Christianity and the Problem of Human ViolenceChristianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Part 58: The Wrath . . . of God? part 2: Romans 3:1-7
from Guide to Kingdom Living

True Christian living requires us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth.

Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Part 58: The Wrath . . . of God? part 2: Romans 3:1-7

By Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

I will go through the first 7 verses of Romans 3 carefully, because they reveal much about Paulís theology. Paul wrote, ďThen what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews are entrusted with the oracles of God.Ē (Romans 3:1-2) Here, Paul reminded readers that the Law was the way God tried to exert Godís will before Christ. Jews, entrusted with the Law, had a special mission and privilege.

Paul continued (verses 3-4), ďWhat if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every man be false, as it is written, ĎThat thou mayest be justified in thy words, and prevail when thou art judged.íĒ Paul had begun his letter to the Romans discussing how everyone sins and fails to fully live according to the Law. Yet, even when Jews were unfaithful, God had remained faithful to the Jews. God has been faithful to Godís promise to the Jews even when they have been faithless.

Now we come to a key verse, Romans 3:5, which is challenging and must be read carefully. Paul wrote, ďBut if our wickedness serves to show the justice of God, what shall we say? That God is unjust to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.)Ē Paul has said that we are inevitably wicked but Godís justice prevents God from condemning us. Yet, if this is so, is God unjust to inflict wrath on us? Paul then, remarkably, notes that this is a human way of thinking! The ďhuman wayĒ of thinking attributes the wrath to God, which is what people have been doing this since the beginning of human civilization. Since the foundation of human culture, in fact, people have attributed their misfortunes to God or the gods, and they have offered sacrifices to ďappeaseĒ the divine.

Romans 3:6-7 reads, ďBy no means! For then how could God judge the world? But if through my falsehood Godís truthfulness abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner?Ē In other words, since we are all sinners, God canít judge the world according to our sinfulness. Despite our sinfulness, Godís truth abounds in Godís glory. What is Godís glory, which reveals Godís truth? I think Godís glory involves Godís creative goodness, and Godís truth is that God does not want suffering or violence to harm Godís wonderful Creation. (See, for example, Romans 8:18-22.) Godís love of Paul, a sinner, exemplifies Godís love for all Creation, since only Godís loving forgiveness can justify Paul, not Paulís actions. Why did Paul say that he was condemned as a sinner? It was because he lived among humans who were judgmental and vengeful. As we saw in last weekís essay, the wrath is related not to Godís violent hand but to God handing humans over to the consequences of their idolatries and wickedness (Romans 1:24-28). Humans, failing to reflect Godís love and forgiveness, condemn Paul. Similarly, humans, not God, are eager to punish anyone they think has sinned.

In the next essay, I will discuss why I think Romans 9:22 is another point of misunderstanding regarding the wrath. Then, I will discuss why this is such an important point for Christian theology.

Go on to: Part 59: The Wrath . . . of God? part 3: Romans 9:22
Return to: Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence Table of Contents
Return to: Christian Living Table of Contents