Summary: A study of chapter 3 verse 1 through 8
Romans 3: 1 – 8
Is He Talking To Himself
1 What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? 2 Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. 3 For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? 4 Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: “That You may be justified in Your words, and may overcome when You are judged.” 5 But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.) 6 Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world? 7 For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner? 8 And why not say, “Let us do evil that good may come”?—as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just.
See that guy over there, he’s talking to himself. There must be something wrong with him. Get out the straight jacket. Take him to the ‘funny farm’.
Let me ask you then, ‘is it okay to talk to yourselves?’ The answer is, ‘only if you do not get caught.’ It is awkward to see someone talking to him or herself. Yet, many speakers and teachers talk out loud to practice their presentation. Some, if you can handle it, actually talk in front of a mirror to see how they look delivering their message.
Most of the servants of God were different. They caught the public’s attention but the way they dressed, spoke, and acted. They did not dress to look the part. They were poor and were totally at the Lord Mercy and Grace on where they went and did. They spoke when and where the Lord directed. Today, you have these actors who put a cardboard collar on a black silk shirt to play the part.
In the New Testament we see that the apostle Paul not only talked to himself, but in many instances argued and debated himself. His method was to verbalize the questions people might be thinking or saying relative to the Christian faith.
In a series of questions Paul now takes up the points just made in the opening arguments. He has already discussed the claimed advantage of being a Jew in chapter 2 verses 17-20 and also the claimed advantage of circumcision in verses 25-29. His reply is that both are true simply because it was to the Jews that God had entrusted the oracles of God. It was through those oracles that man could know righteousness. They had thus had the advantage of the given word of God, first through Moses and then through the prophets, for over a thousand years. We are going to see in this section of chapter 3 that it should have made them aware of God’s righteousness; Their own unrighteousness; and of the need therefore to genuinely seek God’s way of atonement, initially through the system of offerings and sacrifices, and now through the One Whose death has made provision for ‘the sins done aforetime’ which we will see later on in this chapter of the book of Romans. In our next study Paul will use those same oracles in order to prove that all are under sin, whether they be Jew or Greek.
However, underlying what he says here is an important principle. He does not just want to bring the Jews into the common condemnation but is also underlining the fact of God’s pure righteousness which must deal with sin as it is. Nothing must be allowed to evade the fact that God must call it into account and punish it accordingly, and that was true for all, both Jew and Gentile.
We must recognize that in the last analysis it is Paul who has framed the questions being asked. Thus we can see Paul as teaching even in the very questions.
The question and answer method is interesting. It occurs throughout the first half of the letter and suggests that Paul has vividly in mind his arguments with Jews and Christians who had brought these charges against him.
1 What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision?
The question arises that if the Jew who is unrighteous has no special privileges because of his unrighteousness, and if physical circumcision loses its validity for man when he is unrighteous, what are the advantages of being a Jew and what profit is there in being circumcised? This is the first question put to him by his imaginary opponent. Many Jews believed that the advantage was that, whatever they might suffer in this life, they would have eternal life because God was bound by His covenant.