Romans 3:20

20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

Romans 3:20 in Other Translations

KJV
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
ESV
20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
NLT
20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.
MSG
20 Our involvement with God's revelation doesn't put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else's sin.
CSB
20 For no flesh will be justified in His sight by the works of the law, for through the law [comes] the knowledge of sin.

Romans 3:20 Meaning and Commentary

Romans 3:20

Therefore by the deeds of the law
Hence it most clearly appears, that there can be no justification before God by the law, since it stops the mouths of men, and pronounces them guilty: by "the deeds of the law" are meant, works done in obedience to it, as performed by sinful men, which are very imperfect; not as performed by Adam in innocence or by Christ in our nature whose works were perfect; but as performed by sinful men and of themselves, and not as performed in and by Christ for them who is the fulfilling end of the law for righteousness to all believers: now by such works as these whether wrought before or after conversion, with or without the strength and grace of Christ,

there shall no flesh be justified in his sight:
that is, no one person: "flesh" designs men, and men as corrupt and carnal, in opposition to God, who is a Spirit pure and holy; and may have respect to the vain opinion of Jews and Gentiles, who were vainly puffed up in their fleshly mind; the one on account of their wisdom and learning, the other on account of their righteousness; and includes all the individuals of human nature:, the word "justified", does not signify being made righteous by the infusion of righteousness, for the infusion of a righteousness, or holiness, is sanctification, which is a work of the Spirit of God, is internal, and imperfect, and so not justifying; but it is a forensic word, or legal term, and stands opposed to a being condemned; and signifies to be acquitted, discharged, and made righteous in a legal sense, which can never be done by an imperfect obedience to the law: men may be justified hereby in their own sight, and in the sight of others, but not in "his sight"; in the sight of God, who is omniscient, and sees not as man seeth; who is pure, holy, and righteous, and whose judgment is according to truth: this is said in direct contradiction to the Jews F26, who say,

``a man is not justified for ever, but by the words of the law:''

but in his sight none can be justified, but by the perfect obedience and righteousness of Christ. The reason for it is,

for by the law is the knowledge of sin;
it discovers to a man, by the light of the Spirit of God, and as under his influence, and attended with his power, the sins both of his heart and life; and so he is convinced by it as a transgressor and finds himself guilty, and liable to condemnation and death; wherefore he can never hope for and expect justification by it. The Jews ascribe such an use as this to the law, which they suppose it performs in a very gentle manner;

``he that rises in the night (say they F1), and studies in the law, (hbwx hyl aedwm aq atyrwa) , "the law makes known to him his sin", but not in a way of judgment, but as a mother makes known to her son in tender language:''

but this is generally done in a rougher way, for the law works wrath.


FOOTNOTES:

F26 Zohar in Lev. fol. 33. 3.
F1 Zohar in Lev. fol. 10. 2.

Romans 3:20 In-Context

18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.
20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,

Cross References 2

  • 1. Acts 13:39; Galatians 2:16
  • 2. S Romans 4:15; Romans 7:7