Romans 3:10
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
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3:9-18 Here again is shown that all mankind are under the guilt of sin, as a burden; and under the government and dominion of sin, as enslaved to it, to work wickedness. This is made plain by several passages of Scripture from the Old Testament, which describe the corrupt and depraved state of all men, till grace restrain or change them. Great as our advantages are, these texts describe multitudes who call themselves Christians. Their principles and conduct prove that there is no fear of God before their eyes. And where no fear of God is, no good is to be looked for.As it is written - The apostle is reasoning with Jews; and he proceeds to show from their own Scriptures, that what he had affirmed was true. The point to be proved was, that the Jews, in the matter of justification, had no advantage or preference over the Gentiles; that the Jew had failed to keep the Law which had been given him, as the Gentile had failed to keep the Law which had been given him; and that both, therefore, were equally dependent on the mercy of God, incapable of being justified and saved by their works. To show this, the apostle adduces texts to show what was the character of the Jewish people; or to show that according to their own Scriptures, they were sinners no less than the Gentiles. The point, then, is to prove the depravity of the Jews, not that of universal depravity. The interpretation should be confined to the bearing of the passages on the Jews, and the quotations should not be adduced as directly proving the doctrine of universal depravity. In a certain sense, which will be stated soon, they may be adduced as bearing on that subject. But their direct reference is to the Jewish nation. The passages which follow, are taken from various parts of the Old Testament. The design of this is to show, that this characteristic of sin was not confined to any particular period of the Jewish history, but pertained to them as a people; that it had characterised them throughout their existence as a nation. Most of the passages are quoted in the language of the Septuagint. The quotation in Romans 3:10-12, is from Psalm 14:1-3; and from Psalm 53:1-3. Psalm 53:1-6 is the same as Psalm 14:1-7, with some slight variations.

(Yet if we consult Psalm 14:1-7 and Psalm 53:1-6, from which the quotations in Romans 3:10-12 are taken, we shall be constrained to admit that their original application is nothing short of universal. The Lord is represented as looking down from heaven, (not upon the Jewish people only, but upon the "children of men" at large, "to see if there were any that did understand and seek God);" and declaring, as the result of his unerring scrutiny, "there is "none" that doeth good, no, not one."

That the apostle applies the passages to the case of the Jews is admitted, yet it is evident more is contained in them than the single proof of Jewish depravity. They go all the length of proving the depravity of mankind, and are cited expressly with this view. "We have before proved both Jews and Gentiles," says Paul in Romans 3:9, "that they are all under sin." Immediately on this, the quotations in question are introduced with the usual formula, "as it is written," etc. Now since the apostle adduces his Scripture proofs, to establish the doctrine that both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin," we cannot reasonably decide against him by confining their application to the Jews only.

In Romans 3:19 Paul brings his argument to bear directly on the Jews. That they might not elude his aim, by interpreting the universal expressions he had introduced, of all the pagan only, leaving themselves favorably excepted; he reminds them that" whatsoever things the law saith, it saith to them that were under it." Not contented with having placed them alongside of the Gentiles in Romans 3:9; by this second application of the general doctrine of human depravity, to their particular case, he renders escape or evasion impossible. The scope of the whole passage then, is, that all people are depraved, and that the Jews form no exception. This view is further strengthened by the apostle's conclusion in Romans 3:20. "Therefore, by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his (God's) sight."

"If the words," says President Edwards, "which the apostle uses, do not most fully and determinately signify an universality, no words ever used in the Bible are sufficient to do it. I might challenge any man to produce any one paragraph in the scriptures, from the beginning to the end, where there is such a repetition and accumulation of terms, so strongly, and emphatically, and carefully, to express the most perfect and absolute universality, or any place to be compared to it." - "Edwards on Original Sin, - Haldane's Commentary."

There is none righteous - The Hebrew Psa 14:1 is, there is none that doeth good. The Septuagint has the same. The apostle quotes according to the sense of the passage. The design of the apostle is to show that none could be justified by the Law. He uses an expression, therefore, which is exactly conformable to his argument, and which accords in meaning with the Hebrew, "there is none just," δίκαιος dikaios.

