|Romans 3:5 But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God Who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.) (NASB: Lockman)|
Greek: ei de e adikia hemon theou dikaiosunen sunisthesin (3SPAI) ti eroumen (1PFAI) me adikos o theos o epipheron (PAPMSN) ten orgen; kata anthropon lego (1SPAI)
Amplified: But if our unrighteousness thus establishes and exhibits the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unjust and wrong to inflict His wrath upon us [Jews]? I speak in a [purely] human way. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: But, you say, if our unrighteousness merely provides proof of God’s righteousness, what are we to say? Surely you are not going to try to argue that God is unrighteous to unleash the Wrath upon you? (I am using human arguments:) (Westminster Press)
Gingrich: “But, Paul, if our [the Jews’] unrighteousness [unfaithfulness] manifests [makes the more conspicuous] the righteousness [faithfulness] of God, then would not God be unrighteous in punishing us?” “Can a righteous God punish us for doing Him a favor [for making His faithfulness known]?” (Gingrich, R. E. Riverside)
KJV: But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)
William Newell: If God makes use of human sin to set forth His glory (as He will) would it not be unrighteous to punish that sin with wrath? Here Paul enters into the Jewish consciousness: "If our unrighteous Jewish history has commended the righteousness of God, what shall we say? God went right on fulfilling what His oracles said, despite the unfaithfulness of us to whom they had been committed, and, in fact, by means of our sinful Jewish history God's prophecies concerning our disobedience were fulfilled before the whole world, from Moses on." (Romans)
Phillips: But if our wickedness advertises the goodness of God, do we feel that God is being unfair to punish us in return? (I'm using a human tit-for-tat argument.) (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: But in view of the fact that our unrighteousness establishes by proof God’s righteousness, what shall we say? God is not unrighteous who inflicts wrath, is He? I am using a mode of speech drawn from human affairs. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: And, if our unrighteousness God's righteousness doth establish, what shall we say? is God unrighteous who is inflicting the wrath? (after the manner of a man I speak)
|Romans — 3:21-5:21||Romans — 6:1-8:39||Romans — 9:1-11:36||Romans — 12:1-16:27|
Jew and Gentile
|Demonstration of Salvation|
|Power Given||Promises Fulfilled||Paths Pursued|
Restored to Israel
|Slaves to Sin||Slaves to God||Slaves Serving God|
|Life by Faith||Service by Faith|
Modified from Irving L. Jensen's excellent work "Jensen's Survey of the NT"
BUT IF OUR (in context primarily Jewish) UNRIGHTEOUSNESS DEMONSTRATES THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD:ei de e adikia hemon theou dikaiosunen sunisthesin (3SPAI): (Ro 3:7,25,26; 8:20,21)
As you study this somewhat complex section, keep in mind Paul's purpose. From the chart above, notice that Paul is building his case for the deadliness of sin and the absolute need for perfect righteousness. He first deals with the utter depravity of the godless pagan and then he turns to the religious man (especially the pious proud Jew), proving that the entire human race (Gentile and Jew) is guilty before God. He is laying the framework which prepares their heart to hear the only answer that can counter sin and death, the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Mk 1:1). Whether pagan or pious, both parties must come (cp Isa 55:1, 2, 3) and receive the good news of salvation by grace through faith (Isa 40:9, 10, 11, Isa 41:27, Isa 52:7, 61:1, 2a, Lk 2:10, Acts 8:12, 13:32, Heb 4:2-note; He 4:6-note).
The New Living Translation has a helpful paraphrase rendering Romans 3:5, 6…
“But” some might say, “our sinfulness serves a good purpose, for it helps people see how righteous God is. Isn’t it unfair, then, for Him to punish us?” (This is merely a human point of view.) 6 Of course not! If God were not entirely fair, how would He be qualified to judge the world? (NLT - Tyndale House)
In other words, the imaginary Objector's question is that if people’s unrighteousness is an occasion for the righteousness of God to be shown, is it not unfair for God to execute His wrath upon unrighteousness? If our unrighteousness causes the righteousness of God to shine more gloriously, how can God visit us with wrath?
Denny explains that…
Here another attempt is made to invalidate the conclusion of Romans 2, that the Jew is to be judged "according to his works" exactly like the Gentile. If the argument of Ro 3:3ff is correct, the unbelief of the Jews actually serves to set off the faithfulness of God -- it makes it all the more conspicuous; how then can it leave them exposed to judgment? This argument is generalized in Ro 3:5 and answered in Ro 3:6. (Greek New Testament)
Unrighteousness (93) (adikia [word study] from a = without + díke = what is right) is a condition of not being right, whether with God, according to the standard of His holiness and righteousness, or with man, according to the standard of what man knows to be right by his conscience.
In secular Greek adikia referred to unjust acts, or to deeds which caused personal injury. Rather than a general concept of injustice, this word was taken, in the writings of Plato, to mean an unjust act which injures a specific person. Such an act was not necessarily a violation of some specific law, but rather an affront against the just order of society. Among the acts which fell into this category were theft, fraud, and sexual crimes. Later this word came to mean a neglect of duty toward the pagan gods. The Septuagint (LXX) used this word to describe social sins, those deeds which violated human relations or the political order of society. Among these injustices were deceit, fraud, and lying.
Barclay writes that…
Adikia is the precise opposite of dikaiosune (righteousness), which means justice; and the Greeks defined justice as giving to God and to men their due. The evil man is the man who robs both man and God of their rights. He has so erected an altar to himself in the centre of things that he worships himself to the exclusion of God and man." (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press or Logos)
Larry Richards writes that adikia
means "wrongdoing," "unrighteousness," "injustice." Its focus is on the concept of sin as conscious human action that causes visible harm to other persons in violation of the divine standard. (Richards, L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency)
Adikia is used 25 times in the NT - Lk. 13:27; 16:8f; 18:6; Jn. 7:18; Acts 1:18; 8:23; Rom. 1:18, 29; 2:8; 3:5; 6:13; 9:14; 1 Co. 13:6; 2 Co. 12:13; 2 Thess. 2:10, 12; 2 Tim. 2:19; Heb. 8:12; James. 3:6; 2 Pet. 2:13, 15; 1 Jn. 1:9; 5:17 and in the NAS is translated "doing wrong, 1; evildoers, 1; iniquities, 1; iniquity, 2; injustice, 1; unrighteous, 2; unrighteousness, 12; wickedness, 4; wrong."
Demonstrates (4921) (sunistemi/sunistao [word study] from sún = together with + hístemi = set, place, stand) means literally to set together. It was used of setting one person with another by way of introducing or presenting him, hence, “to commend.” (commend = recommend as worthy of confidence or notice).
