About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
first word we see in Romans 2:1 is the pronoun "you".
We need to ask whom does "you" refer?
There are probably three possibilities that the context would
allow. In short, the verse
speaks of hypocritical judgment. By
that I mean those whom Paul had in mind, as we will see, judge others
when they commit the same sin. So,
the pronoun "you" can't refer to the sinners we saw in chapter
1. "You" must
refer to those who consider themselves not to be sinners.
That could mean those Gentiles or Jews who considered themselves
to be morally upright.
Next, we see the words “no excuse” again. We saw these words in the last chapter. Paul is now beginning to talk to, and about, a different group of people. In the last chapter Paul was talking about man in general, or the none-religious man who forsook God. Now, as I've said, he is narrowing his comments to the religious man who claims to know God, which also I have said, could well be Jews. He says that these people, the religious people, have “no excuse”, or, "no legal leg to stand on". They have no excuse because they commit the same sins they are judging others for committing, something Jesus tells us not to do in Matthew 7:1 to 6.
verse 1 Paul also says that when the religious man judges the
non-religious man he is condemning himself because he sins just as much
as the non-religious man. It's
all about hypocrisy. You
will remember that Jesus scolded the Jewish leaders for their hypocrisy,
and that is what Paul is getting at in this section.
the words "judge" and "judgment" in verse 1.
Some men judge others for what they do, but in so doing, they
condemn themselves because they are no different than the one's they
judge. It is important to
know that it is only when you judge hypocritically that you are
condemned. That is part of
what Paul is saying here. If
you judge someone for a particular sin and you do not commit that sin,
and, if you have Biblical motives for your judgment, you will not be
condemned. Your judgment is
in fact both valid and righteous. This too is the point that Jesus is
making in Matthew 7:1 to 6 that many Christians miss.
people, including Christians, don't understand Biblical judging.
They say that any kind of criticism is wrong, based on what Jesus
said in the first few verses of Matthew 7.
When Jesus told His audience not to judge lest they themselves be
judged, Jesus was not telling us that we should never judge.
The simple fact is that He was telling us not to judge in a
hypocritical fashion. He
specifically said that before you judge you should remove the spec in
your eye first. That is to
say, before you judge others, make sure you don't commit the same sin.
Once removing the spec, or, the sin, from your own eyes it is
then right for us to judge, understanding that such judgment is to be
redemptive and not in retaliation for an offense done towards you.
Christians don't know what Jesus told us in John 7:24.
He specifically told us on that occasion to judge, but, with
righteous motives. So there
you go. We are to judge, but
we are to judge according to a righteous standard.
We are not to judge by mere appearance, as Jesus also said in
verse 2 Paul believes we all understand that God's judgment towards
those "who do such things" is based on truth.
What exactly do the words "do such things" refer to?
They don't refer to the hypocritical one who judges the sinner.
These words refer to the sinner who is being judged by the
hypocritical righteous person. I
believe the context proves that to be the case. So,
when God judges the sinner, His judgment is correct because it is based
on truth. This might imply
that the hypocrite does not judge according to truth.
Of course, it's God's concept of truth that Paul is speaking of
here, not man's concept of truth. The
two are often in conflict with each other.
3 begins with the word "you", which refers to those who
consider themselves righteous. The
pronoun "them" is in reference to those the righteous view as
sinners. Paul simply states
that God will judge the hypocritical, so-called righteous man in the
same way He will judge the sinner. He
does so because He is no respecter of people.
God does not play favourites, because as verse 2 states, He
judges according to truth.
Paul's sarcasm seen in the words "mere man".
Mere man is not capable judging according to the truth.
He will always fall short in his judgment.
note in verse 2 that God's judgment "is based on truth".
That's His truth, which is, the only real truth.
God does not judge like man.
Neither does man judge like God.
God's judgment is pure, because it is based on the whole and full
truth as He understands it, and He understands all things as they really
are. This should show us the
importance of trying to understand God's truth.
Truth matters, but in this day in age, many people are forsaking
the pursuit of truth.
much of the western world today truth is relevant.
That means it varies from person to person and place to place.
What is truth to you isn't truth to me, and that's okay, or so
our world says. It's not
what the Bible says though.
should note that the way Paul makes his point in verse 3.
It is in the form of a question that has an obvious
"no" answer. Paul
is making his readers admit that he is right.
No is the only possible answer to Paul's question.
This is one way in which he presents his arguments throughout the
book of Romans. It's, ask a
question in such a way that there is only one possible answer that would
support his position. Paul
is very skillful in the art of argument.
verse 4 we see if we make such judgments, like the non-religious, self
righteous, man, we despise the rich kindness of God that should lead us
is contrasting love with justice in verse 4.
God is love. There's
no doubt about that, but, his love does not override the demand to be
in verse 4 we note that God's tolerance, patience, and kindness, should
lead us to repentance. This
means that God gives us lots of time and opportunity to change our
minds, and to repent. That
being said, there does come a day when His patience will end.
