Romans 3:1-20 – A Paraphrase

Given all of those failings, is there benefit in being Jewish, or any point in circumcision? Well, indeed there is! For a start, the Jews have been entrusted with delivering the promises of God to the nations.

But (for sake of argument) what if some Jews turned out to be unfaithful to that covenantal vocation? Will their failure to be faithful mean that God himself has been unfaithful to his people? No flipping way! May God he proved right and everyone else be made a lying twit. Just as it is written in Scripture: “May you, our God, be vindicated when you speak and triumph when you judge.”

But (for sake of argument) if our unrighteousness, that is our failure to be faithful covenant partners with God, provides God with an opportunity to exercise his saving justice in delivering us, what might one say to that? Would it entail that God is not within his right to get all apocalyptic on us since we’re giving him a chance to be merciful and generous (it’s a stupid argument I know, but stay with me on this for a bit). No flipping way! If that were the case, if God were to let us go scot free despite our failure, then how could God legitimately judge the world and bring it to account? God would be a divine hypocrite!

Someone might try to push back and retort, “Well, God kind of needs my sin, because my failure can enhance God’s integrity and so increase his glory. For if my falsehood makes God look good, then why would God throw a sinner like me in the dock?” One might even say (and I get accused of this all the time): “Sin boldly and see if anything good comes of it.” The twits who say such a thing really deserve to rot in the deity’s dumpster of destruction.

What should we conclude about all of this? Do we Jews really have a get out of judgment free card?  Sad to say, in the end, no, we don’t. We have already made it clear in the preceding argument that when it comes down to the nitty gritty, Jews and Gentiles, everyone without exception, is enslaved to the pernicious power of sin. As it is written in a whole avalanche of scriptural texts:

“There is not one righteous man or woman, not a single one to be found. Nobody has any clue about God, there is a drought of spiritual seekers. Everyone has deserted God, they have become as worthless as stock options in Lehman Brothers; there are no good Samaritans; good people are more scarce than twinkies at a 7/11.”

“Their throats are like a graveyard during a zombie apocalypse; their tongues practice more deceit than all the Governor of Illinois combined.”

“They use cobra poison for lip gloss.”

“Their mouths are full of more profanity and expletives than Emanuel Rahm getting a colonoscopy.”

“Their feet run faster than an Olympic sprinter when there’s a chance to drench the streets with blood; everywhere they go is a carnival of carnage; they wouldn’t know what peace is even if it bit them on the backside.”

“They got no respect and no reverence for God.”

Now we know that everything that the Law talks about, it says to those who are under its jurisdiction, with the result that every mouth is sealed shut because there’s no right of reply, and the whole world is dressed in an orange jump suit, shackled in chains, put on trial, and awaiting the righteous condemnation of God the judge. Therefore, no one, and I mean no exceptions, no one will be made right with God by following the Jewish way of life as set out in the Law. The Law makes us conscious of our sin, but there is nothing in the Law to release us from the power and penalty of sin. That is the miserable state we are all caught in, for the Jew first and the Gentile.

  • Susan_G1

    Do you guys say things like, “The twits who say such a thing really deserve to rot in the deity’s dumpster of destruction” for attention, or do you mean it? Because I thought we were not to judge anyone’s heart, that that was Jesus’ job alone. I am so puzzled when I read stuff like this.

    • Duncan B

      Susan, Michael is providing a paraphrase of Romans 3, these are not Michael’s words as such but he is graphically presenting the strength of Paul’s language.
      Paul was so strong in his language because people we saying that, “if people are saved only by God’s grace and not by any human efforts, then people should sin even more.” Such thinking in Paul’s mind was horrendous as the thinking about God behind it was horrible and so would have been the consequences.

      • Susan_G1

        D’oh! I missed that completely! My humble apologies.

  • David Westfall

    As someone who is from Illinois… good contextualization. My favorite part, though, was “get all apocalyptic on us.”


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