Here in (Romans 3:5) sunistao is used in the sense of putting together with a view to showing, proving, or establishing. Human sin is a foil by which God’s righteousness is seen all the more clearly. It establishes the fact of God’s righteousness, proves it by its very contrast with that sin.
Stated another way, the idea of "demonstrates" is that man's unrighteousness presents a dramatic contrast with God's righteousness -- it's like a jeweler who displays a diamond (God's righteousness) on black velvet (sin) to make the stone appear even more beautiful. It is true that God’s judgment of sin shows His righteousness and brings Him glory, but this does not mean that God is unfair.
The question is whether, considering that human unrighteousness demonstrates God’s righteousness, is it right that He should punish man for what makes for His glory? The answer is that God is judge and therefore must punish sin. If this were not the case He could not be God.
What was their "Jewish Righteousness?" William Newell (Romans 3: Devotional and Expositional) has the following suggestions…
1. National disobedience to God’s oracles from Sinai onward.
2. Such neglect of these oracles, that at times (as in Josiah’s day), a single copy of the Law was a rarity!
3. Pride, however, over their position as the possessors of these oracles, even to the despising of nations that had them not, instead of ministering them to others (as Ps 67 shows was Israel’s real business).
4. Appalling ignorance of the spiritual meaning of the Divine oracles, and of the "voices of their prophets, " so they even killed the Righteous One! (Acts 13:27).
In context it is quite likely that this imaginary antagonist is making an appeal to David's unrighteousness that Paul had just used to show that God is righteous when He judges sin. But this valid observation may be twisted and perverted to serve the purpose of the apostolic antagonists. If this is true, the objector says, then our unrighteousness is the means of the commendation of God's righteousness and, if that be true, then what shall we say? Is it not man who thereby makes God's righteousness more conspicuous? Is he not to be commended for this rather than to be judged for sin by the infliction of divine wrath? Should not God be grateful rather than vindictive?
S. Lewis Johnson comments on "the righteousness of God" as
not a reference to the righteousness of God that is given in justification to men who believe (cf. Ro 1:17-note; Ro 3:21, 22-note; Ro 10:3-note), but to the divine attribute of righteousness in its comprehensive sense, inclusive of His faithfulness (cf. Ro 3:3-note) and truth (cf. Ro 3:4-note, Ro 3:7-note) . (Romans 3:5-8)
Righteousness (1343) (dikaiosune from dikaios [word study] = being proper or right in the sense of being fully justified being or in accordance with what God requires) is the quality of being upright. In its simplest sense dikaiosune conveys the idea of conformity to a standard or norm and in Biblical terms the "standard" is God and His perfect, holy character. In this sense righteousness is the opposite of hamartia (sin), which is defined as missing of the mark set by God.
Dikaiosune is rightness of character before God and rightness of actions before men. Righteousness of God could be succinctly stated as all that God is, all that He commands, all that He demands, all that He approves, all that He provides through Christ (Click here to read Pastor Ray Pritchard's interesting analysis of righteousness in the Gospel of Matthew).
Jesus Thy Blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
’Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head. (Play)
Here in Ro 3:5 dikaiosune is one of God's attributes.
By contrast Eadie writes that dikaiosune as used in Ephesians 4:24-note signifies…
that moral rectitude which guides the new man (New Self) in all relationships. It is not bare equity or probity (adherence to the highest principles and ideals), but it leads its possessor to be what he ought to be to every other creature in the universe. The vices reprobated by the apostle in the following verses (Referring to Ep 4:25, 26, 27-note, Ep 4:28-note, Ep 4:29, 30-note, Ep 4:31-note), are manifest violations of this righteousness. It follows what is right, and does what is right, in all given circumstances. (Reference)
In Biblical terms righteousness is that which is determined not by man or external standards but only by God and as such is that which is acceptable to God and in keeping with what God is in His holy character.
Righteousness is in general use represents conformity to a standard, Thayer adds that righteousness is "the state of him who is such as he ought to be".
Righteousness in simple terms is God’s uprightness or standard, without reference to any particular form of its embodiment, to which man is expected to conform.
Practically righteousness means to do what is right, in relation to both God and man. Righteousness is attitude and action which conforms to a standard and can be either man's imperfect standard (as exemplified by the self-righteous Pharisees) or God's standard of perfect holiness. Righteous acts initiated and carried out in our own fleshly energy and calculated to impress others, do not impress God! Righteousness before men to be noticed by them is self righteousness. Righteousness that God accepts is His character reproduced in and through us for His good pleasure.
Cremer writes that…
Righteousness in the biblical sense is a condition of rightness the standard of which is God, which is estimated according to the divine standard, which shows itself in behavior conformable to God, and has to do above all things with its relation to God, and with the walk before Him. It is, and it is called dikaiosune theou (righteousness of God) (Ro 3:21, 1:17), righteousness as it belongs to God, and is of value before Him, Godlike righteousness, see Ep 4:24; with this righteousness thus defined, the gospel (Ro 1:17) comes into the world of nations which had been wont to measure by a different standard. Righteousness in the Scripture sense is a thoroughly religious conception, designating the normal relation of men and their acts, etc., to God. Righteousness in the profane mind is a preponderantly a social virtue, only with a certain religious background.
The interested reader is referred to the related resources for a more in depth theological discussion of this important Biblical term.
The word “righteousness” comes from a root word that means “straightness.” It refers to a state that conforms to an authoritative standard. Righteousness is a moral concept. God’s character is the definition and source of all righteousness and this is exactly what Paul is referring to in the context of the present verse.
God is totally righteous because He is totally as He should be. The righteousness of God could be succinctly stated as that which is all that God is, all that He commands, all that He demands, all that He approves, all that He provides (through Christ)
In its OT original use righteousness meant a right relationship (attained to by faith as in Ge 15:6) with the covenant God that led to loving others as oneself and doing good in order to lead others into the same right relationship with God. Over time, the Jewish interpretation of righteousness narrowed into acts of doing good without the vital root of a right relationship with God.
William Cunningham described righteousness as follows writing that
Under law God required righteousness from man. Under grace, He gives righteousness to man. The righteousness of God is that righteousness which God’s righteousness requires Him to require.
Charles Hodge says
That righteousness of which God is the author which is of avail before Him, which meets and secures His approval.
Someone else has well said that righteousness is that which the Father required, the Son became, the Holy Spirit convinces of, and faith secures.
