Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.” Romans 3:27-31

In the last part of our study we looked at Romans 3:26 – “to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

We move now to the next section which focuses on the exclusion of boasting.

Verse 27

“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith.”

που ουν η καυχησις εξεκλεισθη δια ποιου νομου των εργων ουχι αλλα δια νομου πιστεως

It’s important that we don’t forget the context of Romans 3 –

  • Everyone is guilty before God
  • That includes Jews and Gentiles
  • No one is righteous
  • No one seeks after God
  • No one does good – no one
  • No one will be justified by their deeds in God’s sight
  • Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God – everyone

That’s the bad news. What’s the good news?

There is a righteousness of God “apart” from the Law and it’s through faith in Jesus Christ! It’s available to everyone – Jews and Gentiles. How does it work?

We are justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus – through His blood, through faith, “to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

That’s the context for verse 27 –

Before diving into this next section (verses 27-31) let’s look at how the apostle addresses his readers. Paul uses a literary technique of Q&A. He asks his audience a question and immediately gives them the answer –

Q – Where is boasting then?

A -It is excluded.

Q – By what law? Of works?

A – No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.

Q – Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles?

A – Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.

Q – Do we then make void the law through faith?

A – Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

που ουν η καυχησις (pou oun hē kauchēsis) “where then is the boasting” .. kauchēsis means “act of boasting, glorying, exultation”

Good question! Given the facts Paul has presented so far –

  • Everyone is guilty before God
  • That includes Jews and Gentiles
  • No one is righteous
  • No one seeks after God
  • No one does good – no one
  • No one will be justified by their deeds in God’s sight
  • Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God – everyone

How could anyone boast? How could anyone glory in themselves? Should anyone be proud of what they accomplished toward justification before God through their heritage, actions or deeds? (specifically the Jew – “Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God.” Romans 2:17)

Paul answers with pointed precision –

εξεκλεισθη (exekleisthē) “it has been excluded” .. exekleisthē means “shut out, exclude, separate”

The possibility that anyone could boast or glory in themselves has been “shut out” .. “excluded.” There is no way that anyone can boast because every human being who is alive today, has lived in the past, or will live in the future is guilty before God and without excuse.

δια ποιου νομου (dia poiou nomou) “through what law” (interrogative pronoun is qualitative – what “kind” of law)

των εργων (tōn ergōn) “that of works” (literally “the” works which Jews boasted)

ουχι αλλα δια νομου πιστεως (ouchi alla dia nomou pisteōs) “no but through a law of faith”

This phrase – “law of faith” – belongs to the Apostle Paul. No other biblical author uses that term and we Paul will reference it several times in Romans. Was Paul introducing a “new” kind of spiritual law? No. He was explaining that everything falls within the ancient law of faith, which most people confused with a law of works. Paul makes a powerful point in Romans that justification is and always has been based on the law of faith. The Law and Prophets are witnesses of that fact –

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.”

Paul will continue to make this powerful point about the “law of faith” as we continue our study in Romans 3 and 4.

Verse 28

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.”

λογιζομεθα ουν πιστει δικαιουσθαι ανθρωπον χωρις εργων νομου

λογιζομεθα ουν πιστει δικαιουσθαι ανθρωπον (loizometha oun pistei disaiousthai anthrōpon) “we reckon therefore to be justified by faith a man” .. loizometha means “count, reason, decide, conclude, reckon” .. the root word is logos (logic in speech, reasoning, mathematics, etc) .. it is a “reasoned conclusion” we can reach based on the truth of Paul’s claim that a man (people) is “justified by faith” (through the means of faith)

χωρις εργων νομου (chōris ergōn nomou) “apart from works of law” .. chōris means “apart from, separately from, without” .. justification comes by faith without works.

The Apostle Paul can be wordy at times, but I appreciate how he used words. He looks at an issue from every possible angle, then reaches a logical, reasonable conclusion. In this case, the reasonable conclusion is that people are “justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” That’s clear and concise.

Verse 29

“Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also”

η ιουδαιων ο θεος μονον ουχι δε και εθνων ναι και εθνων

η ιουδαιων ο θεος μονον (ē toudaiōn o theos monon) “or of Jews is he the God only”

ουχι δε και εθνων (ouchi de kai ethnōn) “not also of gentiles”

ναι και εθνων (nai kai ethnōn) “yes also of gentiles”

The obvious answer to Paul’s question is that God is the God of Jews and Gentiles. This was God’s statement to Abram when He called him to leave his home in Ur and travel to a land God would show him – “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:9) Many years later, following Abraham’s obedience to God concerning Isaac, God said – “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Genesis 22:18) God made it clear that He was the God of the Jews and the Gentiles.

