Daniel Kirk referees John Piper and N.T.Wright (2)
This the followup of Daniel's previous post
Some time ago, I came to the conclusion that the fracas over the righteousness of God could not be separated from another favorite perennial NT question: the meaning of pistis, and the pistis Christou debate in particular.
Romans 1:17 reads: “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed by faith unto faith as it is written, ‘But the one who is righteous by faith will live.”
Somehow, the good news reveals God’s righteousness “by faith”, as it is written, “But the one who is righteous ‘by faith’ will live.”
The ideas are brought together again at the end of Romans 3:
But now, without law, the righteousness of God has been made manifest (being witnessed by the law and the prophets), the righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ (or, through faith in Jesus Christ) unto all who exercise faith. For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being righteoused freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement through faith, by his blood, in order to show forth his righteousness, because in his forbearance he passed over the previously committed sins, to show forth his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who is of the faith of Jesus.
This is where attempting to dissociate “righteousness” from God’s work on behalf of God’s people starts to fall apart. It’s not that there is a quality of God that needs to be lived up to. Romans 3 tells us that God reveals his righteousness when he makes a way to vindicate/acquit people who affiliate with Jesus.
It’s not just that God has to live up to a standard. It’s that the standard to which God desires to live up is the one in which people are vindicated before him. When we talk about righteousness, we are talking about God’s ability to vindicate people who are not worthy of vindication.
And here’s where the surprise comes into the Jewish story: the act that God judged worthy of vindication was Jesus’ death on the cross. And, acquittal looks like being associated with that death so as to be joined to that resurrection-vindication.