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White Horse Inn: Conversational Theology

The Jewish Background to Justification

On this program, the hosts will take a look at the background to the doctrine of justification, seeing it not as some kind of revolutionary new idea invented by Christians, but rather as the fulfillment of something that had been hinted at and promised throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, and also discussed in a variety of Jewish sources in the intertestamental period. From before the time of Christ, we find a confident hope and expectation that the Lord himself will be “our righteousness” (Jer. 23:6).


“Well, we don’t like religion and rules because they highlight the sinfulness of humanity. They shine a light on our own wickedness. And that’s why we need the gospel. In the early chapters of Romans, Paul says it’s not the hearers of the law who are justified but the doers of the law. And you think about all these quotations that we’ve been hearing from these ancient Jewish texts. That’s the background. This is what Paul is getting at. You have to do the law if you want to be righteous. The problem is none of us do the law. Not the way that God demands it. And so, where is going to be righteousness? Is it going to be through being as obedient as we can so that maybe God will circumcise our hearts? No. In fact, there’s dire warnings for people that try to go there. You think about the Book of Hebrews. It’s like, hey this is not the answer. The answer is not the works of the law. It’s not being circumcised. The answer is faith in Jesus Christ.”

Adriel Sanchez


“New Perspective on Paul”

The scholars at the forefront of this movement — E.P. Sanders, James D.G. Dunn, N.T. Wright, and others — have been pioneering a new approach to the letters of the first-century apostle to the Gentiles, Paul of Tarsus.

At its core is the recognition that Judaism is not a religion of self-righteousness whereby humankind seeks to merit salvation before God. Paul’s argument with the Judaizers was not about Christian grace versus Jewish legalism. His argument was rather about the status of Gentiles in the church. Paul’s doctrine of justification, therefore, had far more to do with Jewish-Gentile issues than with questions of the individual’s status before God.

(Adapted from www.thepaulpage.com)

More from this Series: Justification

  1. The Doctrine of Justification & Contemporary Christianity Listen Now ›
  2. The Jewish Background to Justification Listen Now ›
  3. Did Jesus Teach Justification by Faith Alone? Listen Now ›
  4. Imputation: The Heart of Justification Listen Now ›