, the gift of God, it is plain that the δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ of which the apostle here speaks, is that δικαιοσύνη by which we are made δίκαιοι παρὰ τῷ θεῷ; it is a righteousness which he gives and which he approves. This is the interpretation which is given substantially by all the modern commentators of note, as Tholuck, Reiche, Fritzsche, Rückert, Koellner, De Wette, etc., however much they may differ as to other points. "Alle Erkläung," says De Wette, "welche das Moment der Zurechnung übersehen, und das thun besonders die katholischen, auch die des Grotius, sind falsch." That is, "All interpretations which overlook the idea of imputation, as is done in the explanations given by the Romanists, and also in that of Grotius, are false."

    The nature of this righteousness, it is one great design of this epistle, and of the whole gospel to unfold. This, therefore, is not the place to enter fully into the examination of that point; it will present itself at every step of our progress. It is sufficient here to specify the three general views of the nature of that righteousness by which men are justified before God. The first may be called the Pelagian, according to which the apostle teaches that righteousness cannot be attained by obedience to the ritual law of the Jews, but consists in works morally good. The second view is that of the Romanists, who teach that the works meant to be excluded from our justification are legal works; works done without grace and before regeneration; but the righteousness which makes us just before God, is that inherent righteousness, or spiritual excellence which is obtained by the aid of divine grace. The third view, which is the common doctrine of Protestant churches is, that the righteousness for which we are justified is either anything done by us nor wrought in us, but something done for us and imputed to us. It is the work of Christ, what he did and suffered to satisfied the demands of the law. Hence not merely external or ceremonial works are excluded as the ground of justification; but works of righteousness, all works of whatever kind or degree of excellence. Hence this righteousness is not our own. It is nothing that we have either wrought ourselves, or that inheres in us. Hence Christ is said to be our righteousness; and we are said to be justified by his blood, his death, his obedience; we are righteous in him, and are justified by him or in his name, or for his sake. The righteousness of God, therefore, which the gospel reveals, and by which we are constituted righteous, by the perfect righteousness of Christ which completely meets and answers all the demands of what law to which all men are subject, and which all have broken.

    This righteousness is said in the text to be of faith. It is obvious that the words ἐκ πίστεως are not to be connected with ἀποκαλύπτεται. They must be connected either directly or indirectly with δικαιοσύνη. It is either δικαιοσύνη ἐκ πίστεως ἀποκαλύπτεται, righteousness by faith is revealed; δικαιοσύνη ἀποκαλύπτεται ἐκ πίστεως οὖσα righteousness is revealed, being of faith, i.e., which is by faith. Not an excellence of which faith is the germinating principle, or which consists in faith, because this is inconsistent with all those representations which show that this righteousness is not subjective.

    The meaning of the words εἰς πίστιν in the formula ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν; from faith to faith, is very doubtful. They must be explained in a manner consistent with their connection with δικαιοσύνη. It is a righteousness which is of faith to faith. Now it cannot be said that our justification depends on our believing first the Old Testament, and then the New, which is the interpretation of Theodoret — δεῖ γὰρ πιστεῦσαι τοῖς προφήταις, καὶ δ ̓ ἐκείνων εἰς τὴν τοῦ ευσαγγελίου πίστιν ποδηγηθῆναι; nor does it seem to suit this connection to make the phrase in question express a progress from a weak or imperfect faith to that which is more perfect. This however is a very generally received interpretation. Calvin says, "Quum initio gustamus evangelium, laetam quidem et exporrectam nobis cernimus Dei frontem, sed eminus; quo magis augescit pietatis eruditio, velut propiore accessu clarius ac magis familiariter Dei gratiam perspicimus." The sense is however perfectly clear and good, if the phrase is explained to mean, faith alone. As "death unto death" and "life unto life" are intensive, so "faith unto faith" may mean, entirely of faith. Our justification is by faith alone: works form no part of that righteousness in which we can stand before the tribunal of God. "Dicit," says Bengel, "fidem meram; namque justitia ex fide subsistit in fide, sine operibus … Fides, inquit Paulus, manet fides; fides est prora et puppis, apud Judaeos et Gentiles, etiam apud Paulum, usque ad ipsam ejus consummationem." Most of the modern commentators regard εἰς in the words εἰς πιστιν as indicating the terminus. Righteousness is from faith and unto faith, comes to it. This makes πίστιν here virtually equivalent to πιστεύοντας, as in Romans 3:22, the δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ is said to be εἰς πάντας τοὺς πιστεὺοντας. Righteousness then is by faith and unto faith, i.e. is granted unto or bestowed upon believers.

