Sin's Condemnation The Guilt of the Self-Righteous
Jews Are Judged by Their Works
2:1 Therefore you are without excuse, O man, whoever you are who
For in that which you judge another, you condemn
For you who judge practice the same things.
2:2 We know that the judgment of God is according to truth against
who practice such things.
2:3 Do you think this, O man who judges those who practice such
and do the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?
2:4 Or do you despise the riches of his goodness,
and patience, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to
2:5 But according to your hardness and unrepentant heart you
for yourself wrath in the day of wrath, revelation, and of the
judgment of God;
2:6 who "will pay back to everyone according to their works:"
2:7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for
glory and honor and incorruptibility, eternal life;
2:8 but to those who are self-seeking, and don't obey the
but obey unrighteousness, will be wrath and indignation,
2:9 oppression and anguish, on every soul of man who works
on the Jew first, and also on the Greek.
2:10 But glory and honor and peace to every man who works good,
to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Jews Are Judged with Impartiality
2:11 For there is no partiality with God.
2:12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish
As many as have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.
2:13 For it isn't the hearers of the law who are righteous before
but the doers of the law will be justified
2:14 (for when Gentiles who don't have the law do by nature the
of the law,
these, not having the law, are a law to themselves,
2:15 in that they show the work of the law written in
their conscience testifying with them,
and their thoughts among themselves accusing or else excusing
2:16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of
according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ.
What excuses do you have for not living up to God's perfect
What types of sin do you get most angry at?
Do you find that you are struggling with a similar form of that sin
How might people think that they can escape the judgment of God by
In vs 4, how does God's kindness lead us to repentance? What sort of
What does it mean to "persist" in doing good? And have you always
in doing good?
Do you find that at times you are self-seeking and that at times,
people tell you the truth, that you reject it because it conflicts
your chosen lifestyle?
Would you characterize yourself as a "good" person? (Compare with
What about people who never read the Bible, who were not aware of
standards? Can they be excused? How will God judge them?
Characteristic of "Good" People
Rom 2:1Therefore 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.
In chapter one Paul spoke of people's outward sinfulness of which
would agree is bad. But here in this chapter he'll speak of sins
as the religious elite and self-righteous commit. Jesus' parable of
Pharisee and Tax Collector starts, "To
their own righteousness and looked down on
everybody else, Jesus told this parable:"Luke 18:9 Likewise there are
today, particularly among religious people who look down on everyone
else. While the hypocrisy that Jesus pointed out of the Pharisee in
that parable and of the religious elite in Matthew chapter 23, it is
even more tragically amusing to hear of the religious hypocrisy of
inherent in the Muslim community which should be obvious to all.
is, as this chapter will show, all are guilty and therefore all need
be saved, be it the homosexual or the imam.
Here the apostle confidently makes this claim because it is so
characteristic of human nature to be sensitive to those areas of
oneself is guilty, though it be secretly. Though it may not be the
particular sin of which one is guity, but rather the category of
Thus in being outraged at hearing of rape, one may nonetheless
themselves be involved in some form of sexual immorality, such as
As an example consider King David, who had committed adultery with
Bathseba and then had her husband secretly killed.
2Samuel 12:1-5 The LORD sent Nathan to David.
When he came to him, he said,
were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The
man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor
nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it,
grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank
cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from
one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the
had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to
poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him." David
and said to Nathan,
"As surely as the LORD lives, the man who
did this deserves to die!"
2Samuel 12:7aThen Nathan said to David, "You are
Rom 2:2,3Now we know that God’s judgment
those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere
pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you
escape God’s judgment?