Dikaiosune - 92x in 86v - Mt 3:15; Mt 5:6-note, Mt 5:10-note, Mt 5:20-note; Mt 6:1-note, Mt 6:33-note; Mt 21:32; Luke 1:75; Jn 16:8, 10; Acts 10:35; 13:10; 17:31; 24:25; Ro 1:17-note;Ro 3:5-note, Ro 3:21, 22-note, Ro 3:25, 26-note; Ro 4:3-note, Ro 4:5-note, Ro 4:6-note, Ro 4:9-note, Ro 4:11-note, Ro 4:13-note, Ro 4:22-note; Ro 5:17-note, Ro 5:21-note; Ro 6:13-note, Ro 6:16-note, Ro 6:18, 19, 6:20-note; Ro 8:10-note; Ro 9:30, 31-note; Ro 10:3, 4-note, Ro 10:5, 6-note Ro 10:10-note; Ro 14:17-note; 1Co 1:30; 2Cor 3:9;2Co 5:21; 6:7, 14; 9:9, 10; 11:15; Gal 2:21; 3:6, 21; 5:5; Ep 4:24-note; Ep 5:9-note; Ep 6:14-note; Phil 1:11-note; Php 3:6-note, Php 3:9-note; 1Ti 6:11; 2Ti 2:22-note; 2Ti 3:16-note; 2Ti 4:8-note; Titus 3:5-note; He 1:9-note; He 5:13-note; He 7:2-note; He 11:7-note, He 11:33-note; He 12:11-note; Jas 1:20-note; Jas 2:23-note; Jas 3:18; 1Pe 2:24-note; 1Pe 3:14-note; 2Pe 1:1-note; 2Pe 2:5-note, 2Pe 2:21-note; 2Pe 3:13-note; 1Jn 2:29; 3:7, 10; Re 19:11-note; Re 22:11-note. NAS - right(1), righteousness(90).
Matthew 3:15 But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permitted Him.
Comment: Note that Matthew’s use of dikaiosune is different from Paul’s intended meaning, for Paul used it primarily to describe a right standing before God, positional righteousness (see Ro 1:17 below). Matthew used dikaiosune to describe conformity to God’s will or ethical righteousness. which is demonstrated by one's conduct or actions which are "right" (righteous) in God’s eyes. To state this another way, dikaiosune in Matthew does not refer to the act of justification (past tense salvation) but of responding to God’s grace as manifest in one's conduct in keeping with God's standards. Matthew describes a righteous person as one who lives in harmony with the will of God ( 1:19). This same emphasis on ethical righteousness is a major theme of the OT, and this was a matter of major import to the religious leaders (especially the Pharisees) in Jesus’ day. In Mt 3:15 the idea of "fulfill all righteousness" is that Jesus understood that it was God’s will for John to baptize Him.
Matthew 5:6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Comment: Dikaiosune here speaks of uprightness in general in one's life, this hunger for righteousness manifest by longing to see honesty, integrity, and justice in society and practical holiness in their life and in the church. Like the people of whom Gamaliel Bradford wrote, they have “a thirst no earthly stream can satisfy, a hunger that must feed on Christ or die.”
Constable: Matthew always used the term “righteousness” in the sense of personal fidelity to God and His will (Mt 3:15; cf. Ps. 42:2; 63:1; Amos 8:11, 12, 13, 14). He never used it of imputed righteousness, justification. Therefore the righteousness that the blessed hunger and thirst for is not salvation. It is personal holiness and, extending this desire more broadly, the desire that holiness may prevail among all people. When believers bewail their own and society’s sinfulness and pray that God will send a revival to clean things up, they demonstrate a hunger and thirst for righteousness. (Expository Notes)
Matthew 5:10 Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Comment: Dikaiosune here is doing what God requires.
Matthew 5:20 "For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Comment: Dikaiosune here the refers to the right behavior that God requires of persons and ultimately is only provided by Him in His gift of Christ's death on our behalf (Christ's provision of His righteousness or dikaiosune in 2Cor 5:21, 1Co 1:30). Dikaiosune has a similar meaning of right behavior in Acts 10:35, 24:25
Matthew 6:1 Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
Comment: Dikaiosune here refers to acts of religious devotion in general or to observances required by one’s religion.
John 16:8 And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;
Comment: The Holy Spirit in essence convicts sinners (and sinning saints!) of what's wrong, what's right (dikaiosune) and what happens to those who do wrong and do right!
Romans 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "But the righteous man shall live by faith."
Comment: Dikaiosune here refers to the divine action by which God puts a person right with Himself (in the act of justification which here equates with imputed righteousness).
The original use of this word group (dikaiosune, dikaios) was in the law courts where a judge declared an accused person "not guilty" and henceforth "right" before the law (righteousness was thus the opposite of a declaration of "guilty" with subsequent condemnation).
Romans 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? "ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS."
2Corinthians 3:9 For if the ministry of condemnation (Old Covenant, the Law) has glory (it had purpose = to show men their need for the righteousness provided in the New Covenant), much more does the ministry of righteousness (New Covenant) abound in glory.
Matthew Arnold said of God's declaration of righteousness (justification)
Christ came to reveal what righteousness really is, for nothing will do except righteousness, and no other conception of righteousness will do except Christ's conception of it—His method and secret.
Louis Berkhof said
The ground of justification can be found only in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, which is imputed to the sinner in justification.
Henry Smith, a Puritan writer, wrote that
He [Christ] hideth our unrighteousness with His righteousness, He covereth our disobedience with His obedience, He shadoweth our death with His death, that the wrath of God cannot find us.
