For there is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Paul had just started to expound the message of salvation, that through sheer grace God declares sinners just, if they believe on Jesus Christ. But here the apostle returns to the subject of what made salvation necessary.
“For there is no difference” – this fact Paul had painstakingly proved. Whether heathen or Jews, uneducated or intelligent, all have sinned. Naturally, not everyone has sinned in the same measure, but the fact that anyone has sinned at all puts him in the same position before God. One’s own righteousness will not do for God.
Notice that it does not say that they fall short of what man should attain, but they “fall short of the glory of God”. The revelation of God means that His glory is the standard by which man’s sin is assessed. None can stand before such glory, for what corresponds to God’s glory cannot be found in a sinner. Therefore none can enter God’s presence as he is.
However, it is God’s eternal plan to have human beings in His immediate presence. And in chapter 5, verses 1 & 2 of the epistle to the Romans we find that God attains this objective: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God … and rejoice in hope of the glory of God”. Justified sinners enjoy “peace with God”; they have been made fit for His presence. And one day they will actually be in His glory. They have the assurance of this promise. The following verses explain how this change became possible.
Image: By Giotto – Unknown source, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2941674