“Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.” – Romans 3:30
Inevitably, discussing this verse involves a gauntlet of word games and definitions. Why is it by for the circumcision and through for the uncircumcision? Everyone knows there is a difference, but what exactly is it? Let’s give it a go.
“ But before faith came, we were kept under the law…” – Gal 3:23
Under the law dispensation righteousness came through obedience to Israel’s covenants.
“For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.” – Romans 10:5
Yet, even Israel, who were instructed by God from the law could not keep the law. Both Jew and Gentile were under sin.
“ As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one…” – Romans 3:10
The law could not justify:
“ Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight” – Romans 3:20
Not even Israel could be justified by the law. It was through the requirements of the covenant that Jesus died as a propitiation for the “remission of sins that are past”, those sins committed under the law dispensation (Rom 3:25).
All Men Justified By Faith
Justification always requires faith. For the circumcision, justification was by faith. The covenant promised kingdoms and required works. Faith would obey God. Through obedience to the covenants Israel’s faith was made perfect.
“ Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?” – James 2:22
“ Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” – James 2:24
They were justified by faith and works through their covenants with God.
The law was an integral part of God’s prophetic purpose with Israel (Rom 3:1-2). The law required obedience. However, the circumcision was truly justified by faith when they failed to obey. Faith would offer a sacrifice through the covenant.
The uncircumcision had been rejected by God already. They were strangers of the covenants (Eph 2:10). There was no pretense that they would be justified through a covenant. The sinners of the Gentiles could only hope to be justified through faith in the gospel of the grace of God.
The uncircumcision was justified by faith, but being strangers of the covenants it was also through faith in the finished work of Christ (Rom 5:1, Eph 2:8).
“ Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith” – Romans 3:30
Faith Without the Law
The law, which was the knowledge of sin, taught Israel that they needed faith in God (Rom 3:19-20). It was not until Paul that righteousness without the law was manifested and faith stood alone for justification.
“ But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets” – Romans 3:22
Today, it has been revealed that all are under sin. Justification comes by faith in God’s instructions, but also through faith alone in Christ’s finished work. No more works are needed, no covenant is needed, justification is offered today by faith and through faith without works.
“ For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9
Israel’s faith did not void the law. Our faith is without the law.