Exposition of Romans 3:19 -28

Rom 3:19 Now we know that whatever the Law (Torah) says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to G-d;

In this verse Sha’ul is not talking about the Pentateuch only(first five books of the Bible), but the entire Tanakh (OT) for we have read in vv. 10-18 quotes from the Tanakh. Lets take one example to prove the point from the very first quote in verse 10 which reads: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” This phrase is from Psa 14: 1. Let me read: “To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” What we must understand is that In Judaism the word “Torah” may mean:

(1) Chumash (the Pentateuch, the five books of Moshe); or
(2) That plus the Prophets and the Writings, i.e., the Tanakh (which is known by Christians as the Old Testament; or
(3) That plus the Oral Torah, which includes the Talmud and other legal materials; or
(4) That plus all religious instruction from the rabbis, including ethical and aggadic (homiletical) materials.

Rom 3:20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

This verse is quoted from Ps. 143:2, which reads: “And do not enter into judgment with Thy servant, For in Thy sight no man living is righteous.” Sha’ul is saying that no man may be justified in G-d’s sight from a legal standpoint. When Adam fell so did all his descendants. In Judaism as well as in Christianity, Adam is and was the federal head of humanity. We also see this thought expanded in scripture, for we read in

1 Cor 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, so also in Messiah all shall be made alive.

And in:

1 Cor 15:45 “So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”

When Adam the first man fell to sin all humanity was tainted by his sin. Yahshua, the second Adam being sinless triumphed over sin and through His vicarious death we as Adam’s descendants may erase original sin and any past sins from ourselves and be reconciled to YHVH Elohim through Him. We should understand that this is through the grace of YHVH Elohim that we are declared righteous and not think that we are transformed into behaving righteously. This is a life long process that initiates our obtaining salvation.

Christians and Messianic Jews both recognize this as the doctrine of original sin from which none of humanity is exempt, except by the reconciliation and forgiveness of sin by trusting in the faithfulness of Yahshua. In this reconciliation to G-d we are no longer considered unrighteous and deserving of G-d’s justice, but are declared righteous and washed from all past sins including original sin. This impartation of righteousness is immediate upon correctly evaluating our unworthiness, and upon acceptance of Yahshua’s faithfulness in our stead, and then begins a life-long process of obeying G-d to the result of our obtaining our reward.

Extremely important is Sha’ul’s statement in this verse and mostly misunderstood: “ by the works of the Law no flesh shall be justified.” This is not an abrogation of the Torah (Law) of G-d as many would believe for to enter into G-d’s Will for our lives we must first be reconciled to Him. Trusting precedes this reconciliation, and what most people fail to realize is that the first primary that the Torah requires is the trusting of G-d. Sha’ul is saying that without that foundation no works of the Torah will suffice.

David in Ps 143:1-2 pleads with YHVH to hear his prayer. Let me read:

Psa 143:1 “Hear my prayer, O LORD, Give ear to my supplications! Answer me in Thy faithfulness, in Thy righteousness!

Psa 143:2 And do not enter into judgment with Thy servant, For in Thy sight no man living is righteous.”

David is fully aware that no one living may declare that his or her work or legalistic torah observance will suffice to earn a declaration of righteousness by G-d. The result is that he begs for G-d’s righteousness to cover his sins and relies upon G-d mercy to not deliver him into judgment.

Thus we see trust precedes obedience.

The Torah was given to be obeyed and YHVH expects people to obey it. In Deuteronomy 30:11-14 we read:

Deu 30:11 “For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach.

Deu 30:12 “It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’

Deu 30:13 “Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’

Deu 30:14 “But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.

We see then that we must first trust, and then obedience to Torah is not impossible for us. The Torah was given on Mt. Sinai on the first Shavuot and the Ruach HaKodesh was given on the first Shavuot (Penecost in the NT) after Yahshua’s execution. There we received the spirit that empowers us to live obediently to G-d’s will, the Torah.

To summarize this verse we see it is a rabbinical midrash, which means to seek, search, and interpret scripture, and in this case this entire section from verse 19 through 26 is a midrash on Psalms 143. Nowhere herein do we find that trust in the faithfulness of Yahshua abrogates Torah, nor does Sha’ul teach it, in fact, Yahshua’s own words teach us that we must guard and obey the Torah to complete the process of salvation.

Rom 3:21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of G-d has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,

Literally this verse reads: “apart from Torah” and not “without the law” as the KJV reads. The first as translated in the NASB means “lacking it” and the KJV as translated. means “outside it” implying that the Torah is obsolete and invalid. When we see the correct translation the meaning of Sha’ul’s comment is clearer. G-d’s righteousness, not ours has nothing to do with obeying His Torah, the constitution of Israel, instead G-d’s moral integrity is demonstrated directly by the manifested Torah Yahshua, whose atoning death is central to our salvation. He amplifies as Yahshua so stated that the Torah and the prophets were witnesses to the coming of Yahshua and witness of G-d’s plan of salvation. They all testified of Him.

