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Romans 3:1-8

June 22, 2016

While reading through Romans, I found myself scratching my head over the beginning of chapter 3, so I decided to look at it closer…

1 Therefore what [was] the advantage of the Jew, or what [was] the benefit of the circumcision? 2 Much according to many ways. Indeed, first that they were entrusted with the words of the God. 3 What then? If some were untrustworthy (which they were), that doesn’t mean that their unfaithfulness will cancel out the faithfulness of the God, does it? 4 may it never be; The God must be true, and every man [must be] a liar, just as it has been written;

“so that you might ever be justified in your words,

and will have victory when you judge.”

5 and if our injustice demonstrates God’s justice (which it does), what will we say? The God who [is] inflicting wrath is not unjust, is he? I am speaking according to men. 6 May it never be. Else how will the God judge the world? 7 and if the truth of The God overflowed by my falseness into his glory (which it did), why am I also still being judged as [a] sinner? 8 bad things like this are not being said about us, are they? some are not saying that we say “let’s do the evil things, so that the good things might come”, are they? [Those are the ones] of whom the judgement is obvious.

The first thing I want to point out is the bracketed [was]. This is normally translated as [is]. Why did I go with something different? First of all there is no verb in verse one, so one has to be assumed. In Greek the first thing that comes to mind is [is], but in the context all the advantages that Paul talks about are benefits from the past, so I think the correct idea is [was]. The first few chapters of Romans is about how people have treated God in the past.

“entrusted, untrustworthy, unfaithfulness, and faithfulness” all have the same basic root, but I don’t see a clean way to do this in English. There is a possible link between the first 2, meaning that the Jews were unfaithful with the words, not just unfaithful in general.

A feature of this section is that all the “if” statements are written is such a way to assume that the “if” part is true, thus the extra words (which they were) etc.

Verse 5 is the only place in this passage where “God” is used without the word “the”, and so it is worth it to consider if this is a general statement about any god, or one only about “God”. Also in verse 5, the words “demonstrates” is more literally “stands together with”. Again we need context to decide what to do. So the idea could be either “if a god is ok with our sinfulness, then the wrathful god isn’t unjust is he?” or “If our sinfulness shows how good he is, why would he destroy us?”. The second one is the one the fits in with the follow-up statements in this passage.


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