“…the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith…“ – Vs 17 (NASB)
There’s an interesting contrast in this chapter that Paul seems to give us. One is about God’s righteousness. The other is about God’s wrath. Paul tells us how both are revealed or made known. In other words, he is letting us know how we can recognize the righteousness or rightness of God in the world, and how we can see God’s wrath or anger in the world.
In verse 17, Paul says that God’s righteousness is revealed in the gospel – the Good News of Jesus Christ. Paul says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes” (Vs 16). He was, “eager to preach the gospel” to those in Rome for this very reason. The gospel and its message of salvation through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is what reveals God’s righteousness. He is a righteous God. As the Greek word indicates, God’s character is one of integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, and correctness. But God’s righteousness wasn’t just revealed in the gospel. Paul says it is made known “from faith to faith.” What does that mean? Well, here is my take on it. I think Paul is saying that the real power of the gospel is revealed when men come to faith and they share that faith with others. That’s what he means by the phrase “from faith to faith.” Some commentators interpret it to mean “in ever-increasing degrees of faith,” but that doesn’t seem to fit the context. Paul has been talking about preaching the gospel. He has talked about how the faith of the Roman believers is “being proclaimed throughout the whole world” (Vs 8). I think what Paul is saying is that as the gospel is preached and proclaimed, people’s lives are changed by its power. But the real power of the gospel is made known when the faith of one changed individual leads to faith in another. The gospel message has a contagious quality to it. It spreads. And every time it does spread, God’s righteousness is revealed. Because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross, God is right and just to declare men righteous and restore them to a right relationship with Himself. This whole process of one man’s faith leading to another man’s faith reveals over and over again the righteousness of God.
But how is God’s wrath or revealed? In verse 18, Paul says it comes directly from heaven. Unlike His righteousness that is revealed from faith to faith, or through the viral sharing of our faith from one to the other, God’s wrath is made known directly from Him. It comes from His throne room. It comes in the form of judgment and decrees against man’s sinfulness and rebellion. In describing how God reveals His wrath, Paul simply puts it that “God gave them over” (Vs 24, 27, 28). He literally hands them over to the power of another. The Greek word means “to deliver up one to custody, to be judged, condemned, punished, scourged, tormented, put to death.” He turns them over “to impurity” (Vs 24), to “degrading passions” (Vs 26), and to “depraved minds” (Vs 28). We can see it all around us. God’s wrath or punishment is evident in the lives of so many in the world today as they struggle with these very things. His wrath is revealed or made known by the sinful actions of men and women who have rebelled against Him and rejected the message of the gospel.
The righteousness of God. The wrath of God. We can see them both all around us. But we have the ability to make known His righteousness as we live our lives in righteousness by faith (Vs 17). When we live righteously, others see it. It becomes contagious. Our faith leads to their faith. And as they place their faith in the Good News of Jesus Christ, God’s rightness and justice is revealed to men. Look at the contrast. When man is left to himself, the result is an ever-increasing degree of unrighteousness and godlessness. We see it evident all around us. But God has done the right thing, the righteous thing. He has made it possible for men to be made right with Him. He has provided a solution: A Savior. And every time someone accepts Jesus Christ as His Savior, God’s righteousness is declared.
So like Paul, let us not be ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation. It is the key to revealing His righteousness on the earth – day after day. So let’s be eager to preach the gospel and live lives of righteousness.
Father, I want my life to reveal Your righteousness, but I also want to see others come to faith because of my faith so that Your righteousness can be made known again and again. Every time someone steps into the kingdom, it shows that you are a just and righteous God Who is saving mankind from a fate worse than death – eternal separation from You. May I grow increasingly eager to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with everyone I meet. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men