Text: Romans 3
What’s the advantage of the Jews? (vss 1-2)
- After hammering on the Jews, Paul goes ahead and asks a question he will answer. If you’re saying the Jews are so bad and missed the point of their blessings, then what really was the advantage of being a Jew?
- The words of God was the chief benefit of Israel. And all the KJV-only Baptists and Pentecostals would say Amen! Then Paul would turn to them and say, I didn’t say the chief advantage belonged to the English-speaking British Empire. I said the chief advantage of being a JEW was that to THEM was given the words of God. Some 20th-century Baptists seem to think they are the new Israel and have the only and best and perfect Bible that no one else was ever given.
What if the Jews don’t believe the words of God they’re given? (vss 3-4)
- Belief is a benefit to the individual.
- God is making a record so His judgment is on record and referencable.
- The Jews say, OK Paul, if you’re saying the law points out our sin and God’s righteousness is highlighted by our sin, then why would God be angry with us?
- Are WE better than THEY? Shows you Paul is still addressing the Jews. The WE are Jews and the THEY are Gentiles in verse 9. And verses 10-26 you have to think in terms of Jew AND Gentile. Neither group is righteous, neither group understands, neither group seeks God, etc. The point is corporate, not individual. Verses 13-18 are quotes from Psalms and Isaiah where the prophets describe the Jews in these heinous ways in spite of them having God’s word already. The point was that the Jews were never justified by the law.
- But the law is not the thing that justifies. It’s never justified. It won’t justify.
- Acts 13:39, 15:5, 24-29
- Galatians 2:7-9, 15-21
- 1 Timothy 1:8-11
- Hebrews 10
- James 2:8-10
- You can keep the law, but you’ll never be justified by it. You can rightly apply the law and keep it in that sense so that even sinners keep the law. But there is no justification in the law.
- Where is boasting then? This is not a Gentile question. This is a question for a Jew. Can you, being a Jew, boast because you have the law? Absolutely not. And Paul hopes he’s making that abundantly clear at this point. So where’s the common ground? Where do people actually meet God? In faith.
Next chapter begins with Abraham because Abraham is justified before God, and the Jews claim him as their father, but Abraham lived four hundred years before the Jews were given the law. So how in the world can you claim justification because you have the law?! (James will mention how Abraham was justified by works and some will use that to say in the OT people are saved by keeping the law. The problem you still run into with Abraham is the law doesn’t exist yet. So works are not always associated with the law.)