The Jew's prerogative. None are justified by the law; but all by faith.
Anno Domini 58.
THE foregoing reasonings being contrary to the prejudices of the Jews, one of that nation is here introduced, objecting, if our being the children of Abraham, members of the church of God, and heirs of the promises, will procure us no favour at the judgment; and if the want of these privileges will not preclude the Heathens from salvation;—what is the pre-eminence of a Jew above a Gentile, and what is the advantage of our being made the visible church of God? Romans 3:1.—The Apostle replied, That the Jews, as a nation, enjoyed great advantages by being the church of God: to them were committed the oracles of God, the law of Moses, and the writings of the prophets, in which the coming of the Seed of Abraham, who was to bless all nations, is foretold, Romans 3:2.—But, says the Jew, What good have we derived from these oracles, if the greatest part of us have not believed on him whom you affirm to be the seed of Abraham? Will not our unbelief occasion our rejection, and thereby destroy the faithfulness of God, who promised to Abraham to be a God to him and to his seed in their generations? Romans 3:3.—This consequence the Apostle denied. Because, although all the natural seed of Abraham were rejected for unbelief, the faithfulness of God would not be destroyed thereby, but rather established; as the casting of Abraham's seed out of the covenant for unbelief and disobedience, was tacitly threatened in the covenant itself, Romans 3:4.—But, replied the Jew, If our unrighteousness, in not believing on Jesus, establish the faithfulness of God, by occasioning our losing the privileges of the covenant, Is not God unrighteous in destroying us also as a nation for the sin of not believing on Jesus? Romans 3:5.—By no means, answered the Apostle; for if no sin could be righteously punished, which is attended with good consequences, How shall God judge the world? How shall he render to every man according to his works? Romans 3:6.—This answer not convincing the Jew, he urged his objection in a stronger form, as follows: If the truth of God, in executing his threatenings on us as a nation, hath abounded to his glory through our lie, Why are we punished as sinners individually, for what has contributed so exceedingly to God's glory, that it can scarcely be called a sin? To this objection the Apostle adds, Why not say also, what we apostles are slanderously reported to practise, and even to order, Let us do evil that good may come? This pernicious doctrine theApostle reprobated with abhorrence, by declaring, that the condemnation of those who hold it is most just, Romans 3:8 which is all that he now thought fit to say on the subject; intending to confute both the objection and the slander more fully afterwards, chap. 6: Romans 7:8 :
Because the Apostle had affirmed, Romans 3:2 that the pre-eminence of the Jews above the Gentiles consisted in the advantages which they derived from the oracles of God, for improving themselves in knowledge, holiness, and virtue, the Jew asks, Do you acknowledge that we excel the Gentiles in worthiness of character, and that, on account thereof, we are entitled to be justified by the law? Not at all, says the Apostle; for we have formerly, chap. 1: and 2: proved Jews and Gentiles, that is the scribes, Pharisees, and lawyers among theJews, and the statesmen, philosophers, and common people of the Gentiles, to be all under sin, and obliged to seek justification by faith, Romans 3:9.—And with respect to the common people of the Jews, I will shew you by passages from your own Scriptures, that the generality of them have always been exceedingly corrupt, notwithstanding the advantages which they derived from the oracles of God, Romans 3:12-18.—Wherefore Jesus and Gentiles being sinners, every mouth of man, pretending to justification as due on account of works, is effectually stopped, both by the law of nature and by the law of Moses, and all the world stands condemned by both, as liable to punishment from God, Romans 3:19.—The Apostle having thus, step by step, led his readers to the great conclusion which he meant to establish, he produces it as the result of all his reasonings hitherto: Wherefore, by works of law, there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: because through law is the knowledge of sin, Romans 3:20.—That is, neither Jew nor Gentile can be justified meritoriously by works of law; because, law requiring immaculate obedience under the penalty of death, its only operation is to make sinners sensible that they are liable tocondemnation, without giving them the least hope of mercy: so that any expectation of eternal life which sinners can entertain, must be founded upon a method of justification different from that of law.
This being the proper place for it, the Apostle introduces his account of the Gospel-method of justification, as follows. Because both the law of nature, and the law of Moses have made immaculate obedience necessary to justification, and because no man is able to give such an obedience, a righteousness without law, that is, a different righteousness from immaculate obedience to any law whatever, is now discovered in the Gospel, to be what God requires in order to salvation. And to reconcile the Jews to that kind of righteousness, the Apostle told them, (deferring the proof of his assertion till afterwards, chap. Romans 4:1-8.) that it is testified by the law and the prophets, Romans 3:21.—even the righteousness which God has appointed from the beginning, as the righteousness of sinners; a righteousness which is through the faith enjoined by Jesus Christ, and which, from mere favour, will be counted to all, and rewarded upon all who believe; for with God there is no distinction of persons, in his method of justifying mankind, Romans 3:22.—because all have sinned and come short of the praise of God, Romans 3:23.
Manyof the Jews, however, continued utterly averse to the new dispensation:First, Because its doctrine of justification by faith rendered the Levitical sacrifices, which they believed to be real atonements, altogether useless; and, secondly, because they fancied that no sacrifice forsin was appointed under the Gospel.—This latter mistake the Apostle corrected, by informing them that justification is a free gift from God, bestowed on sinners through the redemption which is by Christ Jesus, that is through the atonement which he has made for sin by the sacrifice of himself: Romans 3:24.—And that on account of his having offered a sacrifice so meritorious, God has set him forth as a mercy-seat, seated on which, consistently with his justice, he forbears to punish sinners immediately, and grantsthem space to repent and believe, that he may pardon both them who have repented and believed before the coming of Christ, Romans 3:25 and them who shall repent and believe after his coming, even to the end of the world; Romans 3:26.—Where then is boasting? the boasting of the Gentile philosophers, and of the Jewish scribes, who, being puffed up with pride, the one on account of their intellectual attainments, and the other on account of their zeal in performing the rites of Moses, fancy themselves entitled to eternal life. To this question the Apostle replies, It is excluded: not however by law, which only justifies men meritoriously through an immaculate obedience to its precepts; but by the law of faith, the Gospel, which justifies sinners gratuitously through faith, Romans 3:27 and thereby utterly beats down the pride both of the Jews and the Gentiles.