It will be too late to repent then.
has been said that only God's love and kindness can lead someone to
repentance, and that is correct. Yet
at the same time, Paul came to repentance through discipline, as seen in
Acts 9. God struck Paul
blind for three days. It was
this strike of blindness that woke him up to the need to repent.
In the book of Revelation you will note that even in the midst of
God's severe judgment, many do not repent.
So, there is most likely a balance here.
In the end, God's love will lead us to repent, but sometimes His
discipline gets us to a place where we can see His love.
need to understand the word "tolerant" here.
It is not used in the modern sense of the word.
Today tolerance means universal acceptance of every kind of
thinking and behaviour. We
all can think what we want. We
are all right in our own way. That's
not God's idea of tolerance. Tolerance
in this verse is more like patience.
He gives us time to change, but change we must.
That is not the modern concept of tolerance.
Really, Biblical tolerance is just the opposite to our modern
definition of tolerance.
we need to understand that the religious men that Paul is talking about
here are Jews. He’s in the
process of stating that Jews are in the same boat as Gentiles when it
comes to sin and separation from God.
5 states that there will be a day of “God’s wrath” when He pours
out His wrath on the wicked. Until
then people are storing up this wrath for every evil deed they do.
It is a form of negatively investing in your future.
Each wrong thing you do will add to your punishment.
see the term "the day of God's wrath" in verse 5.
Many liberal people do not believe that God can be angry or show
wrath, but that is far from the truth.
You might ask, "When is the day of God's wrath?"
Many Bible teachers believe the day of God's wrath is twofold.
It is the total sum of the Great Tribulation that occurs at the
end of this age. The word
"day" in the Bible can be understood as one day, or a number
of days. In this sense, it
is understood as many days, when God judges all nations and all people.
Of course, this day will end in one day, when God pronounces
judgment and sends the guilty to the
6 says that “God will give to each person according to what he has
done”. There's two ways of looking at this.
One is for the non-believer.
He will be judged for the things he has done.
There are levels of eternal punishment.
As I've stated above, this will take place at the White Throne
Judgment as seen in Revelation 20. On the other hand, the believer will
be rewarded for the good deeds he has done.
This is what Paul speaks about in 1Corinthians 3:13.
The bad deeds will have been wiped out of God's record book.
phrase "give to each person according to what he has done"
should not be understood in relation to faith and works as they relate
to salvation. Salvation is
still, and always will be, by faith in the grace of God.
The point Paul is making in these first few chapters of Romans is
that salvation is by faith, and not by works.
For those who are saved by faith, they will receive rewards
according to their good works done from faith.
If their good works are done apart from faith in a humanistic
fashion, they will not be rewarded for.
On the other hand, those who end up in the
7 is a difficult verse for some. We
must understand Paul's words in the context of the whole book of Romans.
This is a point of Biblical interpretation.
The verse says that God will give eternal life to those who do
good. If you take these
words alone we loose our teaching of “salvation by faith alone”.
Salvation would become a thing of good works.
This verse must be understood in light of what Paul is going to
clarify later, and that is salvation is by faith and not by works.
The good works here have to be those good works that are done as
a result of your faith. As
Paul mentions in chapter 1, verse 5, “an obedience that comes by
faith”. Good works
preceding faith mean nothing. Good
works as a result of your faith will reap an eternal reward for you.
see that it is those who persistently seek glory, honor, and
immortality, will receive eternal life.
We note that there is a persistence involved, as you see in the
life of Paul. Many obstacles
were placed in front of Paul that would stop most from doing God's will.
What I believe Paul is saying here is that as Christians who trust
Jesus, we must forge on and persist through all of the things that come
our way to destroy our faith. Life
for the Christian is really a fight to maintain one's faith.
also the words, "glory, honor, and immortality".
Paul is speaking of godly glory and honour, not human glory or
honor, and that is backed up by the word "immortality".
Only God gives immortality.
verse 8 we see those who are self seeking and reject the truth are
recipients of God's anger and wrath.
Note here that God's anger and wrath are listed as two separate
things. That is because they
are two separate things. We
can understand anger in the ordinary sense of anger.
Wrath is not simple anger. Wrath,
in Biblical terms, is an uncontrollable outburst of anger.
Wrath is an explosion of anger that can no longer be held back,
but must vent itself. This
is what God's wrath is all about. The
day will come when He will no longer hold His anger back.
His anger will explode on all those who reject the truth in
the words "self seeking" in verse 8.
Paul links self seeking with rejecting the truth of God.
That is a reasonable conclusion.
If you don't seek God's truth, you seek your own truth.
You put self before God. All
people battle with selfishness and that includes Christians.
If you are not batting with self, that tells me that you've given
into self instead of the Lord.
verses 9 and 10 Paul states that for those who reject the truth of God
there will be a day of great distress.
I believe that day begins in the Great Tribulation at the end of
this age and ends in the
the other hand, Paul says that those who seek to do good based on faith
will be rewarded. They will
be rewarded in the next life, and as many Prophetic Futurists believe,
they will be rewarded by escaping God's wrath in the Great Tribulation
via a pre-tribulation rapture.
uses the words "to the Jew first, and then to the Gentile".
