God’s Faithfulness, Rom. 3:1-8
After Paul’s scathing indictment of chapter 2, the Jews would certainly respond. They would defend themselves and excuse themselves. A close look at early patent records might find they invented the legal loophole. Leaders of the Jews had become masters of legalism and self-justification. Foolishly, they would blame God for their failings. They dared even to criticize the just judge of all men. Jesus encountered such efforts numerous times. On his journeys, Paul was constantly attacked by Jewish objectors. Paul may have heard Jewish leaders make the arguments in this context, or he may have simply known how they think. Do we argue with God when he corrects us? We must learn to “take our medicine” and do better.
Since Paul had exposed Jewish righteousness as unrighteousness, what could be said? If the Jews were no better than sinful Gentiles, why had God bothered to make Israel his covenant nation? At Sinai God revealed his will to the fledgling nation of Israel. He gave them the Law of Moses, beginning with the 10 Commandments. These outlined Israel’s duty to God and to fellowmen. Israel readily accepted the covenant arrangement with God, the people accepting the terms of the benevolent king. God dictated the terms and they accepted. Along with the Law came blessings and curses. Obey God and enjoy peace and long life in the promised land. Disobey him and lose the blessings and protection promised in the covenant. In the making of an ancient covenant, sacrifice was made. Blood was involved. The Israelites agreed that the fate of sacrificial animals would be upon them should they disobey God. The Lord gave Israel his Law to help mold them into a nation of example to the rest of the world. God did not choose them because they were better than all other nations, but in order to make them better (Deut. 7:7-11). Israel took great pride in having the very words of God given to them, but they did a poor job of following his Law. Dear readers, let us remember that we also have a written covenant, the New Testament. It is both our guide and our standard of judgment.
Had God gone back on his word to Israel by pronouncing her unfaithful? Not at all. Their disobedience did not make God look worse. Israel was the party that failed to live up to the covenant. The quotation from Ps. 51:4 comes from David’s penitent confession when his sin with Bathsheba was found out. David understood that when God charges us, he is always right. God is true to himself and to his word. He expects the same of mankind. Israel had no defense. God is benevolent, but he is also just. He requires right-doing, not excuses. And God certainly does not tolerate being blamed for our mistakes. The Jews must now be justified by the blood of Jesus, along with the Gentiles.
When we stand convicted by God’s word, we should accept it and make amends. We must not play games with God. None will be saved apart from the grace of God and the blood of Jesus. Sinners must obey the gospel to be saved (Mark 16:15-16). Wayward children of God must return to him as the prodigal returned to his father (Luke 15:11-32). Let us be thankful for the guidance of the Scriptures. It lights our pathway to eternal life (Ps. 119:105).
My comments are not an inspired commentary, but rather a few words to draw attention to the background, context, and dynamic situation of the book of Acts. May God bless your reading of His Word. T.C.