Having thus explained the Gospel-method of justification, and shewn that it is founded not on the merit of men's works, but in the mercy of God, and in the atonement made for sin by the death of Christ, the Apostle produces his second great conclusion: We conclude then, that by faith man is justified without works of law, Romans 3:28. And truly, unless this, with the arguments which support it, had been added, the former conclusion, Romans 3:20. By works of law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight, would have answered no purpose, but to terrify sinners.—Farther, to wean theJewseffectuallyfromthe legal method of justification bysacrifices, washings, and meats, on which they doted, the Apostle observed, that Jews and Gentiles being all under the government of the same God, who is equally related to all, as their creator and judge, Romans 3:29 there cannot be one way of justification appointed for the Jews, and another for the Gentiles; but all are to be justified in one method, namely, by faith, Romans 3:30.—To conclude: because the unbelieving Jews and Gentiles affirmed, That in teachingagratuitous justification by faith without works of law, the Apostle made law useless, he told them, this doctrine does not make law useless, but rather establishes it as absolutely necessary, Romans 3:31. However, the proof of his assertion being a matter of great importance, the Apostle deferred it till afterwards, that he might propose it at large, chap. 7:
Romans 3:1.— The Apostle, in the latter end of the foregoing chapter, has carried his argument to the utmost length. What remains is, to keep the Jew in temper, to fix his convictions, and to draw the general conclusion. He has shewn that the Jews were rather more wicked than the Gentiles, and stood condemned by such of them as sincerelydid their duty through the secret influences of divine grace; that a possession of the law, circumcision, and an outward profession of relation to God, gave them no character, and signified nothing, as to their acceptance with him. This was in effect to say, that the Jews were as unworthy to be continued in the church, as the Gentiles to be taken into it; and consequently, that in order to their enjoying the privileges of the church, under the Messiah, they stood in need of a fresh display of grace; which if they rejected, God would cast them out of the vineyard. And the Apostle was sensible that the Jew would understand what he had said in this sense. To set aside his law, his circumcision, his external advantages, as insufficient to gain him any interest in the favour of God, was to strip him of his peculiar honours, and quite ruin him as a Jew. This must be very disgusting: and the Apostle, who had often debated the point with his countrymen, knew very well what a Jew would be ready to say upon this occasion. Here, therefore, he seasonably introduces a dialogue between himself and the Jew, indulging, as it were, his disgust, by giving him leave to speak for himself; Romans 3:1-8 and what he is supposed to speak, we have reason to think was what the Jews had actually replied and objected against the Apostle. This would amuse, and at the same time instruct him, and possibly cool his resentment; especially as the Apostle's answer to the first question is much in his favour. There seems no room to doubt, that this dialogue relates to the rejection of the Jews; a subject which would have come in here naturally enough. But then it would have broken in too much upon the Apostle's argument: for which reason he but just touches upon it here, reserving the full consideration of it to the 9th, 10th, and 11th chapters; particularly ch. Romans 9:4-23; where we have the same questions more distinctly put, answered, and largely discussed; only we may observe, that here they relate solely to the rejection of the Jews, but there they take in also the calling of the Gentiles. After the dialogue, St. Paul resumes his argument, Romans 3:9 proves farther by Scripture quotations, that the Jews were guilty before God as well as other men, Romans 3:10-19 and concludes that no part of mankind could have a right to the blessings of God's kingdom and covenant upon the footing of any works of obedience which they had done, Romans 3:20 but only by the favour of God in the Gospel; which he explains, Romans 3:21, &c. The sum and force of the Apostle's argument is this: "All sorts of men, Jews as well as Gentiles, have sinned: therefore no part of mankind can lay claim to the blessings of God's kingdom and covenant upon the score of obedience; and therefore the Jew stands as much in need of grace or favour, to give him a title to those blessings under the kingdom of the Messiah, as the Gentile. Consequently the Gentile has as good a title as the Jew; for those blessings are given only by grace; and grace, or mere favour, is alike free to all mankind: and when all are in equal circumstances, it is perfectly absurd for any to pretend to engross it to themselves, exclusively of others, who are as good, or but as bad, as they." And thus the Apostle very solidly, and to our great comfort, proves, that we Gentiles, through faith alone, have a good and firm title to all the blessings of the Gospel covenant; pardon, privileges, ordinances, the Spirit of God, and the rich hope of everlasting life.
Romans 3:2. Much every way— St. Paul gives a list of the advantages which the Jew had over the Gentile, ch. Romans 9:4-5 but here mentions only one of them, which was most proper to his present purpose; and which is so remarkable and important a testimony to the divine inspiration of the Old Testament in general, that it can leave no doubt of the full persuasion of St. Paul upon this head. See Doddridge and Locke. We may read the next clause, Because they were intrusted with the oracles of God.
Romans 3:3. For what if some did not believe? &c.— This and the following verse are generally understood as a continuation and explication of the Apostle's answer in the second verse; whereby the sense of the third and fourth verses is generally embarrassed, as they will not admit of a connection with the second verse. For in truth, Romans 3:3 is not the words of the Apostle, but a second question or objection advanced by the Jews: nor is γαρ, for, a causal, shewing the reason why the having the oracles of God committed to them was a privilege, notwithstanding their unbelief; but the original words τι γαρ, are interrogative, and may be translated, well, and what? And thus the phrase is frequently used in Xenophon's Memoirs of Socrates: see particularly, lib. 2. 100. 6 sect. 2. Whence it appears that the phrase τι γαρ, in a dialogue, and when the word τι has no following substantive to agree with it, is a form of introducing another question or objection by the inquirer. And as the Apostle in this place is carrying on a dialogue after the Socratic manner, it is to be understood as advancing a new question or objection; and thus every thing stands right and easy, which otherwise is in great disorder. Did not believe, should rather be, Have not been faithful; that is to say, have not been obedient. See 1 Pet. ii 7. The Jew here alludes to the charge of wickedness which the Apostle had brought against the Jews in the foregoing chapter. St. Paul has the same sentiment as the next clause in chap. Romans 9:6. He is speaking of the same thing in both places; and therefore evidently the faith of God, here, is the same with the faith of God, there, or that faithful promise which he made to Abraham. See Genesis 17:7-8. Tillotson's Sermons, vol. 12: serm. 1. The verse may be rendered, For what if some of them were unfaithful, shall their unfaithfulness make void the faithfulness of God?
