Jew and Gentile
Restored to Israel
Slaves to Sin
Slaves to God
Slaves Serving God
Life by Faith
Service by Faith
Modified from Irving
L. Jensen's excellent work "Jensen's
Survey of the NT"
NOW WE KNOW THAT WHATEVER THE
LAW SAYS: oidamen (1PRAI) de hoti osa o nomos legei (3SPAI):
3:2; 2:12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18; Jn 10:34,35; 15:25; 1Cor 9:20,21; Gal 3:23; 4:5,21; 5:18)
What Paul is saying here is that
we know intuitively for it is a matter of common knowledge. The principle is
obvious. It is clear in itself, and universally conceded.
means to know by perception and refers to a sure or positive knowledge,
knowledge which is certain and complete.
It is from the same root as eidon, to see, and is in the
perfect tense with a present meaning, signifying, primarily, to have
seen- or perceived; hence, to know, to have knowledge of, whether
absolutely, as in Divine knowledge or in the case of human knowledge, to
know from observation.
Ginosko which also means "to know" is
distinct from the knowing associated with
frequently suggests progress in knowledge, while
suggests fulness of
ginosko frequently implies an
active relation between the one who knows and the person or thing known,
expresses the fact that
the object has simply come within the scope of the knower’s perception.
refers to an absolute, sure, positive knowledge that is certain and
Law (3551) (nomos)
(click for purpose of the Law illustrated) is etymologically
something parceled out, allotted, what one has in use and possession;
hence, usage, custom. In context nomos is analogous to
Hebrew torah or law which means teaching or direction.
Plumblines are not meant to
straighten the building but to tell one how crooked it is and where
change is needed. The Law was given as a plumbline to tutor us (cp Gal
3:24,2 5) and is
profitable for teaching for reproof for correction for training in
righteousness. (see summary of the
Purpose of the Law)
for an excellent discussion of the purpose of the Law by William Newell)
Vine reasons that "The
preceding quotations, taken from the Psalms and Isaiah, indicate that by
the Law is to be understood the Old Testament as a whole."
Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine.
Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
Hendricksen adds that "Since in
the preceding series of quotations the apostle has never quoted from the
Decalog (Ten Commandments) or even, in general, from the
Pentateuch, but only from the Psalms, Prophets, and Writings, it is
clear that the term “the law” must refer to the Old Testament as a
W., & Kistemaker, S. J. New Testament Commentary Set, 12 Volumes. Grand
Rapids: Baker Book House)
Most naturally from the context,
this statement refers to the words Paul has just quoted from the OT.
(3004) (lego) means to speak or talk, with apparent focus
upon content of what is said. It refers to the meaning or the substance
of that which is spoken. (compare
personifies the "Law" (the Word of God) which is a further indication that
he sees Scripture as the
living voice of the living and true God. The verb is in the present
tense which indicates that the Law speaks continually.
Denny explains the distinction
between the two verbs that refer to speaking, noting that lego
emphasizes "the object is the main thing" and laleo is used when "the
speaker and the mode of utterance are made prominent."
Note that Paul uses two different
words to express speech (lego and
of speaking, in contrast with or as a breaking of silence, voluntary or
imposed. Thus in the gospels, the dumb man, after he was healed, spake (laleo)
and Zacharias, when his tongue was loosed, began to speak (laleo).
refers to the utterance rather than the substance of speech.
Lego refers to the matter of speech, declaring what the speaker
actually says. Lego originally
means to pick out, and hence to use words selected as appropriate
expressions of thought, and to put such words together in orderly
IT SPEAKS TO THOSE WHO ARE
UNDER THE LAW: tois en to nomo
refers to the expression or the act of expressing the substance (lego
above refers to "the substance of what is spoken"). As discussed
briefly above, laleo pictures the breaking of silence.
Vincent adds that in the present context lego "contemplates
the substance, (whereas laleo contemplates) the
expression of the law." (Romans 3 Greek Word Studies)
The difference is subtle but
Godet feels that in v19-20, Paul is
focusing primarily on the Jews, reasoning that
"they only could attempt to protest against (his prior
conclusions about the depravity of men), and put themselves outside this
delineation of human corruption. They could object in particular, that
many of the sayings quoted referred not to them, but to the Gentiles.
