Verse of the Day 10-29-22

For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed —a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:17

Who is this righteous person that Paul is talking about here and what does it mean that this person “will live by faith?” The simple answer to these questions is this: the righteous person-one who is “in a right” relationship with-continues to live by faith, growing from one level of maturity to the next. In this way, the believer progresses along the path of righteousness and approval from God to experience a fulfilling spiritual life. But to really answer those questions we have to go back to source that Paul is quoting at the end of verse 17. And that source is the prophet Habakkuk.

See, the enemy is puffed up;
his desires are not upright—
but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness —
indeed, wine betrays him;
he is arrogant and never at rest.
Because he is as greedy as the grave
and like death is never satisfied,
he gathers to himself all the nations
and takes captive all the peoples. Habakkuk 2:4-5

The verses above are the original sources for Paul’s quote at the end of Romans 1:17. The arrogant enemy referred to in Habakkuk would have been read originally as referring to the Babylonians (because the description in verse 5 matches with Habakkuk 1:6-11 and 14-17), but would also have been read as referring indirectly including the wicked in Judah (see Habakkuk 1:2-4). However, it could now, also, be read as referring to all the unrighteous or the wicked living in today’s world. Why, because the language here in 2:4-5 does not reference a specific it just refers to “the enemy.” And this enemy will continue in their arrogance, and if we read on we will see that their fate is described in great detail in vv. 6-20. But in stark contrast, the righteous will live by faith. The righteous trust in God as they endure evil and suffering in this world, and they will not be condemned when God acts to end injustice but will live. As we have already seen Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4 in Romans 1:17 and as we will see later on he quotes Habakkuk 2:4 again in Galatians 3:11 to show that Christians are saved in the same way-BY FAITH. Similarly, the writer of Hebrews quotes Habakkuk 2:3-4 in Hebrews 10:37-38 to encourage suffering Christians to persevere in faith until Jesus returns.

The whole point of both what Paul wrote in Romans 1:17 and what God told Habakkuk directly is very simply this: the person who is in “a right relationship” with God will walk and live in faith by putting their trust in the promises that God has made to them through his Word-the Bible. What we must ultimately remember about faith is this “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is what gives the “righteous” person the confidence to hope for a better future and the assurance that that better future will come even if they do not see it. And ultimately it is that confidence and assurance that separates the “righteous” from the “unrighteous.”

Today’s Bible Readings:

Lamentations 1-2, Philemon 1, Psalm 101:1-8 and Proverbs 26:20

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