God’s Righteousness Upheld
3 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,
“That you may be justified in your words,
and prevail when you are judged.”
But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world? But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.
No One Is Righteous
What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
The Righteousness of God Through Faith
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
Romans 3 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Paul paints a very hopeless and depressing picture through these chapters. As he hammers against those who use the Law to justify their behavior, lists specific attitudes and actions that prove his point, he shows the darkness of heart within each and every one of us. From the overly religious to the pagan to the humanitarian doing good works to sloth who sits and armchairs postulates about things – we’re all in the same boat. And that boat is sinking fast.
Clinging to the Law without an inward and consequent change of heart, we are no better off than another. Yes, God gave the Law to show us the ways of which He expects us to live. But the Law does not save us. It is only Jesus Christ and faith in Him. There is no way we can earn this although so many try.
The strange part to consider is our living by the Law (and becoming Pharisaical) we deceive ourselves in thinking we’re okay. The rub is we’re actually faithless rather than faithful. Let that one sink in a moment. We are deceived when we’re measuring ourselves with the Law or the Word even and not seeing any changes of our heart. It is only a change of our heart through the words of Christ that will bring a change of behavior, which is desperately needed to be found in righteousness before God.
“Do you think their faithlessness cancels out his faithfulness? Not on your life! Depend on it: God keeps his word even when the whole world is lying through its teeth.” –Romans 3:3-4 MSG
God is faithful despite our own faithlessness, despite our self-deception.
The hope is this sinking boat can be plugged. Whether a slow leak or a massive gaping hole where the waters rush in, it’s not beyond repair. Even if our boat is upended and we are neck-deep in water it’s not too late. Jesus the ultimate restorer can give aid and has the supplies needed. Only He can do this. No amount of scurrying on our own, trying to plug the hole that’s filling quickly will work. It is only through declaring, “Houston, we have a problem” – recognizing our state of where we’re at can the repair begin. It’s only through turning to Him in trust and believing in Him do things turn around.
However, we must allow Him then to repair the boat. Meaning, we need to let him tinker with what caused it to begin with. We need to allow Him to remove and yank out what is no good and replace it with what is best. You see, just by recognizing the cause of the hole in the boat does no good. If repairs aren’t done we will be right back in the same position we were. Let the Master Carpenter plug the hole, restore the boat, and set us assail toward the destiny He holds for each of us.
Romans 3 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
When we study Scripture, it is important we don’t sweep through it with a predetermined mindset. There are always deeper truths to be found but sometimes we can miss it. This is especially true when we open up the Word expecting it to verify what we already believe to be true. Romans is a heavy book and Romans 3 is a heavy chapter. But in studying it, I am reminded of how beneficial it is to view God’s Word through fresh eyes and an open mind.
Sin = Good?!?
Verses 1-8 are difficult to grasp. Paul argues with himself while addressing incorrect assumptions about God’s character. It is critical to note that Paul begins by asking, “What advantage does the Jew have?” Using the example of God’s chosen people and how God has dealt with them throughout history, Paul lands on a few absolute statements.
- Did Israel’s unfaithfulness to God thwart His faithfulness to them? No. Even if everyone is a liar, God is still Truth.
- Since God is able to use the sinful choices of man to bring His glory, does that mean He shouldn’t punish us for our sin? No. How horrible would it be if God was not full of justice and allowed for sin to exist without consequences?
Paul rightly argues that even though God can use evil to bring about good, it would be insane to believe that this is the best way to live life! In fact, the good that God produces from evil in this world is only a result of His incredible grace and mercy.
None. No, not one.
At this point in the letter, some of his early readers may be thinking, “Amen Paul! I’m sure glad that I’m not one of those evil sinners…” Not so fast, my friend.
Paul launches into a series of verses from the Old Testament which highlight to truth that all of us are entangled in sin.
- “There is no one righteous, not even one” is also found in Ecclesiastes 7:20.
- “There is no one who does good, not even one” is also found in Psalm 14:1-3.
- “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit” is also found in Psalm 5:9.
- “The poison of vipers is on their lips” is also found in Psalm 140:3.
- “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness” is also found in Psalm 10:7.
- “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and The way of peace they do not know” is also found in Isaiah 59:7-8.
- “There is no fear of God before their eyes” is also found in Psalm 36:1.
Law vs. Grace
Armed with this new knowledge, many of Paul’s readers may now be thinking, “I need to stop sinning and follow the law.” Paul redirects that pattern of thinking to the Good News.
God puts people right through their faith in Jesus Christ. God does this to all who believe in Christ, because there is no difference at all: 23 everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence.Romans 3:22-23 GNB
Remember the questions Paul answered earlier about God not punishing us for our sin? He now brings the argument full circle. God was faithful to His covenant by providing a way for humanity to be forgiven, however, He also showed that He is a just God by punishing the sins of humanity through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus. God is both faithful and just. He is righteous and true.
He finishes this chapter off by providing definitive answers to the lingering questions in his hearers’ minds.
Can we boast that we followed God’s law? No, we must boast in Jesus. Is God the God of the Jews only? No, faith is available to all through Jesus’ sacrifice. Does this mean we do away with the law? No, Jesus satisfied the law and then asked us to follow Him!