Paul foresees this objection, and takes care to set
it aside, so that nothing may impair the sweep of the sentence which God
pronounces on the state of mankind." (Godet, F. Commentary on Romans).
There is probably some truth in this since the phrase "under the Law"
would be applied most easily to the Jews but as discussed below, the
Gentiles can also be included in this declaration for they have the work
of the Law written in their hearts.
Regarding the phrase the things
which the law says, Denney writes that...
It is most natural to suppose that by
"the things the law says" Paul means the words he has just quoted from
the OT. These words cannot be evaded by the very persons to whom the OT
was given (the Jews) and who have in it, so to speak, the spiritual
environment of their life. In this case ho nomos (the law)
is used in the wider sense of the old revelation generally, not
specifically the Pentateuch, or even the statutory part of the
Scripture. (cp 1Co 14:21).
(Expositor's Greek Testament)
Under (1722) (en) means "in" in
the sense of locative of sphere. Think of a dot within a circle. In the
present context those who hear the Law spoken (Jews audibly, Gentiles in
their heart through their conscience and thoughts) are "the dot"
and they are surrounded by the Law. In other words, those referred to
here are within the sphere of the law, that is,
practically speaking they are legally within its
Expositor's Bible Commentary -
Under the law is more literally
"in the law"; so the thought is probably not so much that the Jew is
under the law's authority and dominion in the legal sense as that he is
involved in Scripture, which has relevance to him at every point. (Gaebelein,
F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary)
Wuest accurately translates this as
"it says to those within the
sphere of the law".
Who is within the sphere of the
Law? The next section says "every mouth". Every unredeemed human being.
the written law through Moses (In Ro 3:2-note Paul reminded his readers that "being
a Jew has many advantages. First of all, the Jews were entrusted with
the whole revelation of God." NLT)
Gentiles hear it through
their own conscience and thoughts, for they "show the work of the Law
written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their
thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them." (Ro 2:15-note)
In sum, both Jew and Gentile stand accountable
to the Most Holy God.
labours of my hands
Can fulfill thy law’s demands
THAT EVERY MOUTH MAY BE
CLOSED: hina pan stoma phrage (3SAPS):
(Romans 3:4; 1:20; 2:1; 1Sa 2:9; Job 5:16; 9:2,3; Ps 107:42; Ezek 6:63;
Mt 22:12,13; Jn 8:9; 1Cor 1:29)
This is not a new revelation for
even in one of the most ancient of books in the OT, Job asks "In truth I
know that this is so, But how can a man be in the right before God?"
"so that [the murmurs and excuses of] every mouth may be hushed"
"so that no one may have anything to say in self-defense"
That (2443) (hina)
expresses the purpose of Paul's all inclusive statement about the Law.
Whenever you encounter a purpose clause, pause and ponder, asking "What
purpose?", and similar questions. In this case,
Paul concludes that every man knows he is guilty as
charged and therefore has nothing to say by way of excuse! God has seen
every crime we have ever committed so what can we say in defense?
Nothing! We are guilty as charged (Review the scene in Jn 8:3-9 where
the Scribes and Pharisees appealed to the Law, but then silently walked
Every (3956) (pas)
means all, any, every, the whole. The point is that there are no
"exception clauses" in this declaration. No "legal asterisks!"
No "escape hatches!"
Spurgeon - That is the true condition of the
whole world, “GUILTY BEFORE GOD.” This is the right attitude for the
whole human race, to stand with its finger on its lip, having nothing to
say as to why it should not be condemned...The nineteenth-century world
as well as the world of the first century, all the world, in all time,
has “become guilty before God.”
akin to phragmos = a fence)
means to fence, to enclose with a fence, hedge or wall, to block up, stop up,
close up and so to keep from opening.
This word was used in Greek
meaning to fence in, hedge round, especially for protection or defence,
to fence, secure, fortify.
It was used in the idiomatic
phrase "stop the mouth" meaning put to silence, to muzzle or to remove
any reason to speak. Here in Romans 3:19, the meaning of phrasso
is that all excuse is taken away for all people, both Jew and Gentile.
