It is remarkable how massively important realities hinged on conjunctions, a genitive, a tense of a verb, and prepositions. The doctrine of Justification by faith alone is one of them.
- Genitive of source – God is the source of the the righteous status that is counted to believers as a result of God’s justifying act.
- Subjective genitive – God’s very act of justifying us or declaring us righteous
- Genitive of possession – God’s attribute of righteousness.
Most of the time when Paul gives an argument for what he says to be true, he would use the conjunction “for” or “because”. Just like in Romans 1:17, “..for in it the righteousness of God is revealed”.
During the early years of the reformation, Romans 1:17 perplexed Martin Luther because of the genitive phrase “righteousness of God”. Is it a righteousness of God by which he will punish the unrighteous? To Martin Luther, it doesn’t sounds like an argument for God’s power unto salvation, because when the unrighteous met the righteous God, the unrighteous dies, no salvation. But when the light dawned on him, he said:
“There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. There a totally other face of the entire Scripture showed itself to me. Thereupon I ran through the Scriptures from memory. I also found in other terms an analogy, as, the work of God, that is, what God does in us, the power of God, with which he makes us strong, the wisdom of God, with which he makes us wise, the strength of God, the salvation of God, the glory of God.”
Just as the righteous shall live by faith, we must also live by every word of God: conjunctions, genitives, prepositions and all.