on Romans 3 :8
Apostle. And not rather, etc. - And why do you not say, seeing you assume this ground, that in all cases we should do wickedly, because God, by freely pardoning, can so glorify his own grace? This is a most impious sentiment, but it follows from your reasoning; it has, indeed, been most injuriously laid to the charge of us apostles, who preach the doctrine of free pardon, through faith, without the merit of works; but this is so manifest a perversion of the truth that a just punishment may be expected to fall on the propagators of such a slander.
on Romans 3 :8
And not rather - This is the answer of the apostle. He meets the objection by showing its tendency if carried out, and if it were made a principle of conduct. The meaning is, "If the glory of God is to be promoted by sin, and if a man is not therefore to be condemned, or held guilty for it; if this fact absolves man from crime, "why not carry the doctrine out, and make it a principle of conduct, and do all the evil we can, in order to promote his glory." This was the fair consequence of the objection. And yet this was a result so shocking and monstrous, that all that was necessary in order to answer the objection was merely to state this consequence. Every man's moral feelings would revolt at the doctrine; everyman would know that it could not be true; and every man, therefore, could see that the objection was not valid.
As we - This refers, doubtless, to the apostles, and to Christians generally. It is unquestionable, that this accusation was often brought against them.
Slanderously reported - Greek, As we are "blasphemed." This is the legitimate and proper use of the word "blaspheme," to speak of one in a reproachful and calumnious manner.
As some affirm ... - Doubtless Jews. Why they should affirm this, is not known. It was doubtless, however, some perversion of the doctrines that the apostles preached. The doctrines which were thus misrepresented and abused, were probably these: the apostles taught that the sins of people were the occasion of promoting God's glory in the plan of salvation. That "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound;" Romans 5:20. That God, in the salvation of people, would be glorified just in proportion to the depth and pollution of the guilt which was forgiven. This was true; but how easy was it to misrepresent this as teaching that people ought to sin in order to promote God's glory! and instead of stating it as an inference which they drew from the doctrine, to state it as what the apostles actually taught. This is the common mode in which charges are brought against others. People draw an inference themselves, or suppose that the doctrine leads to such an inference, and then charge it on others as what they actually hold and teach. There is one maxim which should never be departed from: "That a man is not to be held responsible for the inferences which we may draw from his doctrine; and that he is never to be represented as holding and teaching what we suppose follows from his doctrine." He is answerable only for what he avows.
Let us do evil - That is, since sin is to promote the glory of God, let us commit as much as possible.
That good may come - That God may take occasion by it to promote his glory.
Whose damnation is just - Whose "condemnation;" see the note at Romans 14:23. This does not necessarily refer to future punishment, but it means that the conduct of those who thus slanderously perverted the doctrines of the Christian religion, and accused the apostles of teaching this doctrine, was deserving of condemnation or punishment. Thus, he expressly disavows, in strong language, the doctrine charged on Christians. Thus, he silences the objection. And thus he teaches, as a great fundamental law, "that evil is not to be done that good may come." This is a universal rule. And this is in no case to be departed from. Whatever is evil is not to be done under any pretence. Any imaginable good which we may think will result from it; any advantage to ourselves or to our cause; or any glory which we may think may result to God, will not sanction or justify the deed. Strict, uncompromising integrity and honesty is to be the maxim of our lives; and in such a life only can we hope for success, or for the blessing of God.
on Romans 3 :8
3:8 Whose condemnation is just - The condemnation of all who either speak or act in this manner. So the apostle absolutely denies the lawfulness of doing evil, any evil, that good may come.