Dikaiosune - 245x in the Septuagint (LXX) - Gen 15:6; 18:19; 19:19; 20:5, 13; 21:23; 24:27, 49; 30:33; 32:10; Ex 15:13; 34:7; Lev 19:15; Deut 9:4ff; 33:19, 21; Josh 24:14; Jdg 5:11; 1 Sam 2:10; 12:7; 26:23; 2 Sam 8:15; 22:21, 25; 1 Kgs 3:6, 9; 8:32; 10:9; 1 Chr 18:14; 29:17; 2 Chr 6:23; 9:8; Neh 2:20; Job 8:6; 22:28; 24:13; 27:6; 29:14; 33:26; 35:8; Ps 4:1, 5; 5:8; 7:8, 17; 9:4, 8; 11:7; 15:2; 17:1, 15; 18:20, 24; 22:31; 23:3; 31:1; 35:24, 27f; 36:6, 10; 37:6; 38:20; 40:9f; 45:4, 7; 48:10; 50:6; 51:14, 19; 52:3; 58:1; 65:4; 69:27; 71:2, 15f, 18, 24; 72:1ff, 7; 85:10f, 13; 88:12; 89:14, 16; 94:15; 96:13; 97:2, 6; 98:2, 9; 99:4; 103:17; 106:3, 31; 111:3; 112:3, 9; 118:19; 119:7, 40, 62, 75, 106, 121, 123, 138, 142, 144, 160, 164, 172; 132:9; 143:1, 11; 145:7; Pr 1:3, 22; 2:9, 20; 3:9, 16; 8:8, 15, 18, 20; 10:2; 11:5f, 21, 30; 12:28; 13:2, 6; 14:34; 15:6, 9, 29; 16:4, 7, 11f, 17, 31; 17:14, 23; 20:7, 28; 21:16, 21; 25:5; Eccl 5:8; Isa 1:21, 26; 5:7, 16; 9:7; 10:22; 11:5; 16:5; 26:2, 9f; 32:16f; 33:5f, 15; 38:19; 39:8; 41:2; 42:6; 45:8, 13, 19, 23f; 46:12f; 48:1, 18; 49:13; 51:5f, 8; 54:14; 56:1; 57:12; 58:2, 8; 59:9, 14, 17; 60:17; 61:3, 8, 11; 62:1f; 63:1, 7; 64:6; Jer 4:2; 9:24; 22:3, 13, 15; 23:5; 50:7; Ezek 3:20; 14:14, 20; 18:5, 17, 19ff, 24, 26f; 33:12ff, 16, 18f; 45:9; Da 6:22; 8:12; 9:7, 9, 13, 16, 18, 24; Hos 2:19; 10:12; Joel 2:23; Amos 5:7, 24; 6:12; Mic 6:5; 7:9; Zeph 2:3; Zech 8:8; Mal 2:17; 3:3; 4:2
WHAT SHALL WE SAY? THE GOD WHO INFLICTS WRATH IS NOT UNRIGHTEOUS, IS HE?: ti eroumen (1PFAI) me adikos o theos o epipheron (PAPMSN) ten orgen: (Ro 4:1; 6:1; 7:7; 9:13,14) (Ro 2:5; 3:19; 9:18, 19, 20; 12:19; Dt 32:39, 40, 41, 42, 43; Ps 58:10,11; 94:1,2; Nah 1:2,6, 7, 8; 2Thes 1:6, 7, 8, 9; Rev 15:3; 16:5, 6, 7; 18:20)
What shall we say? - James Denny asks…
What inference shall we draw? Surely not that God, He who inflicts the wrath due to unrighteousness at the last day (Ro 1:18-note), is Himself unrighteous, to speak as men speak. Away with the thought! If this were so, how should God judge the world? That God does judge the world at last is a fixed point for Paul and those with whom he argues; hence every inference which conflicts with it must be summarily set aside. God could not judge at all if He were unjust; Therefore, since He does judge, He is not unjust, not even in judging men whose unrighteousness may have served as a foil to His righteousness. It is not thus that the conclusions of Romans 2 can be evaded by the Jew. (Expositor's Greek Testament)
This is clearly a rhetorical question, which Paul is asking for effect. The question is accompanied by the Greek negative particle me, which expects a negative answer.
Paul anticipates and answers the objection that his teaching actually impugned the very holiness and purity of God’s character
The KJV Bible Commentary says that …
This is a clever but illogical argument. It is twisting Scripture to make what is inherently evil appear to be ultimately good. Paul anticipates someone saying, “If my unfaithfulness causes God’s faithfulness to be more apparent, is not my sin by contrast enhancing the world’s concept of the absolute holiness and faithfulness of God?” (Dobson, E G, Charles Feinberg, E Hindson, Woodrow Kroll, H L. Wilmington: KJV Bible Commentary: Nelson)
Inflicts (2018) (epiphero from epí = upon, to + phéro = to bring) is literally to bear upon, and in the present context means to bring upon or to inflict wrath or vengeance. Note the present tense indicating that this is a continual attitude of God.
Wrath (3709) (orge from orgaô = to teem, to swell) (Click word study of orge) is based on the root idea of a gradual swelling which eventually bursts, and thus describes an anger that proceeds from one’s settled nature. It is a deep, inner resentment that seethes and smolders. God's orge in short is His constant, controlled and settled indignation and opposition toward sin. God's settled indignation means that His holiness cannot and will not coexist with sin in any form whatsoever. God’s wrath is His holy hatred of all that is unholy and everything that is unrighteous.
Note that God's orge does not refer to sudden, explosive, uncontrollable outbursts of anger and rage to which men are so prone.
Here are the 36 uses of orge in the NT - Matt. 3:7; Mk. 3:5; Lk. 3:7; 21:23; Jn. 3:36; Rom. 1:18; 2:5, 8; 3:5; 4:15; 5:9; 9:22; 12:19; 13:4, 5; Eph. 2:3; 4:31; 5:6; Col. 3:6, 8; 1 Thess. 1:10; 2:16; 5:9; 1 Tim. 2:8; Heb. 3:11; 4:3; Jas. 1:19, 20; Rev. 6:16, 17; 11:18; 14:10; 16:19; 19:15
Orge is not God's uncontrollable rage, vindictive bitterness or losing of His temper, but the wrath of righteous reason and holy law.
Unrighteous (94) (adikos) pertains to not being right or just and thus means unjust, wicked, treacherous, unrighteous, crooked, characterized by lack of integrity. Adikos pertains to acting in a way that is contrary to what is right.
Here are the 12 uses of adikos in the NT - Mt. 5:45; Lk. 16:10f; 18:11; Acts 24:15; Ro 3:5; 1Co. 6:1, 9; Heb. 6:10; 1Pet. 3:18; 2Pe 2:9
I AM SPEAKING IN HUMAN TERMS: kata anthropon lego (1SPAI):
This same phraseology is used by Paul in - Ro 6:19; 1Cor 9:8; Gal 3:15
James Denny explains that…
There is always something apologetic in the use of such expressions. Men forget the difference between God and themselves when they contemplate such a situation as that God should be unrighteous; obviously it is not to be taken seriously. Still, in human language such suppositions are made, and Paul begs that in his lips they may not be taken for more than they really mean. (Expositor's Greek Testament)
Human (444) (anthropos from aner = man + ops = countenance) is a human being, this generic name standing in distinction from gods and the animals.
Paul is simply paraphrasing the weak, unbiblical logic of his opponents which is the product of their natural, unregenerate minds. Again lest his readers conclude that he was expressing his own thinking, Paul immediately adds the parenthetical explanation that he was speaking in human terms, that is, according to the human logic of the natural mind, arguing the way fallen man would argue. He was saying, in effect,
“Don’t think for a minute that I believe such perverted nonsense. I am only paraphrasing the charges that are often made against me.”
Paul, in even bringing up such a question as God’s acting unrighteously in visiting disobedient Israelites with wrath, instantly puts in the reverent parenthesis: "I speak after the manner of men"; as, "putting himself in the place of the generality of men, and using an argument such as they would use."
