Bible Topics In The Christian Library
 
ROMANS CHAPTER 3

Paul is beginning to reach the "grand crashedo" of the first part of Romans. He is going to conclude that both Jew and Gentile are lost and in need of the salvation that is found in Christ. But first Paul will deal with a couple of objections that Paul encountered.
 
 

I. What advantages does the Jew have?
 
 

Verses 1-4 What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? 2 - Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. 3 - For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? 4 - Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: "That You may be justified in Your words, And may overcome when You are judged."
 
 

A. Objection #1 - "What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision?" 
1. Those scholarly Jews who would follow Paulís like of argumentation would likely interrupt him and ask the obvious question, "If what you say is right, what value has it been to be a Jew."

2. This shows their thought patterns. They dealt completely in the carnal. All the blessings must surely be through the flesh. But this is not the way God chiefly operates.

B. "Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God."
1. The Jewish nation had been chosen as the protector and preserver of the Word of God. This was a great privilege, to be able to have constant access to the written revelation of Godís truth.

2. The Jews as a people had Godís written code of laws and the promise of the coming messiah. The Gentiles, on the other hand, had no such written code. While they had access to the "Law of the heart" as spoken of in Romans chapter 2, it was vastly inferior to the written code found in the Old Testament. 

3. The power of the Old Testament must never be underestimated. The Jews were a great missionary force, taking to written revelation to the whole known world. By the time of the apostles there were thousands of "God fearers" (Gentile believers of Jehovah) scattered all over the Roman world. Everywhere there was a town with a synagogue the Gentiles would gather outside the walls of the synagogue to listen to the Word of God being preached.

4. To witness the great power of Godís written revelation as a whole notice what took place when the written code largely disappeared from Europe in the middle ages. Notice, too, that when the Word of God in our day does not have free course it affects a nation.

C. Objection #2 - "For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect?"
1. The resistant Jew would then bring up those Jews who had not kept the covenant over the years. Hadnít God promised to care for them and bless them? Therefore, when God punished them for unbelief he was breaking his part of the covenant, right?

2. Wrong! The covenant was always conditional, being based on a continued faithfulness on the part of Godís people. See Deuteronomy 30:19. God had promised to continue blessing the Jews based on their faithfulness. 

a. "The Jew should have remembered that God is author to two classes of promises. In the one he proposes to bless Israel, provided they keep his statutes. In the other, he threatens to punish, if they do not. Now fidelity to his word required that he should remember the threats no less than the promises."

b. God always had a core, sometimes very small, which never gave up living for him in sincerity. See 1 Kings 19:18 and Ezekiel 14:22.

3. Just because some, or even all would turn against God does not make His Word, with itís promises and warning of no affect. God continues faithful, man must be faithful.
D. "Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar."
1. Literally an emphatic, "Let it not be!" The KJV uses the English emphatic phrase "God forbid."

2. Paul declares that God is innocent of any charge of unfaithfulness. He has fulfilled completely His responsibilities. It is for man to embrace the Word and continue in it.

E. "As it is written: "That You may be justified in Your words, And may overcome when You are judged."
1. Paul quotes Davidís words in Psalm 51:4. Just as God was vindicated in dealing with David (David declares it is he who sinned against God), God is vindicated in condemning those Jews who lived hypocritical lives under the Law.
II. Godís Judgement is Just
 
 

Verses 5 -8 But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.) 6 - Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world? 7 - For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner? 8 - And why not say, "Let us do evil that good may come"?; as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just.
 
 

A. Objection #3 - Is God unjust in punishing His people, even though they were unjust?
1. This is similar to an argument that atheists make concerning the existence of God, "If God is a loving God, how can he send people to Hell?"

2. The Jews would probably believe that it was wrong for a loving God to condemn any Jew, since they were His special people, how can God be just?

B. The Answer - "Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world?"
1. God, by His very nature is a just and righteous God. Therefore, there must be a punishment for unforgiven sin. Remember, sin is not Godís problem. It is manís problem.

2. Paul then goes to a truth that nearly all Jews, especially Pharisees, would agree. They would agree that there was going to be a final judgment. Well, then, if God cannot judge sinners, how can he judge the world. It again repeats the obvious. The Jews are just as guilty of sin as the Gentiles.

