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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Romans 3



Other Authors
Verses 1-20

Romans 3:1-20

1What advantage then hath [What, then, is the advantage of] the Jew? or what profit is there [what is the benefit] of circumcision? 2Much every way: chiefly, [First, indeed,][FN1] because that unto them were committed [they3—i.e., the Jews—were entrusted with, ἐπιστεύθησαν] the oracles of God. For what [What, then,][FN2] if some did not believe [were faithless]? shall their unbelief [faithlessness, or, unfaithfulness] make the faith of God without effect4[destroy, or, nullify the faithfulness of God]?[FN3] God forbid: [Let it not be!][FN4] yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, “That thou mightest [mayest] be justified in thy sayings, and mightest [mayest] overcome when thou art judged”[FN5] [ Psalm 51:4]. 5But if our unrighteousness commend [doth establish][FN6] the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance [who is inflicting, or, bringing down, the wrath, ἐπιφέρων τὴν ὀργήν]?[FN7] (I speak as a man [after the manner of men, χατὰ ἄνθρωπον].) 6God forbid: [Let it not be!] for then how shall God judge the world? 7For [But] if[FN8] the truth [covenant-faithfulness] of God hath more abounded through my lie [was made the more conspicuous by means of my falsehood, unfaithfulness] unto his glory [ Romans 5:20]; why yet [still, any longer] am I also judged as 8 a sinner? And not rather, (as we be [are] slanderously [blasphemously] reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come?[FN9] whose damnation [condemnation, judgment][FN10] is just 9 What then? are we better than they?[FN11] No, in no wise [Not at all]: for we have before proved [charged] both Jews and Gentiles, that they are10[to be] all under sin; As it is written, “There is none righteous, no, not one: 11There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there 13 is none that doeth good, no, not one” [ Psalm 14:1-3].[FN12] “Their throat is an open sepulchre;[FN13] with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps Isaiah 14 under their lips” [ Psalm 5:9; Psalm 140:3].[FN14] “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”15[ Psalm 10:7]:[FN15] “Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17And the way of peace have they not known” 18[ Isaiah 59:7-8]:[FN16] “There is no fear of God before their eyes” [ Psalm 36:1].[FN17] 19Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may 20 become guilty before God. [,] Therefore [because] by[FN18] the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified [by works of the law no flesh (i.e., no person) shall (can) be declared righteous] in his sight:[FN19] for [. For] by the law is the knowledge of sin [comes a knowledge of sin].


Survey.—1. The use of circumcision. Its two-fold operation, according to the conflicting conduct of the Jews. Its spiritual significance, by which the Gentile can be a Jew, and the Jew a Gentile; Romans 3:25-29. 2. The objective advantage of historical Judaism. The authority of the Word of God, which remains established by virtue of God’s faithfulness to His covenant, though many of the Jews become unfaithful. By this unfaithfulness they must even cause the glory of God’s faithfulness to abound. Nevertheless, the unfaithful are responsible for their guilt, and the application of the sin of unfaithfulness to the glory of God would be a wicked transgression; Romans 3:1 to Romans 8:3. The subjective equality of the Jews with the Gentiles. In a subjective relation, the former have no advantage, since, according to the witnesses of the Old Testament, they are in a severe condemnation. The conclusion: All the world stands guilty before God; Romans 3:9-20.—The whole section contains, briefly, the three points: 1. Circumcision (Judaism) is conditionally either an advantage, or not; 2. as far as the designed mission of Judaism was concerned, it was an advantage; 3. from the conduct of the Jews, as opposed to the righteousness of God, it was no advantage.

First Paragraph ( Romans 3:25-29)

Romans 3:25. For circumcision indeed profiteth (or availeth). After the Apostle has portrayed the corruption of the Jews, he comes to the objection of Jewish theology, or also to the argument from the theocratic standpoint: What, then, is the prerogative of circumcision? Does not circumcision, as God’s covenant promise, protect and sustain the Jews? Answer: The advantage of circumcision is (according to the nature of a covenant) conditional. It is actually available (not merely useful); it accomplishes its complete work when the circumcised keep the law. Plainly, circumcision here falls under the idea of a covenant. It is a mark of the covenant of the law, by which God will fulfil His promise to the Jew on condition that the Jew keep the law (see Exodus 19:7-8; Deuteronomy 26:16). But afterward the circumcision of God is made prominent as God’s institution; it remains in force, though a part of the Jews become faithless to the covenant relation. But this rests upon its inner nature or symbolical significance, as a promise and pledge of the circumcision of the heart; that Isaiah, a continual sincerity and heartiness in the fulfilment of the law ( Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4; Colossians 2:11; Acts 7:51 : “Uncircumcised in heart and ears”). The consequence Isaiah, that the one who is circumcised is received into the people of the covenant. But the idea of the people of the covenant gradually becomes more profound, just as that of the covenant and the new birth itself, as the time of their fulfilment in the New Testament approaches. It is from this point of view that the following discussion must also be explained.—It is of use—that Isaiah, it accomplishes what it should accomplish according to its original idea.—If thou keep the law. Here the question is plainly not concerning the perfect fulfilment of the law in the Jewish sense (Tholuck); which is opposed by Romans 3:26; Romans 3:15. Nor can the Apostle anticipate here so soon the New Testament standpoint of faith, according to which believers alone, including those from the Gentiles, have the real circumcision. He therefore means the fulfilment of the law according to the measure of sincerity and heartiness by which either Jew or Gentile is prepared to obey the truth of the gospel ( Romans 3:7-8).—But if thou art a transgressor. One of the mystical expositions of the Pentateuch, Shamoth Rabbah (from about the 6 th century), expresses the same thought in the same figurative drapery: “The heretics and the ungodly in Israel should not say, ‘Because we are circumcised, we do not descend to the Gehenna.’ What does God do? He sends His angels, and brings back their uncircumcision, so that they descend to Gehenna” (Tholuck).[FN20] The expressions transgressor and uncircumcision were especially terrible to the Jews. Uncircumcision was the peculiar characteristic of the impurity of heathendom, as circumcision denoted the consecration and holiness of the Jewish people. But here it is stated, not merely that uncircumcision takes the place of circumcision, but that circumcision actually becomes uncircumcision. That Isaiah, the unbelieving Jew becomes virtually a Gentile. [What is here said of Jewish circumcision, is equally applicable to Christian baptism: it is a great blessing to the believer, as a sign and seal of the New Covenant, and a title to all its privileges, but it avails nothing, yea, it is turned into a curse, by the violation of the duties implied in this covenant.—P. S.]

Romans 3:26. Therefore, if the uncircumcision. The Apostle here uses the Jew’s mode of expression. Αχροβυστία, uncircumcision, stands in the first clause of the sentence as an abstract term for the concrete ἀχρόβυστος, uncircumcised; hence the αὐτοῦ [i.e., of such an ἀχρόβυστος] after the second ἀχροβυστία).[FN21]—Τὰ διχαιώματατοῦνόμου. The requirements of the law in essential matters, as τὰ τοῦ νόμ., Romans 3:14; as they can be observed by the Gentile also. [The moral requirements, not the ceremonial, among which circumcision was the very first. The E. V. here mistakes διχαίωμα for διχαιοσύνη.—P. S.] Be counted for circumcision. He shall be accepted as a Jew who is obedient to the law ( Matthew 8:11; 1 Corinthians 7:19; Galatians 5:6). The clause is supposed by Philippi to apply to the Proselytes of the Gate. But these have ceased to be Gentiles in the full sense of the word. The point here throughout is not concerning the form, but the disposition. Fritzsche refers the future [λογισθήσεται] to the final judgment; but Meyer, and others, regard it as applying to the abstract future: “As often as the question concerns justification.” Assuredly the Apostle has already in mind the definite future, the day when the gospel is preached.

Romans 3:27. And he who is uncircumcised by nature [ἐχ φύσεω ς belongs to ἀχροβυστία, not to τελοῦσα] will judge thee [χρινεῖ, rise up in judgment by his example; comp. Matthew 12:41-42, where χαταχρίνω is used]. Analogies to this bold word can be found in the Gospels, Matthew 3:9; Matthew 8:11; Matthew 12:41, and others; and even back in the Old Testament. The sentence is read by many as a question, as the previous verse; while the οὐχί is again supplied in thought before χρινεῖ (Rückert, Tholuck [in the earlier editions, but not in the fifth.—P. S.], Lachmann, and others). On the contrary, as a declaration, it is a definite answer and conclusion to Romans 3:26 (Luther, Erasmus, De Wette, Meyer).—Uncircumcised by nature. The Gentile as he is by virtue of his natural birth, as is the Jew no less. The ἐχφύσεως is erroneously made by Koppe to relate to τὸν νόμ. τελοῦσα; still more artificial is Olshausen’s explanation: “The Gentile world observing the law without higher aid.”—Who with the letter [διὰ γρἀμ ματος]. The διά reminds us of the declaration in Romans 7:11 : “For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me” (Œcumenius, Beza, and others). Yet it should be urged here, as Meyer properly remarks, that such a Jew, in spite of the law, transgresses it. But that he becomes a transgressor (παραβάτης), and not merely a sinner (ἁμαρτωλός), rests upon the fact that he is in possession and knowledge of the law ( Romans 5:13-14). The expression γράμμα defines the law in its specific character as written law [not in a disparaging sense, in opposition to πνεῦμα]; circumcision (περιτομή) is the appropriate obligation to the same.

Romans 3:28. For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly. We here have a succession of brief utterances (breviloquentiœ).[FN22] Meyer translates: “For not he who is a Jew externally, is a [genuine] Jew.” This means, in complete expression (according to De Wette and others): “Not the one who is a Jew externally is a Jew, that Isaiah, is on that account already a Jew internally, or a true Jew.” Thus, also, the second clause of the verse should be understood: Neither is the circumcision which is external in the flesh, genuine circumcision; the external sign is not the reality: it is the symbolical mask of the reality. Tholuck: “ Mark 12:33, as well as other examples, prove that this view was not unknown to the Scribes.” Yet even this, and the expression quoted from the Talmud—‘The Jew consists in the innermost parts of the heart’[FN23]—is far from resembling this Pauline antithesis.

Romans 3:29. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly. Explanations: 1. “He who is internally a Jew is a Jew; and the circumcision of the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter, is circumcision” (De Wette, Tholuck, with Beza, Este, Rückert). Here the absent predicate is in the concluding word2. But he who is one inwardly, is a Jew, and circumcision of the heart rests in the spirit, not in the letter (Luther, Erasmus, Fritzsche, Meyer). In the first construction, the ellipses are very strong; in the second, circumcision of the heart creates an anticipation which is at variance with the parallelism. Therefore, 3. But he is a Jew (this is brought over from the preceding verse) who is a Jew inwardly; and circumcision (likewise brought over from the preceding) is circumcision of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter. We must therefore supply Ἰουδαῖος after ἀλλά, and περιτομή after χαί.—A Jew in secret, ἐν χρυπτῷ Ἰουδαῖος. The true theocratic disposition—that Isaiah, the direction of legality to heartiness, truth, and reality, and thus to the New Testament. This is not quite equal in degree to χρυπτὸς τῆς χαρδίας ἄνθρωπος ( 1 Peter 3:4). Circumcision of the heart; see Deuteronomy 10:16, &c.; Philo: σύμβολον ἡδονῶν ἐχτομῆς. Circumcision of the heart does not mean “the separation of every thing immoral from the inner life” (Meyer), but the mortification or breaking of the natural selfish principle of life, by faith, as the principle of theocratic consecration and direction. [Even the Old Testament plainly teaches the spiritual import of circumcision, and demands the circumcision of the heart, without which the external ceremony is worthless; Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4; Jeremiah 9:29; Ezekiel 44:9; comp. Colossians 2:11; Philippians 3:2. The same may be applied to baptism, the sign and seal of regeneration.—P. S.]—In the spirit. Explanations: 1. In the Holy Spirit (Meyer, Fritzsche, Philippi [Hodge]). Incorrect, since the question is not yet concerning the Christian new birth2. In the spirit of man (Œcumenius, Erasmus, Beza, Reiche, and others). [Wordsworth: the inner man as opposed to the flesh.—P. S.] 3. The Divine spirit, as Romans 7:6; 2 Corinthians 3:6; the spirit which fills the heart of the true Jew (Calvin, De Wette; the true spirit of the Jewish Church coming from God; Tholuck). 4. The new principle of life wrought by God in man (Rückert). 5. When πνεῦμα is placed in antithesis to γράμμα, or the life ἐν πνεύματι to the life ἐν γρἀμματι—that Isaiah, the life in an external, slavish, contracted pursuit of the single and outward prescriptions of the law according to the letter—then by spirit we are neither to understand the Spirit of God in itself, nor the spirit of Prayer of Manasseh, but the spirit as life, the spirit-form of the inward life, by which the human spirit, moves in the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God in the human spirit.—Whose praise. Explanations of the οὗ: 1. neuter; cujus rei (Luther, Camerarius, Meyer: “ideal Judaism and ideal circumcision” [Wordsworth]). 2. More fitly: masculine; reference to ̓Ιουδαῖος (Augustine, and others, Tholuck, De Wette [Alford, Hodge]). ἔπαινος, John 5:44; John 12:43. The expression, according to Romans 13:3 and 1 Peter 2:14, is often “a judicial term” (Tholuck). The Apostle here declares not only that the genuine Jewish disposition of pious Jews and Gentiles is far exalted above every praise from below, and enjoys the approbation of God, but also that its honor comes from God, and will therefore be sanctioned by God by a judicial act—which can at last be nothing else but justification by faith. To Judah it was said, as the explanation of his name: “Thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise.” But God Himself will praise this genuine spiritual Judah.

Second Paragraph, Romans 3:1-8

Romans 3:1. What then is the advantage of the Jew [Τί οὖν τὸ περισσὸντοῦ Ἰουδαίου]? After the Apostle has shown that not only the Jews are included in the same corruption with the Gentiles, but that pious Gentiles have even an advantage over ungodly Jews, he comes to the question which would naturally be presented to him—whether, then, Israel has any peculiar prerogative, and, if Song of Solomon, in,what it consists. He does not ask in the name of a Gentile Christian (Seb. Schmid), or of the Judaist, although he must take from these every occasion for accusation, but from the standpoint of the true theocracy. The advantage in the sense of profit (De Wette).—Or what is the benefit of circumcision (τίς ὠφέλεια τῆς περιτομῆς)? The second question does not relate merely to circumcision as, a single means of grace (De Wette). It makes the first question more precise, so far as for the Apostle the Jewish economy is different from the Old Testament in general (chap4; Galatians 3).

Romans 3:2. Much every way. First of all, namely. [πολύ refers to both περισσόν and ὠφέλεια; Meyer. χατὰ πάντα τρόπον, under every moral and religious aspect, whichever way you look at it; the opposite is χατ̓ οὐδένα τρόπον.—P. S.] All that he could have in mind he shows in Romans 9:4. But from the outset, apart from his train of thought and purpose, he had a further object than to show the advantage that to them the λόγια τοῦ Θεοῦ were committed. We therefore accept, with Theodoret, Calvin, Bengel, and others, that πρῶτον means here prœcipuum, or primarium illud est, first of all. Tholuck and Meyer [Alford, Hodge], on the other hand, suppose that he omitted to enumerate the other points (to which the μέν refers), and quote, as examples, Romans 1:8; 1 Corinthians 11:18.—They were intrusted with the oracles of God. According to our rendering of the πρῶτον, τὰ λόγια (significant promulgations, χρησμοί, words of Revelation, Acts 7:38; Hebrews 5:12; 1 Peter 4:11) can by no means denote the Old Testament word of God in its general aspect (Cocceius: quidquid Deus, habuit dicendum), but this word only in the specific direction in which the most of the Jews were unbelieving in respect to it. What is meant, therefore, is not the law alone and as such (Theodoret, Œcumenius, Beza); for the law, according to Paul, was also a typical gospel (which Tholuck seems to overlook, when he says: The contents of the λόγια divide into the twofold part, νόμος and at αἱ ἐπαγγελίαι); nor the Messianic prophecies alone (Grotius, Tholuck, Meyer), but properly both (De Wette), as one was the condition of the other, and both constituted a covenant of Jehovah with the people (Calvin, Calov [Hodge], and others). The unity of these elements lay chiefly in the patriarchal promises; and as the people of Israel were made a covenant people, these were committed to them as the oracles of God establishing the covenant, which Israel, as the servant of God, should proclaim to the nations at the proper time. [The Apostle, in calling the Old Testament Scriptures the oracles of God, clearly recognizes them as divinely inspired books. The Jewish Church was the trustee and guardian of these oracles till the coming of Christ. Now, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are committed to the guardianship of the Christian Church.—P. S.] Ἐπιστεύθησαν. They were entrusted with. Πιστεύειν τινι τι in the passive; comp. Winer, § 40, 1 [§ 39, 1, p244, 7th ed.; also Galatians 2:7; 1 Corinthians 9:17.—P. S.] They were federally entrusted by the faithfulness of God (πίστις, Romans 3:3) with God’s promises, or were authenticated in their faith in order that they might exercise it with fidelity to faith.

Romans 3:3. What then? If some were faithless, &c. In these words the Apostle intimates that the Jews, in the main, still have the advantage just mentioned. The statement is therefore neither an objection nor a proof, but it establishes the previous point against doubt. In view of the certain fulfilment of the Divine promise, even the mass of the apostate people is only a poor crowd of individuals, some; though these some may grammatically be many. Meyer, taking ground against Tholuck and Philippi, disputes the contemptuous and ironical character of the expression τινές. The contempt and irony lies, of course, not in the word, but in the idea. Unbelief has scattered and divided Israel. According to De Wette and Fritzsche, the expression has an alleviating character. Since the great mass of the unbelievers was known to the readers, the expression has rather a palpable sharpness. Meyer’s translation: “If many did refuse to believe (Glaube), their unbelief (Unglaube) will not annul the credibility (Glaubhaftigkeit) of God,” expresses the correspondence of the different designations, but it is not satisfactory to the sense. The Apostle forces us, by the πίστις Θεοῦ, to bring into prominence here the moral force of ἀπιστία; and the assertion of Meyer, that ἀπιστεῖν and ἀπιστία mean always, in the New Testament, unbelief, not unfaithfulness, rests upon a false alternative.[FN24] Köllner refers the ὰπιστία to the unfaithfulness of the Jews in the ante-Christian time. De Wette likewise: “They have been unfaithful in keeping the covenant (Theodoret, Œcumenius, Calvin, and others); not, they have been unbelieving toward the promises and the gospel (Tholuck, Olshausen, Meyer).” This view is very strange, since he correctly observes that in the word ἀπιστεῖν there lie two meanings; as πίστις is at the same time fidelity and faith. Meyer’s objection to De Wette is equally strange: “τινές would be altogether unsuited, for the very reason that it would not be true. All were disobedient and unfaithful.” This is against history and the declarations of the Bible (see the discourse of Stephen, Acts 7.). If we distinguish between the ideas, to be a, sinner and to be an apostate, then it follows that, according to the Scriptures, the numerical majority of apostates was always offset by a dynamical majority of persons faithful to the covenant, by whom the covenant was continued on the ground of the πίστις Θεοῦ; and it would have been very strange if Paul, in view of this oft-repeated history, which was first really consummated in his time, should have quite ignored the present. But as ἐπίστευσαν elsewhere (for example, John 8:30) means, they became believers, so is ἠπίστησαν here, they have become unbelieving, not, they have been. The π ίστις of God is His fidelity; His fidelity to the covenant certainly involves “credibility.” ( 2 Timothy 2:13; πιστὸς Θεός, 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 10:13, &c.)

[Comp. Textual Note6.] This expression of impassioned repulsion [solemn and intense deprecation], also common to the later Greeks, Isaiah, in the mouth of the Hebrew (הָלִילָה, ad profana), at the same time an expression of a religious or moral repugnance or aversion. Therefore the Apostle repels the thought, as if the τινές could annul the πίστις of God, and therefore also nullify the realization of the eternal covenant of grace in the heart of Israel and in a New Testament people of God.—But let it be: God (is) true, but every man false. [Lange: So aber sei’s: Gott ist wahrhaftig, jeder Mensch aber falsch.] Since γένοιτο relates to one sentence, the antithetical γινέσθω must relate to the sentence which offsets it, and must be marked, as announcing a declaration, by a colon. According to Meyer and De Wette, it means logice φανερούσθω, or ἀποδειχνύσθω (Theophylact). [Tholuck prefers ὁμολογείσθω as equivalent.] But then the term would have been unfitly chosen. Koppe explains: Much rather let it be (viehlmehr so sei es). Meyer objects that in this case we should expect τοῦτο or τό as article before the whole sentence, and remarks, that Paul did not design to introduce any sentence from the Old Testament. But Paul can nevertheless make use of a sentence of his own on the future of Israel, and the want of the τό does not outweigh the consideration that the γινέσθω, as the antithesis of μὴ γένοιτο, requires a formal declaration. Moreover, Psalm 116:11 (all men are liars) furnished already one half, and the connection the other half of the declaration. This point was to be unfolded in all its amplitude in the history of the New Testament. See 2 Timothy 2:13. [I prefer to connect γινέσθω) (Paul does not say, ἔστω) with θεός, and to take it in the subjective sense: Let God become, i.e., be seen and acknowledged, even by His enemies, as true, whatever be the consequences. So also the E. V. and the best English commentators. The parallel, 2 Timothy 2:13, is striking: “If we are unfaithful (ἀπιστοῦμεν), yet He abideth faithful (πιστός): He cannot deny Himself.” Comp. also the phrase: fiat justitia, pereat mundus.—P. S.]—God is true [according to Dr. Lange’s view, which disconnects θεός from γινέσθω]. According to Tholuck, ἀλήθεια here comprehends practical and theoretical truth; in opposition to what he denotes as the usual exposition, that the Apostle expresses the wish that God would reveal Himself continually as true and faithful (according to Cocceius, in the counsels of his plan of salvation). If the question is on the truth of God in reference to the apparent collision between the Old and New Testaments, then the sense must be that even in this powerful antithesis, which to the view of man appears to be an irreconcilable contradiction, God will remain consistent with Himself, and therefore be truthful and faithful (see 2 Corinthians 1:20; Revelation 3:14; the name Jehovah). All men are liars so far as they are sinners (sin = lie); yet unbelief is emphatically a lie ( John 8:44), since, with its rejection of the truth, it becomes obedient to falsehood, and is implicated in the grossest self-contradictions (see Romans 2:21-23). Unbelief is not only a characteristic of apostates, but also a tendency and manifold fault of believers; and so far all men are liars through unbelief. Whenever the covenant between God and man is shaken or broken, absolute faithfulness is always found on God’s side; He is a rock ( Deuteronomy 32:31, &c.), while all the vibrations, as well as all the breaches of faithfulness, are on the side of men. Also, in Psalm 116:11, all men are represented as liars, in opposition to the faithfulness of God; and by troubling believers they oppose faith.

As it is written ( Psalm 51:4).—The application of the passage quoted from the Psalm gives evidence of the most profound insight. The original, according to Hupfeld’s translation, reads thus:

“To Thee alone I have sinned,

And done what is wicked in Thy sight.

In order that Thou mayest be just in Thy sayings,

Pure[FN25] in Thy judging.”

The Septuagint translates, “In order that Thou mayest be acknowledged just (διχαιωθῇς) in Thy words (in Thy sayings), and mayest conquer (νιχήσῃς, instead of תִּזְכֶּה) in Thy χρίνεσθαι (בְּשָׁפְטֶךָ).” Paul quotes from the Septuagint. The sense of the original text Isaiah, that David placed himself before the judgment of God and His revelation. Viewed according to the custom of Oriental despots, Nathan had condemned him too harshly; but when he regarded his sin in all its depths as a sin against God, and before His eyes, he perceived the justice of the prophet’s charge, and the holiness of his judicial declaration of the guilt of death. The translation of the Septuagint, “that Thou mayest be justified, declared just” [διχαιω̣θῇς for the Hebrew תִּצְדַּק], is exegetical. [In using the word διχαιοῖν here evidently, like the hiphil of צדק, in a declaratory sense (for God is just and cannot be made just, but only declared or acknowledged as just), Paul furnishes us the key to the proper understanding of his doctrine of justification by faith, see below, Romans 3:28.—P. S.] The change νιχήσῃς, &c, is a periphrasis. “Thou mayest be pure in Thy judgment,” means properly, “Thou wilt be recognized as pure; therefore Thou overcomest, since Thou wilt be justified in Thy judgment.” The Septuagint has amplified the slight antithesis, “in Thy sayings, in Thy judgment,” so that the distinction can be drawn between God’s word and His judgment. The chief point is the canon: If God is to be thoroughly known and recognized as just and holy in His word and in His judgment, then must sin, which stands committed against Him, be known in all its breadth and depth. The defect in our knowledge here is what casts a shade in part upon God’s word and in part upon. His judicial government. Paul’s employment of the quotation from the Psalm corresponds to this canon; much sooner shall all men be liars, than that a shadow be cast on God’s truth or fidelity to His covenant. The νιχᾷν is frequently used in the judicial sense (see Meyer). Beza, Piscat, and recently Tholuck and Philippi [also Meyer and Ewald.], would take χρίνεσθαι in the middle sense, for to litigate. But the Apostle could not expect that his expression would be understood in any other sense than in the Septuagint. [Comp, however, Textual Note7.—P. S.]