The KJV Bible Commentary adds a helpful note reminding us that "speaking in human terms"…
should not be understood as an absence of divine inspiration in recording these questions, but rather that Paul is using the form of human reasoning to express this inspired truth about God. Since God’s justice is not something that may be called into question, Paul indicates that only foolish human reasoning would attempt to do so. (Ibid)
Morison aptly paraphrases,
When I ask a question, ‘Is God unjust who inflicts wrath?’ I am deeply conscious that I am using language which is intrinsically improper when applied to God. But in condescension to human weakness I transfer to Him language which is customary for men to employ when referring to human relationships.”
S. Lewis Johnson writes:
It is obvious that God’s justice cannot be questioned (Ro 2:11, Eph 6:9, Col 3:25). Only human thinking and speaking would attempt that. The last clause of verse five is an implicit insight into Paul’s attitude towards human reason. The apostle does not write, “I speak according to the sinful, or ungodly”; it is, “according to man,” or simply as a man. The work of human reason, as Calvin points out, is “ever to bark against the wisdom of God,” always railing against the truth of God, which it does not and cannot understand (cf. 1Co 2:14). Only when we submit our reason to the Spirit of God and the Word of God are we able to understand His mysteries. (Romans 3:5-8)
The Justice of God
Is a part of his character -Deuteronomy 32:4; Isaiah 45:21
DECLARED TO BE
Plenteous -Job 37:23
Incomparable -Job 4:1
Incorruptible -Deuteronomy 10:17; 2 Chronicles 19:7
Impartial -2 Chronicles 19:7; Jeremiah 32:19
Unfailing -Zephaniah 3:5
Undeviating -Job 8:3; 34:12
Without respect of persons -Romans 2:11; Colossians 3:25; 1 Peter 1:17
The habitation of his throne -Psalms 89:14
Not to be sinned against -Jeremiah 50:7
Denied by the ungodly -Ezekiel 33:17,20
Forgiving sins -1 John 1:9
Redemption -Romans 3:26
His government -Psalms 9:4; Jeremiah 9:24
His judgments -Genesis 18:25; Revelation 19:2
All his ways -Ezekiel 18:25,29
The final judgment -Acts 17:31
Acknowledge -Psalms 51:4; Romans 3:4
Magnify -Psalms 98:9; 99:3,4
Greek: me genoito (3SAMO): epei pos krinei (3SFAI) o theos ton kosmon
Amplified:By no means! Otherwise, how could God judge the world? (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Phillips: Not a bit of it! What sort of a person would God be then to judge the world? (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Away with the thought. Otherwise, how will it be possible for God to judge the world?(Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: let it not be! since how shall God judge the world?
|MAY IT NEVER BE: me genoito (3SAMO):
May it never be (me genoito) is translated in both AV and RV "God forbid" but Greek does not contain the name "God" so it should not be so translated. This is the strongest negative Greek expression and usually carried the connotation of impossibility.
Literally it reads "Be it not so!" or "Let it not be conceived of!" It is like saying "Banish the thought!" Paul uses this interjection frequently in Romans to denote an instant, even horrified rejection of a conception. (Here are all the NT uses of me genoito - Lk. 1:38; 20:16; Ro 3:4, 6, 31; 6:2, 15; 7:7, 13; 9:14; 11:1, 11; 1Co 6:15; Gal 2:17; 3:21; 6:14)
It's as if Paul shouts out in the court of law "Objection" … "Far be such a thought! for then (if God should be unrighteous in visiting a Jew with wrath) how shall God judge the world?"
FOR OTHERWISE HOW WILL GOD JUDGE THE WORLD: epei pos krinei (3SFAI) o theos ton kosmon: (Job 8:3; 34:17, 18, 19; Ps 9:8; 11:5, 6, 7; 50:6; 96:13; 98:9)
Newell comments that…
Abraham attests to God as Judge of the world just before He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah…
David declares that…
Paul alludes to this psalm in Acts declaring that…
For otherwise (1893) (epei) means since, if that were so.
Judge (2919) (krino) primarily signifies to distinguish, separate or discriminate; then, to distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong.
The Nelson Study Bible comments that…
World (2889) (Kosmos) refers to this present evil man-centered (humanistic) world-system ruled and directed by Satan and in general living apart from God and opposed to Him. By the use of the world Paul obviously means “all mankind.”
Judgment of the world is a major theme of Scripture (Ge 18:25; Ps 50:6; 58:11; 94:2) and here the phrase "judge the world" probably refers to the great future day of judgment, the Great White Throne Judgment (see Ro 2:5, Rev 20:11-15).
In Romans 2 Paul wrote that
John describes the final judgment of the world in Revelation recording that…
Paul’s point is that if God condoned sin, He would have no equitable, righteous basis for judgment. He shall judge the world, and in His judgment the ancient question, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth judge justly?” (Ge 18:25), shall have a resounding affirmative answer.
To summarize - If there were any possibility of God’s being unrighteous, then how could He be fit to judge the world? Yet we all admit that He will judge the world.
The Wycliffe Bible Commentary adds that…
|Greek: ei de e aletheia tou theou en to emo pseusmati eperisseusen (3SAAI) eis ten doxan autou, ti eti kago os hamartolos krinomai (1SPPI):
Amplified: But [you say] if through my falsehood God’s integrity is magnified and advertised and abounds to His glory, why am I still being judged as a sinner? (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
CEV: Since your lies bring great honor to God by showing how truthful he is, you may ask why God still says you are a sinner. (CEV)
GWT: If my lie increases the glory that God receives by showing that God is truthful, why am I still judged as a sinner? (GWT)
Middletown: "If my lie (my unfaithfulness) magnifies and enhances God’s truth, and God is glorified by my lie, then why does God judge me?"
NCV: A person might say, "When I lie, it really gives him glory, because my lie shows God's truth. So why am I judged a sinner?" (NCV)
NIV: Someone might argue, "If my falsehood enhances God's truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?"
NLT: “But,” some might still argue, “how can God judge and condemn me as a sinner if my dishonesty highlights His truthfulness and brings Him more glory?” (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: It is like saying that if my lying throws into sharp relief the truth of God and, so to speak, enhances his reputation, then why should he repay me by judging me a sinner? (Phillips: Touchstone)
TEV: But what if my untruth serves God’s glory by making His truth stand out more clearly? Why should I still be condemned as a sinner?
Wuest: Moreover, assuming that the truth of God by means of my lie became the more conspicuous, resulting in His glory, why then yet am I also being judged as a sinner? (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: for if the truth of God in my falsehood did more abound to His glory, why yet am I also as a sinner judged?
