Online Bible Commentary
The Question of Advantage
Romans 3:1 What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? 2 Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. 3 For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? 4 Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: "That You may be justified in Your words, And may overcome when You are judged." 5 But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.) 6 Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world? 7 For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner? 8 And why not say, "Let us do evil that good may come"?--as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just. (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul wrote the letter of Romans to the church in Rome while in Corinth, Greece for three months in A.D. 56-57. The letter was written to both Jew and Gentile (non-Jew) believers.
The word “Jew” is a reference to their heritage, not a religion. Jews were named such because they were from Judah.
In the preceding passage, Paul wrote of the circumcision of the heart being the sign of God’s people, not physical circumcision as was the Jewish custom. Christian Jews still thought that physical circumcision gave them some kind of advantage as a Christian.
Paul offers up the question of advantage when he writes: “What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision?” (v. 1). If the Jews don’t have an advantage what good was it to be God’s people and to be circumcised?
Paul answers this question by writing that it was good “Much in every way!” (v. 2a). There were many advantages to being a Jew and following Jewish customs.
The main advantage was that “to them were committed the oracles of God.” (v. 2b). The Jews were the first to receive the Old Testament Scriptures, including the teachings of Moses and the prophets. These teachings are still extremely valuable to understanding Christianity.
It is true that “some did not believe” and become Christians. (v. 3a). But simply because there are non-Christian Jews, does that “make the faithfulness of God without effect?” (v. 3b). Does that mean that God’s promises to the Jews are no longer in effect?
Paul answers “Certainly not!” (v. 4a). God’s promises in the Old Testament Scriptures are still in effect. It’s just that God’s promises are now also promises to the Gentiles as well as the Jews, to all those who are Christians.
Whenever there is a question of whether God is right or man is right, Paul writes “Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar.” (v. 4b). God’s promises are always right. They cannot be changed by circumstances changing or by men suggesting that they no longer are in effect. God is always to be believed over man.
Paul provides an example of this fact by quoting David in Psalm 51:4 David is writing of his sin involving Bathsheba. David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then essentially murdered her husband by sending him out in battle to fight on the front lines.
David writes: “As it is written: ‘That You may be justified in Your words, And may overcome when You are judged.’ " (v. 4c). In other words, God is always right and is always proven right when questioned. In David’s case, God was proven right by the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12).
God’s Word. the Bible, is never wrong. If something does not seem right, it is because we have not dug deep enough. More study is required.
Paul states that sin reveals God’s righteousness when he writes: “But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say?” (v. 5). The fact is that our sins confirm the truthfulness of the Bible. We have no defense to God’s word.
Next, Paul writes “Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.) (v. 5b). He is referring to men who call God unjust when He inflicts His wrath on others or themselves.
God’s ultimate wrath is poured out upon non-Christians when they are condemned to eternity in Hell. Some say that a good God would not send people to Hell. What these accusers do not understand is that people send themselves to Hell by a lifetime of rejecting God.
Paul answers the question of God’s wrath being unjust by responding: “Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world?” (v. 6). Sin requires a death. If we do not accept the death of Jesus on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, we must provide our own “death”, eternity in Hell. It is the way that God judges the world.
Paul concludes this passage by introducing another circumstance that some believe should give them an advantage with God. He writes: “For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner?” (v. 7). In other words, if your lie actually benefits God, have you still sinned?
Paul’s response is: “And why not say, ‘Let us do evil that good may come’?--as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just.” (v. 8). In other words, should we, as Christians, do evil if good comes from it, as some have wrongly accused us of doing? Those who wrongly accuse us should be condemned.
So, Paul’s answer is that telling a lie to benefit God is not right. It is still sin. The fact that our lie benefits God does not give us any kind of advantage with God.
The ultimate answer to “the question of advantage” is Jesus Christ. Our only advantage is to become a Christian. When we become a Christian, we become a child of God. That is quite the advantage,.