Romans 3:9
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;
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(9-20) Once more the argument returns to the main track, and at last the Apostle asserts distinctly and categorically what he had already proved indirectly, that the Jew is every whit as bad as the Gentile.

(9) Are we better than they?—“Can we claim a preference?” The form of the Greek verb is peculiar. It seems upon the whole best to take it as middle for active, which would be apparently unexampled, but is tenable as a question of language, and seems to be compelled by the context. There is no real opposition between the “by no means” of the reply and the “much every way” of Romans 3:2. There the reference was to external advantages, here it is to real and essential worth in the sight of God; as much as to say, “For all our advantages are we really better?”

Proved.—Adopt rather the marginal rendering, For we before charged both Jews and Gentiles with being all under sin.

The verses are a striking instance of the way in which the Apostle weaves together passages taken from different sources. It also affords an example of the corruptions in the text of the Old Testament to which this practice gave rise. The whole passage as it stands here is found in some manuscripts of the LXX. as part of Psalms 14, whence it has been copied not only into the Vulgate but also our own Prayer Book, which will be seen to differ from the Bible version.

The quotations have different degrees of appositeness, so far as they may be considered in the modern sense as probative rather than illustrative. The first, from Psalms 14, is couched in such general terms as to be directly in point; the second and third, from Psalms 5, 140, are aimed specially against the oppressors of the Psalmist; and so, too, the fourth, from Psalms 10, but in a more general and abstract form; that from Isaiah indicates the moral degradation among the prophet’s contemporaries that had led to the Captivity; while the last, from Psalms 36, is an expression applied, not to all men, but particularly to the wicked.

Romans 3:9-18. What then — Well then, (may a Jew further urge,) since you grant that the Jews have the advantage of the Gentiles in point of privileges, having the oracles of God, the promises which he will never fail to observe, and the principles of righteousness which he will never himself violate in his conduct, are we not in a better condition for obtaining justification by our own obedience to his law? No, in no wise — The apostle answers, that all are equal in that point, both Jews and Gentiles. For we have before proved — Namely, in the two former chapters; both Jews — By the breach of the written law; and Gentiles — By transgressing the law of nature; that they are all — Every one of them, without exception; under sin — Under the guilt and power of it: and so are equally excluded from the possibility of being justified by works. And therefore gospel righteousness, or justification by faith, is no less necessary for the one than for the other. As it is written — Here he proves further, concerning the Jews, that they were unrighteous before God, by testimonies taken from their own prophets concerning their universal corruption, and he rightly cites David and Isaiah, (see the margin,) though they spoke primarily of their own age, and expressed what manner of men God sees when he looks down from heaven, not what they become when renewed by his grace. There is none righteous — That lives exactly according to the rule of God’s law. This is the general proposition, the particulars follow; their dispositions and designs, Romans 3:11-12; their discourse, Romans 3:13-14; their actions, Romans 3:16-18. There is none that understandeth — The things of God, till God, by giving them the spirit of wisdom and revelation, open the eyes of their understanding; there is none that seeketh after God — To know, worship, and serve him aright; to obtain his favour, recover his image, and enjoy communion with him; that is, till God, by his grace, incline them to seek after him. They are all gone out of the way — Namely, of truth into error, of righteousness into sin, of happiness into misery. They are together — One and all; become unprofitable — Unfit and unable to bring forth any good fruit, and to profit either themselves or others. There is none that doeth good — From a right principle, to a right end, by a right rule, and in a right spirit; or perfectly, according to the exact meaning of the law which they are under. Their throat is an open sepulchre — Noisome and dangerous as such; or, their speech is offensive, corrupt, and loathsome. Observe the progress of evil discourse; proceeding out of the heart, through the throat, tongue, lips, till the whole mouth is filled therewith. The poison of asps — Infectious, deadly, tale-bearing, evil-speaking, backbiting, slandering, is under (for honey is on) their lips. An asp is a venomous kind of serpent. Whose mouth is full of cursing — Against God; and bitterness — Provoking language against their neighbour: the most shocking profaneness mingles itself with that malignity of heart toward their fellow-creatures which breathes in every word. Their feet are swift — To run toward the places where they have appointed; to shed the blood — Of the innocent. Destruction — To others; and misery — As to themselves; are in their ways — In their desires and designs, their dispositions, words, and actions. And the way of peace — Which can only spring from righteousness; they have not known — By experience, nor regarded. And, to sum up all in one word, the great cause of all this depravity is, that there is no fear of God before their eyes — Much less is the love of God in their hearts: they have no sense of religion, to restrain them from the commission of these enormities.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.What then? - This is another remark supposed to be made by a Jewish objector. "What follows? or are we to infer that we are better than others?