    This doctrine of the apostle, that the righteousness which is unto life is to be obtained by faith, he confirms by a reference to Habakkuk 2:4 where it is said, ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως, ζήσεται, he that is righteous by faith, shall live; or, the righteous shall live by faith. The connection of ἐκ πίστεως; with δίκαιος is certainly best suited to the apostle's object, which is to show that righteousness is by faith; but in either construction the sense is substantially the same. Salvation is by faith. In the Hebrew also, either construction is allowable, as the words are "The righteous in his faith shall live." The Masoretic accentuation however connects, as Paul does, the first two words together, ‘The righteous in his faith shall live.' Shall live, shall attain that life which Christ gives, which is spiritual, blessed, and everlasting; comp. Romans 5:17; Romans 8:13; Romans 10:3. This passage is cited in confirmation of the apostle's own doctrine, and is peculiarly pertinent as it shows that under the old dispensation as well as under the new, the favor of God was to be secured by faith.


    1. The apostolic office, except as to what was peculiar and extraordinary, being essentially the same with the ministerial office in general, Paul teaches,

    1. That ministers are the servants of Christ, deriving their authority from him, and not from the people;

    2. That their calling is to preach the gospel, to which all other avocations must be made subordinate;

    3. That the object of their appointment is to bring men to the obedience of faith;

    4. That their field is all nations;

    5. That the design of all is to honor Christ; it is for his name, Romans 1:1-5.

    2. The gospel is contained in its rudiments in the Old Testament. It is the soul of the old dispensation, Romans 1:2.

    3. Christ is the Alpha and Omega of the Gospel. In stating the substance of the gospel, Paul says, ‘It concerns Jesus Christ,' Romans 1:3.

    4. Christ is at once God and man; the son of David and the son of God, Romans 1:3, Romans 1:4.

    5. Christ is called the Son of, God in reference to his Divine nature, and on account of the relation in which, as God, he stands to the Father. The name, therefore, is expressive of his Divine character, Romans 1:3, Romans 1:4.

    6. He is the proper object of prayer, and the source of spiritual blessings, Romans 1:7.

    7. He is the Mediator through whom our prayers and thanksgiving must be presented to God, Romans 1:8.

    8. God is the source of all spiritual good; is to be worshipped in spirit, and agreeably to the gospel; and his providence is to be recognized in reference to the most ordinary affairs of life, Romans 1:8-10.

    9. Ministers are not a class of men exalted above the people, and independent of them for spiritual benefits, but are bound to seek, as well as to impart good, in all their intercourse with those to whom they are sent, Romans 1:11, Romans 1:12.

    10. Ministers are bound to preach the gospel to all men, rich as well as poor, wise as well as unwise; for it is equally adapted to the wants of all, Romans 1:14, Romans 1:15.

    11. The salvation of men, including the pardon of their sins and the moral renovation of their hearts, can be elected by the gospel alone. The wisdom of men, during four thousand years previous to the advent of Christ, failed to discover any adequate means for the attainment of either of these objects; and those who, since the advent, have neglected the gospel, have been eventually unsuccessful, Romans 1:16, etc.

    12. The power of the gospel lies not in its pure theism, or perfect moral code, but in the Cross, in the doctrine of justification by faith in a crucified Redeemer, Romans 1:17, etc.


    1. Ministers should remember that they are "separated unto the gospel," and that any occupation which, by its demands upon their attention, or from its influence on their character or feelings, interferes with their devotion to this object, is for them wrong, Romans 1:1.

    2. If Jesus Christ is the great subject of the gospel, it is evident that we cannot have right views of the one, without having correct opinions respecting the other. What think ye of Christ? cannot be a minor question. To be Christians we must recognize him as the Messiah, or Son of David; and as Divine, or the Son of God; we must be able to pray to him, to look for blessings from him, and recognize him as the Mediator between God and man, Romans 1:1-8.

    3. Christians should remember that they are saints; that is, persons separated from the world and consecrated to God. They therefore cannot serve themselves or the world, without a dereliction of their character. They are saints, because called and made such of God. To all such, grace and peace are secured by the mediation of Christ, and the promise of God, Romans 1:7.

    4. In presenting truth, everything consistent with fidelity should be done to conciliate the confidence and kind feelings of those to whom it is addressed; and everything avoided, which tends to excite prejudice against the speaker or his message. Who more faithful than Paul? Yet who more anxious to avoid offense? Who more solicitous to present the truth, not in its most irritating form, but in the manner best adapted to gain for it access to the unruffled minds of his readers? Romans 1:8-14.