No, not one - This is not in the Hebrew, but is in the Septuagint. It is a strong universal expression, denoting the state of almost universal corruption which existed in the time of the psalmist. The expression should not be interpreted to mean that there was not literally "one pious man" in the nation; but that the characteristic of the nation was, at that time, that it was exceedingly corrupt. Instead of being righteous, as the Jew claimed, because they were Jews, the testimony of their own Scriptures was, that they were universally wicked.

(The design of the apostle, however, is not to prove that there were few or none pious. He is treating of the impossibility of justification by works, and alleges in proof that, according to the judgment of God in the Psalm 14:1 Psalm, there were none righteous, etc., in regard to their natural estate, or the condition in which man is, previous to his being justified. In this condition, all are deficient in righteousness, and have nothing to commend them to the divine favor. What people may afterward become by grace is another question, on which the apostle does not, in this place, enter. Whatever number of pious people, therefore, there might be in various places of the world, the argument of the apostle is not in the least affected. It will hold good even in the millennium!)

10-12. As it is written, &c.—(Ps 14:1-3; 53:1-3). These statements of the Psalmist were indeed suggested by particular manifestations of human depravity occurring under his own eye; but as this only showed what man, when unrestrained, is in his present condition, they were quite pertinent to the apostle's purpose. As it is written; viz. in several places of Scripture, which he quotes in the following verses, giving us the sense, though not so strictly tying himself to the words; and this is a proper proof, to the Jews at least, whom he had called a little before the keepers of these oracles.

There is none righteous, no, not one: the more general proof with which he begins, is taken out of Psalm 14:3, and Psalm 53:1, upon which places see the annotations.

As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one. The several passages cited here, and in some following verses, are taken out of the Psalms and Isaiah; and are brought to prove, not only that the Jews are no better than the Gentiles, being equally corrupt and depraved as they; but also to show the corrupt state and condition of mankind in general: and the words are not always literally expressed, but the sense is attended to, as in this passage; for in the original text of Psalm 14:1, it is, "there is none that doth good"; from whence the apostle rightly infers, "there is none righteous"; for he that does not do good, is not righteous; and therefore if there is none on earth that does good and does not sin, there is none righteous upon earth, "no, not one" single person. The Jews allegorizing that passage in Genesis 19:31, "there is not a man in the earth to come into us", remark (u) on it thus,

"Urab qydu vya Nya, "there is not a righteous man in the earth"; and there is not a man that rules over his imagination.''

There is none righteous as Adam was, in a state of innocence; for all have sinned, and are filled with unrighteousness, and are enemies to righteousness; none are righteous by their obedience to the law of works; nor are there any righteous in the sight of God, upon the foot of their own righteousness, however they may appear in their own eyes, and in the sight of others; nor are any inherently righteous, for there is none without sin, sanctification is imperfect; nor is it, either in whole or in part, a saint's justifying righteousness; indeed there is none righteous, no, not one, but those who are justified by the righteousness of Christ imputed to them.

(u) Midrash Haneelam in Zohar in Gen. fol. 68. 1.

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Romans 3:10-18. Conformity with Scripture of the charge referred to, Ἰουδαίους τε καὶ Ἕλλην. πάντ. ὑφʼ ἁμ. εἶναι, so far (Romans 3:19) as this charge cuts off from the Jews every προέχεσθαι of Romans 3:9.

