F. F. Bruce on Justification

Tyndale New Testament Commentaries

Bruce really sounds close to Luther here. 

“God pronounces a man righteous at the beginning of his course, not at the end of it.  If he pronounces him righteous at the beginning of his course, it cannot be on the basis of works which he has not yet done; such justification is, on the contrary, ‘an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight’ (Westminster Shorter Catechism).

And when it comes to the question of our acceptance by God, how much more satisfying it is to know oneself ‘justified freely by his grace’ than to hope to be justified by ‘the deeds of the law.’  In the latter case, I can never be really satisfied that I have ‘made the grade,’ that my behaviour has been sufficiently meritorious to win the divine approval.  Even if I do the best I can (and the trouble is, I do not always do that), how can I be certain that my best comes within measurable distance of God’s requirement?  I may hope, but I can never be sure.  But if God in sheer grace assures me of his acceptance in advance, and I gladly embrace his assurance, then I can go on to do his will without always worrying whether I am doing it adequately or not.  In fact, to the end of the chapter I shall be an ‘unprofitable servant,’ but I know whom I have believed: ‘He owns me for his child; I can no longer fear.'”

F. F. Bruce, The Epistle of Paul to the Romans(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963), 102-3.


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3 thoughts on “F. F. Bruce on Justification”

  1. Calvin on Rom 3:26, just and justifying: “The first is, that God is just, not indeed as one among many, but as one who contains within himself all fullness of righteousness; for complete and full praise, such as is due, is not otherwise given to him, but when he alone obtains the name and the honor of being just, while the whole human race is condemned for injustice: and then the other part refers to the communication of righteousness; for God by no means keeps his riches laid up in himself, but pours them forth upon men. Then the righteousness of God shines in us, whenever he justifies us by faith in Christ; for in vain were Christ given us for righteousness, unless there was the fruition of him by faith. It hence follows, that all were unjust and lost in themselves, until a remedy from heaven was offered to them.”


  2. I never knew Bruce to be a Pauline scholar. . . That sounds like a great quote though. How is that TNTC commentary working out in general? Worth getting?


  3. Its worth having, but it is quite short. I’m only slowly working through it (along with 5 others) for a Romans Bible study. I’ll let you know more when I’m finished with it; then I will be able to name strengths/weaknesses.



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