(Rom 3:1 NASB) Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision?
Rom 3:1: Being a Jew has no value in and of itself. The heart must be right with Elohim. The prophet Isaiah spoke the Words of Elohim concerning the people of Israel who merely go through the motions (Isa. 1:11-15).
But Paul is going to answer the question: What is the advantage of being a Jew? There is no salvation in being a member of a particular group or race, even in being a Jew. But there are some benefits and a great history with the Father.
(Rom 3:2 NASB) Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.
Rom 3:2: Paul is saying that there are numerous advantages to being a Jew. Judaism held the foundation upon which the Scripture is built. The Tanakh (Old Testament) is the foundation for the Brit Hadasha (New Testament). The “oracles of Elohim” spoken of here is the Torah found in the Tanakh.
(Rom 3:3 NASB) What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?
Rom 3:3: If some did not show faithfulness, does that nullify Elohim’s faithfulness? May it never be. In this case, even the Ryrie Study Bible says that the Greek word for “unbelief” means “unfaithful:”
“unbelief. May also mean “were unfaithful.””
Pistis is translated almost always as the mystical and mysterious word “faith,” when it should be translated as “faithfulness.” There are only three times that the Brit Hadasha translates pistis as “faithfulness.” This passage and Matt. 23:23. and Galatians 5:22-23. In those three cases, the word commanded action, therefore the emotional word “faith” does not fit.
Faithfulness – G4102. pistis, from G3982; faith, faithfulness:– faith(238), faithfulness(3), pledge(m)(1), proof(1).
The fact of the matter is that both Greek words “pistis” and “pisteo” that are almost always translated as “faith” and “believe” are actually Greek actions words and not passive emotional words. It is painfully obvious in this verse (Romans 3:3) that “pistis” MUST be “faithfulness”, and not “faith.” Actually, it is painfully obvious in all of Scripture that “pistis” should be translated as “faithfulness” or “fidelity” instead of “faith.” If the translators of Scripture had done so, they would have taken the mystery and intrigue out of a religion that they had so carefully crafted as deception to the billions of people throughout the centuries. Look at how the meanings of the most quoted passages change and lose their mystique and become very “real” when we see that all Elohim requires is for us to be faithful to Him by being obedient to His commandments (Torah). (John 3:16, 36, 14-18, Ep. 2:8-10, Romans 10:8-10, John 6:47).
One of the most egregious examples of this translational conspiracy (if one can call it that) is the passage in the Tanakh that translates the Hebrew word “emunah” as “faith” (Hab. 2:4). Faith – H530. emunah, [53c]; from H539; firmness, steadfastness, fidelity:– faith(1), faithful(3), faithfully(8), faithfulness(25), honestly(1), responsibility(m)(1), stability(m)(1), steady(1), trust(2), truth(5).
This is the only time in the Tanakh that this word is translated as “faith.” The word means “faithfulness” or some derivative thereof. However, it is translated as “faith” here because it is quoted three times in the Brith Hadasha. Apparently Christian translators simply cannot have people living by faithfulness to the Father and living by faithfulness through Messiah because that commands obedience. The masses can be far better controlled and manipulated by telling them they must have “faith in order to be saved” because it is much more mystical, emotional, captivating, and impossible to fully grasp.
(Rom 3:4 NASB) May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, “THAT THOU MIGHTEST BE JUSTIFIED IN THY WORDS, AND MIGHTEST PREVAIL WHEN THOU ART JUDGED.”
Rom 3:4: Paul is asking here, “Does their lack of faithfulness invalidate Elohim’s promises to them? Will their lack of faithfulness cancel out the faithfulness of Elohim? Many of the Jews failed. Did Elohim fail? No. We all need to thank Elohim that He keeps His promises on the basis of HIS faithfulness and not on the basis of our pitiful attempts at being faithful to Him.
Paul quotes Psalm 51:4.
(Rom 3:5 NASB) But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.)
Rom 3:5: The question here is this: “Since the nations unbelief merely puts in contrast the faithfulness of Elohim, is Elohim unjustified in punishing their unfaithfulness when it brings greater glory to Him?” Paul ran into this criticism often. If Elohim uses sin to His glory, then He should not punish the sinner.
Some people were using this as an excuse for sinning. We will run into this again in chapter 6. When Paul says, “(I speak as a man,)” he is saying that he is presenting the question from the limited human viewpoint.
(Rom 3:6 NASB) May it never be! For otherwise how will God judge the world?
Rom 3:6: If Elohim could not judge us because our sin reveals the grace of Elohim, then we are denying the righteousness of Elohim. Paul’s answer is an emphatic denial.
