|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:1-8 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.
Verses 5, 6. - But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall We say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (so the Authorized Version; rather, brings the wrath upon us (ὁ ἐπιφέρων τὴν ὀργήν), with reference to the Divine wrath against sin, spoken of above). I speak after the manner of men. God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world! The purport of this reply appears sufficiently in the paraphrase given above. But the intended Bearing on the argument of ver. 7 is not at once apparent.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God,.... 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 , "what is there to say", or "to be said?" a way of speaking, often used by the Talmudists (n):
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; , "according to the language of the children of men", a phrase often used by the Jewish doctors (o). The apostle did not speak the sentiments of his own mind, he represented another man, and spoke in the language of an adversary.
(n) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 4. 1. & passim. (o) T. Bab. Ceritot, fol. 11. 1. & passim.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5, 6. But if, &c.—Another objection: "It would appear, then, that the more faithless we are, so much the more illustrious will the fidelity of God appear; and in that case, for Him to take vengeance on us for our unfaithfulness would be (to speak as men profanely do) unrighteousness in God."
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