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A Jew’s Advantage and God’s Faithfulness

What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew? Or what benefit is there to circumcision? Much in every way! Indeed, above all else, they were entrusted with the messages of God.

Now what if some did not believe? Their unbelief[a] will not nullify God’s faithfulness, will it? Absolutely not! God must be true, even though everyone is found to be a liar, just as it is written:

So that you would be justified whenever you speak,
and win the case when you judge.[b]

An Absurd Conclusion

Now if our unrighteousness demonstrates God’s righteousness, what shall we say? God is not unjust in bringing his wrath on us, is he? (I am speaking from a human point of view.) Absolutely not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? For example,[c] someone might say, “If by my lie the truth of God increases all the more to his glory, why am I still being judged as a sinner?” And why not say (as some slanderously claim we say), “Let us do evil so that good may result.” Their condemnation is deserved.

All Are Guilty of Sin

What then? Are we any better off? No, not at all! In fact, we have already made the charge that all (both Jews and Greeks) are under sin. 10 Just as it is written:

There is no one who is righteous, not even one.
11 There is no one who understands. There is no one who searches for God.
12 They all turned away; together they became useless.
There is no one who does what is good; there is not even one.[d]

13 Their throat is an open grave.
They kept deceiving with their tongues.
The poison of asps is on their lips.[e]
14 Their mouth is filled with cursing and bitterness.[f]

15 Their feet are quick to shed blood.
16 They leave a trail of destruction and suffering wherever they go.
17 The way of peace they did not know.[g]

18 There is no fear of God in front of their eyes.[h]

The Law Condemns Everyone

19 Now we know that whatever the law says is addressed to those who are under the law,[i] so that every mouth will be silenced and the whole world will be subject to God’s judgment. 20 For this reason, no one[j] will be declared righteous in his sight by works of the law, for through the law we become aware of sin.

A Righteousness Apart From the Law by Faith

21 But now, completely apart from the law, a righteousness from God has been made known. The Law and the Prophets testify to it. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all and over all[k] who believe.

In fact, there is no difference, 23 because all have sinned and fall short of the glory[l] of God 24 and are justified[m] freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God publicly displayed as the atonement seat[n] through faith in his blood. God did this to demonstrate his justice, since, in his divine restraint, he had left the sins that were committed earlier unpunished. 26 He did this to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so that he would be both just and the one who justifies the person who has faith in Jesus.

27 What happens to boasting then? It has been eliminated. By what principle[o]—by the principle of works? No, but by the principle of faith. 28 For we conclude that a person is justified by faith without the works of the law. 29 Or is he only the God of the Jews? Is he not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, also of the Gentiles, 30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised person by faith and the uncircumcised person through the very same faith. 31 So are we doing away with the law by this faith? Absolutely not! Instead, we are upholding the law.

Abraham, an Example of Justification by Faith

What then will we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered according to the flesh? If indeed Abraham had been justified by works, he would have had a reason to boast—but not before God. For what does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[p]

Now to a person who works, his pay is not counted as a gift but as something owed. But to the person who does not work but believes in the God who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited to him as righteousness.

This is exactly what David says about the blessed state of the person to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven
and whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.[q]

Abraham Was Justified Before His Circumcision

Now then, does this blessing apply only to the circumcised or also to the uncircumcised? To be sure, we maintain that faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness. 10 So then, under what circumstances was it credited to him? Was he circumcised or uncircumcised at that time? He was not circumcised but uncircumcised, 11 and he received the mark of circumcision as the seal of the righteousness by faith that was already his while he was uncircumcised. So Abraham is the father of all the uncircumcised people who believe, so that righteousness would also be credited to them. 12 He is also the father of the circumcised people who are not merely circumcised but also walk in the footsteps of the faith our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

Abraham Received What God Promised by Faith, Not by Law

13 Indeed, the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not given to Abraham or his descendants through the law, but through the righteousness that is by faith. 14 To be sure, if people are heirs by the law, faith is empty and the promise is nullified. 15 For law brings wrath. (Where there is no law, there is no transgression.) 16 For this reason, the promise is by faith, so that it may be according to grace and may be guaranteed to all of Abraham’s descendants—not only to the one who is a descendant by law, but also to the one who has the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”[r]

Abraham’s Faith Was a Firm Trust in God’s Promise

In the presence of God, Abraham believed him who makes the dead alive and calls non-existing things so that they exist.[s] 18 Hoping beyond what he could expect, he believed that he would become the father of many nations, just as he was told: “This is how many your descendants will be.”[t] 19 He did not weaken in faith, even though he considered his own body as good as dead (because he was about one hundred years old), and even though he considered Sarah’s womb to be dead. 20 He did not waver in unbelief with respect to God’s promise, but he grew strong in faith, giving glory to God 21 and being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”[u]

23 Now the statement “it was credited to him” was not written for him alone, 24 but also for us to whom it would be credited, namely, to us who believe in the one who raised our Lord Jesus from the dead. 25 He was handed over to death because of our trespasses and was raised to life because of our justification.


  1. Romans 3:3 Or some were not faithful? Their unfaithfulness. . .
  2. Romans 3:4 Psalm 51:4
  3. Romans 3:7 A few witnesses to the text read And. (“Witnesses to the text” mentioned in footnotes may include Greek manuscripts, lectionaries, translations, and quotations in the church fathers.)
  4. Romans 3:12 Psalm 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Ecclesiastes 7:20
  5. Romans 3:13 Psalm 5:9; 140:3
  6. Romans 3:14 Psalm 10:7
  7. Romans 3:17 Isaiah 59:7-8
  8. Romans 3:18 Psalm 36:1
  9. Romans 3:19 Or those in the sphere of the law
  10. Romans 3:20 Literally flesh
  11. Romans 3:22 Some witnesses to the text omit and over all.
  12. Romans 3:23 Or approval
  13. Romans 3:24 Or declared righteous
  14. Romans 3:25 The atonement seat was the cover of the Ark of the Covenant. It served as the footstool of God’s throne and was the place where the sacrificial blood was sprinkled on the Day of Atonement (see Leviticus 16:2,14,15). Christ is the fulfillment of the function of the atonement seat.
  15. Romans 3:27 In this verse, principle translates the Greek term nomos, which is often translated law.
  16. Romans 4:3 Genesis 15:6
  17. Romans 4:8 Psalm 32:1-2
  18. Romans 4:17 Genesis 17:5
  19. Romans 4:17 Or speaks of non-existing things as though they exist
  20. Romans 4:18 Genesis 15:5
  21. Romans 4:22 Genesis 15:6