C. Objection #4 - If God is glorified by my sins, why will he condemn me?
1. This was probably a twisting of what Paul taught concerning grace. At least one commentator (Coffman) sees this as different from Romans 5, but there seems to be little difference. See Romans 5:20-21.
D. "And why not say, "Let us do evil that good may come"?; as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just."
1. Paul takes their arguments to their logical conclusion. If what they said was true, we need to all just sin more, since good comes from it.
a. This seems to be a false teaching that some in the church had embraced. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 1:4).
2. It is true that there are times when God actually is glorified as a result of the consequences of sin. For example God was glorified as a result of the conclusion of the sin of David and Bathsheba. It showed Godís great mercy as well as justice. But it was God working in spite of sin, not because of it. This is always God working through circumstances to make good come. But it is never the ideal. GOD NEVER DESIRES SIN TO BRING ABOUT GOOD!

3. MacArthur makes the point that man has always sought to rationalize his sins. The mind will attempt to justify rebellion against God and thus allow us to continue in sin.

4. Paul finishes his review of these arguments by stating that God is absolutely right in condemning such self-righteous behavior. 
 
 

III. All Have Sinned!
 
 

Verses 9-18 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. 10 - As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 - There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12 - They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one." 13 - "Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit"; "The poison of asps is under their lips"; 14 - "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness." 15 - "Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 - Destruction and misery are in their ways; 17 - And the way of peace they have not known." 18 - "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
 
 

A. "What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin."
1. Paul brings his whole argument to a conclusion. All are lost! The Jew has no final superiority over the Gentile. Both are lost! Both are in need of the gospel.

2. MacAurther holds that this refers to Christians. If it is it is just as applicable. Christians are better than the lost Jew or Gentile, without Christ. We are all under the curse of sin, based on our own lives. We cannot live our lives in such a fashion that we deserve to be saved. 

B. As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one"
1. Psalm 14:1 and 53:1-3

2. Paul quotes the spirit, if not the letter, of these passages and others.

3. Notice the accusations Paul makes.

a. The prided themselves as being righteous, but were not righteous, just like the Gentiles.

b. They thought they knew the Law of Moses, but were really ignorant of the real spirit if it, just like the Gentiles.

c. They thought they were doing Godís will, but were not really seeking His will.

d. They were unprofitable (because they were self-righteous.

4. Much of Paulís charges is taken from Psalm 5:9 and 140:3.
C. "Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit"; "The poison of asps is under their lips"
1. Coffman puts it this way. "The thought is that the words coming from their throats were as foul as any odor that ever came out of an open grave."

2. These Jews who fought against Christianity were a "generation of vipers." See Matthew 3:7.

D. "Their feet are swift to shed blood..."
1. They self-righteous Jews, who hearts were sinful and cold against Godís truth, were quick to assault and abuse Christians.

2. See Isaiah 59:7 and Matthew 23:37. See Proverbs 6:16-17 for Godís attitude.

3. Everything they touch turns into misery. They do nothing positive.

4. They do not know peace, but constant turmoil. This was so true of the Jews in the first century. Palestine was known as one of the most violent areas in the Roman Empire. It was in constant turmoil.

E. "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
1. They carried on in their sins without any fear of God and His judgements.

2. See Psalm 36:1

3. The fact is that without the fear of God there cannot be the proper respect for mankind. They go hand in hand. 

F. Some final observations on these verses.
1. While all are not as wicked as the worst of the ones described here, it is important to note that these things represent the general character of mankind, especially those who have thrown off the "shackles" of fear and respect of God.

2. Self-righteousness, wicked and lying tongues, and violence have been the hallmark of human society.

3. Fear and respect for God and His law go hand in hand with peace and love for fellow man.
 
 

IV. Justification comes by faith in Jesus, not by the Law of Moses
 
 

Verses 19-24 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 - Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21 - But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 - even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 - being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
 
 

A. "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law..."
1. Godís law condemned all mankind, because it was designed to do so. 

2. The purpose of the Law of Moses was not to justify, but to convict. It would leave a knowledge of sin, but no true forgiveness.

3. See Hebrews 10:1-5

4. Verse 20 states the obvious and tells us why. No on e can be justified by keeping the Law of +-*-
 
 

5. -Moses. Why? Because it was not designed to forgive, but to condemn. To those who would argue that there were plenty of instances in the Old Testament where those under the Law of Moses were forgiven I would simply ask, "How were they forgiven?" It was not through the blood of their sacrifices, but through the blood of Jesus. See Hebrews 9:15.

