What does Romans 3:23 mean?
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;
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
Romans 3:21–31 finally introduces the ''good news'' part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Up to this point, Paul has shown that even following the law cannot spare us from being judged by God for our sin. Now Paul announces that, through faith in Christ, we can be made righteous in God's sight. Entirely apart from the law, we can be redeemed by the atoning sacrifice of Christ's blood, willingly shed for our sin. This gift of God's grace instead of wrath is available to everyone, Jews and Gentiles alike. This is truly good news!
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.
Accessed 11/30/2023 6:32:58 AM
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