“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?”

“If our unrighteous Jewish history has commended us 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.”

“But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say?  Is God unrighteous Who taketh vengeance?
(I speak as a man).”–In this verse we see the Jew’s attitude toward the great privilege and responsibility of that nation as the
depositiory of the Divine oracles.  Paul makes the Jews call their conduct, “our unrighteousness.”  This unrighteousness consists in:

1.      National disobedience to God’s oracles from Sinai onward.
2.      Such neglect of these oracles that a times (as in the time of king Josiah) that a single copy of the Law was a rarity!
3.      Pride over their position as the possessors of these oracles, even so far as to be despising of nations that did not have them, instead of ministering them to others.
4.      Such ignorance of the spiritual meaning of the oracles, and of the “voice of the prophets,” so that they even killed the Righteous One (Acts 13:27).

“But if our unrighteousness”–If our sin that particular sin which had been specified  in verse 3 was unbelief.  But Paul 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.
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 God’s 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?  This is a question which is often asked by sinners.

“commend the righteousness of God”
Literally: “Commends a righteousness of God.” Are we not to suppose that our unrighteousness may serve to commend and illustrate the mercy of God in keeping and fulfilling to us the promise which he made to our forefathers?

Therefore, we might say, “Then the more evil we become, doesn’t that mean that mean that God’s faithfullness to His promises is to be admired.  And if this is true, wouldn’t God appear to be unjust if He takes revenge against us and cast us off?”

           COMMEND: (Grk.–sunistemi)–Literally: “to place together; recommend, commend, give approval to.” This word is used only 2 times outside of Paul’s writings (Luke   9:32; II Pet. 3:5), and both in the physical sense of setting one person with another by way of introducing or presenting him, and hence “to introduce.” That is, commend the righteousness of God;  commend or recommend, His just and holy character.

This is as 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 honor was thus done to God, the question was, how He could consistently punish that which tended to promote His own glory?                  

“Is God unrighteous Who taketh vengeance?”
Literally:  {Is} God not righteous inflicting wrath?”   But, it may be farther objected, if our unrighteousness be subservient to God's glory, is it not unjust for Him to punish us for     it?

          TAKES VENGEANCE: (Grk.–epipherō orgēn)—Literally: “brings the anger to bear.” Recommend; show forth; render       illustrious.  Referring to the anger or wrath to come. Orgēn is God’s righteous anger against sin.

The meaning of this is simply, “Who inflicts punishment”  The idea of vengeance is not necessarily in the original.  Orgēn is commonly rendered as “wrath,” but it often simply means punishment, without any reference to the state of the mind of the One inflicting it (Matt. 3:7; Luke 3:7; 21:23; John 3:36). 

“I speak as a man”
Literally:  “According to a man I speak.”–As if Paul is saying, “pardon me for using this line of argument” (see Gal. 3:15 for this same phrase).  Vincent words this as, “I use a mode of speech drawn from human affairs.”  Vincent goes on and says, “This phrase is thrown in apologetically, under a sense that the mode of speech is unworthy of the subject.”

The rabbis often used the phrase (Grk.–kata anthropon)“According to a man; as a man.” Evidently Paul had not forgotten his rabbinical training. Simply speaking, Paul is saying, “I am speaking as a men to men.  I speak as appears to be the case to human view; or as would strike the human mind.” This 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. 

“God forbid, for then how shall God judge the world?”

“God forbid”
Literally:  “Let not this be.” The sense is, by no means,  let this not,  by any means, be supposed, or  If it were unjust in God to punish that unrighteousness which is subservient to His own glory, We ran into this same phrase back in v. 4.

         “for then?”
         Literally:  “Otherwise.”

        FOR THEN:  (Grk.–epei)—Literally:  “Otherwise” If it be admitted that it would be unjust for  God to inflict punishment. “how shall God judge the world?”

“how shall God judge the world?”
Literally:  “How will God judge the world?”–How, if no sin is punished which God turns to some good purpose, shall He judge all men according to their deeds?  By its very contrast, the evil of this world gives evidence of the righteousness of God; and therefore we can see       that       God has every right to judge the world.

In the original Greek text, this question is preceded by the negative participle, me.”  In that koine Greek language, anything that is preceded with “me” must have a negative reply.  To word this correctly, then we see that Paul is really saying, “God is not being unrighteous, is He?”  Since all the unrighteousness in the world will then commend the righteousness of God. God cannot be unjust; were He unjust, he could not be qualified to judge the world, nor inflict that punishment on the unfaithful Jews, to which I refer.

                    HOW:  (Grk.–pōs)–Literally:  “How is it possible?”

