Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 28th, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Bible Commentaries
Romans 3

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Verse 1

What advantage -- Paul asked four rhetorical questions in this section (Romans 3:1-8), questions that could have been in the mind of a Jewish objector. (cf. Romans 3:9; Romans 4:1; Romans 6:1; Romans 6:15; Romans 7:7; Romans 8:31; Romans 9:14; Romans 9:19; Romans 9:30; Romans 11:7).

What advantage -- A Jew would naturally ask, if the view which the apostle had given were correct, what special benefit could the Jew derive from his religion? The objection would arise particularly from the position advanced Romans 2:25-26, that if a pagan should do the things required by the Law, he would be treated as “if” he had been circumcised. Hence, the question, “what profit is there of circumcision?” - BN

what is the profit of circumcision? -- Paul answers the question in the next verse.

Verse 2

First of all -- Paul uses “first” in Romans 1:8, but without a second item being mentioned. He does the same here.

One might expect Paul to answer that no advantage or “value” results from being Jews. Instead, he claims that the Jews have great advantages, consisting chiefly in possessing the oracles of God, which refers to the OT Scriptures - ESVSB

Ordinarily the word “first” (πρω̂τον, prōton) indicates the first of a series of events or the first item in a longer list, leading us to expect other items to follow. However, Paul does not list them at this point. He waits instead until Romans 9:4-5. (CPNIV)

See Romans 9:4-5 for a longer list of Jewish privileges. - NIVZSB

chiefly -- Lit. first. Perhaps this is the first step in an enumeration which is not carried on. Cp. 1:8. But the rendering “chiefly” is quite possible and natural. - cbsc

chiefly -- That is, this is the principal advantage, and one including all others. The main benefit of being a Jew is, to possess the sacred Scriptures and their instructions. - BN

unto them were committed -- Lit. they were trusted with; for their own benefit in the first place, and then as the “keepers of Holy Writ” for the world—for enquirers and proselytes under the Old Covenant, and for the universal Church under the New. - CBSC

unto them were committed -- Or were intrusted, were confided. The word translated “were committed,” is that which is commonly employed to express faith or confidence, and it implied confidence in them on the part of God in intrusting his oracles to them; a confidence which was not misplaced, for no people ever guarded a sacred trust or deposit with more fidelity, than the Jews did the sacred Scriptures. - BN

to them were committed the oracles of God -- Having God’s revelation is an awesome responsibility as well as a tremendous privilege (cf. Luke 12:48). They were stewards of God’s gift (AORIST PASSIVE, cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:4). - Utley

oracles [the very words of God] -- The Greek term is λόγιον, (logion), used here in the plural with the definite article. (See also Acts 7:38; Romans 3:2; Hebrews 5:12; 1 Peter 4:11.)

In classical Greek this term was used for divine utterances, or oracles supposedly spoken by the gods through their inspired messengers. This is surely the sense in which Paul is using it here to represent the inspired utterances of the true God. ... It is basically equivalent to ho logos tou theou, “the word of God,” and occurs in this sense often in the LXX - CPNIV

oracles of God -- Refers to the ot Scriptures, specifically the words spoken by the prophets. It especially refers to promises and covenants (2 Samuel 7:14-15; Romans 9:4-5). Jews had knowledge of God’s purposes for humanity through their Scriptures. In this sense, they were bearers of God’s promises. - FSB

the oracles -- the utterances. Same word as Acts 7:38; Romans 3:2; Hebrews 5:12; 1 Peter 4:11. The Gr. word is occasionally used in the LXX. for ordinary human utterances; e.g. Psalms 19:14 (LXX. 18:14) “the words of my mouth.”

The context of the passages of N. T. just quoted leaves no doubt that it refers here to the utterances of God through the prophets of the Old Covenant; in short, to the O. T. Scriptures. The Apostle’s testimony to the unique dignity of the Scripture Revelation could not be stronger. And so when he elsewhere contrasts “letter” and “spirit,” his meaning, whatever it is, is not to diminish the Divine authority of the written “oracles.” - CBSC

The word logion (oracles) is used in the Septuagint for the word from God (cf. Numbers 24:4, Numbers 24:16; Deuteronomy 33:9; [LXX-R, ESV Psa. 118:67 ]; Isaiah 5:24; Isaiah 28:13). It is consistently used in this same sense in the NT (cf. Acts 7:38; Romans 3:2; Hebrews 5:12; 1 Peter 4:11). - Utley

oracles -- This Gr. word is logion, a diminutive form of the common NT word logos, which is normally translated “word.” These are important sayings or messages, especially supernatural ones. Here Paul uses the word to encompass the entire OT—the Jews received the very words of the true God (Deut. 4:1, 2; 6:1, 2; cf. Mark 12:24; Luke 16:29; John 5:39). The Jews had a great advantage in having the OT, because it contained the truth about salvation (2 Tim. 3:15) and about the gospel in its basic form (Gal. 3:8). When Paul said “preach the Word” (2 Tim. 4:2), he meant the “oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11) recorded in Scripture. - MSB

Verse 3

For what if -- τί γάρ; Philippians 1:18 only. Introduces an objection. The passage is closely condensed.

some -- τινες. The expression does net denote whether many or few; it only avoids assertion of universality of unbelief (cf. Romans 11:17; 1 Corinthians 10:7), PC

For what if some did not believe? [have faith] -- to disbelieve. This is the common N.T. meaning (Luke 24:11, Luke 24:41; Acts 28:24; Romans 4:20). Some of them “disbelieved,” these “depositaries and guardians of revelation” (Denney). But the word also means to be unfaithful to one’s trust - RWP

Can the infidelity of some be any hinderance of God’s performing his promise to others, to his chosen ones? The interrogation is a negation, q.d. It cannot be, as the following words show: see 2 Timothy 2:13. - Poole

the faithfulness of God -- God has been faithful (2 Timothy 2:13) whether the Jews (some of them) were simply disbelievers or untrue to their trust.

cancel (nullify) the faithfulness of God? ‘Because they have broken faith on their part, shall God break faith also on His?’ - Alford

faithfulness of God -- Despite the failure of God’s people to maintain the obligations associated with God’s covenants with them, God was committed to being faithful to His promises. - FSB

of none effect -- Prevent God from fulfilling his promises. Would the unfaithfulness of some Jews make null God’s covenant promises?

