“What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: “That You may be justified in Your words, and may overcome when You are judged” (Romans 3.1-4).
The next mention of faith in Romans is in the opening of chapter three. Paul has just demonstrated that all men, Jew and Gentile, need the righteousness of God. There are three groups of people described as faithless in the intervening passage between Romans 1.17 and Romans 2.29:
- The licentious need righteousness of God, but remain faithless (Romans 1.18-32).
- The legalists need righteousness of God, but remain faithless (Romans 2.1-16).
- The law-keepers need righteousness of God, but remain faithless (Romans 2.17-29).
So if all, Jew and Gentile, are faithless and need the righteousness of God, what advantage has the Jew?
“Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God” (3.2). The oracles of God is a phrase that describes the entire Old Testament. The Jews had the special revelation of God. It was committed to them for safekeeping and proclamation. This is a great privilege, but also a great responsibility. Will the unbelief of the Jews make the faithfulness of God without effect? The Jews did not believe in or obey God’s oracles. Does that unbelief cancel out God’s faithfulness?
The reasoning of the person posing this question goes like this: The Jews failed to believe and obey God’s revelation, so what advantage do they have since God is not making good on His promises. Of course, the answer is that God’s faithfulness is by no means made void (3.4).
“Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar.” What follows in the rest of verse four is a quotation of Psalm 51.4. The Gentiles may blaspheme God due to the faithlessness of the Jews, but God’s character is unassailable. He will be justified by His words. No one will be able to stand in judgment over Him. He is impeccable when He judges all men.
Paul writes at the end of his life,
“This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure with Him, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2.11-14).
God always remains faithful, even in the midst of great faithlessness.
All Christians will reign with Christ. We will be with Christ when He reigns over the earth. But only faithful Christians will reign with greater responsibility and opportunity. They will have the privilege of reflecting greater glory.
If we as believers are unfaithful to God, Christ still remains faithful to us. Our salvation is not based upon our continued faithfulness but upon Christ’s unwavering faithfulness. This in no way encourages faithlessness. On the contrary, it motivates faithfulness as we see our position as children with greater clarity.
The faithlessness of the lost (Romans 3) and the faithlessness of the found (2 Timothy 2) cannot make the faithfulness of God without effect. The faithlessness of the Jew and the faithless of the Gentile (Romans 1-2) cannot make the faithfulness of God without effect. Every man may be a liar, but God is true. He alone is righteous. He alone overcomes. True biblical security is found in His faithfulness not our own.