Monday, June 3, 2019

Romans Bible Study #6 "But Now" - Romans 3 (Video and notes)

To go to the beginning of the series on Romans, click here...
To go to study #5, click here..
To watch the entire series on YouTube, click here...

Read Romans 3:1-20

Vs. 1-8
  • Actually a continuation of argument from chapter 2, where Paul had been castigating the Jews for their reliance on the law, when they themselves did not keep the law.
  • Paul in this section again uses the diatribe format, in which he answers questions from an imaginary antagonist.
  • John Stott -‘It often becomes easier to follow Paul’s arguments’, writes C. K. Barrett, ‘if the reader imagines the apostle face to face with a heckler, who makes interjections and receives replies which sometimes are withering and brusque.’
  • “We may go further than this. ‘Paul’s interlocutor was no straw man,’ Professor Dunn writes. ‘In fact we would probably not be far from the mark if we were to conclude that Paul’s interlocutor is Paul himself—Paul the unconverted Pharisee, expressing attitudes Paul remembered so well as having been his own!' In this way Paul the Pharisee and Paul the Christian are in debate with each other… "

First question… “What advantage is there to being a Jew? Vs. 1-2

  • Answer - The Jews had many advantages, chiefly that they were given the word of God (the OT).
  • This was indeed an advantage, but it was also a great responsibility.

Second question…”If some (Jews) did not believe, will their unbelief nullify the faithfulness of God?” (“ True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful?” NLT) Vs. 3-4

  • Answer “May it never be!” (NASB)
  • Stott - Paul’s (answer) is more violent than is suggested by the expressions ‘Not at all!’ (NIV), ‘By no means!’ (RSV), ‘Certainly not!’ (REB) or even ‘God forbid!’ (AV). John Ziesler suggests that ‘ “not on your life” or “not in a thousand years” gives something of the flavour.’
  • Paul goes on to say “let God be true but every man a liar” (NKJV). I.e. even if every single person were unfaithful, it would not in anyway make God unfaithful. Our disobedience will never besmear God’s character.
  • Paul quotes from Psalm 51:4 where David is expressing sorrow for his sin with Bathsheba. In that Psalm, he acknowledges that even his sin brings glory to God in that it makes God justified in His words and in His judgements. (This scripture had evidently been twisted by some. The first part of the verse takes away all thought of David trying to justify himself…”Against you, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight.”
  • Put it this way...if a righteous father (or mother) teaches his child correctly and the child rebels against the teaching, does this make the righteous father now unrighteous? Of course not! (Not on your life!)

Third question...If our unrighteousness (or disobedience) demonstrates the righteous character of God, is God unjust to to punish us?” Vs. 5,6 (But,” some might say, “our sinfulness serves a good purpose, for it helps people see how righteous God is. Isn’t it unfair, then, for him to punish us?”... NLT)

  • Paul’s answer - Again “May it never be!” (“Not in a thousand years!”)
  • He then says, “For otherwise, how will God judge the world?”
  • It is interesting to me that Paul takes it as axiomatic or unquestionable that God will judge the world. Though many doubt this doctrine today and try to tear down the idea of final judgment, Paul took this as basic gospel truth.

Fourth question… Really a restatement of what has gone before… Vs. 7, 8

  • Living Bible “
    • For he could not judge and condemn me as a sinner if my dishonesty brought him glory by pointing up his honesty in contrast to my lies. 8 If you follow through with that idea you come to this: the worse we are, the better God likes it! But the damnation of those who say such things is just. Yet some claim that this is what I preach!”

Vs. 9-20 Paul’s summary -The whole human race is under condemnation

Vs. 9 Paul asks, “Are we Jews better than the Gentiles?” (Notice that this is a very different question than vs. 1…”What advantage then has the Jew…?” Jews had an advantage in that they had the teachings of the law, but there advantage did them no good. They did not come out ahead of the Gentiles one whit. He sums up that Jews and Greeks (meaning Gentiles here) are all under sin.
  • "Paul appears almost to personify sin as a cruel tyrant who holds the human race imprisoned in guilt and under judgment. Sin is on top of us, weighs us down, and is a crushing burden."