It is used two other times in the
NT, both referring to the mouth being stopped.
The writer of Hebrews describes
those who by faith
shut the mouths of lions
In his letter to the Corinthians
truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine (about his
ministering free of charge) will not be stopped (meaning
to cause his speech to cease or stop) in the
regions of Achaia." (2Cor 11:10)
Phrasso is found 6 times in
(Job 38:8; Pr 21:13; 25:26; Song 7:2; Da 8:26; Ho 2:6)
pictures the effect of the Law speaking against sinners, who like a
defendant in court are rendered speechless by the evidence brought
against them. It has the same effect that overwhelming evidence has
against an accused party in a court of law.
Solomon records that...
He who shuts his ear to the cry of
the poor Will also cry himself and not be answered. (Pr 21:13)
KJV says "that every mouth
may be stopped" to which Robertson quips
"Stopping mouths is a difficult business." (Word Pictures in the New
Ray Stedman notes that
always tell someone is close to becoming a Christian when they shut up
and stop arguing back. Self-righteous people are always saying, "But --
but this -- but I -- yes, but I do this -- and I do that." They are
always arguing. But when they see the true meaning of the Law, their
mouth is shut. When you read a statement like this, there is really
nothing left to say, is there?" (Stedman, R.
Paul although using a different
verb conveys the same idea to Titus, writing that
there are many
rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the
circumcision, who must be silenced (epistomizo -
muzzled, curbed) because they are upsetting whole families, teaching
things they should not teach, for the sake of sordid gain." (Titus
1:10-11 - notes)
At the Day of Judgment (read Re
20:11, 12, 13, 14 [see
notes] for a sobering
description of the "Great White Throne Judgment" where all
unbelievers will be tried and sentenced), no
one will be able to say that God has been unfair in His judgment.
Haldane commenting on
"every mouth may be stopped" writes...
This expression should be carefully
remarked. For if a man had fulfilled the law, he would have something to
allege before the Divine tribunal, to answer to the demands of justice;
but when convicted as a sinner, he can only be silent—he can have
nothing to answer to the accusations against him; he must remain
convicted. This silence, then, is a silence of confession, of
astonishment, and of conviction. (Haldane, R: An Exposition of Romans)
(Bolding added for emphasis)
Wiersbe writes that...
When human achievement is measured against what God requires, there is
no place for pride or boasting but only for silence that lends consent
to the verdict of guilty. In the various biblical scenes of judgment,
the silence of those who are being judged is a notable feature. (Wiersbe,
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)
Hendriksen notes that...
"The figure used is dramatic,
fear-inspiring, unforgettable. Everybody is standing in front of God,
the Judge. The records are read, and as it were one by one the accused
are given an opportunity to answer the charges made against them.
However, their guilt having been exposed, they have no answer. Their
mouths are silenced, stopped." (Hendriksen,
W., & Kistemaker, S. J. New Testament Commentary Set, 12 Volumes. Grand
Rapids: Baker Book House)
Why will no one be will be able
to open his mouth in his own defense? To repeat, the
Jews had God’s written Law in the Old Testament Scripture and the Gentiles had God’s
Law of moral standards written in their hearts. In short, no
unbeliever will have an excuse. This thought is an extension of
Paul's earlier declarations
(1) that "since the creation of the world (God's) invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine
nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been
made, so that they are without excuse." (Romans 1:20-note)
(2) that "therefore you are without excuse, every man of
you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn
yourself; for you who judge practice the same things." (Ro 2:1-note)
Martyn Lloyd-Jones commenting on "every mouth...closed"
You do not begin to be a Christian, until your mouth is shut, is
stopped, and you are speechless and have nothing to say. You put up your
arguments, and produce all your righteousness; then the Law speaks and
it all withers to nothing—becomes ‘filthy rags’ and ‘dung,’ and you have
nothing to say. (Amen)
The “law” (Ro 3:19), referring to the
OT, was designed to silence all mankind under the conviction that they
have nothing to say against the charge of sin. Likewise, the law was
intended to convince all men of their guilt, or liability to punishment,
Paul concludes that since all men
are guilty, they cannot be “justified” by their own personal character
or conduct (Ro 3:20). Justification is a legal term meaning to remove the
guilt (liability to punishment) of the sinner. It does not involve
making one inwardly holy, but merely declares that the demands of
