“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.”

         “Whom God hath set forth”–Exhibited, before angels and men; that is, He foreordained.

         SET FORTH:  (Grk.–proetheto)–or to place in public view;”  or “to exhibit in a conspicuous, situation,” as goods are exhibited or exposed for sale, or as premiums or rewards of victory were exhibited to public view in the games of the Greeks.  God set before Himself (He purposed) and did it publicly before (pro) the whole world.

         This Greek word proetheto sometimes has the meaning of decreeing, purposing, or constituting, and many have supposed that this is its meaning here. But the connection seems to require the usual signification of the word; and it means that God has publicly exhibited Jesus Christ as a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of men. This public exhibition was made by His being offered on the cross, in the face of angels and of men. It was not concealed; rather, it was done openly. Jesus was put to open shame; and so put to death as to attract towards the scene the eyes of angels, and of the inhabitants of all worlds.
         Christ was publicly shown forth as a Mercy Seat (Propitiatory).  As God of old met Israel at the Mercy Seat when the blood of the atonement was offered (Exo. 30:6), so Christ on the cross is our Mercy Seat. There we meet God who comes to us then in tender mercy.

         “to be a propitiation”
         Literally:  “A propitiation.”–Or “propitiatory sacrifice.” Meany teach this was to appease  an offended God. 

         PROPITIATION: (Grk.-hiilastērion)–Literally meaning, “satisfaction.” This word       is most important, since it is the key to the conception of Christ’s atoning work.  This word,   in its classical form, was used of the act of appeasing the Greek gods by a sacrifice; of rendering them favorable toward the worshiper.

         Such use is not brought over into the N.T., for Gur god does not need to be appeased, nor is His love for sale.  Therefore our English word, “propitiation,” is not really the correct word to use in our translation of hiilastērionIn the Greek translation of the O.T., the Septuagint (LXX), this word is used in the sense of reconciliation between God and man.  It refers to the act of getting rid of sin which has come between God and man.
         Christ was appointed and published to be a propitiation, i.e, (hilasthrion), the Mercy-Seat, or place of atonement.  The blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled on the Mercy-Seat, and before that, in order to obtain remission of sin, punishment, etc. The Mercy-Seat was the lid, or cover, of the Ark of the Covenant, where God was shown in the symbol of His presence, between the cherubim. Therefore the atonement that was made in this place was properly made to God Himself. 
         This Grerk word,  (hilasthrion),  occurs but in one other place in the N.T. “And over it (the Ark) the cherubim of glory shadowing the mercy-seat (hilasthrion), (Heb. 9:5).  It is used here to denote the lid or cover of the Ark of the Covenant.  It was made of gold, and over it were the cherubim. In this sense it is often used by Greek translation of the O.T., the Septuagint (LXX) "And thou shalt make a propitatory-(hilasthrion), of gold,” (Exo. 25:17)—“  (Exo. 25:18-20,22; 30:6; 31:7; 35:12;37:6-9; 40:20; Lev. 16:2,13).
         The Hebrew name for this was capphoreth, from the verb caphar, “to cover, or conceal.”  It was from this place that God was represented as speaking to the children of Israel: “And I will speak to thee front above the hilasterion,” (Exo. 25:22), the propitiatory, the Mercy-Seat; “For I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.”  (Lev. 16:2) .  This seat, or cover, was covered with the smoke of the incense, when the high priest entered the most holy place (Le 16:13).
         And the blood of the bullock offered on the great day of atonement was to be sprinkled “upon the mercy-seat,” and “before the mercy-seat,” seven times (Lev. 16:14,15). This sprinkling or offering of blood was called making “an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel,” etc., (Lev. 16:16).  It was from this Mercy-Seat that God pronounced pardon, or expressed Himself as reconciled to His people. The atonement was made, the blood was sprinkled, and the reconciliation thus brought about.

“through faith”
Literally:  by means of faith.” The offering will be of no avail without faith.

The offering has been made; but it will not be applied, except where there is faith.  Christ has made an offering which may be efficacious in putting away sin; but it does not produce any reconciliation, no pardon, except where it is accepted by faith.

“in His blood”–By His blood , or, in His death-His bloody death.  Among the Jews, the blood was regarded as the seat of life, or vitality, “the life is in the blood (Lev. 17:11),

         That the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ may benefit a man, he must appropriate it to himself through faith in Christ's blood; for it was by the shedding of His blood that the propitiation was made.
         This shows what we are to understand both by the apolutrosis, (redemption), and the hilasthrion, (propitiation); i.e., that they refer to the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, as the atonement made, and the price paid down, for the redemption of the souls of men. The redemption of the child of God is by his Near Kinsman, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who alone has the redemptive price—His own precious blood.  In the NT there are three words that explain the act of redeeming: (see notes of verse 24).
         The third word (apolutrosis) has the thought of not only to going into the marketplace and putting cash on the barrelhead, and taking the purchase out of the market for one’s own private us, never to sell it to anyone else;  but it means to set free or to liberate the purchased slave after paying the purchase price. This bears with it the application of buying a slave out of slavery in order to set him free, and this is the word for redemption that we have here in this verse 7.