Even if some Jews do not believe the Word of God, God will be faithful to what He has promised (Psalms 89:30-37). - NNIBC

[Most Jews did not believe in their Messiah who had been promised by God when He came. Some did have faith (and were the true Jews in terms of Romans 2:29, but most did not.] CPNT

Even though the Jews were unfaithful and refused to trust and obey God, would He become unfaithful to them and nullify his covenant promises of sending the Messiah? Genesis 26:4; 2 Samuel 7:16; (Romans 3:4 "Of course not!").

Verse 4

God forbid [Certainly not; Not at all;] -- Literally, "Let it not be," that is, "Away with such a thought"--a favorite expression of Paul. The sense is, “let not this by any means be supposed.” God will not forsake His promises to bless the nation.

let God be true -- i.e. "let his truth be established;" Let God continue to be faithful. God would remain "true" (true to His word, reliable, trustworthy) to bless Israel as He had promised (Romans 3:4). God would even be faithful if everyone else proved unfaithful.

every man a liar -- Though every man be found false. Psalms 62:9, Psalms 116:11.

As it is written -- The common introduction to OT quotations (cf. Romans 1:17; Romans 2:24; Romans 3:4; Romans 3:10; Matthew 4:4, Matthew 4:6-7, Matthew 4:10). The tense of the Greek verb stresses continuity and permanence, and implies its divine authority. - MSB

That you may be justified in your words -- Psalms 51:4-6. Septuagint. The sense is --that we are to vindicate the righteousness of God, at whatever expense to ourselves.

See the NIV quote where the "you" is "God."

Verse 5

But if our unrighteousness -- - If our sin. The particular sin which had been specified Romans 3:3 was “unbelief” on the part of Jews. But the apostle here gives the objection a general form.

The righteousness of God -- His just and holy character.

What shall we say? -- What follows? or, what is the inference?

vengeance -- [wrath} -- The idea of vengeance is not necessarily in the original ὀργήν orgēn. It is commonly rendered “wrath.”

Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? [vengeance;] -- Does it not follow that if God is honored by sin, that it would be wrong for him to inflict punishment?”

If God’s glory results from our sin; if the effect of all was to show that His character was pure; how could He punish that sin from which His own glory resulted?

(I speak as a man) -- As it would appear to human reasoning. (cf. Romans 6:19; 1 Corinthians 9:8; Galatians 3:15).

Paul often used human logic in his theological arguments (cf. Romans 6:19; 1 Corinthians 9:8; Galatians 3:15). Here it functions as a way of rejecting the assertions of the supposed objector. - Utley

Verse 6

Certainly not -- Note Romans 3:4

For then -- “Since, if that were true, how ...” If it be admitted that it would be unjust for God to inflict punishment. how ...

How shall God -- How will it be right or consistent for him to judge the world.

Judge -- - To “judge” implies the possibility and the correctness of “condemning” the guilty; for if it were not right to condemn them, judgment would be a farce.

If God does not punish unrighteousness, then He is not just and there will be no Day of Judgment. The flaw in logic is evident: God’s justice demands that He judge unrighteousness. - Utley

Verse 7

For if, &c. -- This is an objection similar to the former. It is indeed but another form of the same. - BN

But the objector persists: Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” This is basically a restatement of the objection in Romans 3:5, as if the debater just refuses to give up on this point. - CPNIV

the truth of God. -- His truth or faithfulness in adhering to his threatenings. God threatened to punish the guilty. By their guilt he will take occasion to show his own truth; - BN

Hath more abounded -- Has been more striking, or more manifest. His truth will be shown by the fulfillment of all his promises to his people, and of all his predictions. But it will also be shown by fulfilling his threatenings on the guilty. It will, therefore, more abound by their condemnation; that is, their condemnation will furnish new and striking instances of his truth. Every lost sinner will be, therefore, an eternal monument of the truth of God. - BN

through my lie -- By means of my lie, or as one of the results of my falsehood. The word lie here means falsehood, deceitfulness, unfaithfulness. If by the unfaithfulness of the Jewish people to the covenant, occasion should be given to God to glorify himself, how could they be condemned for it? - BN

why am I yet, &c. -- the word “I” is strongly emphatic; - CBSC

unto his glory -- To his praise, or so as to show his character in such a way as to excite the praise and admiration of his intelligent creation. - BN

why yet am I, &c. -- How can that act be regarded as evil, which tends to promote the glory of God?

The objection was to being called a "sinner" if it brought glory to God!

The argument is still the same as before: “How can it be fair for a man to be blamed for his falsehood, when it has actually redounded to God’s glory?” (Cranfield, I:185). Morris’ comment is to the point: “We sinners display incredible ingenuity when we try to justify ourselves” (161). - CPNIV

Verse 8

Why not say -- Some take this as a continuation of the point made in verse 7. the "and" ” (καὶ, kai), which begins the verse,but untranslated by the NIV.

as we be slanderously reported -- lit. “as we are blasphemed”. CBSC

The “slanderous report” in question is illustrated by Romans 3:31, and Romans 6:1, Romans 6:15. It was a distortion of the doctrine of free grace. - CBSC

slanderously reported -- The apostle’s gospel message of salvation by grace through faith, without the Law, had been perverted by his opponents who argued it provided not only a license to sin, but outright encouragement to do so (Romans 5:20; Romans 6:1-2).

some affirm that we say -- Likely refers to a distortion of Paul’s gospel that misunderstands his devaluation of the law as a license to sin. He declares that whoever acts in such a way is worthy of condemnation. - FSB

Let us do evil -- Paul’s opponents claimed Paul preached: "since sin is to promote the glory of God, let us commit as much as possible."

let us do evil that good may result -- Paul’s claim that a person is justified by faith [the gospel] without the law, sounds to some as if he is opening the door to unrestrained behavior.

damnation [condemnation; judgment] -- In the Greek strictly judgment. So 1 Corinthians 11:29 margin. The Greek word is inclusive. In Romans 11:33, in plural, it signifies the Divine counsels or decisions;

Their condemnation is deserved -- Of whom is Paul speaking? Perhaps those (the “some”) who are slandering him, but more likely those who are pressing the absurd objection voiced in Romans 3:5 and Romans 3:7. - CPNIV

Verse 9

An important summary to Paul’s argument .Paul emphasizes that both Jews and non-Jewish people (Gentiles) are under sin (vv. 10–18).

