“God forbid!”

Those two words are translated as such in the King James Bible, and the old American Standard translation as well, because a literal translation of the words greek words “mey genomi” don’t really bring a strong enough emphasis on the emotion of the phrase. Translating the words literally would have it say “never be.”

Essentially the phrase means “do not bring that into existence; do not plant that thought in your mind, water it with contemplation and sprout it into action.”

How do you condense that expression into one short phrase: Old translators chose to just say “God forbid.”

The phrase appears a few times in Romans. Let’s consider one of them…

But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)
God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?

Romans 3:5-6

First of all, the little parenthetical at the end of v5 is a clue to help the reader understand Paul’s words. Paul’s argument is so erroneous that he makes sure you know these are not his ideas, but the ideas of misunderstood people (“I speak as a man”).

Paul had been telling the Jews that God used them to bring about the salvation of mankind, and that they needed that salvation too because they were sinners.

A Jew might hear Paul’s words and come to a false conclusion: He may say “if I’m unrighteous, and God used me (the Jews), then God worked His righteousness plan through unrighteous means.” Further, the misunderstood Jew might say “wouldn’t God be unrighteous to take vengeance on us for our sins, when our sins are the reason for His salvation?” In other words, the Jew might take Paul’s conclusion that “man’s sin is the whole reason we need a Savior!” and think “well then why is God punishing me for my sins! My sins are part of the plan!”

Is that conclusion right? Did God use the unrighteousness of the Jews in order to accomplish His righteous purpose in Christ? Are man’s sins part of God’s designed plans? Did God accomplish righteousness through unrighteousness? If man’s sin is the reason for God’s righteousness, then is God unjust for punishing man for his sins, when those sins are the reason God’s righteousness was revealed?

Paul answers:

“God forbid!”

Perish the thought! Don’t think that ever. Never ever.

After all, if God accomplished righteousness through unrighteous means then He would be an unrighteous God. And if He were unrighteous He would have no place to judge the unrighteous world. It is God’s perfect holiness and righteousness that allows Him to judge the sinful world. If He were just as unrighteous as the rest He would be unfit to sit in judgment.

The Jews thought that Paul was teaching that Israel’s sinfulness was excused because “it all worked out in the end; the Messiah came to save us.” So because Jesus came to die for their sins, and the death of Christ was God’s plan, all their sins were good because they were part of God’s plan.

That sort of backwards thinking forgets a few key facts:

Number One: Sinners deserved death, not the salvation of God.

Number Two: The good that came as a result of Jesus sacrifice, came because Jesus…was sacrificed! An innocent Man had to die; there is no “good” in that.

Number three: If man had not sinned God would not have needed to offer Jesus as a sacrifice. The Jews are saying the ends justified the means. Paul is saying the ends are still sins and your sins will condemn you without Jesus’ sacrifice.