The question is if the particular sin of Isreal’s lack of faithfulness glorifies Elohim, and all sins are the same in the eyes of Elohim, then that sin, and all sins, glorify Elohim and He shouldn’t condemn them. Paul’s response is that if that were true, then Elohim couldn’t judge the world. He would abdicate His throne as Judge of all the earth. Then Elohim wouldn’t be holy. He would not be righteous. He gave us our free will to let us make our own choices pertaining to sin.
All people think that some people should be judged. Everyone thinks that the especially evil Adolf Hitler and Ted Bundy type folks should be judged. We all think there are people out there who deserve judgment. However, we seldom think that WE should be the ones to be judged.
(Rom 3:7 NASB) But if through my lie the truth of God abounded to His glory, why am I also still being judged as a sinner?
Rom 3:7: The individual is always trying to exclude himself from judgment.
(Rom 3:8 NASB) And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say), “Let us do evil that good may come”? Their condemnation is just.
Rom 3:8: Paul is showing the absurdity of our reasoning that states, “The end justifies the means.” If sin glorifies Elohim, then let’s glorify Elohim a whole bunch and say, “The more sin, the better!!” The truth is that if there is sin, there must be judgement.
In this next section, Paul is going to bring up all of mankind before the Judge of the earth. We are found guilty. It doesn’t matter if we are Jew or Gentile, male or female, black or white, rich or poor. We are all guilty.
(Rom 3:9 NASB) What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;
(Rom 3:10 NASB) as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
(Rom 3:11 NASB) THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;
Rom 3:11: When Elohim says “there is none who understands,” He is saying that no one has the capacity for understanding Elohim on his own. That is why Elohim gave us His Word. He is trying to explain His ways to us.
“There is none who seeks after Elohim.” Paul is quoting Psalm 14:1-3. We have many people today that claim to be “searching for God.” They are a farce. They are all going in the wrong direction. Man is looking for some kind of religion that makes him feel good about himself and his sin. Regardless of what the preacher tells his congregations, man is not seeking Elohim.
Elohim is not hiding behind the bushes peeking at us and giggling. Elohim is right in front of us. Man is trying his hardest to turn away from Elohim and His ways.
The fourth charge that Paul makes is this:
(Rom 3:12 NASB) ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”
Rom 3:12: To be righteous means to act right and to be right with Elohim. Being right with Elohim is a little different from being right with your fellow man. If we have problems with our neighbor, we need to reach some sort of compromise. But if we are going to be right with Elohim, we must live according to His rules. We can’t play games with Elohim.
We often hear the intellectuals of today telling us that no one knows what is truly right and wrong. I can tell you one thing for sure; they don’t determine what is right and wrong. I don’t determine what is right and wrong. Elohim has already determined what’s right and wrong. Elohim makes the rules; take it or leave it. If you decide to break His rules, you will sooner or later encounter His judgement.
“They have all turned aside.” Man has taken a detour to avoid running into Elohim. We leave what we know to be right to follow sin. Most people will claim to want to know Elohim, but they refuse His ways. Most have gone out of their way to avoid being righteous with the Father.
(Rom 3:13 NASB) “THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE, WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,” “THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS”;
Rom 3:13: Paul is quoting Psalm 5:9.
(Rom 3:14 NASB) “WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS”;
(Rom 3:15 NASB) “THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD,
(Rom 3:16 NASB) DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS,
(Rom 3:17 NASB) AND THE PATH OF PEACE HAVE THEY NOT KNOWN.”
Rom 3:17: Isaiah gives us the unabridged version of this (Isaiah 59:7-8). What a graphic picture this is of mankind.
Paul gives us here the summary of man’s sin. Man is living as if Elohim doesn’t exist. What is the opposite of love? It is not hate. The true opposite of love is apathy. Mankind ignores Elohim. Our true nature is to do worse than hate Him and His ways.
(Rom 3:18 NASB) “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.”
Rom 3:18: Paul quotes Psalm 36:1. There is no fear of Elohim before their eyes. It is through the fear of Elohim that we begin to have knowledge (Prov. 1:7, 9:10)
(Rom 3:19 NASB) Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God;
Rom 3:19: When Paul speaks of those who are “under the law,” he is speaking of those who are under the curses of Torah because of their disobedience. This falls right in line with who he was just talking about. Do not pluck this phrase out of the context in which it is being given because it will be gravely misunderstood.
When we sin, we not only offend, which requires restitution, but we must also be cleansed according to the Torah. There is no cleansing under Torah for intentional sin.
