ICC New Testament Commentary
What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?CASUISTICAL OBJECTIONS ANSWERED
3:1-8. This argument may suggest three objections: (i) If the moral Gentile is better off than the immoral Jew, what becomes of the Jew’s advantages?—Answer. He still has many. His (e.g.) are the promises (vv. 1-2). (ii) But has not the Jews’ unbelief cancelled those promises?—Answer. No unbelief on the part of man can affect the pledged word of God: it only serves to enhance His faithfulness (vv. 3, 4). (iii) If that is the result of his action, why should man be judged?—Answer. He certainly will be judged: we may not say (as I am falsely accused of saying), Do evil that good may come (vv. 5-8).
1 If the qualifications which God requires are thus inward and spiritual, an objector may urge, What becomes of the privileged position of the Jew, his descent from Abraham, and the like? What does he gain by his circumcision? 2 He does gain much on all sides. The first gain is that to the Jews were committed the prophecies of the Messiah. [Here the subject breaks off; a fuller enumeration is given in ch. 9:4, 5.
3 You say, But the Jews by their unbelief have forfeited their share in those prophecies. And I admit that some Jews have rejected Christianity, in which they are fulfilled. What then? The promises of God do not depend on man. He will keep His word, whatever man may do. 4 To suggest otherwise were blasphemy. Nay, God must be seen to be true, though all mankind are convicted of falsehood. Just as in Psa_51 the Psalmist confesses that the only effect of his own sin will be that (in forensic metaphor) God will be ‘declared righteous’ in His sayings [the promises just mentioned], and gain His case when it is brought to trial.
5 A new objection arises. If our unrighteousness is only a foil to set off the righteousness of God would not God be unjust who punishes men for sin? (Speaking of God as if He were man can hardly be avoided.) 6 That too were blasphemy to think! If any such objection were sound, God could not judge the world. But we know that He will judge it. Therefore the reasoning must be fallacious.
7 If, you say, as in the case before us, the truthfulness of God in performing His promises is only thrown into relief by my infidelity, which thus redounds to His glory, why am I still like other offenders (καί) brought up for judgement as a sinner?
8 So the objector. And I know that this charge of saying ‘Let us do evil that good may come’ is brought with slanderous exaggeration against me—as if the stress which I lay on faith compared with works meant, Never mind what your actions are, provided only that the end you have in view is right.
All I will say is that the judgement which these sophistical reasoners will receive is richly deserved.
1 ff. It is characteristic of this Epistle that St. Paul seems to imagine himself face to face with an opponent, and that he discusses and answers arguments which an opponent might bring against him (so 3:1 ff., 4:1 ff., 6:1 ff., 15 ff., 7:7 ff.). No doubt this is a way of presenting the dialectical process in his own mind. But at the same time it is a way which would seem to have been suggested by actual experience of controversy with Jews and the narrower Jewish Christians. We are told expressly that the charge of saying ‘Let us do evil that good may come’ was brought as a matter of fact against the Apostle (ver. 8). And 6:1, 15 restate this charge in Pauline language. The Apostle as it were takes it up and gives it out again as if it came in the logic of his own thought. And the other charge of levelling down all the Jew’s privileges, of ignoring the Old Testament and disparaging its saints, was one which must as inevitably have been brought against St. Paul as the like charges were brought against St. Stephen (Acts 6:13 f.). It is probable however that St. Paul had himself wrestled with this question long before it was pointed against him as a weapon in controversy; and he propounds it in the order in which it would naturally arise in that stress of reasoning, pro and con., which went to the shaping of his own system. The modified form in which the question comes up the second time (ver. 9) shows—if our interpretation is correct—that St. Paul is there rather following out his own thought than contending with an adversary.
1. τὸ περισσόν. That which encircles a thing necessarily lies outside it. Hence περί would seem to have a latent meaning ‘beyond,’ which is appropriated rather by πέρα, πέραν, but comes out in περισσός, ‘that which is in excess,’ ‘over and above.’
2. πρῶτον μέν: intended to be followed by ἔπειτα δέ, but the line of argument is broken off and not resumed. A list of privileges such as might have followed here is given in ch. 9:4.
πρῶτον μὲν γάρ: om. γάρ B D* E G minusc. pauc., verss. plur., Chrys. Orig.-lat. al., [γάρ] WH.
ἐπιστεύθησαν. πιστεύω, in the sense of ‘entrust,’ ‘confide,’ takes acc. of the thing entrusted, dat. of the person; e. g. John 2:24 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς οὐκ ἐπίστευεν ἑαυτὸν [rather αὑτὸν or αὐτόν] αὐτοῖς. In the passive the dat. becomes nom., and the acc. remains unchanged (Buttmann, pp. 175, 189, 190; Winer, xxxii. 5 [p. 287]; cf. 1 Corinthians 9:17; Galatians 2:7).
τὰ λόγια. St. Paul might mean by this the whole of the O. T. regarded as the Word of God, but he seems to have in view rather those utterances in it which stand out as most unmistakably Divine; the Law as given from Sinai and the promises relating to the Messiah.
The old account of λόγιον as a dimin. of λόγος is probably correct, though Mey.-W.. make it neut. of λόγιος on the ground that λογίδιον is the proper dimin. The form λογίδιον is rather a strengthened dimin., which by a process common in language took the place of λόγιον when it acquired the special sense of ‘oracle.’ From Herod. downwards λόγιον = ‘oracle’ as a brief condensed saying; and so it came to = any ‘inspired, divine utterance’: e.g. in Philo of the ‘prophecies’ and of the ‘ten commandments’ (περὶ τῶν δέκα λογίων is the title of Philo’s treatise). So in LXX the expression is used of the ‘word of the Lord’ five times in Isaiah and frequently in the Psalms (no less than seventeen times in Psa_119 ). From this usage it was natural that it should be transferred to the ‘sayings’ of the Lord Jesus (Polyc. ad Phil. vii. 1 ὃς ἂν μεθοδεύῃ τὰ λόγια τοῦ Κυρίον: cf. Iren. Adv. Haer. 1 praef.; also Weiss, Einl. § 5. 4). But from the time of Philo onwards the word was used of any sacred writing, whether discourse or narrative; so that it is a disputed point whether the λόγια τοῦ Κυρίου which Papias ascribes to St. Matthew, as well as his own λογίων κυριακῶν ἐξηγήσεις (Eus. H. E. III. xxxix.16 and 1) were or were not limited to discourse (see especially Lightfoot, Ess. on Supern. Rel. p. 172 ff.).
3. ἠπίστησαν ̣ ̣ ̣ ἀπιστία. Do these words refer to ‘unbelief’ (Mey. Gif. Lid. Oltr. Go.) or to ‘unfaithfulness’ (De W. Weiss Lips. Va.)? Probably, on the whole, the former: because (i) the main point in the context is the disbelief in the promises of the O. T. and the refusal to accept them as fulfilled in Christ; (ii) chaps. 9-11 show that the problem of Israel’s unbelief weighed heavily on the Apostle’s mind; (iii) ‘unbelief’ is the constant sense of the word (ἀπιστέω occurs seven times, in which the only apparent exception to this sense 2 Timothy 2:13, and ἀπιστία eleven times, with no clear exception); (iv) there is a direct parallel in ch. 11:20 τῇ ἀπιστίᾳ ἐξεκλάσθησαν, σὺ δὲ τῇ πίστει ἕστηκας. At the same time the one sense rather suggests than excludes the other; so that the ἀπιστία of man is naturally contrasted with the πίστις of God (cf. Va.).
πίστιν: ‘faithfulness’ to His promises; cf. Lamentations 3:23 πολλὴ ἡ πίστις σου: Ps. Sol. 8:35 ἡ πίστις σου μεθ ἡμῶν.
καταργήσει. καταργεῖν (from κατά causative and ἀργός = ἀεργός) = ‘to render inert or inactive’: a characteristic word with St. Paul, occurring twenty-five times in his writings (including 2 Thess. Eph_2 Tim.), and only twice elsewhere (Lk. Heb.); = (i) in a material sense, ‘to make sterile or barren,’ of soil Luke 13:7, cf. Romans 6:6 ἳνα καταργηθῇ τὸ σῶμα τῆς ἁμαρτίας, ‘that the body as an instrument of sin may be paralysed, rendered powerless’; (ii) in a figurative sense, ‘to render invalid,’ ‘abrogate,’ ‘abolish’ (τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν Galatians 3:17; νόμον Romans 3:31).
4. μὴ γένοιτο: a formula of negation, repelling with horror something previously suggested. ‘Fourteen of the fifteen N. T. instances are in Paul’s writings, and in twelve of them it expresses the Apostle’s abhorrence of an inference which he fears may be falsely drawn from his argument’ (Burton, M. and T. § 177; cf. also Lft. on Galatians 2:17).
It is characteristic of the vehement impulsive style of this group of Epp. that the phrase is confined to them (ten times in Rom., once in 1 Cor., twice in Gal.). It occurs five times in LXX, not however standing alone as here, but worked into the body of the sentence (cf. Genesis 44:7, Genesis 44:17; Joshua 22:29, Joshua 22:24:16; 1 Kings 20:3, 1 Kings 21:3).
γινέσθω: see on 1:3 above; the transition which the verb denotes is often from a latent condition to an apparent condition, and so here, ‘prove to be,’ ‘be seen to be.’
ἀληθής: as keeping His plighted word.
ψεύστης: in asserting that God’s promises have not been fulfilled.
καθὼς γέγραπται: ‘Even as it stands written.’ The quotation is exact from LXX of Psalm 51:6 [50:6]. Note the mistranslations in LXX (which St. Paul adopts), νικήσῃς (or νικήσεις) for insons sis, ἐν τῷ κρίνεσθαι (pass.) for in iudicando or dum iudicas. The sense of the original is that the Psalmist acknowledges the justice of God’s judgement upon him. The result of his sin is that God is pronounced righteous in His sentence, free from blame in His judging. St. Paul applies it as if the Most High Himself were put upon trial and declared guiltless in respect to the promises which He has fulfilled, though man will not believe in their fulfilment.
ὅπως ἄν: ἄν points to an unexpressed condition, ‘in case a decision is given.’
