Romans 2 - God Judges In Truth

INTRODUCTION: Since Paul has not been at Rome to establish the believers there with his teaching in person, he needed to write about many things related to the joining of Jew and Gentile into one body in Christ. Paul began to emphasize the danger of Jewish believers unfairly judging others for actions and desires that can only be changed in the heart by belief in, and surrender to, the Lord. Being a Jew seeking the righteousness of God through the keeping of the law will not succeed. Chapter 2 of Romans is in my own paraphrase, to some extent in an amplified style, prepared by examining several translations, and with some use of a Greek lexicon.

NOTE: Verses in the comments are from the 1769 King JamesBible.


A - GOD IS THE RIGHTFUL JUDGE OF SIN FOR ALL PEOPLE

Romans 2 "1 Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whosoever you are who makes judgments: for wherein you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who makes judgment do the same things. 2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who commit such things. 3 And do you think, O man, who makes judgment of such things done by others, and does the same, that you shall escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance, holding back with longsuffering; not knowing that such goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But after your callous hardness and impenitent unchanged heart you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will give a return to every man according to his deeds: 7 To those who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto those who are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10 But glory, honor, and peace, to every man who works good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11 For there is no respect of persons with God."

COMMENTS: In chapter one Paul made it clear that all people without exception, are born with the sin nature that keeps them separated from God, and he listed a number of examples of sins committed against God. It is only by grace through faith that Christ brings each believer into fellowship with the Creator of all mankind. Therefore, no believer should judge another person for sin against God, because only God can make righteous judgment. When we leave to God the judgment of those who commit such things we can be sure that his judgment is according to truth. But if we decide to judge others we in effect despise the rich way that God has shown even to us, his great kindness and patience as the only way to be led to repentance before God. Jesus very quietly confronted a group of accusers with their own sins. John 8 "4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with [his] finger wrote on the ground, [as though he heard them not]. 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9 And they which heard [it], being convicted by [their own] conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, [even] unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." That last statement by Jesus should cause us to cherish the blessing of grace that can lead us away from sin.

God has not changed since the writing of the Psalms, and he alone will make final judgment of the sin that keeps people separated from him: while offering the grace that can save them. Psalm 9"7 But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment. 8 And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness. 9 The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. 10 And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee."

Paul warned that if anyone, Jew or Gentile, has hardened their heart and will not repent of their sin, they will receive the full wrath of God upon their soul on the day of revelation. But those who patiently continue in well doing while looking ahead to eternal life, will receive glory, honor, and peace without regard to whether they were Jew or Gentile, because God does not show favoritism to any particular group or class of people, since all need to put off the old nature. Ephesians 4 "21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."


B - GOD WILL JUDGE SECRETS OF JEWS AND GENTILES BY JESUS CHRIST

Romans 2 "12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13 For those who only hear the law are not just before God, but those who do the law shall be justified. 14 For when the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, though without the law, their conduct indicates a knowledge of the law: 15 as they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, while in their thoughts they are accusing or else excusing for the time; 16 until the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel."

COMMENTS: All people who remain in their sin will perish whether or not they knew the written law of God. The ways that are pleasing to the Lord must be written on the heart of each individual to bring them to saving faith, and to help them live a pattern of repentance. Only some of those who know the law of scripture allow it to change them from within, while some who do not seem to know much about scripture do accept Christ in their heart with evidence of change. True repentance is determined by the God who knows the secret thoughts of every person. The gospel of Christ speaks of the coming day when Jesus Christ will judge whether the Word of God has become the light of our soul which we allow to shine by our manner of living. Luke 8 "16 No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth [it] under a bed; but setteth [it] on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light. 17 For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither [any thing] hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. 18 Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have."


C - MISCONDUCT BY JEWS BRINGS DISHONOR TO GOD'S NAME

Romans 2 "17 Now, for you who are called a Jew, and seem established in the law, and make your boast of God, 18 And know his will, and approve the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; 19 And are confident that you yourself are a guide of the blind, a light of those who are in spiritual darkness, 20 An instructor of the unwise, a teacher of those with limited learning, thinking you have the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. 21 You, therefore who teach another, don't you teach yourself? You who preaches that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 You who says a man should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhores idols, do you act Disrespectful or irreverent toward God? 23 You who makes your boast of the law, through your own breaking of the law do you disrespect and dishonor God?"

