Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Romans 3:5

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Jew. But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God - May we not 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? The more wicked we are, the more his faithfulness to his ancient promise is to be admired. And if so, would not God appear unjust in taking vengeance and casting us off?

I speak as a man - I feel for the situation both of myself and my countrymen, and it is natural for one to speak as I do.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

But if our unrighteousness - If our sin. The particular sin which had been specified Romans 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 make. 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 honor was thus done to God, the question was, how he could consistently punish what 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 honored 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 ὀργήν orgēnIt is commonly rendered “wrath,” but it often means simply “punishment,” without any reference to the state of the mind of him who inflicts it, Matthew 3:7; Luke 3:7; Luke 21:23; John 3:36. Notes, Romans 1:18; Romans 4:15.

I speak as a man - I speak after the manner of human beings. 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 people 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 dishonorable 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.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The law could not save in or from sins, yet it gave the Jews advantages for obtaining salvation. Their stated ordinances, education in the knowledge of the true God and his service, and many favours shown to the children of Abraham, all were means of grace, and doubtless were made useful to the conversion of many. But especially the Scriptures were committed to them. Enjoyment of God's word and ordinances, is the chief happiness of a people. But God's promises are made only to believers; therefore the unbelief of some, or of many professors, cannot make this faithfulness of no effect. He will fulfil his promises to his people, and bring his threatened vengeance upon unbelievers. God's judging the world, should for ever silence all doubtings and reflections upon his justice. The wickedness and obstinate unbelief of the Jews, proved man's need of the righteousness of God by faith, and also his justice in punishing for sin. Let us do evil, that good may come, is oftener in the heart than in the mouth of sinners; for few thus justify themselves in their wicked ways. The believer knows that duty belongs to him, and events to God; and that he must not commit any sin, or speak one falsehood, upon the hope, or even assurance, that God may thereby glorify himself. If any speak and act thus, their condemnation is just.