Romans 3:1-18

The Jews Had the Oracles of God

1 What advantage, then, does the Jew have?  Or what profit is there of circumcision?  2 Much every way, chiefly because God’s oracles were committed unto them.  3 So what if some Jews did not believe?  Will their unbelief make God’s faith ineffective?  4 God forbid!  Yes, let God be true and every man a liar, as it is written, that you might be justified in your sayings and overcome when you are judged. 5 And if our unrighteousness commends the righteousness of God, what shall we say?  Is God, who takes vengeance, unrighteous? (I speak as a man.) 6 God forbid, for how then would God judge the world?  7 If God’s truth has made His glory more obvious through my lie, why am I judged as a sinner?  8 Instead, why not allow us do evil that good may come (as we are slanderously reported as saying, and as some, whose damnation is just, affirm that we say)?

  • Paul has rejected the basis on which the Jew considered himself superior to the Gentile. The Jew (with the Law), just like the Gentile (without the Law), could NOT achieve his own righteousness.
  • The truth of God revealed in nature and the truth of God revealed in the Law both served to demonstrate God’s righteousness and man’s unrighteousness.
  • Paul’s teaching to this point raises three questions which he asks and answers before coming to the conclusion of his first major point.
  1. If the possession of the Law did not make the Jew better than anyone else, then what advantage does the Jew have? (Romans 3:1). Is there any benefit to being a Jew? Paul’s answer was that while being a Jew did not make one righteous, it did give one the great privilege of being entrusted with God’s Word.
  2. Does Man’s unbelief and unfaithfulness to God reflect on God’s faithfulness to Man? If the revelation of God in nature and in the Law has not made any man righteous, but has only proven man to be unrighteous, has God failed? Not at all! Man’s failure has demonstrated the righteousness of God. Furthermore, as the next section will demonstrate, Man’s failure has not frustrated God’s purposes but fulfilled them, paving the way for God to demonstrate His righteousness by providing a righteousness that the Law could never produce.
  3. Does the unrighteousness of man suggest unrighteousness on God’s part? Can God be righteous when He has created men who are sinners and provided a revelation which only seems to produce unrighteousness and then demonstrated that unrighteousness? Such a question hardly deserves an answer, so Paul merely states that the condemnation of such people is just (3:8).

The Oracles Did Not Make Jews Better Than Gentiles 9 What then? Are we better than they?  No, not in any way, because we have before proved that all, both Jews and Gentiles, are 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 are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable.   There is none who does good, no, not one.  13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used 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.

  • Having spoken to the three concerns (in vv.1-8), Paul now draws the first section of his argument in Romans to a close. Paul’s conclusion:
  • Possession of the oracles of God did NOT make the Jews better than the Gentiles.
  • Jews, like the Gentiles, are unrighteous … and just as guilty before God. (3:9)
  • Man’s fallen, sinful condition (for Jew and Gentile alike) is universal. (3:10-18)

THE  WAY TO TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS Romans 3:19-26 NOT By Man-made Righteousness 19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may be reckoned as guilty before God.  20 Therefore, by the deeds of the law, no one will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

  • The Law was given to those under the Law, not to make them more righteous than those who did not have the Law, but to demonstrate their unrighteousness.
  • The Law reveals man’s need of righteousness; it does not provide men with righteousness.
  • The Law is not the solution or the cure. The Law is to salvation what an x-ray is to a cure. The Law, like an x-ray, reveals the problem and the need for a cure, but it does not produce the cure in and of itself.
  • The Law reveals man’s problem: He is unrighteous, under the wrath of a righteous God.

ONLY By God-given Righteousness` 21 But now God’s righteousness, without the law, is manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all who believe.  There is no difference 23 for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God, 26 to declare, I say, at this time, His righteousness, that He might be just, and the Justifier of him who believes in Jesus. QUESTIONS   

  1. Whom is reckoned as guilty before God?
  2. How did they come to be reckoned as guilty?
  3. Can they become justified (declared righteous or not guilty) by keeping the law?
  4. What was the purpose of the law?
  5. Whom is the righteousness of God unto? v.22
  6. Whom is the righteousness of God upon? 22
  7. What is the distinguishing feature of God’s righteousness?
  8. Who is justified freely (v.24) by God’s grace? The “all” from v.23.

If God’s righteousness is demonstrated by His judgement against Man’s unrighteousness, how is Man ever to obtain righteousness?

  • If God was shown to be righteous by His judgement against Man’s unrighteousness (1:18–3:18), He is now shown as righteous by providing salvation from Man’s unrighteousness (3:21–5:21).
  • Just as God is just in judging men impartially, He is also just in saving men impartially.
  • God’s righteousness is revealed by the gospel, since the gospel is the good news of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ, apart from man’s works, and in spite of man’s unrighteousness.
  • The Gospel reveals NOT only Man’s unrighteousness, BUT also God’s righteousness by 1) His judgement against Man’s unrighteousness and 2) His providing a righteousness for Man that is in Jesus Christ.
  • Because the Law could not produce righteousness, but could only expose Man’s unrighteousness, God provided a righteousness for Man that is not dependent upon Man, but has been accomplished in Jesus Christ.
  • This righteousness provided by God, and described initially in Romans 3:21-31, is that which Jesus Christ accomplished – a righteousness based upon His person and His work.
  • If God is to save men in a way that demonstrates His righteousness, He must deal justly with man’s unrighteousness.
  • Because He cannot bestow righteousness upon unrighteous men, He must first remove their unrighteousness. This He accomplished by the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, who bore the wrath of God which God’s righteousness required.
  • Having satisfied God’s righteous wrath, He bestows His righteousness on those who believe in Jesus Christ by faith. This righteousness is that which men receive as a free gift, as a gift of grace, and not as the result of human effort or Law-keeping.

True Righteousness – Not By Any Physical Effort At All 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? The law of works?  No, by the law of faith.   28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.  29 Is God the God of the Jews only? Is he not also God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, 30 seeing it is one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith, and uncircumcised through faith.   31 Do we then make the law void through faith? God forbid. Rather, we establish the law. QUESTIONS    COMMENTS

  • Since true righteousness is independent of man’s works, given that is from God and since it is offered to both Jews and Gentiles alike, men have nothing to boast about when they are declared righteous. By saving men in this way, the righteousness of God is revealed, just as in His condemnation of men.
  • True righteousness is NOT by any physical effort at all.
  • The Law should not be seen as something worthless, as something which only condemns men, and thus to be rejected and despised. The Law is worthwhile in the sense that it reveals Man’s NEED for Christ, by showing Man what sin is and that Man is a sinner.

In chapter 4, Paul seeks to show how in the Old Testament, as in the NT, righteousness came through faith and not through Law-keeping. Paul chose Abraham as an example of Old Testament “justification by faith.”  

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