Romans 3:5

5 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.)

Romans 3:5 in Other Translations

KJV
5 But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)
ESV
5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.)
NLT
5 “But,” some might say, “our sinfulness serves a good purpose, for it helps people see how righteous God is. Isn’t it unfair, then, for him to punish us?” (This is merely a human point of view.)
MSG
5 But if our wrongdoing only underlines and confirms God's rightdoing, shouldn't we be commended for helping out? Since our bad words don't even make a dent in his good words, isn't it wrong of God to back us to the wall and hold us to our word? These questions come up.
CSB
5 But if our unrighteousness highlights God's righteousness, what are we to say? I use a human argument: Is God unrighteous to inflict wrath?

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.


FOOTNOTES:

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

Romans 3:5 In-Context

3 What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness?
4 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.”
5 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.)
6 Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world?
7 Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?”

Cross References 2

  • 1. Romans 5:8
  • 2. Romans 6:19; Galatians 3:15