Summary: Should evil be done because God can bring good out of it? No, before God a good end does not justifies an evil means or method. For God is always true & He cannot be faithful to the unrighteous no matter who they are or how they think.

ROMANS 3: 1-8


Most Jews believed that their possession of the law, circumcision, and an outward profession of relation to God, would provide salvation or acceptance before God for them. Paul has just demonstrated that these securities on which most Jews relied are false or could not save. This perspective would evoke strong objections. So at this point Paul defends the indictment of Jewish lostness against the objections of unknown opponents (a diatribe). No doubt he had actually encountered such arguments from Jewish hearers during his missionary preaching. The Jewish arguments contained faulty reasons so that faith and obedience to God's Word could be separated. But true faith always leads to obedience and disobedience demonstrates a lack of faith.

God's Word gives us directions on how to live but many choose to live their own way and fall into sin. When the light of God's judgment shines on their unrighteousness it becomes apparent that their way is wrong. Can these people that live their own way be so privileged because of God's faithfulness that they can be rewarded ... at least for being a bad example of how not to live? Or should evil be done because God can bring good out of it? No, before God a good end does not justifies an evil means or method.

We learn here that no one receives merit for evil [even for being a bad example to others]. God's faithfulness is bound to people who are obedient by faith to His Word. No special immunity will be granted to those who do evil even though God gets glory from showing Himself righteous in His judgment of their fault. For God is always true and He cannot be faithful to the unrighteous no matter who they are or how they think (CIT).


II. God is Faithful Though Man is Unfaithful, 3-4.

III. The Wrath of God is Righteous, 5-8.

Verse 1 is the logical follow-up question to the previous section that addressed Jewish stewardship as responsibility not as partiality. "Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision?"

What Paul had just written [in 2:28-29] about true Jewish identity and real circumcision [being of the heart] would be shocking to his fellow Jews who believed they had advantage because of their Jewish heritage. No wonder his Jewish hearers rebelled against the gospel.

The New Testament has radically redefined who a true Jew is (2:17-29). If being a Jew spiritually makes you a descendent of Abraham and the fleshly ritual of circumcision does not set one apart for God but only the circumcision of the heart does, is there any advantage (perrison, "overplus, over and above, abundant") to Jew heritage, or value ( pheleia, "advantage") to the physical sign of circumcision? (Ps. 147:20; Isa. 5:5-6; Amos 3:2-3; Mt. 22:1-8; Lk. 13:6; 14:16, 17, 24).

Paul's immediate and direct response to the question concerning Jewish advantage is found in verse 2. "Great in every respect. First of all that they were entrusted with the oracles of God."

Though there is not alternative salvation for the Jews that does not mean they have no advantage. "Great in every way" suggest multiple advantages. Although custodianship of the covenant and the Law did not automatically bring salvation, it bestowed many privileges that the Gentiles did not have. The word "first" (primarily) singles out the most important distinguishing privilege possessed by the Jew, the sacred privilege of being entrusted with the oracles ( diminutive plural of logos) of God (Ex. 19, 20; Deut. 4:8). The oracles of God are the sacred writings of the Old Testament.

What an tremendous privilege and blessing that is. It equipped them to be a guide to the blind, a light to those in darkness, a corrector to the foolish and instructor to the children (2:19-20). They had God's self-disclosure, the very Words of the all-knowing, all powerful, Sovereign God of the Universe, of the all the ages past and future. They could know this God's purpose, find His revealed will, and claim His promises.

The sacred writing of God with its teachings, commandments, predictions and promises had been entrusted to the Jew. It was given to them that they might accept it by faith, obey it, hold it in high honor, and transmit it to others. What greater advantage in life could one ask for than to possess the writings of God and possess the prophets, priests and scribes whose duty it was to explain, proclaim, and transmit them to the people?

Yet this amazing privilege did not give them special rights to disobey the Word. Privileges implies duties. Honors go hand in hand with responsibilities. Paul returns to the subject of Jewish privilege in Romans 9:1-5.


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