We see St. Paul, while discussing about the merits and demerits of believers getting circumcised, posing an open question at Romans 3:7 (NRSVCE):

But if through my falsehood God’s truthfulness abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner?

My question is: According to Catholic Church, what exactly is the falsehood that Paul is referring to at Roman 3:7?

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    I do not think this chapter in Romans is actually about circumcision. The chapter starts off with..."What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision?" Paul answers his own question immediately after in the second verse. "much in every way" This chapter in Romans is actually about righterousness by faith not circumcision (ie it goes on to say we are all condemed under the law...both Jew and Gentile. We are saved by grace under righteousness by faith. This is the theme).
    – Adam
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 9:29
  • If the truth is the entirety of all that God reveals that He is, requires of us, and judges us according to then Paul's (and anyone's) falsehood would be whatever contradicts Him in thought, word, or deed. Paul is not referring to any one specific lie but to that, in man, which is contrary to God. Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 1:19

2 Answers 2


The overarching context is the necessity of the Gospel for salvation.

In Romans 3:5-8,

  1. But if our injustice commend the justice of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust, who executeth wrath?
  2. (I speak according to man.) God forbid: otherwise how shall God judge this world?
  3. For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie, unto his glory, why am I also yet judged as a sinner?
  4. And not rather (as we are slandered, and as some affirm that we say) let us do evil, that there may come good? whose damnation is just. ,

St. Paul refutes, with reductio ad absurdum arguments, a 6th objection that

If our unjustness (= sinfulness) serves to make God’s justness (= justice) stand out the more clearly, why are we still threatened with his wrath, and urged to seek justification? Is God not unjust in punishing such sinfulness?

Verse 7

is taken by most commentators as a further objection, in which case it is but a weakened repetition of v 5.

—The Epistle to the Romans, commentary by A. Theissen, A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture PDF p. 2100

cf. also St. Thomas Aquinas's commentary on Romans 3:1-8

  • Some versions like NIV have this opening phrase for the verse : ""Someone might argue...."as if to indicate that Paul is making a speculative suggestion of the situation. Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 5:24
  • Acts 16: 1-3: " Paul went on also to Derbe and to Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but his father was a Greek. . Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him; and he took him and had him circumcised because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek "" .This happens just after the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) in which a decision had been taken not to insist of circumcision of new entrants . Maybe, Paul is referring to the circumcision of Timothy at his order in contravention of the decision. Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 5:52
  • @KadalikattJosephSibichan If that is the case then Paul's "becoming all things to all people" is part of his falsehood. Timothy (a Jew) was circumcised, not because circumcision is anything but in order to "by all means save some". Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 13:12

This is from a Roman Catholic commentary. I doubt it's the only Catholic view or that this view is exclusive to Catholicism. It is more of a scholarly view based on Catholic scholarship.

.5. if our wickedness brings out God’s uprightness: A logical conclusion from Paul’s contention. If David’s infidelity does not nullify God’s fidelity, but rather makes it manifest, then man’s wickedness will bring about the manifestation of divine uprightness (the attribute, see comment on 1:17). is God unjust to inflict his wrath [on us]?: There is no contradiction in the manifestation of divine uprightness and wrath. Only a human way of looking at it would suggest that human wickedness should not be visited by divine wrath. Underlying the question is the suggestion that if man’s wickedness really brings out God’s salvific uprightness and fidelity, then he would be unjust in inflicting his wrath. Again Paul emphatically rejects the notion; see comment on 3:3.6. otherwise how is God to judge the world?: A fundamental Jewish belief regarded Yahweh as the eschatological Judge of the world (Is 66:16; Jl 3:12; Pss 94:2; 96:13; cf. Rom 2:16).7. if the truth of God…: This is really the same objection as 3:5, involving merely a third attribute.8. Paul does not take pains to refute the sophism involved in the accusation leveled against him (or Christians in general). Nothing in the text suggests that such accusations actually circulated in the Roman church and that this is why he mentions them.

Brown, R. E., Fitzmyer, J. A., & Murphy, R. E. (1996). The Jerome Biblical commentary (Vol. 2, p. 300). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

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