The Condemnation of Israel.
SUMMARY.--The Special Privileges of Israel.
The Special Claim of the Jew.
God's Faithfulness Shown in Keeping his Covenant with the Children of Faith.
No Difference between Jew and Gentile.
By the Law no Flesh Justified.
Justification to the Believer in Christ.
1-4. What advantage then hath the Jew? In the second chapter
Paul has shown that the Jews as well as the Gentiles are included under
sin, and that the possession of the law and the rite of circumcision
were of no avail unless the law was kept faithfully. In this chapter
the Jew is supposed to object to this conclusion; his objections are
presented, and answered. The first is, "What advantage is it then to
the Jew to have the law and the rite of circumcision at all, if all,
both Jew and Gentile, will be judged on the same principles in the
judgment day?" The
gives the answer.
2. Much every way. The Jew had great advantages. He had greater
light, more knowledge, better privileges, higher honors. The greatest
advantage was that they had
the oracles of God, the Holy Scriptures, and hence the promises
which revealed a Messiah of mankind. This was not the only advantage,
but the first.
3. What if some did not believe? In this verse the Jew raises a
second objection. God has made a promise to Abraham to be a God to him
and to his seed in all generations.
"Shall God's faithfulness be made of none effect, his promise be
broken, because a great part of Israel does not believe upon the
promised Seed of Abraham, who was to bless all nations?"
4. God forbid. The Greek means, literally, "Not so." It does not
follow that God is unfaithful, because he rejects unbelieving Israel,
for his covenant with Israel and his promise to Abraham were
Let God be true, but every man a liar. That is, Let us believe
all men to have broken their word, rather than God his.
As it is written.
One of the penitential psalms, in which David mourns over his own sins.
God's sayings, his threatenings, are justified by his judgments. They
were in the case of David. They were also in the rejection of the
Jewish nation, in spite of the promise, when it had rejected the Holy
One of Israel.
5-9. But if our unrighteousness commendeth the righteousness of
God, etc. Here is presented the Jews' third objection to the
conclusion that Israel is under judgment for sin. Paul has just shown
that God's righteousness is shown forth in condemning the Jews for
their unbelief. "But," says the Jew, "if our unrighteousness
demonstrates God's faithfulness, when he condemns us for unbelief, is
it right that we should be punished? Our sin gives occasion for God's
holiness to be shown forth. Why, then, should we be punished for
furnishing such an occasion? Speaking after the manner of men, is not
God unrighteous, when he sends wrath on our nation for its
6. God forbid. Rather, "By no means."
How shall God judge the world? How, if no sin is punished which
God turns to some good purpose, shall he judge all men according to
7. Why yet am I also judged as a sinner? Here the Jew is
supposed to repeat the last objection in another form. "God's truth is
shown by our lie. His threatenings are demonstrated to be absolutely
true by his rejection of the Jewish nation. If our lie, our false life,
has thus shown forth his glory, why should we be individually
8. Let us do evil that good may come. The apostle replies to
this argument with a reductio ad absurdum. This amounts to
saying, "Do evil that good may come," an abominable doctrine,
slanderously charged upon Paul by enemies, would justify every
iniquity. This doctrine, so strongly condemned, has been taught by the
Whose damnation is just. All
who teach such doctrine are justly condemned.
9. Are we better than they? If Jews shall be judged as well as
Gentiles, are not we Jews, having the oracles of God, better than they,
and hence likely to be justified? The Jew is still supposed to be
speaking. To this Paul replies,
In no wise, for he had already shown
(chapters 1 and 2)
that both Jews and Gentiles were sinners before God.
10-18. As it is written.
Psalms 14:1-3 and 53:1-3.
Paul quotes the Jewish Scriptures to confirm his statement.
None righteous. None absolutely free from sin.
11. None that seeketh after God. A general statement of the
sinfulness of Jew as well as Gentile.
12. None that doeth good. Not one absolutely good. According to
the flesh all tended to evil.
13. Their throat is an open sepulchre. Thus far the statements
have been general. Now we come to particulars. If the grave is opened,
corruption is manifest. So corruption comes from the throats of men
when they speak.
The poison of asps. The venom of falsehood, as deadly as the
15. Their feet are swift to shed blood. To carry their owners on
a mission of murder.
