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The Amplified Bible
Romans 1:17

For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith]. As it is written, The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith.

Bible Study Resources

Commentaries:

- Clarke Commentary;   Abbott's New Testament;   Birdgeway Bible Commentary;   Coffman Commentaries;   Barne's Notes;   Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes;   Calvin's Commentary;   Cambridge Greek Testament;   Church Pulpit Commentary;   Chuck Smith Commentary;   Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible ;   Constable's Expository Notes;   Daily Study Bible;   Darby's Synopsis;   Dunagan Commentary;   Ellicott's Commentary;   Family Bible New Testament;   Hole's Commentary;   Meyer's Commentary;   Gaebelein's Annotated;   Morgan's Biblical Exposition;   Gill's Exposition;   Godbey's NT Commentary;   Everett's Study Notes;   Geneva Study Bible;   Alford's Commentary;   Haldane's Commentary on Romans;   Haydock's Catholic Commentary;   Hodge's Commentary;   Meyer's Commentary;   Mahan's Commentary;   The Bible Study New Testament;   Ironside's Notes;   Bengel's Gnomon;   Beet's Commentary on the New Testament;   Commentary Critical and Explanatory;   Commentary Critical and Explanatory - Unabridged;   Gray's Commentary;   The People's Bible;   Sutcliffe's Commentary;   Trapp's Commentary;   Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the Bible;   Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures;   Grant's Commentary;   Wells of Living Water;   Henry's Complete;   Henry's Concise;   Poole's Annotations;   Pett's Bible Commentary;   Preacher's Homiletical Commentary;   Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary;   People's New Testament;   Benson's Commentary;   Robertson's Word Pictures;   Sermon Bible;   Schaff's New Testament Commentary;   Spurgeon's Verse Expositions;   Biblical Illustrator;   Coke's Commentary;   Expositor's Bible;   Pulpit Commentaries;   Treasury of Knowledge;   Vincent's Studies;   Burkitt's Notes;   Wesley's Notes;   Whedon's Commentary;   Newell's Commentary;  

Concordances:

- Nave's Topical Bible - Faith;   Gospel;   Justification;   Quotations and Allusions;   Salvation;   Scofield Reference Index - Faith;   Holy Spirit;   The Topic Concordance - Faith/faithfulness;   Gospel;   Justice;   Resurrection;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Justification before God;   Righteousness Imputed;  

Dictionaries:

- Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Gospel;   Inspiration;   Justification;   Revelation;   Righteousness;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Dead Sea Scrolls;   Evangelize, Evangelism;   Faith;   Gospel;   Ignorant, Ignorance;   Justification;   Philippians, Theology of;   Righteousness;   Salvation;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Christianity;   Judgment, Last;   Omnipotence of God;   CARM Theological Dictionary - Faith;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Habakkuk, Prophecies of;   Justification;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Habakkuk;   Hebrews, the Epistle to the;   Justification;   Romans, the Epistle to the;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Everlasting Punishment;   Impute, Imputation;   Letter Form and Function;   Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament;   Righteousness;   Romans, Book of;   Typology;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Atonement;   Faith;   Galatians, Epistle to the;   Justification, Justify;   Paul the Apostle;   Person of Christ;   Righteousness;   Romans, Epistle to the;   Text of the New Testament;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Beloved ;   Faith;   God;   Good;   Grace;   Hebrews Epistle to the;   Justification (2);   Law;   Old Testament;   Quotations;   Reading ;   Righteousness;   Romans Epistle to the;   Sin (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Quotations;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Habakkuk;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Romans, Epistle to the;  

Encyclopedias:

- International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Imputation;   Inspiration;   Peter, Simon;   Quotations, New Testament;   Reconcile;   Wrath (Anger);   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Love;   Saul of Tarsus;  

Devotionals:

- Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for March 24;   Every Day Light - Devotion for March 27;   Faith's Checkbook - Devotion for April 20;   Today's Word from Skip Moen - Devotion for September 25;  

Parallel Translations

The Complete Jewish Bible
For in it is revealed how God makes people righteous in his sight; and from beginning to end it is through trust - as the Tanakh puts it, "But the person who is righteous will live his life by trust."

American Standard Version
For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith unto faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall live by faith.