The recitative ὅτι introduces citations from Scripture very various in character, which after the national habit (Surenhusius, καταλλ. thes. 7) are arranged in immediate succession. They are taken from the LXX., though for the most part with variations, partly due to quotation from memory, and partly intentional, for the purpose of defining the sense more precisely. The arrangement is such that testimony is adduced for—1st, the state of sin generally (Romans 3:10-12); 2nd, the practice of sin in word (Romans 3:13-14) and deed (Romans 3:15-17); and 3rd, the sinful source of the whole (Romans 3:18). More artificial schemes of arrangement are not to be sought (as e.g. in Hofmann), not even by a play on numbers.[776]

οὐκ ἔστι δίκαιος οὐδὲ εἷς] There exists not a righteous person (who is such as he ought to be), not even one. Taken from Psalm 14:1, where the Sept. has ποιῶν χρηστότητα instead of δίκαιος; Paul has put the latter on purpose at once, in accordance with the aim of his whole argument, prominently to characterise the ὑφʼ ἁμαρτ. εἶναι as a want of δικαιοσύνη. Michaelis regards the words as the Apostle’s own, “under which he comprehends all that follows.” So also Eckermann, Koppe, Köllner and Fritzsche. But it is quite at variance with the habit of the Apostle, after using the formula of quotation, to prefix to the words of Scripture a summary of their contents; and this supposition is here the more improbable, seeing that the Apostle continues in Romans 3:11 in the words of the same Psalm, with the first verse of which our passage substantially agrees.

Regarding οὐδὲ εἷς see on 1 Corinthians 6:5, and Stallbaum, a[777] Plat. Symp. p. 214 D.

Romans 3:11 is from Psalm 14:2, and so quoted, that the negative sense which results indirectly from the text in the Hebrew and LXX. is expressed by Paul directly: there exists not the understanding one (the practically wise, i.e. the pious one; see Gesenius, Thes. s. v. חָכָם): there exists not the seeker after God (whose thoughts and endeavours are directed towards God, Hebrews 11:6, and see Gesenius, s. v. דָרַשׁ). The article denotes the genus as a definite concrete representing it. Compare Buttmann’s neut. Gr. p. 253 f. On the idea, which is also classical, of sin as folly, see Nägelsbach, Hom. Theol. VI. 2.

The form ΣΥΝΊΩΝ (so accentuated by Lachmann; compare Buttmann, I. p. 543), or ΣΥΝΙῶΝ (though the former is the more probable; compare Winer, p. 77 f. [E. T. 97], also Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 768), is the usual one in the Sept. (instead of συνιείς, Psalm 33:15). Psalm 41:1; Jeremiah 30:12; 2 Chronicles 34:12 et al[778]

ἘΚΖΗΤ.] stronger than the simple form; compare 1 Peter 1:10; very frequent in the LXX.

Romans 3:12. From Psalm 14:3 closely after the LXX. ἘΞΈΚΛΙΝΑΝ, namely from the right way, denotes the demoralisation (see Gesenius, s. v. םוּד), as does also ἨΧΡΕΙΏΘΗΣΑΝ, נֶאֱלָחוּ: they have become useless, corrupt, good for nothing, ἀχρεῖοι (Matthew 25:30); Polyb. i. 14, 6, i. 48, 9. The following ποιῶν χρηστότητα is correlative. This ἅμα (altogether) ἨΧΡΕΙΏΘ. has still ΠΆΝΤΕς for its subject.

ἝΩς ἙΝΌς] The ΟὐΚ ἜΣΤΙΝ holds as far as to one (inclusively), so that therefore not one is excepted. Compare Jdg 4:16. Hebraism, see Ewald, Lehrb. § 217, 3. The Latin ad unum omnes is similar.

Romans 3:13 as far as ἐδολ. is from Psalm 5:10, and thence till αὐτῶν from Psalm 140:4, both closely after the LXX.[779]

τάφος ἀνεῳγμ. ὁ λάρ. αὐτ.] Estius: “Sicut sepulcrum patens exhalat tetrum ac pestiferum foetorem, ita ex ore illorum impuri, pestilentes noxiique sermones exeunt.” Comp Pelagius, Bengel, Tholuck, Mehring and Hofmann. But it is more in harmony with the further description, as well as the parallel in Jeremiah 5:16 (where the quiver of the Chaldeans is compared with an open grave), to find the comparison in the point that, when the godless have opened their throats for lying and corrupting discourse, it is just as if a grave stood opened (observe the perfect) to which the corpse ought to be consigned for decay and destruction.[781] So certainly and unavoidably corrupting is their discourse. Moreover λάρυγξ, which is here to be taken in its original sense, (as organ of speech, not equivalent to φάρυγξ, the gullet) is more forcibly graphic than στόμα, representing the speech as passionate crying. Compare λαρυγγίζειν, Dem. 323, 1, and λαρυγγισμός, of crying lustily.