Romans 3:4. But every man a liar— Though every man should be a liar. For the next clause, see the note on Psalms 51:4. Dr. Taylor observes, that the Hebrew of that verse literally is, that thou mayest be just in thy speaking, and clean [that is clear] in thy judging. The speaking meant is, the word of promise which God made to David, 2 Samuel 7:12-16 and the judging referred to is the execution of the threatening denounced, 2 Samuel 12:9-13 and David owns, that if the threatening did not agree with the promise, God was clear from the charge of falsehood; the inconsistency must be assigned to his own wickedness. This is full to the Apostle's purpose. If the promise to Abraham was not made good, as the Jews expected, they might thank themselves for it. See Tillotson, vol. 12: serm. 8.
Romans 3:5. The righteousness of God— St. Paul hereby intends God's faithfulness in keeping his promise. This verse is the language of an unbelieving Jew, and therefore in his mouth God's righteousness, or fidelity to his promise, has relation only to the nation of the Jews, and their being still continued the church and people of God.—Who taketh vengeance, might be rendered, more agreeably to the original, who inflicteth wrath, or, "who is the inflicter of wrath, as you intimate." See on chap. Romans 2:1 and on Romans 1:18. This expression evidently points at the rejection of the Jews, and therefore is closely connected with chap. 9: where the Apostle not only handles the same subject, but resumes these very questions or objections of the unbelieving Jew, and answers them at large; and as the rejection of the Jews stands here inserted in the midst of his argument relating to the justification of the Gentiles, it is manifestly connected with that argument, or with the Apostle's doctrine of justification by faith. For after his discourse here, upon the rejection of the Jews, he immediately subjoins, Romans 3:9. What then? are we better than they?—In answer to which, he proves to the end of the chapter that the Jews were not better than the Gentiles, seeing both stood in need of the grace or favour of God for their justification. Thus, in the Apostle's discourse and argument, the rejection of the Jews stands in close connection with his doctrine of justification. But what connection or relation is there between the justification of the Gentiles, and the rejection of the Jews?—This will appear from what is said chap. Romans 9:30-31, and the note there. In short, the rejection of the Jews for their want of faith stands in direct opposition to the justification of the Gentiles by faith; therefore, if we have a true idea of the rejection of the Jews, we may thence collect a true idea of the justification of the Gentiles; but the rejection of the Jews is their being cast out of God's church, and stripped of the privileges and blessings of God's peculiar people; consequently the justification of the Gentiles, for which the Apostle pleads, chap. 3: and 4: is their being pardoned, and received to all the privileges and blessings of God's peculiar people. See Locke.
Romans 3:6. God forbid!— This verse is the Apostle's answer to the Jews, which he crowds in while the Jew is going on with his observation. In reverence of the Divine Majesty, who is perfectly righteous, he qualifies the mere supposition for a moment of his being unrighteous (though this is proposed only for the sake of argument) three ways; first, by putting it into the form of a question, Is God un-righteous? Secondly, by adding immediately, that he spoke in the person of another, and as a man might say who was arguing that the casting off the Jews was a thing inconsistent with God's righteousness. Thirdly, by interrupting the Jew with a strong assertion of the most perfect righteousness of God, in the words of Abraham, Genesis 18:25. We have a similar instance of crowding in an answer while another person is speaking, Hor. lib. 2: sat. 3 ver. 187.
Romans 3:7-8. For if the truth of God, &c.— The particle for joins what follows in this verse, to vengeance, or wrath, in the fifth, and shews it to be a continuation of the objection begun there. But the whole eighth verse is the Apostle's answer, the true sense of which seems to be this: Says the Jew, "If the faithfulness of God in keeping his promise is, through our wickedness, made far more glorious than otherwise it would have been, why should we Jews be blamed and condemned as sinners, for that which redounds to the honour of God?" To which the Apostle replies, Romans 3:8. "And why do you not say, and draw it into a general rule and maxim, that in all cases we ought to do wickedly, because God can one way or other turn it to his own glory? an impious sentiment, which some charge upon me; as if, when I magnify the grace of God in pardoning sin, I advanced this notion, that we ought to do evil, that good (God's glory) may come of it: for which, and other malicious opposition to the Gospel, they shall come under the just condemnation of God." See a further answer, chap. Romans 9:19, &c. We may just observe, that rather, Romans 3:8 is not in the Greek, and it seems to be improperly supplied. The sense is more truly and clearly filled up thus: And why do you not say? which falls in naturally with what follows, "Why do you not say, as some affirm that we say?" Such an elliptical way of speaking we have, Revelation 22:9. Ορα μη, see not, that is to say, "See thou do it not." Through my lie, Romans 3:7 is to be understood as not believing, Romans 3:3 and as Isaiah 63:8. For he said, surely they are my people, children that will not lie; that is, "violate my covenant by perfidiously forsaking me, and falling into disobedience and wickedness." The last clause of Romans 3:8 whose condemnation is just, seems manifestly to imply, that there are certain rules which God has laid down for us, disobedience to which, in any imaginable circumstances,is universally a moral evil; even though the quantity of good arising thence to our fellow-creatures should be greater than that arising from an observance of those rules; for if this be not allowed, there can be no shadow of force in the Apostle's conclusion. See Locke and Doddridge.
Romans 3:9. What then?—Are we better than they?— The Apostle having given the Jew leave to put in his objections, in reference to what would disgust him most,—the rejection of the Jews; and having given such answers as he thought proper at present,—now returns to the main point, namely, to prove that the Gentiles have as good a right to the privileges and blessings of God's covenant as the Jews; which he introduces very properly by putting this question into the Jew's mouth; What then? Are we better than the Gentiles? which by the way makes it clear, that in his arguments he considers the Jews and Gentiles in a body, or collective capacity, and that he is arguingfor a justification agreeable to such a capacity; namely, by which the believing Gentiles were taken into the church, when the unbelieving Jews were cast out. For this point, whether Jews, or how far Jews were better than Gentiles, or had a better claim to the blessings and privileges of the kingdom of God, is the very subject upon which he is disputing; and in this extensive collective sense, all his arguments and conclusions are to be understood. He says, we have before proved,—namely, chap. Romans 2:3 where, under the gentler compellation of O man! he charges the Jews with being sinners, as well as the Gentiles, and Romans 3:17-24 shews, that by having the law, they were no more kept from being sinners, than the Gentiles were without the law: and his charge against them that they were sinners, he reproves from the testimony of their own sacred books contained in the Old Testament. See Locke.
