Now, it would be important to realize that I did not say, "men are not sinners".
That would have been foolish and completely inconsistent with the
thrust of the passage. I am simply saying that the poetic passage is
not a point by point listing of the utter depravity of man but rather a
descriptive illustration of how all of mankind, both Jew and Greek, are sinners (Rom. 3:9).
Note that this Greek obviously has a broader explanation than a
cultural one. Paul is using Greek and Jews in contrast to each other as
if all of men consist of one of the two groups…from this we can surmise
that a Greek here is to be thought of as a Gentile. The Jew and the
Gentile are both under sin and thus the reason for the illustrious
passage which goes through the members of the body and shutting them
all under sin (throat, mouths, lips, tongues, feet, eyes) but not for
the purpose of saying that all those parts are literally so full of sin
that they never do good, but rather that man is under sin and before
God’s heavenly eyes he is guilty and worthy to be judged. Remember the
thought flow of this passage thus far is that God righteousness is
revealed in His right to judge.
Yet, what we’re getting from Paul’s point is that all of Mankind is
under this judgment. Paul points out that the law shuts the mouth of
all those under the law and the world becomes accountable to God (Rom
3:19). All mouths shut up without an excuse in light of God’s law. Paul
is not referring to the Judaic Law per se, although that can easily be
applied. Paul is referring to the "law concept" which is "precept plus
punishment". In other words, sinners will be judged and therein
This is an apparent problem then when we see what Paul is
illustrating. He is not limiting the law (precept plus punishment) to
the Jew but to the entire world (the heathen, the moralist and the
Jews). This being so, all are in danger of judgment, mind you not in an
inherited sense but in a personal sense Paul states that all have
actively and willfully sinned and come short of the glory of God.
This is the state of all of mankind under God’s law, which was
attested to by the Mosaic Law and the Prophets (Rom 3:20). Notice that
the nature of this law is one which men understand and willfully ignore
and deny God, clamoring against Him. God has every single right to
judge, in fact, has to judge. Men are, in effect, doomed. This is the
climax Paul was building up to in this section. This is man’s
condemnation, and yet I can’t possibly stop there.
Thank God that there is a secondary theme that flows through the
book of Romans and starts to shine in chapter one "for the just shall
live by faith." Paul gave a hint that there was a way out from the
condemnation of precept and punishment. Romans 3:22 tells us that God
has set up a way which is separate from precept and punishment (Rom
3:20), namely that God’s righteousness is revealed through the
faithfulness of Jesus Christ. Christ is not Man, He is Man and He is
God. He persevered, He was faithful and although all have sinned He was
faithful. Although they have willfully sinned and have fallen short of
God’s glory (Rom 3:23), God has found a way to justify them freely by
the payment-blood of that faithful Man-God, Jesus Christ (Rom 3:24).
Behold God’s righteousness! There is precept and punishment, but
thank God that in His grace He sent the Son to pay a path by which men
can enter into God’s grace by faith. As it is possible for a man priest
to enter into the Holiest of Holies, to the very mercy seat of God, by
means of the blood sacrifice, even so it has been made possible for men
to enter into the presence of God by the blood of Christ…into the very
mercy seat made accessible through faith (Rom 3:25). This very
visible act was done to demonstrate God’s patience and forbearance of
those raging sinners, a means to pass over all the sins committed so
that God can remain Just (in His right to Judge) and the Justifier of
the person who survives?not of His own steam or works, but of the
faithfulness of Jesus Christ (Rom 3:25)!
Brothers and Sisters, this should lead us to our knees in amazement,
for we were once sinners alienated from God and in complete enmity (Col
1:21) against Him but via the redemptive (Col 1:14) and reconciling
(Col 1:22) work of Christ on the cross, we who have believed are now
justified (Gal 2:16) and seated in the very heavenlies (Eph 2:6). To
God be all glory, power and praise! Amen.