Romans 3:6
God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) For then how shall God judge the world?—St. Paul considers it a sufficient answer merely to propound this question. He and those to whom he was writing all assumed that there must be a future judgment.

The way in which Bishop Butler deals with the argument from necessity is very similar to this, substituting only present for future judgment. “It is fact that God does govern even brute creatures by the method of rewards and punishments in the natural course of things. And men are rewarded and punished for their actions—punished for actions mischievous to society as being so, punished for vicious actions as such—by the natural instrumentality of each other under the present conduct of Providence,” &c. Hence the necessitarian is in this dilemma: either his opinion is not true, or else it must be capable of being harmonised with these facts. The facts themselves are postulated.

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.God forbid - Note, Romans 3:4.

For then - If it be admitted that it would be unjust for God to inflict punishment.

How shall God ... - How will it be right or consistent for him to judge the world.

Judge - To "judge" implies the possibility and the correctness of "condemning" the guilty; for if it were not right to condemn them, judgment would be a farce. This does not mean that God would condemn all the world; but that the fact of judging people implied the possibility and propriety of condemning those who were guilty. It is remarkable that the apostle does not attempt to explain how it could be that God could take occasion from the sins of people to promote his glory; nor does he even admit the fact; but he meets directly the objection. To understand the force of his answer, it must be remembered that it was an admitted fact, a fact which no one among the Jews would call in question, that God would judge the world. This fact was fully taught in their own writings, Genesis 18:25; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Ecclesiastes 11:9. It was besides an admitted point with them that God would condemn the pagan I world; and perhaps the term "world" here refers particularly to them.

But how could this be if it were not right for God to inflict punishment at all? The inference of the objector, therefore, could not be true; though the apostle does not tell us how it was consistent to inflict punishment for offences from which God took occasion to promote his glory. It may be remarked, however, that God will judge offences, not from what he may do in overruling them, but from the nature of the crime itself. The question is not, what good God may bring out of it, but what does the crime itself deserve? what is the character of the offender? what was his intention? It is not what God may do to overrule the offence when it is committed. The just punishment of the murderer is to be determined by the Law, and by his own desert; and not from any reputation for integrity and uprightness which the judge may manifest on his trial; or from any honor which may accrue to the police for detecting him; or any security which may result to the commonwealth from his execution; or from any honor which the Law may gain as a just law by his condemnation. Nor should any of these facts and advantages which may result from his execution, be pleaded in bar of his condemnation. So it is with the sinner under the divine administration. It is indeed a truth Psalm 76:10 that the wrath of man shall praise God, and that he will take occasion from people's wickedness to glorify himself as a just judge and moral governor; but this will be no ground of acquittal for the sinner.

6. God forbid; for then how shall God judge the world?—that is, "Far from us be such a thought; for that would strike down all future judgment. God forbid; he rejects the cavil with his usual note of detestation, as not thinking it worthy of answer.

For then how shall God judge the world? q.d. If God were in the least unrighteous, how could he govern the world at present, and judge it at last in righteousness? Which is affirmed, Psalm 96:13 98:9. Or, how could he be God and supreme, if he were not just by his nature and essence, and his will the very rule of righteousness: see Genesis 18:25 Job 34:12. God forbid, for then how shall God judge the world? "far be it"; such a notion is detestable and abominable, nor can it be fairly deduced from what is asserted; for it is the unrighteousness of his own people, on whom he takes no vengeance personally, and not the unrighteousness of others, on whom he does take vengeance, which commends his righteousness; and supposing it was that of others, God cannot be unrighteous in performing his threatenings, in a way of righteousness: moreover, unrighteousness is sin, and does not of itself but by accident, illustrate the righteousness of God; wherefore God is not unjust in punishing it; for how should God "judge the world?" whereas nothing is more certain than that he will do it, and that this will be done in righteousness; which could not be, was he unrighteous in taking vengeance; which will be one considerable part of that righteous judgment. God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. how shall God judge the world?] The emphasis is on “judge,” not on “world.” It is needless to suppose the word “world” here to stand in opposition to the Jewish people. The point of the question is, that if God could not righteously punish sin when sin illustrated His glory, not only would He not punish those particular sins, but He would (as to principle) entirely abdicate His office as “Judge of all the earth.” All sin, in one respect or another, illustrates His glory, if only as a black contrast: therefore, in no case would punishment be just!—On the truth that the Lord is the “Judge of all” the Apostle falls back as on a “first ground.”Romans 3:6. Ἐπεὶ, otherwise) The consequence is drawn [bound, connected] from the less to the greater, as it ought to be in the case of negatives. If God were to act unrighteously, in taking vengeance on the Jew who acts unrighteously, a thing too absurd to be mentioned, He certainly could not judge the whole world. Affirmatively, the process of reasoning would take this form: He who (justly) Judges the whole world, will doubtless also judge justly in this one particular case. [Vice versa] The conclusion is, in its turn, drawn from the greater to the less at 1 Corinthians 6:2.—τὸν κόσμον, the world) For even the unrightousness of the whole world (which is put in opposition to the Jews, at ch. Romans 11:12), commends the righteousness of God; and yet God pronounces, and with justice, the whole world to be unrighteous, Genesis 18:25. Nay, in the very judgment, the unrighteousness of man will greatly illustrate the righteousness of God. The Jew acknowledges the righteousness of the Divine judgment regarding the world; but Paul shows that there is the same ground for judgment regarding the unbelieving Jews.
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