Romans 3What advantage, &c. The discussion, for a considerable part of this chapter, appears to take the form of a dialogue—a very common form of discussion, both in ancient and modern times.
The oracles of God; divine communications which were made, in various forms, to the Jewish people.
Mightest overcome; appear to be in the right.
Commend the righteousness of God; is the means of exalting it, setting it in a clear point of view.— Who taketh vengeance; who inflicts punishment.
For how shall God judge the world; that is, on the supposition referred to above,—if human sin must not be punished on account of its being the occasion of exalting the righteousness of God.
Whose damnation; whose condemnation, meaning the condemnation of those who are guilty of the slanderous report above referred to.
Are we better than they? we, the Jews, better than the Gentiles. The preceding passage, (1-9,) considered as a whole, is very elliptical and obscure. Commentators have made labored attempts to show the logical connection of the several parts with each other, and with the general subject of discussion; but the results are not very satisfactory. The explanations offered do not leave a very clear and distinct impression upon the mind.
The passage which follows, to v. 19, is composed of several distinct quotations, taken from various parts of the Old Testament, principally from the book of Psalms, and applied here by the apostle as descriptive of the moral condition of the Jews. The language is considerably varied from the originals.
To them who are under the law, meaning that the language of the above quotations is to be considered as descriptive of the character of Jews.—And all the world may become guilty before God. There has been much theological dispute in respect to the native character of man; but it seems to have been in great measure a war of words. Among all those who have enjoyed much opportunity for a practical acquaintance with human nature, as it develops itself on the great theatre of life, there is pretty general agreement in respect to the selfishness the duplicity, the falseness, and the absence of all honest regard for the will or law of God which prevail every where in this world of corruption and sin. The great question seems to have been to determine in what phraseology the notorious facts shall be theologically generalized.
By the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be justified. There has been some discussion, among commentators, whether, by the expression the law, in these chapters, Paul means to designate moral obligation in general, or particular requirements of the Jewish system; for in some cases he appears to use the term in one of these senses and in other cases in the other sense. The explanation seems to be, that hie employed the term in both senses, considering them as, in the view of his readers, one and the same. For, in the mind of a Jew, fidelity to the system of commands, moral and ritual, which were comprehended in the Mosaic code, was, in fact, the measure and sum of all moral obligation. The two ideas which, under the Christian dispensation, have become so distinct, were in those days, and in Jewish minds, identical.—For by the law is the knowledge of sin; that is, the law of God, instead of being a protection and a shield, only reveals more fully the universal delinquency and guilt.
The righteousness of God; the righteousness which God attributes to the believer in his justification through faith.—Is manifested; is revealed or made known in the gospel.—Being witnessed; having been witnessed, that is, predicted.
For there is no difference; that is, none among the different classes of men, in respect to their need of this justification.
The glory of God; the approbation of God.
By his grace; by his favor.
A propitiation; an expiatory sacrifice.—Faith in his blood. Blood is the symbol of death. The meaning is, faith in his death, as an expiation for sin.—His righteousness; the righteousness with which he invests the believer, in justifying him through faith.
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