Romans 3:10-19. As it is written— In these verses and quotations from Scripture, the Apostle is evidently giving a description of the general character and morals of the infidel Jews in his own time, when he wrote the Epistle; a description, which suits their case as exactly as the foregoing one of the degeneracy of the heathen world suits theirs, the passage being picked and chosen for the purpose; but the manner of representing it is different. In the case of the Gentiles, he speaks out plainly; for the Jews would freely enough attend to an account of their corruptions; and the Gentile, it is probable, would be more in danger of despising and neglecting whathe said, than of being disgusted at it. But had he used the Jews in the same open manner, it would have roused every passion and prejudice of the Jewish reader; and he could have expected no other but a rejection of his letter with indignation. To keep him therefore in temper, Hebrews 1 gives no intimation of his design, but enters upon it covertly,—as it is written. 2. He couches the charge under Scripture expressions, and turns the eyes of the Jew rather to ancient facts, in which notwithstanding, as in a glass,he might see the very deformed complexion of the present Jews. 3. He uses the term law, in Romans 3:19. (which there signifies the whole Old Testament,) rather than Scriptures, as being of greater force and authority with the Jews; and then concludes in that general manner; We know that whatsoever things the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law; meaning the Jews, and suggesting the obligation that they were under to attend to a charge advanced against them out of their law, which they owned was of divine authority. This was sufficient for a Jew who was disposed to reflect, and at the same time avoids what might pervert his calm and sober reflections. It is farther observable, that these quotations from Scripture do not prove that these characters belonged to all the ancient Jews without exception: for there were at the same time in the nation persons of a different character; nor could the Apostle intend that they should be applied to every individual among the Jews in his own time; for then they would have included himself with the rest of the Apostles, and all the other Jews who had embraced the Christian faith, and were persons of undoubted piety and holiness. Nay, he could not suppose, that even his account of the corrupt morals of the heathen world, given in chap. Romans 1:18, &c. was true of them all, without exception. His own arguments, chap Romans 2:10; Romans 2:14-15; Romans 2:26-27 evince the contrary. It was sufficient to his purpose, if the generality of mankind were corrupt: for this appears ground sufficient for the rejection or excision of them, with regard either to temporal life, or the privileges of the church; that is to say, God might in justice have destroyed the wholeworld,whichwasgenerallyexceedinglyvicious,althoughthere were some few persons of piety and goodness in it (for whose happiness he easily could and certainly would have provided in the world to come through the alone merit of Christ). The Apostle is here speaking of bodies of people,—of Jews and Gentiles in a collective capacity. In the affair of the golden calf, wherein the Israelites so corrupted themselves, Exodus 32:7-8. God might justly have rejected and consumed them, and have made his promise good in the person of Moses and his posterity, as he proposed, Romans 3:10 though we have reason to think that there were some who had not engaged in that instance of idolatry and defectionfrom God; for we find that numbers appeared on the Lord's side, Romans 3:26-29. In short, the Apostle is taking collective bodies of men into the church, or continuing them in it; in reference to which it is true, that those may not be taken into the church in this world, who yet shall be taken into the kingdom of heaven in the world to come; and many are now taken into the church, who shall for ever be excluded from happiness in the other world. Consequently a set of texts, which prove the general corruption of the Jewish nation, may be a good argument of their deserving to be rejected from the privileges of God's church; or that it must be by grace alone, that they, in this general collective sense, could be continued in the visible church and special covenant of God, notwithstanding there might be among them some righteous persons, not involved in the general corruption; who, whether they were in the church, or out of it, would be taken care of in the great day of account;—that is, whether they were or were not justified with regard to the donation and possession of church privileges, or the escaping of the wrath which would fall on the Jewish nation, when they were rejected, and their polity demolished,—would certainly be justified, and saved in the day of judgment. In fine, we cannot have a just idea of the Apostle's arguments, unless we keep in mind that he is arguing concerning the rejection of Jews, and the reception of Gentiles, in a general collective capacity, to the present privileges of the church and covenant of God; namely, in such a sense and capacity, that some good and righteous men might be left out among the rejected, and some unrighteous persons taken in among the elect and justified. See on Psalms 14:3.
Romans 3:19. The law saith— It appears here, that this word law sometimes signifies the Old Testament in general; for not one of the quotations above is taken from the Pentateuch. Instead of that every mouth may be stopped, the original would be better rendered, so that every mouth is stopped. Instead of may become guilty before God, the original may be rendered more exactly, stand convicted before God. Archbishop Tillotson would render it, liable to divine justice, which is the same in sense. See his works, fol. vol. 1: p. 126.
See commentary on Romans 3:10
Romans 3:20. By the deeds of the law— The deeds or works of the law here mentioned appear to be those in which both Jews and Gentiles were defective; and with regard to which every mouth was stopped, or on account of which no part of mankind could plead a right or worthiness to be admitted into the kingdom of God. Some render the last clause, The law takes cognizance of sin. See Locke, Vitringa, and Bishop Bull's Harmonia.
