English Standard Version
For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
King James Bible
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.
American Standard Version
because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for through the law cometh the knowledge of sin.
Because by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified before him. For by the law is the knowledge of sin.
English Revised Version
because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for through the law cometh the knowledge of sin.
Webster's Bible Translation
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.
Weymouth New Testament
For on the ground of obedience to Law no man living will be declared righteous before Him. Law simply brings a sure knowledge of sin.
Romans 3:20 Parallel
CommentaryVincent's Word Studies
Works of the law
Not the Mosaic law in its ritual or ceremonial aspect; but the law in a deeper and more general sense, as written both in the decalogue and in the hearts of the Gentiles, and embracing the moral deeds of both Gentiles and Jews. The Mosaic law may indeed be regarded as the primary reference, but as representing a universal legislation and including all the rest. The moral revelation, which is the authoritative instruction of God, may be viewed either indefinitely and generally as the revelation of God to men; or authoritatively, as to the duty incumbent on man as man; or with reference to the instruction as to the duty incumbent on men as sinful men under a dispensation of mercy; or as instruction as to the duty of Jews as Jews. Romans 3:20 relates to the instruction regarding the duty incumbent on men as men. "It is the law of commandments which enjoins those outer acts and inner choices and states which lie at the basis and constitute the essence of all true religion. In the background or focal point of these commandments he sees the decalogue, or duologue, which is often designated 'the moral law by way of pre-eminence" (Morison, from whom also the substance of this note is taken). By the phrase works of the law is meant the deeds prescribed by the law.
Equivalent to man. It is often used in the sense of a living creature - man or beast. Compare 1 Peter 1:24; Matthew 24:22; Luke 3:6. Generally with a suggestion of weakness, frailty, mortality; Septuagint, Jeremiah 17:5; Psalm 78:39; Ephesians 6:12. The word here has no doctrinal bearing.
Be justified (δικαιωθήσεται)
For the kindred adjective δίκαιος righteous, see on Romans 1:17.
1. Classical usage. The primitive meaning is to make right. This may take place absolutely or relatively. The person or thing may be made right in itself, or with reference to circumstances or to the minds of those who have to do with them. Applied to things or acts, as distinguished from persons, it signifies to make right in one's judgment. Thus Thucydides, ii. 6, 7. "The Athenians judged it right to retaliate on the Lacedaemonians." Herodotus, i., 89, Croesus says to Cyrus: "I think it right to shew thee whatever I may see to thy advantage."
A different shade of meaning is to judge to be the case. So Thucydides, iv., 122: "The truth concerning the revolt was rather as the Athenians, judged the case to be." Again, it occurs simply in the sense to judge. Thucydides, v., 26: "If anyone agree that the interval of the truce should be excluded, he will not judge correctly "In both these latter cases the etymological idea of right is merged, and the judicial element predominates.
In ecclesiastical usage, to judge to be right or to decide upon in ecclesiastical councils.
Applied to persons, the meaning is predominantly judicial, though Aristotle ("Nichomachaean Ethics," v., 9) uses it in the sense of to treat one rightly. There is no reliable instance of the sense to make right intrinsically; but it means to make one right in some extrinsic or relative manner. Thus Aeschylus, "Agamemnon," 390-393: Paris, subjected to the judgment of men, tested (δικαιωθεὶς) is compared to bad brass which turns black when subjected to friction. Thus tested or judged he stands in right relation to men's judgments. He is shown in the true baseness of his character.
Thus the verb acquires the meaning of condemn; adjudge to be bad. Thucydides, iii., 40: Cleon says to the Athenians, "If you do not deal with the Mitylenaeans as I advise, you will condemn yourselves." From this readily arises the sense of punish; since the punishment of a guilty man is a setting him in right relation to the political or moral system which his conduct has infringed. Thus Herodotus, i., 100: "Deioces the Mede, if he heard of any act of oppression, sent for the guilty party and punished him according to his offense." Compare Plato, "Laws," ii., 934. Plato uses δικαιωτήρια to denote places of punishment or houses of correction ("Phaedrus," 249). According to Cicero, δικαιόω was used by the Sicilians of capital punishment: "Ἑδικαιώθησαν, that is, as the Sicilians say, they were visited with punishment and executed" ("Against Verres," v., 57).
To sum up the classical usage, the word has two main references: 1, to persons; 2, to things or acts. In both the judicial element is dominant. The primary sense, to make right, takes on the conventional meanings to judge a thing to be right, to judge, to right a person, to treat rightly, to condemn, punish, put to death.
2. New Testament usage. This is not identical with the classical usage. In the New Testament the word is used of persons only. In Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:35, of a quality, Wisdom, but the quality is personified. It occurs thirty-nine times in the New Testament; twenty-seven in Paul; eight in the Synoptists and Acts; three in James; one in the Revelation.
A study of the Pauline passages shows that it is used by Paul according to the sense which attaches to the adjective δίκαιος, representing a state of the subject relatively to God. The verb therefore indicates the act or process by which a man is brought into a right state as related to God. In the A.V. confusion is likely to arise from the variations in translation, righteousness, just, justifier, justify. See Romans 3:24, Romans 3:26, Romans 3:28, Romans 3:30; Romans 4:2; Romans 5:1, Romans 5:9; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:8, Galatians 3:11, Galatians 3:24; Titus 3:7.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
in his sight.
for by the.
Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.
and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.
For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, "You shall not covet."
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ESV Text Edition: 2016. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.