*Scripture verses covered in this section's commentary are noted in italics

Romans 3:17 meaning

The peace that comes from following God’s way is not known by those who pursue sin.

Paul continues with his quote of Isaiah 59:7, describing the slanderous untruths of the competing Jewish “authorities.” The path of destruction and misery that comes from living a life of deception is contrasted with the path of peace, which they have not known (v 17).

When we follow God’s ways, trust in Him, and live our lives with the assurance of faith that God is good, we can trust that whatever comes into our lives He will use for good. Therefore, there is little left to worry about other than our own faithfulness. This leads to peace. This leads to comfort.

The other alternative is the path of destruction and misery (v 16). This is setting the stage for one of the main points Paul will make in refuting the slander of the competing Jewish “authorities” against Paul’s gospel message. Paul claims God’s grace alone is what makes us righteous, not the law (v 21) or any “good deeds” we might point to (Romans 2:17–28). Paul claims our good deeds, our “law keeping,” cannot add to Jesus’s finished work on the cross, which we can receive by God’s grace, through faith.

The competing Jewish “authorities” claim law-keeping is a necessary part of being justified before God. They slander Paul’s message and claim Paul advocates law breaking. But Paul does no such thing. Paul advocates reality. The reality is that sin leads to destruction and misery (v 16), while walking in faith leads to peace. And the reality is that we do not have the ability to walk in faith apart from the grace of God, and the resurrection power of Jesus.

Biblical Text

17 And the path of peace they have not known.”

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