Bible in Basic English
For in it there is the revelation of the righteousness of God from faith to faith: as it is said in the holy Writings, The man who does righteousness will be living by his faith.

English Revised Version
For therein is revealed a righteousness of God by faith unto faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall live by faith.

Contemporary English Version
The good news tells how God accepts everyone who has faith, but only those who have faith. It is just as the Scriptures say, "The people God accepts because of their faith will live."

English Standard Version
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith."

Easy-to-Read Version
The Good News shows how God makes people right with himself. God's way of making people right begins and ends with faith. Like the Scripture says, "The person that is right with God by faith will live forever."

The Geneva Bible (1587)
For by it the righteousnesse of God is reueiled from faith to faith: as it is written, The iust shall liue by faith.

The Bishop's Bible (1568)
For by it is the ryghteousnes of God opened fro fayth to fayth. As it is written: the iuste shall lyue by fayth.

Darby's Translation
for righteousness of God is revealed therein, on the principle of faith, to faith: according as it is written, But the just shall live by faith.

King James Version (1611)
For therein is the righteousnesse of God reueiled from faith to faith: as it is written, The iust shall liue by faith.

New Revised Standard
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, "The one who is righteous will live by faith."

Douay-Rheims Bible
For the justice of God is revealed therein, from faith unto faith, as it is written: The just man liveth by faith.

New Century Version
The Good News shows how God makes people right with himself - that it begins and ends with faith. As the Scripture says, "But those who are right with God will live by trusting in him."

James Murdock Translation of the Peshitta
For in it is revealed the righteousness of God, from faith to faith; as it is written, The righteous by faith, shall live.

Wesley's New Testament (1755)
For the righteousness of God is revealed therein from faith to faith; as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

George Lamsa Translation of the Peshitta
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The righteous shall live by faith.

Good News Translation
For the gospel reveals how God puts people right with himself: it is through faith from beginning to end. As the scripture says, <>

Holman Christian Standard
For in it God's righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.

Miles Coverdale Bible (1535)
for in it ye righteousnes that is of value before God, is opened, which cometh out of faith i to faith.

Mace New Testament (1729)
There it is that divine justification is revealed to be wholly by faith: as it is written, " the just shall live by faith."

J.P. Green Literal Translation
for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; even as it has been written, "But the just shall live by faith." Hab. 2:4

New King James
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."

New Living Translation
This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, "It is through faith that a righteous person has life."

New International Version
For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,[e] just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”[f]

King James Version
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

New American Standard Version
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."

New Life Version
The Good News tells us we are made right with God by faith in Him. Then, by faith we live that new life through Him. The Holy Writings say, "A man right with God lives by faith." (Habakkuk 2:4)

Hebrew Names Version
For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith to faith. As it is written, "But the righteous shall live by faith."

International Standard Version
For in it God's righteousness is being revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, "The righteous will live by faith."

John Etheridge Translation of the Peshitta
for the righteousness of Aloha in it is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, The righteous by faith shall live.

The Emphasised Bible
For, a righteousness of God, is therein revealed, - by faith unto faith: even as it is written - But, he that is righteous, by faith, shall live.

Revised Standard Version
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, "He who through faith is righteous shall live."

Tyndale Bible
For by it ye rightewesnes which cometh of god is opened fro fayth to fayth. As it is written: The iust shall live by fayth.

Updated Bible Version 1.9
For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith to faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall live by faith.

The Webster Bible
For in this is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

World English Bible
For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith to faith. As it is written, "But the righteous shall live by faith."

Weymouth New Testament
For in the Good News a righteousness which comes from God is being revealed, depending on faith and tending to produce faith; as the Scripture has it, "The righteous man shall live by faith."

The Wycliffe Bible (1395)
For the riytwisnesse of God is schewid in it, of feith in to feith,

Young's Literal Translation
For the righteousness of God in it is revealed from faith to faith, according as it hath been written, `And the righteous one by faith shall live,'

The Message
God's way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: "The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives." Ignoring God Leads to a Downward Spiral

Lexham English Bible
For the righteousness of God is revealed in it from faith to faith, just as it is written, "But the one who is righteous by faith will live." God's Wrath Revealed Against Sinful Humanity

Contextual Overview

16For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ, for it is God's power working unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to everyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance, to the Jew first and also to the Greek, 17For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith]. As it is written, The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith. 18For God's [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative.

