“What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” —Romans 3:1, 2
In Romans 2:28-29 we have Paul’s statement, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” The natural question that would arise from Paul’s solid doctrinal argument in those verses is this: “Okay then, if God is going to write the law onto fleshly tables of the heart, by the power of His Spirit, what advantage is there in being a Jew?” (Romans 3:1).
The apostle answers that question right away: “It is all important, for this main reason, because the Logic of God was committed unto them (Romans 3:2); that is, the “oracles of God,” from the Greek LOGIA TOU THEOU. This can also be translated, “Word of God,” for they certainly are God’s words. Paul is referring to the Holy Scriptures. The benefit is that God had entrusted the Jews with the standard of His holy and just goodness and righteousness through God’s written Word… and it was given through the Jewish people; and anticipating the “Yeah, but…” objection, Paul beats the naysayer to the punch by asking the next logical question and following that with his answer.
“For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?” (Romans 3:3). As we can rather sense that the Word (logic) of God connecting to the ultimate revelation of God’s Word through the incarnation of Jesus Christ (John 1:1-3, 14), Paul asks the question, “Well, they had the Scriptures that speak of the Christ to come, what if some did not believe?” That’s a good question because many Jews didn’t believe. They denied Christ and crucified the Lord of glory (Acts 3:13-14). So Paul, again, rhetorically asks, “If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?” Paul responds to his own question in the next verse.
“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” (Romans 3:4). “No way!” says the apostle. “Rather, let God be found true although every man is found to be a liar, as it is says in Psalms 51:4…
“Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight: that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest.”
“But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)” (Romans 3:5). Take note of “our unrighteousness” in the apostle’s statement. Paul, hypothetically aligning and identifying himself as an unbelieving Jew (which is easily done in Paul’s mind because he persecuted the church of Christ in his zeal and unbelief before Christ stood in his way on the road to Damascus, Acts 9) asks another question: “But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, should we say that the God who inflicts wrath is not righteous? (I am speaking in human terms.)” He wants to arrest the false conclusions that might come from this kind of thinking: through the unbelief of the Jews, Christ was crucified and the gospel came to the Gentiles, which is what God prophesied He would do anyway; nevertheless, would God then be unjust in punishing the Jews for bringing about the results God had intended? Paul answers this in the next verse, using the same Greek phrase from Romans 3:4…
“No way!” says the apostle. “God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?” (Romans 3:6). Although the Day of Judgment has been taught since Genesis in Jewish thinking, non-Jewish thinking may have had some difficulty with God carrying out exactly what He said He would do. Yet, even with the first sixteen verses of Romans 2 expressing the absolute, inevitable and just judgment of a holy and righteous God, the Holy Spirit must remind us again of God’s sovereign justice and judgment.
“For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto His glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?” (Romans 3:7). Paul unveils the thinking of sinful men— men who would pose their question to God as if seeking loopholes in order to escape the just judgment of a holy God.
“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” (Romans 3:8). The New American Standard Bible puts it this way:
“Then why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say), ‘Let us do evil that good may come’? Their condemnation is just.”
I worked a second job not long ago, before my physical ailments caused me to have to stop (which, thankfully, by God’s grace I am performing again). At that job, I was required at times to take deposits to the bank or receive cash from the bank so that we could have cash on hand for those desiring to cash their payroll checks. One day I was given a bag by the manager as well as a check for $10,000. After receiving the cash for the check, there I was with a bag in my hand containing ten thousand dollars in cash. As it relates to the Scripture, some might affirm that we say, “Hey, if I just take this money, it will prove God’s Word to be true, as well as what I preach, that man is totally depraved; and therefore, if I steal this money, God would be glorified.” That kind of thinking is not true of the Christian life. The truth of God is the truth of God, and sinful actions are not justified merely because it verifies God’s truth.
As this portion of Scripture expresses the benefit of having the law, we can see that without having that standard before us of God’s revealed holiness and righteousness through His Word, the sinner is liable to jump to all kinds of false conclusions. The Law of Moses, and the Scriptures as a whole, are beneficial because of its authority from God as His holy standard for all truth.
Read the previous article in this series, “Essence of the Law” (Romans 2:25-29).