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

Romans 3:9 meaning

Paul is making the points that all men are sinners and therefore no one man is better than another.

Here is perhaps the greatest contrast Paul draws between himself and the competing Jewish “authorities.” The “authorities” claim superiority over Paul and others, who they cast judgment upon (Romans 2:1). They claim to be better than Paul. Paul has roundly condemned them for both judging others for the things they themselves do (Romans 2:1–3) as well as slandering Paul’s message of grace (verse 8). In 3:8, Paul says “Their condemnation is just.”

Then, in this verse, Paul makes the amazing statement that he is no better than these slandering hypocrites. Why? Because all of humanity is under sin. We are all in the same boat. These principles apply to every Jew and Gentile alike. Not a single one of us can solve our sin problem without the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ. Including Paul. In fact, Paul calls himself the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). He makes it clear that he is not claiming to be right because he is better than these “authorities.” What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin (v 9).

In addition, it is not only he and the competing Jewish “authorities” who are under sin, it is also the Greeks, which would include the Roman audience to whom this letter is addressed, the Roman believers whose “faith is proclaimed throughout the world” (Romans 1:8). Paul makes clear here that a central point of his good news is that all of humanity is under sin, as he has already charged (Romans 2:12). That includes himself.

Biblical Text

9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;

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