BUT IF THROUGH MY LIE THE TRUTH OF GOD: ei de e aletheia tou theou en to emo pseusmati: (Ge 37:8,9,20; 44:1-14; 50:18, 19, 20; Ex 3:19; 14:5,30; 1Ki 13:17,18,26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32; 2Ki 8:10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15; Mt 26:34,69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75)
But - always pause to ponder this term of contrast.
It is true that human sin does provide God the opportunity to show the truth about His character, specifically His great mercy and lovingkindness (cp Lk 18:13, He 2:17-note). Indeed, in response to mans' sin, God does not obliterate mankind but provides the way of salvation and reveals more about His own righteousness. Sinners (and this imaginary objector in Paul's illustration) argue therefore that mankind's sin serves a good purpose! Ridiculous! Such fallacious reasoning says we should go on sinning so God can go on proving how true and faithful He is. Sin is evil and is never justified and those who think this receive just condemnation. Sin is against God, not for Him. God does good because of who He is, not because of our evil.
S. Lewis Johnson writes:
ABOUNDED TO HIS GLORY WHY AM I ALSO STILL BEING JUDGED AS A SINNER: eperisseusen (3SAAI) eis ten doxan autou ti eti kago os hamartolos krinomai (1SPPI): (Ro 9:19,20; Isa 10:6,7; Acts 2:23; 13:27, 29)
James Denny - These verses are extremely difficult, and are interpreted variously according to the force assigned to the "ti eti kago os" (why am I also) of verse 7. Who or what supplies the contrast to this emphatic "I also"?… it seems preferable to take the kago (also, even) as referring strictly to himself.
Abounded (4052) (perisseuo [word study] from perissós = abundant from peri = in sense of beyond) means to cause to superabound, to be superfluous, to overflow, to be in affluence, to excel or to be in abundance with the implication of being considerably more than what would be expected.
Perisseuo carries the idea of exceeding the requirements, of overflowing or overdoing. It means to exceed a fixed number of measure, to be left over and above a certain number or measure. It means to have or to be more than enough, to be extremely rich or abundant. To exceed or remain over (as used in loaves left over after feeding the 5000 [Mt 14:20]! When Jesus supplies there is more than enough so that some is even left over! How quick we are to forget this basic principle!) The idea is to overflow like a river out of its banks!
Godet comments that…
Moulton and Milligan give a secular Greek usage quoting extracts as follows - “more than enough has been written; if you find any purchasers of the surplus donkeys”. Of the noun M&M say; “superfluity.” The verb perisseuo means to exist in superfluity, to super-abound”
NIDNTT notes that…
Sinner was an awful insult in Jewish circles. It was the term Jews used to describe people who had no respect for Mosaic law or rabbinic traditions and were therefore the most vile and worthless of people. It was also a term used by the Pharisees to describe those they considered to be inferior because they had no interest in scribal tradition.
For Paul to call a Jew ( he speaks of himself "I… a sinner") a sinner would have shocked his readers ears! He is building his case of why Jesus came, Matthew for example recording…
In his first letter to Timothy Paul wrote…
Middletown Bible writes that…
William Newell applies this passage warning that
Greek: kai me kathos blasphemoumetha (1PPPI) kai kathos phasin (3PPAI) tines hemas legein (PAN) hoti poiesomen (1PAAS) ta kaka, hina elthe (3SAAS) ta agatha; on to krima endikon estin (3SPAI)
Amplified: And why should we not do evil that good may come?—as some slanderously charge us with teaching. Such [false teaching] is justly condemned by them. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.
Phillips: Similarly, why not do evil that good may be, by contrast all the the more conspicuous and valuable? (As a matter of fact, I am reported as urging this very thing, by some slanderously and others quite seriously! But, of course, such an argument is quite properly condemned.) (Phillips: Touchstone)
TLB: If you follow through with that idea you come to this: the worse we are, the better God likes it! But the damnation of those who say such things is just. Yet some claim that this is what I preach!
Wuest: And not, as we were slanderously reported and even as certain are saying that we are saying, Let us do the evil things in order that there might come the good things; whose judgment is just. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: and not, as we are evil spoken of, and as certain affirm us to say -- 'We may do the evil things, that the good ones may come?' whose judgment is righteous.
|AND WHY NOT SAY (AS WE ARE SLANDEROUSLY REPORTED AND AS SOME AFFIRM THAT WE SAY LET US DO EVIL THAT GOOD MAY COME: kai me kathos blasphemoumetha (1PPPI) kai kathos phasin (3PPAI) tines hemas legein (PAN) hoti poiesomen (1PAAS) ta kaka, hina elthe (3SAAS) ta agatha: (Mt 5:11; 1Pet 3:16,17) (Ro 5:20; 6:1,15; 7:7; Jude 1:4)
And why not say - Godet says "the apostle pushes his refutation to the utmost (Ro 3:8). Why even not go further? Why, after annihilating the judgment, not say further, to be thoroughly consequent: "And even let us furnish God, by sinning more freely, with richer opportunities of doing good! Will not every sin be a material which He will transform into the pure gold of His glory?"
Paul was being unjustly slandered being falsely accused of teaching that salvation by grace encouraged people to sin even more (do evil).
Slanderously reported (987) (blasphemeo [word study] from blápto = to hurt, injure, harm + phéme from phemí = to speak) means literally to speak to harm and in general therefore means to bring into ill repute and so to slander.
Tragically, the apostle’s gospel message of salvation by grace through faith alone had been perverted by his opponents who argued it provided not only a license to sin, but outright encouragement to do so (Ro 5:20-note; Ro 6:1,2-note).
Affirm (claim) (5346) (phemi) means to make known one's thoughts, to bring to light by speech, to say, affirm or assert.
Let us do evil that good may come - Middletown Bible writes "this is the wicked and unbiblical philosophy that the end justifies the means. Paul utterly condemns this philosophy: "whose damnation (judgment) is just (right, deserved)." This philosophy is very popular in our day… IT IS NEVER RIGHT TO DO WRONG TO DO RIGHT! Our attitude should be this: "Lord, I‘m going to do right no matter how hard it is and I’m going to leave the results with You. You’ll have to work it out. DO RIGHT AND TRUST GOD FOR THE OUTCOME!"
Evil (2556) (kakos) is a word which basically, denotes a lack of something and can mean that which is injurious or harmful—harm caused by evil intent. Kakos means bad, destructive, damaging, unjust. It describes something as it ought not to be.
Good (18) (agathos [word study]) means intrinsically good, inherently good in quality but with the idea of good which is also profitable, useful, benefiting others, benevolent (marked by or disposed to doing good).
S. Lewis Johnson writes that
Paul's (God's) adversaries were in fact accusing him of this heretical teaching. The antinomians (saved by grace but live lawless) would have loved it if this teaching were true.
The question is if we follow that kind of thinking that says that the more we sin, the better it is because living a lie actually enhances God’s truthfulness.