justice have been satisfied. Hence, there is no grounds for condemnation
(Ro 8:1-note). Not even obedience to the law can justify one before God,
Paul reasons, because the very nature of the law is to prove to man that
he is sinful and deserves God’s punishment. Thus, the purpose of the law
is to lead man to renounce his own righteousness and trust in the
imputation of Christ’s righteousness as the only grounds for acceptance
J Vernon McGee writes
"Man cannot attain
righteousness by the Mosaic Law. It is as if mankind in desperation
grabbed for the Law as the proverbial straw when drowning. The Law won’t
lift him up. Actually, it does the opposite. To hold onto the Law is
like a man jumping out of an airplane, and instead of taking a
parachute, he takes a sack of cement with him. Well, believe me, the Law
will pull you down. It condemns man. It’s a ministration of death." (McGee,
J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
AND ALL THE WORLD MAY BECOME
ACCOUNTABLE TO GOD: kai hupodikos genetai (3SAMS) pas o kosmos to theo:
(Ro 3:9,23; 2:1,2; Gal 3:10,22)
"the whole world may become liable to pay penalty to God" (Wuest)
again leaves no room for exceptions, be they a religious Jew or rank
World (2889) (kosmos)
in this context stands for humanity in general.
from hupó = under + dike =
justice, what is right, judicial hearing or decision especially sentence
of condemnation, execution of a sentence) literally means under justice
or under judgment, and thus liable to
judgment or punishment and in the present context is answerable to God
the Judge of all men. Romans 3:19 is the only use in Scripture.
Hupodikos is a forensic or legal
technical term and is used to describe one who has lost all possibility
of disproving a charge against him and thus has already lost his case.
In classic Greek this word described on who was liable to action from
another person. It signifies one is
guilty, culpable, accountable, subject to trial or subject to
Vine comments that...
Man, being without excuse for sin,
remains exposed to punishment from God, under the searchlight of divine
revelation, such revelation being given whether by creation (see note
and being made known to conscience (see note
Romans 2:14-15), or by the written Law
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
TDNT says that in Romans
applies to accused persons who cannot
refute the charges leveled against them. Since Jews no less than
Gentiles are in this position, all fall under God's condemnation apart
from the new right that God establishes for them in Christ. (Kittel,
G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the New
rendering, brought under judgment regards God as the Judge; but
He is rather to be regarded as the injured party. Not God’s judgments,
but His rights are referred to here. The better rendering is liable
to pay penalty to God.
Godet says that hupódikos
placed under the stroke of justice, like one whom the judge has declared
guilty, and who owes satisfaction to the law he has violated. The word
is frequently used in this sense in the classics; it is a judicial term,
corresponding to the word Paul had used to denote the accusation
(proaitiaomai Ro 3:9). (Godet, F. Commentary on Romans)
comments that this last phrase
to God is full of
solemnity; it is into the hands of His justice that the whole guilty
world falls. (ibid.)
In other words, every one is
answerable to or liable to God in God’s court. It is God we have
offended and we all lie under His sentence of death.
Haldane commenting on the
phrase "to God" (or as KJV translates it "before God"
When the question respects appearing
before men, people find many ways of escape, either by concealing their
actions, by disguising facts, or by disputing what is right. And even
when men pass in review before themselves, self–love finds excuses, and
various shifts are resorted to, and false reasonings, which deceive. But
nothing of this sort can have place before God. For although the Jews
flattered themselves in the confidence of their own righteousness, and
on this point all men try to deceive themselves, it will be entirely
different in the day when they shall appear before the tribunal of God;
for then there will be no more illusions of conscience, no more excuses,
no way to escape condemnation. His knowledge is infinite, His hand is
omnipotent, His justice is incorruptible, and from Him nothing can be
concealed. Before Him, therefore, every mouth will be stopped, and all
the world must confess themselves guilty. (Romans
Hodge - The conclusion to which the apostle’s
argument, from experience and Scripture, has led so far is that all men
are guilty in the sight of God, and if guilty, they cannot be justified
on the basis of their personal character or behavior. To justify is to
declare not guilty, and therefore the guilty cannot, on the basis of
character, be justified. (Romans
There is no defense against the
guilty verdict God pronounces on the entire human race. No one, whether
Jew or Gentile, has grounds for appeal; none can claim to be free from
guilt before God. All are lost.
