Longenecker and Still have stimulating section on the “righteousness of God” in Romans (Thinking through Paul, 174-7). Prior to the Reformation, the phrase referred to the justice of God and his righteous judgment of sin. Think of the Renaissance paintings depicting God as a fearsome judge presiding over the judgment of sinners.
After Martin Luther, however, the definition of the righteousness of God was expanded to include God’s graciousness and gift of mercy give to those who believe. Rather than the “justice of God” punishing sinners, justification referred to a gracious act of God by which he imputed his righteousness to those who have faith. This is the sense of justification has dominated systematic theology as well as Pauline studies since the reformation. In fact, “justification by faith” is usually made the “center” of Pauline theology.
This emphasis led to the unfortunate result of anti-Judaism in biblical studies…
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