“to declare His righteousness”
Literally:  “for a demonstration of His righteousness”–To `demonstrate not only His clemency, but His justice; even that vindictive justice whose essential character and   principal office is, to punish sin.

For a demonstration of His righteousness; the God-kind of righteousness, His mercy in saving sinners, by sending Jesus Christ to make an atonement for them; thereby declaring His readiness to remit all past transgressions committed both by Jews and Gentiles, during the time in which His merciful forbearance was exercised towards the world.  This applies to all who hear the Gospel now: to them is freely offered remission of all past sins.  God could not let sin go as if a mere slip. God not only demanded the atonement,  He also provided it.

“For the remission of sins”
Literally: “Because of the passing by of the sins.”–A similar idea occurs in II Sam. 24:10; Micah 7:18:  “Who is a God like unto thee, that  passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?” In Romans it means for the pardoning, or in order to pardon past transgression.

        REMISSION:  ( Grk.-paresis)–Literally:  “passing over; letting pass.” Rightfully should be rendered as, passing by of sins for the present, leaving it open in the future either entirely to remit, or else punish them, as whatever may seem good to Him Who has the power and right to do either.  Used only here in the N.T.

The Cross not only exonerated God from the charge that He passed by sin before the crucifixion, but also showed that He when He declared a believing sinner to be righteous, He had all the time maintained His righteousness.  The Cross was as much a merciful act for God to save a sinner, for mercy was bestowed upon the basis of justice being satisfied.  The demands of God’s broken law were satisfied.  Sin was paid for, not condoned.

“that are past”
Literally: “that had taken place before.”–That have been committed; or that have existed before.  The sins before the coming of Christ (Acts 14:16; 17:30; Heb. 9:15).

This has been commonly understood to refer to past generations, as affirming that sins under all dispensations of the world are to be forgiven in this manner, through the sacrifice of Christ. And it has been supposed that all who have been justified have received pardon by the merits of the sacrifice of Christ.  The sins committed in past times, and which God forbore to punish. The influence of Christ's atonement extends backward to the first believer, and forward to the end of time. From Abel to the trump of the archangel, all who are justified and saved receive this gift through the blood of Christ.

“through the forbearance of God”
Literally:  “In the forbearance of God.”–Through His patience, His long-suffering. That is, He did not come forth in judgment when the sin was committed.

FOREBEARANCE:   ( Grk.-anochē)– Literally:  “tolerance; forebearance.”  This word occurs in the N.T. only here and in 2:4.

        He spared us, though deserving of punishment; and now He comes forth completely to pardon those sins concerning which He has so long and so graciously exercised forbearance. This expression obviously refers not to the remission of sins, but to the fact that they were committed while he displayed such long-suffering.
        God was not remitting but only forbearing to punish them, or passing them by, until an adequate atonement for them should be made. In thus not imputing them, God was righteous, but He was not seen to be so; there was no “manifestation of His righteousness” in doing so under the ancient economy. But now that God can “set forth” Christ as a “propitiation for sin through faith in His blood,” the righteousness of His procedure in passing by the sins of believers before, and in now remitting them, is “manifested,” declared, brought fully out to the view of the whole world.

“To declare {I say} at this time His righteousness:  that He might be just, and the justifier of Him which believeth in Jesus”

“to declare”
Literally:  For a demonstration; for the showing.”–Of both of His justice and mercy. For the purpose of showing, or exhibiting; to present it to man.

The meaning is, that the plan was adopted; the Savior was given; he suffered and died; and the scheme is proposed to men, for the purpose of making a full manifestation of His plan, in distinct from all the plans of men.

         DECLARE:  (Grk.–endeixis)–“To demonstrate; proof.”  It was to prove, or demonstrate, to the human race God’s righteousness in the remission of sins before the cross; that is, before they were actually paid for. 

To display, or declare now, by the Dispensation of the Gospel, God’s righteousness and mercy; and to showit in such a way, that He might still appear to be the just God, and yet the Justifier, (the Pardoner), of him who believes in Jesus.

          “At this time”
          Literally:  “in the present time”– At this present season; the time now since the Savior has   come.  Now is the time when God declares it.

