Even the righteousness of God - That method of saving sinners which is not of works, but by faith in Christ Jesus; and it is not restrained to any particular people, as the law and its privileges were, but is unto all mankind in its intention and offer, and becomes effectual to them that believe; for God hath now made no difference between the Jews and the Gentiles.
Even the righteousness of God - The apostle, having stated that the design of the gospel was to reveal a new plan of becoming just in the sight of God, proceeds here more fully to explain it. The explanation which he offers, makes it plain that the phrase so often used by him, “righteousness of God,” does not refer to an attribute of God, but to his plan of making people righteous. Here he says that it is by faith in Jesus Christ; but surely an attribute of God is not produced by faith in Jesus Christ. It means God‘s mode of regarding people as righteous through their belief in Jesus Christ.
(That the “righteousness of God” cannot be explained of the attribute of justice, is obvious enough. It cannot be said of divine justice, that it is “unto and upon all them that believe.” But we are not reduced to the alternative of explaining the phrase, either of God‘s justice, or God‘s plan of justifying people. Why may we not understand it of that righteousness which Yahweh devised, Jesus executed, and the Spirit applies; and which is therefore justly denominated the righteousness of God? It consists in that conformity to law which Jesus manifested in his atoning death, and meritorious obedience. His death, by reason of his divine nature, was of infinite value. And when he voluntarily submitted to yield a life that was forfeited by no transgression of his own, the Law, in its penal part, was more magnified than if every descendant of Adam had sunk under the weight of its vengeance.
Nor was the preceptive part of the Law less honored, in the spotless obedience of Christ. He abstained from every sin, fulfilled every duty, and exemplified every virtue. Neither God nor man could accuse him of failure in duty. To God he gave his piety, to man his glowing love, to friends his heart, to foes his pity and his pardon. And by the obedience of the Creator in human form, the precept of the Law was more honored than if the highest angels had come down to do reverence to it, in presence of people. Here then is a righteousness worthy of the name, divine, spotless, broad, lasting - beyond the power of language to characterize. It is that everlasting righteousness which Daniel predicted the Messiah should bring in. Adam‘s righteousness failed and passed away. That of once happy angels perished too, but this shall endure. “The heavens,” says Yahweh,” shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner, but my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished,” This righteousness is broad enough to cover every sinner and every sin. It is pure enough to meet the eye of God himself. It is therefore the sinner‘s only shield. See the note at Romans 1:17, for the true meaning of the expression “righteousness of God.”)
By faith of Jesus Christ - That is, by faith in Jesus Christ. Thus, the expression, Mark 11:22, “Have the faith of God” (margin), means, have faith in God. So Acts 3:16, the “faith of his name” “(Greek),” means, faith in his name. So Galatians 2:20, the “faith of the Son of God” means, faith in the Son of God. This cannot mean that faith is the meritorious cause of salvation, but that it is the instrument or means by which we become justified. It is the state of mind, or condition of the heart, to which God has been pleased to promise justification. (On the nature of faith see the note at Mark 16:16.) God has promised that they who believe in Christ shall be pardoned and saved. This is his plan in distinction from the plan of those who seek to be justified by works.
Unto all and upon all - It is evident that these expressions are designed to be emphatic, but why both are used is not very apparent. Many have supposed that there was no essential difference in the meaning. If there be a difference, it is probably this: the first expression, “unto all” εἰς πᾶς eis pasmay denote that this plan of justification has come “(Luther)” unto all men, to Jews and Gentiles; that is, that it has been provided for them, and offered to them without distinction. The plan was ample for all, was suited for all, was equally necessary for all, and was offered to all. The second phrase, “upon all” ἐπὶ πᾶντας epi pantasmay be designed to guard against the supposition that all therefore would be benefited by it, or be saved by the mere fact that the announcement had come to all. The apostle adds therefore, that the benefits of this plan must actually come upon all, or must be applied to all, if they would be justified. They could not be justified merely by the fact that the plan was provided, and that the knowledge of it had come to all, but by their actually coming under this plan, and availing themselves of it. Perhaps there is reference in the last expression, “upon all,” to a robe, or garment, that is placed upon one to hide his nakedness, or sin; compare Isaiah 64:6, also Philemon 3:9.
For there is no difference - That is, there is no difference in regard to the matter under discussion. The apostle does not mean to say that there is no difference in regard to the talents, dispositions, education, and property of people; but there is no distinction in regard to the way in which they must be justified. All must be saved, if saved at all, in the same mode, whether Jews or Gentiles, bond or free, rich or poor, learned or ignorant. None can be saved by works; and all are therefore dependent on the mercy of God in Jesus Christ.
What a scene that will be! No pen can describe it! The accumulated guilt of the world will be laid bare, and the voice of the Judge will be heard saying to the wicked, “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” 6BC 1070.1
Then those who pierced Christ will remember how they slighted His love and abused His compassion; how they chose in His stead Barabbas, a robber and murderer; how they crowned the Saviour with thorns, and caused Him to be scourged and crucified; how, in the agony of His death on the cross, they taunted Him, saying, “Let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” “He saved others; himself he cannot save.” They will seem to hear again His voice of entreaty. Every tone of solicitude will vibrate as distinctly in their ears as when the Saviour spoke to them. Every act of insult and mockery done to Christ will be as fresh in their memory as when the satanic deeds were done. 6BC 1070.2
They will call on the rocks and mountains to fall on them and hide them from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. “The wrath of the Lamb”—One who ever showed Himself full of tenderness, patience, and long-suffering, who, having given Himself up as the sacrificial offering, was led as a lamb to the slaughter, to save sinners from the doom now falling upon them because they would not allow Him to take away their guilt (The Review and Herald, June 18, 1901). 6BC 1070.3Read in context »
16 (ch. 3:10-13, 24; Romans 3:19-28; 5:1). No Room for Self-sufficiency—We are justified by faith. The soul who understands the meaning of these words will never be self-sufficient. We are not sufficient of ourselves to think anything of ourselves. The Holy Spirit is our efficiency in the work of character building, in forming characters after the divine similitude. When we think ourselves capable of molding our own experience, we make a great mistake. We can never of ourselves obtain the victory over temptation. But those who have genuine faith in Christ will be worked by the Holy Spirit. The soul in whose heart faith abides will grow into a beautiful temple for the Lord. He is directed by the grace of Christ. Just in proportion as he depends on the Holy Spirit's teaching he will grow (Manuscript 8, 1900). 6BC 1109.1
20 (Philippians 1:21; Colossians 3:3; see EGW on Revelation 3:1). The Greatest Work in the World—Everything good in men and women is the fruit of the working of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit teaches us to reveal righteousness in our lives. The greatest work that can be done in our world is to glorify God by living the character of Christ. God will make perfect only those who will die to self. Those who are willing to do this can say, “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Manuscript 16, 1900). 6BC 1109.2Read in context »
Genuine faith will be manifested in good works; for good works are the fruits of faith. As God works in the heart, and man surrenders his will to God, and cooperates with God, he works out in the life what God works in by the Holy Spirit, and there is harmony between the purpose of the heart and the practice of the life. Every sin must be renounced as the hateful thing that crucified the Lord of life and glory, and the believer must have a progressive experience by continually doing the works of Christ. It is by continual surrender of the will, by continual obedience, that the blessing of justification is retained. 1SM 397.1
Those who are justified by faith must have a heart to keep the way of the Lord. It is an evidence that a man is not justified by faith when his works do not correspond to his profession. James says, “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was his faith made perfect?” (James 2:22). 1SM 397.2Read in context »