δικαιωθῇς: ‘that thou mightest be pronounced righteous’ by the judgement of mankind; see p. 30 f. above, and compare Matthew 11:19 καὶ ἐδικαιώθη ἡ σοφία ἀπὸ τῶν ἔργων (v. l. τέκνων: cf. Luke 7:35) αὐτῆς. Test. XII Patr. Sym. 6 ὅπως δικαιωθῶ ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας τῶν ψυχῶν ὑμῶν. Ps. Song of Solomon 2:16 ἐγὼ δικαιώσω σε ὁ Θεός. The usage occurs repeatedly in this book; see Ryle and James ad loc.
ἐν τοῖς λόγοις σου: not ‘pleadings’ (Va.) but ‘sayings,’ i. e. the λόγια just mentioned. ב probably = ‘judicial sentence.’
νικήσῃς: like vincere, of ‘gaining a suit,’ opp. to ἡττᾶσθαι: the full phrase is νικᾶν τὴν δίκην (Eur. El. 955, &c.).
νικήσῃς, B G K L &c.; νικἠσεις א A D E, minusc. aliq. Probably νικήσεις is right, because of the agreement of א A with the older types of Western Text, thus representing two great families. The reading νικήσῃς in B apparently belongs to the small Western element in that MS., which would seem to be allied to that in G rather than to that in D. There is a similar fluctuation in MSS. of the LXX: νικήσῃς is the reading of א B(def. A), νικήσεις of some fourteen cursives. The text of LXX used by St. Paul differs not seldom from that of the great uncials.
κρίνεσθαι: probably not mid. (‘to enter upon trial,’ ‘go to law,’ lit. ‘get judgment for oneself’) as Mey. Go. Va. Lid., but pass. as in ver. 7 (so Vulg. Weiss Kautzsch, &c.; see the arguments from the usage of LXX and ב in Kautzsch, De Vet. Test. Locis a Paulo allegatis, p. 24 n).
5. ἡ ἀδικία ἡμῶν: a general statement, including ἀπιστία. In like manner Θεοῦ δικαιοσύνην is general, though the particular instance which St. Paul has in his mind is the faithfulness of God to His promises.
συνίστησι: συνίστημι (συνιστάνω) has in N. T. two conspicuous meanings: (i) ‘to bring together’ as two persons, ‘to introduce’ or ‘commend’ to one another (e.g. Romans 16:1; 2 Corinthians 3:1; 2 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Corinthians 5:12, &c.; cf. συστατικαὶ ἐπιστολαί 2 Corinthians 3:1); (ii) ‘to put together’ or ‘make good’ by argument, ‘to prove,’ ‘establish’ (compositis collectisque quae rem contineant argumentis aliquid doceo Fritzsche), as in Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 7:11; Galatians 2:18 (where see Lft. and Ell.).
Both meanings are recognized by Hesych. (συνιστόνειν· ἐπαινεῖν, φανεροῦν, βεβαιοῦν, παρατιθέναι); but it is strange that neither comes out clearly in the uses of the word in LXX; the second is found in Susann. 61 ἀνέστησαν ἐπὶ τοὺς δύο πρεσβύτας, ὅτι συνέστησεν αὐτοὺς Δανιήλ ψευδομαρτυρήσαντας (Theod.).
τί ἐροῦμεν: another phrase, like μὴ γένοιτο, which is characteristic of this Epistle, where it occurs seven times; not elsewhere in N. T.
μὴ ἄδικος: the form of question shows that a negative answer is expected (μή originally meant ‘Don’t say that,’ &c.).
ὁ ἐπιφέρων τὴν ὀργήν: most exactly, ‘the inflicter of the anger’ (Va.). The reference is to the Last Judgement: see on 1:18, 12:19.
Burton however makes ὁ ἐπιφέρων strictly equivalent to a relative clause, and like a relative clause suggest a reason (‘Who visiteth’ = ‘because He visiteth’) M. and T. § 428.
κατὰ ἄνθρωπον λέγω: a form of phrase which is also characteristic of this group of Epistles, where the eager argumentation of the Apostle leads him to press the analogy between human and divine things in a way that he feels calls for apology. The exact phrase recurs only in Galatians 3:15; but comp. also 1 Corinthians 9:8 μὴ κατὰ ἄνθρωπον ταῦτα λαλῶ; 2 Corinthians 11:17 ὅ λαλῶ, οὐ κατὰ Κύριον λαλῶ.
6. ἐπεὶ πῶς κρινεῖ: St. Paul and his readers alike held as axiomatic the belief that God would judge the world. But the objection just urged was inconsistent with that belief, and therefore must fall to the ground.
ἑπεί: ‘since, if that were so, if the inflicting of punishment necessarily implied injustice.’ Ἐπεί gets the meaning ‘if so,’ ‘if not’ (‘or else’), from the context, the clause to which it points being supposed to be repeated: here ἐπεί sc. εἰ ἄδικος ἔσται ὁ ἐπιφέρων τὴν ὀργήν (cf. Buttmann, Gr. of N. T. Gk. p. 359).
τὸν κόσμον: all mankind.
7. The position laid down in ver. 5 is now discussed from the side of man, as it had just been discussed from the side of God.
εἰ δε א A minusc. pauc., Vulg. cod. Boh., Jo.-Damasc., Tisch. WH. text. RV. text.; εἰ γάρ B D E G K L P &c., Vulg. Syrr., Orig.-lat. Chrys. al., WH. marg. RV. marg. The second reading may be in its origin Western.
ἀλήθεια: the truthfulness of God in keeping His promises; ψεῦσμα, the falsehood of man in denying their fulfilment (as in ver. 4).
κἀγώ: ‘I too,’ as well as others, though my falsehood thus redounds to God’s glory. St. Paul uses the first person from motives of delicacy, just as in 1 Corinthians 4:6 he ‘transfers by a fiction’ (Dr. Field’s elegant rendering of μετεσχημάτισα) to himself and his friend Apollos what really applied to his opponents.
8. There are two trains of thought in the Apostle’s mind: (i) the excuse which he supposes to be put forward by the unbeliever that evil may be done for the sake of good; (ii) the accusation brought as a matter of fact against himself of saying that evil might be done for the sake of good. The single clause ποιήσωμεν τὰ κακὰ ἵνα ἔλθῃ τὰ ἀγαθά is made to do duty for both these trains of thought, in the one case connected in idea and construction with τί ̣ ̣ ̣ μή, in the other with λέγουσιν ὄτι. This could be brought out more clearly by modern devices of punctuation: τί ἔτι κἀγὼ ὡς ἁμαρτωλός, κρίνομαὶ καὶ [τί] μὴ—καθὼς βλασφημούμεθα, καὶ καθώς φασί τινες ἡμᾶς λέγειν ὄτι—ποιήσωμεν κ.τ.λ. There is a very similar construction in vv. 25, 26, where the argument works up twice over to the same words, εἰς [πρὸς] τὴν ἔνδειξιν τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὐτοῦ, and the words which follow the second time are meant to complete both clauses, the first as well as the second. It is somewhat similar when in ch. 2 ver. 16 at once carries on and completes vv. 15 and 13.
St. Paul was accused (no doubt by actual opponents) of Antinomianism. What he said was, ‘The state of righteousness is not to be attained through legal works; it is the gift of God.’ He was represented as saying ‘therefore it does not matter what a man does’—an inference which he repudiates indignantly, not only here but in 6:1 ff., 15 ff.
ὧν τὸ κρῖμα κ.τ.λ. This points back to τί ἔτι κἀγὼ κρίνομαι; the plea which such persons put in will avail them nothing; the judgement (of God) which will fall upon them is just. St. Paul does not argue the point, or say anything further about the calumny directed against himself; he contents himself with brushing away an excuse which is obviously unreal.
UNIVERSAL FAILURE TO ATTAIN TO RIGHTEOUSNESS
3:9-20. If the case of us Jews is so bad, are the Gentiles any better? No. The same accusation covers both. The Scriptures speak of the universality of human guilt, which is laid down in Psa_14 and graphically described in Pss. 5, 140, Psalm 5:10, in Isa_59, and again in Psa_34. And if the Jew is equally guilty with the Gentile, still less can he escape punishment; for the Law which threatens him with punishment is his own. So then the whole system of Law and works done in fulfilment of Law, has proved a failure. Law can reveal sin, but not remove it.
9 To return from this digression. What inference are we to draw? Are the tables completely turned? Are we Jews not only equalled but surpassed (προεχόμεθα passive) by the Gentiles? Not at all. There is really nothing to choose between Jews and Gentiles. The indictment which we have just brought against both (in 1:18-32, 2:17-29) proves that they are equally under the dominion of sin. 10The testimony of Scripture is to the same effect. Thus in Psa_14 [here with some abridgment and variation], the Psalmist complains that he cannot find a single righteous man, 11 that there is none to show any intelligence of moral and religious truth, none to show any desire for the knowledge of God. 12 They have all (he says) turned aside from the straight path. They are like milk that has turned sour and bad. There is not so much as a single right-doer among them. 13 This picture of universal wickedness may be completed from such details as those which are applied to the wicked in Psalm 5:9 [exactly quoted]. Just as a grave stands yawning to receive the corpse that will soon fill it with corruption, so the throat of the wicked is only opened to vent forth depraved and lying speech. Their tongue is practised in fraud. Or in Psalm 140:3 [also exactly quoted]: the poison-bag of the asp lies under their smooth and flattering lips. 14 So, as it is described in Psalm 10:7, throat, tongue, and lips are full of nothing but cursing and venom. 15 Then of Israel it is said [with abridgment from LXX of Isaiah 59:7, Isaiah 59:8]: They run with eager speed to commit murder. 16 Their course is marked by ruin and misery. 17 With smiling paths of peace they have made no acquaintance. 18 To sum up the character of the ungodly in a word [from Psa_36(35):1 LXX]: The fear of God supplies no standard for their actions.
19 Thus all the world has sinned. And not even the Jew can claim exemption from the consequences of his sin. For when the Law of Moses denounces those consequences it speaks especially to the people to whom it was given. By which it was designed that the Jew too might have his mouth stopped from all excuse, and that all mankind might be held accountable to God.
20 This is the conclusion of the whole argument. By works of Law (i. e. by an attempted fulfilment of Law) no mortal may hope to be declared righteous in God’s sight. For the only effect of Law is to open men’s eyes to their own sinfulness, not to enable them to do better. That method, the method of works, has failed. A new method must be found.
