Notes on Romans 3

Denis Clapham, Birmingham

Part 1: w. 1-20

In general, the Apostle's argument that all the world is under the judgement of God is here concluded v. 19. In particular, it is demonstrated that the Jews, despite their many advantages, are just as guilty as the rest of men, v. 20. Four important questions are asked. These are rhetorical, so the Apostle supplies the answers to them.

First: Has the Jew any advantage? Yes, he has many, but chiefly in his possession of the oracles of God, vv. 1, 2.

Second: Does the unbelief of some Jews nullify God's faithfulness? Certainly not! God is true and trustworthy, and His standard is unchallengeable, vv. 3, 4.

Third: If the Jews' wrong doing highlights God's righteousness, is God wrong to avenge Himself? No, for as judge He must take vengeance, vv. 5-8.

Fourth: Are Jews, then, worse off than the rest of men? In no way! All are equally under sin, v. 9.

The apostle now proceeds to show from the Jews' own Scriptures, in which they boasted, that their guilt is confirmed by them. All quotations are from the Septuagint, the Greek translation, w. 10-20. See Ps. 14, 1-3; Isa. 52. 15; Ps. 5. 9; 140. 3; 10. 7; Isa. 59. 7; Ps. 36. 1.

Part 2: w. 21-31

Having proved conclusively the universal need for the display of the grace of God, the Apostle now sets forth the steps by which God's righteousness, revealed in the Gospel, chap. 1. 16, 17, is made known. It is: a), manifested apart from law (i.e. works) v. 21; b). witnessed by the law and the Prophets, v. 21; c). By faith of Jesus Christ, v. 22; d). Unto and upon all who believe, v. 22.

What is the basis of this righteousness? It is: a). Nothing less than the blood of Jesus, v. 25; b). That by which a ransom was paid and redemption obtained, v. 24; c). The true mercy seat, the One who died and rose again, even Christ Jesus, v. 25.

What is a righteous God now able to do? a). Show how He could formerly pass over sins, v. 25; b). Declare how He can now be just, and yet justify sinners who believe, v. 26; c). Display no longer His forbearance, v. 25, but his grace, v. 24.

In conclusion the apostle asks three more questions, supplying the answers to them, as well.

First: Where is boasting? There is no basis for it whatever, because no man's works are of any avail, he is justified solely on the ground of faith, w. 27, 28.

Second: Is God equally the God of Jews and Gentiles? Yes, for both alike can only be justified by faith, w. 29, 30.

Third: Is the law made void through faith? By no means, rather it is established, v. 31.