Romans 3 Bible Commentary

The Geneva Study Bible

(Read all of Romans 3)
3:1 What 1 advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit [is there] of circumcision?

(1) The first address to the Jews, or the first anticipating of an objection by the Jews: what then, are the Jews preferred no more than the Gentiles? Indeed, they are, says the apostle, by the doing of God, for he committed the tables of the covenant to them, so that the unbelief of a few cannot cause the whole nation without exception to be cast away by God, who is true, and who also uses their unworthiness to commend and set forth his goodness.

3:2 Much every way: a chiefly, because that unto them were committed the b oracles of God.

(a) The Jews' state and condition was of principal importance.
(b) Words.

3:3 For what if some did not c believe? shall their unbelief make the d faith of God without effect?

(c) Break the covenant.
(d) The faith that God gave.

3:4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be e justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome f when thou art judged.

(e) That your justice might be plainly seen.
(f) Seeing that you showed forth an true token of your righteousness, steadfastness and faith, by preserving him who had broken his covenant.

3:5 2 But if our g unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? [Is] God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as h a man)

(2) Another objection resulting from the former answer: that the justice of God is commended and set forth by our unrighteousness in such a way that God does not therefore forget that he is the judge of the world, and therefore a most severe avenger of unrighteousness.
(g) Treachery, and all the fruits of it.
(h) Therefore I do not speak these words of my own accord, as though this is what I thought, but this is the talk of man's wisdom, which is not subject to the will of God.

3:7 3 For if the i truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?

(3) A third objection, which adds somewhat to the former: if sins turn out to the glory of God, they are not only not to be punished, but we ought rather to give ourselves to them: and this blasphemy Paul, as he fights to curse and detest it, pronounces it to be a just punishment against such blasphemers.
(i) The truth and unchangingness.

3:9 4 What then? are we better [than they]? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all k under sin;

(4) Another answer to the first objection: that the Jews, if they are considered in themselves, are no better than other men are: as it has been long since pronounced by the mouth of the Prophets.
(k) Are guilty of sin.

3:17 And the l way of peace have they not known:

(l) An innocent and peaceable life.

3:19 5 Now we know that what things soever the m law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that 6 every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become n guilty before God.

(5) He proves that this grievous accusation which is uttered by David and Isaiah correctly refers to the Jews.
(m) The Law of Moses. (6) A conclusion of all the former discussions, from (Romans 1:18) on. "Therefore", says the apostle, "no man can hope to be justified by any law, whether it be that general law, or the particular law of Moses, and therefore to be saved: seeing it appears (as we have already proved) by comparing the law and man's life together, that all men are sinners, and therefore worthy of condemnation in the sight of God."
(n) Be found guilty before God.

3:20 Therefore by the o deeds of the law there shall no p flesh be q justified in his r sight: for by the law [is] the knowledge of sin.

(o) By those deeds by which the law can be done by us.
(p) Flesh is here taken for man, as in many other places, and furthermore has greater force here: for it is given to show the contrast between God and man: as if one would say, "Man, who is nothing else but a piece of flesh defiled with sin, and God, who is most pure and most perfect in himself."
(q) Absolved before the judgment seat of God.
(r) Paul has in mind a contrasting of the righteousness of before men, be they ever so just, against the justice which can stand before God: now there is no righteousness that can stand before God, except the righteousness of Christ alone.

3:21 7 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

(7) "Therefore", says the apostle, "so that men would not perish, God now exhibits that which he promised from ancient time, that is to say, a way by which we may be instituted and saved before him without the law."

3:22 8 Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of s Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

(8) The matter, as it were, of this righteousness is Christ Jesus apprehended by faith, and for the sake of righteousness Christ is offered to all people, as without him all people are shut out from the kingdom of God.
(s) Which we give to Jesus Christ, or which rests upon him.

3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the t glory of God;

(t) By the "glory of God" is meant that mark which we all aim for, that is, everlasting life, which consists in our being made partakers of the glory of God.

3:24 9 Being justified u freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ:

(9) Therefore this righteousness which we gain is altogether freely given, for its foundation is upon those things which we have not done ourselves, but rather those things which Christ has suffered for our sakes, to deliver us from sin.
(u) By his free gift, and liberality.

3:25 10 Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his x blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that y are past, through the z forbearance of God;

(10) God then is the author of that free justification, because it pleased him: and Christ is he who suffered punishment for our sins, and in whom we have remission of them: and the means by which we apprehend Christ is faith. In short, the result is the setting forth of the goodness of God, that by this means it may appear that he is indeed merciful, and faithful in his promises, as he that freely, and of grace alone, justifies the believers.
(x) The name of blood reminds us of the symbol of the old sacrifices, and that the truth and substance of these sacrifices is in Christ.
(y) Of those sins which we committed when we were his enemies.
(z) Through his patience, and his enduring nature.

3:26 To declare, [I say], a at this time his righteousness: that he might be b just, and the c justifier of him which d believeth in Jesus.

(a) That is, when Paul wrote this.
(b) That he might be found exceedingly truth and faithful.
(c) Making him just and without blame, but putting Christ's righteousness to him.
(d) Of the number of those who by faith lay hold upon Christ: contrary to whom are those who seek to be saved by circumcision, that is by the law.

3:27 11 Where [is] boasting then? It is excluded. By what e law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

(11) An argument to prove this conclusion, that we are justified by faith without works, taken from the result of justification. The result of justification is the glory of God alone: therefore we are justified by faith without works: for if we were justified either by our own works alone, or partly by faith and partly by works, the glory of this justification would not be wholly given to God.
(e) By what doctrine? Now the doctrine of works has this condition attached to it, that is, "if you do", and the doctrine of faith has this condition, that is, "if you believe".

3:29 12 [Is he] the God of the f Jews only? [is he] not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:

(12) Another absurd argument: if justification depended upon the law of Moses, then God would be a Saviour to the Jews only. Again, if he would save the Jews after one manner, and the Gentiles after another, he would not be consistent. Therefore he will justify both of them after the very same manner, that is to say, by faith. Moreover, this argument must be joined to that which follows next, so that his conclusion may be firm and evident.
(f) God is said to be their God, after the manner of the scripture, whom he loves and cares for.

3:30 Seeing [it is] one God, which shall justify g the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

(g) The circumcised.

3:31 13 Do we then make h void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we i establish the law.

(13) The taking away of an objection: yet the law is not therefore taken away, but is rather established, as it will be declared in its proper place.
(h) Vain, void, to no purpose, and of no power.
(i) We make the law effectual and strong.