Barnes - "The idea (inherent in
hupódikos) is that of subjection to punishment; but always because the man
personally deserves it, and because being unable to vindicate himself,
he ought to be punished. It is never used to denote simply an obligation
to punishment, but with reference to the fact that the punishment is
Godet - "The apostle in drawing this
picture, which is only a grouping together of strokes of the pencil,
made by the hands of psalmists and prophets, does not certainly mean
that each of those characteristics is found equally developed in every
man, Some, even the most of them, may remain latent in many men; but
they all exist in germ in the selfishness and natural pride of the ego,
and the least circumstance may cause them to pass into the active state,
when the fear of God does not govern the heart. Such is the cause of the
divine condemnation which is suspended over the human race." (Romans
Commentary on 3:9-20)
Newell sums up the preceding
section noting that
"In verse 19, we repeat, and not till
then, does Paul turn again to the Jews as those who were under law to
shut off their possible escape from that general arraignment by
Scripture of "both Jews and Greeks" beginning at the ninth verse. Thus
every mouth was "stopped." Men's mouths keep talking of their own
goodness or of someone else's badness, or of both, -as, for example, the
Lk 18:9-14. But the moral history of
mankind delineated in
Chapter One; and the stern principles
of God's judgment which considered neither man's high notions of
himself, nor his religious professions, as shown in
Chapter Two; and now, in
Chapter Three, the fourteen sweeping
statements of Scripture concerning the whole guilty human race, with the
double conviction of the Jews as not only sinners, but also
transgressors of the very Law they gloried in, -all this stops men's
vain mouths! For they are all brought into the presence of their Judge,
and the sentence of guilty is upon them all. Not that they are brought
in to have their just penalty executed upon them; but that they may be
silent while God their Judge announces-astonishing thing!- that He has
himself already dealt with the world's sin upon a sin-offering, Jesus,
His Son; whom, we shall soon see, He set forth at the cross as a
righteous meeting-ground between Himself in all His holiness and
righteousness; and the sinner, whether Jew or Gentile, in all his guilt,
-through simple faith in the shed blood of this Redeemer!" (Romans 3 Commentary)
The sentence of God against sin
Universal, caused by the offence of Adam -Romans 5:12,16,18
Inseparable consequence of sin -Proverbs 12:2; Romans 6:23
Impenitence -Matthew 11:20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Unbelief -John 3:18,19
Pride -1 Timothy 3:6
Oppression -James 5:1-5
Hypocrisy -Matthew 23:14
Conscience testifies to the justice of -Job 9:20; Romans 2:1; Titus 3:11
The law testifies to the justice of -Romans 3:19
According to men’s deserts -Matthew 12:37; 2 Corinthians 11:15
Saints are delivered from, by Christ -John 3:18; 5:24; Romans 8:1,33,34
Of the wicked, an example -2 Peter 2:7; Jude 1:7
Chastisements are designed to rescue us from -Psalms 94:12,13; 1
Apostates ordained to -Jude 1:4
Unbelievers remain under -John 3:18,36
The law is the ministration of -2 Corinthians 3:9
Thompson Chain Reference
General References to
John 3:19 Romans 5:18 1 Corinthians 11:34 1Timothy 3:6 Titus 3:11 James
2 Samuel 24:10 Job 42:6 Psalms 31:10 Psalms 32:3 Ezekiel 33:10
Job 9:20 Psalms 64:8 Matthew 23:31 Luke 19:22 John 8:9 Romans 2:1 1 John
NO CONDEMNATION, for the righteous
Isaiah 50:9 Luke 6:37 John 3:18 John 5:24 Romans 8:1 Romans 8:34
ISBE Article on Condemnation -
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary