Term 2 – Week 05

Big Idea – The gospel proclaims a righteousness of God that is by faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ

Romans 3:21-26




In 1:18-3:20 Paul established the universal reign of sin and humanity’s need for a righteousness of God, because of God’s anger towards sin and humanity guilt before Him. But now, says Paul, apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known (v.21).[1] Now, a new era of salvation is here, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. What is this new era of salvation? God’s righteousness is now available to all people, both Jew and Gentile. What is this righteousness from God? It’s ‘the act by which God brings people into right relationship with himself.’[2] How does one attain this righteousness from God? Paul says, through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (vv.22-23).[3] Sinners are made right with God and brought back into a relationship with him through faith in Jesus Christ alone.[4]

This salvation can be understood first from a judicial perspective. Jews & Gentiles are justified freely by his grace (v.24a). ‘To be justified means to be acquitted by God from all “charges” that could be brought against a person because of their sins’.[5]It’s to be declared ‘not guilty’ before God so that it’s as if the individual had never sinned. The judicial verdict which would otherwise have to wait until final judgment is now given the moment a person believes and it’s given freely by his grace.  No merit can be claimed, it’s a gift from God. Secondly, this salvation can be understood from a slave trade perspective, the idea that refers to the buying back of a slave’s freedom, through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus (v.24b). The death of Jesus is understood to be the payment (ransom) for the sins owed by all people to God. What is the nature and means of this redemption through Jesus? By God’s will and own initiative, Jesus is presented as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood – to be received by faith (v.25a). That is, in his death, Jesus is presented as the blood sacrifice that would turn aside both God’s wrath and cover over human sin,[6] and it’s through faith alone by which the benefits of his sacrifice are appropriated.

God did this to demonstrate his righteousness (i.e. his justice), and this justice is demonstrated in two time frames: the past (in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished) and the present (at the present time).  The time past is the time before Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and the sins unpunished are sins committed before the new era of salvation, not meaning that God failed to punish sins, but rather that he delayed the full penalty of sins, allowing sinners to stay in relationship to him even though the sacrifice of atonement on which they relied was, ultimately, unreliable.  In the present time, God’s justice is demonstrated because Christ as a sacrifice of atonement means that God is not unjust in justifying those who have faith in Jesus.

[1] This links back to Romans 1:16-17, where the gospel was first announced. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed.

[2] It relates to both, the saving activity of God in declaring sinners to be righteous, and to the status of those who are made right. Douglas J. Moo, ‘The Epistle to the Romans’, The New Testament Commentary on the NT, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1996), 74.

[3] Links back to Romans 1:16. The gospel… brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 

[4] Faith is head, heart & hands. It’s knowing in your head that Jesus is Lord, it’s loving Him with your heart and following Him with your life.

[5] Moo, ‘The Epistle to the Romans’, 227.

[6] The Greek word hilasterion translated as ‘sacrifice of atonement’, is a reference to the atonement cover over the ark of God, where God appeared (Exod 25:17), and on which the blood of sacrifices was poured or sprinkled on the Day of Atonement (See the instructions regarding the blood of sacrifices and the atonement cover in Lev 16).  In an attempt to minimize the biblical teaching about the wrath of God, some biblical scholars have regarded atonement language in the Bible as referring simply to the covering over of sins (expiation). However, this view limits Christ’s achievements on the cross on behalf of the sinner. The sacrifice of atonement also includes the idea of turning aside God’s wrath (propitiation). See NIV footnote on the translation of this phrase. See also ESV translation for vv.21-26.

Memory Verse

Romans 1:16-17

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’


This is the Gospel (Colin Buchanan)YouTube

Leaders PDF

This has been put together using purchased external material and therefore this resource may only be used by Dundonald Church. For more information please contact kids@dundonald.org

More about the author :

Dundonald Kids

Dundonald Kids is the team led by our Children's Minister Natasha Small that aims to partner with parents in growing young disciples of Christ.

More info More articles from Dundonald Kids