Romans 3:21. But now, &c.— But now a righteousness of God without law is discovered, being testified by the law and the prophets, (Romans 3:22.) even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ, &c. See the note on chap. Romans 1:17. The question with the Apostle is, "Upon what footing do either Jews or Gentiles obtain this instance of justification or salvation,—namely, to have a place among God's people, in his family and kingdom, and to be made meet to be partakers of the promises, and of the heavenly calling?" Now in a court of judicature there are two ways of righteousness, or justification. First, when a person stands upon his obedience to law, or a rule of action; then righteousness, justification, or a right to the blessing, whatever it be, is his due; and the lawgiver is bound by his own constitution to give it: this is the righteousness or justification which is of law or works. The other way of justification is, by the mere grace or favour of the lawgiver. When the law is transgressed, the sinner has no dependence but upon the mercy and goodness of the lawgiver or judge, and can be justified only by his grace, remitting sin, and conferring the undeserved blessings. Now this is the righteousness or justification of God without law, because it is provided and granted by him, setting aside law, or in a way different from that in which law justifies; or, it is the righteousness or justification of faith, as it is answered on our part, only by belief and trust in the mercy and favour of God. Law and works give us a right which the lawgiver cannot deny, unless he will reverse and break his own constitution, granting life and happiness to the obedient; which constitution the Apostle here supposes: but grace and faith suppose that we are transgressors, obnoxious to wrath; and that if we escape destruction, and obtain any blessings, it is purely because the judge is merciful, and of his own sovereign goodness chooses to spare us, and to bestow farther favours upon us. Of works, as antecedent to justification, and inconsistent with grace and faith, the Apostle speaks, in chapters 3: Romans 4:5 : Romans 9:10 : Of works, as consequent to justification, and consistent with grace and faith, he discourses, chapters Romans 6:7 : Romans 8:12 : Romans 13:14 : Or thus,—Of grace and faith, as excluding works, he discourses in chapters 3: Romans 4:5 : Romans 9:10 : Of grace and faith, as obliging to good works, and producing them, he speaks in chapters Romans 6:7 : Romans 8:12 : Romans 13:14 : Or it may otherwise be expressed thus:—Of the terms of our present admittance into the kingdom and covenant of God, he discourses in chapters 3: Romans 4:5 : Romans 9:10 : and of our obligations to obedience, after we are taken into them, he discourses in chapters vi, vii, &c. But it is proper to observe, that by what is here offered, it is not meant that no works or obedience but what are sinless will be accepted; or as if there were no allowance for repentance, or no benefit of pardon, now that we are taken into the kingdom and covenant of God. For pardon, upon repentance, is one of the privileges of that kingdom, and a blessing freely given us in Christ, and not to us only, but to the truly penitent in all ages and nations, who will be pardoned at last, though they have not in this life such clear knowledge of it as we enjoy.
Romans 3:23. And come short of the glory of God— "They have failed of rendering him that glory which was so justly his due; and thereby have not only made themselves unworthy of the participation of glory and happiness with him, but stand exposed to his severe and dreadful displeasure."
Romans 3:24. By his grace— Grace or favour means that compassionate disposition of the divine nature, whereby God freely remits his right of punishment, and receives penitent sinners into favour on terms which he was not bound in justice to do. Concerning the true import of the words redemption, propitiation, &c. we refer to what has been said in the notes on the Old Testament, at the same time referring the reader to Peter Whitfield's "Christianity of the New Testament," p. 95, &c. where he will find a very learned and copious elucidation of these words.
Romans 3:25. Whom God hath set forth, &c.— See the note on Exodus 25:17. The Alexandrian copy omits the words δια πιστεως by faith, which seems conformable to the sense of the Apostle here. He says that God hath set forth Christ to be the propitiatory in his blood: the atonement under the law was made by blood, sprinkled on the propitiatory, or mercy-seat; Leviticus 16:14. "Christ," says St. Paul here, "is now set forth, and shewn by God to be the real propitiatory in his own blood." See Hebrews 9:25-26 where the sacrifice of himself is opposed to the blood of others. God hath set him forth to be so, to declare his righteousness,—the mercy-seat being the place whereon God spake, and declared his pleasure; Exodus 25:22. There God always appeared, Leviticus 16:2. It was the place of his presence; and therefore he is said to dwell between the cherubim (Psalms 80:1.); for the mercy-seat was between the cherubim: in all which respects our Saviour, who was the antitype, is properly called the propitiatory. If, however, the words through faith be retained, they must not be understood as if our faith was the cause of Christ's being appointed to be a mercy-seat. The cause of Christ's being appointed to be a mercy-seat is, the free purpose and grace of God; but it has reference to our use and application of the mercy-seat. See Revelation 7:14; Revelation 12:11. For the remission of sins that are past, may be read, In relation to the remission, &c.; for the original word δια, with an accusative, frequently signifies, in respect, or relation to. See on chap. Romans 8:10. The sins that are past,evidently mean in this place, the sins which both Jews and Gentiles had been guilty of before the Gospel had been promulgated; by which sins both were deserving of destruction, and unworthy the blessings of God's covenant. See 2 Corinthians 5:19. Locke and Bos.
Romans 3:26. To declare, I say, &c.— "He has, I say, proposed his Son for a demonstration of his righteousness, or method of justifying; which now, in this present ever-memorable and signal time, is so wonderfullyillustrated in the great transactions of our own age; intended for this purpose, that he might be and appear strictly just, and yet at the same time, without impeaching in any degree the rights of his government, the justifier of him who is of the faith of Jesus; that is, of every one who sincerely believes in him; and acquiesces in that method of salvation, which God has published by him, and established in his perfect obedience and meritorious sufferings." It is no way wonderful that God should be merciful, or faithful to his promises, though the justifier of believing sinners,—as some would have us understand this passage; but that he should be just in such an act, might have seemed incredible, had we not received an account of the propitiation and atonement, by whom made, and in how aweful a manner. Thus the perfections of God, which were dishonoured by our rebellion, are glorified. He appears, by this method of justification, inconceivably rich in shewing mercy; yet steady, inflexibly steady, in executing vengeance. The sceptre of grace and the sword of justice have each their due exercise, each their full scope. The holiness of the divine nature, and the dignity of the divine government, are not onlymaintained,butmostmagnificentlydisplayed.Indeeditisthepeculiar excellence of this wonderful expedient, that it renders all the divine attributes supremely venerable, and supremely amiable. The words at this time, εν τω νυν καιρω, the now time, or the time that now is, meaning the time when the Gospel was promulged, are emphatical. They distinguish the justification which God at that time exhibited to the world, from the justification which he will manifest to them who do good, that is, produce all the fruits of justifying faith, in the day when he will judge the world by Jesus Christ. See Doddridge and Fletcher.
Romans 3:27. Where is boasting then?— Where is glorying then? See on chap. Romans 2:17. What is here meant by glorying, may be nearly determined by these two remarks: First, this question must be different from that in Romans 3:9. What then? are we better than they?—Secondly, the glorying here spoken of must be such, as is congruous to works of righteousness which a person performs; but which faith, or a dependence on favour, will not admit: for the Apostle here tells us, that this glorying is not excluded by the law of works, but by the law of faith; and chap. Romans 4:2 that he who is justified by works, hath glorying: and Ephesians 2:8-9. By GRACE are ye saved through faith;—not of WORKS, ινα μη τις καυχησηται, so that no man can glory. Were we saved, or taken into God's kingdom or covenant by works, there would be room for glorying; that is, our salvationmight be ascribed to human virtue or goodness: but whereas it is the effect of pure free grace, there is no place for glorying.
