How should we interpret this verse: "If the righteous is repaid on earth, how much more the wicked and the sinner!"?

What does this verse mean?

Proverbs 11:31

ESV - 31 If the righteous is repaid on earth, how much more the wicked and the sinner!

Clarify Share Report Asked January 22 2018 Mini Anonymous

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
In my opinion, the possible confusion about the meaning of this verse stems from it speaking of the righteous being repaid on earth. The natural inclination might be to interpret the word "repaid" in the case of the righteous as speaking of their being rewarded by God. However, I think that the word, in fact, carries a negative connotation.

The verse is pointing out that, if even people commonly acknowledged or depicted as being righteous (including, for example, individuals such as Moses and David) did not escape punishment from God for those occasions when they disobeyed Him (such as when Moses struck the rock with his staff (rather than speaking to it, as God had instructed him) in order to provide water for the Israelites in the wilderness, and also spoke presumptuously as if he (rather than God) were the one providing the water to the people, for which God told him that he would not enter the Promised Land (Numbers 20:1-12); or when David committed adultery with Bathsheba and ordered the death of her husband Uriah, and God punished him by taking the life of David and Bathsheba's child, and also by the rebellion of David's son Absalom (2 Samuel 11:1-12:23; 2 Samuel 15-18)), then there is even more certainty that God will punish the egregiously wicked and sinful for their deeds, also.

(And, of course, there is also the fact that no human (other than Jesus) has ever been truly "righteous" (in the sense of being without sin) in God's eyes, and that it is only by God's grace and faith in Christ's atoning death and resurrection that any of us are (or can be) saved)

January 22 2018 1 response Vote Up Share Report

My picture Jack Gutknecht ABC/DTS graduate, guitar music ministry Baptist church
Proverbs 11:31
This construction is one of the “how much more” arguments – if this be true, how much more this (arguing from the lesser to the greater). The point is that if the righteous suffer for their sins, certainly the wicked will as well. Proverbs 11:31 bible.org

The cross-references to Prov 11:31 are
Proverbs 11:31 = 2Sa 7:14,15; 2Sa 12:9-12; 1Ki 13:24; Jer 25:29; 1Co 11:30-32; 1Pe 4:17,18

The classic cross-reference to Proverbs 11:31 ("If the righteous are recompensed on earth, how much more the wicked sinner! ")

is 1 Peter 4:17-18. (I love Nave's Topical Bible, and now it's available online free!--Nave's topical bible pdf)

--1 Peter 4:17-18 (ESV) says:

17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

Dr. Warren Wiersbe comments on 1 Peter 4:17-18 that this should be a motive for Christians to witness. "Instead of being concerned only about ourselves, we need to be concerned about the lost sinners around us. Our present “fiery trial” is nothing compared with the “flaming fire” that shall punish the lost when Jesus returns in judgment (2 Thess. 1:7-10). The idea is expressed in Proverbs 11:31—“If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner!” (niv).

July 10 2023 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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