Are we better? -- “We” probably refers to the Christians in Rome who will receive this letter. - MSB

we better -- Paul refers to himself and his fellow Jews (Romans 3:1). He acknowledges that they did have an advantage in having the law and God’s covenants (vv. 1; Romans 9:4-5). But this advantage does not exempt them from God’s judgment.- FSB

No, in no wise -- That is, the Jews have no preference or advantage over the Gentiles in regard to the subject of justification before God. They have failed to keep the law; they are sinners; and if they are justified, it must be in the same way as the rest of the world. - CPNIV

we have previously charged -- In Romans1:18–2:29, Paul argues that sin is universal. Therefore, both Jews and Gentiles are guilty before God, who shows no partiality (see Romans 2:11 and note). - FSB

Greeks -- "Greeks" here refers to the entire Gentile world in contrast to the Jews.

under sin -- Describes being subject to the control and power of sin. Paul refers to such people as “slaves to sin” (Romans 6:16-17). - FSB

under the power of sin -- Throughout Romans, Paul refers to sin in the singular to make the point that the many sins people commit stem from a single, basic fact: they are helpless slaves to sin’s power. (Romans 3:24; Romans 6:1-23).

under sin -- The grammar of the Gr. suggests motion under; q. d., “fallen under sin,” - CBSC

Verse 10

Rom 3:10-18 are quotes from the OT.

As it is written -- The common introduction to OT quotations (cf. Romans 1:17; Romans 2:24; Romans 3:4; Romans 3:10; Matthew 4:4, Matthew 4:6-7, Matthew 4:10). The tense of the Gr. verb stresses continuity and permanence, and implies its divine authority. - MSB

There is no one righteous -- Paul quotes Psalms 14:1-3 to support his argument that sin is common to both Jews and Greeks (Romans 3:10-12).

The originals are found, verbally or in substance, in Psalms 5:9, Psalms 10:7, Psalms 14:1-3, Psalms 36:1, Psalms 140:3; Proverbs 1:16; Isaiah 59:7. The quote here is verbatim from the Alexandrine MS. of the LXX. of Psalms 14:3 (LXX. 13:3). There is little doubt that this was the version known to Paul or the scribe.

Verse 11

See Romans 3:10 for documentation of the quote.

3:10–18 The five quotations in these verses, drawn from various parts of the OT, all address human sinfulness. Paul follows the practice of rabbis who gathered together OT texts on similar themes in a practice called pearl-stringing. - NLTSB

It is possible, though by no means certain, that early Christians gathered together this series of references before Paul’s ministry began. It echoes a Jewish practice called “pearlstringing,” citing OT texts on a particular theme. - NIVZSB

As it is written -- The apostle is reasoning with Jews; and he proceeds to show from their own Scriptures, that what he had affirmed was true. - CPNIV [cf Romans 3:4 and note]

3:10–12 This quotation from Psalms 14:1-3; Psalms 53:1-3 (Greek version).

none … understands -- Man is unable to comprehend the truth of God or grasp His standard of righteousness (see Psalms 14:2; Psalms 53:3; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14). - MSB [it echoes Ecclesiastes 7:20]

none … seeks -- See Psalms 14:2. Man’s natural tendency is to seek his own interests (cf. Philippians 2:21), but his only hope is for God to seek him (Luke 19:10).

Verse 12

Paul quotes Psalms 14:1-3.

turned aside -- See Psalms 14:3. This word basically means “to lean in the wrong direction.” It was used to describe a soldier’s running the wrong way, or deserting. All men are inclined to leave God’s way and pursue their own (cf. Isaiah 53:6). - MSB

They are together -- They have at the same time; or they have equally become unprofitable. They are as one; they are joined, or united in this declension. The expression denotes union, or similarity. - BN

Verse 13

3:13–14 Paul here refers to sins of speech, mentioning a different organ of speech in each of the four lines - NLTSB

Their throat, &c -- This expression is taken from Psalms 5:9, literally from the Septuagint. The design of the psalm is to reprove those who were false, traitorous, slanderous, &c. (Psalms 5:6). - BN

open tomb -- See Psalms 5:9. Tombs were sealed not only to show respect for the deceased, but to hide the sight and stench of the body’s decay. As an unsealed tomb allows those who pass to see and smell what is inside, the unregenerate man’s open throat—that is, the foul words that come from it—reveal the decay of his heart (cf. Proverbs 10:31-32; Proverbs 15:2; Proverbs 15:28; Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 12:34-35; Matthew 15:18; James 3:1-12). - MSB

The sinner’s throat (λάρυγξ, larynx) is like this grave. When he opens it to speak, all sorts of ugly, rotten, obscene words pour forth. (See Eph 4:29.) This follows Jesus’ specific teaching in Matt 12:34: “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (see Matt 12:35; 15:18–20). Nothing reveals the state of the heart more consistently than how a person talks. A rotten heart produces rotten speech. - CPNIV

With their tongues they have practiced deceit -- Paul quotes Psalms 5:9 to illustrate the potentially harmful effects of words. The Greek verb used here, dolioō, means “to flatter with intention to do evil.” - FSB

That is, their speech is filled with smooth, oily talk, “the deceptive flatteries of those who intend evil” (Moo, I:206). In Scripture the tongue is commonly linked with speech and especially with lying and evil talk (see Proverbs 6:17; Proverbs 12:19; Micah 6:12; James 1:26; James 3:1-12). - CPNIV

poison of asps is under their lips -- Paul quotes Psalms 140:3 from the Septuagint (LXX). Robertson says this refers to the Egyptian cobra, “The poison of the asp lies in a bag under the lips” (345)

the venom of asps points to the poisonous effect of one’s speech.

. . . the words of the slanderer are deadly, pestiferous, quickly destroying the reputation and happiness of man. They are as subtle, as insinuating, and as deadly to the reputation, as the poison of the adder is to the body. Wicked men in the Bible are often compared to serpents; Matthew 23:33; Genesis 49:17. - BN

Is under their lips -- The poison of the serpent is contained in a small bag which is concealed at the root of the tooth. When the tooth is struck into the flesh, the poison is pressed out, through a small hole in the tooth, into the wound. - BN

Verse 14

Whose mouth -- Psalms 10:7. The apostle has not quoted this literally, but has given the sense. David in the psalm is describing his bitter enemies. - BN

full of cursing -- Paul quotes Psalms 10:7.

It refers to wanting the worst for someone and publicly expressing that desire in caustic, derisive language. bitterness. The open, public expression of emotional hostility against one’s enemy (cf. Psalms 64:3-4). - MSB

Cursing -- Reproachful and opprobrious language, such as Shimei used in relation to David; 2 Samuel 16:5, 2 Samuel 16:7-8. - BN

Bitterness -- In the psalm, deceits. The word bitterness is used to denote severity, harshness, cruelty; reproachful and malicious words. - BN

Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness -- (From Psalms 10:7.) To curse someone is to verbally call for harm to befall him. It usually springs from a heart that is full of bitterness or hostility or anger toward that person. The sinner’s heart is “full of” such bitter curses, i.e., it is not just an exception but is typical of his lifestyle in general.