[That thou mayest, ὅπως ἄν, לְמַעַן, in Psalm 51:6 ( Romans 3:4 in the E. V.), to the intent that, in order that (τελιχῶς). This seems to mean that God caused David’s sins to take this aggravated form for the very purpose that He might appear to be entirely just, when He pronounced condemnation of it. But such an interpretation would imply the contradiction that God condemns His own act. Hence most commentators (even Calvin) take לִמַעַן here, and often, like ἵνα and ὅπως in the New Testament, of the effect or consequence (ἐχβατιχῶς) = so that. But למען and ἵνα grammatically always, or nearly always, indicate the design or purpose (see Gesen, Thes, s. v., and Winer, Gramm., p426 ff, 7th ed.); and where this seems inapplicable, as here, we must assume a logical rather than a grammatical latitude. Design and effect often coincide. The Bible no doubt teaches the absolute sovereignty of God, yet never in a fatalistic or pantheistic sense so as to exclude the personal freedom and responsibility of man. Hence it represents, for instance, the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, as the judicial act and punishment of God ( Exodus 4:21; Exodus 7:3), and at the same time as Pharaoh’s own act and guilt ( Exodus 9:34). David certainly could not mean to say that he sinned with the intention of glorifying God—which would have destroyed the sincerity of his repentance, and exposed him to the just condemnation of Paul in Romans 3:8—but that his sin was overruled by God for the greater manifestation of His justice. God never does evil, nor wills any man to do evil, in order that good may come out of it, but He exercises His power, Wisdom of Solomon, and love in overruling all evil for good. It is not the sinner who glorifies God through his sin, but God who glorifies Himself through the sinner. Comp. also the remarks of Hupfeld and Hengstenberg on Psalm 51:6.—P. S.]

Romans 3:5. But if our unrighteousness, &c. [A new objection which might be suggested by the ὅπως in Romans 3:4; namely, if man’s sin redounds to the glory of God, and sets His righteousness in a clearer light (as in the case of David), it is a means to a good end, and hence it ought not to be punished. Paul admits the premise, but denies the conclusion, Romans 3:6.—P. S.] Meyer takes here ἀδιχια in a very general and comprehensive sense, without regard to the legal element contained in it, and explains: “an abnormal ethical disposition.”[FN26] By this definition the wicked, the unholy, the bad, can be denoted; but unrighteousness is misconduct in opposition to the law and the right. On συνιστάναι, see the Lexica; also Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 7:11, &c. [also Textual Note8].

What shall we say? Τί ἐροῦμεν. A form which often occurs in Paul ( Romans 4:1; Romans 6:1, &c.). It is peculiar to rabbinical dialectics, and is very common in the Talmud (quid est dicendum[FN27]). It is a formula of meditation on a difficulty, a problem, in which there is danger of a false conclusion. It was also in use among the classics. [See Tholuck.] The sentence, if our unrighteousness, &c, is true, but the following conclusion is rejected as false. The Apostle certainly assumes that an unbelieving Jew could raise this objection, but he makes it himself. This is evident, first, from the interrogative form; second, from the position of the question in such a manner that a negative answer is expected;[FN28] third, from the addition: humanly speaking, χατὰ ἄνθρωπον λέγω. his expression is common among the rabbis, “as men speak” (see Tholuck); the term ἀνθρωπίνως λαλεῖν [humane loqui] also occurs in the classics [see the examples quoted by Tholuck]. The expression χατὰ ἄνθρ., resting on the antithesis between God and Prayer of Manasseh, denotes, with Paul, now the opposition between the common sinful conduct and opinions of men, and the conduct and opinions in the light of revelation; and now the opposition between common human rights and customs and the theocratic rights ( Galatians 3:15, and other places). From this addition it does not follow that the question, μὴ ἄδιχος, must be regarded as affirmative (see Meyer, against Philippi). [The phrase χατὰ ἄνθρωπον proves nothing against inspiration. The Apostle here puts himself into the place of other men, using their thoughts and arguments, but expressly rejecting them.—P. S.]

Romans 3:6. For then how shall God judge the world? This does not mean: God would then not be able to judge the world; but, according to the usual explanation: Since it is universally agreed among religious people that God will be the Judge of the world, the conclusion alluded to must be rejected. The argument is therefore a reductio ad absurdum.[FN29] (Rückert: the proof is weak!) Cocceius [Reiche], Olshausen, and others, refer χόσμος (according to rabbinical usage of language) to the Gentile world, and the proof is thus conceived: Even Gentile idolatry must bring to light the glory of the true God; and yet God will judge the Gentile world. Therefore the unbelief of some Jews cannot escape the judgment, even though their unrighteousness corroborates the righteousness of God. But there is no proper foundation for this explanation in the text; and besides, it would only remove a smaller difficulty by a greater one, and in a way that would commend itself only to Jewish prejudice. The New Testament idea of the general judgment is universal. Even the antithesis of χόσμος and βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ cannot be applied here. With the usual explanation (Tholuck, Meyer, and others) it may nevertheless be asked, whether a sentence which has been dismissed with μὴ γένοιτο, stands in further need of a proof. According to our construction, the sentence can also be explanatory, and stand in connection with the following (see below).

Romans 3:7-8. But if the truth of God, &c. The objection of Romans 3:7 appears only to repeat that of Romans 3:5; therefore it is difficult to connect it with what precedes. The difficulty is solved as follows: (1) Calvin, Beza, Grotius [Bengel, Rückert], Philippi, and others think that the objection of Romans 3:5 is only continued and established in Romans 3:7; and the words χατὰ ἄνθρωπον λέγω to χόσμος ( Romans 3:6) should be read, according to Philippi, parenthetically, as a preliminary outburst of apostolic indignation. By this means, the dialectics assume the shape of an involved controversy, in which the Apostle prematurely interrupts the opponent. Tholuck believes that he can produce similar examples in proof of this ( Romans 7:25, and Galatians 3:3-4). (2) Meyer: “The ἐπεὶ πῶς χρινεῖ θεὸς τὸν χόσμον ( Romans 3:6) is now confirmed thus: The fact already considered ( Romans 3:4 f.), that God’s truth is glorified by the lie of Prayer of Manasseh, removes every ground for supposing that an unrighteous God (sic!), who is to judge the world, will judge man as a sinner,” &c. Apart from the quaint construction of the thought, the true statement in Romans 3:5 would be treated as untrue. [De Wette, Alford, Hodge, though differing somewhat in detail, likewise regard Romans 3:7-8 as the amplification and confirmation of the answer given in Romans 3:6 to the objection stated in Romans 3:5. If this objection be valid, then not only may every sinner claim exemption, but it would follow that it is right to do evil that good may come. This is certainly a more easy and natural connection than the one under (1), and best explains the γάρ. But if we read εἰ δέ, we must regard Romans 3:7 as introducing a new objection, as in a dialogue between the Apostle and an interlocutor—an objection which is indignantly resented by Paul as a blasphemous slander. But see the remarks under the next heads.—P. S.] (3) Even if we find here, according to Thodoret, the language of a Jew in dispute with the Apostle, the sentence does not appear to be the continuation of the thought of Romans 3:5. Then the Jew has first drawn the conclusion from Romans 3:5. that God is unjust if He punish sins by which He is glorified. Here he would deduce the conclusion, from Romans 3:4, that the Prayer of Manasseh, who by his ψεῦσμαι contributes to the glory of God, is neither a sinner, nor punishable; rather, that he may do evil that good may come. Thus two cases, which would constitute a parallel to Romans 2:3-4—the first case denoting fanaticism, the other, antinomianism. But there are considerations presented by the text itself against this view. First, the γάρ at the beginning of Romans 3:7; which, for this reason, has been removed by many Codd. (B. D, &c, the Vulgate, &c.) as an impediment to the proper understanding of the passage. Then the aorist, ἐπερίσσευσεν, which Meyer thinks should be understood from the standpoint of the general judgment (Tholuck regards it as present, with Luther). Further, Meyer must interpolate a τί before the μή in Romans 3:8 (τί μή, quidni?). Also, if Paul be not permitted to speak in the name of the unbelieving Jew and interrupt himself, an ἡμεῖς must stand before βλασφημούμεθα. We are therefore of the opinion that the hypothesis of the interlocution of the obstinate Jew is not correct. (4) Our explanation is contained already in the translation. [See Textual Notes10and11.] The Apostle says first, God does not declare wrath on all who have glorified his faithfulness by their unfaithfulness. Granted that His covenant faithfulness has by means of my unfaithfulness, shown itself more powerful and conspicuous to His glory ( Romans 5:8), that Isaiah, that I have finally become a believer—how? am I also still judged as a sinner? Answer: No. And therefore we would by no means continue in unbelief, as those τινές in Romans 3:3, in order, by wicked conduct, to accomplish a good purpose, God’s glory—which is the principle laid by some to our charge. Men who act thus (and the τινές do act thus) are justly condemned. Here the ἀλήθεια of God is the agent, and ψεῦσμα is the object. In Romans 3:5 there was the reverse, the ἀδιχία of man being the agent, and God’s righteousness the object. In Romans 3:7 the question is concerning the predominance or conquest (see Romans 5:20) on the side of the ἀλήθεια for the honor of God; in Romans 3:5, the question is merely concerning the bringing of the truth to light. The solution of the difficulty lies in the ἐπερίσσευσεν.—On the different explanations of χἀγώ, see Tholuck. I as well as others [De Wette, Alford]; even I, a Jew [Bengel]; even I, a Gentile [Coccej, Olshausen]; even I, Paul [Fritzsche]; even I, who have added to the glorification of God [De Wette, Tholuck].

[As we are blasphemously (not, slanderously) reported. The blasphemy refers not only to Paul, but in the last instance to God, whose holy and righteous character is outraged by the impious maxim, to do evil that good may come.]—In reference to the ὅτι, we must observe that, in consequence of attraction, the ποιήσωμεν is united with λέγειν.—The χαθὼς βλασφημούμεθα leads us to conclude that the Jews charged the Apostle, or the Christians in general, with the alleged principle: The end sanctifies the means (Tholuck, Calvin). Usual acceptation: the doctrine of superabounding mercy ( Romans 5:20) is meant (see Tholuck). Meyer: “The labors of the Apostle among the Gentiles could occasion such slanders on the part of the Jews.” According to the view of the Jews, the Christians converted the Gentile world to Monotheism, by betraying and corrupting the covenant of the Jews.—Whose condemnation is just. The ὧν does not refer directly to the slanderers as such, since this is an accessory notion, but to the principle, let us do evil that good may come, and to the fact lying at its root, the hardness of the Jews in unfaithfulness, as they more clearly showed the covenant faithfulness of God. But, indirectly, the charge of those slanderers is also answered at the same time. Romans 3:7 favors our explanation. [ὧν refers to the subject in ποιήσωμεν, to those who speak and act according to this pernicious and blasphemous maxim.—P. S.]

Third Paragraph, Romans 3:9-20

The transition of the covenant of law to the covenant of grace is already indicated in the preceding paragraph. This is brought to pass in part by the constant unfaithfulness of individuals, and in part by the transitory unfaithfulness of others. In every case Israel’s sin is manifested in this covenant.

Romans 3:9. What then? It must not be read, with Œcumenius [Koppe, Hofmann, Th. Schott], τί οἶν, προεχόμεθα [omitting the interrogation sign after οὖν]; against which is the οὐ. The introduction of the result refers to the foregoing section under the point of view that Israel certainly has advantages on the objective side, but none on the subjective. This is now extended further. Προεχόμεθα. Explanations: 1. The middle voice here has the signification of the active: Have we [the Jews] the preference? do we excel? have we an advantage? (Theophylact, Œcumenius, the old commentators in general.) Also De Wette, who says: This is the only suitable sense.[FN30] Therefore the reading προχατέχομεν. Meyer urges against this view: (a.) The usage of language;[FN31] (b) the previous admission of Israel’s advantage [ Romans 3:2, πολὺ χατὰ πάντα τρόπον, which seems to conflict with οὐπάντως, Romans 3:9.—P. S.]. 2. The middle voice in the signification of: to hold before, to hold for one’s protection. Hemsterhuys, Venema, &c. (Fritzsche, figuratively: Do we need a pretext?) Meyer: Have we a protection? That Isaiah, have we something with which to defend or screen ourselves? Against this, Tholuck raises the objection that the verb, in this case, should have an accusative. [Have we any thing for a pretext? Answer: Nothing (instead of: Not at all, not in the least).—P. S.] 3. The passive construction (Œcumenius II, Wetstein, Storr). [Œcumenius takes the word as the question of a Gentile: Are we surpassed by the Jews? Wetstein, as the question of a Jew: Are we surpassed by the Gentiles? Reiche and Olshausen: Are we preferred by God? This last form of the passive rendering agrees, as to sense, with the active rendering sub No1. But the Apostle is not speaking here of God’s favor, but of man’s sin, and shows that the Jews, though highly favored by God, are yet subjectively no better, and even more guilty, than the Gentiles.—P. S.] 4. The middle form was most easily applicable to the intransitive, to be prominent, to excel; therefore we translate, “Are we ahead, or, better?” Tholuck properly calls to mind that so many of the Greek fathers have taken no exception to the middle form. It is quite against the context when Olshausen [?] and Reiche read the word as a question of the Gentiles (shall we be preferred?).—Οὐ πάντως, Not in the least. Grotius, and others [Wetstein, Köllner], literally: not altogether, not in all respects [as in 1 Corinthians 5:10, where πάντες limits the prohibition.—P. S.] This is contrary to the context. [For the Apostle proves the absolute equality of guilt before the law. οὐ, πάντως is here = πάντες οὐ, 1 Corinthians 16:12; πάντως strengthens the negation, no, in no wise; not at all; ούδαμῶς (Theophylact); nequaquam (Vulgate); durchaus nicht; nein, ganz und gar, i.e, nein, in keiner Weise, keineswegs. This sense was probably indicated by the emphatic pronunciation of πάντως, and a stop after οὐ. In 1 Corinthians 5:10, on the contrary, the πἀντως, non omnino, limits the prohibition contained in οὐ. Comp. Winer, p516, and Meyer in loc.—P. S.]—For we have before charged, προῃτιασάμεθα. Namely, in the previous part of the Epistle [i18 ff, with reference to the Gentiles; Romans 2:1 ff, with reference to the Jews.—P. S.]. The προαιτιᾶσθαι [from αἰτία, motive, reason, and in a forensic sense, charge, ground of accusation] is a compound word without example.[FN32]Under sin [ὑφ̓ ἁμαρτίαν εἶναι]. Not merely, are sinners (Fritzsche). Meyer: are governed by sin. He denies, against Hofmann, that the question here is concerning the punishableness or guilt of sin [which is to be inferred afterwards from the fact of ὑφ̓ ἁμαρτία εἶναι]. But this is implied in αἰτιᾶσθαι. The αἰτία is the ground of the charge.

Romans 3:10-19. As it is written. [γέγραπται occurs nineteen times in this Epistle.—P. S.] Paul had previously proved the guilt of the Jews from their living experience, with only a general allusion to the Scriptures; he now confirms his declaration in the strongest way by Scripture proofs. Under the presupposition of exact knowledge of the Old Testament, rabbinical writers also connect various testimonies without specifying the place where they may be found. At the head there stands Psalm 14:1-3, from Romans 3:10 to Romans 3:12, where we have a description of universal sinfulness as well of the Jews as of the Gentiles. There then follows a combination from Psalm 5:9; Psalm 140:3 and Psalm 10:7, in Romans 3:13-14, as a description of sins of the tongue. Then Isaiah 59:7-8, quoted in Romans 3:16-17, as a delineation of sins of commission. Finally, Psalm 36:1, in Romans 3:18, as a characterization of the want of the fear of God lying at the root of all.[FN33] The quotations are free recollections and applications from the Septuagint [yet with several deviations]. Finally, in Romans 3:19, there follows the explanation that these charges were throughout just as applicable to the Jews as to the Gentiles, and indeed chiefly to the Jews. [The passages quoted describe the moral corruption of the times of David and the prophets, but indirectly of all times since human nature is essentially the same always and everywhere. In Psalm 14the general application is most obvious, and hence it is quoted first.—P. S.]

Romans 3:10. There is none righteous. [Paul uses δίχαις for עשֵׁה־טוֹב, LXX.: ποιῶν χρηστότητα, doer of good.] Refers the ποιῶν χρηστότητα of the Septuagint to the law. The want of righteousness is the inscription of the whole; not as Paul’s word (Köllner, &c.), but as free quotation from Psalm 14.

Romans 3:11. There is none that understandeth. While συνιῶν[FN34] represents the receptivity of the religious understanding, ἐχζητῶν [FN35] denotes the desire and effort of the spirit. See the original text, where the negation is characterized as God’s fruitless request. [See Textual Note14.]

Romans 3:12. They are all gone out of the way (נֶאֱלִח; סוּד).—The ἐως ἑνός, down to one incl. [A Hebraism, נַּמ־אֶחָד, for οὐδὲ εἷς, not so much as one. Comp. the Latin ad unum omnes, which likewise includes all.—P. S.]

Romans 3:13. An open sepulchre. Estius [Bengel, Tholuck, Hodge]: breathing out the noxious odor of corruption. Meyer prefers the meaning: As rapacious and insatiable as a grave which awaits the corpse; in this sense, the quiver of the Chaldeans is called “an open sepulchre,” Jeremiah 5:16i.e., destructive (also Calvin, and others). But thus Romans 3:15 would be anticipated.—They have used deceit. The imperfect ἐδολιοῦσαν[FN36] denotes continuous action; they have become deceivers for the future; that this is their settled character.—The poison of asps. Behind the cunning of falsehood there is deadly malice.

Romans 3:14. Full of cursing. The gross, passionate form of ungodly speech, alternating with doubletongued, false language. The bitterness or animosity of their hateful selfishness is the standing ground of their cursing. [Paul here condenses the translation of the Septuagint, omitting the “deceit,” as he had already mentioned it in Romans 3:13.—P. S.]

Romans 3:15-17. Their feet are swift. The symbol of their excited course of conduct. [On the slightest provocation they commit murder. Paul here again condenses the sense of Isaiah 59:7.] Their many different ways, full of destruction [σύντριμμα, literally, concussion, bruising together, then calamity, destruction] and misery [ταλαιπωρία], (destruction the cause, misery the result) are, as the ways of war of all against all, contrasted with the one way of peace [όδὸνεἰρήνης]. By this we must undoubtedly understand not merely a way in which they should enjoy peace (Meyer), but an objective way of peace in which they should become the children of peace. [The way that leads to peace, in opposition to the ways which lead to ruin and misery.] Οὐχ ἔγνωσαν, Grotius: Hebrœis nescire aliquis dicitur, quod non curat ( Jeremiah 4:22).

[ Romans 3:18. This quotation from Psalm 36:1 goes back to the fountain of the various sins enumerated. The fear of God, or piety, is the beginning of wisdom and the mother of virtue; the want of that fear, or impiety, is the beginning of folly and the mother of vice.—P. S.]

Romans 3:19. Now we know. The Jews, indeed, would not readily admit this, but were inclined to refer such declarations exclusively to the Gentiles. [But the passages above quoted from the Psalm and the Prophets, speak not of heathen as heathen, but of fallen men as such, and therefore are applicable to Jews as well.—P. S.]—The law. This is the Old Testament, especially in its legal relation [as a norm or rule to which they should conform their faith and conduct; John 10:34, where our Lord quotes a Psalm as in “the law,” and other passages].—Who are under the law. That Isaiah, the Jews; also particularly from the legal standpoint. Calov and others have understood, by the law, the law as distinguished from the gospel; and the expression, “those who are under the law,” as meaning all men. But this is application, not explanation.—That every mouth may be stopped. On the question whether ἵνα may be understood ἐχβατιχῶς [so that, instead of in order that], see Tholuck and Meyer. Here it evidently designates the one purpose of the law, to produce the knowledge of sin, but other purposes are not excluded. The φράσσειν τὸ στόμα ( Psalm 107:42) means, in a religious relation, that it represents men as ἀναπολογήτους at the tribunal of Divine justice; so that they “cannot answer God one of a thousand.”—The whole world. [Not to be restricted, with Grotius: maxima pars hominum, but all men, Jews as well as Gentiles.] Paul has already declared this of the heathen portion in Romans 1:20; Romans 1:32.—[Should become (γένηται), in their own conviction, guilty, subject to justice. ὑπ̄όδιχος = χατάχριτος, ἔνοχος δίχῃ, ὑποχίμενος τιμωρίαυς, i.e., not only guilty, but convicted of guilt, and therefore obnoxious to punishment (straffällig).—Before God, to whom satisfaction for sin is due.—P. S.]

Romans 3:20.[FN37] Because (Desshalb weil). Since διότι can be propterea quod (because) as well as propterea (therefore), Tholuck [with Beza and Morus] prefers propterea, the conclusive form. But the Apostle here goes farther out, and comes to that universal condemnatory judgment of the law. [See Textual Note 20.]

By works of the law. Explanations of νόμος:

1. The ritual law (Theodoret, Pelagius, Cornelius a Lapide, Semler, Ammon, and others).[FN38] On the contrary, Augustine[FN39] and Thomas Aquinas already referred to the concluding sentence of the verse: “by the law comes knowledge of sin.” Paul, moreover, understands the word law throughout in its totality, although he does not ignore its several parts and differences. [The decalogue is merely the quintessence of the whole law. The antithesis is not: the ceremonial law and the moral law, but: works of the law and works of faith.—P. S.]

2. The Mosaic law alone [but as a whole, both moral and ritual] is meant (Meyer). [So also Philippi: the whole revealed law as an undivided unity, yet with special regard to the moral law.—P. S.] But against this Isaiah, that Paul speaks here, and in the previous verse, of the guilt of all men before the law.

3. De Wette accepts it as merely the moral law, and not also the ritual law. The works of the law, as they were performed by the Jews, and would also have been performed by the Gentiles, if they had been placed under the law (Rückert).

4. The law in a deeper and more general sense, as it was written not only on the Decalogue, but also in the heart of the Gentiles, and embracing moral deeds of both Gentiles and Jews (Tholuck [also Storr, Flatt, Stuart]). Certainly it is plain from the context, that the Jewish νόμος here represents a universal legislation. [The Apostle includes the Gentiles as well as the Jews under the sentence of condemnation, because they do not come up to their own standard of virtue, as required by their inner law of conscience; Romans 2:15.—P. S.]

But what are works of the law [ἔργα νόμου]? Explanations:

1. Works produced by the law, without the impulse of the Holy Spirit [νόμου as genetivus auctoris or causœ]. So especially Roman Catholic expositors, as Bellarmine [Augustine, Thomas Aquinas]; and also some Protestants, as Usteri, Neander, Philippi [Olshausen, Hofmann, even Luther; see Tholuck, p137]. Philippi: “Not the works which the law commands—for he who does these is really righteous ( Romans 2:13)—but those which the law effects (or which the man who is under the law is able by its aid to bring forth).” The deeds of the law are ἔργα νεχρά ( Hebrews 6:1); the νόμος cannot ζωοποιῆσαι [ Galatians 3:21], although it is complete in its method and destination. On Luther’s distinction between doing the works of the law and fulfilling the law itself, see Tholuck.

2. The deeds required or prescribed by the law. Protestant expositors, e.g., Gerhard, who includes also the bona opera ratione objecti. [So also Melanchthon, Calvin, Beza, Rückert, Fritzsche, De Wette, Meyer, Hodge. In this view, the ἔργα νόμου include all good works, those after regeneration as well as those before. Even Abraham, the friend of God, was not justified by his works, but by faith. The law of the Old Testament is holy, just, and good, and demands perfect conformity to the will of God, which is true holiness. But even our best works, done under the gospel and under the influence of Divine grace, are imperfect, and can therefore be no ground of justification. Hence the most holy men of all ages and churches never depend on their own works, but on the work and merits of Christ, for final acceptance with God.—P. S.]

3. Tholuck combines the two explanations [p140]: “The Apostle includes both meanings, so that, in some passages, the meaning of the deeds required by the law, and, in others, that of the deeds produced by the law, appears more prominent.” But, from the very nature of the case, the deeds required by the law, and those produced by the law, correspond to each other on the legal standpoint. The unity of both are the works of the legal standpoint, as it may be found also among the heathen (e.g., Creon in the Antigone of Sophocles). The law Isaiah, for those subjected to it, an analytical letter, which is related to the external work; but, on the contrary, for those who seek God, it is a synthetical symbol, which is related to the disposition of the heart. The former meaning applies certainly to every Prayer of Manasseh, but only to introduce him to the understanding of its second signification. Those who know it only in the former meaning, always seek justification ἐχ νόμου and ἐξ ἔργον, until they are ἐξ ἐριθείας ( Romans 2:8), and only become acquainted with an apparent righteousness of a partisan character. Song of Solomon, on the other hand, the ἀφθαρσίαν ςητοῦντες, in all their efforts to fulfil the law, are more and more convinced of the impossibility of a righteousness by works. The requirement of the law, therefore, as well as its operation, continually impels—in the moral, still more in the religious sphere—by means of the knowledge of sin, far beyond the legal standpoint to faith itself. Therefore the remark frequently made; “not as if complete obedience to the law would be insufficient for justification” (Meyer), is apt to mislead. 40] De Wette properly remarks: “It lies in the nature of Prayer of Manasseh, and of the law, that this is not fulfilled, and consequently that righteousness cannot be obtained” (see James 2:10). Where the Old Testament Scriptures speak of righteous persons, those are meant who, in their observance of the legal letter, are theoeratically and ecclesiastically irreproachable, but yet do not therein find their comfort (see Luke 1:6).

