The Jews and the Law

17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God;(A) 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal?(B) 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?(C) 23 You who boast in the law,(D) do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”[a](E)

25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law,(F) but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised.(G) 26 So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements,(H) will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised?(I) 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you(J) who, even though you have the[b] written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.

28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly,(K) nor is circumcision merely outward and physical.(L) 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart,(M) by the Spirit,(N) not by the written code.(O) Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.(P)

God’s Faithfulness

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

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

“So that you may be proved right when you speak
    and prevail when you judge.”[c](W)

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

No One Is Righteous

What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage?(AD) Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin.(AE) 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.”[d](AF)
13 “Their throats are open graves;
    their tongues practice deceit.”[e](AG)
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”[f](AH)
14     “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”[g](AI)
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.”[h](AJ)
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”[i](AK)

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


  1. Romans 2:24 Isaiah 52:5 (see Septuagint); Ezek. 36:20,22
  2. Romans 2:27 Or who, by means of a
  3. Romans 3:4 Psalm 51:4
  4. Romans 3:12 Psalms 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Eccles. 7:20
  5. Romans 3:13 Psalm 5:9
  6. Romans 3:13 Psalm 140:3
  7. Romans 3:14 Psalm 10:7 (see Septuagint)
  8. Romans 3:17 Isaiah 59:7,8
  9. Romans 3:18 Psalm 36:1

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