MacArthur writes that…
Denny comments that
THEIR CONDEMNATION IS JUST: on to krima endikon estin (3SPAI):
Paul does not even deign to answer the false accusation, for it answers itself for it is evident both to the hearer and to the asker of such a question that doing evil that good may come, does not change the character of the evil, nor take away its guilt from him who commits it. So the one who reasons this way is getting what he deserves.
Condemnation (2917) (krima form kríno = to judge, the suffix –ma indicating the result of the judging, ie, that is, the result of making a decision) describes a judicial sentence from a magistrate (his pronouncement). It describes one deciding a question of legal right or wrong, and thus determining the innocence or guilt of the accused and assigning appropriate punishment.
The closely related word krisis refers to the process or act of judging (instead of the result of the judging). Vine adds that…
Krima - 27 uses - Mt 7:2-note; Mk 12:40; Lk 20:47; 23:40; 24:20; Jn 9:39; Acts 24:25; Ro 2:2-note, Ro 2:3-note; Ro 3:8-note; Ro 5:16-note; Ro 11:33-note; Ro 13:2-note; 1Co 6:7; 1Co 11:29, 34; Gal 5:10; 1Ti 3:6; 5:12; He 6:2-note; Jas 3:1; 1Pe 4:17-note; 2Pe 2:3-note; Jude 1:4; Re 17:1-note; Re 18:20-note; Re 20:4-note. NAS - condemnation(8), judgment(15), judgments(1), lawsuits(1), sentence(1), sentence of condemnation(1), way(1).
Note that the use of krima in 1Co 11:29 conveys the idea of chastisement (because believers are in Christ and no longer under God's condemnation Ro 8:1) which makes the KJV rendering of damnation very misleading (1Co 11:29KJV).
Krima refers to
Krima is a neutral noun which can be either positive or negative, but as noted in the NT it is most often used negatively as a warning (eg, see Jas 3:1)
TDNT adds that krima…
Richards notes that…
Krima - 194 uses in Septuagint (LXX) - Ex 18:22; 23:6; Lev 18:4f; 20:22; 26:15, 43, 46; Num 35:24, 29; 36:13; Deut 4:1, 8, 45; 5:1, 31; 6:1, 4, 20; 7:11; 8:11; 21:22; 26:16f; 32:41; 1 Sam 2:10; 2 Sam 8:15; 22:23; 1 Kgs 2:3; 3:11, 28; 10:9; 2 Kgs 11:14; 17:26f, 33f, 37, 40; 1 Chr 15:13; 16:12, 14; 18:14; 22:13; 28:7; 2 Chr 4:7, 20; 6:39; 7:17; 9:8; 19:10; 24:24; 30:16; 33:8; Ezra 7:10, 26; Neh 1:7; 8:18; 9:13, 29; 10:29; Job 9:15, 19; 13:18; 14:3; 19:7; 23:4, 7; 29:14; 31:13; 32:9; 34:5f; 36:6, 15, 17; 40:8; Ps 9:16; 10:5; 17:2; 18:22; 19:9; 36:6; 37:6; 48:11; 72:1; 81:4; 89:14, 30; 97:2, 8; 103:6; 105:5, 7; 119:7, 13, 20, 30, 39, 43, 52, 62, 75, 102, 106, 108, 120f, 132, 149, 156, 160, 164, 175; 146:7; 147:19f; 149:9; Prov 1:3; 2:9; 12:5; 21:15; 28:5; Eccl 5:8; Isa 1:27; 5:16; 9:7; 10:2; 16:5; 28:26; 32:16; Jer 4:12; 5:1; 8:7; 9:24; 12:1; 21:12; 22:13, 15; 23:5; 30:18; 32:7f; 46:28; 51:9f; Ezek 5:8, 10, 15; 7:27; 11:9; 18:5, 8, 27; 22:29; 23:24; 28:22, 26; 30:19; 33:14, 16, 19; 34:16; 36:27; 37:24; 44:24; 45:9; Dan 5:16; 7:22; 9:5, 26; Hos 2:19; 5:1, 11; 6:5; 10:4; 12:6; Amos 5:7, 15, 24; 6:12; Mic 3:1, 8f; 6:8; 7:9; Hab 1:4, 7, 12; Zeph 2:3; 3:5, 8; Zech 7:9; 8:16
Just (1738) (endikos from en = in + dike = right) means literally "in the right" and thus describes that which is equitable, fair or which conforms to right.
Those who have drawn these antinomian (against the Law, a teaching advocating licentiousness) inferences are justly condemned. Any such teaching that would distort God's Word for the sake of expediency, even for the ostensibly good purpose of winning converts, would be anathema to Paul. This is a sober warning of judgment against compromising the Scriptures, especially the truth of the Gospel and the way of salvation.
There is a fine irony in the final statement -- Paul concludes his charges against those who object to judgment as sinners by saying, “whose judgment is just.” This final word is directed to the Jews particularly, as the context indicates. They thought they were excused from divine judgment and free to judge the Gentiles, but they overlooked the justice of God. Thus, Paul has very skillfully returned to the charge with which he began the section on the sin of the Jews (Ro 2:11-note).
Moule writes of the phrase “Whose doom is just”…
John Piper asks…
S. Lewis Johnson has an excellent summary writing that…
|Greek: Ti oun; proechometha (1PPMI) ou pantos: proetiasametha (1PAMI) gar Ioudaious te kai Hellenas pantas hupe hamartian einai (PAN)
Amplified: Well then, are we [Jews] superior and better off than they? No, not at all. We have already charged that all men, both Jews and Greeks (Gentiles), are under sin [held down by and subject to its power and control]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Phillips: Are we Jews then a march ahead of other men? By no means. For I have shown above that all men from Jews to Greeks are under the condemnation of sin. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: What then? Are we better? Not in any way, for we previously brought a charge against both Jews and Gentiles that all are under sin (Eerdmans)
WHAT THEN? ARE WE BETTER THAN THEY: Ti ounproechometha (1PPMI): (Ro 3:5; 6:15; 11:7; 1Co10:19; 14:15; Phil 1:18) (Ro 3:22,23; Isa 65:5; Lk 7:39; 18:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14; 1Cor 4:7)
Middletown Bible has the following outline of this next section:
What then? - Paul's frequent introductory question (What then is used in- Ro 3:3, 4:1, 6:15, 8:31, 11:7, 1Co 3:5, 9:18, Phil 1:18), in this case tracking back to Romans 3:1,2. Does the great advantage of the Jew (Ro 3:2) make him better than the Gentiles? No!
