Paraphrase of Romans 3

One way of studying and meditating on the Word of God is to attempt to write it out in your own words, making a personal paraphrase of the text. The following is just that, a personal paraphrase, sometimes amplified and illustrated by other quotations. My paraphrase is on the left, and the text of the King James Version on the right. I am sharing this to encourage others to also study God’s Word, possibly by attempting their own paraphrase. I also hope my paraphrase may help some to better understand what God has said.

Outline of Romans 3
1-8 God is just
9-18 Man is sinful
19-20 Man cannot save himself
21-31 Salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ

God is just -- 3:1-8

1-4   Well then, is there any advantage at all in being one of God’s chosen people, born a Jew and marked as belonging to Him by circumcision? Of course there is! For one thing, God revealed Himself and His plan to and through this people. Surely you don’t believe that their unfaithfulness will change God’s character! No, He cannot deny himself (2 Tim. 2:11-13). Even though every person on earth turned away from God, He would still remain true and faithful. (The opinion of an atheist does not alter the fact of God; much less will the unfaithfulness of God’s children change His nature.) Just as David has said of God, “You are certainly just when you speak, and no one can blame you for your judgment.” (Psalm 51:4) 1 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?
2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?
4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.
5-8   At this point, I can almost hear some of you saying, “The worse we are, the better God looks.” If you say this, you really are saying that God is not righteous in his anger at sinful man. Use your heads! How can an unrighteous God judge the world? If my lies cause the truth of God to be even more evident, how can He still consider me to be a sinner, and punish me? We might as well say, as some fools have already accused us of saying, “Let’s really let go, live as we please, do our own thing, be contrary to God, so that good may come. After all, all things work together for good!” Anyone who lives this way is justly condemned. 5 But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)
6 God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?
7 For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?
8 And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.

Man is sinful -- 3:9-18

9   Are we Jews any better than the Gentiles? Not in the sight of God, for He has already clearly shown us that we are all sinners, regardless of our race or nationality. For example, listen to these words from the Psalms and Isaiah: 9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
10-12   “There is no one anywhere, no not even one, who is righteous in himself before God. There is not even anyone who truly understands or seeks for God. The whole human race has turned away from God, becoming completely useless to Him. There is not a man in all the earth who continually does what is good in God’s sight” (Eccl 7:20). I am serious, there is not even one.
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
13-18   “Quite the contrary -- their throat is like an open grave, their tongue is always ready with lies, behind their lips is deadly poison, their mouth is full of bitter cursing. They murder and destroy, leaving and finding misery everywhere they go. They are not able to find the one path that leads to peace. They would not even know it if they stumbled on it (Proverbs 4:19). They hold no respect at all for God.”
13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:
17 And the way of peace have they not known:
18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.

Man cannot save himself -- 3:19-20

19-20   You say, “But we are not that bad!” But remember, everything the Word of God says is true. The whole human race as a unit is guilty before God (Galatians 3:22). No one can be made righteous before God by keeping the law, for it is the same law that has informed us of our wickedness, pointing out how far we are separated from Him. (Isaiah 59:2) 19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ -- 3:21-31

21-23 God has now clearly revealed what the Old Testament teaches about how a man can be righteous in His eyes. It is definitely not by keeping the Law. God imparts His righteousness, His perfection, to everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ alone, believing in and relying upon Him. Must I say it again? There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for every one has rebelled against God, some actively, some passively, being indifferent to His claims on their lives, His power, His judgment, His righteousness, His holiness, and His mercy. There is no one who ever has lived or ever will live who can measure up to His requirements of absolute perfection. All of us fall short even of our own expectations. What about God’s? 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24-25   So it is that God has redeemed us, purchased back our liberty, having paid in full the penalty by giving freely His only Son, Jesus Christ. We certainly did not deserve this gift, yet in His infinite love He held nothing back. In the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God has shown the whole world that all who trust in the blood sacrificed on Calvary are restored to fellowship with Him. All the offense has been wiped off the slate, to be remembered no more, because the complete price has been paid. 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26   Now God has surely demonstrated His perfection to all the world, that He is holy and just, and yet in His love and mercy He has forgiven every sin of the one who puts all his trust in Jesus. (The same God who said “I will by no means clear the guilty” has laid all our guilt on His only son and “by His stripes we are healed.”) 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
27-28   There is therefore absolutely no room for bragging, since we are saved by means of faith in a finished work, rather than be our own efforts. In fact, being just in God’s eyes is not accomplished through keeping the law at all. He set the price so high that only He could pay it, and then He paid it. All we have to do is accept the payment in our behalf, lay down our futile efforts, and trust fully in Jesus Christ. 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
29-31   Do you think God is only the God of the Jews? What about the rest of the world? He is their God also! Unless you are now going to deny that there is only one God! He will justify those who have been circumcised and those who have not, the same way: by means of faith. Not shallow mental acknowledgement of the truth, but wholehearted commitment to it. Does faith then take all value away from the Law? Of course not! It is only through faith that the Law can take on its full meaning. 29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:
30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

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