B. "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed"
1. The "righteousness of God" here is simply sinless perfection, a state of total absence from the stain and taint of sin. As seen above, that kind of righteousness could never have been attained by the Law of Moses. 
C. "Being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets"
1. The entire Old Testament is a witness of the coming of Jesus Christ.

2. James Burton Coffman, in his commentary on Matthew, has an in depth discussion of the various witnesses of Christ in the Old Testament. In the opening paragraph of his discussion he states, "The four great OT witnesses to Jesus Christ and the new institution he came to establish are (1) the verbal prophecies, (2) typical men, (3) the tabernacle in its plan of construction and in various devices within it, and (4) the grand ceremonial functions of Jewish religion, such as the Day of Atonement, the Passover, etc."

3. See also Acts 2:16; 3:24; 13:27; and 1 Peter 1:10-12

D. "even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference"
1. How is sinless perfection attained? It is attained by faith in Christ. Here faith simply stands for acceptance of and obedience to, the gospel of Christ. One does not have to state repentance from past sins, confessing Christ, and baptism into Christ. Belief here is simply a metonymy, i.e. the part standing for the whole. This simply means what other New Testament writers have said, that obedience to the gospel was necessary for becoming completely righteous like God. See 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Peter 4:7; Hebrews 5:8-9.

2. "Faith in Jesus Christ" - There is much controversy concerning this phrase among commentators. Is it the faith of Jesus involved here, or is it our faith in Jesus. The KJV use the phrase "faith of Jesus Christ" while the NKJV and others use "faith of Jesus Christ." While there are good arguments for both it seem impossible to reach an absolute answer. 

E. "For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"
1. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile. All are lost, because all have sinned. They cannot be justified by philosophy, or by a legal system, but need the saving blood of Jesus that comes through the gospel.

2. The phrase "all have sinned" must be understood in the context of what sin is. It is not something we inherit, but something we do. Sin is the violation of Godís law. Therefore one must be old enough to understand Godís will in order to violate it.

3. The concept of "falling short of the glory of God" seems to strike at the attempts of both legalistic Jews and pagan Gentiles to be pleasing to God. All that we do, as righteous as we may become, we all fall short of God's righteousness.

F. "being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus"
1. Paul will repeat the refrain of grace being the gift of God in Romans 6:23 and Ephesians 2:7-9. We cannot earn our salvation by works of goodness. But Paul would have never understood the protestant concept of salvation apart from any obedience to Godís will. As James tells us, we show our faith by our works. See James 2:18.

2. Being justified -"Indicates the act or process by which a man is brought into a right state as related to God."

3. Redemption here means, "to release on the payment of a ransom." We were in the bondage of sin without hope. God sent His son to pay a price that could not be paid by us.

4. The redemption is found "in Christ." Only those who become part of Christís body will be saved, i.e. receive the benefits of the Christís sacrifice. The body would include all who have been redeemed by Christ, both past, present, and those who will in the future.

a. One enters "into Christ" by being baptized into Christ. See Romans 6:1-4

b. It is at that point that a forgiven child of God received all the blessings of forgiveness of sins, fellowship with the Father, communion with the Holy Spirit, and hope of a home in Heaven. See Ephesians 1:3.

 
V. Redemption is Through the Sacrifice of Christ
 
 

Verses 25-26 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 - to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
 
 

A. "whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith"
1. The word propitiation means "an atoning or expiating sacrifice."

2. God demonstrated his justice in the sacrifice of Jesus. He had promised forgiveness to those who lived under the Old Testament covenant. How could that be possible, since we have learned that the sacrifice of bull and goats cannot forgive sins? (See Hebrews 10:4-5) Godís justice demanded a payment for all sins. ALL SINS WILL BE PAID FOR, ONE WAY OR THE OTHER.

3. The sin offering was to be the blood of Jesus Christ.

a. The blood of Jesus was from one who was both God and man (John 1:1-2).

b. The blood of Jesus was from one who did not have to pay for his own sins, but could pay the penalty of sin for others (Hebrews 4:15).

B. "to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed"
1. God had passed over, i.e. suspended the penalty for, the sins of all those who had walked by faith. Paul shows that God could be righteous in doing so. God knew that He would send his son for pay the ransom price for those sins.

