“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference” (Romans 3:21-22).
Six times in the book of Romans the apostle Paul employs the couplet nuni de. Literally translated it reads “now but”. The intended force of this phrase is to mark a clear and important change in one’s course of action or one’s state of being.
Through the gospel, a Christian goes from the state of being a slave of sin to now being a slave of God (Romans 6:22).
In Christ’s death, a Jew is delivered from the Law of Moses so he can now be lawfully married to Christ, and thus not be a spiritual bigamist (Romans 7:6).
In Christ the lingering practice of sin is now caused by the malingering influence of sin, not because of personal desire to sin (Romans 7:17).
Paul’s upcoming focus of missionary travel was now on going to Spain via Rome; no longer would it be on the region between Jerusalem and Illyricum (Romans 15:23, 19).
Paul’s journey to Spain would now become his passionate priority after his journey to Jerusalem with the Great Contribution was completed (Romans 15:25).
Paul’s use of nuni de in Romans 3:21 is to brilliantly highlight a contrast between God’s revelation of His righteousness in the gospel with His revelation of His righteousness in the Law of Moses. God purposefully, intentionally, deliberately changed the scope and content of the written vessel He used to communicate His righteousness. He went from a covenant made with one nation on earth via the Law He gave to Moses at Mount Sinai to a covenant made with all humanity via the new testament He inaugurated through Jesus at Mount Calvary.
In times past God spoke to the Hebrew fathers by the prophets (Hebrews 1:1) but now (nuni de) He speaks to every creature in all nations by His Son (Hebrews 1:2).
Nuni de is essential to understanding the Bible’s focus of salvation through the gospel of Christ (i.e., its “mystery”) and rightly dividing the word of truth.