9. τί οὖν; ‘What then [follows]?’ Not with προεχόμεθα, because that would require in reply οὐδὲν πάντως, not οὐ πάντως.
προεχόμεθα is explained in three ways: as intrans. in the same sense as the active προέχω, as trans. with its proper middle force, and as passive. (i) προεχόμεθα mid. = προέχομεν (praecellimus eos Vulg.; and so the majority of commentators, ancient and modern, Ἄρα περισσὸν ἔχομεν παρὰ τοὺς Ἔλληνας; Euthym.-Zig. ἔχομέν τι πλέον καὶ εὐδοκιμοῦμεν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι; Theoph. ‘Do we think ourselves better?’ Gif.). But no examples of this use are to be found, and there seems to be no reason why St. Paul should not have written προέχομεν, the common form in such contexts. (ii) προεχόμεθα trans. in its more ordinary middle sense, ‘put forward as an excuse or pretext’ (‘Do we excuse ourselves?’ RV. marg., ‘Have we any defence?’ Mey. Go.). But then the object must be expressed, and as we have just seen τί οὖν cannot be combined with προεχόμεθα because of οὐ πάντως. (iii) προεχόμεθα passive, ‘Are we excelled?’ ‘Are we Jews worse off (than the Gentiles)?’ a rare use, but still one which is sufficiently substantiated (cf. Field, Ot. Norv. III ad loc.). Some of the best scholars (e. g. Lightfoot, Field) incline to this view, which has been adopted in the text of RV. The principal objection to it is from the context. St. Paul has just asserted (ver. 2) that the Jew has an advantage over the Gentile: how then does he come to ask if the Gentile has an advantage over the Jew? The answer would seem to be that a different kind of ‘advantage’ is meant. The superiority of the Jew to the Gentile is historic, it lies in the possession of superior privileges; the practical equality of Jew and Gentile is in regard to their present moral condition (ch. 2:17-29 balanced against ch. 1:18-32). In this latter respect St. Paul implies that Gentile and Jew might really change places (2:25-29). A few scholars (Olsh. Va.Lid.) take προεχόμεθα as pass., but give it the same sense as προέχομεν, ‘Are we (Jews) preferred (to the Gentiles) in the sight of God?’
προεχόμεθα: v. l. προκατέχομεν περισσόν D* G, 31; Antiochene Fathers (Chrys. [ed. Field] Theodt. Severianus), also Orig.-lat. Ambrstr. (some MSS. but not the best, tenemus amplius): a gloss explaining προεχ. in the same way as Vulg. and the later Greek commentators quoted above. A L read προεχώμεθα.
οὐ πάντως. Strictly speaking οὐ should qualify πάντως, ‘not altogether,’ ‘not entirely,’ as in 1 Corinthians 5:10 οὐ πάντως τοῖς πόρνοις τοῦ κόσμου τούτου: but in some cases, as here, πάντως qualifies οὐ, ‘altogether not,’ ‘entirely not,’ i.e. ‘not at all’ (nequaquam Vulg., οὐδαμῶς Theoph.). Compare the similar idiom in οὐ πάνυ; and see Win. Gr. lxi. 5.
προῃτιασάμεθα: in the section 1:18-2:29.
ὑφʼ ἁμαρτίαν. In Biblical Greek ὑπό with dat. has given place entirely to ὑπό with acc. Matthew 8:9 ἄνθρωπός εἰμι ὑπὸ ἐξουσίαν is a strong case. The change has already taken place in LXX; e.g Deuteronomy 33:3 πάντες οἱ ἡγιασμένοι ὑπὸ τὰς χεῖράς σου, καὶ οὗτοι ὑπὸ σέ εἰσι.
10. The long quotation which follows, made up of a number of passages taken from different parts of the O. T., and with no apparent break between them, is strictly in accordance with the Rabbinical practice. ‘A favourite method was that which derived its name from the stringing together of beads (Charaz), when a preacher having quoted a passage or section from the Pentateuch, strung on to it another and like-sounding, or really similar, from the Prophets and the Hagiographa’ (Edersheim, Life and Times, &c. i. 449). We may judge from this instance that the first quotation did not always necessarily come from the Pentateuch—though no doubt there is a marked tendency in Christian as compared with Jewish writers to equalize the three divisions of the O. T. Other examples of such compounded quotations are Romans 9:25 f.; 27 f.; 11:26 f.; 34 f.; 12:19 f.; 2 Corinthians 6:16. Here the passages are from Psa_14:1-3 (= Psalm 53:1-3 [52:2-4]), ver. 1 free, ver. 2 abridged, ver. 3 exact; 5:9  exact; 140:3 [139:4] exact: 10:7 [9:28] free; Isaiah 59:7, Isaiah 59:8 abridged; Psa_36 . 1. The degree of relevance of each of these passages to the argument is indicated by the paraphrase: see also the additional note at the end of ch. 10.
As a whole this conglomerate of quotations has had a curious history. The quotations in N.T. frequently react upon the text of O.T., and they have done so here: vv. 13-18 got imported bodily into Psa_14 [13 LXX] as an appendage to ver. 4 in the ‘common’ text of the LXX (ἡ κοινή, i.e. the unrevised text current in the time of Origen). They are still found in Codd. א* B R U and many cursive MSS. of LXX (om. אc a A), though the Greek commentators on the Psalms do not recognize them. From interpolated MSS. such as these they found their way into Lat.-Vet., and so into Jerome’s first edition of the Psalter (the ‘Roman’), also into his second edition (the ‘Gallican,’ based upon Origen’s Hexapla), though marked with an obelus after the example of Origen. The obelus dropped out, and they are commonly printed in the Vulgate text of the Psalms, which is practically the Gallican. From the Vulgate they travelled into Coverdale’s Bible (a.d. 1535); from thence into Matthew’s (Rogers’) Bible, which in the Psalter reproduces Coverdale (a.d. 1537), and also into the ‘Great Bible’ (first issued by Cromwell in 1539, and afterwards with a preface by Cranmer, whence it also bears the name of Cranmer’s Bible, in 1540). The Psalter of the Great Bible was incorporated in the Book of Common Prayer, in which it was retained as being familiar and smoother to sing, even in the later revision which substituted elsewhere the Authorized Version of 1611. The editing of the Great Bible was due to Coverdale, who put an * to the passages found in the Vulgate but wanting in the Hebrew. These marks however had the same fate which befell the obeli of Jerome. They were not repeated in the Prayer-Book; so that English Churchmen still read the interpolated verses in Psa_14 with nothing to distinguish them from the rest of the text. Jerome himself was well aware that these verses were no part of the Psalm. In his commentary on Isaiah, lib. 16, he notes that St. Paul quoted Isaiah 59:7, Isaiah 59:8 in Ep. to Rom., and he adds, quod multi ignorantes, de tertio decimo psalmo sumptum putant, qui versus [στίχοι] in editione Vulgata [i. e. the κοινή of the LXX] additi sunt et in Hebraico non habentur (Hieron. Opp. ed. Migne, iv. 601; comp. the preface to the same book, ibid. col. 568 f.; also the newly discovered Commentarioli in Psalmos, ed. Morin, 1895, p. 24 f.).
10. Some have thought that this verse was not part of the quotation, but a summary by St. Paul of what follows. It does indeed present some variants from the original, δίκαιος for ποιῶν χρηστότητα and οὐδὲ εἷς for οὐκ ἔστιν ἕως ἑνός. In the LXX this clause is a kind of refrain which is repeated exactly in ver. 3. St. Paul there keeps to his text; but we cannot be surprised that in the opening words he should choose a simpler form of phrase which more directly suggests the connexion with his main argument. The δίκαιος ‘shall live by faith’; but till the coming of Christianity there was no true δίκαιος and no true faith. The verse runs too much upon the same lines as the Psalm to be other than a quotation, though it is handled in the free and bold manner which is characteristic of St. Paul.
11. οὐκ ἔστιν ὁ συνιῶν: non est qui intelligat (rather than qui intelligit); Anglicè, ‘there is none to understand.’ [But A B G, and perhaps Latt. Orig.-lat. Ambrstr., WH. text read συνιῶν, as also (B)C WH. text ἐκζητῶν, without the art. after LXX. This would = non est intelligens, non est requirens Deum (Vulg.) ‘There is no one of understanding, there is no inquirer after God.’]
ὁ συνιῶν: on the form see Win. Gr. § xiv, 16 (Exo_8; xiv, 3 E. T.); Hort, Intr. Notes on Orthog. p. 167; also for the accentuation, Fri. p. 174 f. Both forms, συνιέω and συνίω, are found, and either accentuation, συνιῶν or συνίων, may be adopted: probably the latter is to be preferred; cf. ἤφιε from ἀφίω Mark 1:34, Mark 11:16.
12. ἅμα: ‘one and all.’
ἠχρειώθησαν: ב = ‘to go bad,’ ‘become sour,’ like milk; comp. the ἀχρεῖος δοῦλος of Matthew 25:30.
ποιῶν (sine artic.) A B G &c. WH. text.
χρηστότητα = ‘goodness’ in the widest sense, with the idea of ‘utility’ rather than specially of ‘kindness,’ as in 2:4.
ἔως ἑνός: cp. the Latin idiom ad unum omnes (Vulg. literally usque ad unum). B 67**, WH. marg. omit the second οὐκ ἔστιν [οὐκ ἔστιν ποιῶν χρηστότητα ἔως ἑνός]. The readings of B and its allies in these verses are open to some suspicion of assimilating to a text of LXX. In ver. 14 B 17 add αὐτῶν (ὧν τὸ στόμα αὐτῶν) corresponding to αὐτοῦ in B’s text of Psalm 10:7 [9:28].
13. τάφος … ἐδολιοῦσαν. The LXX of Psalm 5:9  corresponds pretty nearly to Heb. The last clause = rather linguam suam blandam reddunt (poliunt), or perhaps lingua sua blandiuntur (Kautzsch, p. 34): ‘their tongue do they make smooth’ Cheyne; ‘smooth speech glideth from their tongue’ De Witt.