Verse Review

from
Treasury of Scripure Knowledge

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
For therein
3:21
from faith
3:3
The just
Habakkuk 2:4; John 3:36; Galatians 3:11; Philippians 3:9; Hebrews 10:38; 11:6,7

Cross-References

Genesis 9:13
I set My bow [rainbow] in the cloud, and it shall be a token or sign of a covenant or solemn pledge between Me and the earth.

Job 38:12
Have you commanded the morning since your days began and caused the dawn to know its place,

Psalms 8:1
O LORD, our Lord, how excellent (majestic and glorious) is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory on [or above] the heavens.

Psalms 8:3
When I view and consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained and established,

Acts 13:47
For so the Lord has charged us, saying, I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles (the heathen), that you may bring [eternal] salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.

Gill's Notes on the Bible

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed,.... By "the righteousness of God", is not meant the essential righteousness of God, the rectitude of his nature, his righteousness in fulfilling his promises, and his punitive justice, which though revealed in the Gospel, yet not peculiar to it; nor the righteousness by which Christ himself is righteous, either as God, or as Mediator; but that righteousness which he wrought out by obeying the precepts, and bearing the penalty of the law in the room of his people, and by which they are justified in the sight of God: and this is called "the righteousness of God", in opposition to the righteousness of men: and because it justifies men in the sight of God; and because of the concern which Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit, have in it. Jehovah the Father sent his Son to work it out, and being wrought out, he approves and accepts of it, and imputes it to his elect: Jehovah the Son is the author of it by his obedience and death; and Jehovah the Spirit discovers it to sinners, works faith in them to lay hold upon it, and pronounces the sentence of justification by it in their consciences. Now this is said to be "revealed" in the Gospel, that is, it is taught in the Gospel; that is the word of righteousness, the ministration of it; it is manifested in and by the Gospel. This righteousness is not known by the light of nature, nor by the law of Moses; it was hid under the shadows of the ceremonial law, and is brought to light only by the Gospel; it is hid from every natural man, even from the most wise and prudent, and from God's elect themselves before conversion, and is only made known to believers, to whom it is revealed:

from faith to faith; that is, as say some, from the faith of God to the faith of men; from the faith of preachers to the faith of hearers; from the faith of the Old to the faith of the New Testament saints; or rather from one degree of faith to another; for faith, as it grows and increases, has clearer sights of this righteousness, as held forth in the Gospel. For the proof of this, a passage of Scripture is cited,

as it is written, Habakkuk 2:4;

the just shall live by faith: "a just", or righteous man is, not everyone who thinks himself, or is thought by others to be so; nor are any so by their obedience to the law of works; but he is one that is made righteous by the righteousness of Christ imputed to him, which is before said to be revealed in the Gospel. The life which this man lives, and "shall live", does not design a natural or corporeal life, and a continuance of that, for such die a natural death, as other men; nor an eternal life, for though they shall so live, yet not by faith; but a spiritual life, a life of justification on Christ, of holiness from him, of communion with him, and of peace and joy; which spiritual life shall be continued, and never be lost. The manner in which the just lives, is "by faith". In the prophet Habakkuk, the words are, "the just shall live" באמונתו, "by his faith" Habakkuk 2:4); which the Septuagint render, "by my faith": and the apostle only reads, "by faith", omitting the affix, as well known, and easy to be supplied: for faith, when given by God, and exercised by the believer, is his own, and by it he lives; not upon it, but by it upon Christ the object of it; from whom, in a way of believing, he derives his spiritual life, and all the comforts of it.

Barnes' Notes on the Bible

For - This word implies that he is now about to give a “reason” for what he had just said, a reason why he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. That reason is stated in this verse. It embodies the substance of all that is contained in the Epistle. It is the doctrine which he seeks to establish; and there is not perhaps a more important passage in the Bible than this verse; or one more difficult to be understood.

Therein - In it, ἐν οὕτῳ en houtōthat is, in the gospel.

Is the righteousness of God - δικαιοσύνη Θεοῦ dikaiosunē TheouThere is not a more important expression to be found in the Epistle than this. It is capable of only the following interpretations.

(1) some have said that it means that the attribute of God which is denominated righteousness or justice, is here displayed. It has been supposed that this was the design of the gospel to make this known; or to evince his justice in his way of saving people. There is an important sense in which this is true Romans 3:26. But this does not seem to be the meaning in the passage before us. For,

(a)The leading design of the gospel is not to evince the justice of God, or the attribute of justice, but the love of God; see John 3:16; Ephesians 2:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:16; 1 John 4:8.

(b)The attribute of justice is not what is principally evinced in the gospel. It is rather mercy, “or mercy in a manner consistent with justice,” or that does not interfere with justice.

(c)The passage, therefore, is not designed to teach simply that the righteousness of God, as an attribute, is brought forth in the gospel, or that the main idea is to reveal his justice.

(2) asecond interpretation which has been affixed to it is, to make it the same as goodness, the benevolence of God is revealed, etc. But to this there are still stronger objections. For.

(a)It does not comport with the design of the apostle‘s argument.

(b)It is a departure from the established meaning of the word “justice,” and the phrase “the righteousness of God.”

(c)If this had been the design, it is remarkable that the usual words expressive of goodness or mercy had not been used. Another meaning, therefore, is to be sought as expressing the sense of the phrase.

(3) the phrase “righteousness of God” is equivalent to God‘s “plan of justifying people; his scheme of declaring them just in the sight of the Law; or of acquitting them from punishment, and admitting them to favor.” In this sense it stands opposed to man‘s plan of justification, that is, by his own works: God‘s plan is by faith. The way in which that is done is revealed in the gospel. The object contemplated to be done is to treat people as if they were righteous. Man attempted to accomplish this by obedience to the Law. The plan of God was to arrive at it by faith. Here the two schemes differ; and the great design of this Epistle is to show that man cannot be justified on his own plan, to wit, by works; and that the plan of God is the only way, and a wise and glorious way of making man just in the eye of the Law. No small part of the perplexity usually attending this subject will be avoided if it is remembered that the discussion in this Epistle pertains to the question, “how can mortal man be just with God?” The apostle shows that it cannot be by works; and that it “can be” by faith. This latter is what he calls the “righteousness of God” which is revealed in the gospel.

To see that this is the meaning, it is needful only to look at the connection; and at the usual meaning of the words. The word to “justify,” δικαιόω dikaioōmeans properly “to be just, to be innocent, to be righteous.” It then means to “declare,” or treat as righteous; as when a man is charged with an offence. and is acquitted. If the crime alleged is not proved against him, he is declared by the Law to be innocent. It then means to “treat as if innocent, to regard as innocent;” that is, to pardon, to forgive, and consequently to treat as if the offence had not occurred. It does not mean that the man did not commit the offence; or that the Law might not have held him answerable for it; but that the offence is forgiven; and it is consistent to receive the offender into favor, and treat him as if he had not committed it. In what way this may be done rests with him who has the pardoning power. And in regard to the salvation of man, it rests solely with God. and must be done in that way only which he appoints and approves. The design of Paul in this Epistle is to show how this is done, or to show that it is done by faith. It may be remarked here that the expression before us does not imply any particular manner in which it is done; it does not touch the question whether it is by imputed righteousness or not; it does not say that it is on legal principles; it simply affirms “that the gospel contains God‘s plan of justifying people by faith.”

The primary meaning of the word is, therefore, “to be innocent, pure, etc.” and hence, the name means “righteousness” in general. For this use of the word, see Matthew 3:15; Matthew 5:6, Matthew 5:10, Matthew 5:20; Matthew 21:32; Luke 1:75; Acts 10:35; Acts 13:10; Romans 2:26; Romans 8:4, etc.

In the sense of pardoning sin, or of treating people as if they were innocent, on the condition of faith, it is used often, and especially in this Epistle; see Romans 3:24, Romans 3:26, Romans 3:28, Romans 3:30; Romans 4:5; Romans 5:1; Romans 8:30; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:8, Galatians 3:24; Romans 3:21-22, Romans 3:25; Romans 4:3, Romans 4:6, Romans 4:13; Romans 9:30, etc.

