Romans 3
Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?
Romans 3:1-3

'The Jews,' says Heine, 'might well console themselves for the loss of Jerusalem and the Temple, and the Ark of the Covenant, the sacred jewels of the high priest, and the golden vases of Solomon. Such a loss is trifling compared with the Bible—that indestructible treasure which they saved.'

References.—III. 1.—H. S. Holland, Vital Values, p. 211. III. 1-8.—Bishop Gore, The Epistle to the Romans, p. 114. III. 19.—Expositor (5th Series), vol. vi. p. 66. III. 2.—Ibid. (4th Series), vol. iii. p. 13. III. 3.—W. P. Du Bose, The Gospel According to St. Paul, p. 57. H. Alford, Sermons on Christian Doctrine, p. 42. P. McAdam Muir, Modern Substitutes for Christianity, p. 3. III. 3, 4.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxviii. No. 2255. III. 5.—Expositor (5th Series), vol. ix. p. 11. III. 9.—Ibid. (6th Series), vol. x. pp. 188, 193. III. 9-20.—Bishop Gore, The Epistle to the Romans, p. 121. III. 10-12.—Expositor (5th Series), vol. iii. p. 280. III. 10-18.—Ibid. (4th Series), vol. vii. p. 421. III. 10, 19-24.—W. P. Du Bose, The Gospel According to St. Paul, p. 69. III. 11.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xliii. No. 2545. III. 12.—Expositor (6th Series), vol. vii. p. 114; ibid. vol. xi. p. 287. III. 13-18.—H. Bushnell, Preacher's Magazine, vol. xix. p. 365. III. 14.—Expositor (6th Series), vol. xii. p. 62.

The Consciousness of Evil

Romans 3:20

Here the Apostle speaks of the fundamental evil, sin, and of its emergence in our consciousness. Let us notice:—I. The instrument of conviction. 'By the law.' Do you ask for a summary of this law? You have it in the ten commandments of Sinai. Do you ask for an exposition of it? Revelation at large is its paraphrase. Do you ask for an example of it? You have the supreme example in Jesus Christ. The law of which our text speaks is the law of inward truth, love, justice, purity, peace, and this is the instrument whose fierce light convinces the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Keats says, 'Axioms are not axioms until they have been proved upon our pulses.' No; only then does the profound meaning of the simple trite maxim come out. And the axioms of the moral law are not axioms to us, we do not appreciate their infinite depth and significance, until the Spirit of God has proved them upon our wounded conscience and our troubled heart.

II. The consciousness of sin. (1) By the law as unfolded in revelation we discover the fact of sin. Renan has written, 'It may be said, in fact, that original sin was an invention of the Jahvaist'. What a strange misuse of language to speak of the sacred writers as inventing original sin! No; revelation did not invent the doctrine of original sin; that doctrine serious men have discerned in all ages, that doctrine the scientist finds deep down in the grounds of human nature. What revelation has done is to define the doctrine, to make clear its real nature, to express its characters, to discover its source, to bring it home to the conscience, and, thank God, to prescribe for it a sovereign remedy. (2) By the law as unfolded in revelation we discover the nature of sin. Sin, as against God, is the preference of our own will to the Supreme Will. Sin, as against society, is the exaggeration of our own personal rights to the prejudice of our neighbour. Sin, as against ourselves, is the preference of our lower to our higher nature. (3) By the law as unfolded in revelation we discover the strength of sin. (4) By the law as unfolded in revelation we discover the guilt of sin.

III. A word to those who have no proper consciousness of sin. To have no consciousness of sin, no proper consciousness of it, is no proof of our integrity; much more likely is it a proof that our conscience has become benumbed and indurated by years of worldliness and disobedience. (1) We must come to the light that we may be reproved. (2) We must remember that the law does not give us deliverance from sin. (3) The redemption of our life is in Christ Jesus.

—W. L. Watkinson, The Transfigured Sackcloth, p. 149.

References.—III. 20.—W. B. Selbie, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lv. p. 44. Expositor (4th Series), vol. iv. p. 22; ibid. vol. viii. p. 22; ibid. (5th Series), vol. viii. p. 277; ibid. (6th Series), vol. iii. p. 175; ibid. (7th Series), vol. v. p. 338. III. 21.—Ibid. (4th Series), vol. ix. p. 342; ibid. (5th Series), vol. vii. p. 148. III. 21, 22.—Bishop Bethell, Sermons, vol. i. pp. 1 and 20. Expositor (5th Series), vol. iv. p. 131; ibid. vol. viii. p. 143. III. 21-30.—Ibid. p. 62. III. 21.-IV. 25.—Bishop Gore, The Epistle to the Romans, p. 130. III. 22, 23.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlv. No. 2608. III. 22-25.—W. P. Du Bose, The Gospel According to St. Paul, p. 83.

