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Faith in Christ

This important doctrine is not only clearly but frequently brought to our attention in the New Testament. What our Lord constantly demanded was not merely religious faith in general, but specifically faith in himself as the Son of God and Savior of the world. It is only faith in Christ, not faith as such, which makes a man a Christian. “If you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be,” says our Lord, “you will indeed die in your sins” (John 8:24). “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). “… everyone who believes in him … shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:15–16). “The one who trusts in him will never be put to shame” (9:33). “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?” (10:14). Such passages are innumerable.

So when the object of saving faith is designated, it is said to be not truth in general, but Christ himself. (See verse 25, through faith in his blood; Galatians 2:16, 20; 3:24; Ephesians 3:12; etc.) The act, therefore, which the sinner is required to perform in order to take part in the righteousness of God is to believe in Christ—that is, to receive him as he is revealed in the Gospel as the eternal Son of God, clothed in our nature, loving us and giving himself as a propitiation for our sins. As there is no verb in the text, and righteousness is the nominative, we must either borrow the verb made known from verse 21—“the righteousness of God has been made known to all”—or (more in line with what follows) supply “comes” (or simply “is”) to all.

The words to all are omitted in the manuscripts A.C. 20, 31, 47, 66, 67 in the Coptic and Ethiopic versions and by several of the Fathers. Griesbach and Lachmann leave them out of the text, but most modern critical editions retain them, both on external and internal evidence. This righteousness is to all, extending unto all and over all as it covers them or flows over them. There is no distinction between Jew and Gentile in this method of salvation. No questions are asked about race or status or membership of the visible church. This righteousness is for everyone who believes. Faith is all that is demanded. The reason the same method of salvation is appropriate for all men is given in the following clause: There is no difference. There is no difference among men with regard to their moral state, their relationship to God, their need of salvation, or how to receive this salvation. What one man needs, all need; and what is appropriate for one is appropriate and sufficient for all.

Charles Hodge, Romans, Crossway Classic Commentaries (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), Ro 3:22.

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