The Interpretation Of Προσ In Romans 3:26 -- By: David Hall

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 65:1 (NA 2014)
Article: The Interpretation Of Προσ In Romans 3:26
Author: David Hall

The Interpretation Of Προσ
In Romans 3:26

David Hall

In an article published in 1980, Richard Hays argued that Romans 3 should be seen as a unity. The whole chapter is an assertion of God’s integrity—that God is δίκαιος. Verses 21-26 ‘close the circle by answering the objections raised in verses 1-7’.1

Hays’s thesis has been largely rejected. S. K. Stowers stated in 1984 that Hays was ‘almost alone’ in stressing the internal coherence of the argument in Romans 3, 2 and subsequent scholarship has largely concentrated on the analysis of specific sections of the chapter rather than on the chapter as a whole. My aim in this article is to support Hays’s thesis by examining verse 26, and in particular Paul’s use of the preposition πρός in that verse.

Verse 26 ends with the statement that God is righteous when he declares believers in Jesus to be righteous. The meaning of God’s righteousness in this verse can be illustrated from Psalm 143, which Paul has cited earlier in his argument in verse 20. This is one of many psalms (and also of many passages in Isaiah 40-66) in which God’s righteousness denotes his faithfulness to his covenant people. The psalmist pleads with God: ‘listen to me in your righteousness’ (ἐπάκουσόν μου … ἐν τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ σου, Ps. 142:1 LXX). The question at issue throughout chapter 3 is whether, by treating Jews and Gentiles equally, God has reneged on his covenant obligation to the people of Israel.

The climax of Paul’s argument comes in chapters 9-11, where he finally answers the question: ‘has God rejected his people?’ (11:1). But the same question lies behind the introduction to the main body of the letter in 1:16-17: ‘what is revealed in the gospel is that God is

righteous (true to his covenant promises) in offering salvation ...

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