on Romans 3 :21
But now the righteousness of God - God's method of saving sinners is now shown, by the Gospel, to be through his own mere mercy, by Christ Jesus; without the law - without any right or claim which might result from obedience to the law; and is evidently that which was intended by God from the beginning; for it is witnessed by the law and the prophets - the rites and ceremonies of the one, and the preachings and predictions of the others, all bearing testimony to the great design of God, and to the absolute necessity there was for the sacrifice and salvation which God has provided.
on Romans 3 :21
But now - The apostle, having shown the entire failure of all attempts to be justified by the "Law," whether among Jews or Gentiles, proceeds to state fully the plan of justification by Jesus Christ in the gospel. To do this, was the main design of the Epistle, Romans 1:17. He makes, therefore, in the close of this chapter, an explicit statement of the nature of the doctrine; and in the following parts of the Epistle he fully proves it, and illustrates its effects.
The righteousness of God - God's plan of justifying people; see the note at Romans 1:17.
Without the law - In a way different from personal obedience to the Law. It does not mean that God abandoned his Law; or that Jesus Christ did not regard the Law, for he came to "magnify" it Isaiah 42:21; or that sinners after they are justified have no regard to the Law; but it means simply what the apostle had been endeavoring to show, that justification could not be accomplished by personal obedience to any law of Jew or Gentile, and that it must be accomplished in some other way.
Being witnessed - Being borne witness to. It was not a new doctrine; it was found in the Old Testament. The apostle makes this observation with special reference to the Jews. He does not declare any new thing, but that which was rally declared in their own sacred writings.
By the law - This expression here evidently denotes, as it did commonly among the Jews, the five books of Moses. And the apostle means to say that this doctrine was found in those books; not that it was in the Ten Commandments, or in the Law, strictly so called. It is not a part of "law" to declare justification except by strict and perfect obedience. That it was found "in" those books; the apostle shows by the case of Abraham; Romans 4; see also his reasoning on Leviticus 18:5; Deuteronomy 30:12-14, in Romans 10:5-11; compare Exodus 34:6-7.
And the prophets - Generally, the remainder of the Old Testament. The phrase "the Law and the prophets" comprehended the whole of the Old Testament; Matthew 5:17; Matthew 11:13; Matthew 22:40; Acts 13:15; Acts 28:23. That this doctrine was contained in the prophets, the apostle showed by the passage quoted from Habakkuk 2:4, in Romans 1:17, "The just shall live by faith." The same thing he showed in Romans 10:11, from Isaiah 28:16; Isaiah 49:23; Romans 4:6-8, from Psalm 32:1-11. The same thing is fully taught in Isaiah 53:11; Daniel 9:24. Indeed, the general tenor of the Old Testament - the appointment of sacrifices, etc. taught that man was a sinner, and that he could not be justified by obedience to the moral law.
on Romans 3 :21
3:21 But now the righteousness of God - That is, the manner of becoming righteous which God hath appointed. Without the law - Without that previous obedience which the law requires; without reference to the law, or dependence on it. Is manifested - In the gospel. Being attested by the Law itself, and by the Prophets - By all the promises in the Old Testament.