I haven’t paid much attention over the years to Eugene Peterson’s The Message paraphrase, but I loved the way he translated/paraphrased Romans 3:21-24. Originally, I was going to quote it in my sermon yesterday, but I cut it in the interest of time.
But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.
The Common English Bible’s translation of v. 22a, “God’s righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ,” becomes “The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us.” “Righteousness,” a difficult word to translate in English, isn’t simply an attribute of God meaning that God always does the right thing. It’s active. It describes the way in which God sets things right. The Message captures that nuance.