Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Since many folks across Confessional Lutheranism are discussing the meaning of Romans 3, I thought it would be interesting to hear what Johann Gerhard had to say about these verses. So I translated a portion of his commentary from Latin to English, for general consumption.
(Translation copyright 2012 by Paul A. Rydecki. All emphasis is in the original.)
Adnotationes ad priora capita Epistolae D. Pauli ad Romanos (1644)
Romans 3:26 (final section, page 118)
In this passage the causes and the object of our justification before God are expressed.
1. The chief efficient cause (causa efficiens principalis) is the grace of God, that is, God’s free favor that takes into account our misery.
2. The meritorious cause (causa meritoria) is Christ in the office of redemption, which the Apostle describes with three very significant words. First, with the word redemption (ἀπολύτρωσιν), which regards the spiritual captivity in Satan’s kingdom, from which we have been redeemed by the precious ransom (λύτρῳ) of Christ. Second, with the word mercy seat (ἱλαστήριον), which regards the cover of the ark of the covenant in the Old Testament. Third, with the phrase the blood of Christ (αἷμα τοῦ χριστοῦ), which, by way of synecdoche, signifies the entire obedience of Christ, active as well as passive.
3. The instrumental cause (causa instrumentalis) is faith, that receiving (ληπτικόν) medium that embraces the benefits of Christ offered in Word and Sacraments, those giving (δοτικοῖς) means.
4. The formal cause (causa formalis) is forgiveness (πάρεσις), the remission of sins, which is joined by an indivisible connection with the imputation of the righteousness of Christ. (Rom. 4:3).
5. The final cause (causa finalis) with respect to God is the demonstration of His righteousness (ἔνδειξις τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὐτοῦ). In justification or the remission of sins, God remains just in that He justly punishes our sins in Christ, who took them upon Himself; and He justifies believers, since the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to them.
The object of justification is sinful man, but only such as believe in Christ, that is, those who know their sins from the Law, who seriously grieve over them, and who by faith apply to themselves the promise of the remission of sins for the sake of Christ.
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