Tag Archives: law

Romans 3.27-31

If you have read ahead, you may be thinking, what do I do with this passage? But do not fear – the passage break up is not a mistake!

I do hope you had a great discussion in Growth Group last week about righteousness, glory, justification, redemption and atonement. Therein lies the reason why we split this last section of chapter 3 into 2. We wanted people to have the chance to really dwell upon and ponder the wonder of salvation!

So what do you do with the tail end of the chapter?

It seems to me that this section (3:27-31) is Paul’s conclusion to his rhetorical argument with the Jews. He picks up on his criticism of their boasting from 2:17 and makes sure they know that there is no merit in them claiming merit! Their pride must be put aside and they must come to Jesus like anyone else. There is only one God and he deals with all people in the same way and he will save all people in the same way – by faith.

David Seccombe helpfully writes:
From this passage we learn somethign enormously important about faith: it is the opposite of achievement. We cannot be proud of faith. Faith is our acknowledgement that we are empty and disqualified. Faith is putting out dirty hands to receive a wonderful gift. Only the utmost perversity could make of it a virtue and a matter of pride.

You may want to ponder with your group the story of the arrogant man who goes proudly to the temple and how he is an example of what Paul is critiquing. (Luke 18:9-14)

You will want to unpack the last sentence in verse 27 – which I think is just saying that the Law never saved (see 3:20) but should have driven Jews to faith for salvation. (This will also bridge into the big idea of chapter 4 – faith!!)

You will probably need to unpack the end of verse 31 which Romans will do later. Perhaps the easy way of doing that is by opening the question to the group of “Do we have to obey the Ten Commandments?” and getting them to think about what they should uphold and what they should not uphold in the Law explained in Exodus and Leviticus and why. The answer is very complex but my simple way of thinking about it is “what does Jesus fulfil and what does Jesus intensify?” Have a Read of Matthew 5:16-end to help your thinking. I’m also happy for you to ask me a question on this as you prepare….

Finally, I am planning on making sure my group really understands and believes 3:29-30. In this age of pluralism and religious tolerance, I fear that many Christian people don’t want to stand on John 14:6 and there only being one God who saves through his one Son Jesus. All other so called God’s are just human constructs made up to help people ignore the reality that they need to trust in Jesus. (You could google the story about the one way Jesus man who lives next to the Harbour bridge – it was in the smh this week.)

I’m hoping this will lead us to prayer for those who are lost.

So in terms of structure of the night, I will probably…
1. Review 1:18-3:20 picking up on 2:17
2. Review the sermon from Sunday on 3:21-26
3. Work through the rhetorical questions one at a time (v.27,29,31) picking up on the issues above.
4. Lead to a discussion of there being only one God.
5. Pray for the lost.

I’m praying for you as you lead your groups this week. Please pray for me!

Romans 3:21-31 – God’s Righteousness Revealed


Paul, writing  a faith and relationship building letter to the early church in Rome, stated his thesis in 1:16-17 – namely, that he is not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God to bring salvation to all who believe. In those versus he states that this same salvation is for the Jews as well as the non-Jews and that the righteous will live – by faith. He began in 1:18 to explain these two important sentences.
He reaches the end of a major teaching at 3:20 – the law does not make anybody righteous, it simply shines the light on our sin and our sin will find us all guilty before God.

Structure of Romans 3:21-31

  • 21-22a – The Law reveals the righteousness of God
  • 22b-24 – The righteousness of God means judgement has no favourites and salvation has no favourites
  • 25-26 – the atonement reveals God’s righteousness
  • 27-31 – boasting is removed and only faith remains

Comments on the text


  • ‘Righteousness’ is to be right with God – to be at peace instead of in conflict with God. Those who will pass God’s perfect judgement and declared righteous (see rom 2:5,13). To be safe from God’s wrath, we need to be righteous in his sight.
  • The law and the prophets (the Old Testament) prophecy or speak about a righteousness of God. It is superior to the law. God and his righteousness are not subject to the law but the other way around.


