- What does the apostle say in these verses about himself? See verses 1, 5, and each verse from 9 to 16. With verse 14, cf. 1 Cor. 4:1; 9:16, 17.
- What does Paul say about the gospel, its origin, content, purpose, power and propagation? Have you any eagerness or sense of obligation to preach it?
Note. Verse 17. The phrase ‘the righteousness from God’, here and in 3:21, means a righteousness provided for man by God in Christ. It should be distinguished from ‘the justice of God’ or ‘God’s righteousness’ (3:5, 25), which means God’s character as righteous.
- How does Paul show the sin of man to be: (a) deliberate, and (b) inexcusable? How did it begin, and what spiritual, mental, moral and physical effects does it have?
- How is God’s wrath said to manifest itself? Notice the three stages in verses 24, 26 and 28. Cf. Ps. 81:12; Acts 7:42. In what ways do you see God’s wrath at work in the world of today? Cf. Rom. 12:19; 13:4.
- What four things are said about God’s judgment in verses 2, 6, 11 and 16? What else do you learn about it in this passage?
- By what general test will God judge men? See verses 7-10. How will this bring condemnation on: (a) the self-righteous person, (b) the Gentile, and (c) the Jew? Why does God delay the day of wrath?
- Verses 7 and 10 in no way contradict the truth that salvation cannot be earned by works. Paul is not dealing at this point with the method of salvation, but with the nature of the test in the day of judgment. The test is righteousness (cf. 1 John 3:7, 10). If a man is not righteous in heart and life, he will be condemned. Later Paul will show that the only way to become righteous in God’s sight is through faith in Christ.
- Verses 12-15. The meaning is that men will be judged by the light they have had. If they have been under the law of Moses they will be judged by that; if not, they will be judged by the standards they possess by nature through reason and conscience.
- In verses 17-20 Paul enumerates a number of privileges upon which the Jews of his day were inclined to congratulate themselves. If you make a list of them you should find ten in all. Racial and religious pride are by no means confined to the Jews only, however. Substitute ‘Christian’ for ‘Jew’ and ‘the Word’ for ‘the law’, and show the argument could be applied to professing Christians today.
- Verses 25-29. The Jews rested upon circumcision as the seal of God’s covenant with them. What else does Paul show here to be required without which the outward sign ceases to have value? Cf. 1 Sam. 16:7. How would you frame the argument in relation to Christian ordinances?
- In verses 1-8 the apostle answers four objections which he found that men raised against the gospel. (The objections are sated in verses 1, 3, 5 and 7, 8a; the answer are given in verses 2, 4, 6 and 8b.) These will repay careful study; in particular note how Paul describes the Old Testament scriptures, to what two attributes of God he holds fast, and what kind of conduct he strenuously repudiates.
- In verses 10-18 Paul gives the general verdict of Scripture on man in his fallen condition. What does Scripture say: (a) about the general trend of human life (verses 10-12, cf. Is. 53:6a); (b) about man’s speech (verses 13, 14); and (c) about his conduct and inner attitude to God (verses 15-18)? How does this witness confirm the verdict of experience already given in 1:18-32 and 2:17-29 and lead to the conclusion of 3:19, 20?
- Do you assent to the truth that it is impossible for anyone, by their own efforts, to escape condemnation at the bar of God’s judgment?
- The answer to the question how guilty man can be saved is found in the revelation of a righteousness of God, i.e., a righteousness provided by God (see Study 1, Note). It will help greatly to clarify what is said about this righteousness in this all-important paragraph (verses 21-26) if the various points are written down and appreciated one by one. There are twelve to fifteen of them.
- What two inferences follow? See verses 27, 28 and verses 29, 30. Cf. 1 Cor. 1:29-31; Gal. 3:28. What is Paul’s answer to an objector who might say that the gospel of salvation by faith, which Paul preached, made the law of no account?