These verses contain the very foundation of the Evangel of Grace taught by the Apostle Paul, and as most of us are completely aware, were never taught by any of the other Apostles that taught and upheld the coming Kingdom on this earth.
Let me read the 19th verse of Romans 3 from the Authorised version, for this indeed is where most are led astray by the choice of words used. "Now we are aware that, what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God"! How pleasant it is in the new Hebrew scriptures old English is not used!
In verse 23 of this chapter in the AV it states "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God".
Whereas in Romans 8v1 it says "Nothing consequently, is now condemnation to those in Christ Jesus". So, between the course of five chapters we have the development from sinner to absolutely no condemnation that is expressed. Let us look at the development of these facts through the holy spirit to Paul.
A. E. Knoch, when first studying this section of Romans, found that there were seventy differences, and therefore errors that he found the Authorised version needed changing in, in order to produce the Concordant version.
I want to specifically deal with the words "guilty before God", for this is the primary error that can never be accepted with any who have even a small appreciation of Greek. Consequently, the following verses that would give the distinct impression that guilt has suddenly become acceptable by the words of Paul in the 21st verse, where it reads "Yet now, apart from law, a righteousness of God is manifest through Jesus Christ's faith, for all and on all who are believing"!. This could appear to bypass the condemnation that has just been issued.
One who is guilty cannot be justified. He may be pardoned or forgiven, but to justify a guilty person is tantamount to being a partner in his crimes. We know that God is just as well as the justifier, and as your Concordant version states, He holds the entire world subject to His just verdict. The AV rendering has given us a false impression of God's attitude toward the world. It creates by its reading a condition whereby justification is impossible. It has effectively robbed the saints of the truth of justification, and substituted for it remission or pardon or forgiveness, which alone is only possible where there was guilt and for those who are guilty.
Therefore, when we read Romans 3v19-21 in the CLNT, it makes complete sense and not contradictory, for instead of guilt, we find that the entire world has become subject to the just verdict of God. When we continue into the next verses we find that apart from law, for that must include the law of Moses and any human law, a righteousness of God is manifest through Jesus Christ's faith. Do we always fully realise that it is the faith of Christ and His total obedience to His Father, that brings forth God's own righteousness on all those who are believing, for the whole world are wanting of the glory of God.
Let me now reread Romans 3 v23 from the CLNT. It is not as stated in the AV that we have "come short of the glory of God", but as the CV rightly translates it "for all have sinned and are wanting of the glory of God." That wanting is dealt with by Paul through his evangel, not only for us but for the whole world in God's good time!
Justify indeed means that we are not guilty, that there is no charge to answer because we have been acquitted or vindicated by the highest court that will ever exist, namely the Celestial court of the Heavens.
In Psalms 143v2 it says "For no living one at all can be found righteous before You". The active word is living, and what was applicable in another economy, we now appreciate as most of us have become aware that we are not living anymore, for indeed "With Christ have we been crucified. Knowing this, that our old humanity was crucified together with Him, one who dies has been justified from sin". Romans 6v6-7. The body of Christ is a distinct group of individuals that have been chosen in Christ before, as the scriptures declare, the disruption of the then world. It is totally unique and ensures salvation is absolutely secure, because it is by God's choice and Christ's sacrifice, and as the flesh was stripped off Him, we are to recognise that that signifies our crucifixion of the flesh and death to sin. Salvation is ensured through God's choice, and cannot be put on or off whereas as the scriptures show us the old humanity and new humanity can be. The opponents of grace state that there is nothing therefore to do, and you may do as you please. This is an incorrect appreciation of Romans 5v20, where Paul through grace shows that one under grace does not take liberties to cause grace to super exceed. For a detailed explanation of the offences of the old humanity, they are catalogued in Colossians 3v1 -11. Before closing this small presentation let us read about the new humanity's benefits in Ephesians 4v20-25
Our behaviour should mirror the highest standing that has been bestowed on each of us. The old humanity with all of its carnal and fleshly desires should be a thing of the past. You cannot find anywhere outside of Paul's writings where it speaks of people having died together with Christ! We do not stand justified in the old humanity but the new, and we also are not justified in flesh, but in Spirit. Being therefore justified gratuitously in His Grace, through the deliverance which is in Christ Jesus, let us be thanking Him!
Leaving the courtroom scene in Romans 3, the evangel of Grace proceeds on from glory to glory, to the point where Paul is given this spiritual understanding in Ephesians 1v4 "We to be holy and flawless in His sight, in love designating us beforehand for the place of a son for Him through Christ Jesus"!
This is embellished with the most wonderful appreciation any believer today can receive. In closing let me read Colossians 1v21 "And you, being once estranged and enemies in comprehension, by wicked acts, yet now He reconciles by His body of flesh, through His death, to present you holy and flawless and unimpeachable in His sight!" So, in closing let me read Romans 3 v 21-23 once again from the Concordant version. It would not be beyond this scripture to realise that as Our Heavenly Father looks on His own Son as the beacon of perfection, so in Christ He views each of us as beyond reproach and perfect in Him!
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© David Osgood 2011