Some have suggested that v. 13 refers to evil speech directed against mankind, while this verse refers to evil speech directed against God. There is no real basis for such limitations, though. The “cursing” mentioned here is likely directed toward both, though the context of Ps 10:7 particularly refers to harm done to others. - CPNIV

Verse 15

Their feet are swift to shed blood -- (From Isaiah 59:7-8.) This and the next two citations stress sinners’ evil deeds, even to the point of shedding blood in violent assault and murder.

Being “swift” to shed blood suggests that such evil is carried out with eagerness and perverse delight.

...the two following verses, is abridged or condensed from Isaiah 59:7-8. The expressions occur in the midst of a description of the character of the nation in the time of the prophet. The apostle has selected a few expressions out of many, rather making a reference to the entire passage, than a formal quotation. - BN

Verse 16

Destruction -- That is, they cause the destruction or the ruin of the reputation, happiness, and peace of others.

Misery -- Calamity, ruin.

In their ways -- Wherever they go. The tendency of their conduct is to destroy the virtue, happiness, and peace of all with whom they come in contact. This is a striking description not only of the wicked then, but of all times.

ruin and misery mark their ways -- Sinners leave in their wake devastation, ruin, and misery. Instead of knowing peace (see note on Romans 1:7) they have sown disorder and confusion into the world. - ESVSB

This highlights the depravity of the sinner’s heart by describing the wreckage he leaves in his wake. He pursues his selfish desires and purposes with no concern for others and without caring how he may be harming them. The picture is that of a village devastated by a killer hurricane that has passed through. “Ruin” describes the shattered wreckage itself; “misery” refers to the pain and suffering experienced by those over whom the sinner has run roughshod. - BN

Verse 17

way of peace -- Not the lack of an inner sense of peace, but man’s tendency toward strife and conflict, whether between individuals or nations (cf. Jeremiah 6:14). - MSB

the way of peace they have not known -- People who have sinned cannot live at peace with others; they only know destruction and violence. In ch. 14, Paul lists the practical outworking of peace and unity. - FSB

(From Isaiah 59:8.) “Peace” here is not primarily a state of inner peace, or peace with God. In line with the previous citations, it seems to be talking about peace and harmony among men, or human beings getting along with each other. Living in peace is something sinners do not know how to do, says Paul. Their way is “discord and strife” (Lard, 110). - CPNIV

Verse 18

There is no fear of God before their eyes -- (From Psalms 36:1.) The “fear of God” in the sense of reverence and awe toward the Creator should be the most fundamental attitude of the human heart. The “fear of God” in the sense of terror and dread before the Lawgiver and Judge should be the most immediate effect of sin upon the sinner’s heart. But this citation says the sinner is characteristically devoid of both. - CPNIV

no fear of God -- A quotation of Psalms 36:1. When people sin, they show disrespect for God, at times even putting Him entirely out of their minds. Thus, knowledge of God does not direct their actions or thoughts. - FSB

Man’s true spiritual condition is nowhere more clearly seen than in the absence of a proper submission to and reverence for God. Biblical fear for God consists of: 1) awe of His greatness and glory, and 2) dread of the results of violating that holy nature (see note on Proverbs 1:7; cf. Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 16:6; Acts 5:1-11; 1 Corinthians 11:30). - MSB

This concluding quotation from Ps 36:1 neatly ties up the whole series (Romans 3:10-18) by referring to the same Greek words that introduced the first quotation (ouk estin, “they have no” and “no one is”). - NLTSB

This citation from Psalms 36:1 identifies the root cause of sin as the failure to fear and honor God. Any society that commonly assumes that God will not discipline sin in this life or judge it in the next will have no fear of God and will therefore give itself increasingly to evil. - ESVSB

There is no fear of God -- Psalms 36:1. The word fear here denotes reverence, awe, veneration. There is no such regard or reverence for the character, authority, and honour of God as to restrain them from crime. - BN

Barnes gives good observation about the OT quotes as used by Paul.

Before their eyes -- probably means the eyes of the heart (see Ephesians 1:18), or the spiritual consciousness... So to say that there is no fear of God before his eyes is a figurative way of saying that the fear of God has no part in directing his life, that God is left out of his reckoning, that he is a practical, whether or not he is a theoretical, atheist” (I:195). CPNIV

... it does not mean that all individuals are equally guilty of all the vices here named (the same as for the Gentiles in Romans 1:18-32). Nor does it provide support for the Calvinist doctrine of total depravity... This passage demonstrates the reality of depraved behavior and depraved hearts, to be sure, but there is nothing here to suggest that even the worst of sinners cannot be convicted by the gospel and respond to it in repentant faith (Romans 1:17; Romans 10:17). CPNIV

Verse 19

we know -- does not specify a particular group; it is simply a way of introducing an item of common knowledge, a generally-accepted principle. It is equivalent to “everybody knows.” In this context it means “Everyone who is spiritually informed knows.” - CPNIV

whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law.… This verse and the next are crucial, since they draw the conclusion toward which the whole first section has been pointing. Also, a right understanding of this first half of v. 19 is crucial for a proper understanding of the two verses as a whole. CPNIV

under the law -- The phrase is actually ν νόμῳ, (en nomō, see Romans 2:12), which means “in the law, within the law, within the sphere of the law” (see Moo, I:200). A similar phrase is πο νόμον, (hypo nomon), literally “under the law” (Romans 6:14-15; 1 Corinthians 9:20; Galatians 3:23; Galatians 4:4-5, Galatians 4:21; Galatians 5:18). Only the context of each passage can determine if nomos means the OT law specifically or God’s law more generally. - CPNIV

law -- The law of Moses.

“law” here is God’s law in any form (in the heart, in the OT, in the NT). Thus “those who are under the law” are indeed both Jews and Gentiles, or all people in general. - CPNIV

under the law -- Every unredeemed human being. Jews received the written law through Moses (Romans 3:2), and Gentiles have the works of the law written on their hearts (Romans 2:15), so that both groups are accountable to God. - MSB

mouth stopped [silenced] -- The word for “silenced” evokes a courtroom scene in which the accused defendant is unable to respond to the charges brought against him (Cranfield I:196–197)

every mouth -- means every individual, whether Jew or Gentile. Paul has already shown that the Gentiles (those with general revelation only) are “without excuse” (Romans 1:20), and that the Jews (those with special revelation also) are also “without excuse” (Romans 2:1). This is the sense in which every mouth is silenced.

all the world -- Jew and Gentile alike. The whole world is found guilty.

