Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus by D.A. Carson Part 1
In the passage in front of us, Paul talks about the solution, how we are just before God. The controlling expression in this paragraph is “the righteousness of God” . The expression, which would be rendered “the justice of God or “the justification of God”, occurs four times in these six verses. The verb to justify occurs an additional two times, and the adjective just or righteous occurs once. This whole passage has to do with how a person can be considered just before this hold God, granted that our condition is miserable as it is made out of to be in the first two and half chapters. To get at the heart of Paul’s solution, we will reflection on the four steps that he establishes in his argument.
“But now” introduces something new into Paul’s argument. This is not just a logical transition: “but now, at this step in the argument…” Paul can use “but now” in diverse ways, but in this context the expression means, “But now, at this point in the stream of redemptive history”. Something new has come along.
What is the nature of the change that Paul here envisages? In the past there was something else, “but now” what is there? A popular but misguided view is that in the OT God was especially wrathful, “but now” in the NT God is especially love and gracious. The argument runs like this: in the old covenant, God demonstrated himself in righteous wrath, not least in famines, plagues, and war. Now, however, under the terms of the new covenant established by the cross, God displays a gentler side to his character in the gospel. Many Christians think that in the OT God is almost bad-tempered, while in the NT Jesus tells his followers to turn the other check—and he himself goes to the cross on our behalf. So when Paul introduces his paragraph with the words “but now”, he is preparing to paint a portrait of God that is a little softer than what is found in the NT.