Week 2 – Romans 3 & 4


Romans 3 and 4 form a critical part of Paul’s theological argument in his epistle to the Romans. These chapters delve into the universality of sin, the righteousness of God, justification by faith, and the example of Abraham’s faith. This study will explore these themes in depth, examining key verses, their theological implications, and how they apply to the modern church and individual Christians.

Romans 3: Universality of Sin and Righteousness of God

Romans 3:1-8: The Advantage of the Jew and the Faithfulness of God

   – Verses 1-2: Paul begins by addressing the question of Jewish advantage. The primary advantage is that the Jews were entrusted with the “oracles of God,” meaning the Scriptures. 

     – Application: The modern church must recognize the immense privilege and responsibility of having access to God’s Word. Christians today are called to faithfully study and live out the teachings of Scripture.

   – Verses 3-4: Paul counters any notion that Jewish unbelief could nullify God’s faithfulness. He emphatically states, “Let God be true though every one were a liar,” emphasizing the unwavering truthfulness and righteousness of God.

     – Application: In times of doubt or failure, the church must hold fast to the truth that God’s faithfulness is unchanging. Christians can trust in God’s promises, even when human faithfulness falters.

   – Verses 5-8:  Paul addresses a potential objection regarding God’s justice. If our unrighteousness highlights God’s righteousness, how can God judge the world? Paul refutes this by stating that God’s judgment is just, and human sinfulness cannot be justified by any perceived benefit it brings.

     – Application:  Christians should not use grace as an excuse for sinning. The church should uphold God’s standards of righteousness, understanding that His judgment is just and true.

Romans 3:9-20: No One is Righteous

   – Verses 9-10: Paul concludes that both Jews and Greeks are under sin, citing various Old Testament Scriptures to support the universal sinfulness of humanity.

     – Application: The church must recognize that all people are equally in need of God’s grace. This understanding should foster humility and eliminate any sense of superiority among Christians.

   – Verses 11-18: A series of quotations from Psalms and Isaiah depict the depravity of humanity. No one seeks God, and all have turned aside from righteousness.

     – Application: The church should be a place of honesty about human sinfulness and a source of hope through the gospel. Christians should acknowledge their need for continual repentance and reliance on God’s grace.

   – Verses 19-20: The Law speaks to those under the Law, making everyone accountable to God. The purpose of the Law is not to justify but to reveal the knowledge of sin.

     – Application: The modern church should teach that the Law reveals our need for a Savior and leads us to Christ. Christians should see the Law as a guide that points to the necessity of grace.

Romans 3:21-31: Righteousness Through Faith

   – Verses 21-22: Paul introduces the concept of the righteousness of God apart from the Law, which is accessible through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

     – Application: The church should proclaim that salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone. This message of grace is foundational to Christian faith and should be shared with all.

   – Verses 23-24: All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, but are justified freely by His grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus.

     – Application: Christians should live in the freedom of being justified by grace and extend this message of grace to others, fostering a community of forgiveness and restoration.

   – Verses 25-26: God presented Christ as a propitiation by His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness. God’s forbearance had left sins unpunished, but now His justice and mercy are fully revealed.

     – Application: The church must teach the significance of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s justice. Christians should respond with gratitude and a commitment to living in righteousness.

   – Verses 27-28: Boasting is excluded because justification is by faith, not by works of the Law.

     – Application: The church should cultivate humility, understanding that no one can boast in their own righteousness. Faith, not works, is the basis for our relationship with God.

   – Verses 29-30: God is the God of both Jews and Gentiles, justifying both through faith.

     – Application: The church should embrace diversity, recognizing that all are equal before God. Christians should work towards unity and inclusion within the body of Christ.

   – Verse 31: Faith does not nullify the Law; rather, it upholds it by fulfilling its true purpose.

     – Application: Christians should understand that faith leads to a deeper fulfillment of God’s moral standards. The church should teach that true faith produces a life of obedience and love.