It is called “God‘s” righteousness, because it is God‘s plan, in distinction from all the plans set up by people. It was originated by him; it differs from all others; and it claims him as its author, and tends to his glory. It is called his righteousness, as it is the way by which he receives and treats people as righteous. The same plan was foretold in various places where the word “righteousness” is nearly synonymous with “salvation;” Isaiah 56:5 “My righteousness is near, my salvation is gone forth;” Isaiah 56:6, “My salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished;” Isaiah 56:1, “My salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed;” Daniel 9:24, “To make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness.”

(There is yet another sense lying on the very surface of the passage, and adopted by nearly all the evangelical expositors, according to which “the righteousness of God” is that righteousness, which Christ worked out in his active and passive obedience. This is a righteousness which God hath devised, procured, and accepted. It is therefore eminently His. It is imputed to believers, and on account of it they are held righteous in the sight of God. It is of the highest importance that the true meaning of this leading expression be preserved; for if it be explained away, the doctrine of imputed righteousness is materially affected, as will appear in a subsequent note.

That the phrase is to be understood of the righteousness which Christ has procured by his obedience and death, appears from the general sense of the original term δικαιοσύνη dikaiosunēMr. Haldane in a long and elaborate comment on Romans 3:21, has satisfactorily shown that it signifies “righteousness in the abstract, and also conformity to law,” and that “Wherever it refers to the subject of man‘s salvation, and is not merely a personal attribute of Deity, it signifies that righteousness which, in conformity with his justice, God has appointed and provided.”

Besides, if the expression be understood of “God‘s plan of justifying men,” we shall have great difficulty in explaining the parallel passages. They will not bend to any such principle of interpretation, In Romans 5:17, this righteousness is spoken of as a “gift” which we “receive,” and in the Romans 5:18 and Romans 5:19 verses, the “righteousness of one” and “the obedience of one,” are used as convertible terms. Now it is easy to understand how the righteousness which Christ has procured by his obedience, becomes “a gift,” but “a plan of justification” is appropriately said to be declared, or promulgated. It cannot be spoken of in the light of a gift received. The same observation applies with still greater force to the passage in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For he hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” How would this passage appear, if “plan of justification” were substituted for righteousness of God?

In Philemon 3:9, Paul desires to be found in Christ, “not having his own righteousness, which is of the land, but what is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Is not his own righteousness what he could attain to by his works or obedience, and is not the righteousness of Christ what Jesus had procured by his obedience?

Lastly, in Romans 10:3, the righteousness of God is thus opposed to the righteousness of man, “they being ignorant of God‘s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.” Now what is that righteousness which natural people seek to establish, and which is especially called “their own?” Doubtless it is a righteousness founded on their own works, and therefore what is here properly opposed to it is a righteousness founded on the “work of God. See Haldane, Hodge, Scott, Guyse, etc.” This meaning of the term furnishes a key to unlock “all” the passages in which it is used in connection with the sinner‘s justification, whereas any other sense, however it may suit a few places, will be found generally inapplicable.)

In regard to this plan it may be observed;

(1)That it is not to declare that people are innocent and pure. That would not be true. The truth is just the reverse; and God does not esteem men to be different from what they are.

(2)it is not to take part with the sinner, and to mitigate his offences. It admits them to their full extent; and makes him feel them also.

(3)it is not that we become partakers of the essential righteousness of God. That is impossible.

(4)it is not that his righteousness becomes ours. This is not true; and there is no intelligible sense in which that can be understood.

(It is true indeed that the righteousness of Christ cannot be called ours in the sense of our having actually accomplished it in our own persons. This is a view of imputation easily held up to ridicule, yet there is a sense in which the righteousness of Christ may be ours. Though we have not achieved it, yet it may be so placed to our account that we shall be held righteous, and treated as such. I have said, first, we shall be held righteous, and then treated as such; for God treats none as righteous who in some sense or other are not really so. See the note at Romans 4:3.)

But it is God‘s plan for pardoning sin, and for treating us as if we had not committed it; that is, adopting us as his children, and admitting us to heaven on the ground of what the Lord Jesus has done in our stead. This is God‘s plan. People seek to save themselves by their own works. God‘s plan is to save them by the merits of Jesus Christ.

Revealed - Made known, and communicated. The gospel states the fact that God has such a plan of justification; and shows the way or manner in which it might be done. The fact seems to have been understood by Abraham, and the patriarchs Romans 3:22, Romans 3:30; Romans 9:30; Romans 9:32; Romans 10:6, etc.

