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Ro 3:1-8. JEWISH OBJECTIONS ANSWERED.
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."
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.
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
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."
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).
Ro 3:9-20. THAT THE JEW IS SHUT UP UNDER LIKE CONDEMNATION WITH THE GENTILE IS PROVED BY HIS OWN SCRIPTURE.
9. are we better than they?--"do we excel them?"
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.
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.
20. Therefore by the deeds of--obedience to
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.
Ro 3:21-26. GOD'S JUSTIFYING RIGHTEOUSNESS THROUGH FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST, ALIKE ADAPTED TO OUR NECESSITIES AND WORTHY OF HIMSELF.
21-23. But now the righteousness of God--(See on
22. by faith of--that is, "in"
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.
24. justified freely--without anything done on our part to deserve.
25, 26. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation--or