What does Romans 3:4 mean?
ESV: By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”
NIV: Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written: 'So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.'
NASB: Far from it! Rather, God must prove to be true, though every person be found a liar, as it is written: 'SO THAT YOU ARE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS, AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED.'
CSB: Absolutely not! Let God be true, even though everyone is a liar, as it is written:That you may be justified in your wordsand triumph when you judge.
NLT: Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about him, 'You will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court.'
KJV: God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.
Verse Commentary:
In the previous verse, Paul imagined someone asking a pointed question: If the Jewish people broke the law of God, does that mean He will no longer be faithful to them?

Paul answers with one of his favorite emphatic phrases. In modern English, this might be stated, loudly, as "no way!" In Greek, it reads "mē genoito," literally meaning "let it not be" or "may it never be so." English translations use the phrases such as "God forbid," "Not at all," and "By no means!" This exclamation is repeated many times in Romans.

Paul insists that God's faithfulness does not depend on human faithfulness. The sentence, "God will be true even if every man is a liar" may come from Psalm 116:11. Then Paul quotes directly from Psalm 51:4 to describe this aspect of God's character: "That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged."

In other words, God always keeps His word and remains faithful to His people no matter what they do. That's why His words and judgments are justified. He never ever breaks His side of any covenant agreement.
Verse Context:
Romans 3:1–8 contains a series of questions which might have come from someone opposed to Paul's teaching in Romans 2. Using this challenge-response structure, Paul clarifies that being Jewish and circumcised still comes with great advantages. He also points out that God remains faithful to the Jewish people in spite of their sin. In fact, His faithfulness in the face of unfaithfulness increases His glory. That does not mean, however, that God wants human beings to continue to sin, as some were accusing Paul of teaching.
Chapter Summary:
Romans 3 begins with a question-and-answer scheme. These are responses one might expect from someone opposed to what Paul wrote in Romans 2. Next, Paul quotes from a series of Old Testament passages. These Scriptures show that those writers also agreed that nobody, not one person, deserves to be called righteous. Paul declares emphatically that no one will be justified by following the works of the law. Finally, though, he arrives at the good news: righteousness before God is available apart from the law through faith in Christ's death for our sin on the cross.
Chapter Context:
The prior chapter explained that God's judgment on sin will come to all men, whether or not they understand the literal law. Faith in God, in the heart, matters more to God than rote obedience. At the start of this chapter, Paul answers a series of questions from an imagined objector to those teachings. Next, he quotes a series of Old Testament passages which support His teaching that human beings are by nature sinful. Each of us turns away from God. Nobody can be justified by the law, Paul insists. Fortunately, it is possible to attain God's righteousness: but only by His grace, through faith in Christ's atoning sacrifice for our sin on the cross. We must come to this by faith, and it is available to Jews and Gentiles alike.
Book Summary:
The book of Romans is the New Testament's longest, most structured, and most detailed description of Christian theology. Paul lays out the core of the gospel message: salvation by grace alone through faith alone. His intent is to explain the good news of Jesus Christ in accurate and clear terms. As part of this effort, Paul addresses the conflicts between law and grace, between Jews and Gentiles, and between sin and righteousness. As is common in his writing, Paul closes out his letter with a series of practical applications.
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