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Chapter 3

3:1 What advantage then hath the Jew? [ti oun to perisson tou Ioudaiou?]. Literally, “What then is the overplus of the Jew?” What does the Jew have over and above the Gentile? It is a pertinent question after the stinging indictment of the Jew in chapter 2. The profit [hē ōphelia]. The help. Old word, only here in N.T. See Mr 8:36 for [ōphelei], the verb to profit.

3:2 Much every way [polu kata panta]. [Polu] points back to [to perisson]. So it means the overplus of the Jew is much from every angle. First of all [prōton men]. As in 1:8; 1Co 11:18 Paul does not add to his “first.” He singles out one privilege of the many possessed by the Jew. They were intrusted with [episteuthēsan]. First aorist passive indicative of [pisteuō], to intrust, with accusative of the thing and dative of the person in the active. In the passive as here the accusative of the thing is retained as in 1Th 2:4. The oracles of God [ta logia tou theou]. In the accusative case, therefore, the object of [episteuthēsan]. [Logion] is probably a diminutive of [logos], word, though the adjective [logios] also occurs (Ac 18:24). The word was early used for “oracles” from Delphi and is common in the LXX for the oracles of the Lord. But from Philo on it was used of any sacred writing including narrative. It occurs four times in the N.T. (Ac 7:38, which see; Ro 3:2; Heb 5:12; 1Pe 4:11). It is possible that here and in Ac 7:38 the idea may include all the Old Testament, though the commands and promises of God may be all.

3:3 For what if? [ti gar ei?]. But Westcott and Hort print it, [Ti gar? ei]. See Php 1:18 for this exclamatory use of [ti gar] (for how? How stands the case?). Some were without faith [ēpistēsan]. First aorist active indicative of [apisteō], old verb, to disbelieve. This is the common N.T. meaning (Lu 24:11, 41; Ac 28:24; Ro 4:20). Some of them “disbelieved,” these “depositaries and guardians of revelation” (Denney). But the word also means to be unfaithful to one’s trust and Lightfoot argues for that idea here and in 2Ti 2:13. The Revised Version renders it “faithless” there. Either makes sense here and both ideas are true of some of the Jews, especially concerning the Messianic promises and Jesus. The faithfulness of God [tēn pistin tou theou]. Undoubtedly [pistis] has this sense here and not “faith.” God has been faithful (2Ti 2:13) whether the Jews (some of them) were simply disbelievers or untrue to their trust. Paul can use the words in two senses in verse 3, but there is no real objection to taking [ēpistēsan, apistian, pistin], all to refer to faithfulness rather than just faith.

3:4 Let God be found true [ginesthō ho theos alēthēs]. “Let God continue to be true” (present middle imperative). But every man a liar [pās de anthrōpos pseustēs]. The contrast in [de] really means, “though every man be found a liar.” Cf. Ps 116:12. As it is written [kathōs gegraptai]. Ps 51:6. That thou mightest be justified [hopōs an dikaiōthēis]. [Hopōs] rather than the common [hina] for purpose and [an] with the first aorist passive subjunctive of [dikaioō]. Used of God this verb here has to mean “declared righteous,” not “made righteous.” Mightest prevail [nikēseis]. Future active indicative with [hopōs] of [nikaō], to win a victory, though B L have [nikēsēis] (first aorist active subjunctive, the usual construction). When thou comest into judgement [en tōi krinesthai se]. “In the being judged as to thee” (present passive infinitive or, if taken as middle, “in the entering upon trial as to thee”). Common construction in the LXX from the Hebrew infinitive construct.

3:5 What shall we say? [ti eroumen?]. Rhetorical question, common with Paul as he surveys the argument. Commendeth [sunistēsin]. This common verb [sunistēmi], to send together, occurs in the N.T. in two senses, either to introduce, to commend (2Co 3:1; 4:2) or to prove, to establish (2Co 7:11; Ga 2:18; Ro 5:8). Either makes good sense here. Who visiteth the wrath [ho epipherōn tēn orgēn]. “Who brings on the wrath,” “the inflicter of the anger” (Vaughan). I speak as a man [kata anthrōpon]. See Ga 3:15 for same phrase. As if to say, “pardon me for this line of argument.” Tholuck says that the rabbis often used [kata anthrōpon] and [ti eroumen]. Paul had not forgotten his rabbinical training.