Romans 3:28. Therefore we conclude— This inference is drawn from the whole preceding argument. The Greek word Ανθρωπος, in the singular, without the article, frequently signifies man, mankind,or anyman whatsoever. And the Apostle's argument requires it should be taken in this general sense, so as to include all mankind, Jews and Gentiles, or all flesh, in opposition to no flesh, Romans 3:20. For Romans 3:28 is the reverse of Romans 3:20 and this extensive sense of the wordman is confirmed by the following verse; for the Apostle divides the whole world in this Epistle only into Jews and Gentiles. It is evident from Romans 3:30 that the meaning of the clause, Man is justified by faith, is, "Mankind may be justified, or may be interested by faith in the blessings of the Messiah's kingdom;" for it is said, that God will justify the circumcision, &c. that is, Either Jew or Gentile, any part of mankind, may be justified by faith. God is ready to justify them whenever they believe.
Romans 3:30. Seeing it is one God, &c.— So that it is one God, the same eternal and unchangeable Jehovah, who will justify, &c. Mr. Locke would render it, seeing God is one; and suppose it an allusion to the prediction, Zechariah 14:9 that the Lord shall be One, and his name One,—fulfilled by the publication of the Gospel: but the allusion appears far-fetched. The Apostle, having asserted that God is the God of the Gentiles, as well as of the Jews, goes on to observe that there is but one God, whose tender mercies are over all his works; and with whom there is no acceptance of persons. See chap. Romans 2:11.
Romans 3:31. Yea, we establish the law— Meaning, through faith. He did not make void law through faith, but, on the contrary, established law through faith. Now this demonstrates that law, in this chapter, is to be understood neither of the ceremonial law; nor of law in the rigorous sense, with the penalty of death annexed for every transgression; for it is certain, the Apostle through faith established law in neither of these senses. Law therefore, in this chapter, must necessarily be understood in that general sense, in which it may be applied both to Jews and Gentiles; or, as it is simply, a rule of obedience, or the law of the Gospel. See on Romans 3:20. Faith, in the apostolic scheme, is the principle of obedience: Gospel faith works by love, and without works is dead, James 2:17. We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works: they that believe in God, ought to be careful to maintain good works. The Christian lies under the strongest obligations to righteousness and obedience. This the Apostle urges very strenuously in chap. 6: where he shews at large how he establishes law, or obedience through faith. See "Christ the Mediator," p. 90, &c.
Inferences.—The sad use which those persons have heretofore made of the divine favours, by whose hands they have been conveyed down to us (Romans 3:1.), ought by no means to lessen our gratitude towards God. If it were so great an advantage to the Jews, to have received the oracles of God wrapped up in so many obscure clouds, and as it were sealed up (Romans 3:2); how great is the mercy towards Christians, who have received the interpretation, and the effect of the promises contained in them! But at the same time, what awefu1 judgment may not they expect, who fail to make a good use of this extraordinary privilege!—Gratitude and fear ought scarce ever to be separated in reference to this subject; but while we thankfully own the inestimable goodness of God in having favoured us with his sacred oracles, it behoves us to endeavour to improve in the knowledge of them. And, thus instructed, let us be careful to form the most honourable notion of God, as the worthy and universal Judege, who will never fail to do right, without respect of persons.
What a striking reflection does the Apostle suggest in Romans 3:6.!—GOD himself, were he unjust, could not be the Judege of the world; and yet man, who is comparatively nothing but injustice,—vain, erring man, undertakes boldly to judge of every thing. May these views of God and of ourselves produce in us an abhorrence of every evil thing, of every rash judgment, which must necessarily be displeasing to him: nor let us even allow ourselves to be brought under the influence of those fallacious and pernicious maxims, which would persuade us that, "The goodness of the intention sanctifies the badness of the action;" (see Romans 3:8.) or that the pretended benevolence of the end will justify irregularities in the means.
God's judgment and decision is final; and the inspired Apostle's authority is an answer to a thousand subtilties, which might attempt to turn us from the strictest rules of that immutable rectitude, on which it always proceeds.
Who can read the melancholy picture of human nature, Romans 3:10-19 copied by the hand of St. Paul, from the lines first drawn by other inspired writers, without deep humility and lamentation? To such a degree was it sunk, that there was none righteous, no, not one; none disposed to seek after God, or to cultivate his fear:—and from this bitter root, the apostacy of our nature, what detestable fruits may not be expected to proceed!—The throat like an open sepulchre, ready to consume and devour,—the deceitful tongue,—the envenomed lips,—the malicious heart,—the murderous hand! And who can wonder, that such rebels to their heavenly Father should sometimes prove ruffians to their brethren!
Let those devoutly bless God, who have been preserved either from falling into such enormities, or from falling by them. It was his grace that restrained us from sinning against him in so aggravated a manner; it is his providence which his guarded us from those, whose feet are swift to shed blood, and whose paths are strewed with destruction and misery.
Above all, we should remember the view in which these instances of corruption were brought; it was to evince this deplorable but undeniable truth, that Jews and Gentiles are all under sin, Romans 3:19. The purpose, therefore, of divine conviction being hereby answered on our hearts, let us humble ourselves before God, as those who stand guilty in his presence, and obnoxious to his judgment.
How should our whole souls rejoice in that glorious display of divine mercy, attempered and harmonized with divine justice, in our redemption by Christ, to which the Apostle bears so noble a testimony! Romans 3:20-21. We are all become guilty before God; so that if he should mark iniquity, no flesh living could be justified before him: what so reasonable, what so indispensably necessary, therefore, as with all reverence to esteem, and with all joy to embrace the righteousness of God, as now attested by the law and the prophets, by Christ and his apostles; and which we have the divine word to assure us, shall be upon all believers, without any difference,—humbling ourselves in the presence of God, as those who have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; and seeking to be justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus!
