Romans 3:5

5 But if our unrighteousness 1demonstrates the righteousness of God, 2what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (3I am speaking in human terms.)

Romans 3:5 Meaning and Commentary

Romans 3:5

But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God,
&c.] Hence it appears, that the unrighteousness of men commends the righteousness, or faithfulness of God; and yet all unrighteousness is sin; the wrath of God is revealed against it; and would exclude from heaven, were it not for pardon through the blood of Christ; and besides, the one is contrary to the other, and of itself, of its own nature, cannot influence and affect the other: wherefore this can only be understood of the manifestation and illustration of, the righteousness of God by it; which is covered and commended, in punishing the unrighteousness of men; in setting forth Christ to be a propitiation for sin; and in fulfilling his promises, notwithstanding the failings of his people, of which the case of David is a pregnant proof; just as the love of God is illustrated and commended, by the consideration of the sins of men, for whom Christ died, and his grace and mercy in the conversion of them: but if this be true,

what shall we say?
shall we allow the following question to be put? this answers to (rmyml akya yam) , "what is there to say", or "to be said?" a way of speaking, often used by the Talmudists F14:

is God unrighteous, who taketh vengeance?
if the premises are true, this is a just consequence of them; whereas God does take vengeance on men for their unrighteousness, both here and hereafter, it must be a piece of unrighteousness in him so to do; since that for which he takes vengeance on them commends his own righteousness; but that you may know as well by what follows, that this is not an inference of his own, but another's, he adds,

I speak as a man;
(Mda ynb Nwvlk) , "according to the language of the children of men", a phrase often used by the Jewish doctors F15. The apostle did not speak the sentiments of his own mind, he represented another man, and spoke in the language of an adversary.


F14 T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 4. 1. & passim.
F15 T. Bab. Ceritot, fol. 11. 1. & passim.

Romans 3:5 In-Context

3 What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?
4 May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, "THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS, AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED."
5 But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.)
6 May it never be! For otherwise, how will God judge the world?
7 But if through my lie the truth of God abounded to His glory, why am I also still being judged as a sinner?

Cross References 3

  • 1. Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 7:11
  • 2. Romans 4:1; Romans 7:7; Romans 8:31; Romans 9:14, 30
  • 3. Romans 6:19; 1 Corinthians 9:8; 1 Corinthians 15:32; Galatians 3:15

Footnotes 1

New American Standard Bible Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, California.  All rights reserved.