         JUDGE: (Grk.krenei)–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.

Tis does not mean that God would condemn all the world; but that the fact of judging men implied the possibility and correctness of condemning those who were guilty. It is remarkable that Paul 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 (Gen. 18:25; Eccl. 11:9; 12:14). 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 all? 

                     WORLD:  (Grk.–kosmos)–Referring to the world system.

The inference of the objector, therefore, could not be true; though Paul does not really 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…”
1.      What does the crimes themselves deserve?
2.      What is the character of the offender?
3.      What was God’s intention?
Paul gives an emphatic and categorical denial (“me”) of any premise that God is unjust.  The argument here is that if this particular sin merely enhances the glory or grace of God then all sin would do the same.  Therefore, God would not be able to judge the world.  He would abdicate His throne as Judge of all the earth.  But whoever you are, even if you are an unbeliever, you believe that some people should be judged, but you may not think that you ought to be judged. 

If God’’s truth, (as His warnings, and promises) was enhanced through my falseness–if He got glory through my (Jewish) sin, why does He find fault with me as a sinner?”
“While such quibbling Paul will not consent to answer (it really answers itself

“For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto His glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?”

“For if the truth of God”–This is an objection similar to the one before, and really just another form of the same kind. The truth of God is His truth or faithfulness in adhering to His threatening. God threatened to punish the guilty and by their guilt He will take        occasion to show His own truth; or their crime will furnish occasion for such an exhibition.

                        IF:   (Grk.–ei)–A Greek participle literally meaning “since,” or, “in view of the fact.”

If the faithfulness of God in keeping His promise made to our fathers is, through our unfaithfulness, made far more glorious than it otherwise would have been, why should we then be blamed for that which must redound so much to the honor of God. Such reasoning amounts to this: we who preach salvation by free grace are slanderously accused of teaching that the more evil we do, the more glory will redound to God; a damnable principle.  Here Paul, instead of refuting this principle, thinks it enough to hold it up to examination as one that shocks the moral sense.

“hath more abounded”
Literally:  Abounded.”  Has been more striking, or more manifest.  The truth of God will be shown by the fulfillment of all His promises to his people, and of all his predictions. But it will also be shown by fulfilling His threatenings on the guilty.


It will, therefore, more abound by their condemnation; that is, their condemnation will furnish new and striking instances of His truth.  Therefore, every lost sinner will be an eternal monument of the truth of God.

          ABOUNDED:   (Grk.–perissuō)–Meaning, “to be at hand in abundance; to be in affluence.”  Here it has the idea of “being increased.”  Thayer’s Greek Lexicon comments:  “By my lie it came to pass that God’s veracity became the more conspicuous,  and becoming thus more thoroughly known, increased His glory.”

 “through my lie”
 Literally:  “by my lie.”  By means of my lie, or as one of the results of my falsehood.

            LIE:  (Grk.-pseusmati)–The word lie here means falsehood, deceitfulness, unfaithfulness.  This word is used only here in the N.T.  Vincent says, “The expression carries us back to verse 4, and is generally for more moral falsehood, unfaithfulness to the claims of conscience and of God, especially with reference to the proffer of salvation through Christ.

        Paul returns to the imaginary objection in verse (3:5).   If my lie, that is, practice contrary to truth, leads to the glory of God, by making His truth shine with superior advantage.  “If my rejection of the truth serves to make the truthfulness of God more apparent and therefore increase His glory, then why am I still condemned as a sinner/”  Here we have a profound contrastthe truthfulness of God in keeping Hiis promises with the falsehood of man in denying their fulfillment.              
       Here the Jew is supposed to repeat the last objection in another form. “God's truth is shown by our lie. His threatenings are demonstrated to be absolutely true by His rejection of the Jewish nation. If our lie, our false life, has thus shown forth His glory, why should we be individually condemned?”  If the faithfulness of God in keeping His promise made to our fathers is, through our unfaithfulness, made far more glorious than it otherwise would have been, why should we then be blamed for that which must rebound so much to the honor of God?

            Each individual could claim exemption from the judgment of God because his sin had advanced the glory of God.  If by the unfaithfulness of the Jewish people to the covenant, occasion should be given to God to glorify Himself, how could they be condemned for it?  Unto His glory; to His praise, or so as to show His character in such a way as to excite the praise and admiration of His intelligent creation.

             “yet am I also judged as a sinner?”
            Literally:  “Why am I yet judged as a sinner?”  How can that act be regarded as evil, which     tends to promote the glory of God?

