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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Romans 3

 

 

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Verses 1-31

Romans 3:1-2. What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

It was a great thing to be a Jew in those old times. When all the rest of the world was in the dark, the Jews had the light: “Unto them were committed the oracles of God.”

Romans 3:3. For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?

That is to say, if they did not believe God, did that make him untrue?

Romans 3:4. 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.

Whatever men did under the old law, however faithless they might be. God was true and faithful still.

Romans 3:5-6. 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?

Whenever anybody insinuates that God is not just, Paul protests against such an idea. “No,” says he, “he must of necessity be just because he is God; for how could he judge the world if he were unrighteous?”

Romans 3:7-8. 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.

No Christian man ever did say, “Let us do evil that good may come.” If anybody else ever does say it, his condemnation is most just. Albeit that God, in infinite wisdom, does cause even the sin of man to illustrate the greatness of his grace, yet that by no means excuses his sin, but leaves it an abominable evil, most hateful in the sight of the thrice-holy Jehovah.

Romans 3:9. 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;

Read the earlier chapters of this Epistle, chapters that are enough to make the heart sick to read them, and to make the head ache with the memory of them, and when you have read them, you will say that Paul has proved that both Jews and Gentiles are under sin.

Romans 3:10. As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

Note in the passage we are going to read how Paul rings the changes upon those two words, “All” and “none.” He begins with the word “none.”

Romans 3:11-12. 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.

Yet men come and talk to us about the righteous heathen whose virtues they extol, the imaginary good people, for there are none such actually in existence. Here the Lord himself is speaking, and the Spirit of God is quoting from passages of the Old Testament, which he puts together to describe the character of humanity. How sweeping are all the terms! “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.”

Romans 3:13-16. Their throat is an open sepulcher, 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:

How true that last verse is of many today! Their sins are destroying them, the lusts of the flesh destroy the body, drunkenness and such like sin are destructive habits, and they make those who practice them to be miserable: “Destruction and misery are in their ways.” What miserable persons, what miserable families, what miserable countries, are made by indulgence in sin! There is no true happiness without holiness.

Romans 3:17. And the way of peace have they not known:

Quietness, happiness, and rest are not known by sinful men. They are not in the way of finding peace.

Romans 3:18. There is no fear of God before their eyes,

How true is this terrible accusation, especially of this present age! Men seem to be casting off all fear of God. Anyone who reads human history will, I think, detect that the present condition of society in our country, religiously, is wonderfully like the condition of France before the great Revolution, which brought so much bloodshed with it. Everything seems loosening, and broadening, and tending downwards; and especially “there is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Romans 3:19. 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.

Every man by nature tries to open his mouth, and say the best he can for himself, but it is the object of God’s law to shut every man’s mouth; and when we come to that condition, then there is hope for us. When we have nothing to say for ourselves, then the Lord Jesus will open his mouth for the dumb, and plead for the guilty in the courts of God.

Romans 3:20. 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,

All the law can do is to show us our sin. The law is a mirror, and looking in it you can see your spots; but you cannot wash in a looking-glass. If you want to be cleansed from your stains, you must go somewhere else. The object of the law of God is not to cleanse us, but to show us how much cleansing we need; to reveal our disease, not to find a remedy for it.

Romans 3:21-22. 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:

You see, we cannot become righteous by the law. Paul says that there is no one who has ever obtained righteousness in that way. We, on the contrary, have so sinned that we never can become righteous through the law; but there is a new way of righteousness, the way of the righteousness of God; and God’s righteousness is much better than the best human righteousness can ever be conceived to be. There is a righteousness which comes to us by faith in Jesus Christ, not by doing, but by believing, a righteousness which is freely bestowed upon all them that believe.

Romans 3:22-24. 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:

I have heard persons ask, “Why do you say, ‘free grace’? If it is grace, it must be free.” Well, we say “free grace”, because the Scripture says, “freely by his grace”; and as the Lord never uses superfluous words, we conceive that we are not guilty of tautology when we say “free grace,”

Romans 3:25-26. 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.