He is not discouraging people from scrutinizing another. For isn't
himself doing so in these very sections? And doesn't he teach that
Christians should judge another, as he asks rhetorically, "Are you not to judge those inside
church)?" 1Cor 5:12b
Now there are those who frequently misapply the saying, "Judge not and you shall not be
judged". Luke 6:37
in order to condemn
others who scrutinize them, which itself is a violation of their own
interpretation of the saying. But many in this post-modernistic
would like to believe they can get away with anything so long as
don't scrutinize others. Jesus was actually speaking in a proverbial
sense of that which is human nature, namely that if you scrutinize
others, they will scrutinize you, which is a truisim. Try it. When
judge others, they will almost immediately turn around and judge
Such is one of the expression of self-righteousness - to try and
scrutiny by putting the spotlight on others. It started in the
where Adam, being accused by God, accused Eve in return, who then
turned the spotlight on the serpent. Pointing fingers is not going
help on the judgement day, where each must give an account of
themselves to God. And much as there are those of a liberal or
libertarian mindset who may claim there are no absolute moral
standards, such show their hypocrisy when someone does
bad to them.
Now consider incidents in which you've thought or pointed out
wrong about someone else, and consider whether in some way you had
likewise been guilty.
Things Happen to Bad People
Rom 2:4,5 Or do you show contempt for the riches
of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s
kindness leads you toward repentance? But because of your
and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against
for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be
Some ask as to why bad things happen to good people. But shouldn't
also ask as to why good things happen to bad people? This was the
queston Asaph expressed in Psalm 73
saying, "I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles;
bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens
man; they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their
necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous
hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no
They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they
oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues
possession of the earth. Therefore their people turn to them and
up waters in abundance. They say, "How can God know? Does the Most
have knowledge?" This is what the wicked are like— always
they increase in wealth." Ps
But when he thought further on this matter, this is
what he concluded, "When I
to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the
sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny."Ps
God is gracious to the wicked so that they may turned from their
wickedness and repent. He gives them grace - leeway for a time - and
time itself for them to reflect on the matter. And it is for this
reason the Lord delays his return, just as the judgement against
was delayed 400 years (Gen
"The Lord is not slow in
keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient
you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to
However the more grace, the more accountability. Thus for example
spoke of those who oppose the propagation of the gospel with
and said of them, "They
God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us
speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their
the limit." 1Th
Rom 2:6-8 God "will
to what he has done." To those who by persistence in
glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for
who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil,
will be wrath and anger.
The quote Paul is using is found in a number of places, both in the
and New Testaments.
32:19b You reward
according to his
conduct and as his deeds deserve.
Proverbs 24:11,12Rescue those being led away to
hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, "But we
nothing about this," does not he who weighs the heart perceive
not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each
according to what he has done?"
Mt 16:27 For the Son of Man is
come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will
each person according to what he has done.
Re 20:12bThe dead were judged according to
they had done as recorded in the books.
Now there are those who ignore the rest of Romans and simply take
verses out of context preaching a
different gospel. They claim that apart from faith in Christ, just
seeking God, seeking eternal life, that itself is sufficient to
a person for eternal life. Though in the gospel there is grace
which Paul will speak of later, here Paul is just speaking of Law,
namely that God is judicially obligated to give eternal life to
who do good, and wrath to those who do evil. He's not talking about
salvation by faith yet. He's not talking about grace yet.
Likewise on one occasion when a man who considered himself good (Mr 10:17), and on another
when a lawyer ask, "What must
do to inherit eternal life?", Jesus didn't answer with the
gospel of grace, but rather with the Law. He said, "What is written in the Law?"Luke 10:26 Such is the
those who think they are good enough to be saved. Such people don't
seek grace in view of their guilt. And so the gospel of grace is
irrelevant and inapplicable to them, until they come to conviction
sin, which is Paul and Jesus' purpose in speaking to the
in such a manner.
But if a person persistently only does good, never committing sin,
person will have earned eternal life. That's the Law. They earn
life simply because there is no basis upon which God could
condemn them. And those who do evil, will of course suffer God's
in accordance with God's judicial nature. What Paul is about to show
that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and as such
are not qualified to earn eternal life by good behavior.
