When I was in graduate school, one professor told us that he designed his tests so that nobody could get a 100 percent. Then, he told us not to worry because he graded on a curve. Some believe that God’s law works the same way. They realize that they have not lived a life 100 percent free of sin, but they are hoping that God will at least consider them at the top of the pack.
Paul expected similar reasoning from those who read this letter. The obvious objection to his assertion that the rite of circumcision did not give the Jewish person a special status in God’s eyes is stated in verse 1: “What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew?” Paul’s answer is emphatic: “Much in every way!” (v. 2). The benefit was that they had received the clear revelation of God through His Word.
The second question in verse 3 is raised by Paul as part of his retort. The failure of those who received the oracles of God and did not heed them does not reflect poorly on God. The fact that they are unfaithful or unbelieving does not mean that He is false. God and His Word are still true, no matter how people respond.
Paul’s third question voices the false accusation some had made about his gospel. Since our unrighteousness is in sharp contrast to God’s righteousness, doesn’t God benefit from our sinfulness? Paul condemns this reasoning and clarifies his point with a long quote, which strings together several statements from the Psalms. In case his readers missed the point, Paul spells it out for them in verses 19–20. Those who wanted to be declared righteous by following the law of Moses missed its central point. God does not grade on a curve.
>> We’re learning many lessons (and important words) from Paul about the doctrine of faith. Start a list and note this lesson of the law: everyone fails. All of us! We are all sinners in need of a savior. Only God can make you righteous through Jesus Christ.