Paul’s logic is that if the Jews, who are God’s special covenant people, cannot keep the law, then it follows that Gentiles, who are taught much of the law by their consciences, will not avoid God’s condemnation either.- ESVSB

every mouth … stopped … guilty -- There is no defense against the guilty verdict God pronounces on the entire human race. - MSB

that every mouth may be stopped -- This is perhaps, a proverbial expression, Job 5:15; Psalms 107:42. It denotes that they would be thoroughly convinced; that the argument would be so conclusive as that they would have nothing to reply; that all objections would be silenced. - BN

guilty before God [held accountable] -- “Held accountable” translates πόδικος, (hypodikos), used only here in the NT. “Accountable” is really too weak a translation, since it does not necessarily imply guilt. We are all accountable for our deeds, whether we actually do anything wrong or not.

But hypodikos refers to someone who has done something wrong and has been brought before the court to answer for it. The picture, says Cranfield, is “of men standing at God’s bar, their guilt proven beyond all possibility of doubt, awaiting God’s sentence of condemnation” (I:197). - CPNIV

guilty before God -- πόδικος τῷ Θεῷ. Margin, subject to the judgment of God. This word, rendered guilty, is not elsewhere used in the New Testament, nor is it found in the Septuagint.

The phrase is taken from courts of justice. It is applied to a man who has not vindicated or defended himself; against whom therefore the charge or the indictment is found true; and who is in consequence subject to punishment.

The idea is that of subjection to punishment; but always because the man personally deserves it, and because being unable to vindicate himself, he ought to be punished. It is never used to denote simply an obligation to punishment, but with reference to the fact that the punishment is personally deserved.

The argument of the apostle here shows, (1.) That in order to guilt, there must be a law, either that of nature or by revelation (chap. 1, 2, 3); and, (2.) That in order to guilt, there must be a violation of that law which may be charged on them as individuals, and for which they are to be held personally responsible. - BN

Verse 20

Therefore -- To sum up the argument began at Romans 1:18, and continued with Romans 2:1.

The word “therefore” (διότι, dioti) refers back to the whole section, 1:18–3:19. “Therefore,” given what has been established in this section as a whole ...

law -- Its strict and proper meaning is, a rule of conduct prescribed by superior authority. - BN

There is no article before either “works” or “law” in either verse. (Romans 3:20; Romans 3:28)

The word “law” should not be capitalized here, as if it means the Mosaic Law. As in the previous verse it means God’s law in general, in all its forms. “Works of law” is also used in Romans 3:28, another key verse in Romans. This expression refers to all responses to whatever commandments of God’s law apply to any given person.

Efforts to limit this phrase to the works required by the Law of Moses only, or to OT commandments only (as in Dunn, I:154–9), are seriously misguided and are a grave hindrance to a right understanding of Paul’s main point in Romans and of grace in general. (CPNIV)

by the deeds of the law -- i.e. by following that "prescribed by the law", what law one is under (Jew or Gentile) justification with God is not to be found.

Since following one’s law (the Jews the OT; the Gentiles the law of conscience) will not be done without sin, it (law) can’t bring justification with God. (Romans 2:13, Romans 3:23; )

no flesh will be justified -- Perhaps an allusion to Psalms 143:2.

there shall no flesh -- No man; no human being, either among the Jews or the Gentiles. It is a strong expression, denoting the absolute universality of his conclusion; - BN

None shall be esteemed as having kept the law, and as being entitled to the rewards of obedience; - BN

Paul’s point is that no one will be declared right with God on the basis of his obedience to God’s commands. This would require absolute perfection, which no one has achieved or will achieve. -CPNIV

declared righteous -- is from δικαιόω (dikaioō), which is the word usually translated “justified” (see Romans 2:13; Romans 3:4).

It is a courtroom term and refers to the judge’s decision to drop the charges, and his declaration that the accused person may go free without suffering any penalty.

justified -- This is a legal term. Without blame or guilt before the court. Be regarded and treated as righteous.

in his sight -- Before him. God sits as a Judge to determine the characters of men, and he shall not adjudge any to have kept the law. - BN

for by the law -- Again "law" is without the article, thus "law" in general.

knowledge of sin -- A law defines what is illegal (sin); informs, makes know, one what is sinful, but can’t save because no one is without sin. (see Romans 7:7).

Verse 21

But now -- Not a reference to time, but a change in the flow of the apostle’s argument. Having shown the impossibility of gaining righteousness by human effort, he turns to explain the righteousness that God Himself has provided. - MSB

righteousness of God -- There is no definite ARTICLE with “righteousness.” This does not refer to God’s character, but God’s way of imparting forgiveness and acceptance to sinful people.

This very phrase was used in the theological theme of Romans 1:16-17. This clearly revealed mechanism is faith in the crucified Jesus Christ (cf. Romans 3:22; Romans 3:24-26). - Utley

righteousness of [from] God -- Right standing before God. A system to put a person in a right relationship with God is about to be introduced.

This righteousness is unique: 1) God is its source (Isaiah 45:8); 2) it fulfills both the penalty and precept of God’s law. Christ’s death as a substitute pays the penalty exacted on those who failed to keep God’s law, and His perfect obedience to every requirement of God’s law fulfills God’s demand for comprehensive righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; cf. Hebrews 9:28); and 3) because God’s righteousness is eternal (Psalms 119:142; Isaiah 51:8; Daniel 9:24), the one who receives it from Him enjoys it forever. - MSB

righteousness from God -- it does not mean God’s own personal righteousness ... It is rather the gift of righteousness that God gives to sinners, on the basis of which he accepts them as righteous. Specifically, it is Christ’s satisfaction of the law’s requirement that sinners be punished, which he accomplished in our place, as our substitute. - CPNIV

"Righteousness" and "justification" have the same Greek root (dikai-). “Righteousness” is δικαιοσύνη (dikaiosunē), and “justification” is δικαίωσις (dikaiōsis). “To justify” means to count righteous or declare righteous (see Romans 2:13, and Romans 3:24 below). To say that the righteousness of God has been made known is to say that the means by which God justifies sinners has been manifested. - CPNIV

apart from -- is χωρίς (chōris), a preposition indicating distinct separation from something. “Law” is the law system or the law of God in general, not specifically the Law of Moses. Thus the phrase means “without relation to the law system, without any connection to law.” See Romans 3:28. - CPNIV

without [apart from] the law -- “Apart from the code of precepts.” - CBSC

Under law, salvation is based on perfect human righteousness. Herein lies the impotence of the law system; - CPNIV