No flesh. No human being. [With an allusion to our weakness and frailty, as we say: No mortal. The parallel passage in Psalm 183:2 has, instead: no man living.—P. S.] Not even the believer. It never occurs to him that he might perfect his justification by faith through dead works. [The phrase οὐπᾶσα σάρξ is a strong Hebraism, לֹא כָל־בָּשָׂר

[Shall (can) be justified, διχαιωθήσεται. The future refers not to the day of judgment (Reiche), for justification takes place already in this life; nor to the indefinite, abstract future (Meyer, Philippi: whenever justification shall take place), but to the moral possibility, or impossibility rather (can ever be justified); comp. χρινεῖ, Romans 3:6.—P. S.]

[On the meaning of διχαιόω, to justify, comp. the Exeg. Notes on Romans 1:17; Romans 2:13; Romans 3:24. It is perfectly plain that here, and in the parallel passage, Galatians 2:16, it can only mean, to declare or judicially pronounce just, not, to make just. This appears (1) from Psalm 143:2, here referred to (“Enter not into judgment with thy servant; for in thy sight shall no man living be justified;”) (2). from the aim of the passage, which is to confirm by διότι the preceding sentence: “that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” ( Romans 3:19); and (3) from the addition ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ, which represents God as Judges, coram Deo judice.—Dr. Wieseler, in his exposition of the parallel passage, Galatians 2:16 (Commentar, &c, pp176–204), enters into an elaborate discussion of the meaning of διχαιόω, of which we will give the substance in English, anticipating in part our own remarks on Romans 3:24 :

“The verb διχαιοῦν has, in the Greek, two fundamental significations:

“(1) τὸ δίχαιον ποιεῖ ν τινα (cf. χαχοῦντινα, to do any one χαχόν, harm); that Isaiah, to do any one justice. It is used in this sense especially of a Judges, and signifies, to determine justice generally; or more specially, according to the result of the judging, on the one hand, to condemn and punish, as with peculiar frequency in the profane writers; or also either to declare guiltless of the charge, or to acknowledge, in the case of any one, the claims of right, which he has; only that the favorable or unfavorable judgment, in this fundamental signification, is always conceived as his δίχαιον, as deserved by him.

“(2) δίχαιον ποιεῖν τι, or τινά, to make a thing or person righteous; that Isaiah, either to account and declare righteous, or to transfer into the right condition; for the verbs in όω express also a bringing out into effect that from which the verb is derived; comp. δουλόω, τυφλόω = δοῦλον and τυφλόν ποιεῖν. So does διχαιοῦν accordingly signify, to account any thing right and equitable, to approve, wish, require; equivalent to ἀξιοῦν.

“The biblical usus loquendi of διχαιοῦν attaches itself to the Hebrew הִעְדִּיק (or צִדֵּק), of which it is commonly the translation in the LXX. This, now, for the most part signifies to declare righteous (judicially, or in common life); but, to make righteous, or, to lead to righteousness, only in Daniel 12:3; Isaiah 53:11.

“Even so διχαιοῦν, in the Septuagint, frequently signifies, to declare righteous judicially; Psalm 82:3; Exodus 23:7; Deuteronomy 25:1; 1 Kings 8:32; and in common life also, to acknowledge as righteous, or, to represent as righteous; Ezekiel 16:51-52; and is interchanged in this sense with ἀποφαίνειν δίχαιον; Job 32:2; Job 27:5. On the other hand, it is used with extreme infrequency in the sense, to make righteous, to transfer into the condition of righteousness; Psalm 73:13; Isaiah 53:11; Sirach 18:22.

“Thus far our examination has afforded the result, that διχαιοῦν can, it is true, signify also, to make righteous, as well in profane Greek (in this, according to the second fundamental signification), as in the LXX, but that this signification has, in the use of the language, receded decidedly into the background in comparison with the forensic and judicial.

“To still less advantage does the signification, to make righteous, appear in the New Testament use. Leaving out of view the passages in question, where a διχαιοῦσθαι ἐξ ἔργων νόμου, or διὰ πίστεως, is spoken of, there does not occur a single passage in which the signification to make righteous is found. (Besides the passages mentioned above, the verb occurs Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:29; Luke 7:35; Luke 10:29; Romans 3:4; 1 Timothy 3:16; Revelation 22:11.[FN41]) This fact cannot but be most unfavorable to the assumption of the signification, to make righteous, in the remaining passages.—P. S.]

For by the law (comes) a knowledge of sin. Tholuck would supply only (no more than) a knowledge; but ἐπίγνωσις is exact, living, increasing knowledge. The antithesis laid down by Chrysostom—that the law, far from being able to take away sin, only first brings it to knowledge—needs still the supplementary thought, that it is just this knowledge which is the preliminary condition for the removal of sin. [The law, being the revelation of the holy and perfect will of God, exhibits, by contrast, our own sinfulness, and awakens the desire after salvation. This sentence of Paul, together with his declaration that the law is a παιδαγωγός to lead to Christ ( Galatians 3:24-25); contains the whole philosophy of the law, as a moral educator, and is the best and deepest thing that can be said of it. Ewald justly remarks of our passage: “Mit diesen Worten trifft Paulas den tiefsten Kern der Sache;” i.e, with these words Paul hits the nail on the head, and penetrates to the inmost marrow of the thing. γάρ is well explained by Calvin: “A contrario ratiocinatur quando ex eadem scatebra non prodeunt vita et mors.”—P. S.]


1. Romans 2:25-29. The elder theology has properly regarded circumcision as a federal sacrament of the Old Testament, and as the preliminary analogue or type of New Testament baptism; just as the Passover feast was an Old Testament type of the Lord’s Supper. And thus far did the περιτομή represent the whole of Judaism, which is proved by the fact that Paul used this term to designate the Jews (see also Galatians 5:3). But it is easy to go astray on the biblical meaning of circumcision, as on the law of the Sabbath, if we do not bear in mind that we have to deal with institutions which comprehend many points of view. Thus, the Sabbatic law is first a religious and moral command of God among the Ten Commandments ( Exodus 20:8 ff.). But it is likewise a religious and liturgical, or Levitical command on worship (according to Leviticus 23:3). In the latter sense, it is abrogated as a mere Old Testament form, as far as Christians are concerned; or, rather, it has been supplanted by the divine-human creation of a new day “of the great congregation”—the Lord’s Day. But the religious and ethical command of the Sabbath in the Decalogue has become a religious and ethical principle, which, in its educating and legal form, has connected itself with Sunday. In the same way is circumcision a synthesis. The foundation of it was a very old, sporadic, oriental custom (Epistle of Barnabas, chap9[FN42]). It was made to Abraham, according to Romans 4:11, a symbolical seal of his faith; which is certainly the sacrament of the covenant of promise. But then Moses also made it, in a more definite sense, an obligation of the law ( Exodus 4:25; Joshua 5:2 ff.). The law was the explication of circumcision, and circumcision was the concentration of the law. While, therefore, the law was annulled in regard to Christians by faith, circumcision was also annulled; or, rather, the New Testament symbol took its place, and the fulfilment of the Abrahamic promise—the new birth of faith—was connected with it. Tholuck thinks (p114) it is a contradiction, that, according to the elder theology,[FN43] faith in the Messiah was the condition of the Divine promise in circumcision; while, according to Paul, the fulfilment of the law was this condition. But Paul certainly knew of no other fulfilment of the law than that in the Messianic faith, which became, finally, faith in the Messiah. On p117, Tholuck himself refers to the inward character of the requirements of Judaism.

2. The great importance which the Apostle attaches to what is within—to the sentiment of the heart—is plain from his bold antitheses. Notwithstanding, his uncircumcision, the Gentile, by virtue of his state of mind, can become a Jew, and vice versâ.

3. The witnesses adduced by the Apostle on the universality of corruption in Israel, neither preclude the antithesis in Romans 2:7-8, nor the degrees on both sides.

4. On Romans 3:3. The covenant of God is always perfect according to its stage of development. If it generally fails to become apparent, the fault always turns out to be man’s. The covenant of God is surely no contrat social—no agreement between equal parties. It is the free institution of God’s grace. But this institution is that of a true covenant, of a personal and ethical mutual relation; and whenever the hierarchy, or a Romanizing view of the ministry obliterate the ethical obligation on the part of man in order to make the sacraments magical operations, their course leads to the desecration and weakening of the covenant acts.

5. Romans 3:4. For our construction of the passage in Psalm 51:4 f, see the Exeg. Notes on Romans 3:4. For another view, see Philippi, p81, with reference to Hengstenberg, Psalm, vol. iii, p19. [Both take לְמִעִן, ὅπως, in the usual strict sense (τελιχῶς, not ἐχβατιχῶς), as does also Gesenius, Thes., p. Romans 1052: “eum in finem peccavi, ut illustretur justitia tua;” and they make the old distinction between the matter of sin, which is man’s work, and the form of sin, which is in the hands of God.—P. S.] Hupfeld also refers the passage to the holy interest of God’s government in human offences, but at the same time has definitely distinguished the relative divine and human parts. Without contending against the thought per se, we would refer the πως not to sin itself, but to the perception and knowledge of sin. Hence we infer the proposition: All want of a proper knowledge of sin on the part of man obscures the word of God, and leads to the misconception of His judgments (as in the talk about fanatical ideas of Revelation, gloomy destiny, &c.).

6. On the truth of God, see the Exeg. Notes on Romans 3:4.

7. On Romans 3:20. By the law is the knowledge of sin (see Galatians 3:24). This purpose of the law excludes neither its usus primus nor the usus tertius.[FN44] But the three usus mark the developing progress of the law from without inwardly, as well in a historical as in a psychological view. The first stage [usus politicus] has also its promise. The Jew who lived according to the law is justified in the tribunal of his priesthood, and has also his earthly blessing (“that it may go well with thee,” &c.). But the subtilty of the law—not to speak of its first and last commandment—and its symbolical transparency and spiritualization, impel him, if he be upright, further to the pædagogical standpoint, which looks to Christ. And with this, he receives the whole power for the tertius usus [in regulating his life of faith].

8. While the elder theology separated the three parts of the law (morals, worship, polity) too far from each other, at present the idea of the law as a unit is often so strongly emphasized as to lose sight of the fact that, both in the Old Testament as well as in the New, cognizance is taken of the difference of the parts (see Matthew 19:17; Romans 7:7). The view to the unity of the law, however, prevails in the Mosaic and legal understanding of the Old Testament Revelation, as represented by the letters of the two tables.

9. The incapacity of the law to make man righteous lies chiefly in this: First, it is a demand on the work of the incapable Prayer of Manasseh, who is flesh (no flesh shall be justified); but it is not a Divine promise and work for establishing a new relation. Then it meets man as a foreign will, another law; by which means his false autonomy is inclined to resistance, because he is alien to himself and to the concurring law within his inward nature. Finally, it meets him in analytical form and separateness. Man only becomes susceptible of Divine influences: 1. As they are founded in the grace and gift of God; 2. in the spontaneous action of voluntary love; 3. in synthetical concentration.


(From Romans 2:25 to Romans 3:20)

Either, or. As this applied to the Jew according to his position in the Old Testament, so does it apply to the Christian according to his position in the New ( Romans 3:25).—It is not the external possession of a saving means that produces blessings, but faithfulness in its application ( Romans 3:25-29).—How the fact, that the Jew becomes a Gentile, and the Gentile a Jew, can be repeated in our time in various contrasts ( Romans 3:25-27).—The Jew, proud of the letter and of circumcision, below the condemnatory sentence pronounced on the illegal and uncircumcised Gentile—a warning for evangelical Christians ( Romans 3:27).—Inner life in religion; already the principal thing in Judaism, and much more in Christianity ( Romans 3:28-29).—He who is inwardly pious, receives praise, not of men, but of God.—God’s pleasure or praise of inward faithfulness in piety. Herewith it must be seen: 1. How this praise can be acquired; 2. In what does it consist? ( Romans 3:29).—The praise of men and the praise of God ( Romans 3:29).

What advantage have the Jews? This question, and its answer, exhibit to us the infinitely great blessing of Christianity ( Romans 3:1-4).—How Paul never ignores the historical significance of his people, but triumphantly defends it against every charge (comp. Romans 9:4-5).—The historical feeling of the Apostle Paul ( Romans 3:1-4).

On Romans 3:2. God has shown His word to Jacob, his statutes and judgments unto Israel ( Psalm 147:19). Why has God spoken to Israel? 1. Because He chose this people, out of voluntary compassion, for His inheritance; 2. Because by this people, specially appointed by Him for the purpose, He designed to prepare salvation for all the nations of the earth.—Do not complain too much at the unbelief of the world! For, 1. The unbelievers always remain in the minority; in real significance, let their number be ever so great; 2. Not only does their unbelief not make the faith (faithfulness) of God without effect; but3. Rather contributes thereto, by radiantly showing God’s truthfulness, in contrast with all human falsehood ( Romans 3:3-4).

On Romans 3:5-8. Why is it impossible that God should have desired our (unrighteousness for His glory? 1. Because God could not then judge the world; 2. Because we would be condemned as sinners by an unjust method.—How far does our unrighteousness prove the righteousness of God?—God cannot be the author of sin! This was acknowledged, 1. By Abraham, the father of all the faithful ( Genesis 18:25); 2. By Paul, the Apostle of all the faithful.—Through God’s providence, good continually comes out of evil; but we should never say, Let us do evil, that good may come!—He who says, Let us do evil, &c, 1. Blasphemes God; and therefore, 2. Receives righteous condemnation.—The principle of the Jesuits, that the end sanctifies the means, is nothing else than a hypocritical cloaking of the plain words: “Let us do evil, that good may come.”

On Romans 3:9-18. The sinfulness of all, both Jews and Greeks: 1. Proved by Paul himself in his description of their moral depravity; 2. Corroborated by the proofs of Holy Scripture from the Psalm, Proverbs of Song of Solomon, and the Prophet Isaiah.—As Paul appeals to the Old Testament, so should we, in order to authenticate truths, appeal to the whole Bible, though first and continually to the New Testament.—Every doctrine must be scriptural.—Paul a master in the application of Scripture: 1. So far as he grasps the fulness of the scriptural expression; but, 2. He does not thoughtlessly arrange quotations from the Scriptures; but, 3. He skilfully connects kindred passages into a beautiful whole.

On Romans 3:18-20. The severe preaching of the law: 1. To whom is it directed? 2. What does it accomplish?—How far does the law produce knowledge of sin?

Luther: Spirit is what God supernaturally effects in man; letter is all the deeds of nature without spirit ( Romans 2:29).—“God is a sure support; but he who trusts in man will want” ( Romans 3:4).—David says ( Psalm 51:4): “Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned,” &c. These words would seem to mean that man must sin in order that God might be just, as Paul would also seem here to say. Yet this is not the case; but we shall acknowledge the sin of which God accuses us, that He might thereby be confessed truthful and just in His law.

Starke: A true Christian must not despise the means of grace: as, attending church, making confession, and partaking of the Lord’s Supper; nor should he speak derisively of them because they are misused by most persons as a false hope ( Romans 2:25).—He who will be comforted by the consideration that he has been baptized in the name of Christ, must examine himself whether he has also been newly, born, and walks after the new man: where this is not the case, holy baptism is of just as little use to him, as circumcision was to the unbelieving Jew; 1 Peter 3:21 ( Romans 2:29).—In worldly courts, injustice often rules; but God will judge the world in the justest manner ( Romans 3:6).—When our misery is properly uncovered, compassion is near; and when we are truly compassionate ourselves, compassion is not far from us ( Romans 3:12).—The way to grace is open when we stand dumb before God ( Romans 3:19).—There is only one way to salvation, by which men, before, at the time of, and after Moses, can be saved ( Romans 3:20).—Lange: Oh, how many Christians are put to shame at this day by honorable heathen! And how the latter will rise up against the former on the judgment-day! ( Romans 2:26).—Hedinger: The new creature must be all in all. If this be not the case, there is no godly sorrow, no faith, no Christ, no hope of salvation ( Romans 2:25).—There is only one way to salvation, yet God is at perfect liberty to say in what people He will build His Church, and what measure of grace and gifts He will give ( Romans 8:2).—Here stands the pillar of the evangelical Church, the test and corner-stone of the pure, saving gospel ( Romans 3:20).—Quesnel: A strong proof of original sin, because no one who comes into the world is righteous, or without sin ( Romans 3:10).—Let love be in the heart, then will loveliness be also in the mouth ( Romans 3:14).—Cramer: Learn to distinguish well between true and false Jews, true and false Christians; the external profession does not constitute a true Jew or Christian ( Romans 2:28).—It is not all gold that glitters, and not all show is wisdom. Although the natural reason can devise many conclusive speeches and subtleties, these must not be regarded as wisdom in divine things ( Romans 3:5).—Nova Bibl. Tüb.: The dead members of the Church depend upon its external advantages, take their comfort in them, and make their boast of them, without remembering that they can derive no good from them without penitence and faith ( Romans 3:1).—Though we be unfaithful, God remaineth faithful. Oh, let us therefore, rely upon His faithfulness and promise, and take comfort in the fact that we always have a ready entrance to the faithfulness of our God ( Romans 3:3).—Osiander: If God is truthful, but men false, why do some men believe folly sooner than the word of God? But to God alone belongs the praise of righteousness and truth ( Romans 3:4).—Those who boast of their righteousness before God, know neither God’s will nor themselves ( Romans 3:19).

Gerlach: The usefulness of the covenant of grace extends on all sides and encompasses all the relations of life ( Romans 3:2).—God’s Wisdom of Solomon, omnipotence, justice, and love, are glorified either in the punishment or conversion of the sinner; the more wicked the sinner, the greater the glory. But this glory consists precisely in the death of the sinner, since he either dies to sin, having once lived to it; or, with all other sinners, suffers eternal death in perdition ( Romans 3:4).—Description of men of malignant feeling, who strive to injure others by their language. Throat, tongue, and lips—three instruments of speech, which utter the words from within ( Romans 3:13).—The more complete and deep the command, the stronger is its declaration of condemnation, and the less can it awaken in us faith and hope for salvation ( Romans 3:20).

Lisco: The Christian is aided by the sacraments only when he lives in faith ( Romans 2:25).—On what the moral worth of man before God depends ( Romans 3:25-26).—Israel’s advantages ( Romans 3:1-4).—He who adopts the principle: “Let us sin, that good may come,” will receive righteous condemnation; for God desires to be glorified only by our obedience; all disobedience is dishonoring His majesty, but terminates also with the sinner’s destruction, and likewise extends to the justification or glorification of the holy and righteous God ( Romans 3:8).

Heubner: External ecclesiasticism and confession has value only when it leads to religion of the heart and life; otherwise, it is only the same as heathenism ( Romans 2:25). 45]—The great difference between outward and inward Christianity. True Christianity is internal ( Romans 2:28).—The true worshipper of God is inward, is concealed from the world, and is known only to God ( Romans 2:29).—The worth and merit of the pious person is exalted above all opinion of the world: 1. Because true piety by no means passes in the world for the highest good, but only that which is profitable, and shines; 2. Because men cannot discern this inner, pure condition of heart, neither can they credit it to others; 3. Because the world cannot reward this piety ( Romans 2:29).—God’s word is committed to us; use it aright, support it, propagate it. In many places it has disappeared through the fault of men (in Asia and Africa), Romans 3:2.—God’s honor cannot be touched. Nothing can be charged against God; it would be blasphemy to charge Him with blame of any kind ( Romans 3:4).—God’s righteousness becomes the more apparent in proportion to the manifestation of man’s unrighteousness ( Romans 3:5).—Every feeling of hatred is the root for a willingness to shed blood ( Romans 3:15).—Every man is guilty before God, and subject to His punishment; but he should also know and confess it ( Romans 3:19).—The law requires obedience to all its commands ( Romans 3:20).

Spener: When people are wickedly taught to sin, so that God may be lauded because of the forgiveness of sins, it is the same slander which the same old slanderous devil charged at that time against the apostles, and which is still cast against the doctrine of the grace of God ( Romans 3:8).

Besser: Circumcision of the heart is real circumcision ( Romans 2:29).—The evangelical theme of joy in the Epistle to the Romans Isaiah, that God, in grace, is just in His words to sinners whom He has justified by faith in Jesus ( Romans 3:4).

Lange, on Romans 3:16-24. The fearful picture of warning in the fall of the Jews.—How this picture was again presented in the Church before the Reformation, and now appears in many forms.

Romans 3:25-29. Comparison of this passage with Matthew 23:21-28,—The great vindication here for the believer—that God, in His word, confides in him in a certain measure.—God, in His faithfulness to His covenant, a rock.—How unbelief is against God, and yet must serve God’s purpose.— Romans 3:1-8. To have an advantage, and yet not to have one.—The testimonies of Scripture on the sinful depravity of man.

Romans 3:8-19. How vain is the effort to be justified by the law: 1. Because “by the deeds of the law,” &c.; 2. “For by the law,” &c.

[Burkitt: (condensed) Romans 2:25. The heathen have abused but one talent, the light of nature; but we, thousands; even as many thousands as we have slighted the tenders of offered grace. What a fearful aggravation it puts upon our sin and misery! We must certainly be accountable to God at the great day, not only for all the light we have had, but for all we might have had in the gospel day; and especially for the light we have sinned under and rebelled against.— Romans 3:1. Great is that people’s privilege and mercy who enjoy the word of God—the audible word in the Holy Scriptures, the visible word in the holy sacraments. It enlighteneth the eyes, rejoiceth the heart, quickeneth the soul. It is compared to gold for profit, to honey for sweetness, to milk for nourishing, to food for strengthening!— Romans 3:3-7 : God is never intentionally, but is sometimes accidentally glorified by man’s sins. There never was such a crime as crucifying Christ, but nothing by which God has reaped greater glory.— Romans 3:10. The unrighteousness of man: 1. There is none originally righteous; 2. None efficiently righteous; 3. none meritoriously righteous; 4. None perfectly righteous.—Matthew Henry: The Jews had the means of salvation, but they had not the monopoly of it.—On the righteousness of God, observe: 1. It is manifested; 2. It is without the law; 3. It is witnessed by the law and the prophets; 4. It is by the faith of Jesus Christ; 5. It is to all, and upon all them that believe.—Doddridge: We pity the Gentiles, and justly so; but let us take heed lest those appearances of virtue which are to be found among some of them do not condemn us, who, with the letter of the law and the gospel, and with the solemn tokens of a covenant relation to God, transgress His precepts, and violate out engagements to Him; so turning the means of goodness and happiness into the occasion of more aggravated guilt and misery.—Clarke: The law is properly considered the rule of right; and unless God had given some such means of discovering what sin Isaiah, the darkened heart of man could never have formed an adequate conception of it. For as an acknowledged straight edge is the only way in which the straightness or crookedness of a line can be determined, so the moral obliquity of human actions can only be determined by the law of God, that rule of right which proceeds from His own immaculate holiness.

[Hodge: When true religion declines, the disposition to lay undue stress on external rites is increased. The Jews, when they lost their spirituality, supposed that circumcision had power to save ( Romans 2:25).—Paul does not deny, but asserts the value of circumcision. Song of Solomon, likewise, the Christian sacraments, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, are of the utmost importance, and to neglect or reject them is a great sin ( Romans 2:25; Romans 3:1).—It is a mark of genuine piety to be disposed always to justify God, and to condemn ourselves. On the other hand, a disposition to self-justification and the examination of our sins, however secret, is an indication of the want of a proper sense of our own unworthiness and of the Divine excellence ( Romans 3:4-5).—There is no better evidence against the truth of any doctrine, than that its tendency is immoral ( Romans 3:8).—Speculative and moral truths, which are self-evident to the mind, should be regarded as authoritative, and as fixed points in all reasonings ( Romans 3:8).—Barnes: If all men were willing to sacrifice their opinions when they appeared to impinge on the veracity of God; if they started back with instinctive shuddering at the very supposition of such a want of fidelity in Him; how soon would it put an end to the boastings of error, to the pride of philosophy, to lofty dictation in religion! No man with this feeling could be a Universalist for a moment; and none could be an infidel.

[On Romans 2:29, see Wesley’s sermon The Circumcision of the Heart; on Romans 3:1-2, Payson’s sermon on The Oracles of God; Melville’s on The Advantages resulting from the Possession of the Scriptures; and Canon Wordsworth’s Hulsean Lecture on What is the Foundation of the Canon of the New Testament? On Romans 3:4, see Dwight’s sermon on God to be Believed rather than Man; and C. J. Vaughan’s on The One Necessity. On Romans 3:9-19, see Chalmers’ sermon on The Importance of Civil Government to Society.—J. F. H.]