  • This righteousness (being declared right with God) is a gift! This is what grace means – to receive righteousness when we do not deserve it!
  • It is not given to all humanity but to those who would believe in Christ and put their faith or trust in Christ. This is no light sentence to be glanced over. Paul has been describing the guilt of all humanity and the wrath of God on all of us since Romans 1:18! Now he states who and why we can be saved! Our salvation is through trusting in Jesus instead of the law, instead of our goodness, instead of religion, instead of our best wishes. There is an object for our faith and that is Jesus and no other. It is not enough to simply be a person of faith if that faith is in anything or anyone else!
  • But there is no limit to the number of people who can be saved – it is available to ALL who believe. If you believe, then you can be assured of your salvation.
  • For both Jew and gentile – Paul has been consistently proving this for the last two chapters. Regardless of who you are, this gospel is for you to hear and respond to in faith.


  • Paul States plainly again that all are guilty and all have access to salvation through one means. John 14:6
  • Redemption is through Christ. We have all fallen short of God’s glory but Jesus has paid the difference. Our guilt makes us indebted to God with a debt we cannot pay – but Jesus has redeemed us like you redeem something from the op shop. He has paid the price owed. Paul goes on in verse 25 to explain this very thing.


  • Paul said in verse 21 that the law and the prophets testify to this righteousness of God. Here in verse 25 he shows that the vocab of the law is used to explain how Christ has redeemed those who believe.
  • Atonement – describing how two parties are unified – ‘at-one-ment’
  • For sacrifice of atonement see Leviticus 16:15-16
  • The sacrificial and ceremonial laws of the Old Testament are prophesying of the one true atonement for sin which was Christ shedding his blood on the cross. Colossians 1:20
  • God’s righteousness is revealed because he proves himself to deal with our sins according to the requirements of the law. Through the crucifixion we see God acting perfectly and justly with sin – not just ignoring it but holding back his wrath until he deals with it though his own Son – that is, the Christ – the messiah – the suffering servant of Isaiah’s prophecy. NB God is not subject to the law but he saves in accordance with it because the law was given to point us to that salvation!


  • Therefore he remains just when he declares sinners justified (righteous) if their trust is in Jesus.


  • These verses need no breakdown because they draw to conclusion all that he has said. They support Paul’s argument at the beginning of the chapter when he insisted (‘certainly not!’) that God is right and people are wrong. God has not broken his promises or the law but has upheld the law! (v31)
  • The law that requires works verses the law that requires faith – to boast in the law that requires you to obey it and remain righteous is an empty boast because it only highlights your sin. But to boast in the law that is by faith is to boast in the works of Christ who has fulfilled the law and redeemed us by faith! We trust Jesus rather than our own works.
  • Paul will boast in this just as he proclaimed in 1:16 ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel’


  • Righteousness – how do you get right with God and stay there? This is the crucial question of the bible.
  • Redemption – the process of being paid for.
  • The law and the prophets testify or bear witness to the true gospel of God. They prophecy of this righteousness of God who acts rightly in every way and who gives us the gift of his righteousness when we hear the gospel and believe.
  • Salvation by grace alone through faith (eph 2:8-10)
  • God is right when he acts.
  • Faith beats law!


  1. Repent and believe the good news
  2. There is one verdict for all humanity: guilty. There is one way to be saved: the atoning sacrifice of Christ. This is the good news that Paul was so keen and obligated to preach (1:14-15). And we too ought to be keen and obligated to proclaim it.
  3. Paul has helped us understand Romans 1:17 – from faith to faith – saved through faith from first to last. Works has nothing to do with it!


  1. Paul has layed down the gospel for us. Can you explain the gospel without using the same words that Paul has used?
  2. What place does works play in the life of a Christian? Be careful how you answer this that you don’t make works part of your need to be saved.
  3. Name one thing that is more important than this message of salvation. How does your answer affect decisions in your life for work, money spending, teaching children and basically everything? Your prayers?