O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
I refer you to Galatians 2:
" 15“We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; 16nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. 17“But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! 18“For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19“For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
Not obtained. But in a sense it was delivered to us through it.
For example, the law was Israel's tutor to lead her to Christ (Galatians 3:24). This is why Jesus said, "salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22). But some exchanged the truth of God (righteousness in Christ) for a lie (righteousness in the law) and worshiped the creature (the Old Covenant system) rather than the Creator (cf. Romans 1).
But in case this is more to the point of your question: no one was "saved" (i.e., forgiven of their sins/regenerated/given eternal life) apart from, or prior to, the cross. Even believers under the old covenant died without receiving the righteousness which is by faith (cf. Hebrews 11).
I agree with Tami's explanation.
This was a most interesting detail that I developed in a recent sermon (The Firstborn Over All Creation) from Colossians 1:15. Notice how Paul calls Jesus the "firstborn." That is highly significant, given the law and Hebrew culture. Why? Because the firstborn was the one who had the preeminent inheritance rights.
Now, according to Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:3-4:7, the old covenant order was going to die. It had an expiration date. Daniel talks about this with the 70 weeks. But that is the old covenant that delivered the promises of God to his people, including redemption, eternal life, God's presence, etc.
So, since Jesus Christ is the firstborn over all creation, Paul makes a powerful point to his Hebrew audience. Jesus, as the firstborn from the dead (Rev. 1:5) and the first to rise from the dead (Acts 26:23), would be the one to inherit all of the things promised under the old covenant order.
Thus to believe in Christ is to enter into the inheritance he rightly possessed from old. And to reject Christ, the firstborn, would be the lawful cause of disinheritance for any of those who claimed falsely to be children of God.
That is just absolutely brilliant, but you won't understand it unless you put Paul's "two Adams" theology [Jesus = the Image of God] into covenant context consistently from Genesis to Revelation. Adam is Israel, just as Jesus is Israel.
"Jesus = the image of God" ---> YES! Thank you!
Thanks so much for reply's