ἐδολιοῦσαν: Win. Gr. § xiii, 14 (Exo_8; xiii, 2 f. E. T.). The termination -σαν, extended from imperf. and 2nd aor. of verbs in -μι to verbs in -ω, is widely found; it is common in LXX and in Alexandrian Greek, but by no means confined to it; it is frequent in Boeotian inscriptions, and is called by one grammarian a ‘Boeotian’ form, as by others ‘Alexandrian.’
ἰὸς ἀσπίδων: Psalm 140:3 [139:4]. The position of the poison-bag of the serpent is rightly described. The venom is more correctly referred to the bite (as in Numbers 21:9; Proverbs 23:32), than to the forked tongue (Job 20:16): see art. ‘Serpent’ in D. B.
14Psalm 10:7 somewhat freely from LXX [9:28]: οὗ ἀρᾶς τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ γέμει καὶ πικρίας καὶ δόλου. St. Paul retains the rel. but changes it into the plural: στόμα αὐτῶν B 17, Cypr., WH. marg.
πικρία: ב more lit. = fraudes.
15-17. This quotation of Isaiah 59:7, Isaiah 59:8 is freely abridged from the LXX; and as it is also of some interest from its bearing upon the text of the LXX used by St. Paul, it may be well to give the original and the quotation side by side.
Romans 3:15-17. Isaiah 59:7, Isaiah 59:8.
ὀξεῖς οἱ πόδες αὐτῶν ἐκχέαι αἷμα· σύντριμμα καὶ ταλαιπωρία ἐν ταῖς ὁδοῖς αὐτῶν, καὶ ὁδὸν εἰρήνης οὐκ ἔγνωσαν. οἱ δὲ πόδες αὐτῶν [ἐπὶ πονηρίαν τρέχουσι] ταχινοὶ ἐκχέαι αἷμα [καὶ οἱ διαλογισμοὶ αὐτῶν διαλογισμοὶ ἀπὸ φόνων]. σύντριμμα καὶ ταλαιπωρία ἐν ταῖς ὁδοῖς αὐτῶν καὶ ὁδὸν εἰρήνης οὐκ οἴδασι [καὶ οὐκ ἔστι κρίσις ἐν ταῖς ὁδοῖς αὐτῶν].
αἵμα ἀναίτιον Theodotion, and probably also Aquila and Symmachus. [From the Hexapla this reading has got into several MSS. of LXX.]
ἀφρόνων (for ἀπὸ φόνων) A א: οἴδασι א1 B Q*, &c.: ἔγνωσαν A Q1 marg. (Q = Cod. Marchalianus, XII Holmes) minusc. aliq.
19. What is the meaning of this verse? Does it mean that the passages just quoted are addressed to Jews (ὁ νόμος = O. T.; νόμον τὴν παλαιὰν γραφὴν ὀνομάζει, ἧς μέρος τὰ προφητικά Euthym.-Zig.), and therefore they are as much guilty before God as the Gentiles? So most commentators. Or does it mean that the guilt of the Jews being now proved, as they sinned they must also expect punishment, the Law (ὁ νόμος = the Pentateuch) affirming the connexion between sin and punishment. So Gif. Both interpretations give a good sense. [For though (i) does not strictly prove that all men are guilty but only that the Jews are guilty, this was really the main point which needed proving, because the Jews were apt to explain away the passages which condemned them, and held that—whatever happened to the Gentiles—they would escape.] The question really turns upon the meaning of ὁ νόμος. It is urged, (i) that there is only a single passage in St. Paul where ὁ νόμος clearly = O. T. (1 Corinthians 14:21, a quotation of Isaiah 28:11): compare however John 10:34 (= Psalm 82:6), 15:25 (= Psalm 35:19); (ii) that in the corresponding clause, τοῖς ἐν τῷ νόμῳ must = the Law, in the narrower sense; (iii) that in ver. 21 the Law is expressly distinguished from the Prophets.
Yet these arguments are hardly decisive: for (i) the evidence is sufficient to show that St. Paul might have used ὁ νόμος in the wider sense; for this one instance is as good as many; and (ii) we must not suppose that St. Paul always rigidly distinguished which sense he was using; the use of the word in one sense would call up the other (cf. Note on ὁ θάνατος in ch. 5:12).
Oltr. also goes a way of his own, but makes ὁ νόμος = Law in the abstract (covering at once for the Gentile the law of conscience, and for the Jew the law of Moses), which is contrary to the use of ὁ νόμος.
λέγει … λαλεῖ: λέγειν calls attention to the substance of what is spoken, λαλεῖν to the outward utterance; cf. esp. McClellan, Gospels, p. 383 ff.
φραγῇ: cf. ἀναπολόγητος 1:20, 2:1; the idea comes up at each step in the argument.
ὑπόδικο: not exactly ‘guilty before God,’ but ‘answerable to God.’ ὑπόδικος takes gen. of the penalty; dat. of the person injured to whom satisfaction is due (τῶν διπλασίων ὑπόδικος ἔστω τῷ βλαφθέντι Plato, Legg. 846 B). So here: all mankind has offended against God, and owes Him satisfaction. Note the use of a forensic term.
20. διότι: ‘because,’ not ‘therefore,’ as AV. (see on 1:19). Mankind is liable for penalties as against God, because there is nothing else to afford them protection. Law can open men’s eyes to sin, but cannot remove it. Why this is so is shown in 7:7 ff.
δικαιωθήσεται: ‘shall be pronounced righteous,’ certainly not ‘shall be made righteous’ (Lid.); the whole context (ἵνα πᾶν στομα, φραγῇ ὑπόδικος, ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ) has reference to a judicial trial and verdict.
πᾶσα σάρξ: man in his weakness and frailty (1 Corinthians 1:29; 1 Peter 1:24).
ἐπίγνωσις: ‘clear knowledge’; see on 1:28, 32.
THE NEW SYSTEM
3:21-26. Here then the new order of things comes in. In it is offered a Righteousness which comes from God but embraces man, by no deserts of his but as a free gift on the part of God. This righteousness, (i) though attested by the Sacred Books, is independent of any legal system (ver. 21); (ii) it is apprehended by faith in Christ, and is as wide as man’s need (vv. 22, 23); (iii) it is made possible by the propitiatory Sacrifice of Christ (vv. 24, 25); which Sacrifice at once explains the lenient treatment by God of past sin and gives the most decisive expression to His righteousness (vv. 25, 26).
21It is precisely such a method which is offered in Christianity. We have seen what is the state of the world without it. But now, since the coming of Christ, the righteousness of God has asserted itself in visible concrete form, but so as to furnish at the same time a means of acquiring righteousness to man—and that in complete independence of law, though the Sacred Books which contain the Law and the writings of the Prophets bear witness to it. 22This new method of acquiring righteousness does not turn upon works but on faith, i. e. on ardent attachment and devotion to Jesus Messiah. And it is therefore no longer confined to any particular people like the Jews, but is thrown open without distinction to all, on the sole condition of believing, whether they be Jews or Gentiles. 23The universal gift corresponds to the universal need. All men alike have sinned; and all alike feel themselves far from the bright effulgence of God’s presence. 24Yet estranged as they are God accepts them as righteous for no merit or service of theirs, by an act of His own free favour, the change in their relation to Him being due to the Great Deliverance wrought at the price of the Death of Christ Jesus. 25When the Messiah suffered upon the Cross it was God Who set Him there as a public spectacle, to be viewed as a Mosaic sacrifice might be viewed by the crowds assembled in the courts of the Temple. The shedding of His Blood was in fact a sacrifice which had the effect of making propitiation or atonement for sin, an effect which man must appropriate through faith. The object of the whole being by this public and decisive act to vindicate the righteousness of God. In previous ages the sins of mankind had been passed over without adequate punishment or atonement: 26but this long forbearance on the part of God had in view throughout that signal exhibition of His Righteousness which He purposed to enact when the hour should come as now it has come, so as to reveal Himself in His double character as at once righteous Himself and pronouncing righteous, or accepting as righteous, the loyal follower of Jesus.
21. νυνὶ δέ: ‘now,’ under the Christian dispensation. Mey. De W. Oltr. Go. and others contend for the rendering ‘as it is,’ on the ground that the opposition is between two states, the state under Law and the state without Law. But here the two states or relations correspond to two periods succeeding each other in order of time; so that νυνί may well have its first and most obvious meaning, which is confirmed by the parallel passages, Romans 16:25, Romans 16:26 μυστηρίου … φανερωθέντος … νῦν, Ephesians 2:12, Ephesians 2:13 νυνὶ δὲ … ἐγενήθητε ἐγγύς, Colossians 1:26, Colossians 1:27 μυστήριον τὸ ἀποκεκρυμμένον … νῦν δὲ ἐφανερώθη, 2 Timothy 1:9, 2 Timothy 1:10 χάριν τὴν δοθεῖσαν … πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων φανερωθεῖσαν δὲ νῦν, Hebrews 9:26 νυνὶ δὲ ἅπαξ ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ τῶν αἰώνων … πεφανέρωται. It may be observed (i) that the N. T. writers constantly oppose the pre-Christian and the Christian dispensations to each other as periods (comp. in addition to the passages already enumerated Acts 17:30; Galatians 3:23, Galatians 3:25, Galatians 3:4:3, Galatians 3:4; Hebrews 1:1); and (ii) that φανεροῦσθαι is constantly used with expressions denoting time (add to passages above Titus 1:3 καιροῖς ἰδίοις, 1 Peter 1:20 ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν χρόνων). The leading English commentators take this view.
An allusion of Tertullian’s makes it probable that Marcion retained this verse; evidence fails as to the rest of the chapter, and it is probable that he cut out the whole of ch. 4, along with most other references to the history of Abraham (Tert. on Galatians 4:21-26, Adv. Marc. v. 4).
χωρὶς νόμου: ‘apart from law,’ ‘independently of it,’ not as a subordinate system growing out of Law, but as an alternative for Law and destined ultimately to supersede it (Romans 10:4).
δικαιοσύνη Θεοῦ: see on ch. 1:17. St. Paul goes on to define his meaning. The righteousness which he has in view is essentially the righteousness of God; though the aspect in which it is regarded is as a condition bestowed upon man, that condition is the direct outcome of the Divine attribute of righteousness, working its way to larger realization amongst men. One step in this realization, the first great objective step, is the Sacrificial Death of Christ for sin (ver. 25); the next step is the subjective apprehension of what is thus done for him by faith on the part of the believer (ver. 22). Under the old system the only way laid down for man to attain to righteousness was by the strict performance of the Mosaic Law; now that heavy obligation is removed and a shorter but at the same time more effective method is substituted, the method of attachment to a Divine Person.