ἐδολιοῦσαν] they were deceiving. The imperfect denotes what had taken place as continuing up till the present time; and on this form of the third person plural, of very frequent occurrence in the LXX., see Sturz, Dial. Al. p. 60; Ahrens, Dial. II. p. 304, I. p. 237.

ἰὸς ἀσπίδων] The poison of asps, a figure for the insidiously corrupting. See similar passages in Alberti, Obss. p. 301.

Romans 3:14 is from Psalm 10:7, taken freely from the LXX., who however with their πικρίας deviate from the Hebrew מִרְמו̇ת, because they either read it otherwise or translated it erroneously.

πικρία, figurative designation of the hateful nature. Comp Ephesians 4:31; Acts 8:23; Jam 3:14; see Wetstein.

Romans 3:15-17 are from Isaiah 59:7-8, quoted freely and with abbreviations from the LXX.

ἘΝ ΤΑῖς ὉΔΟῖς ΑὐΤῶΝ] Where they go, is desolation (fragments שֹׁד) and misery, which they produce.

ὁδὸν εἰρ. οὐκ ἔγν.] i.e. a way on which one walks peacefully (the opposite of the ὁδοί, on which is σύντριμμα κ. ταλαιπ.), they have not known (2 Corinthians 5:21), it has remained strange to them.

Romans 3:18 is from Psalm 36:1. The fear of God, which would have preserved them from such conduct and have led them to an entirely different course, is not before their eyes. “There is objectivity ascribed to a condition which is, psychologically, subjective.” Morison.

[776] According to Hofmann the first and second parts consist each of seven propositions. Thus even the conclusion of ver. 12, οὐκ ἔστιν ἕως ἑνός, is to be reckoned as a separate proposition! How all the parallelism of Hebrew poetry is mutilated by such artifices!

[777] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[778] t al. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[779] The MSS. of the LXX. which read the whole passage vv. 13–18 at Psalm 14:3, have been interpolated from our passage in Christian times. See Wolf, Cur. on ver. 10.

[781] The metaphorical representation in classical passages, in which, e.g., the Cyclops is termed ζῶν τύμβος (Anth. Pal. xiv. 109, 3), or the vultures ἔμψυχοι τάφοι (Gorgias, ap. Longin. 3), is not similar.

Romans 3:10. The long series of quotations, beginning with this verse, has many points of interest. The καθὼς γέγραπται with which it is introduced, shows that the assertion of indiscriminate sinfulness which the Apostle has just made, corresponds with Scripture testimony. It is as if he had said, I can express my opinion in inspired words, and therefore it has God upon its side. The quotations themselves are taken from various parts of the O.T. without distinction; no indication is given when the writer passes from one book to another. Thus Romans 3:10-12 are from Psalm 14:1-3; Romans 3:13 gives the LXX of Psalm 5:9; Romans 3:14 corresponds best to Psalm 10:7; in Romans 3:15-17 there is a condensation of Isaiah 59:7 f.; and in Romans 3:18 we have part of the first verse of Psalms 36. No attention whatever is paid to the context. The value of the quotations for the Apostle’s purpose has been disputed. It has been pointed out that in Psalms 14, for instance, there is mention of a people of God, “a generation of the righteous,” as well as of the godless world; and that in other passages only the contemporaries of the writer, or some of them, and not all men in all times, are described. Perhaps if we admit that there is no possibility of an empirical proof of the universality of sin, it covers the truth there is in such comments. Paul does not rest his case on these words of Scripture, interpreted as modern exegetical science would interpret them. He has brought the charge of sin against all men in chap. Romans 1:17, in announcing righteousness as the gift of the Gospel; in chap. Romans 1:18-32 he has referred to the facts which bring the charge home to Gentile consciences; in chap. 2 he has come to close quarters with evasions which would naturally suggest themselves to Jews: and in both cases he has counted upon finding in conscience a sure ally. Hence we do not need to lay too heavy a burden of proof on these quotations: it is enough if they show that Scripture points with unmistakable emphasis in the direction in which the Apostle is leading his readers. And there can be no doubt that it does so. As Gifford well says on Romans 3:18 : “In the deep inner sense which St. Paul gives to the passage, ‘the generation of the righteous’ would be the first to acknowledge that they form no exception to the universal sinfulness asserted in the opening verses of the Psalm”.