(5) the passage which he immediately quotes shows that he did not speak of different degrees of faith, but of the doctrine that people are to be justified by faith.

To faith - Unto those who believe (compare Romans 3:22); or to everyone that believeth, Romans 1:16. The abstract is here put for the concrete. It is designed to express the idea, “that God‘s plan of justifying people is revealed in the gospel, which plan is by faith, and the benefits of which plan shall be extended to all that have faith, or that believe.”

As it is written - See Habakkuk 2:4.

The just shall live by faith - The Septuagint translate the passage in Habakkuk, ‹If any man shall draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him, but the just by my faith,” or by faith in me, “shall live.” The very words are used by them which are employed by the apostle, except they add the word “my,” μοῦ moumy faith. The Syriac renders it in a similar manner, “The just by faith shall live.” The meaning of the Hebrew in Habakkuk is the same. It does not refer originally to the doctrine of justification by faith; but its meaning is this, “The just man, or the righteous man, shall live by his confidence in God.” The prophet is speaking of the woes attending the Babylonish captivity. The Chaldeans were to come upon the land and destroy it, and remove the nation, Romans 1:6-10. But this was not to be perpetual. It should have an end Romans 2:3, and they who had confidence in God should live Romans 1:4; that is, should be restored to their country, should be blessed and made happy. Their confidence in God should sustain them, and preserve them. This did not refer primarily to the doctrine of justification by faith, nor did the apostle so quote it, but it expressed a general principle that those who had confidence in God should be happy, and be preserved and blessed. This would express the doctrine which Paul was defending. It was not by relying on his own merit that the Israelite would be delivered, but it was by confidence in God, by his strength and mercy. On the same principle would men be saved under the gospel. It was not by reliance on their own works or merit; it was by confidence in God, by faith, that they were to live.

Shall live - In Habakkuk this means to be made happy, or blessed; shall find comfort, and support, and deliverance. So in the gospel the blessings of salvation are represented as life, eternal life. Sin is represented as death, and man by nature is represented as dead in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1. The gospel restores to life and salvation, John 3:36; John 5:29, John 5:40; John 6:33, John 6:51, John 6:53; John 20:31; Acts 2:28; Romans 5:18; Romans 8:6. This expression, therefore, does not mean, as it is sometimes supposed, the “justified by faith” shall live; but it is expressive of a general principle in relation to people, that they shall be defended, preserved, made happy, not by their own merits, or strength, but by confidence in God. This principle is exactly applicable to the gospel plan of salvation. Those who rely on God the Saviour shall be justified, and saved.

Clarke's Notes on the Bible

For therein - In the Gospel of Christ.

Is the righteousness of God - God's method of saving sinners.

Revealed from faith to faith - Shown to be by faith, and not by the works of any law; for Abraham, the father and founder of the Jewish people, was justified by faith, before even the law was given; and by believing, in reference to the spiritual object held forth in the various ordinances of the law, and now revealed under the Gospel, he and all his believing descendants have been justified. And thus the faith of the old covenant led on to the faith of the new covenant, which shows that salvation has been by faith from the call of Abraham to the present time. And, from the beginning, all that were just or righteous in the earth became such by faith, and by this principle alone they were enabled to persevere; as it is written, The just shall live by faith. That δικαιοσυνη, which we translate righteousness in this verse, signifies God's method of saving mankind by faith in Christ, is fully evident from the use of the term in Romans 9:30; : The Gentiles which followed not after Righteousness - who had no knowledge by revelation, of God's method of justifying and saving sinners, have attained to Righteousness - have had imparted to them God's method of salvation by faith in Christ. Romans 9:31; : But Israel, the Jews, which followed after the law of righteousness - that law, the end or object of which is Christ, and through him justification to all that believe ( Romans 10:4;), have not attained to the law of righteousness - have not found out the genuine plan of salvation, even in that law which so strongly and generally proclaims justification by faith. And why have they not found it? Romans 9:32; : Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law - they did not discern that even its works or prescribed religious observances were intended to lead to faith in that glorious Mediator of whom they were the types and representatives; but the Jews trusted in the observances themselves, hoping to acquire justification and final salvation by that means. For they stumbled at the stumbling-stone - at the doctrine of Christ crucified as the only sure ground on which the expectation of future salvation can be founded. Therefore, being ignorant of God's righteousness - God's method of saving sinners, and going about to establish their own righteousness - their own method of salvation, by the observance of those rites and ceremonies which should have led them by faith to Christ, they did not submit themselves to the righteousness of God - they would not submit to be saved in God's way, and therefore rejected, persecuted, and crucified the Lord Jesus; see Romans 10:3. This collation of passages most evidently shows that the word righteousness here means simply God's method of saving sinners, or God's way of salvation, in opposition to the ways and means invented by the fancies or prejudices of men.