πεφανέρωται. Contrast the completed φανέρωσις in Christ and the continued ἀποκάλυψις in the Gospel (ch. 1:16): the verb φανεροῦσθαι is regularly used for the Incarnation with its accompaniments and sequents as outstanding facts of history prepared in the secret counsels of God and at the fitting moment ‘manifested’ to the sight of men; so, of the whole process of the Incarnation, 1 Timothy 3:16; 2 Timothy 1:10; 1 Peter 1:20; 1 John 3:5, 1 John 3:8: of the Atonement, Hebrews 9:26: of the risen Christ, Mark 16:12, Mark 16:14; John 21:14: of the future coming to Judgement, 1 Peter 5:4; 1 John 2:28. The nearest parallels to this verse which speaks of the manifestation of Divine ‘righteousness’ are 2 Timothy 1:10, which speaks of a like manifestation of Divine ‘grace,’ and 1 John 1:2, which describes the Incarnation as the appearing on earth of the principle of ‘life.’
μαρτυρουμένη κ. τ. λ.: another instance of the care with which St. Paul insists that the new order of things is in no way contrary to the old, but rather a development which was duly foreseen and provided for: cf. Romans 1:2, Romans 3:31, the whole of ch. 4, 9:25-33; 10:16-21; 11:1-10, 26-29; 15:8-12; 16:26 &c.
22. δέ turns to the particular aspect of the Divine righteousness which the Apostle here wishes to bring out; it is righteousness apprehended by faith in Christ and embracing the body of believers. The particle thus introduces a nearer definition, but in itself only marks the transition in thought which here (as in ch. 9:30; 1 Corinthians 2:6; Galatians 2:2; Php 2:8) happens to be from the general to the particular.
πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ: gen. of object, ‘faith in Jesus Christ.’ This is the hitherto almost universally accepted view, which has however been recently challenged in a very carefully worked out argument by Prof. Haussleiter of Greifswald (Der Glaube Jesu Christi u. der christliche Glaube, Leipzig, 1891).
Dr. Haussleiter contends that the gen. is subjective not objective, that like the ‘faith of Abraham’ in ch. 4:16, it denotes the faith (in God) which Christ Himself maintained even through the ordeal of the Crucifixion, that this faith is here put forward as the central feature of the Atonement, and that it is to be grasped or appropriated by the Christian in a similar manner to that in which he reproduces the faith of Abraham. If this view held good, a number of other passages (notably 1:17) would be affected by it. But, although ably carried out, the interpretation of some of these passages seems to us forced; the theory brings together things, like the πίστις Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ here with the πίστις Θεοῦ in 3:3, which are really disparate; and it has so far, we believe, met with no acceptance.
Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. B, and apparently Marcion as quoted by Tertullian, drop Ἰησοῦ (so too WH. marg.); A reads ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ.
καὶ ἐπὶ πάντας om. א* A B C, 47. 67**, Boh. Aeth. Arm., Clem.-Alex. Orig. Did. Cyr.-Alex. Aug.: ins. D E F G K L &c. ἐπὶ πάντας alone is found in Jo. Damasc. Vulg. codd., so that εἰς πάντας καὶ ἐπὶ πάντας would seem to be a conflation, or combination of two readings originally alternatives. If it were the true reading εἰς would express ‘destination for’ all believers, ἐπί ‘extension to’ them.
23. οὐ γάρ ἐστι διαστολή. The Apostle is reminded of one of his main positions. The Jew has (in this respect) no real advantage over the Gentile; both alike need a righteousness which is not their own; and to both it is offered on the same terms.
ἥμαρτον. In English we may translate this ‘have sinned’ in accordance with the idiom of the language, which prefers to use the perfect where a past fact or series of facts is not separated by a clear interval from the present: see note on 2:12.
ὑστεροῦνται: see Monro, Homeric Grammar, § 8 (3); mid. voice = ‘feel want.’ Gif. well compares Matthew 19:20 τί ἔτι ὑστερῶ; (objective, ‘What, as a matter of fact, is wanting to me?’) with Luke 15:14 καὶ αὐτὸς ἥρξατο ὑστερεῖσθαι (subjective, the Prodigal begins to feel his destitution).
τῆς δόξης. There are two wholly distinct uses of this word: (1) = ‘opinion’ (a use not found in N. T.) and thence in particular ‘favourable opinion,’ ‘reputation’ (Romans 2:7, Romans 2:10; John 12:43 &c.); (2) by a use which came in with the LXX as translation of Heb. כָּבוֹד = (i) ‘visible brightness or splendour’ (Acts 22:11; 1 Corinthians 15:40 ff.); and hence (ii) the brightness which radiates from the presence of God, the visible glory conceived as resting on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:16), in the pillar of cloud (Exodus 16:10), in the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34) or temple (1 Kings 8:11; 2 Chronicles 5:14), and specially between the cherubim on the lid of the ark (Psalm 80:1; Exodus 25:22; Romans 9:4 &c.); (iii) this visible splendour symbolized the Divine perfections, ‘the majesty or goodness of God as manifested to men’ (Lightfoot on Colossians 1:11; comp. Ephesians 1:6, Ephesians 1:12, Ephesians 1:17; Ephesians 3:16); (iv) these perfections are in a measure communicated to man through Christ (esp. 2 Corinthians 4:6, 2 Corinthians 3:18). Both morally and physically a certain transfiguration takes place in the Christian, partially here, completely hereafter (comp. e.g. Romans 8:30 ἐδόξασεν with Romans 5:2 ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι τῆς δόξης τοῦ Θεοῦ, 8:18 τὴν μέλλουσαν δόξαν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι, 2 Timothy 2:10 δόξης αἰωνίου). The Rabbis held that Adam by the Fall lost six things, ‘the glory, life (immortality), his stature (which was above that of his descendants), the fruit of the field, the fruits of trees, and the light (by which the world was created, and which was withdrawn from it and reserved for the righteous in the world to come).’ It is explained that ‘the glory’ was a reflection from the Divine glory which before the Fall brightened Adam’s face (Weber, Altsyn. Theol. p. 214). Clearly St. Paul conceives of this glory as in process of being recovered: the physical sense is also enriched by its extension to attributes that are moral and spiritual.
The meaning of δόξα in this connexion is well illustrated by 4 Ezr. 7:42 [ed. Bensly = vi. 14 O. F. Fritzsche, p. 607], where the state of the blessed is described as neque meridiem, neque noctem, neque ante lucem [perh. for antelucium; vid. Bensly ad loc.], neque nitorem, neque claritatem, neque lucem, nisi solummodo splendorem claritatis Altissimi [perh. = ἀπαύγασμα δόξης Ὑψίστου]. In quoting this passage Ambrose has sola Dei fulgebit claritas; Dominus enim erit lux omnium (cf. Revelation 21:24). The blessed themselves shine with a brightness which is reflected from the face of God: ibid. vv. 97, 98 [Bensly = 71, 72 O. F. Fritzsche] quomodo incipiet (μέλλει) vultus eorum fulgere sicut sol, et quomodo incipient stellarum adsimilari lumini … festinant enim videre vultum [eius] cui serviunt viventes et a quo incipient gloriosi mercedem recipere (cf. Matthew 13:43).
24. δικαιούμενοι. The construction and connexion of this word are difficult, and perhaps not to be determined with certainty. (i) Many leading scholars (De W. Mey. Lips. Lid. Win. Gr. § xlv. 6 b) make δικαιούμενοι mark a detail in, or assign a proof of, the condition described by ὑστεροῦνται. In this case there would be a slight stress on δωρεάν: men are far from God’s glory, because the state of righteousness has to be given them; they do nothing for it. But this is rather far-fetched. No such proof or further description of ὑστεροῦνται is needed. It had already been proved by the actual condition of Jews as well as Gentiles; and to prove it by the gratuitousness of the justification would be an inversion of the logical order. (ii) ὑστεροῦνται δικαιούμενοι is taken as = ὑστεροῦνται καὶ δικαιοῦνται (Fri.) or = ὑστερούμενοι δικαιοῦνται (Tholuck). But this is dubious Greek. (iii) δικαιούμενοι is not taken with what precedes, but is made to begin a new clause. In that case there is an anacoluthon, and we must supply some such phrase as πῶς καυχώμεθα; (Oltr.). But that would be harsh, and a connecting particle seems wanted. (iv) Easier and more natural than any of these expedients seems to be, with Va. and Ewald, to make οὐ γάρ … ὑστεροῦνται practically a parenthesis, and to take the nom. δικαιούμενοι ‘as suggested by πάντες in ver. 23, but in sense referring rather to τοὺς πιστεύοντας in ver. 22.’ No doubt such a construction would be irregular, but it may be questioned whether it is too irregular for St. Paul. The Apostle frequently gives a new turn to a sentence under the influence of some expression which is really subordinate to the main idea. Perhaps as near a parallel as any would be 2 Corinthians 8:18, 2 Corinthians 8:19 συνεπέμψαμεν δὲ τὸν ἀδελφὸν … οὗ ὁ ἔπαινος ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ … οὐ μόνον δέ, ἀλλὰ καὶ χειροτονηθείς (as if ὃς ἐπαινεῖται had preceded).
δωρεὰν τῇ αὐτοῦ χάριτι. Each of these phrases strengthens the other in a very emphatic way, the position of αὐτοῦ further laying stress on the fact that this manifestation of free favour on the part of God is unprompted by any other external cause than the one which is mentioned (διὰ τῆς ἀπολυτρώσεως).
