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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 5

Verse 5. But if our unrighteousness. If our sin The particular sin which had been specified Ro 3:3 was unbelief. But the apostle here gives the objection a general form. This is to be regarded as an objection which a Jew might take. The force of it is this:

(1) It had been conceded that some had not believed; that is, had sinned.

(2) But God was true to his promises. Notwithstanding their sin, God's character was the same. Nay,

(3) in the very midst of sin, and as one of the results of it, the character of God as a just Being shone out illustriously. The question then was,

(4.) if his glory resulted from it; if the effect of all was to show that his character was pure, how could he punish that sin from which his own glory resulted? And this is a question which is often asked by sinners.

Commend. Recommend; show forth; render illustrious.

The righteousness of God. His just and holy character. This was the effect on David's mind, that he saw more clearly the justice of God in his threatenings against sin, in consequence of his own transgression. And if this effect followed, if honour was thus done to God, the question was, how he could consistently punish that which tended to promote his own glory?

What shall we say? What follows? or, what is the inference? This is a mode of speech as if the objector hesitated about expressing an inference which would seem to follow, but which was horrible in its character. Is God unrighteous? The meaning of this would be better expressed thus: "Is not God unrighteous in punishing? Does it not follow, that if God is honoured by sin, that it would be wrong for him to inflict punishment?"

Who taketh vengeance. The meaning of this is simply, who inflicts punishment. The idea of vengeance is not necessarily in the original, orghn. It is commonly rendered wrath, but it often means simply punishment, with out any reference to the state of the mind of him who inflicts it. Mt 3:7; Lu 3:7; 21:23; Joh 3:36.

See Barnes "Ro 1:18; See Barnes "Ro 4:15".


I speak as a man. I speak after the manner of men. I speak as appears to be the case to human view; or as would strike the human mind. It does not mean that the language was such as wicked men were accustomed to use; but that the objector expressed a sentiment which to human view would seem to follow from what had been said. This I regard as the language of an objector. It implies a degree of reverence for the character of God, and a seeming unwillingness to state an objection which seemed to be dishonourable to God, but which nevertheless pressed itself so strong on the mind as to appear irresistible. No way of stating the objection could have been more artful or impressive.

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