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Commentary On Romans by Jean Calvin

Romans 3:10-18

10. As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

10. Sicut scriptum, Quod non est justus quisquam, ne unus quidem;

11. There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

11. Non est intelligens, non est qui requirat Deum;

12. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

12. Omnes declinarunt, simul facti sunt inutiles; non est qui exerceat benignitatem, ne ad unum quidem:

13. Their throat is an open sepulchre: with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:

13. Sepulchrum apertum guttur eorum; linguis dolose egerunt: venenum aspidum sub labiis eorum:

14. Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

14. Quorum os execratione et amarulentia plenum:

15. Their feet are swift to shed blood:

15. Veloces pedes eorum ad effundendum sanguinem;

16. Destruction and misery are in their ways:

16. Contritio et calamitas in viis eorum;

17. And the way of peace have they not known:

17. Et viam pacis non noverunt:

18. There is no fear of God before their eyes.

18. Non est timor Dei præ oculis eorum.

10. As it is written, etc. He has hitherto used proofs or arguments to convince men of their iniquity; he now begins to reason from authority; and it is to Christians the strongest kind of proof, when authority is derived from the only true God. And hence let ecclesiastical teachers learn what their office is; for since Paul asserts here no truth but what he confirms by the sure testimony of Scripture, much less ought such a thing to be attempted by those, who have no other commission but to preach the gospel, which they have received through Paul and others.

There is none righteous, etc. The Apostle, who gives the meaning rather than the entire words, seems, in the first place, before he comes to particulars, to state generally the substance of what the Prophet declares to be in man, and that is -- that none is righteous; he afterwards particularly enumerates the effects or fruits of this unrighteousness.

11. The first effect is, that there is none that understands: and then this ignorance is immediately proved, for they seek not God; for empty is the man in whom there is not the knowledge of God, whatever other learning he may possess; yea, the sciences and the arts, which in themselves are good, are empty things, when they are without this groundwork.

12. It is added, There is no one who doeth kindness By this we are to understand, that they had put off every feeling of humanity. For as the best bond of mutual concord among us is the knowledge of God, (as he is the common Father of all, he wonderfully unites us, and without him there is nothing but disunion,) so inhumanity commonly follows where there is ignorance of God, as every one, when he despises others, loves and seeks his own good.

13. It is further added, Their throat is an open grave; that is, a gulf to swallow up men. It is more than if he had said, that they were devourers (anthropophagous -- men-eaters;) for it is an intimation of extreme barbarity, when the throat is said to be so great a gulf, that it is sufficient to swallow down and devour men whole and entire. Their tongues are deceitful, and, the poison of asps is under their lips, import the same thing,

14. Then he says, that their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness -- a vice of an opposite character to the former; but the meaning is, that they are in every way full of wickedness; for if they speak fair, they deceive and blend poison with their flatteries; but if they draw forth what they have in their hearts, bitterness and cursing stream out.

16. Very striking is the sentence that is added from Isaiah, Ruin and misery are in all their ways; for it is a representation of ferociousness above measure barbarous, which produces solitude and waste by destroying every thing wherever it prevails: it is the same as the description which Pliny gives of Domitian.

17. It follows, The way of peace they have not known: they are so habituated to plunders, acts of violence and wrong, to savageness and cruelty, that they know not how to act kindly and courteously.

18. In the last clause he repeats again, in other words, what we have noticed at the beginning -- that every wickedness flows from a disregard of God: for as the principal part of wisdom is the fear of God, when we depart from that, there remains in us nothing right or pure. In short, as it is a bridle to restrain our wickedness, so when it is wanting, we feel at liberty to indulge every kind of licentiousness.

And that these testimonies may not seem to any one to have been unfitly produced, let us consider each of them in connection with the passages from which they have been taken. David says in Psalm 14:1, that there was such perverseness in men, that God, when looking on them all in their different conditions, could not find a righteous man, no, not one. It then follows, that this evil pervaded mankind universally; for nothing is hid from the sight of God. He speaks indeed at the end of the Psalm of the redemption of Israel: but we shall presently show how men become holy, and how far they are exempt from this condition. In the other Psalms he speaks of the treachery of his enemies, while he was exhibiting in himself and in his descendants a type of the kingdom of Christ: hence we have in his adversaries the representatives of all those, who being alienated from Christ, are not led by his Spirit. Isaiah expressly mentions Israel; and therefore his charge applies with still greater force against the Gentiles. What, then? There is no doubt but that the character of men is described in those words, in order that we may see what man is when left to himself; for Scripture testifies that all men are in this state, who are not regenerated by the grace of God. The condition of the saints would be nothing better, were not this depravity corrected in them: and that they may still remember that they differ nothing from others by nature, they do find in the relics of their flesh (by which they are always encompassed) the seeds of those evils, which would constantly produce fruits, were they not prevented by being mortified; and for this mortification they are indebted to God's mercy and not to their own nature. We may add, that though all the vices here enumerated are not found conspicuously in every individual, yet they may be justly and truly ascribed to human nature, as we have already observed on Romans 1:26.

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