    5. As all virtues, according to the Christian system, are graces (gifts), they afford matter for thanksgiving, but never for self-complacency, Romans 1:8.

    6. The intercourse of Christians should be desired, and made to result in edification, by their mutual faith, Romans 1:12.

    7. He who rejects the doctrine of justification by faith, rejects the gospel. His whole method of salvation, and system of religion, must be different from those of the apostles, Romans 1:17.

    8. Whether we be wise or unwise, moral or immoral, in the sight of men, orthodox or heterodox in our opinions, unless we are believers, unless we cordially receive "the righteousness which is of God" as the ground of acceptance, we have no part or lot in the salvation of the gospel, Romans 1:17.

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    Hodge, Charles. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians.

    : For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith unto faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall live by faith.

    The theme of Romans is pretty well described in the first part of verse17. This epistle reveals the righteousness of God. Paul shows (1) How God can save man and still be righteous; (2) Why men are going to be condemned and God will be just; and (3) Why the Jews were justly cut off from being God's chosen people. "The word ‘righteousness' is used in one way or another over sixty times in this letter (righteous, just, and justified)" (Warren Wiersbe, Romans , p517).

    Since understanding the righteousness of God is not the "milk of the word," Romans is not one of the easier New Testament books. However, this does not mean we should neglect it. There are a number of passages that challenge those who study this book, and one of these passages is Romans 1:17.

    To appreciate and comprehend this passage, Bruce (p73) contends that readers must understand the Old Testament background for the word righteousness. On page73of his commentary he said, "The ideas of right and wrong among the Hebrews are forensic ideas; that Isaiah , the Hebrew always thinks of the right and the wrong as if they were to be settled before a judge. Righteousness is to the Hebrew not so much a moral quality as a legal status. The word ‘righteous' (saddiq) means simply ‘in the right', and the word ‘wicked' (rasha), means ‘in the wrong'. ‘I have sinned this time', says Pharaoh, ‘Jehovah is in the right (A.V. righteous), and I and my people are in the wrong (A.V. wicked)', Exod. ix27 Jehovah is always in the right, for He is not only sovereign but self-consistent. He is the fountain of righteousness...the consistent will of Jehovah is the law of Israel."

    Bruce further stated (p74): "When, therefore, the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel, it is revealed in a two fold manner. The gospel tells us first how men and women, sinners as they are, can come to be ‘in the right' with God and second how God's personal righteousness is vindicated in the very act of declaring sinful men and women ‘righteous.' This second aspect of the matter is not dealt with immediately, but the former is expanded sufficiently to show that the principle on which God brings people into the right with himself is the principle of faith, and from this statement Old Testament authority is adduced in the words of Habakkuk 2:4 b, ‘the righteous shall live by his faith'. Habakkuk 2:4 b may be called the ‘text' of this Epistle; what follows is in large measure an exposition of the prophet's words."

    McGuiggan ( Romans , pp24-25) said, "Law is thus not simply a demand that God makes on His people: it is the way in which He administers His universe. He can be relied on to act according to law. This becomes especially interesting when we consider the matter of how God will acquit the guilty. This acquittal cannot be done at the expense of God's Holiness or Law. If God justifies men, it must be a ‘righteous justifying'; it must honor the law of God. We are never to think of the transaction at Calvary as a ruse of God to get around the holy demands of the law!"

    The end of this verse contains an expression that troubles interpreters. This expression is "from faith unto faith." Different explanations have been proposed to explain what this means. I understand it to describe what has already been stated. This epistle sets forth a clear contrast between faith and works, and this verse makes a point about the contrast. If we desire to be righteous (just) before God, we must do it by faith. This means faith is the starting point to becoming righteous and faith is the ending point. Works can never justify us. Similar expressions are found in Psalm 84:7; 2 Corinthians 3:18; and John 1:16.

    This faith is not mere belief. It involves all the things listed in the introductory notes. One of these items is obedience (verse5). If we are living this kind of life, we will be among the righteous for the righteous live by faith. This quotation is from Habakkuk 2:4. Other places where it is found are Hebrews 10:38 and Galatians 3:11.

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    Price, Brad "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "Living By Faith: Commentary on Romans".

    Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible

    Romans 1:17

    "The just shall live by faith." — Romans 1:17

    A life of faith in Christ is as necessary to our present and experimental salvation, as his death upon the cross was to our past and actual salvation. If you are alive to what you are as a poor fallen sinner, you see yourself surrounded by enemies, temptations, sins, and snares; and you feel yourself utterly defenseless, as weak as water, without any strength to stand against them. Pressed down by the weight of unbelief, you see a mountain of difficulty before your eyes, sometimes in providence and sometimes in grace. You find, also, that your heart is a cage of unclean birds, and that in you, that Isaiah , in your flesh, there dwells no good thing; neither will nor power have you in yourself to fight or flee.

