The importance of this great passage cannot be overestimated for if the Jews, as at the end of the dispensation, or any “religious” person at this end, is allowed to plead special privilege, or light as exempting him from judgment, he will spiritually (of course not actually) escape the general sentence of verse 19, where “all the world” is brought under the judgment of God.  If any man escapes in spirit from God’s pronouncement of “guilt,” he will never truly rely upon the shed blood of the Guilt-Bearer, the Lord Jesus Christ!  In this chapter Paul raises THREE JEWISH QUESTIONS

“That nation was entrusted with the oracles of God—an inestimable, eternal advantage, despite their unfaithfulness.”

VERSES 1-2:  These verses go together  for one complete thought.
         Paul points out the peculiar privileges of the Jews,  (vv.1-8),  but shows that they, also, as well as the Gentiles, had sinned, and forfeited all right and title to God's especial favor (v. 9). The corrupt state of all mankind (vv. 10-18);  all the world is guilty before God, and none can be justified by the works of the Law (vv. 19-20).  God's MERCY in providing redemption for a lost world, by Jesus  Christ (vv. 21-26).   This excludes boasting on the part both of Jew and Gentile; provides salvation through faith for both and does not set aside, but establishes the law (vv. 27-31).
            It is commonly held that Paul was writing in the style of a diatribe in which opposing arguments are raised as questions and then answered. The purpose of the first part of this chapter is to answer some of the objections which might be offered by a Jew to the statements in the last chapter. The first objection is stated in this verse.

“What advantage then hath the Jews? Or what profit is there of circumcision?"

“What advantage then hath the Jews?”
Literally:  “What then {is} the superiority of the Jew?”  That is, those that are circumcised, what is their advantage above the Gentiles? 

                        ADVANTAGE: (Grk.–perisson)–Literally: “superiority; surplus; or “preeminence.” 

            A Jew would naturally ask, if the view which Paul had given were correct, what peculiar benefit could the Jew derive from his religion? The objection would arise particularly from the position advanced, (2:25-26) that if a heathen should do the things required by the Law, he would be treated as if he had been circumcised. Therefore, the question, “What advantage is there in circumcision?”
           In Chapter 2 Paul showed that the Jews as well as the Gentiles are included  as being under sin, and that the possession of the Law and the rite of circumcision were of no avail unless the law was kept faithfully. In this chapter the Jew is supposed to object to this conclusion; his objections are presented, and answered. The first question is, “What advantage is it then to the Jew to have the law and the rite of circumcision at all, if all, both Jew and Gentile, will be judged on the same principles in the  Judgment Day .”  If the Final Judgment will turn solely on the state of the heart, and this may be as good in the Gentile without the sacred enclosure of God's covenant, what better off are we?

        THE JEW:  (Grk.–tou Ioudaiou)–The Greek text reads this as is a collective singular.  Paul was not referring to any particular Jew, but Jews in a generic sense.

            “What profit is there of circumcision?”
            Literally: “Or what is the profit of the circumcision?”  As if he had said: “You allowed, that circumcision verily profited (2:25).”

            But if circumcision, or our being in covenant with God, raises us no higher in the Divine favor than the Gentiles; if the virtuous among them are as acceptable as any of us; and condemns our nation too, as no longer deserving the Divine regards, then tell me, wherein lies the superior honor of the Jew; and what benefit can arise to him from his circumcision, and being vested in the privileges of God's peculiar people?  What does the Jew have over and above the Gentile? It is a pertinent question after the stinging indictment of the Jew in chapter 2

        PROFIT:  (Grk.–opheleia)–Meaning that which is surplus, that which is excess, and the question has to do with the outward badge of God’s special covenant with the Jews—circumcision.  This word is used only here in the N.T.

          If circumcision in itself does not give righteousness, what profit was there in it?  A distinction that God Himself made seems, after all, not to be one.  What advantage was there in being a member of the Jewish race?  Or to put it simply, “What benefit did circumcision confer on those who traced their lineage to Abraham?”  These  are serious questions that call for answers.
            We get basically this same thing today:  “The Gospel which we preach says that church membership has no advantage for salvation; that any rite or ritual is meaningless as far as salvation is concerned.”  We hear people ask, “Doesn’t my church, my creed, my membership, my baptism help forward my salvation?”  The answer, “No, it doesn’t help at all toward salvation.  But if you are saved, then these things are like a badge, ad a means of communicating to the world.”

       CIRCUMCISION:  (Grk.–tēs peritoumēs)–Literally: the circumcision.”  In the original Greek text, the word “circumcision” has before it the article, “the,” making it really read as   “the circumcision that admits to the people of God.” 

“Much every way; chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.”

            “Much every way”
            Literally:  “Much in every way.”  Or, “in every respect;” or “very much so.”  This is the   answer of Paul’s to the objection in verse 1. 