It is often hard to be certain whether Paul is referring to the Mosaic Law (NASB) or law in general (NRSV, TEV, NJB, NIV) in these opening chapters. - Utley

has been made known [manifest] -- The new covenant spoken of by Jeremiah 31:31. A new system for being declared "righteous" that was promised in the Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament).

manifest -- cf Romans 1:17. The verb here can be translated, “has been and continues to be clearly revealed.” It is a PERFECT PASSIVE INDICATIVE - Utley

the Law and the Prophets -- A reference to the entirely of the Old Testament holy scriptures. Matthew 5:17; Matthew 11:13; Matthew 22:40; Acts 13:15; Acts 28:23.

in the Law -- Leviticus 18:5; Deuteronomy 30:12-14, in Romans 10:5-11; comp. Exodus 34:6-7.

in the Prophets -- Habakkuk 2:4; (Romans 1:17); Isaiah 28:16; Isaiah 49:23; Psa 32; Isaiah 53:11; Daniel 9:24, etc. - BN

testify [being witnessed] -- A "righteousness" spoken of, revealed that was coming, in the O.T It was not a new doctrine; it was found in the Old Testament.

Verse 22

even the righteousness of God -- To be consisten, one must accept the same interpretation of "righteousness of God" as in Romans 3:21, which see.

Justification, or "being made right with God" which God provides through faith in Jesus Christ. - Howard Winters, Commentary on Romans, p. 43.

Even the righteousness of God -- - The apostle, having stated that the design of the gospel was to reveal a new plan of becoming justified (righteous) in the sight of God, proceeds here more fully to explain it.

faith in Jesus Christ -- Faith is not the meritorious cause of salvation, but it is the instrument or means by which we become justified. - BN

Faith (and "believe") in such a context, means trusting and accepting Jesus as Lord and to which one gives his obedience. Hebrews 5:9; Matthew 7:21; - WG (faith = πίστεως; them that believe = πιστεύοντας·)

by [through] faith of Jesus Christ -- - That is, by faith in Jesus Christ. Thus, the expression, Mark 11:22, “Have the faith of God” (margin), means, have faith in God. So Acts 3:16, the “faith of his name” “(Greek),” means, faith in his name. So Galatians 2:20, the “faith of the Son of God” means, faith in the Son of God. - BN

through faith in Jesus Christ -- Some would translate this as "through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ" and understand it as through the Lord’s faithfulness to accept the Father’s will and sacrifice Himself on the cross.

to all and on all -- Evidently this expression is designed to be emphatic.

"to all" may denote that this plan of justification has come.

"on all" indicates it is for Jews and Gentiles, that is, all mankind.

dor there is no difference -- - There is no distinction in regard to the way in which all men must be justified. All must be saved, if saved at all, in the same mode, whether Jews or Gentiles, bond or free, rich or poor, learned or ignorant.

for there is no difference -- God shows no partiality between the Jews and Gentiles. There is no difference in the way each becomes justified before God.

Barns suggests that if there is a difference “unto allεἰς πᾶς eis pas, may denote that this plan of justification has come unto all men, to Jews and Gentiles; that is, that it has been provided for them, and offered to them without distinction.

The second phrase, “upon allἐπὶ πᾶντας epi pantas,, may be designed to guard against the supposition that all therefore would be benefited by it, or be saved by the mere fact that the announcement had come to all. - BN

There is no difference -- goes better with Romans 3:23 and along with that verse forms a parenthesis that sums up a main conclusion of 1:18–3:20. The NIV does not translate the particle γάρ (gar), meaning “for” or “because.”

This little word introduces the reason why the righteousness of God is available to everyone on the same terms, namely, because “there is no difference” in their starting point or their status before God: all have sinned. - CPIV

Verse 23

An important verse!

for -- This verse also begins with γάρ (gar), “for,” explaining why there is no difference among human beings as to the manner of their salvation. None can be saved by law through works; all must be saved by grace through faith—because all have sinned, and grace through faith is the only possible way for sinners to be saved. Once a person has sinned even once, he has forfeited all possibility of salvation by law-righteousness (James 2:10). - CPNIV

for all have sinned -- This was the point which he has fully established in the discussion in chapters 1 and 2.

have come short -- - Greek, “Are deficient in regard to;” are lacking, etc. Here it means, that they had failed to obtain, or were destitute of.

...the present tense suggests the falling short is a present condition - CPNIV

the glory of God -- The praise or approbation of God. They had sought to be justified, or approved, by God; but all had failed. Their works of law had not secured his approbation; and they were therefore under condemnation.

The word “glory” (δόξα doxa) is often used in the sense of praise, or approbation, John 5:41, John 5:44; John 7:18; John 8:50, John 8:54; John 12:43.

the glory of God -- Means the reflected glory of God ...the “glory of God” is “his image or glory in which all were made but which all fail to live up to” (Stott, 109). - CPNIV

(Genesis 1:26) (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:7; Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24; James 3:9)

Verse 24

justified -- Justification is a legal or judicial term; it has to do with one’s relation to the law (see Romans 2:13). It is best understood as the declaration made by a judge once his final decision as to guilt or innocence has been made. When he justifies a defendant, the judge declares that he is in a right standing with the law. Some say it is equivalent to the judge declaring the defendant “not guilty”; I prefer to say it means that the judge declares “No penalty for you!” (Jack Coytrell) - CPNIV

justified by grace -- Cf. Titus 2:11 and Matthew 7:13-14. God’s free grace makes it possible, man must accept God’s grace by confession and obedience, Romans 10:10; 2 Corinthians 9:13; Hebrews 5:8-9.

freely -- δωρεὰν dōrean. This word stands opposed to what is purchased, or which is obtained by labor, or which is a matter of claim. It is a free, undeserved gift, not merited.

It does not mean that it has been obtained, however, without any price, for the Lord Jesus has purchased it with his own blood, 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 7:23; 2 Peter 2:1; Acts 20:28; We have no offering to bring, and no claim. To us, therefore, it is entirely a matter of gift, nothing earned, but free.

by his grace -- - By his favor; by his mere undeserved mercy;

through the redemption -- - διὰ τῆς ἀπολυτρώσεως dia tēs apolutrōseōs. The word used here occurs 10 times in the New Testament, Luke 21:28; Romans 3:24; Romans 8:23; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 1:7, Ephesians 1:14; Ephesians 4:30; Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 11:35.

Its root (λύτρον lutron) properly denotes the price which is paid for a prisoner of war; the ransom, or stipulated purchase-money, which being paid, the captive is set free.

that is in Christ Jesus -- The redemption which is procured, paid, by Him.