Vs. 10-18 is a series of OT quotations that basically put the nails in the coffin of all mankind.
Paul pulls out his big guns now. In rapid fire like a machine gun, he quotes from at least six different places in OT with devastating effect.

Vs. 10-12 show the ungodliness of sin. Most of this section is a quotation from Psalm 14:1-3 (this is emphasized in the psalms by repeating this almost word for word in Psalm 53). (Read this Psalm if time).
  • These verse indicate that the whole of man’s inner being is controlled by sin.”
    • His mind (“none that understands”)
    • His heart (“none who seek after God”)
    • His will (“none that does good”)
  • Measured by God’s perfect righteousness, no human being is sinless. No sinner seeks after God...Man has gone astray and has become unprofitable to God.” Wiersbe
  • God’s complaint is that we do not really ‘seek’ him at all, making his glory our supreme concern, that we have not set him before us,that there
  • is no room for him in our thoughts, and that we do not love him with all our powers. Sin is the revolt of the self against God, the dethronement of God with a view to the enthronement of oneself. Ultimately, sin is self-deification, the reckless determination to occupy the throne which belongs to God alone.” Stott

Vs. 13-18 teach the pervasiveness of sin.
  • Paul quotes from Psalm 5:9, Psalm 140:3, Psalm 10:7, Isaiah 59:7-8, and Psalm 36:1. ( in their context for full impact!)
  • What do you observe about these different quotations? Lists different body parts.
  • What body parts does Paul list? Throat, tongue, and lips (vs. 13), mouth (vs. 14), feet (vs. 15-16), mind or brain (vs. 17 by implication), eyes (vs. 18)
  • Wiersbe “Paul gives us (here) an X-ray study of the lost sinner, from head to foot.”
  • Perhaps the most devastating passage is the last one…”There is no fear of God before their eyes.” How few men today fear God!

This is the biblical doctrine of ‘total depravity’... It has never meant that human beings are as depraved as they could possibly be. Such a notion is manifestly absurd…”Not all human beings are drunkards, felons, adulterers or murderers. Besides, Paul has shown how some people sometimes are able ‘by nature’ to obey the law (2:14, 27). No, the ‘totality’ of our corruption refers to its extent (twisting and tainting every part of our humanness), not to its degree (depraving every part of us absolutely). As Dr J. I. Packer has put it succinctly, on the one hand ‘no one is as bad as he or she might be’, while on the other ‘no action of ours is as good as it should be’ Stott

Vs. 19-20 Paul’s conclusion...I believe that the law that Paul is referring to in these verses is not just the law of Moses, but the totality of the law of God. He has described two different laws in the last two chapters. In chapters 1 and 2 he has made reference to “the law of conscience”, which is in every man. In chapters 2 and 3 he has made reference to the law of God as revealed in the OT, particularly the Torah. Here, it seems to me, he is combining both of these.
  • Notice “so that EVERY mouth may be closed and ALL THE WORLD may become accountable to God. Vs. 19
  • NO FLESH (Jew and Gentile) will be justified in His sight vs. 20
  • In chapter 2:13 he stated that only the doers of the law will be justified. This is true in theory, but the section that we just read tells us than none does good, not even one. So if we were to draw a circle around all “the doers of the law” who are justified, we would be drawing a circle around nothing. It would be empty. In practice, Paul says here, no flesh is justified in God’s sight, because no one keeps the law.
  • Last part of vs. 20 is vitally important. He shows here the real purpose of the reveal to us the sin that is in us. He will repeat this later in Romans.

Read 3:21-31

We have read 64 straight verses of nothing but condemnation. Jew and Gentile alike condemned...Yet we have now before us two of the sweetest words ever written…”But now…”

All 64 verses showed us the futility of being righteous in God’s sight by law-keeping. “But now”...Paul says...God has revealed another way...actually the only way possible. The way to God has been revealed (and he says the whole OT witnesses this revelation) by faith in Jesus Christ. By believing (or trusting) in Jesus the Messiah, the very Son of God, the only one who ever kept the law, we now stand justified before God in a way that we never could by our supposed law-keeping. Paul says that there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (all 64 previous verses are summed up in 3:23).

