A critical investigation of Romans 4:3 – its determinative value for justice and righteousness.

Peter Nagel


The theological significance of Romans 4 is undisputed and within it the explicit citation in Romans 4:3 is pivotal. It has informed theological thought, stimulated debates, and shaped faith communities for millennia. But does the concept of ‘justification by faith’ or ‘righteousness through faith’, as portrayed in Romans 4:3, hold enough essential universal elements for it to inform faith communities in particular and society in general? How did Paul arrive at the idea that through faith one can be declared righteous? Is there any hint in Romans 4:3 to a conceptual relationship between justice and righteousness?  The aim with this paper is to critically investigate Romans 4:3 within its literary conceptual context to determine if it has anything significant to offer for societal concepts of justice and righteousness. Such a critical enquiry must include considering Paul’s concept of justice and righteousness in comparison to a more modern concept of these terms. This investigation will also demand a critical reflection on Genesis 15:1-21 and Paul’s interpretation of the text.  One also ought to deal with this matter within the literary context of Romans 3:21-4:25.


Righteousness; Justice; Romans 4:3; Genesis 15:6; Faith; Abraham; Abram; Paul; Judgement


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