FN#1 - Romans 3:2.—[Πρῶτον μὲν γάρ. N. A. D 3 K. L, Tischendorf, Meyer, Alford, Lange, insert γάρ, namely, after μέν; B. D.*G, Vulg, Syr, Lachmann, omit it. πρῶτον, first, in the first place, is not followed by secondly, &c.; comp. πρῶτον μέν, Romans 1:8. To avoid the anacoluthon, Calvin translates: præcipue; Beza: primarium illud est. So also the E. V. and Dr. Lange.—P. S.]

FN#2 - Romans 3:3.—[Τί γάρ; a phrase used to start an objection for the purpose of answering it, or to vindicate a previous assertion; comp. Philippians 1:18.—P. S.]

FN#3 - Romans 3:3.—[ὴπίστησαν—ἀπιστία—πίστιν, should be rendered so as to retain the paronomasia. Lange: Denn wie? Wenn etliche die Glavbenstreue brechen, sollte ihr Treubruch die Treue Gottes aufheben?—?P. S.]

FN#4 - Romans 3:4.—[Or, Far be it, far from it, by no means; Vulg, absit; German: es werde nicht, or (Luther, Lange), das sei ferne! The phrase, μὴγένοιτο, is an expression of strong denial or pious horror, corresponding to the Hebrew הָלִילָה ( Genesis 44:17; Joshua 22:29; 1 Samuel 20:2), and occurs fourteen times in Paul’s Epistles—ten times in Romans ( Romans 3:4; Romans 3:6; Romans 3:31; Romans 6:2; Romans 6:15; Romans 7:7; Romans 7:13; Romans 9:14; Romans 11:1; Romans 11:11), three times in Galatians ( Romans 2:17; Romans 3:21; Romans 6:14), and once in 1 Corinthians 6:15; but elsewhere in the N. T. only Luke 20:16. It is also used by Polybius, Arian, and the later Greek writers. The God forbid of the Authorized Version (like the German Gott behütegott bewahre) is almost profane, though very expressive, and in keeping with old English usage; for we find it in all the earlier E. Vv, including that of Wiclif, and also that of Rheims. Wordsworth’s rendering: “Heaven forbid that this should be Song of Solomon,” is hardly an improvement. Remember the third commandment, as explained by Christ, Matthew 5:31.—P. S.]

FN#5 - Romans 3:4.—[Or, in Thy judging, when Thou judgest, as the E. V. has it in Psalm 51:4. The active rendering of ἐν τῷ κρίνεσθαι (middle, in the sense of litigare) corresponds to the Hebrew בְּשָׁפְטֶךָ, Psalm 51:4 (comp. LXX.; Job 13:19; Isaiah 43:26; Jeremiah 2:35; Matthew 5:40; 1 Corinthians 6:1; 1 Corinthians 6:6), and is defended in this passage by Beza, Bengel, Tholuck, Meyer, and Ewald; while Vulg, Luther, Lange, Hodge, &c, prefer the passive rendering: when Thou art judged. See Exeg. Notes. The quotation is from the penitential Psalm of David, composed after his double crime of adultery and murder, and reads in Hebrew thus:

לְךָ לְבַדְּךָ חָטָאתִי

יְהָרַע בְּעֵינֶיךָ עָשִׂיתִי

לְמַעַן תִּצְדַּק בְּדָבְרֶךָ

תִּזְכֶּה בְשָׁפְטֶךָ


“To Thee, Thee only, I have sinned,

And done the evil in Thine eyes,

In order that Thou mayest be just in Thy speaking,

And pure in Thy judging.”

Paul follows the translation of the Septuagint, which renders תִּצְדַּק by δικαιωθῆς (that Thou mayest be justified—i.e., be accounted, declared just), substitutes νικήσης (that Thou mayest conquer, prevail judicially in Thy cause) for תּזְכֶּה (be clear, pure), and takes the active בְּשָׁפְטֶךָ in the passive, or more probably in the middle sense, ἐν τῷ κρίνεσθαι σε. The sentiment is not materially altered. The apostles, in their citations, frequently depart from the letter of the Hebrew, being careful only to give the mind of the Holy Spirit.—P. S.]

FN#6 - Romans 3:5.—[Συνίστημι, to make stand with, to place together (constituo, colloco); and thence of persons, to introduce, to commend by letter ( Romans 16:1; 2 Corinthians 3:1); trop, to set forth, to make conspicuous, to prove; so here, and Romans 5:8, συνίστησι τὴν ... ἀγάπην; 2 Corinthians 6:4, συνιστῶντες ἑαυτοὺς ὡς θεοῦ διάκονοι; Galatians 2:18, παραβάτην συνίστημι, and often in Polybius, Philo, and Josephus.—P. S.]

FN#7 - Romans 3:5.—[Cod. Sin 1 adds αὐτοῦ after ὀργήν, His wrath. The other authorities omit it. The article before ὀργήν points to the well-known wrath on the day of judgment, and in the moral government of the world.—P. S.]

FN#8 - Romans 3:7.—[The usual reading Isaiah, εἰ γάρ; but Cod. Sin. reads, εἰ δέ. Lange, in his translation, reads, wenn nämlich; but in the Exeg. Notes: wenn aber. See his explanation of the difficult passage.—P. S.]

FN#9 - Romans 3:8.—[Dr. Lange makes a period after come, and translates: And so let us by no means—as we are blasphemously charged, and as some pretend that we say—do evil, that good may come! The condemnation of such is just. See the Exeg. Notes. But nearly all the commentators regard ver8 as a continuation of the question commenced in Romans 3:7, and assume an irregularity of construction. Ποιήσωμεν, then, instead of being connected with καὶ (τί)μή at the beginning of Romans 3:8, is connected by ὅτι with the preceding λέγειν. “And why do we not rather say, as we are blasphemously reported (βλασφημούμεθα), and as some give out that we do say, ‘Let us do the evil things (τὰ κακὰ), that the good ones (τὰ ἀγαθά) may come?’—whose judgment is just.”—P. S.]

FN#10 - Romans 3:8.—[Conybeare and Howson: Of such men the doom is just. Κρίμα occurs twenty-eight times in the N. T. and is generally correctly rendered: judgment, in the E. V. The word damnation, in old English, was used in the sense of condemnation, censure, but is now equivalent to: condemnation to everlasting punishment, or state of everlasting punishment. Hence the E. V. here conveys a false meaning to the popular reader, as also in Romans 13:2 (“shall receive to themselves judgment,” i.e., here temporal punishment by the magistrate) and 1 Corinthians 11:29 (“eateth and drinketh judgment to himself”).—P. S.]

FN#11 - Romans 3:9.—προκατέχομεν περισσόν is a gloss [D.*G, Syr. On the different interpretations of προεχόμεθα, comp. the Exeg. Notes. προέχω, in the active voice, means: to hold before, or intransitively, to surpass, to excel; in the middle voice: to hold before one’s self—either literally, i.e., a shield, or figuratively, in the sense, to use as a pretext; in the passive voice: to be surpassed.—P. S.]

FN#12 - Romans 3:10-12.—[Literal version of Psalm 14:1-3 from the Hebrew:

“A fool hath said in his heart,

There is no God.’

They are corrupt,

They have done abominable things,

There is not a doer of good.

Jehovah from the heavens

Hath looked on the children of men,

To see if there is a wise one, seeking God.

The whole have turned aside,

Together they have become worthless:

There is not a doer of good, not even one.”—P. S.]

FN#13 - Romans 3:13.—[ Psalm 5:9, according to the Hebrew:

“There is no stability in their mouth;

Their heart is full of mischief;

An open grave is their throat;

Their tongues they make smooth.”—P. S.]

FN#14 - Romans 3:13.—[ Psalm 140:3 in Hebrew:

“They have sharpened their tongues as a serpent;

Poison of an adder is under their lips.”—P. S.]

FN#15 - Romans 3:14.—[ Psalm 10:7 :

“His mouth is foil of oaths,

And deceit, and fraud.”—P. S.]

FN#16 - Romans 3:15-17.—[From Isaiah 59:7-8, which reads literally:

“Their feet run to do evil,

And they haste to shed innocent blood;

Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity;

Wasting and destruction are in their highways;

A way of peace they have not known.

And there is no judgment in their paths.

Their paths they have made perverse for themselves;

No treader in it hath known peace.”—P. S.]

FN#17 - Romans 3:18.—[ Psalm 36:1 :

“The transgression of the wicked

Is affirming within my heart:

‘Fear of God is not before his eyes.’ ”—P. S.]

FN#18 - Romans 3:20.—[Διότι may mean, (1) δι ̓ ὅτι, propter quod, quam ob rem, quare, wesshalb, wesswegen, on account of which thing, wherefore (relative), or, in the beginning of a period, desshalb, therefore— indicating a conclusion from preceding premises. This is the prevailing, though not exclusive meaning, among the Greek classics; while in the N. T. διό is always used in this sense. (2) διὰ τοῦτο ὅτι, propterea quod, desshalb weil, on this account that, or simply ὅτι, quia, nam, because, for—assigning a reason for a preceding assertion. Both views suit the connection, but the latter is more consistent with the uniform use of this particle in the N. T, and is adopted by the majority of modern commentators, also by Meyer, Lange, Alford, Wordsworth, Hodge. Hence a comma only should be put after θεῷ. Διότι occurs twenty-two times in the N. T. The authorized E. V. translates it eight times for, thirteen times because, and only once therefore—viz, in our passage, following Beza (propterea). See the passages in Schmid-Bruder’s Concordantiæ, and in The Englishman’s Greek Concordance, and the Textual Note on Romans 1:19.—P. S.]

FN#19 - Romans 3:20.—[ἐξ ἕργων νόμου οὐ δικαιωθήσεται πᾶσα σὰρξ ἐπιον αὐτοῦ, probably in allusion to Psalm 143:2, LXX.: ὅτι οὐ δικαιωθήσεται ἐνώπιόν σου πᾶς ζῶν. The negation belongs not to πᾶσα, but to the verb, according to a Hebraizing syntactic connection. “All flesh shall not be justified” = “nobody shall be justified.” Comp. Matthew 24:22 : οὐκ ᾶν ἐσώθη πᾶσα σάρξ.—P. S.]

FN#20 - Rabbi Berechias, in Shemoth Rabb., fol138, Colossians 13: “Ne hæretici et apostatœ et impii ex Israelitis dicant: quando quidem circumcisi sumus, in infernum non descendimus. Quid agit Deus S. B.? Mittit angelum et præputia eorum attrahit, ita ut ipsis in infernum descendant.” Attrahere, or adducere præpitium, means as much as to obliterate the circumcision, or to become uncircumcised. It was done by apostate Jews at the time of the Maccabees, under the persecutions of Antiochus Epiphanes; 1 Maccabees 1:15; Josephus, Antiq. xii6, § 2. It was a common Jewish opinion, that circumcision, as such saves from hell. Rabbi Menachem (Comm. on the B. of Moses, fol43, Colossians 3): “Our Rabbins have said, that no circumcised man will see hell.” Medrasch Tillin (f7, 100:2): “God swore to Abraham, that no one who was circumcised should be sent to hell.” See these, and similar passages, in Schöttgen and Eisenmenger (Entdeckles Judenthum ii. p339 f.)—P. S.]

FN#21 - The reverse is the case, John 8:44 : ψεύστης ἐστὶ καὶ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ, where the abstract noun ψεύδους must be supplied from the concrete ψεύστης. Comp. Winer, Gramm., pp131, 132, 6th ed.—P. S.]

FN#22 - In Romans 3:28 the subject is incomplete, and must be supplied from the predicate thus: οὐ γάρ ἐν τῷ φανερῷ [Ἰονδαῖος] Ἰονδαῖος [ἐν τῷ κπυπτῷ, or, ἀληθινός] ἐστιν, οὑδὲ ἐν τῷ φανερῷ, ἐν σαρκὶ [περιτομὴ] περιτομὴ [ἀληθινή ἐστιν]. In Romans 3:29 the predicate is wanting, and must be inferred from Romans 3:28 thus: ἀλλὰ ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ Ἰουδαῖος [Ἰουδαῖός ἐστιν], καὶ περιτομὴ καρδίας, ἐν πνεύματι, οὐ γράμματι [περιτομή ἐστιν]. This is the arrangement of Beza, E. V, De Wette, Tholuck, Alford. Dr. Lange (see Exeg. Notes on Romans 3:29) differs from this only in form, by supplying Ἰουδαῖος as predicate after ἀλλά. But Fritzsche and Meyer make Romans 3:29 strictly parallel with Romans 3:28, and take ̓ Ιουδαῖος as predicate thus: ἀλλὰ ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ [ἐστι] Ἰουδαῖος, but he who [is a Jew] inwardly is a Jew [in the true, ideal sense of the word]. This would seem the best arrangement, if it were not for the following: καὶ περιτομὴ καρδίας, &c, which Meyer renders: and the circumcision of the heart , consists in] the spirit, not in the letter. But a strict parallelism would here require: καὶ ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ [sc. ἐστι] περιτομὴ. Ewald agrees with this structure of Meyer in the first clause, but would make καρδίας the predicate in the second clause: circumcision [is that] of the heart. This is forced, and would require the article before περιτομή. The sense is not materially affected by the difference of construction. In this passage the authorized E. V, upon the whole, can scarcely be improved.—P. S.]

FN#23 - Tholuck quotes from the Talmud (Niddo, F20, 2) the axiom: יְהוּדי בְּחֶדְרִי לֵב, Judæus in penetralibus cordis.—P. S.]

FN#24 - Hodge: That ἀπιστεῖν may have the sense to be unfaithful, is plain from 2 Timothy 2:13, and from the sense of ἀπιστία, in Hebrews 3:12; Hebrews 3:19, and of ἄπιστος, in Luke 12:46; Revelation 21:8. To understand the passage as referring to want of faith in Christ, seems inconsistent with the whole context.—P. S.]

FN#25 - צדק indicates the righteousness, זכה (properly, to be pure), the holiness of God.—P. S.]

FN#26 - Comp. Hodge: “ἀδικία is not to be taken in the restricted sense of injustice, nor as equivalent to δικαιοσύνη, in the preceding verse, but in the comprehensive sense of unrighteousness, wickedness. It is the opposite of δικαιοσύνη, rectitude, righteousness, which includes all moral excellence.”—P. S.]

FN#27 - .מָאי אֵיכָה לְפימַר]

FN#28 - Μὴ ἄδικος θεός; in negative interrogations μή (μήτι, doch nicht?) is used when a negative, οὐ (nonne) when a positive answer is expected. See Winer, p476; Hartung, Partik. 2:88; and Meyer in loc.; against Rückert and Philippi. Paul does not ask: Is not God unjust? but, Is God unjust? expecting a negative reply; and he apologizes even for putting the question in this form.—P. S.]

FN#29 - Calvin: “Sumit argumentum ab ipsius Dei officio quo probet id esse impossibile; judicabit Deus hunc mundum, ergo injustus esse non potest.” Song of Solomon, substantially, Grotius, Tholuck, De Wette, Rückert, Köllner, Meyer, Hodge. It seems that the Apostle here assumes the very thing he is to prove. But he reasons from acknowledged premises: God is universally conceived as the Judge of all mankind; this necessarily implies that He is Just. The opposite is inconsistent with the idea of God as Judges, and with the nature of the judgment.—P. S.]

FN#30 - So also the Vulgate (præcellinius), Luther, Calvin, Beza, E. V, Grotius, Bengel, Tholuck, Rückert (2d ed.), Reiche, Philippi, Baur, Bloomfield, Alford, Wordsworth, Hodge, who says, with De Wette, that this is the only interpretation which suits here.—P. S.]

FN#31 - Sometimes, however, the middle and the active form of the same verb are used without a perceptible difference; as in Luke 15:6, συγκαλεῖ τοὺς φίλους; Romans 3:9, συγκαλεῖται τὰς φίλας (according to Lachmann; while Tischendorf reads the active); James 4:2 f, αἰτεῖτε and αἰτεῖσθε; Acts 16:16, παρεῖχε; Acts 19:24, παρείχετο, præstabat. Comp. Winer, Gramm., p240 f, 7th ed. There Isaiah, it is true, no example of the active use of προέχομαι. But the middle voice may have been preferred here to the active, because the Apostle speaks of a superiority which the Jews claimed for themselves’ for their benefit; comp. σεαυτὸν παπεχόμενος τύπον, Titus 2:7. This, then, comes to the interpretation of Lange, sub No4. The reading of Cod. Boerner: προκατέχομεν περισσόν, gives the same sense.—P. S.]

FN#32 - The Greek classics use προκατηγορεῖν instead; Meyer.—P. S.]

FN#33 - Meyer: 1. Sinful condition ( Romans 3:10-12); 2. sinful manifestations, in word (13, 14), and in deed (15–17); 3. the source of sin (18).—P. S.]

FN#34 - συνίων, according to the accentuation of Lachmann; or συνιών, as Alford accentuates. It is the usual form in the Septuagint for συνιείς (comp. Romans 3:11; Matthew 13:23, var.), and is derived from the obsolete root συνιέω for συνίημι. See Winer, p77 (§ 14, 3). It answers to the Hebrew מַשְׂכִּיל, a word often used to express the right understanding of religious truth.—P. S.]

FN#35 - Stronger than the simple verb; comp. 1 Peter 1:10; very frequent in the LXX.; Meyer.—P. S.]

FN#36 - An Alexandrian and Hellenistic form for ἐδολίουν; see Sturz, Dial. Alex., p61, and Winer, p74, where similar examples are quoted: as εὶ́χοσαν for εὶ́χον, ἐδίδοσαν, for εἳχον, παρελάβοσαν, ἐφάγοσαν, εἵδοσαν, &c.—P. S.]

FN#37 - On this important verse, Dr. Hodge (pp125–133) is very full and clear; while Alford and Wordsworth pass it over very slightly.—P. S.]

FN#38 - Several Roman Catholic and Rationalistic commentators meet from opposite extremes on Pelagian ground, and resolve the meaning of this passage simply into this: that men are not justified by any external rites or ceremonial works, such as circumcision and sacrifices, but only by moral acts of the heart and will. But the prevailing Romish doctrine Isaiah, that works of the law are works done before regeneration, which have only the merit of congruity; while the works done after regeneration, and therefore under the impulse of Divine grace, have the merit of condignity, and are the ground of acceptance with God.—P. S.]

FN#39 - De spiritu et litera ad Marcellinum, cap. Romans 8 : “Nec audiunt quod legunt: ‘quia non justificabitur ex lege omnis caro coram Deo’ ( Romans 3:20). Potest enim fieri coram hominibus, non autem coram illo qui cordis ipsius et intimæ voluntatis inspector est. ? Ac ne quisquam putaret hic apostolum ex lege dixisse neminem justificari, quæ in sacramentis veteribus multa continet figurata præcepta, unde etiam ipsa est circumcisio carnis ? continuo subjunxit quam legem dixerit, et ait: ‘Per legem enim cognitio peccati’ ( Romans 3:20).” Augustine agrees with the Reformers in the doctrine of total depravity and salvation by free grace without works, but agrees with the Roman Catholic view of the meaning of justification, as being a continuous process essentially identical with sanctification.—P. S.]

FN#40 - Meyer says this in view of the principle: οἱ ποιηταὶ νόμου δικαιωθήσονται ( Romans 2:13), but he immediately adds that no human being can fully comply with the law: that the law only makes us more conscious of our moral imperfections.—P. S.]

FN#41 - If δικαιώθητι ἕτι should be the true reading, against which, see, however, Lachmann and Tischendorf.—P. S.]

FN#42 - Pseudo-Barnabas says, l. c.: “Thou (addressing the Jew) wilt say, ‘Yea, verily the people are circumcised for a seal.’ But so also is every Syrian and Arab, and all the priests of idols: are these, then, also within the bond of this covenant (or, according to the reading of Cod. Sin.: their covenant)? Yea, the Egyptians also practise circumcision.”—P. S.]

FN#43 - Tholuck means “the old Lutheran conception of circumcision,” and refers to Gerhard (Loc. Theol., vol. ix, pp12, 30), who teaches that circumcision was a sacrament of grace, in which the verbale elementum of Divine promise was connected with the material element.—P. S.]

FN#44 - The old Protestant divines speak of a threefold use of the law: 1. Usus politicus, or civilis (in the state, which can only be governed by laws); 2. usus elenchticus, or pædagogicus (leading to a knowledge of sin and misery); 3. usus didacticus, or normativus (regulating the life of the believer). Comp. the Formula Concordiæ p 594 sq. Similar to this is the German sentence, that the law is Zügel, Spiegel, and Riegel, a restraint, a mirror, and a rule.—P. S.]

FN#45 - Comp. Archbishop Tillotson, Sermon on 2 Timothy 2:19 (quoted by James Ford on Romans): “Baptism verily profiteth, if we obey the gospel; but if we walk contrary to the precepts of it, our baptism is no baptism, and our Christianity is heathenism.” We would say: worse than no baptism, worse than heathenism. For in proportion to the blessing intended, is the curse incurred by abuse. The case of an apostate Christian is far more hopeless than the case of an unconverted heathen. The one has Christianity behind him, the other before him; the one has deliberately cast it off, the other may thankfully embrace it.—P. S.]

Verses 21-31

Sixth Section.—The revelation of God’s righteousness without the law by faith in Christ for all sinners without distinction, by the representation of Christ as the Propitiator (“mercy-seat”). The righteousness of God in Christ as justifying righteousness.

Romans 3:21-26

Seventh Section—The annulling of man’s vain-glory (self-praise) by the law of faith. Justification by faith without the deeds of the law. First proof: from experience: God is the God of the Gentiles as well as of the Jews—proved by the actual faith of the Gentiles. True renewal of the law by faith.

Romans 3:27-31

21But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested [But now, apart from the law,[FN46] the righteousness of God hath been made manifest[FN47]], being 22 witnessed [testified to, attested] by the law and the prophets; Even[FN48] the righteousness of God which is by [by means of, through] faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all[FN49] them that believe; for there is no difference: 23For all have sinned [all sinned, i.e., they are all sinners],[FN50] and come [fall] short [ὑστεροῦνται, in the present tense] of the glory of God; 24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25Whom God hath [omit hath] set forth [προέθετο] to be a propitiation [mercy-seat][FN51] through [the[FN52]] faith [,] in his blood, to declare [for a manifestation (exhibition) of, εἰς ἔνδειξιν τῆς διχ.] his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past [because of the prætermission (non-visitation, passing by) of the former sins, διὰ τὴν (not τῆς) πάρεσιν (not τῆς) πάρεσιν][FN53] through [in, ἐν] the forbearance 26 of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness; that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus [with a view to the manifestation (exhibition, πρὸς τὴν[FN54] ἔςδειξιν) of his righteousness at this present time, in order that he may be (shown and seen to be) just and (yet at the same time) be justifying him who is of the faith of (in) Jesus, εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν δίχδιον χαὶ διχιοῦντα τὸν ἐχ πίστεως ̓ Ιησοῦ].[FN55]

27Where is [the] boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? [By the law] 8of works? Nay; but by the law of faith. Therefore [For][FN56] we conclude [judge] that a man is justified by faith[FN57] without the deeds [without 29 works] of the law.[FN58] [Or, ] Is he the God of the Jews only?[FN59] is he not also 30 of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing[FN60] it is one God, which shall [who will] justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: [Far be it!] yea, we establish[FN61] the law.


First Paragraph, Romans 3:21-26

Contrast between the saving time of justification and the old time of sin and death.

Romans 3:21. But now, νυνὶδέ.—Explanations of νυνί: 1. Contrast of times [at this time, under the gospel dispensation, = ἐν τῶ νῦν χαιρῶ, Romans 3:26]; (Grotius, Tholuck, Philippi [Olshausen, Wordsworth, Hodge], and others); 2. contrast of circumstances [as things are]: earlier dependence on the law, now independence of the law [διὰ νόμου—χωρὶς νόμου], (Pareus, Piscat, Meyer, De Wette [Fritzsche, Alford. In this sense the classics use only νῦν, not νυνί, but the latter is so used repeatedly in Hellenistic Greek]); 3. in soteriology the two contrasts of time and condition coincide.—Apart from the law [of Moses, χωρὶς νόμου]: 1. It is referred to πεφανέρωται (Luther, Tholuck, Meyer, and others); 2. to διχαιοσύνη (Augustine, Wolf [Reiche, Hodge], and others): the righteousness of God which the believer shares without the law [or rather, without works of the law, χωρὶς ἔργωνν όμου, Galatians 2:16]. The latter view is not correct. [Comp. διὰ νομου in Romans 3:20, which likewise belongs not to the noun ἐπίγνωσις, but to the verb to be supplied. Also Text. Note1.—P. S.]

[The righteousness of God. Comp. the Exeg. Notes on Romans 1:17. It is the righteousness which proceeds from God (gen. auctoris), which personally appeared in Christ, “who is our Righteousness,” and which is communicated to the believer for Christ’s sake in the act of justification by faith. It is both objective, or inherent in God and realized in Christ, and subjective, or imparted to man. It is here characterized by a series of antitheses: independent of the law, yet authenticated by the law and the prophets ( Romans 3:21); freely (δωρεάν) bestowed on the believer, yet fully paid for by the redemption price (διὰ τῆς ἀπολυτρώσεως) of Christ (24); intrinsically holy, yet justifying the sinner (26); thus uniting the character of the moral governor of the universe, and the merciful Father who provided a free salvation.—P. S.]