Rom 3:22 even the righteousness of G-d through faith in Yahshua HaMashiach for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;

This verse in Greek is rendered dia pistelos Iesou Christou. I want be getting into the words rendered Christou and Iesou for most know the origination of their meaning is from pagan Hellenism. What I want to consider is what is generally translated in the English versions of the NT and that is “faith in Yahshua.” Wrongly, this translation implies that G-d considers a person righteous if he/she believes in Yahshua. That is why I call the Gospel profession misleading for even the demons believe. In the Harvard Theological Review, George Howard makes the case that the Greek phrase is not a genitive but a subjective genitive, with the word “pitis” meaning faithfulness rather than belief or faith. This issue is important for it gives a false impression to a prospective believer if we do not understand that we trust in Yahshua’s faithfulness and not our faith or belief in him only. This verse is a commentary on Ps, 143 and this Psalm under girds this translation for trusting in Yahshua’s faithfulness because this Psalm speaks not of faith in G-d but G-d’s faithfulness to us. It is a subtle difference that leads one away from the true faith and we should all try to understand the difference and abide by it. This verse should read; “even the righteousness of G-d through the faithfulness of Yahshua HaMashiach for all those who trust… “

Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of G-d,

The principle that everyone falls short is taught in the Tanakh as well as the NT. In fact, I believe that if the concept is not in the Tanakh it cannot be a correct rendering in the NT. We see this doctrine in Isa 59:1-2; Isa 64: 6 and in 1 Kings 8:46. Even if a man obtained the righteousness of Torah observance without observing the primary of trust, he/she would have fallen short because of original sin. In verses 5:12-21 of this same book Sha’ul expounds upon original sin, for by one man, Adam, sin entered into the world. Genesis 3 makes it abundantly clear that this one man, Adam, brought sin to the human race by disobedience. It was not the sins of Adam’s lifetime, but the one original sin that allowed death, to enter into the world with it. On no less than five occasions in verses 15–19 the principle of one sin by one man is asserted. One act of disobedience to G-d was sufficient to allow sin to enter and permeate the entire realm of humanity, for that, all have sinned.

Rom 3:24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Mashiach Yahshua;

But by YHVH’s grace, not by earning it, all, that continues faithfully trusting, are granted the status of being counted righteous and reconciled before Him. By His grace through the redemption that was accomplished by Yahshua we are redeemed from our enslavement to sin and by His spirit we are empowered to be obedient to G-d’s Torah.

Rom 3:25 whom G-d displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of G-d He passed over the sins previously committed;

Sha’ul employs Temple typology here. He speaks of the Kapparah, which in Greek is ilasterion. This Greek word appears twice in the NT. Here and at Hebrews 9:5. It means the Mercy Seat, which formed the cover of the Ark in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle (Mishkan). This is where the Cohen Gadol went once a year to sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice to atone for Israel’s sins. The Greek word here corresponds to the Hebrew word Kippur that means, “covering,” that covers or wipes clean our sins. These two root meanings shows us what YHVH does when we are reconciled or forgiven of our sins by either “covering” or by “wiping our sins” away. Note also that Sha’ul in the last sentence of this verse tells us explicitly that we are forgiven of our “past” or previous sins committed, not the future ones that occur after reconciliation. For that we must atone by repentance and truly turning away from sin. Highhanded sin will not be forgiven

In 1 John 3:4 we read: Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

Rom 3:26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Yahshua.

In this verse, demonstrated or demonstration should be translated “vindicated,” to be read as “vindication of G-d’s righteousness apart from the Torah.” Sha’ul is speaking of G-d’s righteousness as found in verse 22, already expounded, wherein YHVH Elohim has made available to all humanity, His salvation, through His son Yahshua as promised in Genesis 12:3 to Abraham. It is through Abraham’s son Yahshua that all nations may be reconciled to YHVH Elohim and by whom all nations shall be blessed. This is not the end of the equation however, for Yahshua defines for us what a true believer is and adds that only trust in His faithfulness is not enough, but guarding and obeying the Father’s Torah is also an element that completes the requirement. We may look at this two ways:

We must trust that G-d has justly poured out all His wrath upon our Paschal Lamb, Yahshua.
That YHVH is merciful and forgiving of past sins to those that have trusted in Yahshua’s faithfulness.
Rom 3:27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.

Rom 3:28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

In these last two concluding verses Sha’ul summarizes his thoughts.

Let me give you the literal translation first:

“Wherefore therefore the boasting? It was shut out. Through what law? Of works? No, rather through the law of trusting. For we reason that a person is justified by trusting, apart from the works of the law.”

Sha’ul has midrashically told us that the first priority of Torah is trusting, but he certainly did not tell us that the Torah is abolished, instead he pointed out to us that the foundation of Torah is first trust, and then obedience. All our works without initial trust will avail us nothing. Torah observance must be founded upon trust; otherwise it is an exercise in legalistic observance of rules. Sha’ul asks, Do we abolish Torah by this trusting? In verses 30-31, Sha’ul answers his own question and I can see him shout, “ G-d (Heaven) forbid!” We do not nullify it we confirm it! Or in modern English “uphold” it. As Yahshua said, Guard it and obey it.

May we all carry the testimony of Yahshua and Guard and obey the Torah of YHVH.