(Rom 3:20 NASB) because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
Rom 3:20: This passage brings out an inarguable Truth. That Truth is that the Torah defines “sin.” If Christians claim they want to cease sinning, but they refuse the Torah, they are either liars or completely ignorant.
While Torah defines sin, Paul states here that Torah cannot save us. It is through Torah that our sins are revealed to us. There is no salvation in the revealing of our sin. The Tanakh makes that perfectly clear (Psalm 130:3, 143:2)
Our condemnation has been presented to us in very plain and honest language. We are lost without a Messiah.
(Rom 3:21 NASB) But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,
Rom 3:21: The righteousness that Elohim demands has been manifested for us. This righteousness manifested is apart from any kind of righteousness we can achieve from following Torah ourselves, which is what the Jews in that day were claiming by refusing Messiah.. They could not achieve righteousness on their own and we cannot achieve it on our own.
Elohim cannot accept imperfection and we cannot provide perfection. What was witnessed by the Torah and the Prophets? They witnessed the righteousness that we can have through Yeshua Messiah (Deut. 18:15-19, Isaiah 45:24-25, Jer. 23:5-6). The Law and the prophets were a testimony that Yeshua is only way to Elohim.
(Rom 3:22 NASB) even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;
(Rom 3:23 NASB) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Rom 3:23: The righteousness of Elohim comes through His faithfulness, not ours. This righteousness in Yeshua is for all those who have faithfulness, regardless of their nationality or gender.
Keep in mind that Paul is still making the contrast to the Jews who claim to salvation through their bloodline. They have advantages, but they do not have salvation through their works of obedience to Torah and their traditions and their rejection of Messiah.
(Rom 3:24 NASB) being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
Rom 3:24: There is no doubt where our justification comes from. It only comes through Messiah Yeshua.
This verse seems to be somewhat of a contradiction with Romans 2:13. We must be careful about plucking this phrase or verse by itself. Paul is speaking about how justification is a gift. In Romans 2:13, Paul is speaking of the Jews who claim to have Torah, but do not follow it.. In Romans 3, he is speaking of those who have Torah written in their hearts because Elohim chose them through His grace.
(Rom 3:25 NASB) whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;
(Rom 3:26 NASB) for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Rom 3:26: Yeshua was displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faithfulness. The word for propitiation is the Greek word hilasterion, hil-as-tay’-ree-on. That word means “Mercy Seat.” Yeshua was displayed publicly as the Mercy Seat of Elohim that through His blood we might have righteousness.
(Rom 3:27 NASB) Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.
Rom 3:27: Paul is still speaking of the subject of this chapter, which is the advantage for the Jews. Their advantage of being the receivers of the Torah does not allow boasting because no one has kept it. The only boasting can come from faithfulness to Elohim, which is a gift He grants through His Son.
(Rom 3:28 NASB) For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.
Rom 3:28: Man is justified by the gift of faithfulness before he does anything at all (Eph. 2:8-10).
(Rom 3:29 NASB) Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also,
Rom 3:29: The Jews boasted that they are the only chosen ones. Paul is disputing that claim by saying that Elohim is the Elohim of all people.
Therefore, is Paul saying that there is no benefit to the Jews for preserving the Law? Is the Torah nullified since justification only comes through faithfulness? No, because the faithfulness he is speaking of is faithfulness to the Torah, which is a gift from the Father.
(Rom 3:30 NASB) since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.
Rom 3:30: Elohim is One and He will justify whomever He chooses whether he be a Jew or Gentile. The Jew boasting in Torah is not saved through Torah. So does faithfulness in Elohim nullify Torah, as most claim today?
(Rom 3:31 NASB) Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.
Rom 3:31: Paul is going to show that salvation by faithfulness does not eradicate Torah and the Tanakh. He says, “on the contrary, we establish Torah through our faithfulness. Faithfulness is established in our hearts and minds by Elohim, when writes His Torah in our hearts and minds.
In the next chapter, Paul is going to use two characters from the Tanakh, Abraham and David, to illustrate this. He is going to show how these two men were declared righteous by Elohim and not by their own efforts
Abraham lived and died four hundred years before Torah was given to Israel at Mt. Sinai. Although Abraham knew Torah and followed it, he was declared righteous before he was even circumcised.
David lived after Torah was given, but Scripture makes it very clear he had tremendous sin in his life. Elohim declared these men righteous by their faithfulness. Elohim made this declaration on them aside from what they did. Elohim is not asking us to live by some laws in order to come to Him. We are declared righteous by His choosing.
And since He has awarded us that salvation through the faithfulness He gave us, how then ought we to live?
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas