Monday, March 15, 2021

Adult Bible Study on Romans 3:21-31

Romans 3:21-31

(New International Version)


But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.


27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.



1. In the previous section, Paul showed that no one could be counted as righteous by following the Law because no one can obey the Law perfectly. We all sin. So, whose righteousness can we rely on?


Verse 21 tells us it is God’s righteousness that has been made known. We often focus on Jesus’ righteousness and sacrifice for us, which is true, but in this passage, notice that the focus is on God the Father.


  1. It is His righteousness that has been made known and to which the Law and the Prophets testify,
  2. He is the one who presented Jesus as a sacrifice (verse 25),
  3. And again, He is the one who is demonstrating His righteousness by punishing sin and also extending grace (verses 25-26).



2. Notice the three words used to describe the result for us of God’s sacrifice of Christ: justify, redemption, atonement. What does each of these words make you think of?


  • Justify – you are declared not guilty
  • Redemption – you are bought back from slavery to sin and death
  • Atonement – your sins are covered so that you can be in right standing with God


3. Is there anything we have to do to receive this justification, redemption, and atonement?


We can’t earn it by following the Law or doing good works, but we do need to respond in faith (verse 27). There are two ways to be declared righteous before God: one, follow the Law perfectly; two, place your faith in the sacrifice God made when Jesus died and took the punishment for our sins. Notice that we still have to do something – we need to have faith – but that’s a lot easier than following all of God’s commands perfectly. We can have faith; we can’t keep the Law.



4. Looking at verse 25, what does Paul mean by saying that because of His forbearance, God left sins committed beforehand unpunished?


This seems to be a reference to Sheol and the final judgment. If you’re unfamiliar with what Sheol was, the idea is that before Jesus died, most people’s souls were neither in Heaven nor Hell but a state of waiting or “sleep.” When Jesus died, He descended to Sheol and preached to the souls who were there, and some of them came out of the graves and ascended to Heaven. (You can read more about Sheol here.)


God had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished in that He didn’t send people to their eternal fates before they had a chance to hear about Jesus and respond in faith. He is truly a gracious Father!



5. Paul starts and ends this section by saying 1) the Law and the Prophets testify to Jesus’ coming and sacrifice, and 2) we uphold the Law by placing our faith in this sacrifice. Why is it important to understand these two points?


As other passages tell us, God doesn’t change. The New Covenant may seem like a radical turning away from the Old Covenant, but we see that this was God’s plan all along. He knew He was going to sacrifice Jesus from the very beginning. Nothing in the course of human history surprises Him, and He never has to change His plan. He is all the all-knowing, wise, and good Father.



What to DO after reading this passage

Are you basing your righteousness on how well you’re following God’s laws? Stop! God is so holy that His righteousness is the only righteousness that measures up to His standards, and He’s already given us His righteousness through the sacrifice of Jesus. Place your trust fully in God’s sacrifice, not your obedience.




Do you have another insight into this passage? Please share below!




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