Summary: Paul anticipates that the Jewish Christians in Rome will have a lot of questions and so he asks and answers three questions in this section of Romans.
A. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers and grandmothers in our congregation, whether they be biological, adoptive, surrogate, or spiritual mothers and granmothers!
1. We all thank God for the influence of godly women in our individual lives and in the life of the church as a whole!
2. May God bless you with joy and peace, and with strength and endurance.
B. Today’s sermon is not about mothers, but the title might lead you to think it is, because motherhood has a lot to do with questions and answers.
1. In addition to mothers, teachers have to handle a lot of questions and answers.
2. Here are some of the funniest questions that students have asked their teachers:
a. “Wait, aren’t rhinos made of mud?”
b. “Aren’t the sun and the moon the same thing?”
c. “How do islands not float away?”
d. “How old was the average 18-year-old in 1942?”
e. “Where is the Great Wall of China?”
f. “What are those pyramid-shaped things in Egypt called?”
C. I decided to title today’s sermon, “Questions and Answers” because that is what Paul was doing in this section of Romans, he was asking and answering questions.
1. Douglas Moo, who wrote one of the commentaries on Romans that I am using as a resource, says, “In over twenty years of ministry, I have taught the same subject many times. By now I can predict with almost 100 percent accuracy what questions students will ask at what point in the lectures.”
2. Similarly, the apostle Paul has been preaching for many years and he knows that teaching on certain topics will inevitably raise certain questions.
3. So, as Paul wrote this letter to the Romans and tackled some of the challenging topics that needed to be addressed, we find him repeatedly pausing in his argument to address questions that he knows his readers will be asking.
4. Nowhere in Romans is this more evident than in the section we will examine today from chapter three, verses 1-8.
D. Paul has just spend the bulk of chapter 2 arguing that the Jews stand in the same position before God as Gentiles do – they are guilty and subject to God’s judgment as well.
1. And it is no surprise that Paul would anticipate some serious objections or questions from the Jews.
2. Although the passage itself is somewhat difficult, the flow of the argument is not hard to follow.
3. Basically, there are three questions raised and three answers given.
4. One of the main challenges to working through this section is sorting out the different “speakers” that Paul uses to make his points.
5. Clearly he is asking questions that reflect some kind of view in opposition to his own, and he responds to these questions.
6. But it is not always crystal clear as to which are the opponent’s questions and which are Paul’s answers.
7. But with God’s help, I am sure we will be able to benefit from this study and its application.
E. So, let’s start with the first question and answer.
1. Paul wrote: Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. (Rom. 3:1-2)
2. The Jews were essentially objecting to Paul’s teaching about universal judgment because in their minds it destroyed their special standing with God.
a. The Jews felt – with some justification – that because they were God’s chosen people, that they had a special relationship with God – one that would shield them from judgment.
b. Part of that is certainly true – the Jews are/were God’s chosen people, but that fact doesn’t negate the reality of their disobedience and the resulting judgment.
3. In essence, Paul anticipates their question, “If we are sinners just like the Gentiles and subject to judgment, then why bother being Jewish, or being circumcised?”
a. After following Paul’s argument in chapter two, we might have expected that Paul’s answer to the question: “Then what advantage has the Jew” Or what is the value of circumcision?” would be, “None. There is no advantage.”
b. Perhaps many Gentile Christians in Rome were eager for Paul to draw that conclusion.
4. But Paul surprises them and us with the answer: “Much in every way!”
a. Paul proceeds to say that “To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.”
b. The Jews were the one people on the earth to whom God had overtly and clearly and comprehensively revealed Himself and His will.
c. Everyone else might have to grope in the darkness about God and His will, but not the Jews, they could see clearly because God had given them revelation.
5. The flipside of that advantage is that more is then expected.