1So then what is the importance of circumcision, and what advantage is there of being a Jew? 2Actually, there are numerous advantages. # 3:2 The Aramaic can be translated “They have increased [prospered] in every way.” Most important, God distinguished the Jews from all other people by entrusting them with the revelation of his prophetic promises. # 3:2 These prophetic promises (“messages,” “oracles,” or “sayings”) include the entire scope of revelation given to the Jews through the teachings of the Torah and the many prophecies of the coming Messiah, all finding their fulfillment in Jesus, the Anointed One. 3But what if some were unfaithful to their divine calling? Does their unbelief weaken God’s faithfulness? 4Absolutely not! God will always be proven faithful and true to his word, while people are proven to be liars. This will fulfill what was written in the Scriptures:
Your words will always be vindicated
and you will rise victorious
when you are being tried by your critics! # 3:4 Or “You will prevail when judged.” See Ps. 51:4.
5But what if our wrong shows how right God is? Doesn’t our bad serve the purpose of making God look good? (Of course, I’m only speaking from a human viewpoint.) Would that infer that God is unfair when he displays his anger against wrongdoing? 6Absolutely not! For if that were the case, how could God be the righteous judge of all the earth?
7So, if my lie brings into sharp contrast the brightness of God’s truth, and if my lie accentuates his glory, then why should I be condemned as a sinner? 8Is it proper for us to sin, just so good things may come? May it never be! Yet there are some who slander us and claim that is what we teach. They deserve to be condemned for even saying it!
9So, are we to conclude then that we Jews are superior to all others? Certainly not! For we have already proven # 3:9 Or “accused” or “drawn up an indictment.” that both Jews and gentiles are all under the bondage of sin. 10And the Scriptures agree, for it is written:
There is no one who always does what is right,
no, not even one!
11There is no one with true spiritual insight,
and there is no one who seeks after God alone.
12All have deliberately wandered from God’s ways.
All have become depraved and unfit.
Kindness has disappeared from them all,
not even one is good. # 3:12 This is quoted from the Greek Septuagint of Pss. 14:1–3 and 53:3.
13Their words release a stench, # 3:13 Or “Their throats are open graves,” a metonymy for their speech.
like the smell of death—foul and filthy! # 3:13 See Ps. 5:9.
Deceitful lies roll off their tongues.
The venom of a viper drips from their lips. # 3:13 See Ps. 140:3.
14Bitter profanity flows from their mouths,
only meant to cut and harm. # 3:14 See Ps. 10:7.
15They are infatuated with violence and murder. # 3:15 Or “Their feet are swift to shed blood.”
16They release ruin and misery wherever they go.
17They never experience the path of peace. # 3:17 Verses 15–17 are quoted from Isa. 59:7–8.
18They shut their eyes to the awe-inspiring God! # 3:18 See Ps. 36:1. Paul lists a total of fourteen truths that describe all of humanity from the Old Testament.
19Now, we realize that everything the law says is addressed to those who are under its authority. This is for two reasons: So that every excuse will be silenced, with no boasting of innocence. # 3:19 “every excuse will be silenced” means that there will be no one boasting that they are innocent before God. And so that the entire world will be held accountable to God’s standards. # 3:19 Or “may be liable to judgment by God.” 20For by the merit of observing the law no one earns the status of being declared righteous before God, for it is the law that fully exposes and unmasks the reality of sin.
The Gospel Reveals God’s Righteousness
21-22But now, independently of the law, the righteousness of God is tangible and brought to light through Jesus, the Anointed One. This is the righteousness that the Scriptures prophesied would come. # 3:21–22 Or “attested to by the Law and the Prophets.” It is God’s righteousness made visible through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. # 3:21–22 Or “through faith in Jesus Christ.” And now all who believe in him receive that gift. For there is really no difference between us, 23for we all have sinned and are in need of the glory of God. 24Yet through his powerful declaration of acquittal, God freely gives away his righteousness. His gift # 3:24 The Greek word is dorean, which means “present,” “gift,” “legacy,” “privilege.” of love and favor now cascades over us, all because Jesus, the Anointed One, has liberated us from the guilt, punishment, and power of sin!
25Jesus’ God-given destiny # 3:25 The Aramaic can be translated “God ordained in advance an atonement by faith in his [Jesus’] blood.” was to be the sacrifice to take away sins, and now he is our mercy seat # 3:25 Or “propitiation.” The mercy seat becomes a metonymy for the sacrificial, redemptive work of Christ. The mercy seat was the lid to the ark of the covenant, which was carried throughout the wilderness for years and finally found a home in the temple in Jerusalem. “Blood of mercy” was sprinkled on the mercy seat (or “place of satisfaction”) yearly on the Day of Atonement, which covered the sins of the people until Jesus sprinkled his blood on the mercy seat in the heavens. The mercy seat was not seen by the people; only the high priest went into the holy of holies to sprinkle blood upon the mercy seat. Yet Jesus was publicly offered as the satisfaction for sin’s consequences. because of his death on the cross. We come to him for mercy, for God has made a provision for us to be forgiven by faith in the sacred blood of Jesus. This is the perfect demonstration of God’s justice, because until now, he had been so patient—holding back his justice out of his tolerance for us. So he covered over # 3:25 Or “passed over,” “released” (let it be). This is the only place the Greek word paresis is found in the New Testament. the sins of those who lived prior to Jesus’ sacrifice. 26And when the season of tolerance came to an end, there was only one possible way for God to give away his righteousness and still be true to both his justice and his mercy—to offer up his own Son. So now, because we stand on the faithfulness of Jesus, # 3:26 Or “faith in Jesus.” God declares us righteous in his eyes!
27Where, then, is there room for boasting? Do our works bring God’s acceptance? Not at all! It was not our works of keeping the law but our faith # 3:27 The Aramaic can be translated “It was not our works of keeping Torah, but the Torah of faith.” The Greek is “the law [principle] of faith.” in his finished work that makes us right with God. 28So our conclusion is this: God’s wonderful declaration that we are righteous # 3:28 Or “continually made righteous.” in his eyes can only come when we put our faith in Christ, and not in keeping the law.
The God of All the People
29After all, is God the God of the Jews only, or is he equally the God for all of humanity? Of course, he’s the God of all people! 30Since there is only one God, he will treat us all the same—he eliminates our guilt and makes us right with him by faith no matter who we are. # 3:30 Or “whether they are circumcised or uncircumcised.” 31Does emphasizing our faith invalidate the law? Absolutely not. Instead, our faith establishes the role the law should rightfully have. # 3:31 Or “upholds the law.” The rightful role of the law is to bring conviction of sin (vv. 19–20) and to present God’s standard of holiness, now fulfilled in Christ (8:4).