Romans 3:23

So we come to the word which is in some sense the governing word of the Epistle to the Romans—the word all. As the word righteousness is the governing word of St. Paul's entire mind and life, so the word all may stand for the governing word of this his chief Epistle.

—Matthew Arnold.

References.—III. 23.—H. Alford, Sermons on Christian Doctrine, p. 1. J. N. Bennie, The Eternal Life, p. 50. J. T. Parr, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvi. p. 4. T. F. Crosse, Sermons (2nd Series), p. 27. J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons (9th Series), p. 160. R. J. Campbell, City Temple Sermons, p. 13. F. W. Farrar, Truths to Live By, p. 217. III. 23-26.—Bishop Gore, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvii. p. 241. Expositor (4th Series), vol. ii. p. 257; ibid. (6th Series), vol. viii. p. 335. III. 24.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iii. No. 126. E. A. Stuart, The Great High Priest and other Sermons, vol. xii. p. 25. Expositor (4th Series), vol. vi. p. 135; ibid. (6th Series), vol. iii. p. 331. III. 24, 25.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vii. No. 373. F. W. Farrar, Truths to Live By, p. 260. III. 24-26.—C. D. Bell, The Power of God, p. 24. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. liii. No. 3038. Expositor (4th Series), vol. v. pp. 112, 358, 432.

Romans 3:25

The happy period which was to shake off my fetters, and afford me a clear opening of the free mercy of God in Christ Jesus was now arrived. I flung myself into a chair near the window, and seeing a Bible there, ventured once more to apply to it for comfort and instruction. The first verse I saw was the 25th of the 3rd of Romans: Whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, by His blood, to manifest His righteousness. Immediately I received strength to believe, and the full beams of the Sun of Righteousness shone upon me. In a moment I believed, and received the gospel.


References.—III. 25.—A. Moorhouse, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvii. p. 264. F. W. Farrar, Truths to Live By, p. 247. Expositor (4th Series), vol. viii. p. 193; ibid. (5th Series), vol. x. pp. 103, 328. III. 25, 26.—J. D. Thompson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlviii. p. 42. Expositor (4th Series), vol. vi. p. 347; ibid. (5th Series), vol. iv. p. 277; ibid. vol. vi. p. 158. III. 25-28, 31.—W. P. Du Bose, The Gospel According to St. Paul, p. 97.

Romans 3:26

Justification... is a great and august deed in the sight of heaven and hell; it is not done in a corner but by Him who would show the world what should be done unto those whom the king delighteth to honour. It is a pronouncing righteous while it proceeds to make righteous.

Such is the force of passages like the following: To show forth His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, to show forth, I say, at this time, His righteousness. Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? Who is he that condemneth? as if publicly challenging the world... and so again St. Paul, quoting Isaiah, Whosoever believeth in Him shall not be ashamed. In these and similar passages the great recovery or justification of the sinner in God's sight is not the silent bestowal of a gift, but an open display of His power and love.

—Newman's Lectures on Justification.

References.—III. 26.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. v. No. 255. W. Robertson Nicoll, Ten Minute Sermons, p. 201. Expositor (5th Series), vol. vii. p. 375. III. 27.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. viii. No. 429. Expositor (4th Series), vol. viii. p. 83. III. 27-30.—J. Denney, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvii. p. 292. III. 27-31.—Ibid. vol. lix. p. 233. III. 28.—John Thomas, Myrtle Street Pulpit, vol. ii. p. 114. W. J. H. Price, Preacher's Magazine, vol. x. p. 36. J. T. O'Brien, The Nature and the Effects of Faith, pp. 77, 103, 127. III. 31.—F. B. Woodward, Sermons (2nd Series), p. 320. IV.—For an Exposition of the whole chapter see Bishop Gore's The Epistle to the Romans, p. 155. Expositor (4th Series), vol. vii. p. 423.

Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?
God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.
But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)
God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?
For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?
And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.
What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
Their feet are swift to shed blood:
Destruction and misery are in their ways:
And the way of peace have they not known:
There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Now 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 become guilty before God.
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance 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.
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:
Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
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