This is not to say that those who have been justified by grace
faith can then live a lifestyle of sin. But again - in reality, due
the nature of regeneration, there exists no such person (1John 3:9), just as "There is not a righteous man on
who does what is right and never sins."Ecc 7:20
of Jew and Gentile Alike
Rom 2:9,10There will be trouble and distress
every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the
Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good:
for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
Good news for those who do good. But Jesus said, "No one is good— except God alone."Luke 18:19b That being the
case, only the bad news is left.
As for the Jew being first, he mentioned this also in Rom 1:16, "I am not ashamed of the gospel,
because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who
believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." The
Christians were Jews. Such Jews didn't "convert" to Christianity,
one can be both a Jew and a Christian, as these were not
with each other. Futhermore Jesus was Jewish. He was the Jewish
prophesied in such places as Isaiah
and the writers of the New Testament were Jewish. Paul
himself came from the strictest sect of Judaism, being a Pharisee.
the gospel of Christ also extends beyond Judaism to embrace all
nations. However as the more you know, the more you will be held
responsible, so also with the Jews. In chapter 3 Paul will
of the advantage of being a Jew, but with advantages come
responsibility and consequently accountability. Thus Jesus said, "That servant who knows his
will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants
be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does
things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From
everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from
one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." Luke 12:47,48
Impartial in Judgement
Rom 2:11-13 For there is no partiality with
For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without
and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law
not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the
of the law will be justified
Issues of favoritism and prejudice is a theme in the New Testament
primarily with regards to the prejudice the Jews had towards the
Gentiles. Remember he has yet to present the gospel of grace, which
apart from works. But apart from grace there is a performance based
salvation available for "good" people. As for why those who don't
the law will nonetheless be judged, he will speak on shortly.
With regards to the Jews, that is, those who have explicitly heard
law of God, his point is that there is no virtue in merely hearing
law if one does not practice it. It is vain for a Jew to rely upon
Jewishness to save him. "All
rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written:
is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the
of the Law.'" Gal 3:10
of the Conscience
Rom 2:14-16 for when Gentiles, who do not have
law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not
law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written
their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between
themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the
when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according
For this reason those who have never read the scriptures will
nonetheless be held accountable, for each is accountable to act in
accordance with their conscience. And "Anyone, then, who knows the good he
ought to do and doesn‘t do it, sins."Jas
And not only with regards to outward behavior. For God will also
the secrets of the heart. For example, "anyone who looks at a woman lustfully
has already committed adultery with her in his heart."Mt 5:28 and "Anyone who hates his brother is a
murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him."1John 3:15
Now while religious people worldwide may agree with his points so
here we see something they may not have known. Namely the Jesus
will be the judge. "For God
set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he
appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him
the dead."Acts 17:31
of the Religious Elite
Rom 2:17-20 Now you, if you call yourself a
if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; if
know his will and approve of what is superior because you are
instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide
the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of
foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the
embodiment of knowledge and truth—
Jesus and here Paul speak
of two classes of people - those who consider themselves right with
based upon being "good" and those who disregard God. Both need to be
saved. But the common approach to preparing "good" people for the
gospel is to show that they are sinners and thus need to be saved.
Paul starts to really focus on the religious elite, the
self-righteous with the same kind of tone Jesus used with regards to
the religious elite to convict them of sin.
Today such is the case not only regards to Jews or Muslims, and even
among Christians there are those who rely upon the law to justify
That is today we could just as well replace the word "Jew" here with
"Muslim" or "Christian".
However here he is not saying that these attributes are bad. For
example with regards to bragging about one's relationship with God
says, "Let not the wise man
of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich
boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that
understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises
justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight." Jer 9:23,24
With respect to God's will it says,
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be
transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to
and approve what God‘s will is— his good, pleasing and perfect
will." Rom 12:2
With respect to being a light it says, "For God, who said, 'Let light shine
out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us
light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."2Cor 4:6
With regards to teaching it says, "The
direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double
honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching."1Tim 5:17
So all these activities of which he is speaking are commendable.