on Romans 3 :10
As it is written - See Psalm 14:1-3; from which this and the two following verses are taken.
There is none righteous - This is true, not only of the Jews, but of the Gentiles; of every soul of man, considered in his natural and practical state, previously to his receiving the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no righteous principle in them, and, consequently, no righteous act can be expected from them; see on Romans 3:12 (note). God himself is represented as looking down from heaven to see if there were any that feared and sought after him; and yet he, who cannot be deceived, could find none! And therefore we may safely conclude there was none to be found.
on Romans 3 :10
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!)
on Romans 3 :10
3:10 As it is written - That all men are under sin appears from the vices which have raged in all ages. St. Paul therefore rightly cites David and Isaiah, though they spoke primarily of their own age, and expressed what manner of men God sees, when he looks down from heaven; not what he makes them by his grace. There is none righteous - This is the general proposition. The particulars follow: their dispositions and designs, Rom 3:11,12; their discourse, Rom 3:13,14; their actions, Rom 3:16 - 18. Psalm 14:1, and c.