COMMENTS: Paul warned Jews to consider the way their lives represented Christ within themselves, before they tried to direct others to godly living. This was very much like the teaching of Jesus. Matthew 7 "1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." Jesus upbraided religious leaders in Israel of their hypocrisy, and I have chosen just a few of such verses. Matthew 23 "23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier [matters] of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 24 [Ye] blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. 25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26 [Thou] blind Pharisee, cleanse first that [which is] within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead [men's] bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity."

Jesus also reminded us that many of the provisions of God are common to all people everywhere, so we need to endeavor to be like the Lord. Luke 6 "35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and [to] the evil. 36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:"

The Jews saw miracles in Egypt before Moses led them out, and the LORD destroyed Pharaoh's pursuing soldiers. But then the people of Israel through forty years in the wilderness continually complained and rebelled against the LORD. When they entered the promised land, Throughout the many centuries of judges and kings, the people fluctuated between idolatry and revival to God, and even periods of civil war within the twelve tribes. King Manasseh seemed to bring Judah to a peak of rebellion against God. 2 Kings 21 "9 But they hearkened not: and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel. 10 And the LORD spake by his servants the prophets, saying, 11 Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, [and] hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which [were] before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols: 12 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Behold, I [am] bringing [such] evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle. 13 And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as [a man] wipeth a dish, wiping [it], and turning [it] upside down. 14 And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies; 15 Because they have done [that which was] evil in my sight, and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day." That last sentence speaks of the many centuries of repetitious rebellion of Israel, but it also shows the patience, grace, and forgiveness of our Lord for so long!


D - ONLY CIRCUMCISION OF THE HEART BRINGS GLORY TO GOD

Romans 2 "24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. 25 For circumcision has value if you keep the law: but if you are one who breaks the law, your circumcision is made worthless as though not circumcised. 26 Therefore if one not circumcised keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? 27 And won't the uncircumcised who by their nature fulfill the law, judge you, who by the letter and circumcision do transgress, violate, and ignore the law? 28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is the circumcision which is only outward in the flesh: 29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the written code; whose praise is not of men, but of God."

COMMENTS: Before Israel entered the promised land, Moses made it clear that they were required to love the LORD, to fear him, to follow his commandments, and to serve him with all their heart and soul. This was circumcision of the heart. Deuteronomy 10 "12 And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, 13 To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? 14 Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens [is] the LORD'S thy God, the earth [also], with all that therein [is]. 15 Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, [even] you above all people, as [it is] this day. 16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. 17 For the LORD your God [is] God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: 18 He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. 19 Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. 20 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name."

The northern kingdom had already gone into captivity when the southern kingdom was warned that they would face the same unless they "Circumcised themselves to the LORD, to take away the foreskins of their heart." Jeremiah 4 "3 For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. 4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench [it], because of the evil of your doings." Judah did not respond to the warning of the LORD, and they went into captivity.

Ezekiel wrote while he was captive in Babylon with many others taken from the southern kingdom of Israel. The LORD had brought judgment against the people of Israel because they had not followed after him, and when his blessing was removed the name of the LORD was profaned in the sight of other nations. Ezekiel 36 "16 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 17 Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings: their way was before me as the uncleanness of a removed woman. 18 Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols [wherewith] they had polluted it: 19 And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them. 20 And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These [are] the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of his land." Paul reminded the Jews of his day, that God had not changed, and they could still bring reproach to the name of the LORD if their hearts were not right before God. Believers need to show that they are set apart from those who live only for the things of the present world.

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord, I thank you for directing Paul to write these words to the Jews, that are so applicable to me, to be careful about judging the conduct of others when I can so easily do some of the same things. Lord, I believe that your judgment alone is always according to truth, and I thank you that Paul explained how my judgment of the conduct of another can easily show my disregard for the richness of your great kindness and patience that led me to repentance before you, and will do the same for others. Guide my thoughts and actions to point others to your word without applying my own standard for them based on their behavior or by how much knowledge they have of scripture. I believe that only you, God, can look on the heart of each person and know all of the secrets of each one of us. I ask Lord that you would give me the inner strength to show your light of truth and life within me, while always directing all praise to Christ Jesus my Redeemer. Just as with the Jews that you had chosen to be a light to the world, now Christians have that purpose in your plan. Help me, Lord, to be ever aware of my part in that purpose as a Christian, so my lifestyle will not be a cause of dishonor and disrespect to your name. I want to walk in all your ways, and to love you, and to serve you my LORD and my God with all my heart and soul. Through your Spirit, may I have the evidence of a circumcised heart to bring you honor and glory. Amen and amen.

Published 7 February 2016