What does Romans 3:14 mean?
ESV: “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
NIV: Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.'
CSB: Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.
NLT: 'Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.'
KJV: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
NKJV: “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
Verse Commentary:
In this passage, Paul is pointing out that no person—not even one—can claim to be righteous on the basis of our own efforts. Starting with the often-quoted verse 10, Paul cited an Old Testament Scripture which supported his point, beginning with Psalm 14. After making this point through verse 12, Paul moved to uncover the way humans use our bodies to express our sinfulness. He began in the previous verse with the throat, tongue, and lips; these are references to human speech. He quoted from the Old Testament to back up his statement that all people, Jews and Gentiles alike, are under sin and accountable to God's judgment.

Now Paul continues by quoting what the writer of Psalm 10:7 said about the mouths of the wicked. Paul is making the case that all of us are, by nature, wicked. Our mouths are full of curses or cursing. Based on the language and context, this is likely a reference to calling for bad things to happen to each other, as opposed to profanity or other forms of swearing. In addition, our mouths are also full of bitterness. In other words, we use our mouths to express our resentment and hatred toward other people made in God's image, wishing for harm to come to them.
Verse Context:
Romans 3:9–20 contains a string of quotes from the Old Testament Scriptures. Paul uses these to demonstrate that both Jews and Greeks alike are under sin. After establishing that ''there is none who does good'' from Psalm 14:1, Paul uses quotes from Psalms and Isaiah to show ways we have always used our bodies—throats, tongues, lips, feet, and eyes—to express our sinfulness. He concludes the section with his strongest statement, yet, that no human being will be justified in God's sight by following the works of the law. The law can only show us our sin, not save us from it.
Chapter Summary:
Romans 3 begins with a question-and-answer scheme. These are responses one might expect from someone opposed to what Paul wrote in Romans 2. Next, Paul quotes from a series of Old Testament passages. These Scriptures show that those writers also agreed that nobody, not one person, deserves to be called righteous. Paul declares emphatically that no one will be justified by following the works of the law. Finally, though, he arrives at the good news: righteousness before God is available apart from the law through faith in Christ's death for our sin on the cross.
Chapter Context:
The prior chapter explained that God's judgment on sin will come to all men, whether or not they understand the literal law. Faith in God, in the heart, matters more to God than rote obedience. At the start of this chapter, Paul answers a series of questions from an imagined objector to those teachings. Next, he quotes a series of Old Testament passages which support His teaching that human beings are by nature sinful. Each of us turns away from God. Nobody can be justified by the law, Paul insists. Fortunately, it is possible to attain God's righteousness: but only by His grace, through faith in Christ's atoning sacrifice for our sin on the cross. We must come to this by faith, and it is available to Jews and Gentiles alike.
Book Summary:
The book of Romans is the New Testament's longest, most structured, and most detailed description of Christian theology. Paul lays out the core of the gospel message: salvation by grace alone through faith alone. His intent is to explain the good news of Jesus Christ in accurate and clear terms. As part of this effort, Paul addresses the conflicts between law and grace, between Jews and Gentiles, and between sin and righteousness. As is common in his writing, Paul closes out his letter with a series of practical applications.
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