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    1, 2. What advantage then hath the Jew?--that is, "If the final judgment will turn solely on the state of the heart, and this may be as good in the Gentile without, as in the Jew within, the sacred enclosure of God's covenant, what better are we Jews for all our advantages?"


    2. Much every way; chiefly, because--rather, "first, that."
    - unto them were committed the oracles of God--This remarkable expression, denoting "divine communications" in general, is transferred to the Scriptures to express their oracular, divine, authoritative character.

    3, 4. For what if some did not believe?--It is the unbelief of the great body of the nation which the apostle points at; but as it sufficed for his argument to put the supposition thus gently, he uses this word "some" to soften prejudice.
    - shall their unbelief make the faith of God--or, "faithfulness of God."
    - of none effect?--"nullify," "invalidate" it.

    4. God forbid--literally, "Let it not be," that is, "Away with such a thought"--a favorite expression of our apostle, when he would not only repudiate a supposed consequence of his doctrine, but express his abhorrence of it. "The Scriptures do not authorize such a use of God's name as must have been common among the English translators of the Bible" [HODGE].
    - yea, let God be--held
    - true, and every man a liar--that is, even though it should follow from this that every man is a liar.
    - when thou art judged--so in Ps 51:4, according to the Septuagint; but in the Hebrew and in our version, "when thou judgest." The general sentiment, however, is the same in both--that we are to vindicate the righteousness of God, at whatever expense to ourselves.

    5, 6. But if, &c.--Another objection: "It would appear, then, that the more faithless we are, so much the more illustrious will the fidelity of God appear; and in that case, for Him to take vengeance on us for our unfaithfulness would be (to speak as men profanely do) unrighteousness in God."


    6. God forbid; for then how shall God judge the world?--that is, "Far from us be such a thought; for that would strike down all future judgment.

    7, 8. For if the truth of God, &c.--A further illustration of the same sentiment: that is, "Such reasoning amounts to this--which indeed we who preach salvation by free grace are slanderously accused of teaching--that the more evil we do, the more glory will redound to God; a damnable principle." (Thus the apostle, instead of refuting this principle, thinks it enough to hold it up to execration, as one that shocks the moral sense).

    On this brief section, Note (1) Mark the place here assigned to the Scriptures. In answer to the question, "What advantage hath the Jew?" or, "What profit is there of circumcision?" (Ro 3:1) those holding Romish views would undoubtedly have laid the stress upon the priesthood, as the glory of the Jewish economy. But in the apostle's esteem, "the oracles of God" were the jewel of the ancient Church (Ro 3:1, 2). (2) God's eternal purposes and man's free agency, as also the doctrine of salvation by grace and the unchanging obligations of God's law, have ever been subjected to the charge of inconsistency by those who will bow to no truth which their own reason cannot fathom. But amidst all the clouds and darkness which in this present state envelop the divine administration and many of the truths of the Bible, such broad and deep principles as are here laid down, and which shine in their own luster, will be found the sheet-anchor of our faith. "Let God be true, and every man a liar" (Ro 3:4); and as many advocates of salvation by grace as say, "Let us do evil that good may come," "their damnation is just" (Ro 3:8).


    9. are we better than they?--"do we excel them?"
    - No, in no wise--Better off the Jews certainly were, for having the oracles of God to teach them better; but as they were no better, that only aggravated their guilt.

    10-12. As it is written, &c.-- (Ps 14:1-3; 53:1-3). These statements of the Psalmist were indeed suggested by particular manifestations of human depravity occurring under his own eye; but as this only showed what man, when unrestrained, is in his present condition, they were quite pertinent to the apostle's purpose.

    13-18. Their, &c.--From generals, the apostle here comes to particulars, culling from different parts of Scripture passages which speak of depravity as it affects the different members of the body; as if to show more affectingly how "from the sole of the foot even to the head there is no soundness" in us.
    - throat is an open sepulchre-- (Ps 5:9); that is, "What proceeds out of their heart, and finds vent in speech and action through the throat, is like the pestilential breath of an open grave."
    - with their tongues they have used deceit-- (Ps 5:9); that is, "That tongue which is man's glory (Ps 16:9; 57:8) is prostituted to the purposes of deception."
    - the poison of asps is under their lips-- (Ps 140:3): that is, "Those lips which should 'drop as an honeycomb,' and 'feed many,' and 'give thanks unto His name' (So 4:11; Pr 10:21; Heb 13:15), are employed to secrete and to dart deadly poison."

    14. Whose mouth, &c.-- (Ps 10:7): that is, "That mouth which should be 'most sweet' (So 5:16), being 'set on fire of hell' (Jas 3:6), is filled with burning wrath against those whom it should only bless."

