January 8 - Romans 3:1-8

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Romans 3:1-8 – God’s Righteousness

What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God. What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written:  “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.”  

But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!

Sometimes Paul’s rhetoric becomes nearly impossible for me to understand and his words are nothing more than words that I skim through to get to the parts I do comprehend. This is one of those difficult-to-understand passages.

There are three questions here that Paul deals with, each bringing a greater knowledge of who God is and how He interacts with us.

First of all, if being born into Judaism doesn't make a person a Jew (remember, Paul asserted that circumcision is of the heart), then what was the benefit? It seems that Paul has just said there is no benefit of all.

But, that would mean that God had no integrity. He had chosen Israel and given them circumcision as a sign of the covenant. Was what he did wrong? No. Israel was given God’s words … these are living words. The Jewish nation was entrusted with those living words. They are the guardians, the custodians … the light of the nations through their faith in God.

But, in verse 3, Paul rhetorically asks about those who have no faith. Does this nullify God’s faithfulness? Absolutely not. Paul refers to words from David’s Psalm 51 – a song of penitence. God is always justified in his judgment and even if every single Jew were to lose faith, God’s covenant relationship would continue and his word … his judgment … his faithfulness will prevail in the end.

In verse 5, Paul writes that the unrighteousness of believers brings out God’s righteousness more clearly. So, should God not punish the unrighteous if that were the case? He re-states the question in verse 7 – if my lie shows the truth of God, why am I punished as a sinner? In other words, why not sin if that means good will come from it?

The conclusion will come tomorrow.