New Defender's Study Bible Notes
3:2 oracles. This is a striking synonym for the Holy Scriptures, a term used only four times in the New Testament (see also Acts 7:38; Hebrews 5:12; I Peter 4:11), stressing the fact that they actually constituted the very utterances of God. These were given to and through the Jews and are preserved for us now in the Old Testament.
3:3 shall their unbelief. The fact that many people reject the Scriptures, even alleging that the Bible has been disproved by modern science and reason, means nothing whatever except that it displays their own self-inflicted deception. God’s Word has been forever settled in heaven and will endure forever (Psalm 119:89,160), even after this present earth has passed away (Matthew 24:35). God’s revealed Word is absolute truth, and will judge all its detractors in the last day (see on Revelation 20:12; 22:18-19).
3:4 it is written. This phrase is quoted and applied from Psalm 51:4.
3:8 good may come. Paul was being unjustly slandered. He was accused of teaching that salvation by grace encouraged sinfulness. Any such teaching that would distort God’s Word for the sake of expediency, even for the ostensibly good purpose of winning converts, would be anathema to Paul. This is a sober warning of judgment against compromising the Scriptures.
3:9 all under sin. The important passage from Romans 3:9-23 should make it clear to everyone that there is no one who is righteous enough before a holy God to earn his own salvation. If anyone wishes ever to be saved and receive eternal life, he must first of all recognize himself as a guilty sinner before God—in fact, dead spiritually, in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). Some modern pastors, counselors and evangelists seem inclined to bypass this essential in trying to enlist converts, and this is a dangerous, soul-destroying error.
3:10 it is written. Romans 3:10-12 is partly quoted, partly adapted, from Psalm 14:1-3, and Psalm 53:1-3, which are practically identical.
3:11 none that seeketh. This seems superficially contradictory to such Scriptures as Romans 2:7 and Hebrews 11:6, which speak of the vital importance of seeking God. The resolution of this paradox, as so often is the case, is in the inscrutable nature of the divine sovereignty. “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10), and “the Father seeketh (the true worshippers) to worship Him” (John 4:23). Thus God is seeking men, before they seek Him, and “in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him” (Acts 10:35). The Holy Spirit is omnipresent in the world, convicting men and constraining them. Somehow, some men are moved by Him to begin to seek God for themselves, and God “is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Cornelius was evidently one such man, so God then led Peter to go to Cornelius to instruct Him concerning Christ (Acts 10).
3:13 open sepulchre. Paul draws on several Old Testament metaphors in Romans 3:13-18 to describe the implicit or explicit wickedness of men in their natural state. Psalm 5:9 likens the human tongue to “an open sepulchre” and Psalm 140:3 to “adders’ poison.”
3:14 cursing and bitterness. See Psalm 10:7.
3:15 shed blood. Isaiah 59:7-8 is referred to in Romans 3:15-17.
3:18 no fear of God. This quote is from Psalm 36:1.
3:25 propitiation. The term “propitiation” (Greek hilasterion) originally referred to a pagan sacrifice to appease some angry god. In its Christian use, however, it represents a perfect sacrifice which would satisfy both the justice of a holy God who must punish sin and the love of a gracious God who would redeem sinners. The shed blood of Jesus Christ provides both.
3:26 just, and the justifier. The mystery of how God can be both “just” (or “righteous”) and “justifier” (or “ascriber of righteousness” to the unrighteous) can be solved only in Christ. It is “His righteousness,” not ours, by which we are “justified” (that is, “declared righteous”) by God, through receiving Christ by faith.