The Thesis & Key Word in the Book of Romans

Sunday, June 25, 2017

“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17).  The key word in the Book of Romans is found in this verse.  It is “therein.”  Paul had just been discussing the Gospel as God’s power to save (Rom. 1:16). [Note: See last week’s Bulletin.] Thus Paul is saying, “Therein (in the Gospel) “is revealed the righteousness of God.” The phrase “righteousness of God” as used here, does not refer to righteousness as a characteristic of God Himself. This is seen more closely in the ASV:  “For therein is revealed A righteousness of God from faith unto faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall live by faith.” (Emphasis mine, pmw.)

Righteousness as a characteristic of God is clearly revealed in the Old Testament. The “righteousness” discussed here is uniquely revealed in the New Testament Gospel.

Reference is to human righteousness, “A righteousness” made possible by God by means of the Gospel, God’s saving power. Thus, “righteousness of God” is talking about God’s plan for making man righteous. The same phrase is used in identical fashion in Romans 3:21-22: “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference…”

Thus, the thesis of the book is clear: Paul intends to emphasize, to demonstrate, and to prove that the Gospel is God’s plan for man’s righteousness. This righteousness, in the individual, is “from” or out of “faith.” It is “from” or produced by “the faith” or the Gospel. And this plan (Gospel) produces faith in them that hear. It is “from faith” (the Faith, the Gospel), “to faith,” (man’s faith produced by “the faith.”) Paul also shows that God’s plan to save man by his faith is in complete agreement with Old Testament Scripture. He quotes from Habakkuk 2:4: “The just shall live by faith.”

Thus, as we examine the Book of Romans, we can expect to learn how God intends to save man and His method of making man righteous. It is through the Gospel. And it is “revealed therein” (in the Gospel). Paul will explain it in this Letter to the Roman saints.

The Gospel then is God’s power for saving men, because in it is revealed God’s plan of righteousness by faith. The Gospel makes those who accept it righteous, and that great benefit to be found in the Gospel induces men to believe it. 

A noted scholar once remarked that the Book of Romans is the most profound production in all literature. May I add that it is the greatest treatise on salvation to be found anywhere. Beginning in the latter part of chapter one, Paul begins to show exactly how God saves men by the Gospel.

Paul M. Wilmoth