“The Hooks On Which Paul Hangs His Argument”

As part of our ongoing series “The Fine Art Of Belly-Aching” we’re encouraging the people of Good Shepherd to begin their days in the Word and not in the world. I am devoting this space to reading prompts so that we can resource the same people we encourage.

This week’s readings reinforce last Sunday’s bottom line: God is too good to be fair. As a result, we will look at a number of different sections from the letters of Paul, all of which revolve around the idea of what we call “salvation by grace.”

Today: Romans 3:21-31

Oh what a section of Scripture we get to read today!

We’re back to Paul’s letter to the church in Rome. His Mangum Opus, remember?

And here in Chapter Three, Paul keeps piling on evidence and argument to lead to his conclusions. And notice what he continues to say! 3:22-23 – “there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (it’s interesting to me that A LOT of Christians have memorized 3:23 but don’t do so in the context of the “first for the Jew & then for Gentile”!).

Then Paul gives one of my favorite sayings in the New Testament in 3:26:

“so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus”

See that? God is just – he demands payment for sins. And he justifies – he is the one who pays! With the blood of his son. What a marvelous concept. In Jesus, we see the holiness of God and the grace of God summed up in one God-Man, in one divine body of Christ. Wow.

Finally, as you read, count up all the questions in 3:27-31. This one of Paul’s favorite ways to frame his teaching: through rhetorical questions. As one scholar has said, “these questions are the hooks upon which Paul hangs his argument in Romans.” All of it reinforcing the marvelous truth of 3:28 – that people are made right with God (that’s what “justified” means) not by obeying law but by the grace of God.