I was thankful for the opportunity for a “do-over” this past Sunday (and this coming Sunday, for that matter). I felt we had much to discuss in these six verses, and I hope that came across as we have studied them together this week.
Paul’s argument in Romans 3 brings to a point the universal responsibility for sin, the inability of humanity to overcome the sin problem, and the solution for that problem provided by God. That solution has been progressively revealed through God’s covenantal relationship to Israel, which Paul points toward in these verses.
In verse 21, we make the turn towards a solution for the sin problem Paul has discussed in the previous twenty verses. The issue of original sin and human guilt dominates the previous chapters as well, demonstrating the guilt of the Gentiles, and the condemnation of the Jews. No one has an advantage in righteousness. Paul points out the advantage of the Jews: they were the keepers of Scripture. That viewpoint, highlighted in 3:1-4, points toward the function of the Law and the Prophets (identification of God’s Holiness, humanity’s sin, and the need for a Redeemer), as well as suggesting that the “Old” covenantal relationship was not enough.
Amazing words to hear from Paul’s mouth. Not much hope is offered until these words are presented. Think about the progression of Paul’s outline. No one is righteous. No one is innocent. No one is able to create or to earn their own righteousness. No one is perfect.
God’s righteousness is revealed in Christ’s sacrifice. God didn’t ignore sin. He “passed over” sin, granting “forbearance” until He solved the sin problem. He responded to our need with forgiveness. He gave us the opportunity to respond to His forgiveness. He atoned for our sin, and bore His own justifiable wrath. His atonement and His provision for it demonstrated that He was, indeed, fully righteous. His holiness demanded judgment. His wrath demanded a sacrifice. Both were demonstrated through Christ.
So what about this “Old Covenant” and “New Covenant” thing?
I haven’t perfected a name for my concept. My concept was really to address the shortcomings of implying that Jesus is a totally different answer to the sin problem after the covenant with Israel was seemingly scrapped. I think that isn’t the case. My opinion (which, if you throw in 50 cents will still get you a Coke from the machines in front of Walmart) is that this covenant isn’t new. It’s the full revelation of God’s plan. In other words, it’s more appropriate to call it something like the “Revealed Covenant.”
Not a catchy title. I’ll have to work on that. Perhaps we’ll talk about that a bit more on Sunday.