4 Of course not! God must be true, though every human being is a liar, 2 as it is written:＂That you may be justified in your words, and conquer when you are judged."
18 There is no fear of God before their eyes."
19 Now we know that what the law 4 says is addressed to those under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world stand accountable to God,
20 since no human being will be justified in his sight 5 by observing the law; for through the law comes consciousness of sin.
31 Are we then annulling the law by this faith? Of course not! On the contrary, we are supporting the law. 11
1 [1-4] In keeping with the popular style of diatribe, Paul responds to the objection that his teaching on the sinfulness of all humanity detracts from the religious prerogatives of
3 [9-20] Well, then, are we better off?: this phrase can also be translated＂Are we at a disadvantage?" but the latter version does not substantially change the overall meaning of the passage. Having explained that
4  The law: Paul here uses the term in its broadest sense to mean all of the scriptures; none of the preceding texts is from the Torah or Pentateuch.
5  No human being will be justified in his sight: these words are freely cited from Psalm 143:2. In place of the psalmist's＂no living person," Paul substitutes＂no human being" (literally＂no flesh," a Hebraism), and he adds＂by observing the law."
6 [21-31] These verses provide a clear statement of Paul's＂gospel," i.e., the principle of justification by faith in Christ. God has found a means of rescuing humanity from its desperate plight: Paul's general term for this divine initiative is the righteousness of God (Romans 3:21). Divine mercy declares the guilty innocent and makes them so. God does this not as a result of the law but apart from it (Romans 3:21), and not because of any merit in human beings but through forgiveness of their sins (Romans 3:24), in virtue of the redemption wrought in Christ Jesus for all who believe (Romans 3:22, 24-25). God has manifested his righteousness in the coming of Jesus Christ, whose saving activity inaugurates a new era in human history.
7  But now: Paul adopts a common phrase used by Greek authors to describe movement from disaster to prosperity. The expressions indicate that Romans 3:21-26 are the consolatory answer to Romans 3:9-20.
8  Expiation: this rendering is preferable to＂propitiation," which suggests hostility on the part of God toward sinners. As Paul will be at pains to point out (Romans 5:8-10), it is humanity that is hostile to God.
9 [27-31] People cannot boast of their own holiness, since it is God's free gift (Romans 3:27), both to the Jew who practices circumcision out of faith and to the Gentile who accepts faith without the Old Testament religious culture symbolized by circumcision (Romans 3:29-30).
10  Principle of faith: literally,＂law of faith." Paul is fond of wordplay involving the term＂law"; cf Romans 7:21, 23; 8:2. Since＂law" in Greek may also connote＂custom" or＂principle," his readers and hearers would have sensed no contradiction in the use of the term after the negative statement concerning law in Romans 3:20.
11  We are supporting the law: giving priority to God's intentions. God is the ultimate source of law, and the essence of law is fairness. On the basis of the Mosaic covenant, God's justice is in question if those who sinned against the law are permitted to go free (see Romans 3:23-26). In order to rescue all humanity rather than condemn it, God thinks of an alternative: the law or＂principle" of faith (Romans 3:27). What can be more fair than to admit everyone into the divine presence on the basis of forgiveness grasped by faith? Indeed, this principle of faith antedates the Mosaic law, as Paul will demonstrate in Romans 4, and does not therefore mark a change in divine policy.