Scripture Query and Answer: Gentiles Not Under Law and Romans 3:19

Romans 3:19  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Q. Many Bible-Students hold, and perhaps rightly, that Gentiles are not under Law: if so, what is the meaning of Rom. 3:1919Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. (Romans 3:19). “We know whatsoever things the Law saith, it saith to them that are under the Law; that all the world may become guilty before God.” Does not all the world here include Gentiles? Is not the precious argument in Rom. 6 in regard to Law and Grace, applicable as well to Gentiles as Jews? in Rom. 7. Although the Spirit by Paul is speaking “to them that know the Law,” I apprehend such as had been Jews. Are we not to understand the lessons here given, so replete with joy and peace to the believer,—death to the Law by the body of Christ and union to Him in resurrection, “married to another.” —as involving a principle equally bearing on Jew and Gentile? If so, how can it be shown that the Gentile is unbelief, and within the hearing of the Word of God, is not under law?
A. Our reader has not perceived that the apostle had already dealt with the guilt of the Gentile in Rom. 1., and of both Jew and Gentile in Chap. 2. As he says in chap. 3: 9. “we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin.” The Jew would have especial difficulty in submitting to a sentence so leveling. Therefore the Apostle Paul proceeds to fortify the proof of Israel's utter ruin by quotations from the Psalms and prophets in verses 10-18, on which he reasons in verse 20. “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law.” He clearly means that the Jew is therein addressed; and therefore the very law of which he was so proud was the most unsparing witness of his moral condition. No Jew but would admit the wickedness of the Gentiles; the mass of Jews would deny that they themselves were hopeless, gone from God. Hence the force of these Jewish Scriptures; which, having that people in view, denied a single righteous man among them. If there was not one good Jew, (and nobody could overlook that the Gentiles were deplorably bad,) the conclusion was obvious: every mouth was stopped, and all the world guilty before God. This text, then, cannot be understood without limiting “them who are under the law” to the Jews. (Comp. Rom. 2:1212For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (Romans 2:12); 1 Cor. 9:20, 2120And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. (1 Corinthians 9:20‑21).) “Every mouth” and “all the world” do include Gentiles as well as Jews, because they embrace those without law, no less than those under law. The principle, again, of Rom. 6:77For he that is dead is freed from sin. (Romans 6:7). applies equally to all believers; but the actual, personal deliverance from law in the death and resurrection of Christ necessarily belongs to such as were once under law. Both Jew and Gentile had been alike lost, and, believing, were alike saved; but they were each brought out of a different position.