3:6 For then how [epei pōs]. There is a suppressed condition between [epei] and [pōs], an idiom occurring several times in the N.T. (1Co 15:29; Ro 11:6, 22). “Since, if that were true, how.”

3:7 Through my lie [en tōi emōi pseusmati.] Old word from [pseudomai], to lie, only here in N.T. Paul returns to the imaginary objection in verse 5. The MSS. differ sharply here between [ei de] (but if) and [ei gar] (for if). Paul “uses the first person from motives of delicacy” (Sanday and Headlam) in this supposable case for argument’s sake as in 1Co 4:6. So here he “transfers by a fiction” (Field) to himself the objection.

3:8 And why not [kai mē]. We have a tangled sentence which can be cleared up in two ways. One is (Lightfoot) to supply [genētai] after [] and repeat [ti] [kai ti mē genētai], deliberative subjunctive in a question): And why should it not happen? The other way (Sanday and Headlam) is to take [] with [poiēsōmen] and make a long parenthesis of all in between. Even so it is confusing because [hoti] also (recitative [hoti] comes just before [poiēsōmen]. The parenthesis is necessary anyhow, for there are two lines of thought, one the excuse brought forward by the unbeliever, the other the accusation that Paul affirms that very excuse that we may do evil that good may come. Note the double indirect assertion (the accusative and the infinitive [hēmās legein] after [phasin] and then the direct quotation with recitative [hoti] after [legein], a direct quotation dependent on the infinitive in indirect quotation. Let us do evil that good may come [poiēsōmen ta kaka hina elthēi ta agatha]. The volitive aorist subjunctive [poiēsōmen] and the clause of purpose [hina] and the aorist subjunctive [elthēi]. It sounds almost uncanny to find this maxim of the Jesuits attributed to Paul in the first century by Jews. It was undoubtedly the accusation of Antinomianism because Paul preached justification by faith and not by works.

3:9 What then? [ti oun?]. Paul’s frequent query, to be taken with verses 1, 2. Are we in worse case than they? [proechometha?]. The American Revisers render it: “Are we in better case than they?” There is still no fresh light on this difficult and common word though it occurs alone in the N.T. In the active it means to have before, to excel. But here it is either middle or passive. Thayer takes it to be middle and to mean to excel to one’s advantage and argues that the context demands this. But no example of the middle in this sense has been found. If it is taken as passive, Lightfoot takes it to mean, “Are we excelled” and finds that sense in Plutarch. Vaughan takes it as passive but meaning, “Are we preferred?” This suits the context, but no other example has been found. So the point remains unsettled. The papyri throw no light on it. No, in no wise [ou pantōs]. “Not at all.” See 1Co 5:10. We before laid to the charge [proēitiasametha]. First aorist middle indicative of [proaitiaomai], to make a prior accusation, a word not yet found anywhere else. Paul refers to 1:18-32 for the Greeks and 2:1-29 for the Jews. The infinitive [einai] with the accusative [pantas] is in indirect discourse. Under sin [hupo hamartian]. See Ga 3:22; Ro 7:14.

3:10 As it is written [kathōs gegraptai hoti]. Usual formula of quotation as in verse 4 with recitative [hoti] added as in verse 8. Paul here uses a catena or chain of quotations to prove his point in verse 9 that Jews are in no better fix than the Greeks for all are under sin. Dr. J. Rendel Harris has shown that the Jews and early Christians had Testimonia (quotations from the Old Testament) strung together for certain purposes as proof-texts. Paul may have used one of them or he may have put these passages together himself. Verses 10-12 come from Ps 14:1-3; first half of 13 as far as [edoliousan] from Ps 4:9, the second half from Ps 140:3; verse 14 from Ps 10:7; 15-17 from an abridgment of Isa 59:7f.; verse 18 from Ps. 35:1. Paul has given compounded quotations elsewhere (2Co 6:16; Ro 9:25f., 27f.; 11:26f., 34f.; 12:19f.). Curiously enough this compounded quotation was imported bodily into the text (LXX) of Ps 14 after verse 4 in Aleph B, etc. There is none righteous, no, not one [ouk estin dikaios oude heis]. “There is not a righteous man, not even one.” This sentence is like a motto for all the rest, a summary for what follows.

3:11 That understandeth [suniōn]. Present active participle of [suniō], late omega form of [-mi] verb [suniēmi], to send together, to grasp, to comprehend. Some MSS. have the article [ho] before it as before [ekzētōn] (seeking out).

3:12 They are together become unprofitable [hama ēchreōthēsan]. First aorist passive indicative of [achreoō]. Late word in Polybius and Cilician inscription of first century A.D. Some MSS. read [ēchreiōthēsan] from [achreios], useless [a] privative and [chreios], useful) as in Lu 17:10; Mt 25:30, but Westcott and Hort print as above from the rarer spelling [achreos]. Only here in N.T. The Hebrew word means to go bad, become sour like milk (Lightfoot). No, not so much as one [ouk estin heōs henos]. “There is not up to one.”

3:13 Throat [larugx]. Old word, larynx. Open sepulchre [taphos aneōigmenos]. Perfect passive participle of [anoigō], “an opened grave.” Their mouth (words) like the odour of a newly opened grave. “Some portions of Greek and Roman literature stink like a newly opened grave” (Shedd). They have used deceit [edoliousan]. Imperfect (not perfect or aorist as the English implies) active of [dolioō], only in LXX and here in the N.T. from the common adjective [dolios], deceitful (2Co 11:13). The regular form would be [edolioun]. The [-osan] ending for third plural in imperfect and aorist was once thought to be purely Alexandrian because so common in the LXX, but it is common in the Boeotian and Aeolic dialects and occurs in [eichosan] in the N.T. (Joh 15:22,24). “They smoothed their tongues” in the Hebrew. Poison [ios]. Old word both for rust (Jas 5:3) and poison (Jas 3:8). Of asps [aspidōn]. Common word for round bowl, shield, then the Egyptian cobra (a deadly serpent). Often in LXX. Only here in the N.T. The poison of the asp lies in a bag under the lips [cheilē], often in LXX, only here in N.T. Genitive case after [gemei] (is full).

3:15 To shed [ekcheai]. First aorist active infinitive of [ekcheō], to pour out, old verb with aorist active [exechea].

3:16 Destruction [suntrimma]. Rare word from [suntribō], to rub together, to crush. In Le 21:19 for fracture and so in papyri. Only here in N.T. Misery [talaipōria]. Common word from [talaipōros] (Ro 7:24), only here in the N.T.

3:17 The way of peace [hodon eirēnēs]. Wherever they go they leave a trail of woe and destruction (Denney).

3:18 Before [apenanti]. Late double compound [apo, en, anti] adverbial preposition in LXX and Polybius, papyri and inscriptions. With genitive as here.

3:19 That every mouth may be stopped [hina pān stoma phragēi]. Purpose clause with [hina] and second aorist passive subjunctive of [phrassō], old verb to fence in, to block up. See 2Co 11:10. Stopping mouths is a difficult business. See Tit 1:11 where Paul uses [epistomizein] (to stop up the mouth) for the same idea. Paul seems here to be speaking directly to Jews [tois en tōi nomōi], the hardest to convince. With the previous proof on that point he covers the whole ground for he made the case against the Gentiles in 1:18-32. May be brought under the judgement of God [hupodikos genētai tōi theōi]. “That all the world (Jew as well as Gentile) may become [genētai] answerable [hupodikos], old forensic word, here only in N.T.) to God (dative case [tōi theōi].” Every one is “liable to God,” in God’s court.

