Romans (07): The Works of Torah

Date: 7/27/2008
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Romans 3: An Exposition (07) - The Works of Torah
All Saints * Dr. Gregg Strawbridge * July 27, 2008

Israel was entrusted with the oracles of the creator God (3:2) and were to be the messenger through whom the Creator’s saving purpose would be carried to the whole world. Yet they failed. But God’s purpose to renew people did not fail. In Romans 3 Paul begins the explanation of the covenant faithfulness/righteousness of God in light of Israel’s failure and the abiding purpose of the Torah (God’s Covenant to Jews).

Fundamentally, Paul explains that this Law shows the sinfulness/fulness of sin (3:20). This is true for all aspects of the Law, not just the “moral” Law. Certainly at the heart of the Torah is the morality of the Ten Commandments, but even circumcision, “case laws,” the food laws, ceremonies, clean/unclean laws, and of course sacrificial laws -- all show how death in all its ignominy has entered the world. Death to the land, death to the sea, death in the holy place, death in family, death in the stones of houses, death, death, death. The darker purpose of Torah also reveals in contrast and by promise a hope. “A Seed . . . Redeemer . . . Star . . . Ruler . . . Prophet shall arise from among you. . . .”

The Law is a deep revelation which not only exposes all the shades of sin-death, but anticipates the final Law-Keeper (Jesus) who will set aside the shadows through His own brightness. This is an eschatological [old/new covenant] view of the “works of Torah” (ergon nomou). They are the marks that distinguished Jews from Gentiles as befitted an antecedent age. “But now” Jesus - the goal/end of Torah has come.
1) The Torah Explains the _____________________ _____ ______________
Romans 3:20 For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of Torah, for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
2) The Torah Anticipated the _______________ ____ _______ _____________
21 But now without Torah, the covenantal righteousness of God has been manifested, attested by the Law and the Prophets 22 even, the covenant righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23 for all sinned and [presently] lack of themselves the glory of God, 24 but are being declared righteous freely by his grace through the release from slavery that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God purposed through his blood as an Ark of the Covenant [or wrath-removing blood atonement] accessible through faith, in order to demonstrate His covenantal righteousness, because God in His forbearance had left unpunished [passed over] the sins committed. 26 This was also to demonstrate His covenant righteousness in the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who lives because of Jesus’ faithfulness.
3) The Torah is Established against the ___________ __ ______- __________
27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded! By what Torah? Of works? No, but by the “Torah” of faith. 28 So, reason (about this), [it is evident] that a person is declared just by faith alone without works of Torah. 29 Or is God the God of the Jews alone? Not also of Gentiles? Yes, also of Gentiles. 30 Since God is One, He will justify the circumcised out of faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then abandon Torah on account of faith? May it never be. Instead we establish Torah. (GS trans.)
Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more