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©Kris Gerbrandt

Chapter 3:1-8 (ESV)

Posted on December 14, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 3:1-8 (ESV) - Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,

“That you may be justified in your words,
    and prevail when you are judged.”

But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world? But if through my lie God's truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

Question to consider: Why would Paul raise the question of whether being a Jew had advantages?

During the ministry of Jesus, the disciples were always disputing with one another about who would be counted as greatest in the kingdom of God. Jesus’ response to them was that the one who serves would be great in His kingdom. Fast forward to Paul’s letter to the Roman church, and we see a similar situation where members of the church are disputing with one another about who is considered greatest— who should be the authority.

Since Paul couldn’t be there in person to deal with these matters, he was forced to do it in writing and therefore logically worked through any potential objections they might have to the idea that we are all equally broken by sin and deserving of God’s judgment. The good news was that there was redemption from this judgment in Christ.

Because Jews and Gentiles were equally deserving of wrath and equally offered God’s grace, Paul anticipated that the Jewish Christians would raise the question of what the point was for them to grow up as Jews if it had no advantage to them. Considering the effort that was put in to follow the Law and the persecution they faced for thousands of years as a Jew, it hardly seemed fair that they would be on equal footing with Gentiles.

However, Paul pointed out that they were the ones who received the word of God. They were the ones that had the ability to know God and be a light to the Gentiles. Even if they were not faithful in doing so, God was still faithful to them in the promises He made to Abraham. 

I look at this objection like someone who was born into the church and complained that someone else could live their entire life before coming to faith, make a deathbed confession, and receive the same reward. Growing up in the church meant that you were introduced to God at an early age and have experienced His grace for many years longer than someone who comes to faith at the end of their life. If you believe that your life would have been better off living without God in sin, you may want to think a little more about the implications of that.

Paul compared our sinfulness to a foil that makes the righteousness of God shine more brightly. A foil is a black velvet backdrop used to showcase diamonds. The darkness of the backdrop helps the diamonds to shine more brightly. However, Paul said that we shouldn’t use that as an excuse to sin more. He will deal more with this idea in the coming chapters, but God’s grace is never something we should take for granted.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for giving us more grace and keeping us in Your care. Please stir up in us a love for Your word and give us eyes to see the joy of walking closely with You. Amen.