18. There is no fear of God, etc. David, in the psalms quoted,
has affirmed in the strongest possible language, the universal
sinfulness. The Jews accepted David's words as inspired. These words
included Jews as well as Gentiles; hence all are included under
19-26. Whatsoever the law saith, etc. The law of Moses was
written for the Jews especially, and whatsoever it saith, it saith to
those under it, to the Jews; just as the United States law is addressed
to the people of the United States.
That every mouth may be stopped. It has just been seen that even
the mouth of the Jew is stopped, since "none are righteous, no, not
all the world, Jew as well as Gentile, are guilty before
20. Therefore, by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be
justified. Since all are found to be sinners, law-breakers, none
can be counted sinless; or, in other words, justified.
Works of the law. In the Greek, this reads, Works of
The statement is general, and of course would include the law of Moses.
For by the law is the knowledge of sin. Again the article is not
found in the Greek before law. Law, generally, when once known,
reveals to us that we are transgressors. The savage steals as a
legitimate pursuit, but when once he hears the law, "Thou shalt not
his sin is revealed.
21. The righteousness of God without the law (Greek, without
is manifested. A righteousness that does not spring from perfect
obedience to law (without law), is predicted both by the law of Moses
and the prophets of Israel.
22. Even the righteousness . . . by faith of Jesus
Christ. The Gospel, wherein we are "justified by faith, and have
peace with God through Jesus Christ."
All were guilty under the law, but the law and prophets pointed to
forgiveness in Christ.
Unto all them that believe. There is justification for every
sincere believer, whether Jew or Gentile, for there is no difference
between them, but not for the unbelieving impenitent.
23. For all have sinned. This has been already shown.
And come short of the glory of God. Wickliffe says, "Have need of
the glory of God." I believe this suggests the idea. Man was made
originally in the image of God. He was then sinless. No sinner is in
the Divine image. All have sinned, and to have the divine likeness
restored, need to have their sins blotted out. Until this is done they
come short of the glory of God.
24. Being justified freely by his grace. All who believe upon
Jesus Christ have their sins thus blotted out, being freely, as a
divine gift, justified (that is, counted just, or sinless) by grace,
through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Christ redeems
the sinner who puts his trust in him. His blood pays the debt that the
sinner owes to justice. Since Christ, the sinless One, has suffered for
sin, God will accept his suffering for the debt of those who love and
trust in him.
25. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation. Christ was
publicly shown forth as a MERCY SEAT (a
Propitiatory). As God of old met Israel at the mercy seat when the
blood of the atonement was offered,
so Christ on the Cross is our mercy seat. There we meet God who comes
to us then in tender mercy,
to declare his righteousness, to show it to us, in bestowing
righteousness upon us in forgiving out past sins. This system of
forgiveness, or righteousness through the cross of Christ, is the
righteousness without law predicted by the Law and the Prophets.
26. That he might be just. Can God be just, and yet justify the
sinner? Only, because justice was fully satisfied when the sinless
Christ died, not for himself, but for his people. The believer in
Christ Jesus, trusting in him, baptized into Christ, into his death, is
in Christ, and Christ hath paid the penalty for all who are found in
27-31. Where is boasting then? If we are justified, not by our
own righteous works, not by the law of Moses, but as a free gift of God
through a law of faith, where is the ground for Jew or Gentile to
28. Therefore. The conclusion of the line of argument is now
reached. No man is justified
works of law (no article in the Greek), but by faith, the faith
that brings into loving obedience to Christ.
29. Is he the God of the Jews only? If God is the God of all
nations, it ought to be regarded a reasonable thing that he would
justify through faith Gentiles as well as Jews.
30. As there is one God, there is one plan of justification.
The circumcision, the Jews are justified by faith, a faith not
in God, whom they already acknowledged, but a faith in Christ, God
manifest in the flesh. In the same way the
uncircumcision, the Gentile world, are justified
through the faith. The Gospel is meant by the faith (the
article is found in the Greek). The salvation of both is by faith in
31. Do we then make void the law? Do we make it useless through
the faith; i. e., through the Gospel? (the article is found
before faith in the Greek).
We establish the law. Rather, law (the article is not found in
the Greek). Law is confirmed and rendered sacred, when its just demands
are met by the suffering of the Son of God himself.