Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.” (Romans 3:19, ESV)

The word that the ESV translates as “may be held accountable” is ὑπόδικος [hupódikos] in the Greek. According to the Complete Word Study Bible it means ” Under sentence, condemned, liable, subject to prosecution.” Some examples of how it is translated:

  • guilty – KJV
  • under God’s judgment – GNB
  • under penal sentence – EMPH

I like the way that The Message paraphrases this verse:

This makes it clear, doesn’t it, that whatever is written in these Scriptures is not what God says about others but to us to whom these Scriptures were addressed in the first place! And it’s clear enough, isn’t it, that we’re sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else?” (Romans 3:19, The Message)

ὑπόδικος means that we are all in the same sinking boat, sinners, condemned, guilty, and subject to prosectution.  This is the bad news.  The good news?  Paul will tell us shortly:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1–2, ESV)

The good news is that through Jesus, God has piled grace on top of grace for us.