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Romans 3:23

ESV for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
NIV for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
NASB for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
CSB For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;
NLT For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
KJV For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

What does Romans 3:23 mean?

Romans 3:23 is another of the best-known and most often-quoted verses in all of the Bible. This expresses an idea which is key to understanding how to be saved from God's wrath and included in His family. A key point to understanding this verse is its context. Verses 21, 22, and 23 combine to points out that all people, without distinction, are equally deserving of wrath for our sin, and all people who are justified, without distinction, are justified through Jesus Christ.

The statement here is short and to the point: Everyone sins. Everyone has sinned. There is no one who does not sin (Romans 3:10). This further emphasizes the point Paul drew from Old Testament Scriptures earlier in this chapter. There is no escape from this label. Paul does not offer any category besides "sinner," and everyone falls into it. The previous verse emphasized that there is "no distinction." The most moral of humans—relatively speaking—and the most perverse of humans are all in the same container: "sinner."

Worse, knowing the difference between right and wrong, even the law given by God, doesn't make us moral. The Greek word translated as "fall short" here is in the present tense. In reality, we keep on falling short. In other words, even knowing the consequences of our sinfulness is not enough to keep us from sinning (Romans 1:18–20).

Because none of us are sinless, all of us fall short of God's glory. That matters, because we cannot be saved from God's angry judgment against our sin except by being sinless. That is God's standard, and we all fall short of His "glory" because of our sin. God's glory, or the glory of Himself and His kingdom, is what He shares with those who are in His family, His children. Our sin, though, keeps us from sharing in His glory.

Fortunately, Paul follows this famous verse with the next one. It describes how we may reach God's glory, after all.
What is the Gospel?
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