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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 6

Verse 6. God forbid. See Barnes "Ro 3:4".


For then. If it be admitted that it would be unjust for God to inflict punishment.

How shall God, etc. How will it be right or consistent for him to judge the world. Judge. To judge implies the possibility and the correctness of condemning the guilty; for if it were not right to condemn them, judgment would be a farce. This does not mean that God would condemn all the world; but that the fact of judging men implied the possibility and propriety of condemning those who were guilty. It is remarkable that the apostle does not attempt to explain how it could be that God could take occasion from the sins of men to promote his glory; nor does he even admit the fact; but he meets directly the objection. To understand the force of his answer, it must be remembered that it was an admitted fact, a fact which no one among the Jews would call in question, that God would judge the world. This fact was fully taught in their own writings, Ge 18:25; Ec 12:14; 11:9.

It was besides an admitted point with them, that God would condemn the heathen world; and perhaps the term "world" here refers particularly to them. But how could this be, if it were not right for God to inflict punishment at nil? The inference of the objector, therefore, could not be true; though the apostle does not tell us how it was consistent to inflict punishment for offences from which God took occasion to promote his glory. It may be remarked, however, that God will judge offences, not from what he may do in overruling them, but from the nature of the crime itself. The question is not, what good God may bring out of it, but what does the crime itself deserve? what is the character of the offender? what was his intention? It is not what God may do to overrule the offence when it is committed. The just punishment of the murderer is to be determined by the law, and by his own desert; and not from any reputation for integrity and uprightness which the judge may manifest on his trial; or from any honour which may accrue to the police for detecting him; or any security which may result to the commonwealth from his execution; or from any honour which the law may gain as a just law by his condemnation. Nor should any of these facts and advantages, which may result from his execution, be pleaded in bar of his condemnation. So it is with the sinner under the Divine administration. It is indeed a truth (Ps 76:10) that the wrath of man shall praise God, and that he will take occasion from men's wickedness to glorify himself as a just Judge and moral Governor; but this will be no ground of acquittal for the sinner.

{p} "how shall God judge" Job 8:3

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