21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,
apart from the law is revealed [stands revealed, manifested],
The word “law” does not have an article (anarthrous) in the Greek, indicating that law here is law generally either transcribed or not written in form.
God manifests the universal provision of His righteousness in Christ in 3:21-26. God revealed His righteousness in 1:17, now He manifests it. The word “revealed” in our translation means manifested. Revelation normally refers to the object of what God shows to man. Manifestation refers to those who observe revelation. This passage shows the appeal to God’s revelation. First He shows God’s righteousness in relation to the law in 3:21-22.
This phrase is emphatic, placing emphasis on the fact that we can receive God’s righteousness apart from keeping the law (“deeds of the law,” v. 20). God intervened by a revelation of a new saving act in Christ. This is far more than something “discovered” by man. God’s righteousness stands open to view by anyone who wishes to observe it.
We can have God’s very own righteousness by what Christ did on the cross. God gives this righteousness apart from the law. Man cannot earn God’s righteousness by his own standards. The words “apart from” indicate that the “deeds of the law” have no contribution to salvation. The law is a good thing (3:31) but not as a means of salvation or justification.
God’s righteousness was “manifested” on the cross. The cross sheds light on God’s righteousness as the standard for receiving eternal life. The righteous standard of God was manifested by Christ and stands accomplished (perfect tense in Greek). He showed this openly for all to see.
We cannot come to God on our terms but only on His terms.
By nature, people want to come to God on their own terms. They want to do this by their own standards and methods. Mankind is self-righteous at the core, but that kind of righteousness preempts righteousness we receive from Christ by faith.
This is the difference between attaining and obtaining. If we work for a righteous standing before God, it is we who attain our salvation. If we receive a righteous standing before God by faith in the finished work of God—we obtain it from Him. The merit of faith is in its object, not in the person exercising faith.