Paul begins with a rhetorical question, inviting contemplation. He raises the unexpected scenario of Gentiles, who were not actively pursuing righteousness through the Law, attaining righteousness. This challenges conventional expectations and highlights a shift in perspective regarding the means of obtaining righteousness.
- The Righteousness of Faith:
"...even the righteousness which is of faith."
The righteousness attained by the Gentiles is clarified—it is the righteousness that comes through faith. Paul contrasts this with the mindset of striving for righteousness through adherence to the Law, emphasizing the transformative power of faith in Christ.
Theological Significance: Righteousness Beyond Works
- Shift from Works to Faith:
Paul's emphasis on the Gentiles attaining righteousness without actively pursuing it through works underscores a crucial theological shift. The focus moves from human efforts under the Law to the transformative power of faith in Christ.
- Inclusive Nature of Righteousness:
The inclusion of Gentiles in the righteousness of faith emphasizes the universal accessibility of God's righteousness. It is not restricted to a specific group or ethnicity but extends to all who believe.
- Redemption from Legalism:
The message challenges the legalistic mindset that righteousness is solely achieved through meticulous observance of the Law. Instead, it highlights the liberating truth that faith in Christ is the key to righteousness.
Practical Implications: Embracing Faith-Centered Righteousness
- Freedom from Performance-Based Approval:
Understanding that righteousness comes through faith liberates believers from the pressure of trying to earn God's approval through their own works. It fosters an environment where God's acceptance is received as a gift through faith.
- Inclusive Community:
Recognizing that righteousness is not exclusive to a particular group fosters a sense of inclusivity within the Christian community. Believers from all backgrounds share a common foundation—the righteousness that comes through faith.
- Encouragement in Evangelism:
The fact that Gentiles attained righteousness through faith serves as an encouragement for evangelism. It reinforces the message that anyone, irrespective of their background, can find righteousness in Christ through faith.
Galatians 3:6: "Even as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.’" Paul, in Galatians, references Abraham as an example of righteousness through faith. This aligns with the theme of attaining righteousness by believing, as presented in Romans 9:30.
Philippians 3:9: "...and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith." Paul, in Philippians, echoes the idea that true righteousness comes through faith in Christ, not by human effort.
Conclusion - A Paradigm Shift in Attaining Righteousness: Romans 9:30 marks a significant shift in perspective, challenging the notion that righteousness is achieved through meticulous adherence to the Law. The unexpected scenario of Gentiles attaining righteousness through faith emphasizes the inclusive and transformative nature of God's righteousness, breaking down barriers and inviting all to partake in the righteousness that is of faith.
Romans 9:30. The Gentiles, who didn’t follow after righteousness, attained to righteousness, even the righteousness, which is of faith.