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Romans 3:12 – Useless and unfit 

28-10-2020 - Posted by Andre Piet

“All avoid Him: at the same time they were useless. Not one is doing kindness: there is not even one!”

Paul continues his quotation from Psalm 14 (: 3), i.e. from the Greek translation thereof (LXX). What is called “useless” here is a word in Hebrew that means “degenerate” or “perishable”. All mankind is perishable. Not necessarily “depraved”. An apple on a tray is perishable, but it depends on all kinds of circumstances (such as type, temperature, environment) to what extent this spoilage actually strikes. Not all humans are (thankfully) “depraved” or “rotten,” but as mortals we are all subject to corruption. No one excepted.

It is not expressed in the translations, but the word for “kindness” (NBG and SV: good) and “useless” have the same root word: “useful” (Gr. Chrestos). Something that is useful is suitable. And from there it can also have the application of ‘mellow’ (pleasant), wine suitable for drinking is pleasant (Luke 5:39). When the word is used in connection with GOD (as in 2: 4 and 11:22) it is translated “lovingkindness.” Also in the sense of: suitable and pleasant.

“In Adam” we all have a deviation (“all avoid Him”): perishable and unfit. Hope is only in “the last Adam”!