Thursday, February 27, 2014

Romans 3:23/Biblical Context

So this will probably be short. I want to say that this is all my own thinking, so if its incorrect, please tell me. This is just something I've noticed.

I've heard Romans 3:23 a lot. At school (Christian school), at church, sunday school, bible camp, you name it. If you don't know it, it goes "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Or at least, that's how I learned it. How it really goes is ".... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, ..." Note the .... Who is all?

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in[h] Jesus Christ to all who believe.There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

So if we look at the surrounding verses, Paul is talking about "righteousness given through faith ... to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned..." I believe that the point of Romans 3:23 is not about how everyone has sinned and we're all terrible like I learned (or what I took in, maybe not what they were trying to teach) in sunday school. While its true that we are all sinners, what Paul is saying is almost the exact opposite. He's saying we've been given righteousness through faith, and we are "justified freely through his grace".

So the point here is don't try and look at one verse out of context. Through those lenses, Romans 3:23 is a pretty bleak, sad, depressing message. Through the message around it, it says, "Yeah, humanity sure has messed up, but salvation is here if you accept it."

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