Are we better than they? - Are we Jews better than the Gentiles? Or rather, have we any preference, or advantage as to character and prospects, over the Gentiles? These questions refer only to the great point in debate, to wit, about justification before God. The apostle had admitted Romans 3:2 that the Jews had important advantages in some respects, but he now affirms that those advantages did not make a difference between them and the Gentiles about justification.

No, in no wise - Not at all. That is, the Jews have no preference or advantage over the Gentiles in regard to the subject of justification before God. They have failed to keep the Law; they are sinners; and if they are justified, it must be in the same way as the rest of the world.

We have before proved ... - Romans 1:21-32; 2.

Under sin - Sinners. Under the power and dominion of sin.

Ro 3:9-20. That the Jew Is Shut Up under Like Condemnation with the Gentile Is Proved by His Own Scripture.

9. are we better than they?—"do we excel them?"

No, in no wise—Better off the Jews certainly were, for having the oracles of God to teach them better; but as they were no better, that only aggravated their guilt.

What then? are we better than they? the apostle here returns to the argument that he had been handling in the beginning of the chapter. He brings in the Jews propounding a question, Seeing it was confessed that the oracles of God were committed to them, then it followed, that they excelled the Gentiles, and stood upon better ground than they.

No, in no wise; he doth not contradict himself as to what he had said of the Jews’ prerogative, Romans 3:2. They did indeed excel the Gentiles as to some external benefits, of which you have a larger account, Romans 9:4,5, but not upon the account of any evangelical righteousness, or their own supposed merit.

We have before proved; viz. separately and apart, in the foregoing chapters; and the same is now to be asserted of

both Jews and Gentiles, conjunctly and together; that notwithstanding the Jews boasted of their law, and the Gentiles of their philosophy, yet as to the evangelical faith and righteousness, they were both in the same case.

Under sin; under the power of sin, but chiefly under the guilt of sin: see Romans 3:19. What then? are we better than they?.... The apostle returns to what he was treating of in the beginning of the chapter, and suggests, that though the Jew has the advantage of the Gentile, with respect to some external privileges, yet not with regard to their state and condition God-ward, and as in his sight; "are we Jews better than they Gentiles?"

no, in no wise; upon no consideration whatever, neither as men, nor as Jews; which is directly opposite to a notion that people have of themselves:

"in mankind (they say (r)) there are high degrees, one higher than another, and the Israelites , "are above all mankind"; they are the head, and the nations of the world are the tail, and are like to a serpent, for they come from the filth of the old serpent.''

Again, they say (s),

"worthy are the Israelites, for the holy blessed God hath given to them holy souls, from an holy place, "above all the rest of the people", that they may do the commandments, and delight in the law.''

And elsewhere (t) it is observed on those words, Genesis 1:24, "the living creature", or "the soul of the living creature", by R. Aba:

"these are the Israelites, for they are the children of the holy blessed God, and their holy souls come from him; the souls of the rest of the people, from what place are they? says R. Eleazar, from the side of the left hand, which is defiled; for they have polluted souls, and therefore they are all defiled, and defile whoever comes nigh them:''

but they are no better, especially with regard to their estate by nature:

for we have before proved; in the preceding chapters, by full instances to a demonstration; and if that cannot be thought sufficient, he goes on to give more proof in the following "verses":

that both Jews and Gentiles are under sin; under the power and guilt of sin, and a sentence of condemnation for it; which is equally true of the Jews, who were no better than the Gentiles, for being Abraham's seed, for being circumcised, for having the ceremonial law, and other outward privileges; for they were equally born in sin, and by practice sinners, as the Gentiles: and this is true of God's elect in all nations, who are no better by nature, by birth, than others; as deserving of the wrath of God as the rest; no better in their tempers and, dispositions, or in the endowments of their minds, or outward circumstances of life; nor better qualified to receive and improve the grace of God bestowed on them, than others.

(r) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 103. 2. Vid. Nishmat Chayim, orat. 2. c. 7. fol. 61. 1.((s) Zohar in Lev. fol 28. 2.((t) Zohar in Gen. fol. 31. 1.

{4} What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all {k} under sin;

(4) Another answer to the first objection: that the Jews, if they are considered in themselves, are no better than other men are: as it has been long since pronounced by the mouth of the Prophets.