To this mighty Deliverer let us continually look, as the great propitiation of lost man; exercising faith in his Blood, and rejoicing that those, which seemed to our feeble apprehensions the most jarring attributes of the Deity, are now reconciled and glorified;—that mercy and truth have met together, that righteousness and peace have kissed each other. And while we readily acknowledge that all boasting is excluded, let us, in the grateful overflowings of our souls, fall down before that throne whence pardon is dispensed; confessing that this act of grace is our only plea, and abasing ourselves before God for ever, in a sense of the demerit of our sins, and of the abundance of his mercy, Romans 3:25-27. It should at all times be noted that the more faith there is in a soul, the less pride is there. Where is boasting then?—It is excluded.—By what law?—the law of faith. Faith humbles man by making him sensible that without Christ he is nothing but falsehood, sin, and unworthiness; and that it is through the merits and grace of his Saviour, that he begins, continues, or completes any thing which is really good.
Jews and Gentiles are bound to unite in thanksgivings to God, and in love to each other, as having been all involved in the same condemnation,—all partakers of the same compassion. But Christians are especially called upon to remember, that by this rich display of grace, the Almighty intended not to supersede, but to establish the law. See Romans 3:29-31. May we, therefore, make it our serious concern, that not only the actions of our lives, but the sentiments of our hearts, be directed and determined by that law; which is now peculiarly enforced by more powerful motives, than when it appeared from Sinai in all its unallayed terrors: let it be seen at all times, and in all our conduct, that the love of Christ effectually constrains us to glorify his name, and exalt the honours of our incarnate God,—that God, who never shews himself more plainly to be our God, than when he produces sincere love through faith in our hearts.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, The Apostle proceeds to answer the objections raised against the doctrine that he had advanced, and to confirm the truth which he had asserted.
1. He answers the objections raised against his positions.
[1.] If the Jews are thus in the same condemnation as the Gentiles, what advantage have they, notwithstanding the peculiar favours shewn them of God, and the divinely instituted rites, particularly circumcision, which he appointed them? The Apostle answers, Much every way: chiefly because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. In the law and the prophets they had the most blessed means vouchsafed them to come to the knowledge of the truth, and especially of that Messiah who was the sum and substance of the oracles of God: and it was also their honour to be intrusted with the keeping of these sacred records. Their advantages therefore above the Gentiles were very great and singular. Note; Among our most invaluable blessings we should always reckon our Bibles; for in them we have eternal life revealed to us.
[2.] If it be objected to this, that, though the Jews had the oracles of God, some did not believe; admit it. But what then? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? Shall the promise-keeping God, because of the infidelity of some, fail of fulfilling his promises to Abraham and his faithful spiritual seed, who perseveringly trust upon him according to his word? God forbid! His word must be accomplished, and his promises are sure to every faithful soul. Yea, let God be true, let it be for ever acknowledged that he is so; but let every man, who dares dispute his veracity and truth, know that he must be found a liar. Men are inconstant, deceitful, and vain; no confidence, comparatively speaking, is to be placed in them; but God never can nor will deceive us: as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged; as David acknowledged, Psalms 51:4 for, notwithstanding his foul falls and great unfaithfulness, God would not alter the word which was gone out of his mouth concerning that Messiah who should spring from his loins. And he will for ever stand clear of all imputations which foolish men may cast upon him, and be found faithful, and true, though we presumptuously dare arraign his righteousness, or censure his conduct.
[3.] But some perverse Jew may say, whose character I will personate, speaking as such a man, If our righteousness commend the righteousness of God, and he gain glory by our wickedness and unbelief, both glorifying his justice in our punishment, and his grace in calling the Gentile sinners in our stead, and justifying them through the obedience of his Son unto death, what shall we say? Is not God unrighteous, ( μη αδικος ο Θεος, ) who taketh vengeance for that unbelief and unrighteousness, which serves as a foil more eminently to display the lustre of his divine perfections, his truth, holiness, and grace? With abhorrence the Apostle rejects the insinuation. God forbid! for then how shall God judge the world? If he were not infinitely righteous in his nature, he would be unfit for this high office: and if he, by his overruling providence, brings good out of evil, and magnifies his grace more eminently where sin has most abounded, sin has not therefore the less evil or malignity, nor has the sinner aught to plead, since he designs nothing less than the divine glory.
[4.] But the same carnal Jew, whom I have personated before, may farther urge, If the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; and my unbelief which gives the lie to his promises, and my wickedness which gives the lie to my profession, serve to magnify his veracity, why yet am I also judged as a sinner? and punished for transgressions which serve rather to magnify God than to dishonour him? and may we not rather abandon ourselves to evil, in order that good may come, and God's grace and truth receive greater glory in justifying those who believe on his Son? And such malicious and blasphemous reports are spread by our Jewish enemies, who confidently affirm that this is the doctrine which we as apostles preach, and as Christians believe. But we abhor the suggestion, and declare to such slanderers of us and the truth, and to all who dare thus abuse the holy doctrines of grace, that their damnation is just, and inevitable. Note; (1.) The best of ministers and of men have had the foulest aspersions cast on them, and been charged with holding the most horrid blasphemies. (2.) The injured characters of his ambassadors God will avenge. (3.) They who abuse the doctrines of grace, as arguments for licentiousness, will perish with most aggravated guilt.
2. The Apostle returns, after confuting the Jewish objections, to the main question in debate, Whether Jews, as well as Gentiles, were not all under sin? Are we better than they? No, in no wise: for have before proved at large in the two former chapters, that both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin, condemned by the guilt, enslaved by the power, and liable to the eternal wrath which is the wages of sin. And to enforce this truth, the Apostle quotes the Scriptures, which the Jews admitted, as containing the fullest proof of his assertion. God declares, Psalms 14:1-3. That there is none righteous, according to the perfect demands of his holy law, no not one: so corrupted is our nature, that there is none that understandeth; the human mind by nature is darkened, and cannot discover or receive the things which be of the Spirit of God; there is none that seeketh after God, no one good disposition remaining in the natural heart, nor desire after communion with God; but evil, and only evil, and that continually. Hence the Psalmist asserts of all mankind, that they are all gone out of the way, following the bent of their native corruption; they are altogether become unprofitable, bringing forth no fruit to God's glory in that state of nature; there is none that doeth good, no not one. And the foul streams which flow from this polluted fountain are described in other places of the Scripture: their throat is an open sepulchre, voracious and insatiable in the pursuits of their lusts and covetousness; with their tongues they have used deceit, flattering, false, faithless; the poison of asps is under their lips, secretly, artfully, does their tongue drop the malignant venom, to blast the same or destroy the life of their neighbour; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness, blaspheming God himself, and shooting out their bitter words of rancour and reviling against the people and the good ways of the Lord; their feet are swift to shed blood, every member of their body is a ready instrument of iniquity; destruction and misery are in their ways, and wherever they go they mark their path with mischief, spreading their wickedness as a plague, pestilential to others, and at last bringing perdition on themselves; and the way of peace have they not known, strangers to whatever would conduce to their own peace and happiness both here and hereafter; disturbing, as far they can, by their malignity and perverseness, the peace of mankind: there is no fear of God before their eyes; destitute of every gracious principle: and as this is the root of all their wickedness, so it is the summit of all their ungodliness,—they leave God far above out of their sight. And such being the spirit of God's description of every man by nature, declared by him who searcheth the heart, and knoweth what is in man, the universal guilt and desperate wickedness of the whole human race, both Jews and Gentiles, cannot but be most evident. While we read the dreadful charge, may we be led to a humbling acknowledgment of the truth, and from the deepest heartfelt conviction be laid in the dust, submitting wholly to the righteousness of God by faith!
2nd, The Apostle proceeds to apply the truths which he had advanced and proved.
1. All the world is become guilty before God, and no flesh can be justified in God's sight by the deeds of the law, because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, have come short of righteousness, and therefore of heaven. According to the several dispensations under which they have lived, the law speaketh both to Jews and Gentiles, and condemns them as transgressors. The Gentiles have offended against those precepts of the moral law, which God, though more obscurely, has shewed them; and the Jews, against the clearer revelation, which in the Scriptures they have enjoyed; so that every mouth must be stopped, and guilt evident and confessed appear upon every living soul. For by the law is the knowledge of sin; so far from being able to justify any man, it is a glass which can of itself only shew him his deformity, the straight rule to mark his sad deviations from it. Note; (1.) Man in his fallen nature is become flesh, fallen and corrupted; and therefore it is impossible that, in his present ruined state, he should of himself be just before God. (2.) All flesh must plead guilty at God's bar, and no man can possibly be saved, till he has seen, felt, and owned that he has deserved most justly to be damned.
2. To those who, from the conviction which the law brings to their consciences, are driven to despair of acceptance with God on account of any doings and duties of their own, the Gospel reveals the method of divine grace, appointed and provided for the sinner's justification before God. But now, since all hope is fled of obtaining favour with God on the footing of our own obedience, the righteousness of God without the law, which the moral law never discovered, is manifested by Jesus Christ, and by the preaching of the Gospel, being witnessed by all the types and figures of the ceremonial law, and by the prophets, Isaiah 45:24-25. Jeremiah 23:6. Daniel 9:24. So that even during the time that the Mosaical dispensation lasted, the Jews were taught to look for a better righteousness than that which they could obtain by the deeds of the law; even the righteousness of God which is now received by faith in our adored Redeemer Jesus Christ, and judicially made over, and reckoned to the account of every soul which, renouncing every other hope, lays hold on this set before him; and it is unto all and upon all them that believe, whether Jew or Gentile, for there is no difference; they alike need it, as having all sinned and come short of God's glory, and he freely bestows it on them without any regard to the degrees of their guilt. Nor is there the least first-moving cause in any of us to engage God to have respect to us. We lie in one promiscuous mass of corruption, till through grace we repent, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ, who by his obedience unto death paid down the invaluable price of our redemption, which does not at all affect the riches of the grace respecting us, but rather infinitely enhances it: we owe it to God's boundless mercy, that he provided, qualified, and accepted our glorious Surety, and freely gave him up for us all.—Whom God hath set forth, in the fulness of time sending him in the human nature, to be a propitiation, to be the one great propitiatory sacrifice, that, through faith in his blood, the chief of sinners might boldly approach a throne of grace. And hereby, (1.) The best of blessings is secured to us, even the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. The sacrifices under the law were insufficient to take away sin; the faithful therefore under the Old Testament had recourse to this atoning Blood which in the fulness of time should be shed, and in the view thereof God bore with them, pardoned and accepted them. And we are infinitely indebted to this Blood which speaks before the throne, and to the forbearance of God with us in consequence thereof, that we have not through our repeated provocations been cut off long since, as we have deserved, and been cast into hell for our sins. (2.) Hereby the greatest honour redounds to God; for in this his method of dealing with sinners, he shews and demonstrates his own righteousness, both the glory of his justice in the punishment of sin, and the transcendent excellence and perfection of the Redeemer's infinite merit, by means of which, consistent with the divine glory, an honourable provision was made for the pardon of sin, and neither God's truth, justice, nor holiness impeached by the grace extended to the sinner: so that at this time, under the Gospel dispensation, he declares his righteousness, that he may be just, and withal the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Never was God's displeasure against sin more awefully displayed than when he laid upon his Son the iniquities of us all. (3.) Hereby all boasting is excluded from the sons of men; none can say he is accepted before God on account of any works of righteousness done by him, or foreseen in him; all are excluded. By what law? of works? Nay, but by the law of faith; by that gracious evangelical dispensation, wherein the blood of God our Redeemer is proposed as the only meritorious cause of the sinner's acceptance. The conclusion then from the above premises is evident, that a man is and can be justified before God in no other way than by faith only, without the deeds of the law.
3. This privilege of free justification, through a Redeemer's blood, is common to the Gentile as well as the Jew. Is God then, in this new dispensation of his grace in the Gospel of his dear Son, the God of the Jews only? or peculiarly? Is he not of the Gentiles also? Yes, of the Gentiles also. It is a common salvation, and both are alike freely invited to partake of it;—Seeing it is one God which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith, both Jews and Gentiles standing exactly on the same footing, without respect of persons, or any difference in the way of their acceptance.
4. He concludes with obviating an objection which some might raise, as if he hereby made void the moral law, the eternal rule of righteousness, as useless and insignificant; but he rejects with detestation the suggestion;—God forbid! Yea, so far from making it void, we establish the law. Its true use remains the same as ever, to convince of sin, and to be, not a covenant of life, but a law of obedience; and that faith which shews it manifested in the highest by the perfect obedience of Christ to the death of the cross, as it works by love, is the most powerful principle to engage our hearts to delight in the law of God after the inner man, and to run the way of his commandments, walking in the glorious liberty of the children of God, a liberty not to transgress, but to obey.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Romans 3". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany