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Romans 3:20

    Romans 3:20 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    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.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    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.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for through the law cometh the knowledge of sin.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    Because by the works of the law no man is able to have righteousness in his eyes, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.

    Webster's Revision

    because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for through the law cometh the knowledge of sin.

    World English Bible

    Because by the works of the law, no flesh will be justified in his sight. For through the law comes the knowledge of sin.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for through the law cometh the knowledge of sin.

    Clarke's Commentary on Romans 3:20

    Therefore, by the deeds of the law - On the score of obedience to this moral law, there shall no flesh, ου πασα σαρξ, no human being, be justified; none can be accepted in the sight of God. And why? Because by the law is the knowledge of sin: it is that which ascertains what sin is; shows how men have deviated from its righteous demands; and sentences them to death because they have broken it. Thus the law is properly considered as the rule of right; and, unless God had given some such means of discovering what Sin is, the darkened heart of man could never have formed an adequate conception of it. For, as an acknowledged straight edge is the only way in which the straightness or crookedness of a line can be determined, so the moral obliquity of human actions can only be determined by the law of God; that rule of right which proceeds from his own immaculate holiness.

    Barnes' Notes on Romans 3:20

    By the deeds of the law - By works; or by such deeds as the Law requires. The word "Law" has, in the Scriptures, a great variety of significations. Its strict and proper meaning is, a rule of conduct prescribed by superior authority. The course of reasoning in these chapters shows the sense in which the apostle uses it here. He intends evidently to apply it to those rules or laws by which the Jews and Gentiles pretended to frame their lives; and to affirm that people could be justified by no conformity to those laws. He had shown Romans 1 that "the pagan, the entire Gentile world," had violated the laws of nature; the rules of virtue made known to them by reason, tradition, and conscience. He had shown the same Romans 2-3 in respect to the Jews. They had equally failed in rendering obedience to their Law. In both these cases the reference was, not to "ceremonial" or ritual laws, but to the moral law; whether that law was made known by reason or by revelation. The apostle had not been discussing the question whether they had yielded obedience to their ceremonial law, but whether they had been found holy, that is, whether they had obeyed the moral law. The conclusion was, that in all this they had failed, and that therefore they could not be justified by that Law. That the apostle did not intend to speak of external works only is apparent; for he all along charges them with a lack of conformity of the heart no less than with a lack of conformity of the life; see Romans 1:26, Romans 1:29-31; Romans 2:28-29. The conclusion is therefore a general one, that by no law, made known either by reason, conscience, tradition, or revelation, could man be justified; that there was no form of obedience which could be rendered, that would justify people in the sight of a holy God.

    There shall no flesh - No man; no human being, either among the Jews or the Gentiles. It is a strong expression, denoting the absolute universality of his conclusion; see the note at Romans 1:3.

    Be justified - Be regarded and treated as righteous. None shall be esteemed as having kept the Law, and as being entitled to the rewards of obedience; see the note at Romans 1:17.

    In his sight - Before him. God sits as a Judge to determine the characters of people, and he shall not adjudge any to have kept the Law.

    For by the law - That is, by all law. The connection shows that this is the sense. Law is a rule of action. The effect of applying a rule to our conduct is to show us what sin is. The meaning of the apostle clearly is, that the application of a law to try our conduct, instead of being a ground of justification, will be merely to show us our own sinfulness and departures from duty. A man may esteem himself to be very right and correct, until he compares himself with a rule, or law; so whether the Gentiles compared their conduct with their laws of reason and conscience, or the Jew his with his written law, the effect would be to show them how far they had departed. The more closely and faithfully it should be applied, the more they would see it. So far from being justified by it, they would be more and more condemned; compare Romans 7:7-10. The same is the case now. This is the way in which a sinner is converted; and the more closely and faithfully the Law is preached, the more will it condemn him, and show him that he needs some other plan of salvation.

    Wesley's Notes on Romans 3:20

    3:20 No flesh shall be justified - None shall be forgiven and accepted of God. By the works of the law - On this ground, that he hath kept the law. St. Paul means chiefly the moral part of it, Rom 3:9,19 Rom 2:21,26; and c. which alone is not abolished, Rom 3:31. And it is not without reason, that he so often mentions the works of the law, whether ceremonial or moral; for it was on these only the Jews relied, being wholly ignorant of those that spring from faith. For by the law is only the knowledge of sin - But no deliverance either from the guilt or power of it.