Romans 3

 

Romans 3:1
What advantage then hath the Jew [Judean]? or what profit is there of circumcision?

Before setting off on our adventure through chapter 3 we need to take a deeper look at the word Jew. It comes from the ancient Hebrew name Yehuda, who was the son of Jacob and the fourth son of his wife Leah. We now recognise Yehuda in our language as Judah. Jacob, who later changed his name to Israel, had twelve sons who became the tribes of Israel. Jesus Christ was of the tribe of Judah. Isaac was Judah's grandfather and Abraham was his great grandfather. Originally the word Judean referred exclusively to the descendents of Judah.

How then did the name Yehuda get corrupted into the word Jew, and how did it change from referring to the descendents of one man to mean the entire race of Jewish people? It's a long story laced with thousands of years of political intrigue, and details are scarce and contradictory, but we can be certain of three things.

Firstly, when Israel took the promised land and divided the country up and they all settled, the word Judean gradually changed over time until it referred to those living in the country of Judah who were not necessarily descendents of Judah.

Secondly, when the kingdom of Israel split into two after the death of Solomon the meaning of Judean changed over time yet again to mean those of the Judean religion to distinguish themselves from the northern tribes who worshipped Baal. Over time it changed again to encompass all those of the Judean religion no matter where they lived.

Thirdly, the word Jew itself did not appear in any bible until 1775. It is actually a forgery. The word Jew must always be understood as being the word Judean - those directly descended from Judah, those from the country of Judea, or much later those of the Judean religion.

I know this isn't a scholarly explanation, but it's sufficient to help us understand what Paul is getting into here in Romans.

Romans 3:1
What advantage then hath the Jew [Judean]? or what profit is there of circumcision?

The references to the circumcised and uncircumcised are references to Judean legalistic religious laws. This Judean and Gentile stuff Paul is now dealing with in depth is far more important than we might at first realise, so I'm going to take what Paul is teaching here and put it into modern language to make it easier to understand.

The problem was that Judeans and Gentiles were going to the same home churches and they didn't like each other. This Judean and Gentile thing doesn't really apply to most of us today, so how does that communicate in modern language? Well in Ireland for example, protestants and Roman Catholics will go to the same home church. Have you any idea the problems that might cause? What Paul is addressing is the hatreds and prejudices that religions poison people with. Always remember that God does not dwell in temples made with hands. Religions are broken cisterns built by men and they are evil.

Jeremiah 2:13
For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

It isn't just Ireland either. In other countries around the world muslims and christians will go to the same home churches. In South Africa, black people and white people will go to the same home churches. In Russia and China, communists and christians will go to the same home churches. All over the world, people who hate each other will go to the same home churches. This is real life stuff.

I was a soldier in 15 Para, a Scottish TA battlion of the Parachute Regiment, and I once went to a home church where the home church leader had been an officer in the IRA. I remember once going to a big meeting with hundreds of believers packed into a hotel for a weekend teaching series. When I walked into the restaurant for lunch wearing a para sweatshirt, the entire room went deathly quiet and I pulled up because everyone was looking at me. Then I realised that most of the people there were Roman Catholic Irish men and women. I'm telling you, this is real life Paul is dealing with here. By the way, I love the Irish.

Romans 3:1
What advantage then hath the Jew [Judean]? or what profit is there of circumcision?

Does Paul take sides here? Of course not. Does he shout at the Judeans for being religious nuts? No, he doesn't. Does he make the Judeans sit on one side of the room and the Gentiles on the other? How silly. He teaches the scriptures in such a way as to make everyone comfortable and feel at home. A few of those Gentiles would have been Roman soldiers. Think about that. It takes time for people to overcome religious prejudices and hatreds so we have to work with them patiently and kindly. Brendan, who had been in the IRA and done some terrible things used to smile when I wore my para t-shirts. I didn't wear them to annoy him, but I was proud of being a para and he understood that. I loved him for being the man he was, and he loved me for being the man I was.

One of the first things we will have to deal with when new people come to our home churches is overcoming religious prejudices and hatreds. That's why this is one of the first things Paul deals with in Romans. As we learn from Paul, it isn't just a case of telling someone to quit being an idiot, we have to take care of their hearts and teach.

