God’s Righteous Judgment
2 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.
God’s Judgment and the Law
For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
Romans 2 Commentary
by Hank Workman
We could rattle off a list. It’s the things we find so offensive or off with people. We categorize these as sin. We place degrees on them as well. There are some that we believe to be worse than others, some we feel as though aren’t as bad. We stand pretty boldly on such things, holding to our opinion, justifying by Scripture. We all do this. And, according to Paul, we’re all in trouble. Paul makes a very strong point.
You can almost see it. This letter is read to the church in Rome. The people in attendance are nodding their heads, agreeing with how abominable the sin is of which he lays out. In fact, it’s the last paragraph of chapter 1 he’s incredibly specific with a list. You can almost hear some hearty “Amens!” being spoken or shouted as these offenses are spoken. “Finally”, they think, “finally someone is calling it for what it is…” Then Paul turns them upside down, “You have no excuse. You’re just as bad!”
Paul unequivocally stresses that no one is good enough. Sin is sin. We all struggle with this. And we must be mindful that setting ourselves up as judge and jury on others brings about a harshness of judgment upon ourselves, from the One who has the ultimate say.
Throughout this chapter, I thought of Jesus’ words in Matthew 23 where he called out the Pharisees for washing the outside of the cup while the inside was dirty. They continued to use the measurement of the Law against people and their behavior. These held in judgment were never good enough according to their standards. Jesus’ point and what Paul reiterates here is we must look inwardly first and allow the Spirit of God to cleanse our own hearts. It’s far too easy to stand behind the Judge’s bench passing judgment upon others who are not living up to the standards of God, or the ways we perceive them to be living.
All of us have sinned and fall short. Our lives must reflect the cleansing of Jesus both outwardly and inwardly. Our life must be a continual reflection of the grace of Jesus saturating every aspect of our life, which should manifest itself in our own interaction with these whom we would classify as sinners even. We’re just as bad as these whom we stand in judgment over without the continual renewal and washing of Jesus.
Romans 2 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
When you hold up God as the standard, as you should, that standard is one that not only condemns the person you are correcting but yourself as well. As the old saying goes, “You’re preaching to yourself.” This is the overall message Paul is getting out to believers in Romans 2.
It is so easy to point the finger at others, isn’t it? We do it without even thinking about it. It is a mindset that has not been corrected by humanity – even today. I mean, I catch myself doing this all the time! I can’t believe that person would talk like that. I can’t believe that person ate that much. I’m glad I’m not a _______ like they are! Even if we have disciplined ourselves to hold our tongue with politeness, the thoughts in our minds roar with hypocrisy and judgment.
Humility and repentance weren’t new concepts when Paul wrote this letter. The ancient Jew would have understood exactly what Paul was talking about. The Talmud (the book of Jewish law) prescribed the exact same behavior.
“Rabbi Eliezer says: Repent one day before your death. Rabbi Eliezer’s students asked him: But does a person know the day on which he will die? He said to them: All the more so this is a good piece of advice, and one should repent today lest he die tomorrow; and by following this advice one will spend his entire life in a state of repentance.”Shabbat 153a
Spending your entire life in repentance? That sounds like a New Testament theme!
Live By The Law, Die By The Law
Without Jesus, it is easy to slip into a fatalistic mindset with regard to sin. We think, “Why should I even address sin if I will never conquer it in my own life?” With this type of mentality, no pastor would be qualified to preach because it would be pure hypocrisy. This is not unreasonable to conclude. But there is something different between the writing of the Talmud and the era in which Paul is writing Romans 2.
The law is no longer what guides our life! The hopelessness of trying harder and harder to please God has continually brought us back to our sin. So, Paul is highlighting the core issue. No matter how good you think you are; no matter how your peers view you; no matter how much you compare yourself to others; we are all in the same boat when it comes to the law.
If the law does not lead us to Jesus, we have missed what God intended. If we are not doing what we are saying, we have missed what God intended. God is not fooled by hypocrites!