The fault in the reasoning of the objector is this: that it takes for granted that the direct tendency of his conduct is to promote God's glory, whereas it is just the reverse; and it is by God's reversing that tendency, or overruling it, that he obtains his glory. The tendency of murder is not to honor the law, or to promote the security of society, but just the reverse. Still, his execution shall avert the direct tendency of his crime, and do honor to the law and the judge, and promote the peace and security of the community by restraining others. Can this be said to be any sin at all?  Ought I not to do what would otherwise be evil, that so much “good may come?”  To this Paul does not stoop to give a direct answer, but cuts the objector short with a severe reproof.    


“But 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.”

“But not rather”
Literally: “And not.”  This is the answer of Paul’s. He meets the objection by showing its tendency if carried out, and if it were made a principle of conduct.

          The meaning is, “If the glory of God is to be promoted by sin, and if a man is not therefore to be condemned, or held guilty for it; if this fact absolves man from crime, why not carry this doctrine out, and make it a principle of conduct, and do all the evil we can in order to promote His glory?”
          This was the fair consequence of the objection. And yet this was a result so shocking and monstrous, that all that was necessary in order to answer the objection was merely to state this consequence. Every man's moral feelings would revolt at the doctrine; and every man would knows that it could not be true; therefore, and every man, could see that the objection was not valid.

           “as we be slanderously reported”
            Literally:  “As we are wrongly accused; or as we are blasphemed.”

SLANDEROUS REPORTED:  (Grk.–blasphēmoumetha)–This is the correct and legitimate use of the word blaspheme, which means “to speak of one in a reproachful or degrading manner. “  

            “as some affirm that we say”
            Literally: “Even as some report us to say.”   Doubtless these were Jews.  Why they should  affirm this, is not really known. 

            It was doubtless perversion of the doctrines that the apostles preached. The doctrines which were thus misrepresented and abused were probably these: the apostles taught that the sins of men were the occasion of promoting God's glory in the plan of salvation. That “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound,” (5:20); that God, in the salvation of men, would be glorified just in proportion to the depth and pollution of the guilt which was forgiven. This was true; but how easy was it to misrepresent this as teaching that men ought to sin in order to promote God's glory!  And instead of stating it as an inference which THEY drew from the doctrine, i.e., to state it as what the apostles actually taught.
           This is the common mode in which charges are brought against others.  Men will draw an inference themselves, or suppose that the doctrine leads to such an inference, and then charge it on others as what they actually hold and teach. There is one maxim which should never be departed from: that a man is not to be held responsible for the inferences which we may draw from his doctrine; and that he is never to be represented as holding and teaching that which WE suppose follows from his doctrine. He is answerable only for what he actually does say.                                 

“let us do evil that good may come”
“Let us do bad things so that good thing may come.” 
That is, since sin is to promote the   glory of God, let us commit as much as possible, that God may take occasion by it to promote  His glory. 

         It follows from your reasoning; it has been injuriously laid to the charge of us apostles, who preach the doctrine of free pardon, through faith, without the merit of works; but this is so displayed as a perversion of the truth that a just punishment may be expected to fall on the propagators of such a slander.   This was probably the accusation of Antinomianism because Paul preached Justification by Faith and not by works.
          Paul replies to this argument with a reductio ad absurdum—reducing to absurdity This amounts to saying, “Do evil that good may come,” which is an abominable doctrine, slanderously charged upon Paul by enemies, would justify every iniquity. This doctrine, so strongly condemned, has been taught by the Jesuits by their motto that, “The end justifies the means.”

“whose damnation is just.”
Literally:  “Of whom [the] judgment is just.”  This does not necessarily refer to future punishment, but it means that the conduct of those who thus slanderously perverted the doctrines of Christian teaching and accused the apostles of teaching this doctrine, was   deserving of condemnation or punishment.

         All who teach such doctrine are justly condemned.   So Paul absolutely denies the lawfulness of doing evil, any evil, that good may come. He expressly disavows, in the strongest language, this doctrine charged on Christians; and he silences the objection and he teaches as a great fundamental law that evil is not to be done that good may come.
         The Jews, because they were deluded by their pride, and falsely based God’s favor to their nation upon their own deserts, absolved themselves from judgment.  They considered judgment for the goyim, i.e.,  for the ethnē, that is, the Gentiles, but surely not for themselves.   But if we professing Christians consign this passage solely to the Jew, we fall into their same trap.  Multitudes today in “Christendom” sheltered in their imagination by the fact that they have “joined” some church, do resent these very doctrines that Paul insists on.  Untold thousands of so-called, “church-members” not only have never been brought under conviction of their sin and guilt, but yet rise in anger like the Jews of Paul’s day when someone preaches directly to them of their danger.