No one is justified by following the law; anyone, whether they follow the law or not, can be justified by faith.
One of the great gifts the Jewish people brought to humanity was the law, and the rule of law as the basis for civilization. God gave the law to the newly forming nation of Israel at Mount Sinai as one of the first and most foundational acts of forming the new nation. God appointed the Jews to be his chosen instrument to demonstrate to the world how to live constructively. The ten commandments have two basic parts. The first four commandments make clear that God and God alone makes the laws. People can claim to make laws on behalf of themselves or some other power (idols), but that will not alter the reality that only God is the ultimate lawgiver. The last six commands make clear that the main thing God wants us to do is to treat others like we want to be treated, to be constructive with one another. This builds society and brings life to all. Selfishness and envy are destroyers and bring violence and corruption to society which brings destruction.
God makes clear that His intent is to bless all people of the earth. He even put this notion in his original promise to Abraham, that from his descendants all the nations of the earth would be blessed. So, there is one Creator God, and that Creator God is the God of all humanity.
Why is Paul bringing this up? Because his audience is, likely, the most influential Gentile believers in the world (Romans 1:8), and some Jewish “authorities” who are competing with Paul have slandered his message of good news (verse 8) to overthrow his message that justification before God comes through a freely given gift, separate from the law. The competing “authorities” maintain that justification before God requires these Gentile Roman believers to practice Jewish customs. The Apostle Paul, who consistently upheld Jewish customs for his entire life (Acts 28:17) is adamant that the council of Acts 15 decided definitively that justification before God comes solely by grace.
Paul repeats the conclusion of the Great Council of Acts 15 where the basic question was raised and answered whether Gentiles had to be circumcised and follow Jewish custom to be saved. There was a lot of dispute, and some believing Pharisees maintained that it was necessary for Gentiles to be circumcised (Acts 15:5).
The Apostle Peter, however, spoke the definitive word of the council and stated emphatically that he saw first-hand that God had given His Spirit to the Gentiles without circumcision (Acts 15:8-9). Further, the Apostle Peter noted that the Jews had never done well keeping the law, and that at the end of the day every person was justified before God the same way: by grace through faith (Acts 15:10-11).
The church authorities, the Apostles and the Elders of the Jerusalem church, agreed with this conclusion, and Paul makes this argument in this letter to the Roman believers, urging them to accept the notion that being circumcised and obeying a certain form of religious order is not necessary to be justified before God. Justification before God comes only one way, and that is through the work of Jesus, freely given and received by faith.
29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
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