What Shall We Say?

In seven instances in Paul’s Roman letter, he uses a question: “What shall we say?” Each one of these instances uses the question to make a particular point which will be briefly examined.

  • Romans 3:5: “But if our unrighteousness commends the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man).” Paul raises a possible objection by a Jew. God is not unrighteous in punishing us for living sinfully.
  • Romans 4:1: “What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?” Paul asks what Abraham had discovered about getting into the right relation to God. He found that it was by faith.
  • Romans 6:1: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” Because “grace reigned through righteousness” does not mean that increased sin brings about increased grace.
  • Romans 7:7: “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” Because people violated the law, and therefore became sinful, did not prove the law to be sinful.
  • Romans 8:31: “What shall we then say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” God has acted and what He has done in Christ constitutes the proof we need that glorification will be ours in due time.
  • Romans 9:14: “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.” If God selected Jacob, then the Jews could not think it unreasonable for God to reject the Jews and accept the Gentiles.
  • Romans 9:30: “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.” While the Gentiles did not seek righteousness according to the law, they became righteous by their obedience to the gospel.

Paul, using this effective literary device, emphasizes many wonderful points along his theme of the gospel being the power of God unto salvation (1:16). We are fully blessed, rejoicing in the glorious message of justification by faith.

Kyle Campbell

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