whose condemnation?

It’s time for another vote.

I’m asking: Whose Condemnation is Just? You’re voting on one of four possible answers.

The passage in question? Romans 3:8.

And why not do evil that good may come? — as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

Whose condemnation is just? Four options. Take your pick.

1. Paul. If Paul were saying, “Why not do evil that good may come?” it would be right to condemn him.

2. The people who slander. Because they speak falsely against Paul, they should be condemned.

3. People who do evil that good may come. Anyone who knowingly continues in sin in order for God’s glory to be seen is getting things gravely mixed up. Such an attitude deserves condemnation.

4. Or perhaps you’ve found yet another possible answer . . .

I will share my thoughts in just a few days, but I’d love to hear yours first. Anybody?

whose condemnation

[image credit: wikipedia commons, journeyoftheword.com]

5 thoughts on “whose condemnation?

  1. From what I can tell on a little bit of looking at the translations, it’s unclear.

    Either #2 (slanderers) or #3 (flagrant sinners). The grammar somewhat supports #2 (depending on the translation), but the logic somewhat supports #3.

    That leads me to wonder if Paul was not as concerned about precision as we are, or, alternatively, if the translators might have been stuck on a choice between rendering his words in a way that was more exact to what Paul said, but less clear to us vs. the opposite–being clear to us but changing Paul’s words.

    I think the KJV translators supported #3 or at least left it open as a possibility. I tend to side with them.

    And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.

    Notice the awkward construction here. Why would they do that, except that Paul had also done it? This construction indicates the possibility that the subject of damnation is implied but not stated–those who do evil that good may come (#3).

    Compare that with the ESV (or the NIV or Holman). These take the trouble of re-ordering one sentence and starting a new sentence. The result is that they button down the grammar and commit Paul grammatically where he has not committed himself.

    And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

    By this grammar, the ESV seems to support #2 (the people who slander).

    One of the reasons I appreciate the KJV is that it very cleverly avoids buttoning down upon issues that the original language apparently left unbuttoned. Where the KJV is ambiguous, you can suppose that the original language was too. This is an advantage to the reader because it protects from false assurances.

    My own conclusion (so far) is to lean toward #3 (those who do evil that good may come). But I recognize that Paul’s intention may be lost to modern readers, or it might need more study, or it probably already has been picked to pieces to no avail, or maybe Paul himself was intentionally ambiguous. There are a lot of possibilities.

    If the phrase was ambiguous in the original, it’s helpful to recognize that Paul himself would have known this. Maybe Paul wasn’t concerned about his readers taking it one way or the other because both would be true. I call this “Cody’s razor”–don’t assume you are smarter than an ancient author.


    1. Nice. Thanks for searching that out. I’ve been studying quite a bit and came to some different conclusions as to whether it’s #1, #2, or #3 (which happened to match another friend’s thought posted elsewhere), so this is really making me think!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s an interesting question once I got to looking at it. I looked at the verse in a few different versions and in the Greek. I’m a bit rusty on my Greek heh, but I think I like the way the Amplified Bible puts it.

    Romans 3:8
    And why should we not do evil that good may come?—as some slanderously charge us with teaching. Such [false teaching] is justly condemned by them.

    Liked by 1 person

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