This is the kind of thing I do for fun. While most people are out enjoying the sunshine, I pick a passage apart and look up the big words in the Hebrew or Greek lexicon.
Did you just groan in agony? Yes, you did. I heard you. But a few (one or two?) of you out there are truly fascinated by discussing words and their definitions. So even though this post is a little longer, I trust you’ll make it to the end.
Romans 3:21-26 contains some really big words, not necessarily because of their length, but because they are incredibly rich with meaning. Often we have a tendency to just skim over familiar words like righteousness or faith because we think we already know what they mean, and sometimes we skip over less familiar words like manifested or propitiation because we don’t really understand what they mean. But in doing so, we miss out on the full meaning of the passage. And this one in Romans so beautifully illustrates redemption — why we so desperately need it and why Jesus can provide it. Important stuff!
So even if you are not a word nerd like me, I encourage you to read through the passage with the definitions and thoughtfully consider what the Lord desires to express to you. For me, doing this word study really brought out that justification is not a case of needing to pay for my sin and being exonerated, but that Christ makes it is as if the sin never happened and I am declared righteous. I don’t know about you, but I can’t quite get my brain, that remembers the sin all too well, completely around that one!
Another thing that struck me is that Jesus is here referred to as the justifier. I have known Him and loved Him as Savior, Warrior, Teacher, Healer…and now Justifier, the just One who justifies me. Sweet.
Have I convinced you yet of the benefits of word study? Perhaps, since you’ve made it this far. Hang in there to the end, then leave a comment or send me a message about what jumps out at you after your study.
(The actual words from Scripture are in bold and the defined words are bold italic with the definition following.)
But now apart from the Law the righteousness (condition acceptable to God)
of God has been manifested (made visible, known, understood),
being witnessed (seen, heard, experienced)
by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith (conviction of the truth of anything, belief; a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God)
in Jesus Christ for all those who believe (to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in);
for there is no distinction (difference);
for all have sinned (erred, been mistaken; missed or wandered from the path of uprightness and honor, done or went wrong)
and fall short (to come late or too tardily; to be left behind in the race and so fail to reach the goal; metaphorically to fail to become a partaker, fall back from, to be inferior in power, influence and rank; be wanting, lacking in excellence)
of the glory (the kingly majesty which belongs to Him as supreme ruler, majesty in the sense of the absolute perfection of the deity; the kingly majesty of the Messiah; the absolutely perfect inward or personal excellency of Christ)
of God, being justified (rendered righteous or such he ought to be; shown, exhibited, or evinced one to be righteous, such as he is and wishes himself to be considered; declared or pronounced one to be just, righteous, or such as he ought to be)
as a gift (at no cost to recipient)
by His grace (good will, lovingkindness, favor; of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues)
through the redemption (a releasing effected by payment of ransom; deliverance; liberation procured by the payment of a ransom)
which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly (exposed to view, purposed, determined)
as a propitiation (relating to an appeasing or expiating [means by which atonement is made; satisfaction], having placating or expiating force, expiatory; a means of appeasing or expiating, a propitiation; used of the cover of the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies, which was sprinkled with the blood of the expiatory victim on the annual day of atonement [this rite signifying that the life of the people, the loss of which they had merited by their sins, was offered to God in the blood as the life of the victim, and that God by this ceremony was appeased and their sins expiated]; hence the lid of expiation, the propitiatory; an expiatory sacrifice; an expiatory victim)
in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance (toleration)
of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just (innocent, faultless, guiltless; used of him whose way of thinking, feeling, and acting is wholly conformed to the will of God, and who therefore needs no rectification in the heart or life; only Christ truly; approved of or acceptable of God; in a narrower sense, rendering to each his due and that in a judicial sense, passing just judgment on others, whether expressed in words or shown by the manner of dealing with them)
and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
I’m tempted to add a bunch more commentary right here, but I’m going to resist the urge and let the Word speak for Himself.
Thanks for reading.
Janice Powell 2014
Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible.
Definitions are adapted from the The New American Standard New Testament Greek Lexicon which is based on Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary, plus others. It is keyed to the large Kittel and the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. These files are public domain.