ROMANS CHAPTER 2
Paul has just finished showing how the Gentiles
were lost and without hope because they did not retain the knowledge of
God in their minds. In chapter two he will turn to the Jews. They will
present a completely different problem. They had retained the knowledge
of God in their minds and had the Old Testament law. But they were self-righteous
and had chosen to reject Godís word concerning Jesus. They had become hypocrites,
condemning the Gentiles but not realizing that the same law that condemned
the Gentiles also condemned themselves.
I. Jewish Hypocrisy
Verses 1-3 Therefore you are
inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge
another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.
2 - But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against
those who practice such things. 3 - And do you think this, O man, you who
judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape
the judgment of God?
A. "Therefore you are
II. Jewish Hardness of Heart
1. As we shall see from
the context, Paul now states that his own people are just as guilty before
the judgement bar of God and the Gentiles.
B, "But we know that the judgment
of God is according to truth against those who practice such things."
a. Reese says concerning
the word therefore, "The theme running all through the condemnation of
the Gentiles in 1:18ff, is that they have sinned in spite of better knowledge.
A man who knows Godís ordinance, and willfully rejects them, is in danger
whether he be Gentile or Jew."
2. He tells them that those who set
themselves up as judges of others condemn themselves because they are guilty
of the same kind of conduct. It is not the same sins, but it is rebellion
against God. Rebellion against God does not take the form of gross moral
perversion, such as that practiced by the Gentiles in chapter one, but
it is rebellion against Godís law nonetheless. The Jews never reached the
moral depths of the Gentiles nations, even though they were wicked at times.
But they were, both in Paulís day and ourís, guilty of rebellion against
Godís plan for them. By their rejection of Godís will they had shown a
spirit of rebellion against the will of God.
3. Paul is not condemning all judging.
It is completely false to hold that all judging is wrong.
b. God condemns judging
by standards different from His Word. This is the whole thrust of Matthew
7:1-5. We must be careful not to judge our brother harshly while we are
make allowances for ourselves.
c. But the Lord also says that
we must judge according to the truth found in His Word. See John 7:24.
d. In connection with this we are
to judge their fruits. See Matthew 7:15-20.
1. They Jews stood condemned,
because they had also been guilty of rebellion against God.
2. They had placed their full confidence
in the fact that they were physical Jews. In doing so they had chosen to
forget that they must live righteous lives of submission to the will of
God. They blind hatred of Godís will had caused they to practice wickedness
themselves in Godís name.
3. Because they have also rebelled
against God they will also not escape Godís judgement. The Jews believed
that they would be excluded from the judgement of God simply on the basis
of they physical relationship with Him. The Old Testament makes this abundantly
clear. Physical contact is not sufficient to save. They Jews could not
be saved because they had been entrusted with holy things, if they chose
to continue to rebel against God. See Jeremiah 7:3-4. They had never learned
from their mistakes. John the Baptist makes it clear that this is not the
case. Physical relationship makes no difference, it is the spiritual condition
of the heart that matters. See Matthew 3:9-10. They same is true today.
We may "have the truth" on baptism, the Lordís Supper, etc. but this will
never matter if we do not live holy submissive lives before God.
4. They were judged guilty by the
Word of God. See John 17:17. The Greek word used here is oida, which
carries the idea of awareness of that which is commonly known and obvious.
The Jews, like the Gentiles, had no excuse for disobeying Godís law. They
"made their boast in the law." But they were unwilling to accept what that
Verses 4-11 Or do you despise
the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing
that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? . 5 - But in accordance
with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for
yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment
of God, 6 - who "will render to each one according to his deeds": 7 - eternal
life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory,
honor, and immortality; 8 - but to those who are self-seeking and do not
obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness; indignation and wrath, 9 - tribulation
and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also
of the Greek; 10 - but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what
is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 - For there is no partiality
A. "Or do you despise
the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing
that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"
II. THE BASIS OF SALVATION FOR
JEW AND GENTILE
1. To despise mean to
B. "But in accordance with your hardness
and your impenitent heart..."
2. Godís patience at the sins of
the Jews and their unbelief should not be considered indulgence but a desire
for them to come to repentance.
1. They had hardened they
hearts to the teaching of God. This was seen in rejecting the truth given
by God because it did not agree with their self-righteousness. See John
C. "Who will render each one according
to his deed"
2. These impenitent Jews were building
up an account of wicked rebellion which could never be repaid by any earthly
deeds of righteousness. Compare this to how a Christian is to "bank." (Matthew
1. There will be no judgement
based on a relationship to others. Since all have sinned, it is pointless
to compare ourselves to one another in relation to our standing before
God. Today, many Christians will seek to justify themselves by saying,
"Iím not as bad as those sinners outside the church." But we will not be
measured by what others have done or not done.