Vs. 24 tells us the supremely good news that justification is a gift of God’s grace given to all...the implication (which is spelled out later) is to all who will receive the gift...through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Must guilty man remain under wrath? Is the wound for ever incurable? No; blessed be God, there is another way laid open for us. This is the righteousness of God; righteousness of his ordaining, and providing, and accepting. It is by that faith which has Jesus Christ for its object; an anointed Saviour, so Jesus Christ signifies. Justifying faith respects Christ as a Saviour, in all his three anointed offices, as Prophet, Priest, and King; trusting in him, accepting him, and cleaving to him: in all these, Jews and Gentiles are alike welcome to God through Christ. There is no difference, his righteousness is upon all that believe; not only offered to them, but put upon them as a crown, as a robe. It is free grace, mere mercy; there is nothing in us to deserve such favours. It comes freely unto us, but Christ bought it, and paid the price” Matthew Henry

Let’s stop here and talk about terms…

Righteousness…(vs. 21, 22) We talked about this in chapter 1. What does it mean? Righteousness is being right before God. Yet, here we see it is not something we achieve but what is achieved for us. Some versions in vs. 21 and 22 say “righteousness from God” rather than “righteousness of God” which is probably more correct. This is righteousness bestowed on us by grace. We are made right before God through no action of our own...

Justification (vs. 24) a legal term meaning to secure a favorable verdict, to acquit, to vindicate, to declare righteous. “Just as if I’d never sinned…”

Redemption (vs. 24) is what Jesus accomplished on the cross. When we see this word it should immediately bring to our mind the cross, which was the place where redemption took place. What does it mean to be redeemed? It means the price has been paid. “Tetelestai”. It is finished! We have been purchased. We are now no longer slaves to unrighteousness but “slaves” to righteousness. Jesus Christ was “the lamb of God who took away the sin of the world.” The passover lamb was the type of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. As Israel was redeemed from Egypt in OT (Egypt is a type of the world and the world-system) by the blood of the passover lamb, so we are redeemed by the blood of Christ.

“Christ Jesus died to provide redemption, which means he died to pay the price required to ransom sinners. By paying the penalty of their sin through His death, Jesus can free people from their sin and transfer His righteousness to those who believe in Him…”

Propitiation (vs. 25) means to appease the wrath of God. Jesus Christ satisfied that righteous demands of a Holy God. God could never passover sin without a Passover sacrifice. Jesus was that sacrifice. It has often been pictured as the mercy seat, which was the golden covering over the ark of the covenant. It was there that the blood of the goat on the day of atonement was sprinkled. “Just as in the OT God met His people when the blood of the sin offering was sprinkled on the altar, so Christ’s death brings us into fellowship with God.”

Synonym is “atonement” - At-one-ment

Vs. 25 says that God demonstrated His righteousness by passing over the sins of all who lived before Christ. Vs. 26 tells us that He demonstrates His righteousness at the present time by justifying all who put their faith in Jesus.

Vs. 27 tells us that there is nothing for any of us to boast in because it is not by our works...not by our lawkeeping...but by “the law of faith.”

Vs. 28, 29 restate what has been already said for emphasis. We are not justified by law by by faith. Justification by faith is equally for Jews and Gentiles.

Vs. 30 tells us that God justifies the circumcision (Jews) by faith and the uncircumcised (Gentiles) “through that same faith.” (NIV)

Vs. 31 Paul asks a final question in the same style the chapter began. Is the law nullified because of faith in Christ? Paul answers again “May it never be!” or “A thousand times no!” In fact, he says, we establish the law. I.E. We show the true purpose of the law.

What is the true purpose of the law? Vs. 20 “through the law comes the knowledge of sin.

Next week, we will look at an OT example of faith that foreshadowed salvation by faith in Christ.

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