Verse 25

whom God hath set forth -- (προέθετο proetheto). The word properly means, “to place in public view;” to exhibit in a conspicuous situation, as goods are exhibited or exposed for sale, or as premiums or rewards of victory were exhibited to public view in the games of the Greeks.

It means that God has publicly exhibited Jesus Christ as a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of people. This public exhibition was made by his being offered on the cross, in the face of angels and of people. It was not concealed; it was done openly.

a propitiation -- (hilastērion). The only other N.T. example of this word is in Hebrews 9:5 where we have the “cherubim overshadowing [concealing, covering, hiding] the mercy seat” (to hilastērion). It refers to the act of getting rid of sin which has come between God and man.

Septuagint usage. These words mostly represent the Hebrew verb kaphar to cover or conceal, and its derivatives.

*** Paul presents a very graphic picture to the Jewish mind of the blood of atonement being sprinkled upon the mercy seat for reconciliation by the high priest. In this picture Paul presents Jesus’ blood as the sacrifice that covers our sins before God.

sacrifice of atonement.… The word translated “sacrifice of atonement” is λαστήριον (hilastērion), which is also used in Hebrews 9:5. This term and its equivalent, λασμός (hilasmos) (1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10) stand for one of the most important concepts in the Bible.

..it is used often in the LXX and in Hebrews 9:5 to refer to the lid of the ark of the covenant, i.e., the “mercy-seat,” many find that meaning figuratively here in Romans 3:25. Just as the mercy-seat was the place where the atoning blood of sin-offerings was sprinkled in OT times, so also is Jesus in a sense the place where the final atonement has been made for all times. - CPNIV

Paul more likely intends it to mean the atoning sacrifice itself, in the sense of a propitiation.

The key element in the concept of propitiation is the averting of wrath. To say that Jesus is a propitiation means that he offered himself as a sacrifice that turns God’s wrath away from deserving sinners by accepting that wrath upon himself in our place. Thus he is a “wrath-removing sacrifice” (Hendriksen, I:132), a “wrath-averting sacrifice” (Moo, I:237). - CPNIV

through faith, by [in] his blood -- (dia pisteōs en tōi autou haimati). So probably, connecting en toi haimati (in his blood) with proetheto. - RWP

We are justified (made right with God) by our faith in the blood of Christ as the atoning price giving (sacrificed) for our sins.

through faith -- "Our faith", God’s grace is shed on us for "our faith" in Jesus’ blood as atoning sacrifice made for sin.

[He did this] to demonstrate [declare] his justice -- εἰς ἔνδειξις eis endeixis. For “the purpose” of showing, or exhibiting; to present it to man.

The meaning is that God’s scheme of redemption was publicly manifested to the people demonstrating his plan for justification.

his justice [righteousness] . .Some interpreters understand this as referring to an attribute of God (see Romans 1:17), but the whole context may be indicating this is not speaking of an attribute of God, but of his "plan" for justifying sinners. He has adopted a plan by which people may become justified by faith in Jesus Christ, and not by deeds of law, which they couldn’t keep in the first place. - BN

justice [righteousness] -- it means God’s own righteous character, his inner integrity that requires him to be completely true to himself in all ways. - CPNIV

in His forbearance -- Through his patience, his long-suffering. That is, he did not come forth in judgment when the sin was committed; he spared us, though deserving of punishment; and now he comes forth completely to pardon those sins concerning which he has so long and so graciously exercised forbearance. - BN

God not remitting but only forbearing to punish them, or passing them by, until an adequate atonement for them should be made. -JFB

God had passed over the sins -- “Passing over.” The word used here πάρεσιν paresin occurs no where else in the New Testament, nor in the Septuagint. It means “passing by,” as not noticing, and hence, forgiving. A similar idea occurs in 2 Samuel 24:10, and Micah 7:18. - BN

previously committed [committted beforehand; former sins] -- That have been committed; or that have existed before. This has been commonly understood to refer to past generations, as affirming that sins under all dispensations of the world are to be forgiven in this manner, through the sacrifice of Christ. [But Barns doesn’t believe that to be the meaning] - BN

Human sin, past, present, and future, is dealt with by Christ’s sacrifice. ... This was a past act of God’s grace looking forward to Christ’s work (cf. Acts 17:30; Romans 4:15; Romans 5:13) - Utley

Verse 26

to demonstrate at the present time -- The time now since the Saviour has come, now is the time when he manifests (declares or demonstrates) His righteousness.

at the present time -- The word translated “time” means usually occasion, “special time,” “due time.” Same word as Romans 5:6. Such a sense is natural here. The “declaration” of God’s righteousness in pardon was made not only “at this time,” as distinct from a previous age (that of the O. T.), but “at this due time,” the crisis fixed by the Divine purpose. - CBSC

His righteousness -- God’s justice, His integrity and character as a moral sovereign is demonstrated by all His actions.

that He might be just -- God is consistent in maintaining the essential purity of his nature, his righteousness.

"Sin" demanded death, and in the wisdom and integrity of God He allowed Christ to take the place of sinners and die in their stead without compromising His justice.

Succinctly summarizes the two key themes in the paragraph: Christ’s sacrificial death enables God to (1) justify sinful people (2) while he remains just. - NIVZSB

and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus -- Greek, “Even justifying him that believeth, etc.”- BN

him which believeth -- Lit. him who is out of, or from, faith. This Gr. idiom may mean “one who belongs to the class of faith,” i.e. of the faithful, the believing. Nearly the same Gr. occurs Hebrews 10:39. - CBSC

him which believeth in Jesus -- - Greek, “Him who is of the faith of Jesus;” in contradistinction from him who is of the works of the Law; that is, who depends on his own works for salvation. - BN

The "faith" system is the way by which God now ("this present time") justifies a person, and not a "law" system.

Verse 27

Where is boasting -- Because salvation is by grace, not earned by adhering without fault to some set of statutes.

boasting -- Lit. the boasting; i.e. probably “the boasting of the Jew in his pride of privilege.” - CBSC

boasting -- The Greek word used here, kauchēsis, refers to pride toward human accomplishment.

