Romans 1:16–17 (ESV)
The Righteous Shall Live by Faith
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The
righteous shall live by faith.”
There is so much to say about this passage. It was pivotal to Martin Luther who was being taught that you must earn or work for your Salvation. But
verse 17 does NOT say that “The righteous shall live by works.” but it says “The righteous shall live by faith.” This was not what the Roman Catholic Church was teaching in Luther’s day and it still doesn’t teach Salvation
by Grace. They teach that you must earn the right to receive Salvation by Grace. Again in verse 16, the “power of God for salvation” is based on “who believes”, and not based on works. Works is a byproduct that results
from faith. Works is not a prerequisite, but a byproduct. Martin Luther states: “At first I clearly saw that the free grace of God is absolutely necessary to attain to light and eternal life; and I anxiously and busily worked to understand
the word of Paul in Rom. 1:17: The righteousness of God is revealed in the Gospel. I questioned this passage for a long time and labored over it, for the expression ‘righteousness of God’ barred my way. This phrase was customarily explained to
mean that the righteousness of God is a virtue by which He is Himself righteous and condemns sinners. In this way all the teachers of the church except Augustine had interpreted the passage. They had said: The righteousness of God, that is (id est), the wrath
of God. But as often as I read this passage, I wished that God had never revealed the Gospel; for who could love a God who was angry, who judged and condemned people? This misunderstanding continued until, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, I finally examined
more carefully the word of Habakkuk: ‘The just shall live by his faith’ (2:4). From this passage I concluded that life must be derived from faith.… Then the entire Holy Scripture became clear to me, and heaven itself was opened to me. Now
we see this brilliant light very clearly, and we are privileged to enjoy it abundantly” (WLS § 2600).
I pray: O Lord, it is you who gave me my faith, the faith that I live by. My Salvation
is not found in what I do, but in what God has done for me. I give thanks for your precious gift of faith that you have given me, help me to live by faith, knowing that my Salvation in a gift, not something I have worked for or earned. Amen.