Not of him who works for salvation, but of him who believes; not of him who merits, but of him who trusts. This is God’s way of righteousness, and we are sent to declare it. Oh, that the Spirit of God may be given to make the declaration acceptable to your hearts!

Romans 3:27. Where is boasting then? It is excluded.

Shut out, done with.

Romans 3:27. By what law? of works?

No, no, the law of works would have allowed us to boast. We should have merited whatever we earned by our own excellence, and we might have gloried in it.

Romans 3:27-31. 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? Yea, 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.

This exposition consisted of readings from Romans 3, and Romans 4:16-25.


Verses 9-27

Romans 3:9. What then? are we better than they?

The first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans contains so horrible an account of the manners of the Gentiles, the heathen of Paul’s day, that it is one of the most painful chapters in Scripture to read. Not long ago, one of our missionaries, out in China, was attacked concerning the Bible on this very ground. One of the learned men said to him, “This Bible of yours cannot be as ancient as you say that it is, for it is quite clear that the next chapter of the Epistle to the Nomads must have been written by somebody who had been in China, and who had seen the habits and ways of the people here,” — so accurate is the Holy Spirit, who knew right well what the ways and manners and secret vices of the heathen were, and still are. But the Jews said, “Ah, but this is a description of the Gentiles.” So Paul replies, “What then? are we better than they?

Romans 3:9-10. No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentile, that they are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

Then he selects passages out of different parts of Scripture to show what man is by nature.

Romans 3:11-18. 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 sepulcher, 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.

These are all quotations from Old Testament Scriptures, from their own psalmists and prophets, from whom Paul quotes to the Jews so that they might see what their own character was by nature.

Romans 3:19. 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.

The law was given to the Jews, and the descriptions which it gives must be descriptions of the Jews “Therefore,” says Paul, “as Gentile mouths have been already stopped by the descriptions of their vices, you also, the favored people of God, have your mouths stopped by the descriptions of yourselves taken from your own prophets.”

Romans 3:20. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh —

Whether Jew or Gentile, —

Romans 3:20-21. Be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now —

Since man is lost, since man is guilty, —

Romans 3:21-27. 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?

If salvation is given to the guilty, and if all are guilty, — if no one can claim exemption, and yet salvation is freely given, — what then? Why, salvation must be purely by the grace of God; so let grace have all the honour. “Where is boasting then?”

Romans 3:27. It is excluded. By what law of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

The law of works sometimes aids boasting, for a man rejoices and glories in what he has done; yet the law of works ought to stop our boasting because we are guilty in God’s sight. The law of faith does stop our mouth, because we are under obligation to God, and do not dare to boast, seeing that we have nothing of good but what we have received from God.

This exposition consisted of readings from Romans 3:9-27; Romans 5:6-11; Romans 8:1-32.


Verses 9-31

Romans 3:9-18. 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 sepulcher: 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.

This is a description of man given ‘by prophets in the olden times. “Now,” says Paul, “we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law.” So that this is a description of the Jews, a description of the people who had the light, the best people that then were upon the face of the earth, and if these be the good people, where are the Gentiles, the bad ones, without the light?

Romans 3:19-22. 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:

There is no righteousness of works on the face of the earth. The law ‘itself describes men as being sinful from their throat to their feet. Almost every member of the body is mentioned and described as being foul with sin. But, says Paul, there is another righteousness on the face of the earth, and that is the righteousness of God’s grace, which comes through believing in Christ.

Romans 3:23-31. 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.


Verses 19-31

Romans 3:19-20. 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.

The law can convict and condemn, but it can never justify the guilty. Its special work is to prove that they are not justified in sinning, and to stop their mouths from uttering any excuse for their sin.

Romans 3:21-24. 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:

Now there comes in a new principle, — the principle of grace, which accomplishes what the law never could accomplish; that is, the free justification of all the guilty ones who believe in Jesus. And this justification is a righteous one, seeing that it is based upon “the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” —

Romans 3:25-27. 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.

Faith’s empty hand receives the free gift of grace, and that very fact excludes all boasting.

Romans 3:28-31. 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.

This exposition consisted of readings from Romans 3:19-31; and Romans 4:1-21.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Romans 3:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/romans-3.html. 2011.

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