(k) Are guilty of sin.

Romans 3:9. When Paul, in Romans 3:6-8, has defended the righteousness of God as decreeing wrath (Romans 3:5) in the face of the proposition, correct in itself, that human sin turns out to God’s glory, he has thereby also deprived the sinner of all the defence, which he might derive from the misapplication of that proposition. This position of the case, as it results from Romans 3:6-8 (οὖν), he now expresses, and that in the lively form of an interrogation, here accompanied by a certain triumph: What then? Are we in the position to apply a defence for ourselves? We cannot therefore with most expositors (including Tholuck, Philippi, Bisping) assume that Paul here reverts to Romans 3:1.

That the punctuation should not be τί οὖν προεχόμεθα; (as it is given by Oecumenius, l, Koppe, Th. Schott) is plain from the answer, which is not οὐδὲν πάντως. but οὐ πάντως. And that in adopting the general inclusive form Paul speaks from the standpoint of the Jewish consciousness, and not in the person of the Christians (Hofmann), is apparent from the context both before (see Romans 3:3; Romans 3:5; Romans 3:7) and after (ʼΙουδαίους τε καὶ Ἕλλ., and see Romans 3:19).

τί οὖν] sc[764] ἐστί (Acts 21:22; 1 Corinthians 14:15; 1 Corinthians 14:26), what takes place then? how is then the state of the case? Compare Romans 6:15, Romans 11:7; frequent in classical writers; comp on Romans 3:3; Romans 3:5.

ΠΡΟΕΧΌΜΕΘΑ] Do we put forward (anything) in our defence? Is it the case with us, that something serves us as a defence, that can secure us against the punitive righteousness of God? προέχειν, which in the active form means to hold before, to have in advance, to bring forward, and intransitively to be prominent, also to excel (see Wetstein, also Reiche, Comment. crit. I. p. 24), has in the middle simply the signification to hold before oneself, to have before oneself, either in the proper sense, e.g. of holding forth spears for defence (Hom. Il. xvii. 355), or of having oxen in front (Od. iii. 8), or of holding in front the ram’s head (Herod. ii. 42), etc., or in the ethical sense: to put forward, πρόσχημα ποιεῖθαι, to apply something for one’s own defence, as in Soph. Ant. 80: σὺ μὲν τάδʼ ἂν προὔχοιʼ, Thuc. i. 140, 5 and Krüger in loc[766], and also Valckenaer, a[767] fr. Callim. p. 227. More frequent in Greek writers is the form ΠΡΟΐΣΧΕΣΘΑΙ, in this sense, as e.g. Thuc. i. 26, 2. Compare also πρόφασιν προΐσχεσθαι, Herod. vi. 117, viii. 3; Herodian, iv. 14, 3; Dem. in Schol. Hermog. p. 106, 16 : προΐσχεσθαι νόμον. This sense of the word is therefore rightly urged by Hemsterhuis, Venema, Koppe, Benecke, Fritzsche (“utimurne praetextu?”), Krehl, Ewald, Morison; compare also Th. Schott. This explanation is the only one warranted by linguistic usage,[768] as well as suited to the connection (see above). The most usual rendering (adopted by Tholuck, Köllner, de Wette, Rückert, Baumgarten-Crusius, Philippi, Baur, Umbreit, Jatho, and Mangold) is that of the Peschito and Vulgate (praecellimus eos?), and of Theophylact: ἐχομέν τι πλέον.… καὶ εὐδοκιμοῦμεν οἱ ʼΙουδαῖοι, ὡς τόν νόμον καὶ τὴν περιτομὴν δεξάμενοι. Compare Theodoret: ΤΊ ΟὖΝ ΚΑΤΈΧΟΜΕΝ ΠΕΡΙΣΣΌΝ; Philippi: “Have we any advantage for ourselves?” and now also Hofmann (who held the right view formerly in his Schriftbew. I. p. 501): “Do we raise ourselves above those, upon whom God decrees His judgment of wrath?” But the mere usus loquendi, affording not a single instance of the middle employed with the signification antecellere, raising oneself above, surpassing, or the like, decisively condemns this usual explanation in its different modifications.[769] And would not the answer οὐ πάντως, in whatever sense we take it, so long as agreeably to the context we continue to understand as the subject the Jewish, not the Christian we (as Hofmann takes it), be at variance with the answer πολὺ κατὰ πάντα τρόπον given in Romans 3:2? The shifts of expositors to escape this inconsistency (the usual one being that Paul here means subjective advantages in respect of justification, while in Romans 3:2 he treats of objective theocratic advantages) are forced expedients, which, not at all indicated by any clause of more precise definition on the part of Paul himself, only cast suspicion on the explanation. Wetstein, Michaelis, Cramer, Storr, and recently Matthias, take προεχ. as the passive: are surpassed: “Stand we (at all) at a disadvantage? Are we still surpassed by the Gentiles?” Compare Xen. Anab. iii. 2, 19; Plut. Mor. p. 1038 C. But how could this question be logically inferred from the foregoing without the addition of other thoughts? And in what follows it is not the sinful equality of the Gentiles with the Jews, but that of the Jews with the Gentiles which is made conspicuous. See also Romans 3:19. Mehring, in thorough opposition to the context, since not a single hint of a transition to the Gentiles is given, makes the question (comp Oecumenius, 2), and that in the sense “Are we at a disadvantage?” be put into the mouth even of a Gentile.

