Paul has already shown that the problem of sin (peopleís evil thoughts, words and actions) affects all people from every nation. They are all guilty in front of God - but not all for the same reasons. Some people knew how God wanted them to live; but they chose on purpose not to obey him. Other people did not know Godís law; they simply followed their own wrong desires. However, the result is the same: sin separates people from God (Isaiah 59:2). Until God deals with a personís sin, it is impossible for that person to have a right relationship with God.
Paul did not want people to believe that fact simply because he taught it. He believed that the Bible is Godís word (1:2; 15:4). So, he wanted to show his readers that God had already said those things, in the earlier books of the Bible.
For that reason, in verses 10-18, Paul repeats a series of 8 short passages from elsewhere in the Bible. Those passages come from 3 different books. Most of them are from the Book of Psalms, but Paul also refers to the Books of Ecclesiastes and Isaiah.
In verses 10-12, Paul begins with words from a Psalm that the Book of Psalms itself repeats: Psalm 14 or Psalm 53. He also includes some words from Ecclesiastes 7:20. The Psalm is particularly about people who choose to act wickedly. They behave as if there is no God. However, the problem of sin does not only affect the most wicked people. God looks down from heaven and he sees the true state of peopleís lives. They have all turned away from him. The Book of Ecclesiastes agrees. Nobody only does what is completely right. Nobody is good enough to earn for themselves a right relationship with God.
Next part: Evil words are sin (Romans 3:13-14)
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© 2017, Keith Simons.