Romans 4: Justification by Faith Illustrated

Romans 4:1-8: Abraham’s Faith and Righteousness

   – Verses 1-3: Paul uses Abraham as an example of justification by faith. Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).

     – Application:The church should highlight the example of Abraham’s faith, teaching that faith precedes works. Christians should trust in God’s promises and live by faith.

   – Verses 4-5: Paul contrasts works and faith. Wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, righteousness is credited to those who believe in God who justifies the ungodly.

     – Application: The church should teach that salvation is a gift, not something earned. Christians should rest in the assurance of God’s grace and reject legalism.

   – Verses 6-8: Paul cites David (Psalm 32:1-2) to reinforce that blessed are those whose sins are forgiven and whose sins are covered by God.

     – Application: The church should emphasize the joy and blessing of forgiveness. Christians should live in the freedom of being forgiven and extend forgiveness to others.

Romans 4:9-17: The Promise Realized Through Faith

   – Verses 9-10: The blessing of righteousness by faith is not limited to the circumcised (Jews) but also extends to the uncircumcised (Gentiles). Abraham’s faith was credited as righteousness before he was circumcised.

     – Application: The church should welcome all people, regardless of background or status. Christians should understand that faith, not religious rituals, is what justifies.

   – Verses 11-12: Circumcision was a sign and seal of the righteousness he had by faith. Thus, Abraham is the father of all who believe, both circumcised and uncircumcised.

     – Application: The church should teach that outward signs are secondary to inward faith. Christians should focus on cultivating genuine faith rather than merely external observances.

   – Verses 13-15: The promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law but through the righteousness of faith. The Law brings wrath, but where there is no law, there is no transgression.

     – Application: The church should stress that God’s promises are accessed through faith, not legalistic adherence. Christians should live by faith, trusting in God’s promises rather than relying on their own efforts.

   – Verses 16-17: The promise comes by faith so that it may be by grace and guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring, not only to those of the Law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham.

     – Application: The church should proclaim the inclusiveness of God’s promise. Christians should embrace their identity as children of Abraham by faith and share this hope with others.

Romans 4:18-25: The Nature and Result of Abraham’s Faith

   – Verses 18-19: Against all hope, Abraham believed God’s promise that he would become the father of many nations, despite his old age and Sarah’s barrenness.

     – Application: The church should encourage believers to trust God’s promises, even when circumstances seem impossible. Christians should cultivate a resilient faith that hopes against hope.

   – Verses 20-21: Abraham did not waver in unbelief but was strengthened in his faith, giving glory to God, fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He had promised.

     – Application: The church should teach that faith grows stronger through challenges. Christians should give glory to God by trusting in His power and faithfulness.

   – Verses 22-24: This faith was credited to him as righteousness. The words “it was credited to him” were written not for Abraham alone but also for us, who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.

     – Application: The church should help believers see their connection to Abraham’s faith. Christians should live in the reality that their faith in Jesus is credited as righteousness.

   – Verse 25: Jesus was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

     – Application: The church should continually proclaim the gospel message of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Christians should live in the power of the resurrection, knowing they are justified and made righteous through Christ.


Romans 3 and 4 form a comprehensive theological argument for the universality of sin and the righteousness of God that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul meticulously dismantles any notion of self-righteousness or justification by works of the Law, emphasizing that faith, like Abraham’s, is the basis for righteousness and the fulfillment of God’s promises.

This study underscores the core message of the Gospel: salvation is a gift of grace, accessible to all through faith in Christ. The modern church and individual Christians must embrace these truths, living in the freedom and assurance that come from being justified by faith. This understanding should lead to a life of humility, unity, forgiveness, and unwavering trust in God’s promises.

By applying the principles found in Romans 3 and 4, the church can become a vibrant community of faith that reflects God’s righteousness and grace to a world in desperate need of hope and redemption.