26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
1901 ASV Translation:
in the forbearance of God;
26 for the showing, I say, of his righteousness at this present season: that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus.
Textual Issues:The Nestle/Aland 26 has the definite article "the" before "showing" which the Textus Receptus does not have.
I. Paul is Camping on God's Purpose For Setting Christ Forth as the Mercy Seat.
A. It is this verse that actually identifies the issue: How can God both be "just" and "justify" one who has sinned?
1. In the previous verse, Paul raised the issue as "How can God be just and not deal with sin justly?"
a. History reveals a comprehensive picture of God not dealing with sinners with the severity for which their sins call. In "forebearance" He "passed over" most, if not all, sins without bringing them to justice.
1) In Romans 2:4 Paul challenged the "critical, but blind" about despising the goodness, "forebearance" and longsuffering of God in ignorance of His purposes.
2) In the text before us, the issue of "forebearance" comes up again as the "reason" for the human challenge to God's "justice". It's imperative that we understand that if God did not "forebear", no one would be alive. The issue is not just whether "justice" has been done, but whether God can even pursue a "plan" if it includes "sinners".
b. This raises the issue of how God can be just and not deal with sins "justly".
2. In this verse, Paul narrows the question down to "How can God be just and actually justify one who has sinned?".
a. In the former verse Paul simply acceeded to the fact that God did not respond in justice to sinners.
b. In this verse Paul actually claimed that not only does God often not respond in justice to sinners, He actually justifies them -- i.e., treats them as saints.
B. The fundamental claim of Paul's "gospel" is that it is "justice" for God to deal with man's sins in His dealings with Christ asman'srepresentative.
1. Paul's argument is that God set Christ forth "now in the present time" in order to make it clear to men how His justice and mercy work together.
2. This claim has its own set of "problems", the chiefest of which is the question: How can it be "justice" for God to do to Christ what He, by rights, ought to do to me and then let me off the hook because He has so done to Christ?
3. But, whether this is a real problem or not, it, at least, does establish a basis for the claim that justice has been met -- albeit "vicariously".
4. We may transfer our "problem with God" from "injustice" to "vicarious justice", but the bottom line of Paul's argument is that no one can any longer accuse God of "injustice". And, since it was God Himself Who "paid the ransom" that sin demanded so that sin's debt was fully paid, who is it that could really have a "problem" with "vicarious" justice? One who strives over whether "vicarious" justice is legitimate is simply showing the obstinacy of the sinner who no longer has a basis for "blaspheming God", yet still wishes to be free to do that.