ἀπολυτρώσεως. It is contended, esp. by Oltramare, (i) that λυτρόω and ἀπολυτρόω in classical Greek = not ‘to pay a ransom,’ but ‘to take a ransom,’ ‘to put to ransom,’ or ‘release on ransom,’ as a conqueror releases his prisoners (the only example given of ἀπολύτρωσις is Plut. Pomp. 24 πολέων αἰχμαλώτων ἀπολυτρώσεις, where the word has this sense of ‘putting to ransom’); (ii) that in LXX λυτροῦσθαι is frequently used of the Deliverance from Egypt, the Exodus, in which there is no question of ransom (so Exodus 6:6, Exodus 6:15:13; Deuteronomy 7:8; Deuteronomy 9:26; Deuteronomy 13:5, &c.: cf. also ἀπολυτρώσει Exodus 21:8, of the ‘release’ of a slave by her master). The subst. ἀπολύτρωσις occurs only in one place, Daniel 4:30 [29 or 32], LXX ὁ χρόνος μου τῆς ἀπολυτρώσεως ἦλθε of Nebuchadnezzar`s recovery from his madness. Hence it is inferred (cf. also Westcott, ב p. 296, and Ritschl, Rechtfert. u. Versöhn. ii. 220 ff.) that here and in similar passages ἀπολύτρωσις denotes ‘deliverance’ simply without any idea of ‘ransom.’ There is no doubt that this part of the metaphor might be dropped. But in view of the clear resolution of the expression in Mark 10:45 (Matthew 20:28) δοῦναι τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν, and in 1 Timothy 2:6 ὁ δοὺς ἑαυτὸν ἀντίλυτρον ὑπὲρ πάντων, and in view also of the many passages in which Christians are said to be ‘bought,’ or ‘bought with a price’ (1 Corinthians 6:20, 1 Corinthians 6:7:23; Galatians 3:13; 2 Peter 2:1; Revelation 5:9: cf. Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 1:18, 1 Peter 1:19), we can hardly resist the conclusion that the idea of the λύτρον retains its full force, that it is identical with the τιμή, and that both are ways of describing the Death of Christ. The emphasis is on the cost of man’s redemption. We need not press the metaphor yet a step further by asking (as the ancients did) to whom the ransom or price was paid. It was required by that ultimate necessity which has made the whole course of things what it has been; but this necessity is far beyond our powers to grasp or gauge.
τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. We owe to Haussleiter (Der Glaube Jesu Christi, p. 116) the interesting observation that wherever the phrase ἐν Χριστῷ or ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ occurs there is no single instance of the variants ἐν Ἰησοῦ or ἐν Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ. This is significant, because in other combinations the variants are frequent. It is also what we should expect, because ἐν Χριστῷ and ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰης. always relate to the glorified Christ, not to the historic Jesus.
25. προέθετο may = either (i) ‘whom God proposed to Himself,’ ‘purposed,’ ‘designed’ (Orig. Pesh.); or (ii) ‘whom God set forth publicly’ (proposuit Vulg.). Both meanings would be in full accordance with the teaching of St. Paul both elsewhere and in this Epistle. For (i) we may compare the idea of the Divine πρόθεσις in ch. 9:11(8:28); Ephesians 3:11 (1:11); 2 Timothy 1:9; also 1 Peter 1:20. For (ii) compare esp. Galatians 3:1 οἷς κατʼ ὀφθαλμοὺς Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς προεγράφη ἐσταυρωμένος. But when we turn to the immediate context we find it so full of terms denoting publicity (πεφανέρωται, εἰς ἔνδειξιν, πρὸς τὴν ἔνδειξιν) that the latter sense seems preferable. The Death of Christ is not only a manifestation of the righteousness of God, but a visible manifestation and one to which appeal can be made.
ἱλαστήριον: usually subst. meaning strictly ‘place or vehicle of propitiation,’ but originally neut. of adj. ἱλαστήριος (ἱλαστήριον ἐπίθεμα Exodus 25:16 , where however Gif. takes the two words as substantives in apposition). In LXX of the Pentateuch, as in Hebrews 9:5, the word constantly stands for the ‘lid of the ark,’ or ‘mercy-seat,’ so called from the fact of its being sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifices on the Day of Atonement. A number of the best authorities (esp. Gif. Va. Lid. Ritschl, Rechtfert. u. Versohn. ii.169 ff. Exo_2) take the word here in this sense, arguing (i) that it suits the emphatic αὐτοῦ in ἐν τῷ αὐτοῦ αἵματι; (ii) that through LXX it would be by far the most familiar usage; (iii) that the Greek commentators (as Gif. has shown in detail) unanimously give it this sense; (iv) that the idea is specially appropriate inasmuch as on Christ rests the fulness of the Divine glory, ‘the true Shekinah,’ and it is natural to connect with His Death the culminating rite in the culminating service of Atonement. But, on the other hand, there is great harshness, not to say confusion, in making Christ at once priest and victim and place of sprinkling. Origen it is true does not shrink from this; he says expressly invenies igitur … esse ipsum et propitiatorium et pontificem et hostiam quae offertur pro populo (in Rom. iii. 8, p. 3 Lomm.). But although there is a partial analogy for this in Hebrews 9:11-14, 23-10:22, where Christ is both priest and victim, it is straining the image yet further to identify Him with the ἱλαστήριον. The Christian ἱλαστήριον, or ‘place of sprinkling,’ in the literal sense, is rather the Cross. It is also something of a point (if we are right in giving the sense of publicity to προέθετο) that the sprinkling of the mercy-seat was just the one rite which was withdrawn from the sight of the people. Another way of taking ἱλαστήριον is to supply with it θῦμα on the analogy of σωτήριον, τελεστήριον, χαριστήριον. This too is strongly supported (esp. by the leading German commentators, De W. Fri. Mey. Lips.). But there seems to be no clear instance of ἱλαστήριον used in this sense. Neither is there satisfactory proof that ἱλαστ. (subst.) = in a general sense ‘instrument or means of propitiation.’ It appears therefore simplest to take it as adj. accus. masc. added as predicate to ὅν. There is evidence that the word was current as an adj. at this date (ἱλαστήριον μνῆμα Joseph. Antt. XVI. vii. 1; ἱλαστηρίου θανάτου 4 Macc. 17:22* , and other exx.). The objection that the adj. is not applied properly to persons counts for very little, because of the extreme rarity of the sacrifice of a person. Here however it is just this personal element which is most important. It agrees with the context that the term chosen should be rather one which generalizes the character of propitiatory sacrifice than one which exactly reproduces a particular feature of such sacrifice.
The Latin versions do not help us: they give all three renderings, propitiatorium, propitiatorem, and propitiationem. Syr. is also ambiguous. The Coptic clearly favours the masc. rendering adopted above.
It may be of some interest to compare the Jewish teaching on the subject of Atonement. ‘When a man thinks, I will just go on sinning and repent later, no help is given him from above to make him repent. He who thinks, I will but just sin and the Day of Atonement will bring me forgiveness, such an one gets no forgiveness through the Day of Atonement. Offences of man against God the Day of Atonement can atone; offences of man against his fellow-man the Day of Atonement cannot atone until he has given satisfaction to his fellow-man’; and more to the same effect (Mishnah, Tract. Joma, Viii. 9, ap. Winter u. Wünsche, Jüd. Lit. p. 98). We get a more advanced system of casuistry in Tosephta, Tract. Joma, v: ‘R. Ismael said, Atonement is of four kinds. He who transgresses a positive command and repents is at once forgiven according to the Scripture, “Return, ye backsliding children, I will heal your backslidings” (Jeremiah 3:23 ). He who transgresses a negative command or prohibition and repents has the atonement held in suspense by his repentance, and the Day of Atonement makes it effectual, according to the Scripture, “For on this day shall atonement be made for you” (Leviticus 16:30). If a man commits a sin for which is decreed extermination or capital punishment and repents, his repentance and the Day of Atonement together keep the atonement in suspense, and suffering brings it home, according to the Scripture, “I will visit their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes” (Psalm 89:33 ). But when a man profanes the Name of God and repents, his repentance has not the power to keep atonement in suspense, and the Day of Atonement has not the power to atone, but repentance and the Day of Atonement atone one third, sufferings on the remaining days of the year atone one third, and the day of death completes the atonement according to the Scripture, “Surely this iniquity shall not be expiated by you till you die” (Isaiah 22:14). This teaches that the day of death completes the atonement. Sin-offering and trespass-offering and death and the Day of Atonement all being no atonement without repentance, because it is written in Leviticus 23:21 (?) “Only,” i.e. when he turns from his evil way does he obtain atonement, otherwise he obtains no atonement’ (op. cit. p. 154).
διὰ τῆς πίστεως: διὰ πίστεως א C* D* F G 67** al., Tisch. WH. text. The art. seems here rather more correct, pointing back as it would do to διὰ πίστεως Ἰ. Χ. in ver. 22; it is found in B and the mass of later authorities, but there is a strong phalanx on the other side; B is not infallible in such company (cf. 11:6).
ἐν τῷ αὐτοῦ αἵματι: not with πίστεως (though this would be a quite legitimate combination; see Gif. ad loc.), but with προέθετο ἱλαστήριον: the shedding and sprinkling of the blood is a principal idea, not secondary.
The significance of the Sacrificial Bloodshedding was twofold. The blood was regarded by the Hebrew as essentially the seat of life (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:11; Deuteronomy 12:23). Hence the death of the victim was not only a death but a setting free of life; the application of the blood was an application of life; and the offering of the blood to God was an offering of life. In this lay more especially the virtue of the sacrifice (Westcott, Ep. Jo. p. 34 ff.; ב p. 293 f.).
For the prominence which is given to the Bloodshedding in connexion with the Death of Christ see the passages collected below.
εἰς ἔνδειξιν: εἰς denotes the final and remote object, πρός the nearer object. The whole plan of redemption from its first conception in the Divine Mind aimed at the exhibition of God’s Righteousness. And the same exhibition of righteousness was kept in view in a subordinate part of that plan, viz. the forbearance which God displayed through long ages towards sinners. For the punctuation and structure of the sentence see below. For ἔνδειξιν see on ch. 2:15: here too the sense is that of ‘proof by an appeal to fact.’
εἰς ἔνδειξιν τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὐτοῦ. In what sense can the Death of Christ be said to demonstrate the righteousness of God? It demonstrates it by showing the impossibility of simply passing over sin. It does so by a great and we may say cosmical act, the nature of which we are not able wholly to understand, but which at least presents analogies to the rite of sacrifice, and to that particular form of the rite which had for its object propitiation. The whole Sacrificial system was symbolical; and its wide diffusion showed that it was a mode of religious expression specially appropriate to that particular stage in the world’s development. Was it to lapse entirely with Christianity? The writers of the New Testament practically answer, No. The necessity for it still existed; the great fact of sin and guilt remained; there was still the same bar to the offering of acceptable worship. To meet this fact and to remove this bar, there had been enacted an Event which possessed the significance of sacrifice. And to that event the N. T. writers appealed as satisfying the conditions which the righteousness of God required. See the longer Note on ‘The Death of Christ considered as a Sacrifice’ below.