Verse 30

“since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.”

επειπερ εις ο θεος ος δικαιωσει περιτομην εκ πιστεως και ακροβυστιαν δια της πιστεως

επειπερ εις ο θεος ος δικαιωσει περιτομην εκ πιστεως (epeiper eis o theos os dikaiōsei peritomēn ek pisteōs) “since indeed one the God is who will justify the circumcision by faith”

και ακροβυστιαν δια της πιστεως (kai akrobustian dia tēs pisteōs) “and uncircumcision through the same faith”

Verses 29 and 30 are a powerful and clear message for Jews and Gentiles, but especially for Jews – God is the God of Jews and Gentiles and will justify them through the same law of faith. Period.

Verse 31

“Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.”

νομον ουν καταργουμεν δια της πιστεως μη γενοιτο αλλα νομον ιστωμεν

νομον ουν καταργουμεν δια της πιστεως (nomon oun katargoumen dia tēs pisteōs) “law then do we nullify through faith” .. katargoumen means “make of no effect, render ineffectual, annul, abolish, bring to naught, make idle (inactive)”

Paul asks a logical question that some Jews might have asked. Does the law of faith nullify (make of no effect) the Mosaic Law? Good question. How does Paul answer that?

μη γενοιτο αλλα νομον ιστωμεν (mē genoito alla nomon histōmen) “never may it be but law we uphold” .. histōmen means “establish, make to stand”

Paul was saying that the “law of faith” actually established the Mosaic Law!

Here are thoughts from other commentators for your consideration –

“God will have the great work of the justification and salvation of sinners carried on from first to last, so as to shut out boasting. Now, if we were saved by our own works, boasting would not be excluded. But the way of justification by faith for ever shuts out boasting. Yet believers are not left to be lawless; faith is a law, it is a working grace, wherever it is in truth. By faith, not in this matter an act of obedience, or a good work, but forming the relation between Christ and the sinner, which renders it proper that the believer should be pardoned and justified for the sake of the Saviour, and that the unbeliever who is not thus united or related to him, should remain under condemnation. The law is still of use to convince us of what is past, and to direct us for the future. Though we cannot be saved by it as a covenant, yet we own and submit to it, as a rule in the hand of the Mediator.” Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

“In these verses the positive exposition of the righteousness of God as offered to faith through the redemption in Christ Jesus, is concluded. The Apostle points out two inferences which can be drawn from it, and which go to commend it to religious minds. The first is, that it excludes boasting. A religious constitution under which men could make claims, or assume anything, in the presence of God, must necessarily be false; it is at least one mark of truth in the Christian doctrine of justification that by it such presumption is made impossible. The second is, that in its universality and its sameness for all men, it is consistent with (as indeed it flows from) the unity of God. There can be no step-children in the family of God; a system which teaches that there are, like that current among the Jews, must be wrong; a system like the Christian, which excludes such an idea, is at least so far right. In Romans 3:31 an objection is raised. The whole system just expounded may be said to make Law void—to stultify and disannul all that has ever been regarded as in possession of Divine moral authority in the world. In reality, the Apostle answers in a word, its effect is precisely the reverse: it establishes law.” Expositor’s Greek Testament

“Therefore we conclude,…. This is the conclusion from the premises, the sum total of the whole account: that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. The subject of justification is, “man”, not in opposition to angels; nor does it design the Jew against the Gentile, though some have so thought; but the apostle names neither Jew nor Gentile, but “man”, to show that Christ’s righteousness is unto all, and every man, that believes, be he who he will; and is to be understood indefinitely, that every man that is justified is justified by faith. The means is “by faith”, not habitually or actually considered; that is, either as an habit and principle infused into us, or as an act performed by us; but either organically, as it is a means of receiving Christ’s righteousness; or objectively, as it denotes Christ the object of it: and all this is done “without works”, of any sort; not by a faith which is without works, for such a faith is dead, and of no avail; but by faith without works joined to it, in the affair of justification; or by the righteousness of Christ imputed by God the Father, without any consideration of them, and received by faith, and relied upon by the believer, without any regard unto them.” Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Next Time

Paul is not done making his case for the “law of faith.” In the next part of our study we’ll see how Paul used the lives of two of Israel’s best known leaders to help make his case.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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