οὐ πάντως] Vulgate: nequaquam; Theophylact: οὐδαμῶς. This common rendering (compare the French point de tout) is, in accordance with the right explanation of προεχόμεθα, the only proper one. The expression, instead of which certainly ΠΆΝΤΩς Οὐ might have been used (1 Corinthians 16:12), is quite analogous to the οὐ πάνυ, where it means in no wise,[771] as in Xen. Mem. iii. 1, 11; Anab. i. 8, 14; Herodian, vi. 5, 11; Dem. Ol. iii. 21; Plat. Lach. p. 189 C; Lucian, Tim. 24 (see Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 87), so that the negative is not transposed, and yet it does not cancel the idea of the adverb, but on the contrary is strengthened by the adverb. By this means the emphatic affirmation, which would have been given by the πάντως alone, is changed into the opposite.[772] Compare Winer, p. 515 f. [E. T. 693]. The comparison with כללא (Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 334) is utterly foreign, since the expression is a pure Greek one. Compare Theognis, 305, Bekker: οἱ κακοὶ οὐ πάντως (by no means) κακοὶ ἐκ γαστρὸς γεγόνασιν. Ep. ad Diogn. 9 : Οὐ ΠΆΝΤΩς ἘΦΗΔΌΜΕΝΟς (by no means rejoicing) ΤΟῖς ἉΜΑΡΤΉΜΑΣΙΝ ἩΜῶΝ, ἈΛΛʼ ἈΝΕΧΌΜΕΝΟς. Perfectly similar is also the Homeric Οὐ ΠΆΜΠΑΝ, decidedly not; see Nägelsbach on the Iliad, p. 146, ed. 3; Duncan, Lex. Hom. ed. Rost, p. 888. Compare οὐδὲν πάντως, Herod. v. 34, 65. The explanation, on which van Hengel also insists: not altogether, not in every respect (Grotius, Wetstein, Morus, Flatt, Köllner, Matthias, Umbreit, Mehring and Mangold), as in 1 Corinthians 5:10, fails to tally with the true explanation of ΠΡΟΕΧΌΜΕΘΑ and the unrestricted character of the following proof.

ΠΡΟῌΤΙΑΣΆΜΕΘΑ] namely, not just from Romans 3:5 onward (Hofmann), but, in accordance with the following ἸΟΥΔΑΊΟΥς ΤΕ Κ. ἝΛΛΗΝΑς, in Romans 2:1 ff. as to the Jews, and in Romans 1:18 ff. as to the Gentiles.[773] It is therefore as in Romans 1:5 and frequently elsewhere, the plural of the author, not: we Christians (Hofmann). As to the construction, πάντας may either be joined as an adjective to ἸΟΥΔ. Τ. Κ. ἝΛΛ., or as a substantive to the infinitive, in either case expressing the idea of all collectively, nemine excepto. The latter mode of connection is preferable, because it gives a more marked prominence to the idea of totality, which harmonises with the following Romans 3:10-12. Hence: we have before brought the charge against Jews and Gentiles, that all, etc. Comp Hofmann and Morison. There is elsewhere no instance of the compound ΠΡΟΑΙΤ.; the Greeks use ΠΡΟΚΑΤΗΓΟΡΕῖΝ.