Has been made manifest, πεφανέρωται. This is now the complete revelation of righteousness; as John 1:17 represents the complete revelation of grace and truth; and as Ephesians 1:19 represents the complete revelation of omnipotence. All are single definitions of the completed New Testament revelation itself. The expression does not absolutely presuppose “the previous concealment in God’s council” (Meyer).[FN62] For the Old Testament was the increasing revelation of God, also in reference to righteousness. But compared with this completeness, the growing revelation was still as a veil.—Being testified to [μαρτυρουμένη, put first with reference to χωρὶς νόμου, which it qualifies] by the law and the prophets [i.e., the Old Testament Scriptures; Matthew 5:17; Matthew 7:12; Matthew 22:40, &c.; just as we now say the Bible. νόμου has here, as Bengel remarks, a wider sense than in the preceding χωρὶς νόμου.—P. S.] There is therefore no contradiction between the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament is in substance a prophetic witness of the New, and therefore also of the righteousness of faith (see chap4, and Romans 10:6; Acts 10:43; chap15). And not only do the prophets ( Isaiah 28:16; Habakkuk 2:4) testify to this righteousness, but so does the law also in its stricter sense (the patriarchs, &c.); yea, even its strictest sense; for example, the law of the sin-offering ( Leviticus 16). [Augustine: Novum Testamentum in Vetere latet; Vetus T. in Novo patet. See the proof in chap 4 from the case of Abraham and the declarations of David.—P. S.]

[These parallel passages, to which may be added Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 4:13; Philippians 3:9; James 2:1; Revelation 14:12, seem to me conclusive in favor of the usual interpretation that our faith in Christ is meant here; comp. also τὸν ἐχ πίστεως Ιησοῦ, Romans 3:26. But Dr. Lange strongly fortifies his new interpretation: Christ’s faithfulness, to us, taking Ἰησοῦ Χριστο as the genitive of the subject.—P. S.] The explanation of Benecke, the faithfulness of Christ, is overlooked even by Tholuck. We make it, Christ’s believing faithfulness [Glaubenstreue]. Reasons: 1. The πίστις θεοῦ ( Romans 3:3), and the coherency of the ideas, πιστεύεσθαι, πιστεύειν, and πίστις θεοῦ, in opposition to the ideas: ἀπιστέω, ἀπιστία, and corresponding with the ideas: righteousness of God, righteousness of Christ, righteousness by faith2. The addition in this passage of εἰς πάντας χαὶ πάντας χαὶ επὶ πάντας; with which we must compare Romans 1:17, ἐξ πίστεως. 3. The passages, Galatians 3:22; Ephesians 3:12; comp. Hebrews 12:2. As to His knowledge, Christ of course did not walk by faith, but by sight; but as regards the moral principle of faith—confidence and faithfulness—He is the Prince of faith4. We cannot say of the righteousness of God, that it was first revealed by faith in Christ. The revelation of God’s righteousness in the faithfulness of Christ is the ground of justifying faith, but faith is not the ground of this Revelation 5. So also the διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν τῶ αὐτοῦ αἵματι, Romans 3:25, cannot be regarded as substantiating the ἱλαστήριον.

Unto all and upon all.. The εἰς denotes the direction, the ideal dynamic determination of the διχαιοσύνη; the ἐπὶ, the fulfilment, the appropriation. [This must, of course, not be understood in a Universalistic sense. See Textual Note4.—P. S.] Both prepositions have been combined in various ways as identical, and explained as strengthening the thought for all (thus Rückert, and others); on the contrary, Theodoret, Œcumenius, and others, have arbitrarily referred εἰς to the Jews, and ἐπί to the Gentiles; according to Morus, and others, χαὶ ἐπί, &c, is construed as a further explanation of the εἰς πάντας.

For there is no difference. On account of γάρ, this clause refers to the former. There is neither a difference between Jews and Gentiles, nor, in reference to the necessity of justification, is there a difference between those who have shown themselves, according to Romans 2:7 ff, doers or transgressors of the law.

Romans 3:23. For all sinned [they are all sinners; Luther: sie sind allzumal Sünder]. They sinned, in the sense that they have become sinners. Therefore aor. (II.), and not perfect. They sinned in such a way that they are still sinning.[FN65] But their righteousness was altogether lost when their transgression began.—And fall short of the glory [ὑστεροῦνται, in the present tense. All sinned, and consequently they come short]. τῆς δόξης. Explanations: 1. Glorying before God, gloriatio[FN66] (Erasmus, Luther, Rosenmüller and others). 2. The δόξα θεοῦ as the image of God (Flacius, Chemnitz, Rückert, Olshausen; see 1 Corinthians 11:7). 3. The glory of eternal life [as in Romans 3:2], (Œcumenius, Glöckler, &c, Beza, Bengel, as sharing in the glory of God). 4. Honor before God, i.e., in the estimation of God (Calvin [gloria quœ coram Deo locum habet], Köllner). 5. The honor which God gives, i.e., the approbation of God (the genit. auct.); Piscat, Grotius, Philippi, Meyer [Fritzsche, De Wette, Alford, Hodge]. Tholuck: The declaration of honor, like the declaration of righteousness.[FN67] This would give the strange sense: because they lack the declaration of righteousness on the part of God, they are to be declared righteous. It must not be overlooked that men belong here who, as inward Jews, according to Romans 2:29, have already ἔπαινος ἐχθεοῦ. Certainly, the question is concerning righteousness before God, because the question concerns God’s judicial tribunal. But what men were wanting since Adam’s fall, is not the righteousness of justification—for it is by this that that want is to be supplied—but the righteousness of life (not to be confounded with the righteousness by the works of the law), as the true glory or radiance of life [δόξα in the sense of splendor, majesty, perfection, Lange translates it: Gerechtigkeitsglanz, Lebensruhm.—P. S.]. But as the διχαιοσύνη of man must come from the διχαιοσύνη of God in order to avail before Him, so also the δόξα. Therefore the alternative, from God or before God, is a wrong alternative.[FN68] But the supply is equal to the want: the διχαιοσύνη of Christ becomes the διχαιοσύνη of the believer, and therefore Christ’s δόξα his δόξα ( Romans 8).[FN69]

Romans 3:24. Being justified freely.[FN70]. The participle διχαιούμενοι, in connection with what follows, specifies both the mode by which their want of Divine δόξα becomes perfectly manifest, and the opposite which comes to supply this want. The διχαιοῦσθαι does not merely come to supply the want of glory (according to Luther’s translation: and are justified [Peshito, Fritzsche, = χαὶ διχαιοῦνται]), but by the διχαιοῦσθαι, the fact of that ὑστεροῦσθαι becomes perfectly apparent. The individual judgment and the individual deliverance are, in fact, joined into one: repentance and faith; hunger and thirst after righteousness, and fulness.

[Note on the Scripture meaning of διχαιόω.—Διχαιούμενοι depends grammatically on ὑστεροῦνται, but contains in fact the main idea: ut qui justificentur (Beza, Tholuck, Meyer). This is the locus classicus of the doctrine of justification by free grace through faith in Christ, in its inseparable connection with the atonement, as its objective basis. The verb διχαιόω occurs forty times in the New Testament (twice in Matthew, five times in Luke, twice in Acts, twenty-seven times in Paul’s Epistles, three times in James, once in the Apocalypse. In the Gospel and Epistles of John, as also in Peter and James, the verb never occurs, although they repeatedly use the noun διχαιοσύνη and the adjective δίχαιος). It must be taken here, as nearly always in the Bible, in the declaratory, forensic or judicial sense, as distinct from, though by no means opposed to, or abstractly separated from, a mere executive act of pardoning, and an efficient act of making just inwardly or sanctifying. It denotes an act of jurisdiction, the pronouncing of a sentence, not the infusion of a quality. This is the prevailing Hellenistic usage, corresponding to the Hebrew הִצְדִּיק. Comp, for the Old Testament, the Septuagint in Genesis 38:26; Genesis 44:16; Exodus 23:7 (οὐδιχαιώσεις); Deuteronomy 25:1; 2 Samuel 15:4; 1 Kings 8:32; Psalm 82:3; Proverbs 17:15; Isaiah 5:23; for the New Testament, Matthew 12:37; Luke 10:29; Luke 16:15; Luke 18:14 (where δεδιχαιωμένος evidently refers to the publican’s prayer for forgiveness of sin); Acts 13:39; Romans 2:13; Romans 3:4; Romans 3:20; Romans 3:24; Romans 3:26; Romans 3:28; Romans 3:30; Romans 4:2; Romans 4:5; v1, 9; Romans 8:30; Romans 8:33; 1 Corinthians 4:4; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Galatians 2:16-17; Galatians 3:8; Galatians 3:11; Galatians 3:24; Galatians 5:4; Titus 3:7; James 2:21-25; Revelation 22:11. There Isaiah, to my knowledge, no passage in the New Testament, and only two or three in the Septuagint ( Psalm 73:13 : ἐδιχαίωσα τὴν χαρδίαν; Isaiah 53:11 :διχαιῶσαι δίχαιον; comp. Daniel 12:3 : מַצְדִּיקֵי הָרַבִּים), where διχαιόω means to make just, or, to lead to righteousness. The declarative sense is especially apparent in those passages where man is said to justify God, who is just, and cannot be made just, but only accounted and acknowledged as just; Luke 7:29; Luke 7:35; Matthew 11:19; Romans 3:4 (from Psalm 51:5); comp. also 1 Timothy 3:16, where Christ is said to be justified in spirit.

The declarative and forensic meaning of the phrase, διχαιοῦσθαι, may be proven (1) from the opposite phrase, διχαιοῦσθαι ἐχ νόμου, which is equivalent to διχαιοῦσθαι παρὰ τῶ θεῶεν νόμῳ, Galatians 3:11 (or ἐξ ἔργων νόμου, Galatians 3:10), or ἐνώπιοναὐτοῦ, Romans 3:20; i.e., to be justified in the sight or in the judgment of God; (2) from the term λογίζειν εἰς διχαιοσύνην, to account for righteous, which is used in the same sense as διχαιοῦν, Romans 4:3; Romans 4:5; Romans 4:9; Romans 4:23-24; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23, and is almost equivalent with σώζειν, to save (comp. Romans 5:9-10; Romans 10:9-10; Romans 10:13; Ephesians 2:5 ff.); (3) from the use of the opposite word to condemn, e.g., Proverbs 17:15 : “He that justifieth (מַּצְדִּיק, LXX.: δίχαιον χρίνει) the wicked, and he that condemneth (מַרְשִׁשִׁיעַ) the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord,” in the translation of the Vulgate: “Qui justificat impium et qui condemnat justum, abominabilis est uterque apud Deum.” He who would implant righteousness in a wicked Prayer of Manasseh, or lead him into the way of righteousness, would doubtless be acceptable to God. So also Matthew 12:37 : “By thy words shalt thou be justified (διχαιωθήσῃ), and by thy words thou shalt be condemned (χαταδιχασθήσῃ).

The corresponding noun, διχαίωσις (which occurs only twice in the New Testament, viz, Romans 4:25; Romans 5:18), justification (Rechtfertigung), is the opposite of χατάχριμα, condemnation; comp. Matthew 12:37; Romans 8:1; Romans 8:33-34; hence the antithesis of χρῖμα είς διχαίωσιν and χρῖμα εἰς χατάχριμα, Romans 5:16; Romans 5:18. Justification implies, negatively, the remission of sins (ἄφεσις τῶν ἁμαρτιᾶν), and, positively, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, or the adoption (υἱοθεσία, Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5).

No human being can so keep the law of God, which demands perfect love to Him and to our neighbor, that on the ground of his own works he could ever be declared righteous before the tribunal of a holy God. He can only be so justified freely, without any merit of his own, on the objective ground of the perfect righteousness of Christ, as apprehended, and thus made subjective by a living faith, or life-union with Him. This justifying grace precedes every truly good work on our part, but is at the same time the actual beginning of all good works. There is no true holiness except on the ground of the atonement and the remission of sin, and the holiness of the Christian is but a manifestation of love and gratitude for the boundless mercy of God already received and constantly experienced.

This I take to be the true evangelical or Pauline view of justification, in opposition to the interpretation of Roman Catholics and Rationalists, who, from opposite standpoints, agree in taking διχαιόω in the sense of making just, or sanctifying, and in regarding good works as a joint condition, with faith, of progressive justification. The objection that God cannot pronounce a man just if he is not so in fact, has force only against that mechanical and exclusively forensic view which resolves justification into a sort of legal fiction, or a cold, lifeless imputation, and separates it from the broader and deeper doctrine of a life-union of the believer with Christ. Certainly God, unlike any human Judges, is absolutely true and infallible; He speaks, and it is done; His declaratory acts are creative, efficient acts. But Mark, the sinner is not justified outside of Christ, but only in Christ, on the ground of His perfect sacrifice, and on condition of true faith, by which he actually becomes one with Christ, and a partaker of His holy life. Song of Solomon, when God declares him righteous, he is righteous potentially, “a new creature in Christ;” old things having passed away, and all things having become new ( 1 Corinthians 5:7). And God, who sees the end from the beginning, sees also the full-grown fruit in the germ, and by His gracious promise assures its growth. Justifying faith is itself a work of Divine grace in us, and the fruitful source of all our good works. On the part of God, then, and in point of fact, the actus declaratorius can indeed not be abstractly separated from the actus efficiens: the same grace which justifies, does also renew, regenerate, and sanctify; faith and love, justification and sanctification, are as inseparable in the life of the Christian, as light and heat in the rays of the sun. “When God doth justify the ungodly,” says Owen (on Justification, vol. v. p127, Goold’s ed.), “on account of the righteousness imputed unto him, He doth at the same instant, by the power of His grace, make him inherently and subjectively righteous, or holy.” Nevertheless, we must distinguish in the order of logic. Justification, like regeneration (which is the corresponding and simultaneous or preceding inner operation of the Holy Spirit), is a single Acts, sanctification a continuous process; they are related to each other like birth and growth; justification, moreover, depends not at all on what man is or has done, but on what Christ has done for us in our nature; and, finally, good works are no cause or condition, but a consequence and manifestation of justification. Comp. Doctrinal and Ethical, No5, below; also the Exeg. Notes on Romans 1:17; Romans 2:13; Romans 3:20.—P. S.]

Freely. δωρεάν, as a gift, gratis, not by merit ( Romans 4:4; comp. 2 Thessalonians 3:8). [Comp. also ἡδωρεὰ τῆς διχαιοσύνης, Romans 5:17, and θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον, Ephesians 2:3.—P. S.]—By his grace. The idea of grace denotes the union of God’s love and righteousness, the highest manifestation of His favor, which, by its voluntary operation, as love, destroys the sinner’s guilt freely, and which, as righteousness, destroys the guilt on conditions of justice. [Grace—i.e., God’s love to the sinner, saving love, is the efficient cause, redemption by the blood of Christ the objective means, faith the subjective condition, of justification αὐτοῦ is emphatically put before χάριτι. Justification on the part of God is an act of pure grace ( Ephesians 2:8-10; Galatians 2:21), and χάρις is the very opposite of μισθὸς ἔργων or ὀφείλημα ( Romans 4:4; Romans 11:6). Faith, on our part, is not a meritorious Acts, but simply the acceptance and appropriation of God’s free gift, and is itself wrought in us by God’s Spirit, without whom no one can call Jesus Lord ( 1 Corinthians 12:3).—P. S.]

Through the redemption, ἀπολύτρωσις. The grace of God is marked as the causality of this ἀπολύτρωσις. This is therefore to be regarded here as the most general view of the fact of redemption, as is also plain from the addition, τῆςἐν Χ.’ Ι. [in Christ, not through Christ; comp. [Hodge: Redemption from the wrath of God by the blood of Christ. Philippi, Alford, and others: deliverance from the guilt and punishment of sin by the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ. The one of course implies the other.—P. S.]

Romans 3:25.[FN72] Whom God set forth. Explanations of προέθετο: 1. Previously purposed, designed, decreed (Chrysostom, Œcumenius, Fritzsche [Forbes], and others, with reference to Ephesians 1:9);[FN73] 2. Kypke: substituit, nostro loco dedit. Against the meaning of προτίθημι.[FN74] 3. Publicly set forth (Vulgate, Luther, Beza, Bengel, De Wette, Philippi, Meyer, Tholuck [E. V, Alford, Hodge; also Delitzsch, Comm. on Heb., 9:5]). Meyer: “This signification of προτιθημι, well known from the Greek usage (Herod, 3:148; Romans 6:21; Plato’s Phœdr., p115, E, &c.), must be decidedly accepted, because of the correlation to εἰς ἔνδειξιν.”[FN75] The peculiar interest of God is indicated by the middle voice. It was manifested through the crucifixion; compare the discourse of Jesus, in John, where He compares Himself with the serpent of Moses; John 3[FN76]

This explanation acquires its full weight by the following ἱλαστήριον, a substantive of neuter form, made from the adjective ἱλαστήριος, which relates to expiatory acts; see the Lexicons. In the Septuagint especially it is the designation of the mercy-seat, or the lid or cover of the ark, כַּפֹּרֶת, which was sprinkled by the high-priest with the blood of the sin-offering once a year, on the great day of atonement [and over which appeared the shekinah, or δόξα τοῦ χυρίου; Leviticus 16:13-16; Exodus 25:17-22. Comp Bähr: Symbolik des mosaischen Cultus, 1837, vol. i, p379 ff, 387 ff, and Lundius, Jüd. Heiligthümer, Hamb1711, p 33 ff.—P. S.]. Besides, the settle, or lower platform [עֲזָרָה] of the altar of burnt-offering [ Ezekiel 43:14; Ezekiel 43:17; Ezekiel 43:20] was so named [because the Asarah, like the Capporeth, was to be sprinkled with the blood of atonement, or because it was the platform from which the sin-offering was offered.—P. S.]. See also Exodus 25:22, and other places. Explanations: 1. Expiatory sacrifice, sin-offering (Sühnopfer).[FN77] Some supply θῦμα [which, however, is unnecessary, ἱλαστήριον being used as a noun]. (So Clericus, Reiche, De Wette, Köllner, Fritzsche [Meyer, Alford, Conybeare and Howson, Jowett, Wordsworth, Hodge, Ewald]). 2. Means of propitiation [Sühnmittel] (Vulgate: propitiatio; Castellio: placamentum; Morus, Usteri, Rückert).[FN78] 3. The mercy-seat, or covering of the ark of the covenant [Origen, Theodoret, Theophylact, Augustine], (Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Grotius, Calov, Olshausen, Philippi [Tholuck, Forbes]). Against the first exposition it may be urged: (a.) The expiatory offering is not brought to man on God’s part, but man brings it to God by the high-priest (see Philippi)[FN79] (b). The offering is not publicly set forth. (c). The permanence of the operation of the offering requires another expression, and this is Christ crucified as the permanent atonement itself. This sets aside also the second explanation, which, moreover, is too abstract (Meyer). Arguments in favor of the third explanation: (a.) The Septuagint [uniformly] has translated כּפֹּרֶת ἱλαστήριον ( Exodus 25:18-21, &c. [twenty-six passages according to Fürst’s Hebrew Concordance]).[FN80] (b.) In Hebrews 9:5, ίλαστήριον means the mercy-seat. (c.) This view is sustained by the idea pervading the whole Epistle, of the contrast between the old worship, which was partly heathen and partly only symbolical, and the real New Testament worship. The verb προέθετο [ad spectandum proponere] likewise favors it.[FN81] As, according to John 1:14, the δόξα, or Shekinah, openly appeared in the person of Christ from the secrecy of the Holy of holies, and has dwelt among men, Song of Solomon, according to the present passage, is the ἱλαστήριον set forth from the Holy of holies into the publicity of the whole world for believers. See Zechariah 13:1; the open fountain. (d.) The ἱλαστήριον unites as symbol the different elements of the atonement. As the covering of the ark of the covenant itself, it is the throne of the divine government of the cherubim above, and the preservation of the law, with its requirements, below. But with the sprinkled blood of expiation, it is a sacrifice offered to God, and therefore the satisfaction for the demands of the divine law below. Also Philo called the covering of the ark of the covenant the symbol of the gracious majesty [ἵλεωδυνάμεως] of God [Vit. Mos., p668; comp. Josephus, Antiq. iii6, 5.—P. S.].

Meyer [admits that this interpretation agrees with the usage of the word, especially in the LXX, and gives good sense by representing Christ as the anti-typical Capporeth, or mercy-seat; but, nevertheless, he] urges against it the following objections:[FN82] (a.) That ἱλαστήριον is without the article. But this would exclude the antitype, the Old Testament ἱλαστήριον. The requisite articulation is here in ἐν τῷ αὐτοῦ αἵματι. [With more reason we might miss ἀληθινόν. Christ may be called our pascha, or the true pascha, or the true mercy-seat, rather than simply pascha or mercy-seat. Yet this is by no means conclusive.—P. S.] (b.) The name, in its application to Christ, is too abrupt. Answer: Since there must be a place of expiation for every expiatory offering, the conceptions of places and offerings of expiation must have been quite familiar to the readers, not merely to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles, although here the idea is connected with the Old Testament symbol. (c.) If Christ should be conceived as Capporeth, then the εἰςἔνδειξιν τῆς διχαὶοσύνης αὐτοῦ would be improper, since the Capporeth must much rather appear as ἔνδειξις of divine grace. This objection rests simply on a defective understanding of the Pauline idea of righteousness (see above). According to Paul, righteousness is not merely condemnatory and putting to death, but, in its perfect Revelation, also delivering and quickening. Grace itself is called, on one side, righteousness, on the other, love. (d.) The conception of Christ as the antitype of the mercy-seat nowhere returns in the whole New Testament. Answer: Likewise the types of Christ as the antitype of the brazen serpent ( John 3:14), and Christ as the curse-offering ( Galatians 3:13), and others, only occur once. (e.) It has also been objected [but not by Meyer], that the image does not suit, because the covering of the ark and the sprinkling of the blood were two different things. [Hodge: “It is common to speak of the blood of a sacrifice, but not of the blood of the mercy-seat.”] In reply to this, even Meyer observes: Christ is both sacrifice and high-priest.—On the ignorantly contemptuous manner in which Rückert and Fritzsche criticise the proper explanation, see Tholuck. [Fritzsche dismisses this interpretation with a frivolous “valeat absurda explicatio.”—P. S.]

Through faith in his blood [διὰ πίστεω ς, ἐν τῷ αὐτοῦ αἵματι]. Different interpretations: 1. By faith on His blood (ἐν instead of εἰς; Luther, Calvin, Beza, Olshausen [Tholuck, Hodge], and others). Although the language will permit this view, the thought is not only obscure, but incorrect, that God, by faith on the blood of Christ, should have made Christ himself the throne of grace for humanity. Faith, in this sense, is a consequens, but not an antecedent, of the established propitiation2. The same objection holds good against the construction of Meyer, and others, by which both clauses, διὰ τῆς πίστ. and ἐν τῷ αὐτοῦ αἵματι, should refer coördinately to προέθετο; namely, so that faith would be the subjective condition, and the blood of Christ the objective means of the setting forth of Christ as the expiatory offering.[FN83] An objective condition should precede the subjective one, and the propitiation exists before faith, in the sense of the New Testament idea of salvation. Faith is therefore the completed faithfulness of Christ (see Romans 3:22), which, in the blood of His sacrificial death, has become the eternal spiritual manifestation and power for the world. [As in Romans 3:22, I beg leave here to differ from this unusual interpretation of πίστις, and understand this, with other commentators, more naturally of our faith in Christ; comp. τὸν ἐχ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ at the close of Romans 3:26. If it meant the faithfulness of Christ, the Apostle would probably have added αὐτοῦ, as he did before αἵματι. It is better to separate the two classes by a comma after “faith.—The blood of Christ means His holy life offered to God as an expiatory sacrifice for the sins of the world. It is like a healing fountain sending forth streams through the channel of faith to wash away the guilty stains of sin.—P. S.]

For the demonstration of his righteousness [εἰς ἔνδειξιν τῆς διχαιοσύνης αὐτοῦ]. In order to perfectly reveal and establish it. The divergent interpretations of the word διχαιοσύνη indicate how difficult it has been for theology to regard God’s righteousness as grace which produces righteousness. Truthfulness [contrary to the meaning of διχαιοσύνη], (Ambrose, Beza [Turretin, Hammond], and others); goodness (Theodoret, Grotius [Koppe, Reiche, Tittmann], and others); holiness (Neander, Fritzsche [Lipsius]); judicial righteousness (Meyer[FN84] [De Wette, Tholuck, Philippi, Alford, Wordsworth, Hodge]); justifying, or sin-forgiving righteousness (Chrysostom, Augustine, and others); the righteousness which God gives [which would be a superfluous repetition of Romans 3:21, and inconsistent with Romans 3:26,] (Luther, and others); [Stuart, and others: God’s method of justification, which διχαιοσύνη never means.—P. S.]. It is rather the righteousness of God in the fulness of its revelation, as it proceeds from God, requires and accomplishes through Christ the expiation of the law, and institutes the righteousness of faith by justification as the principle of the righteousness of the new life.[FN85] For the righteousness of God, like His truth, omnipotence, and love, forms an unbroken and direct beam from His heart, until it appears in renewed humanity.