διὰ τὴν πάρεσιν: not ‘for the remission,’ as AV., which gives a somewhat unusual (though, as we shall see on 4:25, not impossible) sense to διά, and also a wrong sense to πάρεσιν, but ‘because of the pretermission, or passing over, of foregone sins.’ For the difference between πάρεσις and ἄφεσις see Trench, Syn. p. 110 ff.: πάρεσις = ‘putting aside,’ temporary suspension of punishment which may at some later date be inflicted; ἄφεσις = ‘putting away,’ complete and unreserved forgiveness.
It is possible that the thought of this passage may have been suggested by Wisd. 11:23  καὶ παρορᾷς ἁμαρτήματα ἀνθρώπων εἰς μετάνοιαν. There will be found in Trench, op. cit. p. 111, an account of a controversy which arose out of this verse in Holland at the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth centuries.
ἁμαρτημάτων: as contrasted with ἁμαρτία, ἁμάρτημα = the single act of sin, ἁμαρτία = the permanent principle of which such an act is the expression.
ἐν τῇ ἀνοχῇ: ἐν either (i) denotes motive, as Mey., &c. (Grimm, Lex. s. v. ἐν, 5 e); or (ii) it is temporal, ‘during the forbearance of God.’ Of these (i) is preferable, because the whole context deals with the scheme as it lay in the Divine Mind, and the relation of its several parts to each other.
ἀνοχῇ: see on 2:4, and note that ἀνοχή is related to πάρεσις as χάρις is related to ἄφεσις.
26. πρὸς τὴν ἔνδειξιν: to be connected closely with the preceding clause: the stop which separates this verse from the last should be wholly removed, and the pause before διὰ τὴν πάρεσιν somewhat lengthened; we should represent it in English by a dash or semicolon. We may represent the various pauses in the passage in some such way as this: ‘Whom God set forth as propitiatory—through faith—in His own blood—for a display of His righteousness; because of the passing-over of foregone sins in the forbearance of God with a view to the display of His righteousness at the present moment, so that He might be at once righteous (Himself) and declaring righteous him who has for his motive faith in Jesus.’ Gif. seems to be successful in proving that this is the true construction: (i) otherwise it is difficult to account for the change of the preposition from εἰς to πρός; (ii) the art. is on this view perfectly accounted for, ‘the same display’ as that just mentioned; (iii) τῶν προγεγονότων ἁμαρτημάτων seems to be contrasted with ἐν τῷ νῦν καιρῷ; (iv) the construction thus most thoroughly agrees with St. Paul’s style elsewhere: see Gifford’s note and compare the passage quoted Ephesians 3:3-5, also Romans 3:7, Romans 3:8, 2:Romans 3:14-16.
δίκαιον καὶ δικαιοῦντα. This is the key-phrase which establishes the connexion between the δικαιοσύνη Θεοῦ, and the δικαιοσύνη ἐς πίστεως. It is not that ‘God is righteous and yet declares righteous the believer in Jesus,’ but that ‘He is righteous and also, we might almost say and therefore, declares righteous the believer.’ The words indicate no opposition between justice and mercy. Rather that which seems to us and which really is an act of mercy is the direct outcome of the ‘righteousness’ which is a wider and more adequate name than justice. It is the essential righteousness of God which impels Him to set in motion that sequence of events in the sphere above and in the sphere below which leads to the free forgiveness of the believer and starts him on his way with a clean page to his record.
τὸν ἐκ πίστεως: ‘him whose ruling motive is faith’; contrast οἱ ἐξ ἐριθείας ch. 2:8; ὅσοι ἐξ εργων νόμου (‘as many as depend on works of law’) Galatians 3:10.
The Death of Christ considered as a Sacrifice
It is impossible to get rid from this passage of the double idea (1) of a sacrifice; (2) of a sacrifice which is propitiatory. In any case the phrase ἐν τῷ αὐτοῦ αἵματι carries with it the idea of sacrificial bloodshedding. And whatever sense we assign to ἱλαστήριον—whether we directly supply θῦμα, or whether we supply ἐπίθεμα and regard it as equivalent to the mercy-seat, or whether we take it as an adj. in agreement with ὅν—the fundamental idea which underlies the word must be that of propitiation. And further, when we ask, Who is propitiated? the answer can only be ‘God.’ Nor is it possible to separate this propitiation from the Death of the Son.
Quite apart from this passage it is not difficult to prove that these two ideas of sacrifice and propitiation lie at the root of the teaching not only of St. Paul but of the New Testament generally. Before considering their significance it may be well first to summarize this evidence briefly.
(1) As in the passage before us, so elsewhere, the stress which is laid on αἷμα is directly connected with the idea of sacrifice. We have it in St. Paul, in Romans 5:9; Ephesians 1:7, Ephesians 1:2:13; Colossians 1:20 (διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ σταυροῦ). We have it for St. Peter in 1 Peter 1:2 (ῥαντισμὸν αἵματος) and 19 (τιμίῳ αἵματι ὡς ἀμνοῦ ἀμώμου καὶ ἀσπίλου). For St. John we have it in 1 John 1:7, and in 5:6, 8. It also comes out distinctly in several places in the Apocalypse (1:5, 5:9, 7:14, 12:11, 13:8). It is a leading idea very strongly represented in Ep. to Hebrews (especially in capp. 9, 10, 13). There is also the strongest reason to think that this Apostolic teaching was suggested by words of our Lord Himself, who spoke of His approaching death in terms proper to a sacrifice such as that by which the First Covenant had been inaugurated (comp. 1 Corinthians 11:25 with Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24 [perhaps not Luke 22:20]).
Many of these passages besides the mention of bloodshedding and the death of the victim (Apoc. v. 6, 12, xiii. 8 ἀρνίου ἐσφαγμένου: cf. v. 9) call attention to other details in the act of sacrifice (e.g. the sprinkling of the blood, ῥαντισμός 1 Peter 1:2; Hebrews 12:24; cf. Hebrews 9:13, Hebrews 9:19, Hebrews 9:21).
We observe also that the Death of Christ is compared not only to one but to several of the leading forms of Levitical sacrifice: to the Passover (John 1:29, John 1:19:36; 1 Corinthians 5:8, and the passages which speak of the ‘lamb’ in 1 Pet. and Apoc.); to the sacrifices of the Day of Atonement (so apparently in the passage from which we start, Romans 3:25, also in Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 9:12, Hebrews 9:14, Hebrews 9:15, and perhaps 1 John 2:2, 1 John 2:4:10; 1 Peter 2:24); to the ratification of the Covenant (Matthew 26:28, &c.; Hebrews 9:15-22); to the sin-offering (Romans 8:3; Hebrews 13:11; 1 Peter 3:18, and possibly if not under the earlier head, 1 John 2:2, 1 John 4:10).
(2) In a number of these passages as well as in others, both from the Epistles of St. Paul and from other Apostolic writings, the Death of Christ is directly connected with the forgiveness of sins (e.g. Matthew 26:28; Acts 5:30 f., apparently; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14 and 20; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 9:28, Hebrews 10:12 al; 1 Peter 2:24, 1 Peter 2:3:18; 1 John 2:2, 1 John 2:4:10; Apoc. i. 5). The author of Ep. to Hebrews generalizes from the ritual system of the Old Covenant that sacrificial bloodshedding is necessary in every case, or nearly in every case, to place the worshipper in a condition of fitness to approach the Divine Presence (Hebrews 9:22 καὶ σχεδὸν ἐν αἵματι πάντα καθαρίζεται κατὰ τὸν νόμον, και χωρὶς αἱματεκχυσίας οὐ γίνεται ἄφεσις). The use of the different words denoting ‘propitiation’ is all to the same effect (ίλαστήριον Romans 3:25; ἱλασμός 1 John 2:2, 1 John 2:4:10; ἱλάσκεσθαι Hebrews 2:17).
This strong convergence of Apostolic writings of different and varied character seems to show that the idea of Sacrifice as applied to the Death of Christ cannot be put aside as a merely passing metaphor, but is interwoven with the very weft and warp of primitive Christian thinking, taking its start (if we may trust our traditions) from words of Christ Himself. What it all amounts to is that the religion of the New Testament, like the religion of the Old, has the idea of sacrifice as one of its central conceptions, not however scattered over an elaborate ceremonial system but concentrated in a single many-sided and far-reaching act.
It will be seen that this throws back a light over the Old Testament sacrifices—and indeed not only over them but over the sacrifices of ethnic religion—and shows that they were something more than a system of meaningless butchery, that they had a real spiritual significance, and that they embodied deep principles of religion in forms suited to the apprehension of the age to which they were given and capable of gradual refinement and purification.
In this connexion it may be worth while to quote a striking passage from a writer of great, if intermittent, insight, who approaches the subject from a thoroughly detached and independent stand-point. In his last series of Slade lectures delivered in Oxford (The Art of England, 1884, p. 14 f.), Mr. Ruskin wrote as follows: ‘None of you, who have the least acquaintance with the general tenor of my own teaching, will suspect me of any bias towards the doctrine of vicarious Sacrifice, as it is taught by the modern Evangelical Preacher. But the great mystery of the idea of Sacrifice itself, which has been manifested as one united and solemn instinct by all thoughtful and affectionate races, since the world became peopled, is founded on the secret truth of benevolent energy which all men who have tried to gain it have learned—that you cannot save men from death but by facing it for them, nor from sin but by resisting it for them … Some day or other—probably now very soon—too probably by heavy afflictions of the State, we shall be taught … that all the true good and glory even of this world—not to speak of any that is to come, must be bought still, as it always has been, with our toil, and with our tears.’
After all the writer of this and the Evangelical Preacher whom he repudiates are not so very far apart. It may be hoped that the Preacher too may be willing to purify his own conception and to strip it of some quite unbiblical accretions, and he will then find that the central verity for which he contends is not inadequately stated in the impressive words just quoted.