There are few words in the sacred writings which are taken in a greater variety of acceptations than the word צדקה tsedakah in Hebrew, and δικαιοσυνη in Greek, both of which we generally translate righteousness. Our English word was originally rightwiseness, from the Anglo-Saxon justice, right, and to know; and thus the righteous man was a person who was allowed to understand the claims of justice and right, and who, knowing them, acted according to their dictates. Such a man is thoroughly wise; he aims at the attainment of the best end by the use of the best means. This is a true definition of wisdom, and the righteous man is he that knows most and acts best. The Hebrew צדק tsadak, in its ideal meaning, contains the notion of a beam or scales in equipoise, what we call even balance; and it is well known that in all the personifications of Justice, both ancient and modern, she is represented as a beautiful female with a bandage on her eyes, and a beam and scales in her hand, so perfectly poised that neither end preponderates.

The Greek word δικαιοσυνη has been derived from διχαζω, to divide; and hence δικη, justice, because it is the property of this virtue to divide to each his due. With other etymologies it is useless to trouble the reader. Both the noun δικαιοσυνη and the verb δικαιοω have a great variety of meaning in the New Testament; but they are all reducible to this original idea, acting according to the requisitions of justice or right. It may not be improper to notice some of the chief of these acceptations in this place.

  1. The act of distributing to each man his due is the sense of the word, Acts 17:31; : He will judge the world in Righteousness, i.e. according to the principles of eternal justice and rectitude. See also Revelation 19:2; : In Righteousness doth he judge and make war.
  • It signifies a holy life, as proceeding from piety towards God. Luke 1:75; : Might serve him in holiness and Righteousness all the days of our life.
  • It signifies benignity, liberality, and particularly almsgiving, as justice and righteousness require us, being only stewards of God's bounty, to share it with the necessitous. Matthew 6:1; : Take heed that ye do not your Alms, δικαιοσυνην, your Righteousness, before men. Romans 3:5; : But if our unrighteousness commend the Righteousness, the benignity of God. 2 Corinthians 9:10; : Increase the fruits of your Righteousness, i.e. of your liberality.
  • It signifies God's method of saving sinners; the way which is agreeable to his righteousness and liberality. See the former part of this note, and the scriptures there referred to.
  • It signifies the reward or issue of liberality. 2 Corinthians 9:9; : He hath scattered abroad; he hath given to the poor; his Righteousness - the reward of his bounty, remaineth for ever. See Psalm 112:9.
  • It signifies the whole collection of graces, which constitute the complete Christian character. Matthew 5:6; : Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after Righteousness - they who ardently long for the full salvation of God. Matthew 5:10, Matthew 5:20; : If your Righteousness exceed not the righteousness, etc. Matthew 6:33; : Seek the kingdom of God and his Righteousness.
  • It signifies the result of faith in God and submission to his will, exemplified in a holy and useful life. Hebrews 11:7; : By faith Noah prepared an ark, and became heir of the Righteousness which is by faith - he escaped the deluge and became the instrument of repeopling the world.
  • It signifies an exact observance of religious ordinances and precepts. Philemon 3:6; : Touching the Righteousness which is of the law, blameless - having lived in an exact conformity to all the Mosaic precepts. In this sense it is to be understood, Matthew 3:15; : Thus it becomes us to fulfill all Righteousness - to observe every precept of the law.
  • It signifies the favor or pardoning mercy of God. Romans 4:6; : The blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth Righteousness - without works - the man is happy to whom God has granted the remission of sins, without respect to his observance of the law of Moses.
  • In 2 Corinthians 5:21, δικαιοσυνη, righteousness, is put for δικαιος, righteous: That we might become the righteousness of God - that we might receive such a righteousness or holiness, such a salvation, as is worthy of God's grace to impart, and such as the necessities of mankind require.