3:20 Because [dioti], again, [dia, hoti]. By the works of the law [ex ergōn nomou]. “Out of works of law.” Mosaic law and any law as the source of being set right with God. Paul quotes Ps 43:2 as he did in Ga 2:16 to prove his point. The knowledge of sin [epignōsis hamartias]. The effect of law universally is rebellion to it (1Co 15:56). Paul has shown this carefully in Ga 3:19-22. Cf. Heb 10:3. He has now proven the guilt of both Gentile and Jew.

3:21 But now apart from the law [nuni de chōris nomou]. He now [nuni] emphatic logical transition) proceeds carefully in verses 21-31 the nature of the God-kind of righteousness which stands manifested [dikaiosunē theou pephanerōtai], perfect passive indicative of [phaneroō], to make manifest), the necessity of which he has shown in 1:18-3:20. This God kind of righteousness is “apart from law” of any kind and all of grace [chariti] as he will show in verse 24. But it is not a new discovery on the part of Paul, but “witnessed by the law and the prophets” [marturoumenē], present passive participle, [hupo tou nomou kai tōn prophētōn], made plain continuously by God himself.

3:22 Even [de]. Not adversative here. It defines here. Through faith in Jesus Christ [dia pisteōs [Iēsou] Christou]. Intermediate agency [dia] is faith and objective genitive, “in Jesus Christ,” not subjective “of Jesus Christ,” in spite of Haussleiter’s contention for that idea. The objective nature of faith in Christ is shown in Ga 2:16 by the addition [eis Christon Iēsoun episteusamen] (we believed in Christ), by [tēs eis Christon pisteōs humōn] (of your faith in Christ) in Col 2:5, by [en pistei tēi en Christōi Iēsou] (in faith that in Christ Jesus) in 1Ti 3:13, as well as here by the added words “unto all them that believe” [eis pantas tous pisteuontas] in Jesus, Paul means. Distinction [diastolē]. See on 1Co 14:7 for the difference of sounds in musical instruments. Also in Ro 10:12. The Jew was first in privilege as in penalty (2:9f.), but justification or setting right with God is offered to both on the same terms.

3:23 Sinned [hērmarton]. Constative second aorist active indicative of [hamartanō] as in 5:12. This tense gathers up the whole race into one statement (a timeless aorist). And fall short [kai husterountai]. Present middle indicative of [hustereō], to be [husteros] (comparative) too late, continued action, still fall short. It is followed by the ablative case as here, the case of separation.

3:24 Being justified [dikaioumenoi]. Present passive participle of [dikaioō], to set right, repeated action in each case, each being set right. Freely [dōrean]. As in Ga 2:21. By his grace [tēi autou chariti]. Instrumental case of this wonderful word [charis] which so richly expresses Paul’s idea of salvation as God’s free gift. Through the redemption [dia tēs apolutrōseōs]. A releasing by ransom [apo, lutrōsis] from [lutroō] and that from [lutron], ransom). God did not set men right out of hand with nothing done about men’s sins. We have the words of Jesus that he came to give his life a ransom [lutron] for many (Mr 10:45; Mt 20:28). [Lutron] is common in the papyri as the purchase-money in freeing slaves (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, pp. 327f.). That is in Christ Jesus [tēi en Christōi Iēsou]. There can be no mistake about this redemption. It is like Joh 3:16.