The Jews, in reference to the means and motives of obedience, enjoy many advantages beyond the Gentiles; and, principally, because to Israel were committed the oracles of God—that is, the revelation of His will to Moses and the prophets, with which no other part of the world has been favored. Paul is saying, “Yes, the Jew has an advantage.” 

“chiefly that unto them were committed the oracles of God”
Literally:  “first, that they were entrusted with the Words of God”–That is, this is the  principal advantage, and one including all others. The main benefit of being a
Jew is to possess the sacred Scriptures, and their instructions.

The greatest advantage was that the Jews was they had the oracles of God, the Holy Scriptures, and hence the promises which revealed a Messiah of mankind. This was not the only advantage, but the first.  But the advantage also created a great responsibility.  The Jewish nation was meant by God to be the guardian of all that God had revealed through His spokesmen.

           CHIEFLY:  (Grk.–prōton)–Meaning either, “first of several” or, “of chief importance.”  The “first of several” is probably what Paul really intended.

             THE ORACLES:  (Grk.–ta logia)-Literally:  “the words” of God.  Stephen, when he was speaking to the Sanhedrin, spoke of Moses on Mount Sinai having received, “lively words,” literally: “living words” to give to us.

Among the heathen the word “oracle” meant the answer or response of a god, or of some priest supposed to be inspired, to an inquiry of importance.  The place from which such a response was usually obtained was also called an oracle, such as the oracle at Delphi, etc. These oracles were frequent among the heathen, and affairs of great importance were usually submitted to them. The word rendered “oracles” (Grk.–logia)–occurs in the N.T. only four times, (Acts 7:38, Heb. 5:12, I Pet.  4:11; Rom. 3:2).   It is evidently used here to denote the Scriptures, as being that which was spoken by God, and particularly perhaps the Divine promises.

“For what if some did not believe?  Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?”
In this verse the Jew raises a second objection.

“For what if some did not believe?”
Literally: “For what is some disbelieved?”  Paul gives a rhetorical question: “What if some of the Jews did not respond in faith?”  Did their lack of faith cancel out the faithfulness of God?  Will their lack of faith make God break faith with them?

It is the unbelief of the great body of the nation which Paul points at; but as it sufficed for his argument to put the supposition thus gently, Instead of charging all the Jews, Paul uses this word “some” to soften prejudice. This is to be regarded as another objection of a Jew. “What then? or what follows? if it be admitted that some of the nation did not believe, does it not fallow that the faithfulness of God in His promises will fail?”

               DID NOT BELIEVE:  (Grk.–ēpistēsan)–Literally:  “were without faith.”

“Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?”
{will} not their unbelief nullify the faith of God?”–The unbelief, or faithlessness, of the Jew is not his failure to believe the oracles of God.  What we have here is the attitude of the Jew’s  toward the great primary privilege and responsibility of that nation as the depositary of the Divine oracles       

                        UNBELIEF:  (Grk.–apisteō)–This could mean either “to refuse to believe,” or, “to be unfaithful.”

Either rendering is applicable here.  If you use, “to refuse to believe,” it makes the word refer to the failure of the Jews to find in Jesus the fulfillment of the O.T. promises.  If you use, “to be unfaithful,” it means that Paul was referring to the unfaithfulness of some Jews to the obligations of their covenant relationship.  Actually, both meanings may be true.

“make the faith of God without effect?”
Literally:  “Nullify the faith.”

        FAITH OF GOD:  (Grk.–pistin tou Theou)– The word “faith” here evidently means the  faithfulness or fidelity of God to His promises (comp. Matt. 23:23; II Tim. 3:10;     Hosea 2:20). That is, His fidelity to His promises.

         WITHOUT EFFECT:  (Grk.–katargēsei)–Literally: “to make inefficient; nullify.” This word is used 25 times by Paul, and is variously rendered as, “make void, destroy, loose, bring to nought, fail, vanish away, put down.”

         Will it destroy it; or prevent God from fulfilling His promises? The meaning of the objection is that the fact supposed that the Jews would become unfaithful and be lost,; would imply that God had failed to keep His promises to the nation; or that He had made promises which the result showed He was not able to perform. “Will He not still make good His promises to them that do believe?”
         The question is, if some of the Jewish nation have abused their privileges, and acted contrary to their obligations, shall their wickedness annul the PROMISE which God made to Abraham, that he would, by an everlasting covenant, be a God to him and to his seed (decendants) after him (Gen. 17)?   Shall God, therefore, by stripping the Jews of their peculiar honor, as you intimate he will, falsify his promise to the nation, because some of the Jews are bad men

“God forbid; yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, ‘That Thou mightest be justified in Thy saying, and mightest overcome when Thou art judged.’”

            “God forbid” (Grk.–me genoito)—Literally: “Let this not be.”  Let this, by any means, not be supposed.  “Not so,” or “may it not be,” or “away with such a thought.”  Paul uses this phrase 14 times throughout his epistles. 