“His righteousness”–His Plan of Justification. The method or scheme which God has adopted, in distinction from that of man, and which he now exhibits, or extends to sinners.   The righteousness here is God’s righteous character as seen in His antagonism against sin.

          RIGHTEOUSNESS:   (Grk.–dikaiounēs)-Literally: “What God requires; what is right; righteousness; uprightness; justice”–There is great variety in the explanation of the word here rendered as “righteousness.”

Some explain it as meaning veracity; others as holiness; and others as goodness; yet others as essential justice. Most interpreters have explained it as referring to an attribute of God.  But the whole connection requires us to understand it here as in 1:17, not of an attribute of God, but of His Plan of Justifying sinners. God has adopted and proposed a plan by which men may become just by faith in Jesus Christ, and not by their own works. God is acquitting men from sin; His regarding His sacrifice on the cross.

“Him which believeth in Jesus”
Literally:  “The {one} who is of {the} faith of  Jesus.”–In contradistinction from him who is of the works of the law; that is, one who depends on his own works for salvation.

On this common ground all saved sinners meet here, and will stand for ever (3:22-24). It is on the atoning blood of Christ, as the one propitiatory sacrifice which God hath set forth to the eye of the guilty, that the faith of the convinced and trembling sinner fastens for deliverance from wrath. Though he knows that he is “justified freely, by God's grace,” it is only because it is “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” that the sinner is able to find peace and rest even in this (3:25).

“Where is boasting then?  It is excluded.  By what law?  Of works?  Nay, but by the law of faith.”

         “Where is boasting then?”
         Literally: “Then where is the boasting?”– This refers particularly to the Jews, who were much addicted to boasting against the Gentile of their peculiar privileges.

If we are justified, not by our own righteous works, or by the Law of Moses, but as a free gift of God through a law of faith, then where is the ground for boasting? Where is there ground or occasion of boasting or pride?

            BOASTING:  (Grk.–kauchēsis)-Literally:  “pride; boasting.”  This glorying of ours.  In this way of saving sinners, what ground is there for them to be vain of their own merit or worthiness?

         Since all have sinned, and since all have failed of being able to justify themselves by obeying the law, and since all dependent on the mere mercy of God in Christ, all ground of boasting is of course taken away. This refers particularly to the Jews, who were much addicted to boasting of their peculiar privileges.
         We have nothing in which we can trust for our acceptance with God.  No merit of our own.  Nothing accruing to us from our circumcision and being in covenant with God. In this way of saving sinners, what ground is there for them to be vain of their own merit or worthiness

“it is excluded”
Literally: “It was shut out.” The door of heaven is shut against everything of this kind (Eph. 2:9). 

If we are justified, not by our own righteous works, not by the Law of Moses, but as a free gift of God through a law of faith, where is the ground for Jew or Gentile to     boast?

             EXCLUDED:  (Grk–exeklesthe)Literally:  it was excluded by the coming in of the revelation of righteousness by faith–Past (aorist) tense.

“By what law?”
Literally: “Through what law?”  By what rule, doctrine, or reason is it shut out?     Literally:  “by what law” or ”what kind of a law?”  This question asks as to the nature of the excluding law.

“of works?”
Literally:  “Of the works?”–The definite article, “the” is in the original Greek text.  The Law which commands works, and on which the
Jews relied. If this were complied with, and they were thereby justified, they would have had ground of self-confidence, or boasting, as being justified by their own merits. But a plan which led to this, which ended in boasting, and self-satisfaction, and pride, could not be true.

 “By the law of works?” Meaning:  the rule of obedience, which God gave to us, and by which obedience we are accepted by Him?  By what arrangement, or by the operation of what rule, is boasting excluded?

Not by the law of works; glorying is not cut off or shut out by that; it stands in full force as the rule of life; but you have sinned and need pardon.  The law of works grants no pardon, it requires absolute obedience, and threatens the disobedient with death.  But all glorying in the expectation of salvation, through your own obedience, is excluded by the law, the doctrine of faith: faith alone, in the mercy of God, through the propitiation made by the blood of Jesus (3:25), is that by which you can be justified, pardoned, and taken into the Divine favor.

         “the law of faith.”
         Literally:   “Through a law of faith.” —The article “the” is not here in the Greek text. 

         By the principle of faith in harmony with God's love and grace.  Since this requires all, without distinction, to apply as guilty and helpless sinners, to the free mercy of God in Christ.  The law of faith is that divine constitution which makes faith, not works, the condition of acceptance. The rule, or arrangement which proclaims that we have no merit; that we are lost sinners; and that we are to be justified only by faith.
         In what way is their boasting excluded? By their being saved through their own works? No; but by their being saved in God's way, by Grace, through (by means of) faith in Jesus Christ, called here the law of faith.