Some Jews boasted of their possession of the law and covenantal status as God’s chosen people, but people are prone to boasting. Paul rejects such pride. If all have sinned (Romans 3:23), no one has any basis to boast—especially in relation to the law. Faith excludes boasting because people are saved not by their works, but by the work of Jesus on the cross and by God’s raising Him from the dead. - FSB

then -- The word “then” (οὐ̂ν, oun) introduces a conclusion drawn from Romans 3:24-26, namely, that the grace system excludes boasting. Those under law, whether Jews or Gentiles, are given to boasting since both the ground and means of justification in that system are human works ( Romans 1:30; Romans 2:17, Romans 2:23). But the way of grace is not consistent with boasting since the total package of salvation from beginning to end was conceived in the mind of God and made possible only through the work of Jesus, and is offered to sinners in the form of a free gift. (See Ephesians 2:8-10.) - CPNIV

It is excluded -- This term (ek [out] plus kleiō [shut]) is used only here and in Galatians 4:17. It literally means “to lock out.” - Utley

Excluded” is aorist tense: “it has been excluded” once for all. - CPNIV

By what law? - [NIV "On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith."] --

By what law? -- Excluded by what principle?

of works? -- Of doing the deeds of a law system?

If salvation was by perfectly obeying/keeping all the deeds of a law system without one failure, then there might be room for boasting. But since no one keeps a law-system perfectly, there is no room for boasting.

Nay, but by he law of faith -- God’s New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34 is not based on performance, but on trust/faith/belief (pistis) in His gracious character and promises. Both the Old and New Covenants were meant to change fallen mankind into God’s character (righteous). The Old by an external law; the New by a new heart (cf. Ezekiel 36:26-27). - Utley

law of faith -- By refering to a "law of faith" Paul refers to the grace system, in which one is justified by faith.

Verse 28

Therefore -- γὰρ; For. A summary of Romans 3:21-26.

we conclude -- We reason or maintain. It is the same word that is translated “reckon, count, impute” throughout ch. 4.

we -- The plural “we” probably refers to Paul and his Christian readers, and thus by implication to all believers:

a man -- refers to any man or any person, i.e. anybody who is actually justified.

Jew and Gentile are justified by the same method. The Gentiles were without the law of Moses, thus the Jew can now also be saved without the law of Moses. vs. Romans 3:28-30

justified by faith -- Martin Luther added the word "solo" ("only") to his German translation which does not appear in the Greek text.

justified by faith -- Meaning we are justified by the system of gracious-faith, and not by any system of works, or deeds, which would merit salvation.

Faith” is a kind of shorthand for the grace system as a whole, and “works of law” (like “works” in v. 27) is shorthand for the law system as a whole. - CPNIV

apart from deeds of the law -- Salvation is not by keeping deeds of a law-system (whether it be the Law of Moses, or the law of conscience/nature) because such a law cannot be kept without sin.

Verse 29

Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? -- There is only one true God (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:5-6).

This verse, like Romans 3:9, may reflect tension in the Roman church between believing Jewish leadership, who may have left Rome following edict of Claudius, and the resulting believing Gentile leadership, who replaced them. Chapters 9–11 may also address this same tension. - Utley

3:29–30 -- Since God is the Lord of all, whether Jews or Gentiles, there can only be one way of justification—by faith. - ESVSB

3:29-30 -- If there is only one God, then he is equally the God of both Jews and Gentiles. All people must be able to come to God on the same terms, through faith.whether they are Jews or Gentiles: Literally whether they are circumcised or uncircumcised. - NLTSB

This asserts that salvation [justification] for all mankind is the same way, through the faith-system of Jesus Christ, Acts 4:12.

Verse 30

(see note on Romans 3:29 also).

one God who will justify -- Paul argues there is one God of both Jew and Gentile, and God will justify (make them right with Himself) both on the same basis.

the curcumcised -- Jews.

the uncircumcised -- Gentiles.

by faith -- through faith -- ἐκ πίστεως . . . διὰ τῆς πίστεως.

by faith … through faith -- There is no difference in the meaning of these expressions. Both denote that now the faith-system is the way for justification, or acceptance with God for all man-kind, Acts 4:12.

It is hardly possible that a distinction is to be insisted on here, as the point of the passage is similarity, equality, oneness, in regard of justification. The fulness of thought and language delights, as it were, to dwell on justifying faith in one case as God’s reason why pardon is applied to the believer, in the other as the believer’s way of accepting the pardon. The whole passage proves that Jewish and Gentile faith is one and the same in kind and effect. - CBSC

There is an obvious parallelism between these two clauses. The PREPOSITIONS ek and dia are used here synonymously. No distinction is intended. - Utley

Though two different prepositions are used for “by (κ, ek) faith” and “through (διά, dia) faith,” no significant difference in meaning is intended (Lard, 125; Cranfield, I:222; Dunn, I:189; Moo, I:255). - CPNIV

Verse 31

Do we then -- This verse stands very much by itself, a sort of brief paragraph. A serious objection (on the part of the Jew) is anticipated and strongly negatived; but the discussion of it is postponed. It springs out of what has gone before, but is not connected closely with the next passage. - CBSC

do we nullify the law -- Paul’s hypothetical conversation partner raises a concern about justification apart from the law. Paul’s point us that the Jew should not consider the Law of Moses as the means to a right relationship (justification) with God.

make void -- annul, cancel. Same word as Romans 3:3. - CBSC

we establish the law -- Salvation by grace through faith does not denigrate the law, but underscores its true importance: 1) by providing a payment for the penalty of death, which the law required for failing to keep it; 2) by fulfilling the law’s original purpose, which is to serve as a tutor to show mankind’s utter inability to obey God’s righteous demands and to drive people to Christ (Gal. 3:24); and 3) by giving believers the capacity to obey it (Romans 8:3-4). - MSB

we establish the law -- It has been much doubted what exact reference the word bears here. But the previous context seems to fix it to the moral law, and primarily as embodied in the O. T. - CBSC

There is uncertainty as to what Paul meant by “the Law”: (1) a system of righteous works of Judaism; (2) a stage for Gentile believers to pass through to salvation in Christ (Judaizers in Galatians); or (3) a standard by which all humans fall short (cf. Rom. 1:18–3:20; Romans 7:7-25; Galatians 3:1-29). - Utley

we establish the law -- 1) We fulfill the purpose of the law, to set man right with God; or 2) We show the purpose of the law in preparing man for the faith-system promised through Abraham. 3) We show how the sacrifice of Christ is the fulfillment of God’s plan for atonement.

When Paul says, “we uphold the law,” he also affirms the abiding moral norms of the law and thus anticipates the charge of antinomianism, to which he responds more fully in chs. 6 and 7. - ESVSB

we establish [uphold] the law -- We show it’s true function as the inspired revelation of God.

We are not under law as a way of salvation (Romans 6:14), but we are always under law as a way of life. - CPNIV

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Romans 3". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/romans-3.html. 2021.
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