The Apostle Paul emphasized righteousness, faith, redemption, and justification in his letter to the Romans.
The book of Romans has been described as the magnum opus of the Apostle Paul. In it, Paul laid out his theology of Christ and salvation in his clearest, most concentrated style. Scholars have labored to plumb the depths of Paul’s words and concepts for centuries, and much is still to be written. Luther and the other Reformers found in the first five chapters of Romans their fundamental idea for the Reformation, justification by faith alone.
Righteousness (δικαιοσύνη dikaiosynē) to Paul was not a result of good works, earned by the person, as though he could gain a favorable account with God by his deeds. Rather, righteousness is a standing imparted by God as a result of faith (Romans 4:3), which is itself a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). For centuries, Christian scholars have contrasted righteousness by faith, a Pauline Christian teaching, with righteousness by works, a Judaistic teaching. E.P. Sanders work minimized “righteousness by works” in Judaistic teaching in the first century and emphasized “righteousness by covenant”. This has significantly shaped the modern discussion, and borne some good fruit by improving Jewish-Christian understanding. However, Sanders’ “covenantal nomism” has a serious flaw. If the Jews are saved because they are God’s covenantal people, but must still perform good works to stay in that relationship, salvation still depends on works.
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