    How then shall this mountain become a plain? How shall you escape the snares and temptations spread in your path? How shall you get the better of all your enemies, external, internal, infernal, and reach heaven"s gate safe at last? If you say, "By the salvation already accomplished," are you sure that that salvation belongs to you? Where is the evidence of it, if you have no present faith in Christ? How can that past salvation profit you for present troubles unless there be an application of it? It is this application and manifestation of salvation which is being saved by his life ( Romans 5:10).

    See how it works; and what a suitability is in it. You are all weakness, and he is and has all strength, which he makes perfect in your weakness. You are all helplessness against sin, temptation, and a thousand foes. But help is laid upon Christ as one that is mighty; he therefore sends you help from the sanctuary and strengthens you out of Zion ( Psalm 20:2), that these sins and enemies may not get the better of you.

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    Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible.

    The key verse ( Romans 1:17)

    Romans 1:17. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."

    Here the Gospel is not just a revelation of the power of God to salvation, nor is it a revelation primarily of the love of God. It is also a revelation of the righteousness of God. Now, I'm not denying the fact that the love of God is involved.

    You take the first Epistle of John , for example, where you have the revelation of God to us, His children. In the first chapter, 1 John 1:5, you have the revelation that God is light. God is holy. In 1 John 2:29, and also in 1 John 3:7, God is righteous. Everything He does is absolutely righteous. And then in 1 John 4:8; 1 John 4:16, you have the revelation that God is love. He demonstrates that love in sacrifice.

    But, you see, the Gospel really is a revelation of the righteousness of God. This is the great theme of Romans; and seven times in this epistle he talks about the righteousness of God—a righteousness that is bestowed on sinners who believe, giving them a righteousness that avails with God.

    Now, remember, there is just one righteousness in God's universe and that's His own. Man doesn't have any. Isaiah 64:6 informs us that our righteousnesses are in God's sight like a filthy garment.

    You see, friend, for you and me to stand accepted in the presence of God, we must not only have our sin question settled and have eternal life, but we must have His righteousness—a righteousness that equals the righteousness of God.

    John Bunyan said, "Our righteousness is at the right hand of God where our good works can't help and our failures can't hurt."

    That righteousness is put to the account of every believer. Christ is our righteousness, and the Gospel reveals the righteousness of God.

    You see, today, men have so minimized the character of God that sin is no more sin. I'm living in a permissive society. So are you. Things we would have frowned on25 years ago are just taken for granted today.

    You say, well, 25 years ago the same sins were in society, but we kind of kept them under cover. Now, that may be true; but why would we keep them under cover? Because we had some estimate of the righteousness of God.

    But, today, we have lost that concept. The very essence of God's character is His holiness, His absolute righteousness. But having turned our backs on that, having ignored the character of God, we have become permissive and sin is no longer sin. The more we see the character of God, the more we see how awful sin is and, by the way, the more we appreciate His grace.

    I am continually amazed at the boldness and the arrogance of even Song of Solomon -called religious leaders who want our government to legalize the filthy sins, the very sins that brought the flood upon the world in Genesis , chapters7,8 , and the fire of God upon Sodom and Gomorrah in chapter19. These are the very sins that caused Israel to go into the Babylonian captivity and that caused God to judge Israel in70 A.D.

    I am going to say very bluntly, the less you and I see the righteousness of God, the more we will look upon sin as being nothing.

    I tell you, anybody who preaches permissiveness in the case of morals today doesn't know much about the Saviour or anything at all about the very righteousness of God.

    I've had men say to me, when I've presented the good news concerning Jesus Christ to them, "Well, Mitchell, I'll take my chance with God."

    Will you? I'll tell you frankly, if that is the case, you are going to end in eternal night, eternal death, absolute separation from God and, as Jude 1:13 says, "the black darkness" that "has been reserved forever."

    Listen, in Isaiah 6:5, Isaiah saw the Lord and he cried out, "Woe is me! . . . I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips: for my eyes have seen the King."

    Take this dear man Job. He cried out ( Job 42:5-6), "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees Thee. Therefore I retract. I repent in dust and ashes." The King James Version says, "Therefore I abhor myself." He didn't say, "I abhor some of the things I am doing." He said, "I abhor myself." How did he get that way? He saw the Lord. God is righteous.