Because of (or, on account of) the prætermission (passing over), [i. e., because He had allowed the sins of the race which were committed before Christ’s death to pass by unpunished, whereby His righteousness was obscured, and hence the need of a demonstration or manifestation in the atoning sacrifice, that fully justified the demands of righteousness, and at the same time effected a complete remission of sins, and justification of the sinner.—P. S.]. The πάρεσις must not be confounded with the ἄφεσις, as Cocceius has proved in a special treatise, De utilitate distinctions inter et ἄφεσιν (Opp. t. vii.). [Comp. Textual Note8.] The judicial government of God was not administered in the ante-Christian period, either by the sacrificial fire of the Israelitish theocracy, or by the manifestations of wrath to the old world, both Jews and Gentiles, as a perfect and general judgment. Notwithstanding all the relative punishments and propitiations, God allowed sin, in its full measure, especially in its inward character, to pass unpunished in the preliminary stages of expiation and judgment, until the day of the completed revelation of His righteousness. For this reason, the time of the πάρεσις is denoted as the time of the ἀνοχή. God permitted the Gentiles to walk in their own ways ( Psalm 81:12; Psalm 147:20; Acts 14:16); He overlooked, or winked at, the times of this ignorance ( Acts 17:30). But among the Jews, one of the two goats which was let loose in the wilderness on the great day of atonement, represented symbolically the πἀρεσις ( Leviticus 16:10). This is not only a transcendent fact, but one that is also immanent in the world. The fact that the administrators of the theocracy, in connection with the Gentile world, have crucified Christ, proves the inability of the theocracy to afford a fundamental relief of the world from guilt.[FN86]Of sins previously committed. The sins of the whole world are meant, but as an aggregate of individual sins; because righteousness does not punish sin until it has become manifest and mature in actual individual sins. [Comp. the similar expression, Hebrews 9:15 : εἰς ἀπολύτρωσιν τῶν ἐπὶ τῇ πρώτῃ διαθήχῃ παραβάσεων. This parallel passage, as well as tile words ἐν τῷ νῦν χαιρῷ, in Romans 3:26, plainly show that the προγεγονότα ἀμαρτήματα are not the sins of each man which precede his conversion (Calov, Mehring, and others), but the sins of all men before the advent, or, more correctly speaking, before the atoning death of Christ. Comp. also Acts 15:30 : τοὺς χρόνους τῆς ἀγνοίας ὑπεριδῶν θεός. Philippi confines the expression to the sins of the Jewish people, in strict conformity to Hebrews 9:15; but here the Apostle had just proven the universal sinfulness and guilt, and now speaks of the universal redemption of Christ.—P. S.]

Romans 3:25-26. Under the forbearance of God for the demonstration [Unter der Geduld Gottes zu der Erweisung, ἐν τῇ ἀνοχῇ τοῦ θεοῦ, &c.]. Construction: 1. Œcumenius, Luther [Rückert, Ewald, Hodge], and others, refer the ανοχή to προγεγονότων [i.e., committed during the forbearance of God; comp. Acts 17:20. This gives good sense, but would require, as Meyer says, a different position of the words, viz, τῶν ἁμαρτ. τῶν προγεγον. ἐν τῇ ἀν τ. θ.—P. S.]. 2. Meyer refers the forbearance to πάρεσις, in consequence of indulgence or toleration, as the ground of the passing over. [So also Philippi]. 3. Reiche: εἰς ἔνδειξιν τῆς διχαιοσύνης; the διχαιοσ. having been manifested partly in the forgiveness of sins, and partly in the delay of punishment. [This implies a wrong view of διὰ and διχαιοσ.; Meyer.—P. S.] 4. We connect the ἀνοχή with the following πρὸς τὴν ἔνδειξιν ( Romans 3:26) into one idea,[FN87] and suppose here a brief form of expression, by which προγεγονότων must be again supplied before ἀνοχή. The πἀρεσις must by all means be connected with the ἀνοχή; but it is not operative by virtue of this alone. The πάρεσις denotes the old time as the period of God’s prevailing forbearance, to the end that He may reveal His perfect righteousness in the future decisive time. The πἀρεσις, on the contrary, appeared at that time as the supplement of the propitiatory and retributive judgments which had already commenced as preliminaries. For this reason, the εἰς ἔνδειξιν ( Romans 3:25) is not the same as πρὸς τὴν ἔνδειξιν ( Romans 3:26). The first ἔνδειξις, as the judicial righteousness revealing itself in the blood of Christ, has supplemented the πάρεσις. The second ἔνδειξις is the purpose of the ἀνοχή, the fully accomplished ἔνδειξις, which branches off in penal righteousness, and in justifying righteousness to him who “is of the faith of Jesus, and draws faith from His fountain of faith.” The εἰς should therefore not be confounded with the πρός (Meyer).[FN88]

[At this present time, ἐν τῷ νῦν χαιρῷ, not opposed to ἰν τῇ ἁνοχῆ (Bengel, Hodge), but rather to πρό in προγεγονότων, and added emphatically. The time of Christ is a time of critical decision, when the πάρεσις is at an end, and man must either accept the full remission (ἄφεσις) of sin, or expose himself to the judgment of a righteous God.—P. S.]—That He may be just and the justifier, &c. [εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν δίχαιον χαὶ διχαιοῦντα τὸν ἐχπίστεως ̓Ιησοῦ. The εἰς expresses not merely the result, but the design of God in exhibiting Christ to the world as the mercy-seat.—P. S.] We emphasize αὐτόν, one and the same (ein und derselbe).[FN89] That He may be—that Isaiah, that He may plainly appear [and be recognized by men in this twofold character as the Just One and the Justifier of the sinner]. The righteousness of God in the death of Christ has fully revealed that which the human view of the early and later times found so difficult to grasp; namely, righteousness and forbearance or love in one spirit, condemnation and deliverance in one Acts, killing and giving new life in one operation.

[Bengel: “Summum hic habetur paradoxon evangelicum; nam in lege conspicitur Deus justus et condemnans, in evangelio justus, ipse et justificans peccatorem.” This apparent contradiction is solved, objectively, in the love of God, which is the beginning and the end of his ways; and, subjectively, in faith (τὸν ἐχ πίστεως), by which the sinner becomes one with Christ. In the death of Christ, God punished sin and saved the sinner, and Divine justice was vindicated in the fullest display and triumph of redeeming love. Not that the Father poured the vials of His wrath upon His innocent and beloved Son (as the doctrine is sometimes caricatured), but the Son voluntarily, in infinite love, and by the eternal counsel and with the consent of the holy and merciful Father, assumed the whole curse of sin, and, as the representative head of the human family, in its stead and for its benefit, He fully satisfied the demands of Divine justice by His perfect, active and passive obedience. His sacrifice, as the sacrifice of the eternal Son of God in union with human nature, without sin, is of infinite value both as to extent and duration; while the Old Testament sacrifices were merely anticipatory, preparatory, and temporary. Justification is here represented as the immediate effect of Christ’s atoning death. On διχαιόω, comp. the Exeg. Notes on Romans 3:24, and also Doctrinal, below, No5. Wordsworth has a long note here on the doctrine of justification. He likewise maintains that διχαιόω (and הִצְדִּיק) in the LXX. and in the New Testament means, not to make righteous, but to account and declare righteous, and to regard and treat as such, in opposition to condemning and pronouncing guilty. But he insists also, that we are actually made righteous by our union with Christ, and that God’s righteousness is not only imputed, but also imparted to us in Him who is “the Lord our Righteousness.” This work of infusion of grace, however, is not properly called justification, but sanctification. Comp. Romans 6:22 : “Being freed from sin, and made servants unto God—i.e., being justified—ye have your fruit unto holiness—this is sanctification.—P. S.]

Second Paragraph; ( Romans 3:27-31)

Romans 3:27. Where, then, is the boasting? This announces the great conclusion from the foregoing. The lively expression of the paragraph arises from the triumphant confidence of the Apostle. [Bengel: ποῦ, particula victoriosa.] The χαύχημα [gloriatio] is certainly not the same as χαύχημα [gloriandi materia], subject of boasting (Reiche); but yet it is not exactly bragging (Meyer), since in many persons boasting of the law arose from dogmatic error. Jewish boasting is especially meant here,[FN90] but not exclusively, for the general conclusion is here drawn in reference to the righteousness of the Jews and Gentiles (see Romans 3:19). With the negation of the χαύχησις, the χαύχημα is also denied at the same time.—It is excluded. Perhaps the expression is here chosen with reference to the limits of the court of justice. The law excludes unqualified plaintiffs and defendants.—By what law? (By the law) of works? Since the Mosaic law was a law of works in form only, and not in spirit (see Romans 7:7), the question presupposes that there is no such law of works; the spirit of the law is the law of faith. But the meaning of the question itself is: the law, as such, erroneously made a mere law of works, is too imperfectly developed in its operation to exclude boasting (see Matthew 19:20.—By the law of faith. According to Meyer, the Apostle speaks of the law of faith because the gospel prescribes faith as the condition of salvation. According to Tholuck and De Wette, the word νόμος has here the idea of a religious rule (norma).[FN91] But, according to Romans 3:31, the Apostle will completely establish the same law, for the making void of which the Jew charged him. The same revealed law which, in its analytical character—that Isaiah, in its single commandments—bears the appearance of a law of single works, Isaiah, in its synthetical character, recognized as one, a law of faith ( Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Mark 12:29; James 2:10); because, as our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ, it leads to faith, and in Him first comes to man as the objective principle of faith, and then, as the subjective principle of faith, it becomes the law of the new life. [With νόμος πίστεως, comp. ὑπαχοὴ πίστεως, Romans 1:5; νόμος τοῦ πνεύματος τῆς ζωῆς, Romans 8:2; ἔννομος Χριστοῦ, 1 Corinthians 9:21; νόμος τέλειος τῆς ἐλευθερίας, James 1:25; James 2:12—all going to show that the liberty of the gospel has nothing to do with license and antinomianism.—P. S.]

Romans 3:28. Therefore [For] we judge. λογιζόμεθα [censemus, comp. Romans 2:3; Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 11:5], is not, we infer, nor merely, we think, reckon (Tholuck [Alford, Hodge]), which, with the reading γάρ, would not even make good sense. The expression, “For we think,” would be an odd method of demonstration. It is not the subjective fact of justification which establishes the objective economy of salvation already described; but it is this objective economy which, on the one hand, excludes false justification namely, that which is by works; and, on the other hand, establishes real justification, that which is by faith. We must consider also that the Apostle lays down the statement of Romans 3:28 as the principal proposition to the entire following argument, but will not apply it as proof for the negative statement, that man is not justified by works.—By faith [πίστει = διὰ πίστεως, instrumental cause]. Luther’s addition of alone [durch den Glauben allein] is defended by Tholuck (the Nuremberg edition of the Bible of 1483 also reads, only by faith). Meyer properly remarks: It does not belong to the translation, but it is justified by the context as an explanation.[FN92]Without works of the law. This naturally refers to διχαιοῦσθαι, but not to faith. In the process of justification, the works of the law do not come into coöperation. [Hodge: “To be justified without works, is to be justified without any thing in ourselves to merit justification. The works of the law must be the works of the moral law, because the proposition is general, embracing Gentiles as well as Jews. The Apostle excludes every thing subjective. He places the ground of justification out of ourselves.” Yet faith is something subjective, by which the objective ground of justification is personally appropriated, and made available for our benefit.—P. S.]

Romans 3:29. Or is he the God of the Jews only? [Or, in case that what was said in Romans 3:28 should be called in doubt. Romans 3:29-30 furnish an additional striking proof for Romans 3:28; Meyer.—P. S.] εἶναι τινος, to belong to some one. The Rabbinical, and subsequently the Talmudic Jews, certainly assumed that God was merely the God of the Jews (see Tholuck, p162. Meyer refers to Eisenmenger’s Entdecktes Judenthum, i. p587).—Paul can declare, without further proof: Yes, of the Gentiles also. The Apostle does not have here in mind chiefly the utterances of the prophets, as Tholuck supposes, but the same fact of Christian experience to which Peter refers, Acts 10:46 ff; Acts 15:9; and to which he himself refers in Galatians 3:5. The Old Testament witnesses were explained and confirmed by the fact of the salvation of the Gentiles by faith, by which fact also his apostleship to the Gentiles was first completely sealed (see 1 Corinthians 9:2). [God is not a national, but a universal God, and offers salvation to Gentiles and Jews on precisely the same terms. Hodge: “These sublime truths are so familiar to our minds, that they have, in a measure, lost their power; but as to the Jew, enthralled all his life in his narrow national and religious prejudices, they must have expanded his whole soul with unwonted emotions of wonder, gratitude, and joy.—P. S.]

Romans 3:30. Seeing it is one God. The ἐπείπερ, since [alldieweil, introducing something that cannot be doubted]. According to Meyer, the weight of the proof rests on the unity of God, Monotheism; but the context puts the weight upon the fact that the justification of the Jews and Gentiles as one divine fact—which therefore appears to be divided into two parts—must be traced to one and the same God.—The future διχαιώσει is certainly not used for the present διχαιοῖ (Grotius [more Hebrœorum], and others), still less does it refer to the universal judgment (Beza, Fritzsche); but it assumes the experience that Jews and Gentiles are already justified, in order to give prominence to the future established by it; namely, that Jews and Gentiles will be justified. [The future (= prœsens futurabile) expresses the permanent purpose and continued power of justification in every case that may occur; comp. the future in Romans 3:20; Romans 5:19. Erasmus: “Respexit ad eos qui adhuc essent in Judaismo seu paganismo.—P. S.]—Circumcision by faith. It is remarkable that there is not only a change of the prepositions ἐχ and διά, but also that the article stands with the latter, but not with the former. Meyer regards the change of prepositions, as well as the disappearance of the article from ἐχ, as a matter of indifference.[FN93] Calvin observes in the change of the prepositions ἐχ and διά a certain irony: “Si quis vult habere differentiam gentilis a Judœo, hanc habeat, quod ille per fidem, hic vero ex fide justitiam consequitur” (from Tholuck, p162). Meyer properly regards

this explanation as strange. But indifference as to the form of expression would be equally strange. There seems in reality to be a double form of breviloquence here: He will justify the circumcision (which is a circumcision by faith) by faith; for the real Jew has already a germinating faith; and He will justify the uncircumcision (that which through faith has become circumcision) through the faith. Or, more briefly: To the genuine Jew, saving faith, as to its germ, is something already at hand, and justification arises from the completion of the same, just as the fruit from the tree. But to the Gentile, faith is offered as a foreign means of salvation.[FN94]

[Besides, the main object of Paul here is to show the true method of justification, and not the agreement of the law and the gospel.—P. S.] This much is clear: that Romans 3:31 constitutes the transition to chap4. But, in itself, it serves as the conclusion of the paragraph from Romans 3:27-30, in that it brings out the relation of the experimental fact that there are believing Gentiles—to the law. Paul had shown that the justification of the Gentiles, with the justification of the Jews, is to be traced back to one and the same God. By this means, he says, the law is not made void, but established. How far established? The answer is furnished by the preceding verses: As far as the unity of God, which underlies the law, is glorified by the harmony of His saving operations among Jews and Gentiles. Particularism weakens the law, because it makes the law the statute of a national God. The universal Monotheism of Christianity, proved by the universal justification of believers, first properly establishes the law in its true character, by making plain the universal character of the lawgiver.—The sentiment, Do we then make void the law? is sufficiently repelled by the emotional expression, μή γένοιτο, Far be it! by no means! But the opposite sentiment, We establish the law, has been already proved by the fact that the law is defined as the law of faith, and has been traced back to the God of the Jews and Gentiles. This is indeed extended further in what follows, yet not in the form of a continued proof, but in the form of a new scriptural argument. The question, How far does Paul, or Christianity establish the law? has been variously answered; see Tholuck, p163. Chrysostom, and others, say, that the salvation in Christ is the end of the law. Most expositors hold that the law is fulfilled by the new obedience, chap6. and Romans 8:4 [by love, which is called “the fulfilment of the law;” Romans 13:10. Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Beza, Calov, Philippi.—P. S.]. Tholuck thinks that the testimony of the νόμος and the προφῆται is meant. But this is not a new ἱστάναι; nor would the continuation in chap4. be a new ἱστάναι from this point of view; it is only a new proof for the righteousness by faith: the proof from Scripture. The Apostle glorifies and establishes the law on a new and broader foundation, by representing it as a unit, by tracing it to its principle of life, and enlarging its contents from the Jewish particularism to the universality of the revelation of the living God of all men. Thus the Mosaic law, as the type of the Mosaic religion, is glorified so far as it is the representative of all the legal elements of religion in general.[FN95]


First Paragraph ( Romans 3:21-26)

1. As the Old Testament, according to Romans 3:21, has testified of the righteousness of faith contained in the New Testament, so does the New Testament—as the perfect revelation of God’s righteousness—bear witness to the holiness of the law in the Old Testament.

2. It is a defective and inorganic view to believe that, as far as the single attributes of God are concerned, in the New Testament His justice is less prominent than in the Old, in order that His love may appear more prominent. On the contrary, the revelation of His justice is first completed in the New Testament. It is here completed so grandly, that, in proportion to this completion, the Old Testament revelation of justice may be regarded as still veiled. The same may be said of all the Divine attributes. In the New Testament they have a killing and a vivifying—i.e., creative effect. The justice in union with love is grace. In the Old Testament, however, justice appears mainly in its punitive aspect.

3. On the double form and kind of faith, see the Exeg. Notes on Romans 3:22.

4. Also on the δόξα, θεοῦ, see Exeg. Notes on Romans 3:23. As the διχαιοσύνη is the internal part of the Divine δόξα, so is the want of δόξα on man’s part the evidence of his want of διχαιοσύνη. The same connection is likewise exhibited in the life of faith. The δοξάζεσθαι arises from the διχαιοῦσθαι ( Romans 8:30).

5. The doctrine of justification. On the διχαιοῦν, see Romans 2:13, and the section relating thereto. On the fact that it is under the διχαιοῦσθαι that man’s utter want of personal righteousness first becomes prominent, see the Exeg. Notes on Romans 3:21. The evangelical definition per fidem is opposed to the Roman Catholic definition propter fidem. The form propter fidem has a double sense. If faith is understood as merit, the order of the work of salvation is reversed, and its causality is transferred to man. It is very clear from the present tense διχαιοῦσθαι ( Romans 3:28), that the Apostle distinguishes here, and throughout, between redemption and justification. Christ Isaiah, indeed, effectively the righteousness of believers, and virtually the righteousness of humanity, and so far could the redemption be once loosely denominated justification. Yet the Apostle’s usage of language is far above this indefiniteness, and Romans 8:30 proves conclusively (comp. Romans 5:18) that he regards justification as a part of the plan of salvation. The connection between the διχαίωσις—which grace effects in every believer after the χλῆσις—and the ίλασμός, consists in this: that Christ, as the perfect διχαίωμα, Isaiah, by the gospel, offered to men, that He is set forth as ίλαστήριον. (Lipsius, in a monograph entitled The Pauline Doctrine of Justification, 1853, holds that the διχαιοσύνη is the condition of righteousness, and that every one is δίχαιος who is just what his destination requires he should be. The author’s conclusion Isaiah, that Paul, in no single passage, compels us to divide the divine operation—the result of which is the (preliminary) human διχαιοσύνη—into two distinct and separate Acts, the actus efficiens and the actus declaratorius, in such a manner that the latter only may be called διχαιοῦν.)—The way for the Protestant doctrine of justification was prepared by the sound productions of the mysticism of the Middle Ages; for example, in “German Theology.”[FN96] This book contrasts selfdom, or egoism, with entire self-surrender to God and His will, and thereby indicates the deepest ground for the sinner’s justification by faith. Justification, as the appropriation of Christ’s διχαίωμα, makes the gospel, through the power of the Holy Ghost, an individual and special absolution from the guilt of sin, which the believer experiences in peace of conscience and freedom. It makes the objective διχαίωμα in Christ his subjective διχαιοσύνη. Justification is essentially a pronouncing righteous, but by the creative declaration of God; therefore it is also a making righteous, in the sense that it is the communication of a new principle of life, yet in such a way that this new principle of life must ever be regarded as the pure effect of Christ, and not in any way as the cause of justification. The one gracious act of justification is divided into two acts: 1. The offer of the διχαίωμα for faith until faith is awaked by free grace; 2. Accounting faith as righteousness. The effects of justification are, negatively, liberation from the guilt, the curse, and punishment of sin; and, positively, adoption or sonship, by which the believer’s filial relation—that Isaiah, the decision of his individual regeneration, and his translation into the state of peace—is pronounced. In the old Protestant theology, justification has been variously confounded too much with the redemption itself; while in our day, as was already the case with Osiander [died1552], it has often been far too much identified with sanctification.

[Additional remarks on the doctrine of justification by faith, or rather by free grace through faith in Christ.

(a.) Its importance and position in the theological system. It belongs to soteriology, the appropriation of the salvation of Christ to the sinner. It presupposes the fundamental truths of the Trinity, the incarnation, total depravity, the atonement, all of which were revealed before, as the Gospels and Acts precede the Epistles. It is therefore not, strictly speaking, the articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiœ (Luther), but subordinate to the article of Christ, who alone can be called the one foundation and rock of the whole Christian system ( 1 Corinthians 3:11). The doctrine that Christ is the Son of God, and came into the flesh—i.e., was born, died, and rose again, to save sinners—is emphatically “the mystery of godliness” ( 1 Timothy 3:16); and forms the burden of the first Christian confession ( Matthew 16:16-19); its assertion or denial is the criterion of true Christianity and of antichrist ( 1 John 4:2-3). But justification by faith is undoubtedly a fundamental article of subjective Christianity and of evangelical Protestantism, as distinct from æcumenical Catholicism, and as opposed to Greek and Roman sectional Catholicism. It constitutes the material or life-principle of Protestantism (principium essendi), as the doctrine of the supreme authority of the Holy Scriptures in matters of faith and practice constitutes its formal principle (principium cognoscendi). It was never properly understood in the Christian Church, not even by Augustine, until Luther, and the other Reformers brought it out into clear light from the Epistles of Paul, especially those to the Romans and Galatians. The unbiassed philological exegesis of modern times has fully justified the scripturalness of this doctrine of the Reformation. Yet the best men in the Church of all ages, and the profoundest divines before the Reformation, such as Augustine, Anselm, Bernard, have, in fact, always come to the same practical conclusion in the end, and, disclaiming all merit of their own, they have taken refuge in the free grace of God, as the only and sufficient cause of salvation. “Our righteousness,” says St. Bernard (Sermo V. de verbis Esaiœ Proph., vi1, 2), “our righteousness, if we have any, is of little value; it is sincere, perhaps, but not pure, unless we believe ourselves to be better than our fathers, who no less truly than humbly said: All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.”

(b.) Definition of justification. It is a judicial act of God by which He freely acquits the penitent sinner, and adopts him as His child on the ground of Christ’s perfect righteousness, and on condition of a living faith. Paul has in his mind a judicial process: The righteous and holy God is the Judge; man is the guilty culprit; the law, or the expressed will of God, is the accuser; Christ, with His perfect sacrifice, steps in as a substitute; the sinner accepts Him in hearty faith, or enters into Christ’s position, as Christ did into his; God, on the ground of this relation, acquits the sinner, and treats him as His own child; the sinner, being one with Christ, no more lives unto himself, but, the grace of God enabling him, unto Christ, who died for him, and rose again. This is justification.

(c.) Relation to the atonement, regeneration, and sanctification. Justification differs:

(aa.) From the atonement (ἱλασμός, ἱλαστήριον, expiation, propitiation, Versühnung) and the consequent reconciliation (χαταλλαγή, at-one-ment in the old sense of the term, as used in the E. V, Romans 5:11, in German Versöhnung), i.e., the reconciliation of God and the sinner by the self-sacrifice of Christ, which fully satisfies the claims of Divine justice, and draws men to God by the attraction of superhuman love. The atonement is the objective ground of justification; it was accomplished once for all time, but justification is repeated in the case of every sinner.

(bb.) From regeneration, or the new birth. This is a creative act of the Holy Spirit in man preceding or accompanying the objective act of justification by God the Father, and resulting in a subjective change of heart, which corresponds to the new relation of the believer as justified in Christ.

(cc.) From sanctification. This is a gradual growth, beginning with regeneration and justification, and culminating in the resurrection of the body. Justification is God’s gracious act toward us; sanctification is God’s gracious work within us: the former is a single act of God, the latter a continuous growth in man.

(d.) The evangelical Protestant (Pauline) doctrine of justification must be maintained:

(aa.) Against Pharisœism, Pelagianism, and Rationalism, or the doctrine of justification by works, which, in various forms and degrees, glorifies human ability and represents justification as a reward for man’s own merit (legalism, self-righteousness, work-righteousness).

(bb.) Against the semi-Pelagian and the Romish or Tridentine, as well as the modern Anglo-Romanizing or Tractarian theory of justification by faith and works, which confounds justification with sanctification (justitia infusa; ex in jus’o justus. redditur), makes it depend on the degree of personal holiness, teaches the meritoriousness of good works (opera meritoria proportionata vitœ œternœ; meritum de congruo and meritum de condigno; opera supererogationis), and divides the glory of our salvation between God and man.

