Law in the Book of Romans Part 2 -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 094:375 (Jul 1937)
Article: Law in the Book of Romans Part 2
Author: John F. Walvoord

Law in the Book of Romans
Part 2

John F. Walvoord

(Concluded from the January-March Number)

{Editor’s note: Footnotes in the original printed edition were numbered 11–18, but in this electronic edition are numbered 1–7 respectively.}

Chapter II. Righteousness Apart from Law


Having proved that law in any form can only condemn, Paul now turns to the central theme of Romans: God’s undertaking in behalf of condemned mankind. Paul first of all sets out to prove that there is now a way of righteousness which is apart from law, which is through faith in Christ, made possible by the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. He begins by stating the content of this doctrine.

1. The Doctrine of Justification by Faith Stated

In 3:21, the theme is stated: “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.” Paul has a new thing to present. Something which will meet the need the law failed to meet. The first instance of νόμος in this verse is without the article, and seems to point to law in the sense of any moral law whatsoever. The righteousness of God which Paul is now presenting is not through another law, superceding the law of Moses, but through an entirely new method which is apart from all law. This new method, however, is referred to in the second reference, the law. The second reference in this verse has the article and quite clearly refers specifically to the law of Moses, possibly including the rest of the Old Testament. There is repeated reference throughout the Old Testament both in type and in definite prophecy that salvation was to come not through the law, but through the redemptive work of the Messiah. This “righteousness of God” is now to be set forth by the apostle.

In the section 3:22–26, the content of justification by faith is defined. It is shown to be by faith in Jesus Christ, through grace, and through “the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Paul concludes in vs. 27 that in this kind of

justification boasting is excluded, “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.” An unusual use of νόμος occurs in this verse in both instances. Both are without the article. Both are the use of law in its widest possible sense-a recognized principle in operation. Thayer calls it “any law whatsoever.”1 Boa...

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