3:25 Set forth [proetheto]. Second aorist middle indicative. See on 1:13 for this word. Also in Eph 1:9, but nowhere else in N.T. God set before himself (purposed) and did it publicly before [pro] the whole world. A propitiation [hilastērion]. The only other N.T. example of this word is in Heb 9:5 where we have the “cherubim overshadowing the mercy seat” [to hilastērion]. In Hebrews the adjective is used as a substantive or as “the propitiatory place “ But that idea does not suit here. Deissmann (Bible Studies, pp. 124–35) has produced examples from inscriptions where it is used as an adjective and as meaning “a votive offering” or “propitiatory gift.” Hence he concludes about Ro 3:25: “The crucified Christ is the votive gift of the Divine Love for the salvation of men.” God gave his Son as the means of propitiation (1Jo 2:2). [Hilastērion] is an adjective [hilastērios] from [hilaskomai], to make propitiation (Heb 2:17) and is kin in meaning to [hilasmos], propitiation (1Jo 2:2; 4:10). There is no longer room for doubting its meaning in Ro 3:25. Through faith, by his blood [dia pisteōs en tōi autou haimati]. So probably, connecting [en toi haimati] (in his blood) with [proetheto]. To show his righteousness [eis endeixin tēs dikaiosunēs autou]. See 2Co 8:24. “For showing of his righteousness,” the God-kind of righteousness. God could not let sin go as if a mere slip. God demanded the atonement and provided it. Because of the passing over [dia tēn paresin]. Late word from [pariēmi], to let go, to relax. In Dionysius Hal., Xenophon, papyri (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 266) for remission of punishment, especially for debt, as distinct from [aphesis] (remission). Done aforetime [progegonotōn]. Second perfect active genitive participle of [proginomai]. The sins before the coming of Christ (Ac 14:16; 17:30; Heb 9:15). Forbearance [anochēi]. Holding back of God as in 2:4. In this sense Christ tasted death for every man (Heb 2:9).

3:26 For the shewing [pros tēn endeixin]. Repeats point of [eis endeixin] of 25 with [pros] instead of [eis]. At this present season [en tōi nun kairōi]. “In the now crisis,” in contrast with “done aforetime.” That he might himself be [eis to einai auton]. Purpose with [eis] to and the infinitive [einai] and the accusative of general reference. Just and the justifier of [dikaion kai dikaiounta]. “This is the key phrase which establishes the connexion between the [dikaiosunē theou] and the [dikaiosunē ek pisteōs]” (Sanday and Headlam). Nowhere has Paul put the problem of God more acutely or profoundly. To pronounce the unrighteous righteous is unjust by itself (Ro 4:5). God’s mercy would not allow him to leave man to his fate. God’s justice demanded some punishment for sin. The only possible way to save some was the propitiatory offering of Christ and the call for faith on man’s part.

3:27 It is excluded [exekleisthē]. First aorist (effective) passive indicative. “It is completely shut out.” Glorying is on man's part. Nay; but by a law of faith [ouchi, alla dia nomou pisteōs]. Strong negative, and note “law of faith,” by the principle of faith in harmony with God’s love and grace.

3:28 We reckon therefore [logizometha oun]. Present middle indicative. Westcott and Hort read [gar] instead of [oun]. “My fixed opinion” is. The accusative and infinitive construction occurs after [logizometha] here. On this verb [logizomai], see 2:3; 4:3f.; 8:18; 14:14. Paul restates verses 21f.

3:29 Of Gentiles also [kai ethnōn]. Jews overlooked it then and some Christians do now.

3:30 If so be that God is one [eiper heis ho theos]. Correct text rather than [epeiper]. It means “if on the whole.” “By a species of rhetorical politeness it is used of that about which there is no doubt” (Thayer. Cf. 1Co 8:5; 15:15; Ro 8:9. By faith [ek pisteōs]. “Out of faith,” springing out of. Through faith [dia tēs pisteōs]. “By means of the faith” (just mentioned). [Ek] denotes source, [dia] intermediate agency or attendant circumstance.

3:31 Nay, we establish the law [alla nomon histanomen]. Present indicative active of late verb [histanō] from [histēmi]. This Paul hinted at in verse 21. How he will show in chapter 4 how Abraham himself is an example of faith and in his life illustrates the very point just made. Besides, apart from Christ and the help of the Holy Spirit no one can keep God’s law. The Mosaic law is only workable by faith in Christ.

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