Are we better (4284) (proechomai/proecho from pró = forth, forward + écho = have, be) literally means to have before oneself as holding before oneself for protection (can include idea of making excuses). Paul uses the figurative meaning of to excel, to have preference or preeminence, or to be superior or better. To be in a prominent position.
The ones to whom we refers is not absolutely clear. Some commentators believe Paul is speaking of his fellow Jews. Does he mean “we Jews”? This is the most common understanding, and is based on the probability that the whole previous section (Ro 2:1-3:8) refers particularly to the Jews.
Several interpreters believe Paul means “we Christians”.
Moule favors this interpretation, but recognizes the difficulty asking…
Cranfield says it means “we human beings in general”.
People's NT Commentary writes that…
NOT AT ALL: ou pantos:
Absolute negation - absolutely we are not better than they!
People who are very religious tend to think of themselves as being inherently better than others and favored by God because of their goodness and religious fervor (works). Christians are not immune to the temptation to consider that God saved them because they were somehow more deserving of salvation than others. But if a person ever becomes right before God it is never because he or she is innately better than anyone else or because he or she has managed to bring his life up to God’s standards or because he or she zealously observes certain religious practices. It is only because he or she has acknowledged their sin and helplessness and prostrated themselves in humble faith before the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness and cleansing.
FOR WE HAVE ALREADY CHARGED (accused beforehand) THAT BOTH JEWS AND GREEKS ARE ALL UNDER SIN: proetiasametha (1PAMI) gar Ioudaious te kai Hellenas pantas hupe hamartian einai (PAN):
HOW MANY ARE SINNERS?
For (gar) - Notice the little preposition "for" (there are over 7000 "for's" in Scripture) and if the context indicates, as it does in this passage, that the "for" is a term of explanation, pause and ask yourself what is the Spirit seeking to explain?
Criswell - This passage records climactically, at the end of the first major section (Ro 1:18-3:20), the universal ravages of sin. In Ro 3:10-18, Paul strings together a number of O.T. quotes to demonstrate and verify his thesis of the universality of sin. "All" are "under sin" (Ro 3:9). "There is none righteous" (Ro 3:10). "There is none who does good" (Ro 3:12). "All have sinned" (Ro 3: 23). Man is immersed in the misery of sin, and he is guilty of contentment in sin. No one even seeks after God. Humanity as a whole is under the power and condemnation of sin.
Henry Morris on "all under sin" - The important passage from Ro 3:9-23 should make it clear that there is no one who is righteous enough before a holy God to earn his own salvation. If anyone wishes ever to be saved and receive eternal life, he must first of all recognize himself as a guilty sinner before God--in fact, dead spiritually, in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1).
Disciple's Study Bible - Ro 3:9-18 HUMANITY, Spiritual Nature--Scripture, as well as human experience, point to the universality of sin. All people of all cultures turn away from God, toward selfishness, and against fellow humans. See center column for Paul's Scripture sources. No evidence points to the goodness and growing perfection of human beings. All evidence points to our sinful nature. Guilt plagues us all. We know we are accountable to our Creator. Ro 3:9-23 SIN, Universal Nature--With or without God's written revelation, Jew or non-Jew--we all sin and stand condemned under God's wrath. No one can claim innocence from experience or by logic. Only Jesus, of all people who have ever or will ever live, was sinless.
We have already charged - Where? Ro 1:28-32, Ro 2:1-16.
Charged (4256) (proaitiaomai from pró = before, + aitiáomai = to blame, accuse from aitía = an accusation or cause) is literally to accuse beforehand or to make a prior accusation. It was used as a legal term to designate a person previously indicted for a given offense.
Both Jews and Greeks - In the first two chapters of Romans Paul has brought the charge against the pagan Gentiles and then against the pious Jews (and all pious people outside of Christ) (see Ro 1:28-32; 2:1-16). They are all under the power, authority and control of Sin because of Adam's original sin.
All (pas) means every person. There are absolutely no exception clauses. Why? Paul explains…
Under sin - Gal 3:10,22
Under (5259) (hupo) was a common Greek term that frequently meant not simply to be beneath but to be totally under the power, authority, or control of something or someone. So here Paul says all men are completely subservient and in bondage to, the dominion of Sin, picturing Sin almost as if it were a cruel dictator or harsh taskmaster (see discussion of "the Sin" -- the Sin principle or propensity inherited from Adam). Paul uses hupo to describe a literal slave…
All under sin - The picture is that of figurative (but very real) enslavement to Sin. Under the power, authority and control of Sin. In Romans 6 Paul elaborates on the saved sinner's former master and new master
In Galatians Paul arrived at a similar conclusion (note his use of the preposition hupo which he also uses here in Romans 3:9) writing that…
Sin (266) (hamartia) originally from the idea of missing the mark as when hunting with a bow and arrow and then missing or falling short of any goal, standard, or purpose. Thus when we commit sins we are missing the true ultimate purpose God has for us. In this verse (see next note) sin signifies the moral principle or force which is an integral part of every man's nature and which is evil in character and causes man to commit specific unrighteous acts or sins.
Jerry Bridges asks "What is sin?"
The Preacher's Commentary makes an excellent point emphasizing that…
Charles Spurgeon said that
Puritan John Bunyan, (author of Pilgrim’s Progress), described sin like this
Augustine in the The Confessions of Saint Augustine wrote that…
Nothing seems to expose the sin nature more than two boys tugging on opposite ends of a toy fire truck, each one screaming, "Mine! Mine!!" If you doubt we are all born sinners, try taking something from a baby that they are enjoying!
Sin is like a crushing weight under which the sinner lies, a power from whose grasp he cannot escape in his own strength. Paul is building toward the presentation of the "good news", which is God's provision to escape such a horrible fate.
William Barclay writes that
Such an idea was preposterous to most Jews. In his rebuke of Peter for succumbing to the Judaizers, Paul referred to the common belief of Jews that they were righteous before God simply by virtue of being Jewish, members of His chosen race. On the other hand, Jews believed just as strongly that Gentiles-commonly called Greeks because of the prevalence of Greek culture and language even under Roman rule-were naturally sinful simply by virtue of being non-Jewish (Gal 3:15). If a Jew was poverty stricken, handicapped, or otherwise seriously afflicted, it was assumed that either he or his parents had committed some unusually heinous sin, for which, for a generation or so, they forfeited their normally high standing before God. That belief is reflected in the story of the blind man whom Jesus and the disciples passed just outside the Temple one day. Noticing the man’s condition, the disciples asked the Lord,
After Jesus corrected the disciples’ wrong assumption, He restored the man’s sight. When the man was talking with the Pharisees a short while later, they vehemently voiced the same wrong assumption the Twelve had expressed. When the man said to them of Jesus,
J Vernon McGee has an excellent summary of this verse writing that…