(cc.) Against ultra- and pseudo-Protestant Solifidianism and Antinomianism, which destroy the law, as a rule of conduct, tear justification from its proper antecedents and consequents, and deny the necessity of good works. (Amsdorf, a Lutheran divine of the sixteenth century, went so far as to assert that good works were pernicious or dangerous to salvation; while Major maintained the opposite thesis: bona opera necessaria ad salutem. The result of this controversy was the distinction that good works were necessary, not as a condition of salvation, but as the evidence of saving faith; and that not good works, but only such reliance on them as interfered with trust in the merits of Christ, was dangerous to salvation.)

(dd.) Against subjective Spiritualism and un-churchly Fanaticism, which resolve justification by faith into a justification by feeling, and despise or ignore the Church and the sacraments, as the regular, divinely appointed means of grace.

On the doctrinal aspect of justification by faith, comp. Chemnitz, Concil. Trident., tom1, lib8; Gerhard, Loci Theologici, tom7; John Davenant (Bishop of Salisbury), Disputatio de justitia habituali et actuali, 1631, English translation by Josiah All-port, London, 1844–’46, 2vols (a standard work of the Anglican Church against the Romish doctrine); my Principle of Protestantism, 1845, p 54 ff.; Bishop Ch. P. M’Ilvaine, Righteousness by Faith; or the Nature and Means of Justification before God (against the Romanizing doctrine of the Oxford Tracts), Phila, 2d ed, 1864; Dr. James Buchanan, The Doctrine on Justification: an Outline of its History in the Church, and of its Exposition from Scripture, Edinburgh, 1867; the respective sections in the works on Symbolics; several recent dogmatic essays on the subject, by Dorner, 1867, translated by C. A. Briggs for the Am. Presb. Theol. Rev.., New York, April, 1868, pp186–214; Riggenbach, in the Studien und Kritiken for April, 1868, pp201–243; an article in the British and Foreign Evang. Review for January, 1862, which is fully criticised by Forbes, on Rom. p125 ff. The exegetical essays have been mentioned in comments on Romans 1:17, pp75, 76.—P. S.]

6. On ἱλαστήριονς, ἱλασμὸ, and ἀπολύτρωσις, see the Exeg. Notes on Romans 3:25. For more detailed information, see my Positive Dogmatics, p 813 ff. As recent efforts have been made to set aside the true doctrine of atonement itself by refuting the view of Anselm, 97] it should be remembered that the defects in Anselm’s theory were acknowledged even in the Middle Ages, but that they cannot destroy its relative truth and value. The real idea of the atonement cannot be clearly apprehended without understanding the meaning of compassion, of sympathy, of reconciliation in Christ, of the divine judgment-seat in the sinner’s conscience, and of the connection of judgment and deliverance in the sufferings of Christ as well as in the sinner’s conversion.

7. God is the righteous Judge and the justifying God: (1) In the same grace; (2) In the objective work of redemption, or in justification by faith.

8. When the Apostle, in Romans 3:27, contrasts a law of works and a law of faith as excluding each other, and then says in Romans 3:31 : “We establish the law,” it follows that he only recognizes that antithesis in Romans 3:27 as one which the external legalism of the Jews had made; or as the appearance of the antithesis between the economy of the Old and New Testaments, but that his own view was based upon a deeper unity.

9. It is well known that very much has been written about Luther’s sola, Romans 3:28. This word is perfectly true so far as it is contrasted with ἔργα νόμου, for the reading is χωρὶς ἔργων νόμου, without works of the law. Therefore the sola is even positively exclusive. But does it also exclude works of faith? Answer: As soon as a work of faith is added to faith, it is made an ἔργον νόμου, a work of the law. If the work remains a mere phenomenon or manifestation of faith, it has no separate significance in itself.

[Dr. Donne, a standard divine of the Church of England, originally a convert from Romanism (died1631), in Serm. ii. on John 16:8-11, makes the following apt remarks on this sola fide: “Faith is but one of those things which in several senses are said to justify us. It is truly said of God, Deus solus justificat; God only justifies us—efficienter; nothing can effect it, nothing can work towards it, but only the mere goodness of God. And it is truly said of Christ, Christus solus justificat; Christ only justifies us—materialiter; nothing enters into the substance and body of the ransom of our sins but the obedience of Christ. It is also truly said, sola fides justificat; only faith justifies us—instrumentaliter; nothing apprehends, nothing applies the merit of Christ to thee, but thy faith. And lastly, it is as truly said, sola opera justificant; only our works justify us—declaratoriè; only thy good life can assure thy conscience, and the world, that thou art justified. As the efficient justification, the gracious purpose of God, had done us no good without the material satisfaction, the death of Christ, that followed; and as that material satisfaction, the death of Christ, would do me no good without the instrumental justification, the apprehension by faith; so neither would this profit without the declaratory justification, by which all is pleaded and established. God enters not into our material justification: that is only Christ’s. Christ enters not into our instrumental justification: that is only faith’s. Faith enters not into our declaratory justification (for faith is secret), and declaration belongs to works. Neither of these can be said to justify us alone, so as that we may take the chain in pieces, and think to be justified by any one link thereof—by God without Christ, by Christ without faith, or by faith without works. And yet every one of these justifies us alone, so as that none of the rest enter into that way and that means by which any of these are said to justify us.” Comp. my foot-note on Romans 3:28, p136.—P. S.]

10. Romans 3:29. Paul did not need any longer to prove from the Scriptures that God was also the God of the Gentiles. The first phenomenon of the New Covenant: Blessedness of faith, speaking with tongues, and a new life, was, with the Apostles, equivalent everywhere to scriptural proofs, and served for the exposition of the Old Testament. It was, indeed, the specific New Testament evidence which precedes with Paul the argument from the Old Testament in chap4.

11. On the means by which Christianity chiefly establishes the law, see the Exeg. Notes on Romans 3:31. The Judaism of the Old Testament first attained its universal historical glory by Christianity, and its thanks are due especially to Paul, who was so hated by the Jews. [Bishop Sanderson (Sermon on 1 Peter 2:16, as quoted by Ford): “The law may be considered as a rule; or, as a covenant. Christ has freed all believers from the rigor and curse of the law, considered as a covenant; but He has not freed them from obedience to the law, considered as a rule. The law, as a rule, can no more be abolished or changed, than can the nature of good or evil be abolished or changed.”—P. S.]


Romans 3:21-26

The revelation of the righteousness of faith through Jesus Christ which is efficacious in God’s sight. It comes to pass: 1. Without the assistance of the law, although testified by the law and the prophets; 2. For all sinners, without distinction, who believe; 3. By the redemption effected by Jesus Christ the Mediator, who proffers the righteousness which is acceptable to God ( Romans 3:21-26).—The testimony of the law and the prophets concerning the righteousness which is acceptable to God: 1. Of the law by its typical reference to the atonement; 2. Of the prophets by the Messianic prophecies ( Romans 3:21).—The Apostle takes from the law what does not belong to it, and concedes what does belong to it. He denies: 1. Its alleged coöperation in the righteousness which is acceptable to God. But he concedes to it: 2. The testimony of the future atonement ( Romans 3:21).—The universality of grace corresponding to the universality of sin ( Romans 3:22-24).—What sort of confession should we make to God daily as evangelical Christians? Two kinds: 1. We are altogether sinners, and come short of the glory we should have before God; 2. We are justified freely by His grace, &c. ( Romans 3:23-24).—Christ set forth by God to be a propitiation (mercy-seat) through faith in His blood: 1. To what end? To offer His righteousness at this (present) time; 2. Why? Because in time past He could pass over sin by His Divine forbearance, and thereby shake faith in His justice ( Romans 3:25-26).—Divine forbearance ( Romans 3:25).—God the only just One, and therefore the only Justifier ( Romans 3:21).

Luther: “All have sinned,” &c. This is the chief portion and central part of this Epistle, and of the whole Scripture. Therefore understand this text well, for the merit and glory of all works,—as he himself says,—are done away with, and God’s grace and glory alone remain ( Romans 3:23).—Sin could be removed neither by laws nor by any good works; that must be done by Christ and His forgiveness ( Romans 3:25).—Faith fulfils all laws, but works cannot fulfil a single tittle of the law ( Romans 3:31).

Starke: There is only one kind of justification in the Old and New Testaments; namely, that which is by faith in Christ ( Romans 3:21).—To have a believing heart, is to hunger and thirst after the grace of God in Christ, and to appropriate the righteousness of Christ for our spiritual satisfaction and refreshment ( Romans 3:22).—Do not make a wrong use of this passage against active Christianity, for God’s image must be restored in us in the order of the new birth and daily renewal ( Romans 3:23).—Grace and righteousness are the two principal attributes of God which are proved in the work of our salvation. Therefore one cannot be separated from the other, either in the cause or order of our salvation ( Romans 3:24).—The faith which appropriates the blood of Jesus Christ and His expiatory death, and presents them to God the Lord, is the only means by which Christ becomes also our mercy-seat ( Romans 3:25).—If you are ever so distinguished and wealthy, and are deficient in true and living faith, you can neither be justified nor saved ( Romans 3:26).

Osiander: No doctrine must be accepted in the Church of God to which God’s word does not bear witness ( Romans 3:21).—Lange: The merit of the blood of Christ is not only the object which faith grasps, but also the foundation on which it firmly rests ( Romans 3:25).—Hedinger: Christ our righteousness! Oh, the glorious consolation, which screens us from the wrath of God, the curse of the law, and eternal death! No work, no perfection out of Christ; but faith alone makes us dear children of God—righteous, holy, and blessed ( Romans 3:25).

Bengel: Under the law, God appears just and condemning; under the gospel, just, and yet justifying the guilty sinner.

Lisco: The nature of evangelical righteousness Isaiah, that it is obtained by faith in Jesus Christ; and it comes to all and upon all who believe in Him. Like a flood of grace it flows to all, and even so overflows as to reach even the heathen. It is therefore a righteousness by faith, and not a righteousness by works.—In the work of redemption, God’s holiness and grace, justice and forbearance, are revealed ( Romans 3:25-26).

Heubner: The difficult question is now solved: “How can the sinner find redemption from his sins?” Christianity replies: Believe in Christ ( Romans 3:22).—How is the righteousness which God accepts testified by the law and the prophets? 1. By this means: all forgiveness, all redemption, is everywhere described in the Scriptures as the free work of God’s grace; neither the offering, nor man’s own merit, was sufficient for this end; 2. In the emphatic prophecies of a future Redeemer ( Romans 3:21).—Unworthiness before God is universal. This is the first prostrating word of revelation: Know that thou art a sinner, a poor sinner; that Isaiah, who hast nothing, and must get something from God ( Romans 3:23).—Christ’s redemption is: 1. A ransom ( Matthew 20:28) from the guilt of sin ( Ephesians 1:7); 2. A ransom from the punishment of sin ( Romans 5:9); 3. A ransom from the dominion of sin ( 1 Peter 1:18; Romans 3:23).—The subjective condition of redemption is faith as a faith of the heart, which reposes its confidence on Christ’s sacrificial death—a faith that Christ died for me. This for me is the great thing! ( Romans 3:26.)—On Romans 3:23-25, Reinhard preached his celebrated Reformation Sermon (2:270) in the year Romans 1800: “The great reason why our Church should never forget that it owes its existence to the renewal of the doctrine of God’s free grace in Christ.”

Besser: The law impels toward righteousness, but it does not confer it.—There are not two orders of salvation, one for Jews and honorable people, and the other for heathen and publicans; but there is only one for all.—We are justified: 1. Without merit; 2. By God’s grace; 3. Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus ( Romans 3:24).—The highest declaration of God’s grace is at the same time the highest declaration of His justice.

J. P. Lange: The fact of salvation is also a miraculous work of God ( Romans 3:21).—Redemption as the second and higher world of miracle in relation to the natural world of miracle.—Golgotha is more exalted than Sinai in respect also to God’s justice.—The lightning-flash of New Testament justice: 1. Killing; 2. Making alive.

[Burkitt: Romans 3:24-26. We see here: 1. A glorious privilege for believers, justification; 2. Its efficient cause, God; 3. The moving or impulsive cause, free grace; 4. The meritorious cause, the blood-shedding and death of Christ; 5. The final cause, the declaration of His righteousness; 6. The instrumental cause, faith.—Oh, glorious and all-wise contrivance, whereby God made sufficient provision for the reparation of His honor, for the vindication of His holiness, for the manifestation of His truth and faithfulness, and for the present consolation and eternal salvation of all repenting and believing sinners to the end of the world!—Matthew Henry: Romans 3:25. Christ is the propitiation—there is the healing plaster provided. Faith is the applying of this plaster to the wounded soul.—Faith is the bunch of hyssop, and the blood of Christ is the blood of sprinkling.—Dwight devotes six sermons to the subject of Justification, in which he treats of its nature, source, and means; duty of believing; nature of faith; influence of faith on justification; reconciliation of Paul and James on justification; influence of works on justification; and justification by faith no diminution of motives to obedience (Theology, vol. ii, pp515–605).—Clarke: Romans 3:23-24. As God is no respecter of persons, all human creatures being equally His offspring, and there being no reason why one should be preferred before another, therefore His mercy has embraced all.—The redemption of Christ comprehends whatsoever He taught, did, or suffered, in order to free men from evil.—Hodge: As the cardinal doctrine of the Bible is justification by faith, so the turning-point in the soul’s history, the saving Acts, is the reception of Jesus Christ as the propitiation for our sins.—All modes of preaching must be erroneous, which do not lead sinners to feel that the great thing to be done, and done first, is to receive the Lord Jesus Christ, and to turn unto God through Him. And all religious experience must be defective, which does not embrace distinctly a sense of the justice of our condemnation, and a conviction of the sufficiency of the work of Christ, and an exclusive reliance upon it as such.—J. F. H.]

On Romans 3:27-31

The exclusion of man’s self-glorification. Its results: 1. Not by the law of works; but, 2. By the law of faith ( Romans 3:27).—How are we justified? 1. Not by the works of the law; but, 2. By faith alone ( Romans 3:28).—“Only by faith”—Luther’s watchword, and also the watchword of the evangelical church of the present day ( Romans 3:28).—The righteousness of the law and the righteousness of faith ( Romans 3:28).—God, a God of all people, because He is only one God ( Romans 3:29-30).—Faith in the one God considered as the source of the true kind of universalism ( Romans 3:29-30).—The popular saying of religious indifferentism: “We all believe in one God,” is only true when we also believe that this God also justifies those who believe ( Romans 3:29-30).—The proof that the law is not made void through faith, but established, is supplied by both the deeds and doctrine: 1. Of the Lord; 2. Of His apostles, and especially of Paul ( Romans 3:31).

Luther: Faith keeps all the laws, while works keep no point of the law ( James 2:10).—[A passage in the preface to the Epistle to the Romans is also in place here: Faith is not that human folly and dream which some take for faith. But faith is a divine work in us, which changes us and creates us anew in God, &c.]

Starke: Faith alone justifies and saves; but you must not take away works from faith in order to beautify your sinful life, or it will become unbelief.—There are many forms of arbitrary will on earth, and yet but one way to salvation. God would save all men, and yet by only one way.

Hedinger: Christianity, with its doctrine of faith, opens no door for sin, but shows how we can be obedient to the law with a filial spirit for God’s sake ( Romans 3:31).—Quesnel: The more faith in a soul the less pride there is in it.

Gerlach, from Chrysostom: What is the law of faith? Salvation by grace. Herein God’s power is declared, not only in delivering men, but also in justifying them and raising them to glory; for God did not stand in need of works, but sought faith alone.—True, the word alone is not in the text literally, but yet it is there in sense, as it is expressly declared in Galatians 2:16-17; without faith, nothing can justify.

Heubner: Christianity unites humanity by one God, by one Father, who is the Saviour of all.—The unity of faith in grace should also establish the unity of hearts.

Spener: Looking at the subject in its true light, faith is not that which itself justifies man—for its strength would be far too small for this work—but faith only accepts the most powerful grace of God as a proffered gift, and thus permits man to be saved by it, instead of its really justifying and saving him. This is the great doctrine of this Epistle, on which every thing rests, and from which every thing must be derived.

Lange: Therefore we Judges, &c, and thus it stands ( Romans 3:28). True salvation of the inner life a witness: 1. Of the true faith; 2. Of the true gospel; 3. Of the true God.

[Burkitt: Romans 3:31. The moral, not the ceremonial law. The moral law is established by the gospel; Christ has relaxed the law in point of danger, but not in point of duty.—Henry: Romans 3:27. If we were saved by our own works, we might put the crown upon our own heads. But the law of faith, the way of justification by faith, doth forever exclude boasting; for faith is a depending, self-emptying, self-denying grace, and casts every crown before the throne: therefore it is most for God’s glory, that thus we should be justified.—Macknight: Romans 3:28. Faith in God and Christ necessarily leads those who possess it to believe every thing made known to them by God and by Christ, and to do every thing which they have enjoined; so that it terminates in the sincere belief of the doctrines of religion, and in the constant practice of its duties, as far as they are made known to the believer.—Clarke: Why did not God make known this grand method of salvation sooner? 1. To make it the more valued; 2. To show His fidelity in the performance of His promises; 3. To make known the virtue and efficacy of the blood of Christ; which sanctifies the present, extends its influence to the past, and continues the availing sacrifice and way of salvation to all future ages.—Hodge: The doctrine of atonement produces in us its proper effect, when it leads us to see and feel that God is just; that He is infinitely gracious; that we are deprived of all ground of boasting; that the way of salvation, which is open for us, is open for all men; and that the motives to all duty, instead of being weakened, are enforced and multiplied.—In the gospel, all is harmonious: justice and mercy, as it regards God; freedom from the law, and the strongest obligations to obedience, as it regards men.—Barnes: One of the chief glories of the plan of salvation Isaiah, that while it justifies the sinner, it brings a new set of influences from heaven, more tender and mighty than can be drawn from any other source, to produce obedience to the law of God.—J. F. H.]

[Homiletical Literature on Justification (in the order of the text).—Cocceius, De Justificatione, op7, 180, T. W. Allies, Serm. Romans 1 : B. Hill, Serm, 95; E. Cooper, Lead. Doct., 120; M. Harrison, several sermons on Justification (1691); E. Bather, Serm. 2, 248; T. Boston, Works, 1, 581; S. Knight, Serm. 2, 15; A. Fuller, Three Sermons on Justification, Serm. 176; W. B. Collyer, On Script. Doct., 329; Bishop Hobart, Serm. 2, 32; W. Bridge, Works, 5, 364; C. Simeon, Works, 15, 79; A. Burgess, On Justification (Two Parts); J. Hoole, Serm. 2, 217; W. Stevens, Serm. 1, 268; Bishop Halifax, St. Paul’s Doctrine of Justification by Faith Explained, 2d. ed, Camb1762; T. Randolph, Doctrine of Justification by Faith; H. Worthington, Disc. 315; S. Disney, Disc. 125; P. Hutcheson, Serm.; T. Young, Justification, &c.; E. Parsons, Justification by Faith, Halifax, 1821; J. C. Miller, Serm. 359; J. Johnston, Way of Life, 85; T. T. Smith, Serm. 289; W. Shirley, Serm. 151; J. Whitty, Serm. 1:413; J. Wesley, Works (Amer. ed.), vol1:47, 385; vol2:40, 236; vol3:153, 172, 259; vol5:37–442; vol6:6-23; vol7:47.—The Periodical Homiletical Literature on the same subject is very abundant. We give the principal articles: Justification by Faith (R. W. Landis), Amer. Bibl. Repository, 11:453; (D. Curry) Meth. Quart. Rev., 4:5; 5:5; (C. D. Pidgeon) Lit. and Theol. Rev., 6:521; Princeton Rev., 12:268, 561; Justification by Works.—J. F. H.]


FN#46 - Romans 3:21.—[Or: independently of the law. Luther: ohne Zuthun des Gesetzes. χωρὶς νόμου, opposed to διὰ νόμου, Romans 3:20, is emphatically put first and belongs to the verb. The transposition in the E. V. obscures this connection and destroys the parallelism.—P. S.]

FN#47 - Romans 3:21.—[πεφανέρωται. The perfect has its appropriate force and sets forth this revelation of righteousness as an accomplished and still continued fact. Comp. the αποκαλύπτεται, Romans 1:17. Meyer: “ist offenbar gemacht, zu Tape geleg, so das sie jedem zur Erkenntniss sich darstellt; das Praesens der vollendeten Handlung, Hebrews 9:26. Bernbardy, p378.”—P. S.]

FN#48 - Romans 3:22.—[Even (or, I say, inquam, und zwar) is the best rendering of δέ here, since it is not strictly adversative, but explanatory and reassumptive (if I may coin this term for epanaleptic), as in Romans 9:30; Philippians 2:8. The contrast is not between the righteousness of God and the righteousness of man (Wordsworth), but between the general idea of the righteousness of God and the specific idea of righteousness through faith now introduced.—P. S.]

FN#49 - Romans 3:22.—[καὶ ἐπὶ πάντας, text. rec., D. F. K. L. א3, Syr, Vulg.; omitted by א1. A. B. C, Griesbach, Lachmann. Alford brackets, and says: “Possibly from homæotel.; on the other hand, the longer text may be the junction of two reading.” Lange retains the received text without remark. It is redundant, but not superfluous. Righteousness is represented as a flood extending unto all (ε ς πάντας). Ewald: “bestimmt für alle und kommend über alle.”—P. S.]

FN#50 - Romans 3:23.—[The aorist ἥμαρτον, not the perfect ἡμαρτήκασι. Luther: Sie sind allzumal Sünder. Rückert, in his ridiculously presumptuous proclivity to criticise the Apostle’s grammar and logic, calls the use of the aorist here an inaccuracy. Bengel, Olshausen, and Wordsworth refer it to the original fall of the race in Adam. Meyer in loc.: “The sinning of each man is presented as a historical fact of the past, whereby the sinful status is brought about.” So also Tholuck, Philippi, Lange. See Exeg. Notes.—P. S.]

FN#51 - Romans 3:25.—[ἰλαστήριον, expiatorium (a neuter noun from the adjective ἱλαστήριος, propitiatory, expiatory, from the verb ἰλάσκομαι, to appease, to conciliate), may mean Sühnopfer (ἱλ. θῦμα), expiatory sacrifice; or Sühnmittel (= ἱλασμός), expiation, propitiation; or Sühndeckel (ἱλ. ἐπίθεμα, or ἐπίθημα) mercy-seat (cover of the ark). Dr. Lange adopts the last, and translates Sühnungsstift (capporeth; Luther: Gnadenstuhl). The word occurs but twice in the N. T, here and Hebrews 9:5. In the latter passage it certainly signifies the mercy-seat, or golden cover of the ark of the covenant, called in Hebrew כַּפֹּרֶת (from כִּפֵּר, to propitiate, to atone). This is also the technical meaning of the word in the LXX, Exodus 25:18-20; Exodus 31:7, &c, and in Philo (Vita Mos. 3:68, p668; De Profug. 19, p465: τῆς δἐ ἵλεως δυνάμεως, τὸ ὲπίθεμα τῆς κιβωτοῦ, καλεῖ δέ αὐτὸ ἱλαστήριον). A fourth interpretation by Pelagius, Ambrose, Semler, and Wahl takes ἱλαστήριον in the masculine gender = ἱλαστής, propitiator; but this is contrary to the use of the word and inconsistent with the context. There are ἱλαστήρια, but no ἱλαστήριοι. The choice lies between propitiatory sacrifice, and mercy-seat. See Exeg. Notes.—P. S.]

FN#52 - Romans 3:25.—The article τῆς before πίστεως is supported by Codd. B. and A, Chrysostom and Theodoret. [The text, rec. also reads τῆς; but Codd. א. C*. D*. F. G, Orig, Eus, Bas, &c, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, omit it. Meyer thinks it may have been omitted in view of διὰ πίστεως, Romans 3:22.—P. S.]

FN#53 - Romans 3:25.—[Or as Alford translates: on account of the overlooking of the sins which had passed, in the forbearance of God. Conybeare and Howson: because in His forbearance God had passed over the former sins of men. Lange: von wegen der Vorbeilassung (Nich heimsuchung) der vorher geschehenen Sünden. The Authorized Version here, following Beza (per remissionem), is a mistranslation. πάρεσις (from παρίημι), which occurs but once in the N. T, differs from ἄφεσις (from ἀφίημι), which occurs seventeen times, in this, that it Isaiah, 1. a temporary prætermission or overlooking, not a total remission or pardon; 2. a work of the Divine ἀνοχή, forbearance ( Romans 2:4), not of the Divine χάρις, grace ( Ephesians 1:7); 3. it leaves the question of future punishment or pardon undecided, while the ἄφεσις removes the guilt and remits the punishment. The same idea Paul expresses, Acts 17:30 : του̇ς μὲν οὐν χρόνους τῆς ἀγνοίας ὑπεριδὼν (having overlooked) θεός, &c. διά with the accusative cannot mean through, by means of, or for, but on account of; for Paul clearly distinguishes (even Romans 8:11; Galatians 4:13) διά with the accusative and διά with the genitive. The Vulgate correctly renders διά propter, but mistakes πάρεσις for ἄφεσις, remissio. So also Luther: in dem dass er Sünde vergiebt.—P. S.]

