In honor of Luther day, a couple of excerpts from the commentary on Romans by the so-called “Ambrosiaster.”
First, on 3:24:
“Justificati gratis per gratiam ipsius.” Justificati sunt gratis, quia nihil operantes, neque vice reddentes, sola fide justificati sunt dono Dei.
“Per redemptionem quae in Christo Jesu.” Gratiam Dei in Christo esse testatur; quia voluntate Dei a Christo redempti sumus, ut manu missi justificaremur, sicut et ad Galatas dicit: “Christus nos redemit (Gal. 3:13),” offerens se pro nobis. Permisit enim se diabolo saevienti, sed impraescio. Putans autem se Christum posse retinere, veluti accepit eum: sed quia virtutem ejus ferre non potuit, omnes quos tenebat, simul cum illo amisit.
“Justified freely by his grace.” They are justified freely, because, doing nothing, nor giving anything in return, they are justified by faith alone by the gift of God.
“Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” He bears witness that the grace of God is in Christ; because we were redeemed by Christ by the will of God, in order that, set free [from slavery], we might be justified, just as he says to the Galatians: “Christ redeemed us (Gal. 3:13),” offering himself for us. For he surrendered himself to the Devil, who was raging but ignorant of the future. Moreover, although he thought that he was able to hold onto Christ, just as he received him, because he was not able to endure his power, he lost all those whom he was holding together with him [that is, Christ].
And on 4:5:
“Ei vero qui non operatur,” id est, ei qui obnoxius est peccatis, qui non operatur, quod mandat lex. “Credenti autem in eum, qui justificat implium, reputatur fides ejus ad justitiam.” Hoc dicit, quia sine operibus legis credenti impio, id est gentili, in Christum, reputatur fides ejus ad justitiam, sicut et Abrahae. Quomodo ergo Judaei per opera legis justificari se putant justificatione Abrahae, cum videant Abraham non per opera legis, sed sola fide justificatum? Non ergo opus est lex, quando impius per solam fidem justificatur apud Deum.
“But to him who does not work,” that is, to him who is under obligation to sin, who does not work that which the Law commands. “However, to the one believing in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness.” He says this because without the works of the Law, for the ungodly one–that is, the Gentile–who believes in Christ, his faith is reckoned for righteousness, just as also [occurred] for Abraham. How, then, do the Jews think that they are justified with the justification of Abraham through the works of the Law, when they see that Abraham was justified not by the works of the Law, but by faith alone? Therefore, there is no need for law, since the ungodly is justified in God’s sight by faith alone.