           It does not follow that God is unfaithful, because He rejects unbelieving Israel, for His covenant with Israel and His promise to Abraham were conditioned.  This answer of Paul’s showis that no such consequence had followed from his teachings. This implies that Paul believed that the fidelity of God could be maintained in strict consistency with the fact that any number of the Jews might be found to be unfaithful, and be cast off.  He did not enter into an explanation of this, or show how it could be; but it is really not difficult to understand how it was to be. The promise made to Abraham, and the fathers, was not unconditional and absolute, that all the Jews should be saved.
          It was implied that the Jews were to be obedient; and that if they were not, they would be cast off (Gen. 18:19).  Though Paul has not stated it here, yet he does go into it at length in another part of this epistle, and shows that it was not only consistent with the original promise that a part of the Jews should be found unfaithful, and be cast off, but that it had actually occurred according to the prophets (10:16-21; 11:1).  Thus the fidelity of God was preserved; at the same time that it was a matter of fact that no small part of the nation was rejected and lost.

 “let God be true”
Literally:  “Let God continue to be true”present tense.  Let God be
esteemed or found to always be true and faithful, whatever consequence may follow.

This was a first principle, and should be now, that God should be believed to be a God of truth, whatever consequence it might involve. How happy would it be if all men would regard this as a fixed principle for themselves; a matter not to be questioned in their hearts or debated about, that God is true to His Word!  Think of how much doubt and anxiety it would save professing Christians; and how much error would it save among sinners!   We must always maintain that God is true, and that if, in any case, His promise may appear to fail, it is because the condition on which it was given has not been complied with.

            “but every man a liar”–Though every man and every other opinion should be found to be false.

            God’s truth is always to be believed, even though maintaining it in the presence of human unfaithfulness leads to the conclusion that all men are liars.
            That is, we could better believe all men to have broken their word, rather than to think that is God breaking His.  Should any man say that the promise of God had failed toward him, let him examine his heart and his ways, and he will find that he has departed out of that way in which alone God could, consistently with his holiness and truth, fulfil the promise.  The faithfulness of God is true and cannot be changed.

“as it is written”
Literally: “Even as it has been written.”  In (Psa. 51:4). One of the penitent psalms, in which David mourns over his own sins.  God's sayings, His threatenings, are justified by Hiis judgments, and they were in the case of David. They were also in the rejection of the   Jewish nation, in spite of the promise, when it had rejected the Holy One of Israel.

 “that Thou mightest be justified”
 Literally:   “So as You should be justified.”–That you might be
regarded as just or right; or, that it may appear that God is not unjust. 

         JUSTIFIED:   (Grk.–dikaiōthēs)–That is, acknowledged or declared to be righteous.  The figure here is forensic–the justice of God is put on trial.

This does not mean that David had sinned against God for the purpose of justifying Him, but that he now clearly saw that his sin had been so directly against God, and so aggravated, that God was right in His sentence of condemnation. Used of God this verb here has to mean declared righteous,” not made righteous.”

“in Thy sayings”
Literally:  “In Your words.”–In what You have said; in Your words in relation to this offence. It may help us to understand this, if we remember that the psalm was written immediately after Nathan, at the command of God, had gone to reprove David for his  crime. God, by the mouth of Nathan, had expressly condemned David for his crime. (See II Samuel 7-13).

“and mightest overcome”
Literally:  “mightest be pure,”–Might be esteemed pure, or just. The word which the LXX and Paul used, “mightest overcome,” is sometimes used with reference to litigations or trials in a court of justice.

He that was accused and acquitted, or who was adjudged to be innocent, might be said to overcome, or to gain the cause. The expression is thus used here. As if there were a trial between David and God, God would overcome; that is, would be esteemed pure and righteous in his sentence condemning the crime of David.

                        MIGHT OVERCOME:   (Grk.–nikēsis)— Literally:  “might conquer; might overcome; might win the verdict.”

“when Thou art judged”
Literally:  “When You come into judgment.”– So it reads in Psalm 51:4, according to the LXX (Septuagint); but in the Hebrew and in our version it reads,”when Thou judgest.” The general sentiment, however, is the same in both ways–that we are to vindicate the righteousness of    God, at whatever expense to ourselves. That Thou might be regarded as just or right; or,   that it may appear that God is not unjust.

            The meaning, as expressed by David, is, that God is to be esteemed right and just in condemning men for their sins, and that a true penitent (that is, a man placed in the best circumstances to form a proper estimate of God) will see this, though it should condemn himself.
            The meaning of the expression in the connection in which Paul uses it is, that it is to be held as a fixed, unwavering principle, that God is right and true, whatever consequences it may involve, whatever doctrine it may overthrow, or whatever man it may prove to be a liar.