Pondering Romans 3:1-8
To read the passage you can click HERE.
There are several things that I want to comment on this passage but I will only give one here. Perhaps as you pondered you saw the other things that grabbed my attention. I’m always interested in hearing about what stands out to you as you ponder.
Paul, who was trained to be a rabbi, uses a rabbinic teaching technique in this passage. He quotes a verse from Psalm 51 to help make a point (v.4). Psalm 51 is the great Psalm of repentance by David after being confronted with his sin of adultery and murder in the Bathsheba incident. By quoting one verse, Paul is drawing attention to the entire Psalm. Rather than making excuses for their sin, as the Jews were prone to do, Paul is hoping the Jews would come face to face with their own sin as King David, their hero, was quick to do. Note the verses that come immediately before and after the verse that Paul quotes:
2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. (Psalm 51:2-6)
Paul is beginning to make his case that “all have sinned” and all need the Savior. Jews are not exempt from this just because they are the chosen people of God. In fact they ought to be the first ones to get this because, as Paul points out, they have been entrusted with the Word of God.
Here is my takeaway – as believers we pride ourselves on being a people of the Word. We listen to it being preached. We read it for ourselves. We study it in small groups with others. And yet we have the same tendency as the Jews. We feel safeguarded from God’s judgment because we go to church regularly and have “prayed the prayer” and sometimes read the Scriptures and pray and give our money away. What Paul is reminding us of is this: until we come face to face with our own sin and genuinely repent and turn away from our sin and then cling to Christ and the cross – we will be subject to the same wrath that the Jews would encounter apart from Christ.
And God would be faithful in doing this because it is not as if He has not given us fair warning. So don’t just hear the Word, shema it. (I’m teaching on the Shema this Sunday night in my Jewishness of Christianity course if you want to find out what I mean by this.)
Next Week’s Passage: Romans 3:9-20
Memory Verses: Romans 8: 1-8