Monday, March 8, 2021

Adult Bible Study on Romans 3:1-20

Romans 3:1-20

(New International Version)


What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God.


What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written:


“So that you may be proved right when you speak
    and prevail when you judge.”


But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!


What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:


“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11     there is no one who understands;
    there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
    not even one.”

13 “Their throats are open graves;
    their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
14     “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”


19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.



1. Paul ended chapter 2 by saying that Jewish people can’t rely on the covenant of circumcision (God’s covenant with Abraham) because what God wants is a changed heart. Now, he starts chapter 3 by saying that Jews still have an advantage – that of being entrusted with the very words of God, the Scriptures.


How does having the Scriptures give you an advantage?


We can read and study God’s word to know Him and what He wants for us. We don’t have to rely on our reason or conscience or imagination alone to know who our Creator is and what He demands from us; we can know with certainty because He’s told us.



2. Next, Paul says that if some of the Jews did not remain faithful to God, that doesn’t nullify God’s faithfulness. How can we relate this to hypocritical Christians?


We’ve all seen people who claim to be Christians but don’t act like it. We could take the perspective that this reflects badly on God, as Paul said in chapter 2. But someone acting hypocritically really only reflects badly on themselves. We need to remember that the person did something wrong, not God. The person sinned against God; God did not lead them to do it.



3. In verses 5-8, Paul explains that even though our sinfulness shows God’s righteousness more clearly by contrast, God still prefers that we not sin. Although our darkness makes God’s light seem to shine even brighter, it’s not worth it. God would rather not have the darkness of our sin.


What other bad things can you think of that Christians sometimes say are good because of the good that results from them?


I’m thinking of any kind of suffering. We often say that suffering is good because it makes us rely more on God, or we see how God brings us through those situations. The truth is suffering is not good. God promises to someday take all suffering away from us. He prefers there not be suffering. Instead, we should rely on God in all circumstances and praise Him for Who He is, not just for His work in bringing us through difficult times.



4. In verses 10 and following, Paul gives a series of quotes that could be misleading if you don't know the context. For example, the quote says "There is no one one who seeks God." Is it true that there is no one righteous? What about all the people in the Old Testament God calls righteous, such as Noah (Genesis 6:9) or Abraham (Genesis 15:6)? Even in Psalm 14, where this is quoted from, David calls some people righteous.


So, if we’re not talking about every single person never seeking God or living righteously before Him, what is the proper interpretation of Paul's argument here?


Look at the subject of Paul’s sentence in verse 9: Jews and Gentiles. There are Jewish people who are sinful, and there are Gentile people who are sinful. Rather than speaking about individuals, Paul is saying there is no one people group who are wholly righteous. The Jewish people cannot count on the fact they have circumcision and the Scriptures to be counted as righteous before God because as a group, they still sin.



5. What do you notice about sequence of sins Paul mentions in verses 10-18?


It starts with our minds and hearts turning away from God, then our speech, then our actions, all with no fear that God will punish us. When we stray away from God, our thoughts and attitudes and motives become sinful, then how we talk to and about others, then finally our intentional actions. If you find yourself thinking or saying things you normally wouldn’t, let that be a warning sign that you need to draw close to God again.



6. How does the Law make us conscious of our sin?


The Law shows us God’s standards, so when we compare ourselves to it, we realize we are not meeting those standards.



What to DO after reading this passage

Take some time to pray for Israel and the Jewish people, particularly Jewish Christians. The Jewish Voice has a couple of great prayer guides from a Christian perspective.




Do you have another insight into this passage? Please share below!





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