FN#54 - Romans 3:26.—τήν [before ἔνδειξιν] in Codd. A. B. C. D. [D*. א. Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, Alford. The article was omitted to conform to εἰς ἔνοειξιν, Romans 3:25. But the article distinguishes the ἔνδειξις of Romans 3:26 from the former “as the fuller and ultimate object.” Dr. Lange ingeniously distinguishes between εἰς ἔνδειξιν and πρὸς τὴν ἔνδειξιν. See Exeg. Notes.—P. S.]

FN#55 - Romans 3:26.—The addition Ἰησοῦ is found in Codd. A. B. C. K. [and Sin.], Lachmann [Alford. Omitted by F. G52, It, Fritzsche, Meyer, Tischendorf; while other authorities read Χριστοῦ Ἰησ., or τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν I. X. A usual insertion. The force of τὸν ἐκ πίστεως is weakened by the E. V. The ἐκ indicates that πίστις, or Christ rather as apprehended by πίστις, is the root or fountain of his spiritual life; comp. the ἐκ in Romans 1:17; Romans 2:18. Conybeare and Howson: “It means ‘him whose essential characteristic is faith,’ ‘the child of faith;’ comp. Galatians 3:7; Galatians 3:9. δίκαιον would perhaps be better rendered by righteous, but we have no verb from the same root equivalent to δικαιοῦντα.—P. S.]

FN#56 - The external authorities are decidedly in favor of γάρ. Alford regards οὖν as a correction from misunderstanding of λογίζομαι as conveying a conclusion. See Exeg. Notes.—P. S.]

FN#57 - The recep a reads πίστ ει before δικαιοῦσθαι, to throw emphasis on faith. But א1. B. C. D. read δι κ. πίστει ἄνθρωπον.—P. S.]

FN#58 - Romans 3:28.—[χωρὶς ἔργων νόμου, without or apart from law (legal) works Genetzeswerke) or works of the law.—P. S.]

FN#59 - This is too poorly supported and can easily be accounted for by the preceding Ἰουδαίων.—P. S.]

FN#60 - Romans 3:30.—ἐπείπερ [recepta], instead of εἴπερ, which probably arose because the former occurs only here in the N. T. (see Meyer). [But εἴπερ is better supported by A. B. C. D2. Sin1, &c, and preferred by Alford.—P. S.]

FN#61 -

Romans 3:31.—[ἱστῶμεν (indicative from ἱστάω, a less usual form for ἵσταμεν, from ἵστημι) is the reading of א3. D3. E. I. K. and Elz, and is defended by Fritzsche, for the reason that it closes the sentence with more gravity and power, and corresponds more harmoniously to the preceding καταργοῦμεν. But ἱστάνομεν (a late form of the same verb) is better supported by א1. A. B. C. D2. F. Orig, &c, and is recommended by Griesbach and adopted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Alford. The sense is the same: to make stand fast, to establish, to confirm, = βεβαιοῦν, stabilire.—P. S.]

[Forbes arranges the important section, Romans 3:21-26, in this way, which may assist somewhat in the exegesis:

21. Νυνὶ δὲ χωρὶς νόμου

Δικαιοσύςη Θεοῦ πεφανέρωται,

Μαρτυρουμένη ὑπὸ τοῦ νόμου καὶ τῶν προφητῶν,

22. Δικαιοσύνη δὲ Θεοῦ διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ,

Εἰς πάντας καὶ ἐπὶ πάντας τοὺς πιστεύοντας.

23. Οὐ γάρ ἐστιν διαστολή.

Πάντες γὰρ ἥμαρτον, καὶ ὑστεροῦνται τῆς δόξης τοῦ Θεοῦ.

24. a Δικαιούμενοι δωρεὰν τῇ αὐτοῦ χάριτι

25. b Διὰ τῆς ἀπολυτρώσεως τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ ̓Ιησοῦ,

Ὃν προέθετο Θεὸς ἱλαστήριον

a Διὰ πίστεως ἐν τῷ αὐτοῦ αἵματι,

b Εἰς ἔνδειξιν τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὐτοῦ,

Διὰ τὴν πάρεσιν τῶν προγεγονότων ἁμαρτημάτων

Ἐν τῇ ἀνοχῇ Θεοῦ,

26. b Πρὸς τὴν ἔνδειξιν τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὐτοῦ

Ἐν τῷ νῦν καιρῷ,

β Εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν δίκαιον

α Καὶ δικαιοῦντα τὸν ἐκ πίστεως ̓ Ιησοῦ.—P. S.]

FN#62 - So also Hodge: “This righteousness which, so to speak, had long been buried under the types and indistinct utterances of the old dispensation, has now in the gospel been made clear and apparent.—P. S.]

FN#63 - διὰ πίστεως, by means of; through; not διὰ πίστιν, on account of. Faith is the appropriating organ and subjective condition, not the ground and cause of our justification.—P. S.]

FN#64 - Berlage, Scholten, V. Hengel, take Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ as gen. of the author: fides quæ auctore Jesu Christo Deo habetur. See against this Meyer in loc., footnote.—P. S.]

FN#65 - Meyer: “ἥμαρτον. Das Sündigen eines Jeden ist als historisches Factum der Vergangenheit, wodurch der sündige Zustand bewirkt ist, dargestellt. Das Perfect, würde es als vollendet dastehende Thatsache bezeichnen.” See Text. Note5, and Exeg. Notes on πάντες ἥμαρον in Romans 3:12.—P. S.]

FN#66 - This would be expressed rather by καύχησις, or καύχημα; Romans 3:27; Romans 4:2; 1 Corinthians 5:6, &c.—P. S.]

FN#67 - Tholuck (p144) explains: Die von Gott ausgehende Ehrenretlung, dem Sinne nach die Gerechterkt lärung, and quotes from Schlichting: “hoc loco significant eam gloriam, quum Deus hominem pronunciat justum.—P. S.]

FN#68 - Only the honor which proceeds from God can stand before God. So far the explanations, No4 coram Deo, and No5 a Deo, amount to the same thing, as Meyer remarks.—P. S.]

FN#69 - Still another exposition is that of Hofmann of Erlangen (Schrifibeweis, vol. i. p632, 2d ed.): the δόξα which belongs to God, as His own attribute, like the δόξα. Ewald: the δόξα which man had through creation, Psalm 8:8, but which he lost through sin.—P. S.]

FN#70 - Wordsworth lays stress on the present tense, as indicating that the work of justification is ever going on by the application of the cleansing efficacy of Christ’s blood to all who lay hold on Him by faith.—P. S.]

FN#71 - Literally, release or deliverance of prisoners of war or others from (ἀπό) a state of misery or danger by the payment of a ransom. (λύτρον, or ἀντίλυτρον) as an equivalent; the ransom in our case is the life or blood of Christ, Matthew 20:28; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Timothy 2:6; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 1:18; 1 Peter 2:24. The synonymous verbs, ἀγοράζειν, 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 7:23; ἐξαγοράζειν, Galatians 3:13; περιποιεῖσθαι, Acts 20:28; λυτροῦσθαι, Titus 2:14, all imply the payment of a price.—P. S.]

FN#72 - Olshausen calls this verse the “Acropolis of the Christian faith.” Among English commentators Wordsworth and Hodge are very full on this verse, especially the former, whoso commentary is very unequal, passing by many important passages without a word of explanation, and dwelling upon others with disproportionate length. Hodge is much more symmetrical, but equally dogmatical. Of German commentators, comp. Olshausen, Tholuck, Philippi, Meyer.—P. S.]

FN#73 - Where προτίθημι is used of God’s eternal purpose. In the third passage where Paul employs this verb, Romans 1:13, he means his own purpose. The E. V. translates correctly, (hath) set forth, but suggests in the margin, foreordained. This interpretation would not necessarily require, as Meyer asserts, the infinitive εἶναι (quem esse voluit Deus), comp. προορίζειν, ἐκλέγεσθαι τινά τι, and Romans 8:29 : James 2:5. But it is inconsistent with the context; for Paul refers to a fact rather than a purpose, and emphasizes the publicity of the fact; comp. πεφανέρωται, Romans 3:21, and εἰς ἔνδειξιν, Romans 3:25.—P. S.]

FN#74 - Kypke quotes Euripides, Iphig. Aul., 1592; but in this passage προὔθηκε means either simply: Diana set forth (the sacrificial animal), or she preferred. See Meyer.—P. S.]

FN#75 - Meyer adds examples from Euripides, Thucydides, Demosthenes, and also from the LXX, and remarks, in a note, that the Greeks use προτίθεσθαι especially of the exposure of corpses to public view, and that the Apostle may nave had this in mind.—P. S.]

FN#76 - Προτίθεσθαί τι means to set forth something as his own to others. Comp. J. Chr. K. v. Hofmann: Der Schrifibeweis, ii1, p337 (2d ed.): “Nicht blos ein Interesse hat Gott dabei (Meyer, Schmid), sondern sein ist und von ihm kommt er, den er hinstellt, und er machtihn zu dom, als was er ihn hinstellt.—P. S.]

FN#77 - This meaning of ἱλαστήριον does not occur in the LXX, but often in the later Greek writers. See the examples quoted by Meyer in loco, who himself adopts this explanation. Comp. also the analogous terms χαριστήριον and εὐχαριστήριον, thank-offering, καθάρσιον, offering for purification, σωτήριον, sacrificium pro salute (Heilopfer). The sense then is this: God set forth Jesus Christ, in the sight of the intelligent universe, as a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of the world. The choice lies between this and the third view; the second having no support in the use of language, besides being too abstract. Dr. Lange has made the third interpretation (mercy-seat) more plausible than any other commentator. See below. Comp. also Philippi, p105 f, and Forbes, p166, for the same view.—P. S.]

FN#78 - So also Hofmann, l. c., i1, p340. He takes ἱλαστήριον to be essentially the same as ἱλασμός in 1 John 4:10 : ἀπέστειλεν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἰλασμόν. The E. V. translates both words propitiation. Dr. Morrison, in a monograph on Romans 3, as I learn from Forbes (p166), maintains that ἱλαστήριον is never used substantively in the meaning of propitiatory sacrifice, and concludes for the adjective meaning of “set forth as propitiatory,” which as applied to Christ, would designate Him as the antitypical fulfilment of all the symbols of propitiation.—P. S.]

FN#79 - Philippi, p108, remarks: “The Scripture says, that Christ offered Himself to God as a propitiatory sin-offering, Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 9:28; Ephesians 5:2; John 17:19, but not, that God offered and exhibited Him to mankind as a sacrifice. The sacrifice is not offered by God, but to God.” But there is a difference between God offering His Song of Solomon, and God setting forth His Son as a sacrifice to the contemplation of the world.—P. S.]

FN#80 - The LXX. uses ἱλαστήριον in no other sense, except in the isolated passage, Ezekiel 43:14; Ezekiel 43:17; Ezekiel 43:20, so that every Jewish Christian reader of the Romans must at once have been reminded of the Capporeth in the Holy of holies. Dr. Hodge, p143, asserts that this use of ἱλαστήριον in the LXX, arose from a mistake of the Hebrew term, which, means a cover, and never the mercy-seat. (So also Gesenius, Fritzsche, De Wette, and Bleek, Comm. on Hebrews 9:5, vol. iii, p499, note b.) But כַּפֹּרֶת is not derived from the unusual Kal of the verb קפר (to cover, Genesis 6:14), but from the Piel כִּפֵּר, which always means, to forgive, to propitiate, to atone ( Leviticus 16:33; Deuteronomy 32:43; Ezekiel 43:20; Ezekiel 43:26, &c.), and is the technical term, in the Mosaic ritual, for the object and intent of sacrifice. If the word were formed from the Kal, it would be כְּפֹרֶת. “The golden lid was called כַּפֹּרֶת, not because it covered the open ark, but because it subserved the act of expiation which was here performed “(Bähr, Symbolik des Mos. Cultus, i, p381). The Capporeth was the centre of the presence and revelation of God, and His glory dwelt over it between the two cherubim which overshadowed the ark, and represented the creation. Hence the Holy of holies was called בֵּית הַכַּפֹּרֶת ( 1 Chronicles 28:11). The Peshito and Vulgate (propiliatorium) have followed the LXX. Comp. also Tholuck, Romans, 5 th ed, p157, note; and Ewald, Alterth., p165. But Ewald and Meyer derive כַּפֹּרֶת from כּפר in the sense of scabere, to rub off, to forgive; against which Tholuck protests in favor of the usual derivation from כִּפֵּר. Ewald (l. c., p165, 3d ed. of1866) maintains that Capporeth cannot mean the plain cover, as if the ark had no other, but a second cover or a separate settle (the footstool of Jehovah), which was even more important than the ark itself, and is so described, Ezekiel 25:17-17; Ezekiel 26:34, &c. He derives it from כפר, as scamnum, or scabellum from scabere, and refers to כֶּכֶשׁ, 2 Chronicles 9:18, and to an Ethiopic verb.—P. S.]

FN#81 - Wordsworth, on the contrary, urges προέθετο as an argument against this interpretation, since the mercy-seat was not set forth, but concealed from the people and even from the priests. But this has no force.—P. S.]

FN#82 - Repeated by Jowett in loc.—P. S.]

FN#83 - Meyer, in the third and fourth editions, connects διὰ τῆς πίστεως with ἱλαστήριον, and ἐν τῷ αὐτοῦ αἴματι only with προέθετο: God set forth Christ in His blood (i.e., by causing Him to shed His blood, in which lies the power of the atonement) as a sin-offering, which is effective through faith. De Wette connects both διὰ πίστ. and ἐν τῷ αὐτ. αἵμ. alike with ὃν προέθετο ἱλαστήριον, the former expressing the means of the subjective appropriation (das subjective Aneignungsmittel), the latter the means of the objective exhibition (das objective Darstellungsmittel) of Christ as a propitiatory sacrifice. So also Alford, who seems to follow De Wette (at least in the Romans) more than any other commentator.—P. S.]

FN#84 - Meyer, p146 (4th ed.): “In the strict sense, the judicial (more particularly the punitive) righteousness, which demanded a holy satisfaction, and secured it in the atoning sacrifice of Christ.” De Wette (and, after him, Alford): “This idea alone suits the δικαιοῦν, which is likewise judicial. A sin-offering excites, on the one hand, the feeling of guilt, and is expiation; on the other, it produces pardon and peace; and thus Christ’s death is not only a proof of God’s grace, but also of His judicial righteousness, which requires punishment and expiation ( 2 Corinthians 5:21). Here is a foundation for the Anselmic theory of satisfaction, but not for its grossly anthropopathic execution.—P. S.]

FN#85 - Forbes, p. Romans 168: “God’s judicial righteousness in both its aspects, of sin-condemning and sin-forgiving righteousness.—P. S.]

FN#86 - Dr. Hodge, from fear of Romanizing inferences, takes πάρεσις in the sense of ἄφεσις, and adopts the false translation of the Vulgate propter remissionem, “because God had overlooked or pardoned sin from the beginning.” ? “To say God did not punish sins under the Old Dispensation, is only a different way of saying that He pardoned them. Song of Solomon, ‘not to impute iniquity,’ is the negative statement of justification.” Comp. against this, Textual Note8. Hodge goes on to say (p150): “This passage is one of the few which the Romanists quote in support of their doctrine that there was no real pardon, justification, or salvation before the advent of Christ. The ancient believers, at death, according to their doctrine, did not pass into heaven, but into the limbus patrum, where they continued in a semi-conscious state until Christ’s descensus ad inferos for their deliverance. The modern transcendental theologians of Germany, who approach Romanism in so many other points [?], agree with the Papists also here. Thus Olshausen says, ‘Under the Old Testament there was no real, but only a symbolical forgiveness of sins.’ Our Lord, however, speaks of Abraham as in heaven; and the Psalm are filled with petitions and thanksgiving for God’s pardoning mercy.” But how will Dr. Hodge on his theory explain the Old Testament doctrine of Sheol or Hades before Christ’s resurrection, and such passages as Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 11:39-40; Acts 13:39, which likewise plainly teach the incompleteness of the Old Testament salvation before the advent of Christ? There certainly can be no remission of sin without the sacrifice of Christ; and whatever remission there was under the Old Dispensation, was granted and enjoyed only by reason of the retrospective efficacy, and in trustful anticipation of that sacrifice. But anticipation falls far short of the actual reality. Tholuck calls the atonement of Christ not unaptly “the Divine theodicy for the past history of the world.—P. S.]

FN#87 - Hence Dr. Lange, in his translation, makes a period after ἁμαρτημάτων. I prefer the construction of Meyer and Philippi as being more natural. The ἀνοχή must not be confounded with πρός: the former suspends and puts off the judgment by πάρεσις, the latter abolishes the guilt of sin by ἄφεσις.—P. S.]

FN#88 - Meyer: “πρὸς τὴ νἔνδειξιν, Wiederaufnahme des εὶς ἔνδειξιν, Romans 3:25, und zwar ohne δέ, Romans 3:22, icobei εἰ ς mit dem gleichbedeutenden πρός absichtslos vertauchst ist, der Artikel aber der Vorstellung der bestimmten, geschichtlich gegebenen ἔνδειξις dient, was dem Fortschritte der Darstellung entspricht.” So also Tholuck and Philippi. The latter commentator explains the exchange of πρός for εἰς from euphony, to avoid the threefold repetition of εἰς (ἔςδ., Romans 3:25; εἰς τὸ εἶναι, Romans 3:26).—P. S.]

FN#89 - Meyer takes αὐτός simply as the pronoun of the third person. It evidently belongs both to δίκαιον and δικαιοῦντα.—P. S.]

FN#90 - Hence the article , which seems to refer to the καύχησις already spoken of in Romans 2:17; Romans 3:19, comp. below, Romans 3:29. So Chrysostom, Theodoret (τὸ ὑψηλὸν τῶν ̓Ιουδαίων φρόνημα), Bengel, Rückert, Tholuck, Philippi, Meyer, Alford; while Fritzsche, Hodge, and others, take it in a general sense of the boasting of the sinner before God; which, of course, includes the boasting of the Jews over the Gentiles.—P. S.]

FN#91 - So also Alford and Hodge: “νόμος is not used here in its ordinary sense. The general idea, however, of a rule of action is retained.”—P. S.]

FN#92 - This is very true. Luther’s allein is correct in substance, and appropriate as a gloss or in a paraphrase, but has no business in the text. It is a logical inference from the context, and is equivalent to the ἐὰν μή in the parallel passage, Galatians 2:16. The Latin Vulgate had taken the same liberty, it is true, in other cases; and, in this very verse, Luther’s insertion can be justified by Catholic versions, viz, the oldest German Catholic Bible of Nuremberg (published1483, the year of Luther’s birth), which reads: Nur durch den Gl, and two Italian versions (of Genoa, 1476, and Venice, 1538, per la sola fede). Even Erasmus defended Luther in this case, and said: “Vox sola tot clamoribus lapidata hoc sæculo in Luthero, reverenter in Patribus [?] auditur.” Comp. Wolf, Koppe, Tholuck, and Philippi in loco. Nevertheless, the insertion of the “sola” in the translation was unnecessary and unwise, and, in the eyes of Romanists, it gave some plausibility to the unjust charge of falsifying the Scriptures. It brought Paul into direct verbal (though no real) conflict with James, when he says that by “works man is justified, and not by faith only” (οὐκ ἐκ πίστεως μόνον, Romans 2:24). The dogmatic formula, sola fide (hence the term solifidianism), has become a watchword of evangelical Protestantism, and, rightly understood—i.e., in the sense of gratia sola—it expresses a most precious truth, which can never be sacrificed. But it must not be confounded with fide solitaria, a faith that is and remains alone. The χωρὶς ἔργων νόμου must be connected with the verb, not with πίστει. The Bible never says: “faith justifies,” but, “we are justified by faith (πίστει),” because faith comes into view here simply as a means, or as the ὄργανον ληπτικόν which apprehends and appropriates Christ; and hence it is by faith, without the coöperation of works, that we are justified. But faith is nevertheless the fruitful source of all good works. “Fides sola justificat, at nec Esther, nec manet sola: intrinsecus operatur et extrinsecus.” The more full and correct formula would be: Gratia sola justificamur per fidem quæ christi justitiam apprehendit et per caritatem operatur (πίστις δι ̓ ἀγάπης ἐνεργουμένη), or salvation by grace alone as apprehended by a living faith. Justifying faith purifies the heart, overcomes the world, and abounds in fruits of righteousness. It is impossible truly to believe in Christ, without partaking of the power of His holy life. Wordsworth in loc. hits the point, when he says: “Though it is by faith we are justified, and by faith only, yet not by such a faith as has no works springing out of it. Every such faith is a dead faith. And yet it is not from the works that spring out of faith, but from the faith which is the root of works, that all are justified.” In other words, it is not by faith as an active or working, but by faith as a receptive or appropriating principle, by which we are justified; yet that which faith receives is a power of life which must at once manifest itself in good works. It is but just to Luther to add, that he taught most clearly and forcibly this inseparable connection between faith and works. I shall quote but one passage from his admirable preface to the Epistle to the Romans: “O es ist ein lebendig, geschäftig, thätig, mächtig Ding um den Glauben, dass es unmöglich ist, dass er nicht ohne Unterlass sollte Gutes wirken. Er fragt auch nicht, ob gute Werke zu thun sind, sondern ehe man fragt, hat er sie gethan, und ist immer im Thun. ? Also dass unmöglich ist, Werk vom Glauben zu scheiden; ja, so unmöglich, als brennen und leuchten vom Feuer mag geschieden werden.” Comp. p140, No9.—P. S.]

FN#93 - So also Hodge, since Paul uses both forms indiscriminately; ἐκ, in Romans 1:17; Romans 3:20; Romans 4:16; and διά, in Romans 3:22; Romans 3:25; Galatians 2:16, and sometimes first the one and then the other, in the same connection. Comp. the English prepositions by and through. According to De Wette and Alford, ἐκ πίστεως, by faith, expresses the objective ground; διὰ τῆς πίστεως, through his (their) faith, the subjective medium of justification. Jowett connects ἐκ πίστεως with περιτομήν, the circumcision which is by faith, and thereby destroys the correspondence to the other member. Green (Gr., p300, as quoted by Alford) refers διὰ τῆς πίστεως to πίστεως just mentioned, by the instrumentality of the identical faith which operates in the case of the circumcised. Bengel: “Judæi pridem in fide fuerant; gentiles fidem ab illis recens nacti erant.”—P. S.]

FN#94 - Very similar is the interpretation of Wordsworth: The Jews, or children of Abraham, are justified out of or from (ἐκ) the faith which Abraham their father had, and which they are supposed to have in him, being already in the covenant with God in Christ. The Gentiles, οἱ ἔξω, must enter that door of the faith of Abraham, and pass through it (διά), in order to be justified. There is but one Church from the beginning. Abraham and his seed are in the household of faith in Christ, but they must live and act from its spirit; the heathen must enter the house through the door of that faith in Him.—P. S.]

FN#95 - Comp. a long note of Wordsworth in loc., who assigns no less than twelve reasons for the assertion of Romans 3:21, viz, because the doctrine of justification is grounded on the testimony of the law that all are under sin; because the sacrifice of Christ was pre-announced by the passover, and other sacrifices of the law; because the law reveals God as a just Judges, who needs an adequate propitiation for sin; because the death of Christ is such a propitiation; because Christ has, by His perfect obedience to the law, established its dignity; because justification by faith obliges men to new degrees of love and gratitude to God, &c, &c. But these are all subordinate points.—In one sense the law is abolished, as a type and shadow of things to come; as a hilling letter, with its curse; comp. Ephesians 2:25; Galatians 3:13; but as to its moral contents, as the expression of the holy will of God, as a rule of conduct, it was perfectly fulfilled by Christ, and is constantly fulfilled by every believer in love to God and love to our neighbor. The decalogue is a national code in form, a universal code in spirit and aim. This applies to all the Ten Commandments, from which we cannot take out one (say the second, or the fourth) without marring the beauty, harmony, and completeness of the whole. Christ has settled that question in His interpretation of the law, by the fundamental principle of the magna charta of the kingdom of heaven, as laid down Matthew 5:17 ff.—P. S.]

FN#96 - The Deutsche Theologie, or Theologia Germanica, is the work of an unknown author of the fifteenth century, and was edited by Dr. Luther with a highly commendatory preface in1516, one year before the commencement of the Reformation. Recent editions by Pfeiffer, 1855, and Reifenrath, 1863. There is also an English translation by Susanna Winkworth, with introductions by Bunsen and Kingsley, London, 1855, reprinted at Andover, 1856.—P. S.]

FN#97 - As set forth in his celebrated tract, Cur Deus Homo. An able and vigorous, but unsuccessful attempt to set aside the orthodox view of the atonement has been made in America by Dr. Bushnell, The Vicarious Sacrifice, New York, 1866. Comp. also the English work of Young on Christ the Light and Life of the World, 1867, and Jowett’s excursus on the Doctrine of the Atonement (Rom., p468 ff.—P. S.]


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Romans 3:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.

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Monday, September 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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