    15. Their feet are swift to shed blood-- (Pr 1:16; Isa 59:7): that is, "Those feet, which should 'run the way of God's commandments' (Ps 119:32), are employed to conduct men to deeds of darkest crime."

    16, 17. Destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace have they not known--This is a supplementary statement about men's ways, suggested by what had been said about the "feet," and expresses the mischief and misery which men scatter in their path, instead of that peace which, as strangers to it themselves, they cannot diffuse.

    18. There is no fear of God before their eyes-- (Ps 36:1): that is, "Did the eyes but 'see Him who is invisible' (Heb 11:27), a reverential awe of Him with whom we have to do would chasten every joy and lift the soul out of its deepest depressions; but to all this the natural man is a stranger." How graphic is this picture of human depravity, finding its way through each several organ of the body into the life (Ro 3:13-17): but how small a part of the "desperate wickedness" that is within (Jer 17:9) "proceedeth out of the heart of man!" (Mr 7:21-23; Ps 19:12).

    19. Now we know that what . . . the law--that is, the Scriptures, considered as a law of duty.
    - saith, it saith to them that are under the law--of course, therefore, to the Jews.
    - that every mouth--opened in self-justification.
    - may be stopped, and all the world may become--that is, be seen to be, and own itself.
    - guilty--and so condemned
    - before God.

    20. Therefore by the deeds of--obedience to
    - the law there shall no flesh be justified--that is, be held and treated as righteous; as is plain from the whole scope and strain of the argument.
    - in his sight--at His bar (Ps 143:2).
    - for by the law is the knowledge of sin--(See on Ro 4:15; Ro 7:7; and 1Jo 3:4).

    Note, How broad and deep does the apostle in this section lay the foundations of his great doctrine of Justification by free grace--in the disorder of man's whole nature, the consequent universality of human guilt, the condemnation, by reason of the breach of divine law, of the whole world, and the impossibility of justification before God by obedience to that violated law! Only when these humiliating conclusions are accepted and felt, are we in a condition to appreciate and embrace the grace of the Gospel, next to be opened up.


    21-23. But now the righteousness of God--(See on Ro 1:17).
    - without the law--that is, a righteousness to which our obedience to the law contributes nothing whatever (Ro 3:28; Ga 2:16).
    - is manifested, being witnessed--attested.
    - by the law and the prophets--the Old Testament Scriptures. Thus this justifying righteousness, though new, as only now fully disclosed, is an old righteousness, predicted and foreshadowed in the Old Testament.

    22. by faith of--that is, "in"
    - Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe--that is, perhaps, brought nigh "unto all" men the Gospel, and actually "upon all" believing men, as theirs in possession [LUTHER and others]; but most interpreters understand both statements" of believers as only a more emphatic way of saying that all believers, without distinction or exception, are put in possession of this gratuitous justification, purely by faith in Christ Jesus.
    - for there is no difference.

    23. for all have sinned--Though men differ greatly in the nature and extent of their sinfulness, there is absolutely no difference between the best and the worst of men, in the fact that "all have sinned," and so underlie the wrath of God.
    - and come short of the glory--or "praise"
    - of God--that is, "have failed to earn His approbation" (compare Joh 12:43, Greek). So the best interpreters.

    24. justified freely--without anything done on our part to deserve.
    - by his grace--His free love.
    - through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus--a most important clause; teaching us that though justification is quite gratuitous, it is not a mere fiat of the divine will, but based on a "Redemption," that is, "the payment of a Ransom," in Christ's death. That this is the sense of the word "redemption," when applied to Christ's death, will appear clear to any impartial student of the passages where it occurs.

    25, 26. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation--or "propitiatory sacrifice."
    - through faith in his blood--Some of the best interpreters, observing that "faith upon" is the usual phrase in Greek, not "faith in" Christ, would place a "comma" after "faith," and understand the words as if written thus: "to be a propitiation, in His blood, through faith." But "faith in Christ" is used in Ga 3:26 and Eph 1:15; and "faith in His blood" is the natural and appropriate meaning here.
    - to declare his righteousness for the remission--rather, "pretermission" or "passing by."
    - of sins--"the sins."
    - that are past--not the sins committed by the believer before he embraces Christ, but the sins committed under the old economy, before Christ came to "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself."
    - through the forbearance of God--God not remitting but only forbearing to punish them, or passing them by, until an adequate atonement for them should be made. In thus not imputing them, God was righteous, but He was not seen to be so; there was no "manifestation of His righteousness" in doing so under the ancient economy. But now that God can "set forth" Christ as a "


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