This is a basic principle of Scripture.
Since God called Abraham to be the father of the great nation of
verse 11 Paul says that God does not show favoritism.
I think those of us who have grown up in the Evangelical church
world and have lived relatively good lives can easily feel that God may
think better of us than others. God
does not show favouritism to anyone, not even to us.
I'm convinced that most people, including Christians, think more
highly of themselves than they should.
Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that our hearts are so wicked that we
don't know how wicked they really are.
As good as you and I might think we are, in the core of who we
are, we are wicked, and given the right circumstances this wickedness
can escape into actions.
of that I've said in the above paragraph being said, the specific
context of verse 11 in my opinion is that Paul had the religious and
non-religious, or, the Jews and the Gentiles, in mind.
Both groups are sinful. God
has no favourites when it comes to salvation.
Both Jews and Gentiles have equal access to salvation.
I remind you that even though the Jews are God's chosen people,
this chosen designation has nothing to do with personal salvation.
It has everything to do with
says in verse 12 that all who sin apart from the law will be punished
apart from the law. The
first thing we need to ask is; "What law is Paul talking about
here?" This is somewhat
of a debatable point but I believe law referred to here is the Law of
Moses. I think the Jew
Gentle context of verse 12 would suggest that.
if the Gentiles don't have the Law of Moses as their standard to live
by, they will still perish in the end. The reason is seen in the White
Throne judgment of Revelation 20. If
one chooses to not be saved by faith then he will be judged by his
works, that is, evil works. This
is what the White Throne judgment is all about.
It's a day when the books are open and those whose names are not
written in the Book of Life will be judged according to their works.
In other words, everyone will be judged according to their works
unless they have chosen to live a life of faith in God's grace.
Gentiles, who have lived apart from the law, and, sin apart from
the law, will perish apart from the law.
verse 13 Paul says that simply hearing the law being read, as was the
case every week with the Jews, doesn't make one righteous; doesn't make
one right before God. Obedience to the law makes one righteous.
The Jews had the law, but for the most part did not obey it. So,
in reality, it was like they really didn't have the law, because they
says that only those who obey the law are declared righteous by God.
We will see later that this is an impossibility.
No one can obey God's law, therefore we all deserve punishment.
Paul does not say that here.
He will later. The
point that Paul is making here is that righteousness comes by obeying
the law. He is building his
case for righteousness by faith.
believe there a number of reasons stated in the Bible for the existence
of the Law of Moses and this is one.
In Old Testament times, it provided the means to be declared by
God as righteous.
this point I'd like to speak further about the Law of Moses.
It's my thinking that the written law was a shadow of what is in
the heart of God. I think it
is impossible to define and put into human terms on paper, the righteous
standards of God that are in His heart.
Jesus made that clear when He pointed out that adultery, for
example, was more than having sex with someone that is not your spouse.
Lusting after someone in your heart, in the eyes of God is
adultery. So, the written
law said, "don't commit adultery", but the law of God's heart
is, "don't lust". So,
even if someone could obey the written laws, it is impossible for them
to obey the laws found in God's heart.
This is so because at the core of who we are; in our hearts, we
are wicked, as Jeremiah 17:9 states.
verses 14 and 15 Paul speaks of Gentiles who don't have the written law
to obey. He says that if
they by their human nature actually obey the law, they are a law unto
themselves. Part of Paul's
point here is what I've said above.
It's not hearing the law being read that makes one righteous,
it's the obeying of the law that makes one righteous.
If by chance a Gentile could be obedient to the law then he would
be declared righteous by God. We
will see later that no one, no Jew or no Gentile is capable of obeying
the law. That being said, I
believe a non-believer can obey parts of the law of God.
I believe that is what Paul meant when he said that when Gentiles
do "things required by the law".
The word "things" suggests parts of the law to me.
He just can't obey it all. But,
if one law is broken, then the whole law is broken.
15 tells us that even the conscience of the non-believing Gentile is in
accordance with the law that they by nature obey, without even knowing
there is a law to obey.
16 ends this section. It
begins with the words "this will happen". What
will happen? Paul is talking
about the White Throne judgment seen in Revelation 20 as I've mentioned
above. God will not only
judge the evil deeds of those whose names are not found in the Book of
Life, He will judge their thoughts as well.
That is a scary thought.
note that God will judge the thoughts of man.
Judgment is more than about works and actions.
God gets right to the heart of the matter, and that is our
thoughts. We may not kill
someone, but we may think that we'd like to kill him.
God will judge that thought.
Paul makes this statement because he is in the process of
explaining that all of us are worthy of damnation and punishment.
No one has ever had a perfect thought life.
We're all condemned in the sight of God.
the words "my gospel". In
the present day Apostolic Movement, some make a big deal about these two
words. They say Paul had his
gospel. Peter had his
gospel. Each apostle had
their own gospel. I don't
believe that for a minute. All
of the first apostles preached the gospel of Christ.