The idea of Vicarious Suffering is not the whole and not perhaps the culminating point in the conception of Sacrifice, for Dr. Westcott seems to have sufficiently shown that the centre of the symbolism of Sacrifice lies not in the death of the victim but in the offering of its life. This idea of Vicarious Suffering, which is nevertheless in all probability the great difficulty and stumbling-block in the way of the acceptance of Bible teaching on this head, was revealed once and for all time in Isa_53. No one who reads that chapter with attention can fail to see the profound truth which lies behind it—a truth which seems to gather up in one all that is most pathetic in the world’s history, but which when it has done so turns upon it the light of truly prophetic and divine inspiration, gently lifts the veil from the accumulated mass of pain and sorrow, and shows beneath its unspeakable value in the working out of human redemption and regeneration and the sublime consolations by which for those who can enter into them it is accompanied.
I said that this chapter gathers up in one all that is most pathetic in the world’s history. It gathers it up as it were in a single typical Figure. We look at the lineaments of that Figure, and then we transfer our gaze and we recognize them all translated from idea into reality, and embodied in marvellous perfection upon Calvary.
Following the example of St. Paul and St. John and the Epistle to the Hebrews we speak of something in this great Sacrifice, which we call ‘Propitiation.’ We believe that the Holy Spirit spoke through these writers, and that it was His Will that we should use this word. But it is a word which we must leave it to Him to interpret. We drop our plummet into the depth, but the line attached to it is too short, and it does not touch the bottom. The awful processes of the Divine Mind we cannot fathom. Sufficient for us to know that through the virtue of the One Sacrifice our sacrifices are accepted, that the barrier which Sin places between us and God is removed, and that there is a ‘sprinkling’ which makes us free to approach the throne of grace.
This, it may still be objected, is but a ‘fiction of mercy.’ All mercy, all forgiveness, is of the nature of fiction. It consists in treating men better than they deserve. And if we ‘being evil’ exercise the property of mercy towards each other, and exercise it not rarely out of consideration for the merit of someone else than the offender, shall not our Heavenly Father do the same?
CONSEQUENCES OF THE NEW SYSTEM
3:27-31. Hence it follows (1) that no claim can be made on the ground of human merit, for there is no merit in Faith (vv. 27, 28); (2) that Jew and Gentile are on the same footing, for there is but one God, and Faith is the only means of acceptance with Him (vv. 29, 30).
An objector may say that Law is thus abrogated. On the contrary its deeper principles are fulfilled, as the history of Abraham will show (ver. 31).
27 There are two consequences which I draw, and one that an objector may draw, from this. The first is that such a method of obtaining righteousness leaves no room for human claims or merit. Any such thing is once for all shut out. For the Christian system is not one of works—in which there might have been room for merit—but one of Faith. 28 Thus (οὖν, but see Crit. Note) we believe that Faith is the condition on which a man is pronounced righteous, and not a round of acts done in obedience to law.
29 The second consequence [already hinted at in ver. 22] is that Jew and Gentile are on the same footing. If they are not, then God must be God of the Jews in some exclusive sense in which He is not God of the Gentiles. 30 Is that so? Not if I am right in affirming that there is but one God, Who requires but one condition—Faith, on which He is ready to treat as ‘righteous’ alike the circumcised and the uncircumcised—the circumcised with whom Faith is the moving cause, and the uncircumcised with whom the same Faith is both moving cause and sole condition of their acceptance.
31 The objector asks: Does not such a system throw over Law altogether? Far from it. Law itself (speaking through the Pentateuch) lays down principles (Faith and Promise) which find their true fulfilment in Christianity.
27. ἐξεκλείσθη: an instance of the ‘summarizing’ force of the aorist; ‘it is shut out once for all,’ ‘by one decisive act.’
St. Paul has his eye rather upon the decisiveness of the act than upon its continued result. In English it is more natural to us to express decisiveness by laying stress upon the result—‘is shut out.’
διὰ ποίου νόμου: νόμου here may be paraphrased ‘system,’ ‘Law’ being the typical expression to the ancient mind of a ‘constituted order of things.’—Under what kind of system is this result obtained? Under a system the essence of which is Faith.
Similar metaphorical uses of νόμος would be ch. 7:21, 23; 8:2; 10:31, on which see the Notes.
28. οὖν recapitulates and summarizes what has gone before. The result of the whole matter stated briefly is that God declares righteous, &c. But it must be confessed that γάρ gives the better sense. We do not want a summary statement in the middle of an argument which is otherwise coherent. The alternative reading, λογιζόμεθα γάρ, helps that coherence. [The Jew’s] boasting is excluded, because justification turns on nothing which is the peculiar possession of the Jew but on Faith. And so Gentile and Jew are on the same footing, as we might expect they would be, seeing that they have the same God.
οὗν B C Dc K L P &c.; Syrr. (Pesh.-Harcl.); Chrys. Theodrt. al.; Weiss RV. WH. marg.: γάρ א A D* E F G al. plur.; Latt. (Vet.-Vulg.) Boh. Arm.; Orig.-lat. Ambrstr. Aug.; Tisch. WH. text RV. marg. The evidence for γάρ is largely Western, but it is combined with an element (א A, Boh.) which in this instance is probably not Western; so that the reading would be carried back beyond the point of divergence of two most ancient lines of text. On the other hand B admits in this Epistle some comparatively late readings (cf. 11:6) and the authorities associated with it are inferior (B C in Epp. is not so strong a combination as B C in Gospp.). We prefer the reading γάρ.
δικαιοῦσθαι: we must hold fast to the rendering ‘is declared righteous,’ not ‘is made righteous’; cf. on 1:17.
ἄνθρωπον: any human being.
29. ἤ presents, but only to dismiss, an alternative hypothesis on the assumption of which the Jew might still have had something to boast of. In rejecting this, St. Paul once more emphatically asserts his main position. There is but one law (Faith), and there is but one Judge to administer it. Though faith is spoken of in this abstract way it is of course Christian faith, faith in Christ.
μόνον: μόνων B al. plur., WH. marg.; perhaps assimilated to Ἰουδαίων ̣ ̣ ̣ καὶ ἐθνῶν.
30. εἴπερ: decisively attested in place of ἐπείπερ. The old distinction drawn between εἴ περ and εἴ γε was that εἴ περ is used of a condition which is assumed without implying whether it is rightly or wrongly assumed, εἴ γε of a condition which carries with it the assertion of its own reality (Hermann on Viger, p. 831; Bäumlein, Griech. Partikeln, p. 64). It is doubtful whether this distinction holds in Classical Greek; it can hardly hold for N.T. But in any case both εἴ περ and εἴ γε lay some stress on the condition, as a condition: cf. Monro, Homeric Grammar, §§ 353, 354 ‘The Particle πέρ is evidently a shorter form of the Preposition πέρι, which in its adverbial use has the meaning beyond, exceedingly. Accordingly πέρ is intensive, denoting that the word to which it is subjoined is true in a high degree, in its fullest sense, &c. … γε is used like πέρ to emphasize a particular word or phrase. It does not however intensify the meaning, or insist on the fact as true, but only calls attention to the word or fact. … In a Conditional Protasis (with ὅς, ὅτε, εἰ, &c.), γε emphasizes the condition as such: hence εἴ γε if only, always supposing that. On the other hand εἴ περ means supposing ever so much, hence if really (Lat. si quidem).’
ἐκ πίστεως ̣ ̣ ̣ διὰ τῆς πίστεως: ἐκ denotes ‘source,’ διά ‘attendant circumstances.’ The Jew is justified ἐκ πίστεως διὰ περιτομῆς: the force at work is faith, the channel through which it works is circumcision. The Gentile is justified ἐκ πίστεως καὶ διὰ τῆς πίστεως: no special channel, no special conditions are marked out; faith is the one thing needful, it is itself ‘both law and impulse.’διὰ τῆς πίστεως = ‘the same faith,’ ‘the faith just mentioned.’
31. καταργοῦμεν: see on ver. 3 above.
νόμον ἱστῶμεν. If, as we must needs think, ch. 4 contains the proof of the proposition laid down in this verse, νόμον must = ultimately and virtually the Pentateuch. But it = the Pentateuch not as an isolated Book but as the most conspicuous and representative expression of that great system of Law which prevailed everywhere until the coming of Christ.
The Jew looked at the O. T., and he saw there Law, Obedience to Law or Works, Circumcision, Descent from Abraham. St. Paul said, Look again and look deeper, and you will see—not Law but Promise, not works but Faith—of which Circumcision is only the seal, not literal descent from Abraham but spiritual descent. All these things are realized in Christianity.
And then further, whereas Law (all Law and any kind of Law) was only an elaborate machinery for producing right action, there too Christianity stepped in and accomplished, as if with the stroke of a wand, all that the Law strove to do without success (Romans 13:10 πλήρωμα οὖν νόμου ἡ ἀγάπη compared with Galatians 5:6 πίστις διʼ ἀγάπης ἐνεργουμένη).
B Cod. Vaticanus
D Cod. Claromontanus
E Cod. Sangermanensis
G Cod. Boernerianus
Orig.-lat. Latin Version of Origen
al. alii, alibi.
WH. Westcott and Hort.
De W. De Wette.
&c. always qualify the word which precedes, not that which follows:
K Cod. Mosquensis
L Cod. Angelicus
A Cod. Alexandrinus
RV. Revised Version.
P Cod. Porphyrianus
Euthym.-Zig. Euthymius Zigabenus.
Win. Winer’s Grammar.
אԠCod. Sinaiticus, corrector c
a Cod. Sinaiticus, corrector a
C Cod. Ephraemi Rescriptus
Fri. Fritzsche (C. F. A.).
AV. Authorized Version.
Clem.-Alex. Clement of Alexandria.
Cyr.-Alex. Cyril of Alexandria.
F Cod. Augiensis
* Some MSS. read here διὰ ̣ ̣ ̣ τοῦ ἱλαστηρίου τοῦ θανάτου αὐτῶν(O. F. Fritzsche ad loc.).
Trench, Trench on Synonyms.
Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?
God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.
But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)
God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?
For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?
And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.
What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
Their feet are swift to shed blood:
Destruction and misery are in their ways:
And the way of peace have they not known:
There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:
Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.