D. "eternal life to those who by patient
continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality"
a. See 2 Corinthians 5:10;
2. There is another principle here
stated that goes against the grain of the majority of the religious world.
Most hold that Paul teaches that a personís deeds have absolutely nothing
to do with their salvation. But here Paul states that God will reward each
according to their deeds. Paul does not teach here, neither does he anywhere
else teach, faith only salvation as taught by the Protestant world. Obedience
to Godís will has always been necessary for salvation. "For in Christ Jesus
neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working
through love" (Galatians 5:6).
1. Eternal life was not
based upon the physical standing a person had with the Father. It will
be the personal attitudes and actions of the individual which will save
him. It is also obvious that Paul had in mind the person who realizes their
spiritual poverty and turns to God in obedience and remains faithful to
E. "but to those who are self-seeking
and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness; indignation and wrath"
2. See Matthew 5:3; 25:34-40 and
2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.
1. Notice the contrast.
Those who have eternal life patiently continue to do good (i.e. Godís will)
while those who are damned will be self-seeking (prideful) and refuse to
obey the truth (Godís will as revealed in His Word).
F. "For there is no partiality with
1. In spite of what these
prideful Jews thought, there was now no difference based upon race. Both
Jew and Gentile were lost outside of Christ. Both Jew and Gentile could
be justified within the body of Christ. See Ephesians 2:11-16.
Paul will deal with the fact that
the Jews had the written revelation of Godís will. Did that give them special
standing for salvation? Paul is going to show that simply having the truth
was not nearly as important as what one does with that truth. As Christians
today, we "have" the truth. What are we doing with that truth?
Verses 12 -16 For as many as
have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have
sinned in the law will be judged by the law 13 - (for not the hearers of
the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be
justified; 14 - for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do
the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to
themselves, 15 - who show the work of the law written in their hearts,
their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts
accusing or else excusing them) 16 - in the day when God will judge the
secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.
A. "For as many as have
sinned without law will also perish without law..."
Verses 17-24 Indeed you are called
a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, 18 - and know His
will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of
the law, 19 - and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind,
a light to those who are in darkness, 20 - an instructor of the foolish,
a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law.
21 - You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You
who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 - You who say,
"Do not commit adultery," do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols,
do you rob temples? 23 - You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor
God through breaking the law? 24 - For "the name of God is blasphemed among
the Gentiles because of you," as it is written.
1. The Gentiles did not
have the Law of Moses. They were guilty of spurning the light that God
had given them.
B. for not the hearers of the law
are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified..."
2. The Jews had a written revelation
from God. In this they had an advantage. But they spurned the light that
they had been given, the Law of Moses, thus they were in the same condition
1. The Jews had the written
law and made their boast in it, but they did not obey it. It took more
than just having the law, it took obeying the law.
C. "in the day when God will judge
the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel."
2. Paul uses the principle that
if the Gentile obeyed the unwritten law, "written in their hearts", they
would be able to be justified in the sight of the Lord. Those Gentiles
who lived according to the light they had would be justified on Judgement
3. MacArthur uses the Greek word
for hear here (akroates) and illustrates the point by referring
to a student simply auditing a college course. He further states, "In many
synagogues during Paulís time, teaching did not focus on Scripture but
on the system of man-made traditions that the rabbis had developed over
the centuries since the Exile. Frequently, Godís Word in the Old Testament
was merely read and listened to, without explanation or application. Most
Jews, therefore, were simply Ďauditing the course,í hearers of the Law
and nothing more."
1. Jesus will judge all
mankind according to the gospel. That does not mean that those who lived
and died before Christ came to earth will be condemned because they were
not baptized into Christ. Jesus will judge all mankind, but men and women
will be judged according to the law that they lived under.
2. All sins will be brought to
light at the Judgement. There will be no secret act that will not be brought
out in the open. They are already known by God. See Hebrews 4:12.
3. All will be saved by the blood
of Jesus. All who lived by faith will be cleansed by the blood of Jesus.
See Hebrews 9:15.
A. "Indeed you are called
Verses 25-29 For circumcision is
indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the
law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 - Therefore, if an
uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not
his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? 27 - And will not the physically
uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written
code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law? 28 - For he is not
a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in
the flesh; 29 - but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is
that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not
from men but from God.
1. They were proud of
their fleshly inheritance as descendants of Abraham. They wore it as a
badge of honor, but had lost sight of the fact that it was not through
any special merit of their own that they were chosen out of the rest of
the tribes of the earth. They had lost sight of the fact that the reason
they were set apart was to be the means for spreading Godís saving message
to the entire world. See Genesis 12:3
B. The Jews had been blessed.
1. They had the written
C. "You, therefore, who teach another,
do you not teach yourself?"
2. They had a special relationship
3. They were instructors of the
Law, being knowledgeable of it,
4. But for all these advantages,
they had become hard-hearted and hypocritical.