  • A few of the leading acceptations of the verb δικαιοω, which we translate to justify, may be here properly subjoined, as this verb is so repeatedly used in this epistle.
    1. It signifies so declare or pronounce one just or righteous; or, in other words, to declare him to be what he really is. 1 Timothy 3:16; : He was Justified in the Spirit. - By the almighty power of the Spirit he was proved to be the True Messiah.
  • To esteem a thing properly. Matthew 11:19; : Wisdom is Justified of her children. - Wisdom, propriety of conduct, is properly estimated by wise men.
  • It signifies to approve, praise, and commend. The publicans Justified God, Luke 7:29; praised him for calling them to such a state of salvation. Luke 16:15; : Ye are they which Justify yourselves before men - Ye are self-commended, self-applauded, and self-praised. In this sense it is often used in the Greek apocryphal books. Ecclus. 7:5: Justify not thyself before the Lord - Do not applaud thyself in the presence of thy - Maker. Ecclus.10:29: Who will Justify (praise or applaud) him that sinneth against his own soul. Ecclus 18:2: The Lord only is righteous, δικαιωθησεται, shall be Justified, i.e. praised, because there is none other but he.
  • The verb δικαιοομαι is used to clear from all sin. 1 Corinthians 4:4; : For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby Justified - A man's own consciousness of integrity is not a proof that he is clear from all sin in the sight of God.
  • A judge is said to justify not only when he condemns and punishes, but also when he defends the cause of the innocent. See Eurip. Heraclid. ver. 190. Thucyd. iii. p. 200. Polyb. iii. 31, and Schleusner on δικαιοω . Hence δικαιουσθαι is taken in a forensic sense, and signifies to be found or declared righteous, innocent, etc. Matthew 12:37; : By thy words shalt thou be Justified - thou shalt be declared to be righteous. Romans 3:4; : That thou mightest be Justified in thy saying - that thou mightest be proved to be true in what thou hast said.
  • It signifies to set free, to escape from. Acts 13:39; : And by him all that believe are Justified from all things, from which ye could not be Justified by the law - by faith in Christ a man escapes those evils which, otherwise, the law of Moses would inflict upon him. Romans 6:7; : For he that is dead, δεδικαιωται, is Justified, properly rendered by our translators, is Freed from sin.
  • It signifies also to receive one into favor, to pardon sin. Romans 8:30; : Whom he called, them he also Justified - he received them into favor and pardoned their sins. Luke 18:14; : This man went down to his house Justified - he humbled himself, repented of his iniquity, and God forgave his sin. Romans 3:20; : By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be Justified - no soul can have his sins forgiven through the observance of the Mosaic law. Romans 4:2; : If Abraham were Justified (had his sin pardoned) by works. 1 Corinthians 6:11; : Such were some of you, but ye are Justified - ye are received into the Divine favor, and have your sins forgiven. See James 2:21-25; Romans 3:24, Romans 3:28; Romans 5:1, Romans 5:9; Galatians 2:16, Galatians 2:17; Galatians 3:11, Galatians 3:24; Galatians 5:4; Titus 3:7. In all these texts the word justify is taken in the sense of remission of sins through faith in Christ Jesus; and does not mean making the person just or righteous, but treating him as if he were so, having already forgiven him his sins.
  • The just shall live by faith - This has been understood two ways:
    1. That the just or righteous man cannot live a holy and useful life without exercising continual faith in our Lord Jesus: which is strictly true; for He only who has brought him into that state of salvation can preserve him in it; and he stands by faith.
    2. It is contended by some able critics that the words of the original text should be pointed thus: 'ο δε δικαιος εκ πιστεως, ζησεται . The just by faith, shall live; that is, he alone that is justified by faith shall be saved: which is also true; as it is impossible to get salvation in any other way. This last meaning is probably the true one, as the original text in Habakkuk 2:4, speaks of those who believed the declarations of God when the Chaldeans besieged Jerusalem, and, having acted conformably to them, escaped with their lives.


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    Lectionary Calendar
    Wednesday, September 18th, 2019
    the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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