What does “Justification By Faith” mean?

The gravity of the situation is summarized in 3:23: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” God thus has provided a righteousness for unrighteous people through the atonement of Jesus Christ. The way of forgiveness and freedom has been offered to all, Jews and Gentiles, through the sacrificial death of Christ.

Four words need special explanation. In verse 24 he said that all who believe “are justified.” Justified is a legal term meaning to declare righteous. On the basis of what Christ has accomplished for sinners on the cross, God now views those who believe in Christ from an eschatological perspective. That is, He sees them not as they are but as they will be in Christ. He sees them as He sees Christ: perfect, holy, and without sin (see 2 Cor. 5:21).

God’s justification of those who believe is provided “freely by his grace.” Grace points to God’s free and unmerited favor by which God has without charge to believers declared them to have a right standing in His sight. God could declare persons righteous only by dealing with their sin. This He did in the “redemption that came by Jesus Christ.”

The term redemption means a price was paid. The death of Christ on the cross was the payment price for human sin that secured release from the bondage to sin, self, and Satan.In verse 25 Paul stated that Christ Jesus was presented as “a sacrifice of atonement” (sometimes translated “propitiation” or “expiation”). Perhaps the idea of satisfaction best illuminates this Pauline concept for us.

In Jesus Christ His Son, God has graciously satisfied His own holy demands and directed against Himself His own righteous wrath that the sinner deserves. By Christ’s sacrifice God has satisfied, or propitiated, His own wrath. As a result God is both “just and the one who justifies” those who have faith in Jesus.

Therefore Jew and Gentile alike stand justified not by their works but by their faith in the finished work of Christ.

Holman Concise Bible Commentary: David S. Dockery ©1998 Broadman & Holman Publishers: Nashville, Tennessee

Pastor Ross

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