1. They were happy to
point out how the Gentiles did not live up to the high moral principles
of the Law of Moses. They were good at condemning others.
D. "You who make your boast in the
law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?"
2. But, they did some of the same
things that they condemned the Gentiles for.
a. For example, the Jewish
leadership lied and suborned perjury for the sake of having Jesus killed.
b. Jeremiah indicts the Jews of
his day of adultery. - Jeremiah 5:7-8.
c. Theft and adultery were two
of the most heinous things that a Jew could be found guilty of. Yet, they
were being practiced by many in Paulís day. Jesus accused the Jews of making
the temple a den of thieves. (Matthew 21:13).
d. Robbing temples - One possibility
is that Paul is referring to the "robbing God" that Malachi talks about
when he says that they did so by not giving him his proper tithe. See Malachi
3:8-10. Second it is possible that some Jews in Paulís day had do this
act, i.e. plundering pagan temples. Taking heathen idols for mercenary
reasons was strictly forbidden under the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 7:25).
This was a charge that the Ephesian town clerk defended Paul against (Acts
19:37). It is possible that some of the Jews were involved in this crime
and justifying it to themselves with the thought that they were actually
doing Godís service.
1. Their lives were making
a mockery of what they taught.
E. "For Ďthe name of God is blasphemed
among the Gentiles because of you,í as it is written."
2. These things must not be considered
as isolated events in the lives of a normally pious people, but are the
regular acts of a hypocritical people. This tells us that our lives must
be exemplary examples of what we teach, or else we are simply playing the
3. They had no right to teach the
Gentiles, for the were guilty of the same pattern of wickedness as them.
See Psalm 50:16-20.
4. "When those who go by Godís
name are openly sinful, or are exposed as being privately sinful, God and
His Word are understandably ridiculed by the world. The unbeliever has
no reason to repent of his sins and turn to God for salvation if he sees
professed believers committing the same sins."
1. Their teaching may
have been sublime, but their lives repulsed thoughtful Gentiles.
2. Reese thinks that Paul is referring
to either Isaiah 52:5 or Ezekiel 36:20-23.
A. "For circumcision is
indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the
law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision."
1. Circumcision was a
token of the covenant between God and His people. It was a symbol, but
it wasnít the covenant. The covenant was that Godís people would serve
Him faithfully and live by His precepts. In turn God would bless them and
be with them and claim them as His people. God kept his side of the covenant.
The Jews had failed miserably in keeping their part.
B. "And will not the physically uncircumcised,
if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and
circumcision, are a transgressor of the law?"
2. They had developed into a people
who kept the symbols but not the substance. They jealously guarded circumcision.
No Jewish man would have been admitted to the fellowship of Jews. See Paul
and Timothy in Acts 16:1-3. But they began to look on simply the keeping
of the token as being all that God required and not the covenant that the
a. This can happen to
us today. The Lordís Summer is a symbol of Godís communion with His people.
Is it required that Christians keep the Lordís Supper? Without a doubt!
But we cannot substitute Lordís Supper keeping for keeping the Law of Christ
in our lives.
3. The Jewish Christians were even
seeking to bind circumcision upon the Gentiles Christians (Acts 15:1).
Such was the power of a symbol in the lives of the Jews of Paulís day
4. Because of the hypocritical
lives they had turned their circumcision into a mockery and had made it
useless as far as God was concerned.
1. Those who are uncircumcised
judging the circumcised? Could this really be? Yes. These Gentiles who
had lived according to the light that God had given them would be justified
in Godís sight, while those circumcised Jews who were hypocrites would
be lost. The righteous Gentiles would stand as an indictment of the Jews
who put more stock in the outward appearance, rather than the condition
of the heart before God. Even without all the advantages of the Jews which
they made their boast in, these who obeyed the "law of the heart" would
stand in better stead before God than those who were circumcised and yet
C. "For he is not a Jew who is one
outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh"
2. It is also the case that there
would be thousands of uncircumcised Gentile Christians who would stand
justified in Christ while many Jewish Christians of the day put their trust
in circumcision and stand condemned before God. Coffman contends that the
whole thrust of the section is the Gentile who has obeyed the gospel and
has not been circumcised and those legalistic Jews who held onto circumcision
and continued to make their boast in it.
1. Here is culmination
of the chapter. Jewishness here in not a physical condition which can be
confined to one race. It is the relationship of Godís chosen based on their
spiritual condition. Circumcision has nothing to do with the heart.
2. Many seek to lump baptism
into the same category as circumcision here. There is a fundamental difference.
Circumcision was never intended to be the iniatory action which places
a person in Godís family. Jews had been born into that relationship. It
was intended as a token, or sign, of their relationship with God. Baptism,
on the other hand, is the line which divides the world from Godís people
and can be clearly shown as that action which puts us into a relationship
with God. See Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:1-4; 1 Peter 3:21.
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