    You take dear old Peter in Luke 5:1-39. When the Lord said to him, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch," Peter said, "We fished all night and we caught nothing. And the nets are still dirty. It's the wrong time to fish. But, nevertheless, at your word I will let down the nets."

    And, you know, they had a tremendous catch of fish.

    I would like to have been there. When I go fishing, which is once in a long, long time, I generally catch what Peter caught that night—nothing. I just have a good time getting out in the fresh air.

    But when he saw the miraculous catch of fishes, you know what Peter did? He fell down at the feet of Jesus and said, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful Prayer of Manasseh , O Lord."

    Was he wicked because he got a catch of fish? Of course not. He saw the Lord in His majesty, in His power. He saw that the One he was following controlled nature, and he worshiped Him.

    If you want to get a real picture of yourself, just look at the Lord Jesus. Do you want to know the kind of man God will accept? Just look at Him. He always did the things that pleased the Father.

    He was the only one of whom God could say, "This is my Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased" ( Matthew 3:17).

    Do you think He is pleased with you? With me?

    Brother, let's face up to it. We are sinners. And, one day, you and I will have to stand in the presence of a righteous God. The Gospel of God's good news reveals that. But if God is righteous, where is the good news? The good news is that when you and I receive the Saviour, God not only forgives us of our sins, but He pronounces us righteous. As Paul could say to the Corinthian church, "But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us . . . righteousness" ( 1 Corinthians 1:30).

    There is only one righteousness—divine righteousness. And that same righteousness is put to our account. That's why a Christian can come at any time into the presence of God and be acceptable. He stands in all the righteousness of Jesus Christ. It is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."

    Notice, it is not from faith to works but from faith to faith. Let me get this into your heart. In John 1:17, we're told, "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ." And it's grace upon grace, faith to faith. The path is the path of faith. Faith is the starting point, and faith is the course we follow. Faith is confidence in Another as opposed to confidence in ourselves.

    "The righteous will live by his faith." What do I mean? It's a life of continual trust. If you want a picture of that, look at Hebrews 11:1-40 where the believer is justified by faith and maintained by faith. Or if I were to put it this way: The righteous by faith shall live, and only those who are righteous shall live.

    You know, it is an amazing thing that this statement is used only four times in the Bible. It is first of all used in the little book by the prophet Habakkuk 2:4. Then it is used here in Romans 1:17 and the emphasis in Romans is upon the righteousness of God. When you come to the book of Galatians 3:11, the emphasis is on "the righteous man shall live BY FAITH," the righteous by faith shall live. When you come to Hebrews 10:38, "the righteous one shall LIVE by faith" or those who are righteous by faith shall—live.

    Romans emphasizes the righteousness of God. Galatians emphasizes faith. And Hebrews emphasizes the question of life.

    I'm saved by faith; I continue in faith. I don't put my trust in the Saviour to be saved from sin and from death and from hell so that I can add my own works to that. Oh, no. No. No. There's no place for man's works in salvation. But as a Christian, my life ought to be changed; and I ought to do good works—as Ephesians 2:10 says, He has appointed us "for good works." That's for His people.

    But those who have never received the Saviour need salvation. They need peace of heart and mind. They need eternal life. They need to be able to stand in the presence of a righteous, holy God. It is in Christ that God has vindicated His righteousness (as we shall see in chapter3).

    Now Romans 1:1-17 is the introduction to the epistle. And it would be very, very good for you to read and reread this matter of the Gospel's being a revelation of the righteousness of God—the righteousness which has been bestowed upon sinners who believe. The only ones who believe are sinners. Christ didn't die for good people. He died for the unrighteous. He died for sinners; and sinners, made righteous, shall live by faith. We start with faith and we continue with faith.

    Paul now begins to give us the absolute unrighteousness of men—of all men, whether Jew, Gentile, moralist, religionist, you name it. He's going to reveal in chapters1 , 2and part of3that there isn't a man on the face of the earth who has righteousness and is able to stand on his own two feet before God and say, "This is what I am."

    It would be folly for Paul to speak of the righteousness of God when men are occupied with their own righteousness; so he begins by revealing the absolute unrighteousness of man. He proves that all men, Jew and Gentile, are under sin, having no righteousness.

    In other words, he asks, "Is the Gospel necessary? Can man do anything to please God?" And then he goes on to prove that he cannot ( Romans 8:7-8; Proverbs 14:12).

    Copyright Statement

    Mitchell, John G. D.D. "Commentary on Romans 1:17". "Mitchell's Commentary on Selected New Testament Books".

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