In the following verses, listen to how kind his words are as he addresses the Judeans. He was also walking by the spirit here and receiving revelation from God, so this was the best way at that time to deal with such divisive religious hatreds. He gets down onto their level and speaks to their hearts to help them. Paul was a master of the scriptures and a master of working with people. Watch how he handles this and takes them through their prejudices and guides them kindly back to the word.

Romans 3:1,2
What advantage then hath the Jew [Judean]? or what profit is there of circumcision?

Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

Yes, in the Old Testament the Judean peoples, those of the tribes of Israel, were God's chosen people and God gave the Old Testament scriptures to them. Coming to a home church with an extensive and thorough understanding of the Old Testament scriptures has many advantages in every way!

Romans 3:3-6
For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith [believing] of God without effect?

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.

But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)

God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?

Everything Paul says here would have communicated clearly and kindly to the Judeans he was addressing. The Gentiles in the home churches would also have learned from this and would have taken it all to heart. They needed help too. Today, much of this won't communicate to us easily because we don't understand their cultures, but we can still learn from this. For example, we will have to deal with similar prejudices and hatreds between Roman Catholics and Protestants, muslims and infidels, and all the other bigotry poisoning the world. We will have to get down onto their levels and speak to their hearts to help them through the hatreds their religions have poisoned them with so they can learn to love each other.

Romans 3:7,8
For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?

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.

This let us do evil that good may come philosophy has been around since Genesis and the creation of secret societies by Nimrod. Today it is the cornerstone of Jesuit and freemason philosophy, but the end justifies the means only when it is the devil giving the orders. Paul then goes on to show them something they already knew, that none of us are perfect.

Romans 3:9-18
What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews [Judeans] and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:

Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

Their feet are swift to shed blood:

Destruction and misery are in their ways:

And the way of peace have they not known:

There is no fear of God before their eyes.

It's the same today. This pretty much sums up the state of men everywhere on planet earth. We were all part of this world and we were all guilty of death. In the following verses law refers to the Old Testament laws given to Moses, all of them, not just the 10 commandments.

Romans 3:19,20
Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

This is plain language and easy to understand. No one on earth can march up to God and demand anything because they are so righteous.

Romans 3:21-24
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Everyone since Adam and Eve has sinned with the exception of Jesus Christ. That's why he was a perfect sacrifice for the rest of us. He died so we wouldn't have to, and it's legal. It is legal for someone to volunteer to die for someone who is facing the death penalty. When that volunteer is executed the original guilty person is no longer guilty of the crimes they committed. That's what Jesus Christ did for the whole world. That's why we are justified freely by God's grace.

Look this isn't about us or all the terrible things we have done. We were all guilty of death, and there are no degrees or shades of grey in death. Death is death and we were all guilty of it. It makes no difference how evil we were, guity of death is guilty of death, and Jesus Christ died for you and once you are born again you are no longer guilty of anything you have ever done.

Romans 3:25
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [payment] through faith [believing] in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

See this isn't about us and the things we have done, this is about Jesus Christ and what he did for us. He paid the price to redeem us from death and we are no longer guilty of anything. It makes no difference if we are a Judean or a Gentile, a Roman Catholic or a Protestant, a Muslim or an infidel, a Pentecostal or a Jehovah's Witness, a freemason, communist or even a jesuit. It makes no difference what we have done or how evil we were. Jesus Christ died for everyone and we are now righteous because of what he did, not because of anything we have done.

Romans 3:26-28
To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith [believing].

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith [believing] without the deeds of the law.

No one can earn righteousness by living the Old Testament laws because we have all broken them. No one can point a finger at anyone because we are all just as guilty of death as everyone else. Our righteousness has nothing to do with us, it is something God gives us because of the price Jesus Christ paid. We all have to learn to put our pasts behind us as well as any religious hatreds and prejudices we may have.

These scriptures in Romans are addressed to men and women from both Judean and Gentile backgrounds, men and women who hated each other, just as Roman Catholics and Protestants hate each other in some parts of the world today. Those Judeans and Gentiles in Paul's time going to the home churches were children of God, but they were still bogged down in religious garbage and we will have to deal with similar problems in our home churches today.

Romans 3:29-31
Is he
the God of the Jews [Judeans] only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:

Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith [believing], and uncircumcision through faith [believing].

Do we then make void the law through faith [believing]? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

We will learn the details of precisely what we have to believe shortly.