10. There is none, &c.] In Romans 3:10-18 we have a chain of Scripture quotations. The originals are found, verbally or in substance, in Psalm 5:9; Psalm 10:7; Psalm 14:1-3; Psalm 36:1; Psalm 140:3; Proverbs 1:16; Isaiah 59:7. In the Alexandrine MS. of the LXX. of Psalms 14 (LXX. 13):3, appears a singular phenomenon: the Gr. is much ampler than the original Hebrew (for Which see E. V.), and is verbatim the same as the Gr. of Romans 3:12-18 of this chapter. There can be little doubt that this was the work of a copyist acquainted with this passage of St Paul.—Romans 3:10 would better read: as it is written that there is none righteous, no, not one. The precise quotations would then begin at Romans 3:11. The words of Romans 3:10 are not found in the O. T., and read rather as a summary of what is to follow.

The awful charges of Romans 3:10-18 are specially pointed at the Jews: see Romans 3:19. The passages quoted are descriptive of Israelites, some of them of Israelites of the best days of Israel. What at least they establish is that the root of sin was vigorous in Jewish hearts, and that its fruits in Jewish lives were abominable in the sight of God. Meantime we must not narrow the reference too closely. The Apostle’s doctrine of human sinfulness (see e.g. Titus 3:3) is that the worst developments of individual sin only indicate the possibilities of the sinful heart in general. Passages like those cited here thus prove, not only what certain men were, but what man is. See Jeremiah 17:9.

Romans 3:10. Καθως, as) That all men are under sin, is very clearly proved from the vices which always, and everywhere, have been prevalent [have stalked abroad] among mankind; just as, also, the internal holiness of Christ is displayed in [pourtratyed by means of] the innocency of His words and actions. Paul therefore quotes, with propriety, David and Isaiah, although it is concerning the people of their own times that they complain, and that accompanied with an exception in favour of the godly [some of whom are always to be found], Psalm 14:4, etc. For that complaint describes men such as God looking down from heaven finds them to be, not such as He makes them by His grace.

Verses 10-18. - As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are altogether become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one (Psalm 14. or Psalms 53.). Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they hays used deceit (Psalm 5:9); the poison of asps is under their lips (Psalm 140:3): whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness (Psalm 10:7): their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known (Proverbs 1:16 and Isaiah 59:7): there is no fear of God before their eyes (Psalm 36:1). These texts are from various unconnected passages of the Old Testament, quoted from the LXX., though not all accurately. They seem to be put together from memory by way of showing the general scriptural view of human depravity. It may be said that they do not establish the apostle's position of all men being guilty; for that they are for the most part rhetorical rather than dogmatic, that most of them refer only to certain classes of men, and that the righteous are spoken of too, and this in the sequence of even the most sweeping of them all (that from Psalm 14. or Psalms 53.), which does, literally understood, assert universal sinfulness. Any such objection to the cogency of the quotations may be met by regarding them as adduced, not as rigid proofs, but as only generally confirmatory of the apostle's position. See, he would say to the Jew, the picture your own Scriptures give you; observe their continued testimony to human depravity: and the main point of all the quotations is that which is brought out in the next verse, viz. that they had reference, not to the Gentile world, but to the chosen people themselves. Romans 3:10
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