] They are—while still unregenerate, a more precise definition that is self-evident—all under sin, an expression denoting not merely a state of sin in general, but moral dependence on the power of sin. Compare Romans 7:25; Galatians 3:22. But if this be the case with Jews and Gentiles (not merely on the Gentile side), then the Jew, after the way of escape indicated in Romans 3:5 has been cut off by Romans 3:6-8, has no defence left to him as respects his liability to punishment any more than the Gentile.[775] Accordingly the idea of liability to punishment is not yet expressed in ὑφʼ ἁμαρτ. εἶναι, but is meant only to be inferred from it.

[764] c. scilicet.

[766] n loc. refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

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

[768] Also adopted by Valck. Schol. in Luc. p. 258. Still he would read προεχώμεθα and take τί οὖν προεχ. together. But the absolute position of προεχ., which has been made an objection to our explanation (Rückert, Tholuck, de Wette, Philippi, Hofmann), does not affect it, since all verbs, if the object be self-evidently implied in the idea itself, may be used so that we can mentally supply a τί (Winer, p. 552 [E. T. 742]). And the subjunctive, which van Hengel also regards as necessary with our view, is not required; the indicative makes the question more definite and precise (Winer, p. 267 [E. T. 354]). Ewald likewise reads τί οὖν προεχώμεθα (subjunctive); but expunges γάρ afterwards, and takes οὐ interrogatively, “What shall we now put forward in defence? did we not already, at the outset, prove altogether that Jews,” etc. But the omission of γάρ is only supported by D*. Van Hengel despairs of a proper explanation, and regards the text as corrupt.

[769] Reiche (and similarly Olshausen) retains the same exposition in his exegetical Commentary; but takes προεχ. as passive, are preferred, referring in support of his view to Plut. de Stoic. contrad. 13 (Mor. p. 1038 C), where, however, in τοῖς ἀγαθοῖς πᾶσι ταῦτα προσήκει κατʼ οὐδὲν προεχομένοις ὑπὸ τοῦ Διός, the meaning of this προεχομένοις is becoming surpassed. In his Commentar. crit. I. p. 26 ff., he has passed over to the linguistically correct rendering praetexere, but understands nevertheless the first person of Paul himself, and that in the sense: “Numbers Judaeis peccandi praetextum porrigo?” But the middle means invariably to hold something (for protection) before oneself; as προφασίζομαι also, by which Hesychius properly explains the word, always refers to the subject, which excuses itself by a pretext.

[771] Those passages where οὐ πάνυ negatives with a certain subtlety or ironical turn (not quite, not just), are not cases here in point; see Schoemann, ad Is. p. 276.

[772] Bengel: “Judaeus diceret πάντως, at Paulus contradicit.”

[773] Paul however does not say Gentiles and Jews, but the converse, because here again, as in previous cases where both are grouped together (in the last instance Romans 2:9 f.), he has before his mind the divine historical order, which in the very point of sinfulness tells against the Jew the more seriously.

[775] For statements of Greek writers regarding the universality, without any exception, of sin see Spiess, Logos spermat. p. 220 f.Romans 3:9-20. In these verses the Apostle completes his proof of the universality of sin, and of the liability of all men, without exception, to judgment. The τί οὖν of Romans 3:9 brings back the argument from the digression of Romans 3:1-8. In those verses he has shown that the historical prerogative of the Jews, as the race entrusted with the oracles of God, real and great as it is, does not exempt them from the universal rule that God will reward every man according to his works (Romans 2:6): here, according to the most probable interpretation of προεχόμεθα, he puts himself in the place of his fellow-countrymen, and imagines them asking, “Are we surpassed? Is it the Gentiles who have the advantage of us, instead of our having the advantage of them?”9–20. Man universally and fatally guilty: no hope in human merit. This with special reference to Jewish prejudice

9. What then? are we better?] i.e., probably, “we Jews.” The effect of the last passage has been specially to convince the Jew of his sin and danger; and here the Apostle speaks, as he was so ready to do, as a Jew with Jews. The delicacy of his so doing here is remarkable, where it is a question of humiliation.

proved] Or charged, as in margin.—“We have before proved:” a use of plural for singular frequent with St Paul.