2. There is a sense in which God held back the just penalty of sin from those who were faithful to God, waiting for the promised price for sins. See Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 53:4-5.

C. "to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness....."
1. The cross demonstrated Godís righteousness. It brought together both the love and righteousness of God. Both were satisfied.

2. But in this passage Paul takes up how God is able to forgive the sins of those living under the Christian system. The same method that was used for past sins will forgive present and future ones.

3. God is both "just and justifier" He is just in that His righteous is fulfilled. No sin will enter into a relationship with Him. All sin will paid for. He is also justified (See John 3:16) in that He has found a way to saved mankind, who He loves.

4. That salvation will be to those who have faith in Christ. Faith is more than mere mental assent. It is intertwined with obedience to the will of God. See Romans 16:26; Romans 5:8-9.
 
 

VI. BOTH JEW AND GENTILE ARE JUSTIFIED BY THE LAW OF FAITH
 
 

Verses 27-31 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 - Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. 29 - Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, 30 - since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 - Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.
 
 

A. "Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith"
1. No one can claim to be saved by their own efforts under God "law of faith." It does not consist of a list of things to do that mankind can fulfill and thus deserve salvation. The work of sin ransom could not be done by man, thus leaving man forever in debt to God.

2. Obedient faith (i.e. baptism into Christ) does not allow men to boast of deserving salvation, but simply place one in a position to receive the benefits of the atoning blood of Jesus (Acts 20:28; 22:16).

B. "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law"
1. The law of Moses could not justify anyone because it did not have a means by which forgiveness could be imparted. 

2. No law can justify, with the exception of the law of Christ, because they can only condemn, without forgiveness from God.

C. "Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also"
1. If justification came through the law of Moses all Gentiles would be lost, since the law of Moses was designed for the Jews. 
Verses 27-31 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. :28 - Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. 29 - Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, 30 - since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 - Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.
 
 
A. "Where is boasting then? It is excluded..."
1. No one has any right to boast or brag in their salvation. They are not saved by their own works of righteousness. See Ephesians 2:7-9; Titus 3:5.

2. If there is to be any "boasting" it should be in the law of faith. See 1 Corinthians 1:31. The law of faith (the Gospel) has nothing in it for our personal boasting. The very essence of the gospel is that we are saved, even though we have a responsibility to obey, by Godís gracious provision.

3. Coffman points out that the Gospel, in spite of what many believe, is clearly spoken of as law. He cites six different occasions where the New Testament refers to the Gospel as "law." They are:

a. Law of faith (verse 27).

b. The law of the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2).

c. The perfect law (James 1:25).

d. The royal law (James 2:8).

e. The law of liberty (James 2:12).

f. Laws in menís hearts (Hebrews 8:10).

B. "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law."
1. We must continue to remember that nowhere does the Bible say that we are saved by faith only. In fact, the one passage which refer to "faith only" is in James 2:24, "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only."

2. As was mentioned before, we are saved by faith (obedience to the gospel) as opposed to the keeping of the Law of Moses. 

a. This does not mean that we are not under any law. Some of our brethren have sought to prove that Christians are under no law. But Paul clearly teaches just the opposite. See 1 Corinthians 9:21.
3. If salvation could be found in the law of Moses it would mean that God was now playing favorites. God is God of both Jew and Gentile.

4. One more comment needs to be made here. This passage is the famous (or infamous) passage which Luther mistranslated to show that men are saved by faith only. It has already been shown that the term "faith only" is only translated that way in James 2:24, and there to teach against the doctrine. But Luther translated this passage, "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith only apart from the deeds of the law." This is a completely erroneous translation. Reese has an interesting discussion in a footnote where he states the reason for Lutherís convictions and that he felt that Luther would have never felt that his "faith only" doctrine excluded obedience to Godís commands. In any event, Lutherís translation and subsequent refinements have led to the present false doctrine of salvation apart from any obedience.

C. "since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith."
1. Both Jew and Gentile will be justified (made right before God) the same way, through faith.

2. That faithfulness is included in faith can be readily seen by a reading of Hebrews 11.

D. "Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law."
1. Without law from God there can be no faith. Paul will tell us later that faith come by hearing Godís Word (Romans 10:17). It would therefore become foolish to contend that we are saved without faithfulness.

 

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