under sin] The grammar of the Gr. suggests motion under; q. d., “fallen under sin,” i.e. from an ideal (not actual) state of original righteousness, such as is implied when we speak of individuals as “fallen human creatures.”—“In Adam all” fell, as from a standing.—“Under sin:”—i.e. so as to be subject to its weight, its power and doom. This is the first occurrence of the word Sin in the Epistle. It is repeated nearly fifty times in the first eight chapters.Romans 3:9. Τί οὖν; what then?) He resumes the question with which he began at Romans 3:1.—προεχόμεθα;) have we any advantage as compared with the Gentiles?—οὐ πάντως[35]) the Jew would say πάντως: but Paul contradicts him. In the beginning of this passage, he speaks gently (for, in other places, where μηδαμῶς is used, οὐ πάντως cannot be substituted for it; and in this passage the expression, by no means [μηδαμῶς, had it been used], would take away the concession which he made to them at Romans 3:2); but he afterwards speaks with greater severity.—προῃτιασάμεθα) we have proved, before that I had mentioned the peculiar privilege of the Jews. Paul deals, in Chapters 1 and 2, as a stern Administrator [Procurator] of divine justice; but yet he was unwilling to use the singular number. By the plural number, he expresses the assent of his believing readers: πάντας, all the Jews [as well as] all the Greeks.—ὑφ ἁμαρτίαν) ὑπό denotes subjection, as if under the tyranny of sin.

[35] Beng. seems to translate “not altogether;” quite different from “in no wise.”—ED.Verses 9-20. - (3) The testimony of the Old Testament to human sinfulness. Objections having been thus raised and met, the apostle now confirms his position, that all mankind, Jew as well as Gentile, are under sin, by adducing the Scriptures of the Jews themselves. Verse 9. - What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved (or, charged, as in the Vulgate, causati sumus) both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin. The meaning of the first part of this verse has been much discussed. We may observe:

(1) Τί οῦν seems to be rightly separated (as in Authorized Version) from προεχόμεθα because of the form of the answer to the question, οὐ πάντως: after τί προεχόμεθα; we should expect οὐδέν.

(2) The Jews, with whom St. Paul identifies himself, must be supposed to put the question; not the Gentiles, as some have supposed. For there is nothing in the context to suggest the Gentiles as the speakers, nor does what follow suit the supposition.

(3) The main question is as to the sense of προεχόμεθα, which occurs here only in the New Testament, and has, therefore, to be interpreted from consideration of the sense of which the verb is capable, and the probable drift of the argument. Some have taken it as a passive verb, with the meaning, "Are we surpassed?" i.e. are we Jews in worse case than the Gentiles on account of our greater privileges? The active verb, προέχειν, in the sense of "to excel," being both transitive and intransitive, its passive may be used in the same sense. An instance quoted in commentaries is καπ οὐδὲν εχομένοις ὑπὸ τοῦ Διός (Plut., 'Mor.,'), "cum Jove minores non sint." So the recent Revisers, though dissented from by the American Committee. The strong objection to this interpretation is that there has been nothing so far even to suggest any superiority of the Gentile to the Jew, and that what follows does not bear upon any such idea. Thus to interpret would be to sacrifice the sense to supposed grammatical exigence, which, after all, is uncertain. Taking, then, προεχόμεθα as the middle voice, we have two interpretations before us; either, with Meyer, to render, Do we put forward (anything) in our defence? - which he maintains (though not conclusively) to be the only proper sense of the middle verb - or (as in the Authorized Version), Are we better (i.e. in better ease) than they? This rendering, though it gives essentially the same sense as if προέχομεν (intransitive) had been written, is commended by its suitableness to the course of argument, and the middle voice may, perhaps, he accounted for as denoting the Jews' supposed claim of superiority for themselves. Thus the connection of thought is plain. The conclusion of ch. 2. had left the Jews on the same footing with the Gentiles before God in respect of sinfulness. But then objections had been raised on the ground of the acknowledged privileges of the chosen people; and such objections have been met. The apostle now sums up the result: What, then, is the state of the case? Have we any advantage to allege? No, not at all in the sense intended; the previous argument stands; and he proceeds to confine his position from the testimony of the Old Testament itself. Are we better (προεχόμεθα)

Rev., are we in worse case than they? Render, with the American Revisers, are we in better case than they, i.e., have we any advantage? The Rev. takes the verb as passive - are we surpassed? which would require the succeeding verses to show that the Gentiles are not better than the Jews; whereas they show that the Jews are not better than the Gentiles. Besides, nothing in the context suggests such a question. Paul has been showing that the Old Testament privileges, though giving to the Jews a certain superiority to the Gentiles, did not give them any advantages in escaping the divine condemnation. After such showing it was natural that the question should be renewed: Do the Jews have any advantage?

We have before proved (προῃτιασάμεθα)

The reference is not to logical proof, but to forensic accusation. The simple verb means to charge as being the cause (αἰτία) of some evil: hence to accuse, impeach. Rev., correctly, we before laid to the charge.

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Romans 3:8
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