Romans 2:1-11

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.

Observation

  • You have no excuse.
  • Everyone who judges others has no excuse.
  • When we pass judgment on another we condemn ourselves.
  • What you condemn others of doing, you are guilty of practicing.
  • God’s judgment falls on those who practice the things listed in chapter 1.
  • We know God’s judgment will fall on those who practice such things.
  • We know God’s judgment will justly fall on those who practice such things.
  • We are not to presume on God mercy and kindness.
  • We will not escape God’s judgment.
  • We presume on the kindness and patience of God.
  • God’s kindness and patience is to lead us to repentance.
  • We store up wrath against ourselves.
  • We store up wrath because of our stubbornness and unrepentant heart.
  • The wrath we store up will come on the day of God’s judgment.
  • There is a day of God’s judgment.
  • The wrath we store up will come when God’s righteous judgment is revealed.
  • The day of God’s judgment will be a day of wrath.
  • God will give to everyone according to their works.
  • God will give eternal life to those who do good in order to bring glory and honor and immortality.
  • God will give wrath and fury to:
    • Those who are self-seeking.
    • Those who will not obey the truth
    • Those who obey unrighteousness
  • There will be tribulation for everyone who does evil.
  • There will be distress for everyone who does evil.
  • The Jews are first in line for the wrath of God followed by Gentiles.
  • God is not partial either to the Jews or to the Gentiles.

Interpretation

Paul gets personal quickly. In the last half of Chapter 1 it is easy to read that and say, “Yeah those guys are bad. They will justly be judged by God.” Paul has listed some pretty vile vices. But Paul opens chapter 2 with, “In case you think you are any different, think again! You are just as bad a sinner as everyone you are condemning. You do everything you condemn others of doing.”

We may try to defend ourselves by saying, “I have not committed adultery, and I am not committing any homosexual acts. I have not done any of those things. Paul you are wrong!” But go back to what Paul says in Chapter 1. The essence of the sin, all of them, is the refusal to worship God, honor God and thank Him for His goodness. It is because of that God has given men over to their desires. Those actions are symptoms of the disease. We may not all have the same symptoms but we all have the same disease i.e. sin.

We are condemned twice, first for doing evil, then again for our hypocrisy. When we judge we lay a claim of innocence and virtue, things we do not possess. Since we do not possess virtue, it is not our place to judge but God’s. God alone can lay claim to pure righteousness.

Why would we presume that God will condemn others and not us? It is complete arrogance to think that God would judge our sin. We are all under judgment. We are all sinners.

Knowing God is a forgiving God, it is easy to fall into the trap of acting ungodly and presuming God’s forgiveness. It is like the old joke. “Don’t pray for a bicycle. God does not work like that. Steal one and then ask for forgiveness.” That may be a joke but it is the theology of many today. Since we believe in eternal security, it does not matter what we do. We presume on God. Paul argues that such behavior is due a harsher punishment. For those who have received God’s forgiveness, ought to show thankfulness. But rather than being thankful and serving God more fervently, we abuse God’s kindness and mercy to store up wrath for ourselves. God’s kindness is to lead to repentance not to be abused and used as a license to sin.

Paul mentions that God “will render to each one according to his works…” Some have tried to take this to justify a works based righteousness. In doing so they fail to account for the source of the good works, because later, in Chapter 3, Paul says, “…no one does good, not even one.” When Paul refers to well-doing and seeking glory and honor, he is not meaning that they aspire after anything other than God’s favor. But they cannot seek Him without, at the same time, striving for His kingdom. For those who do not seek after the Kingdom of God there will be wrath and fury.

Paul points out we are all wretched sinners, it does not matter who you are. The Jews claimed special favor with God because of genealogy. The gentiles claim ignorance. Paul cuts the legs out for both. For the gentiles, he was already pointed out that we do know God but we suppress that knowledge. (Chapter 1) For the Jews, who had the law, they did not obey God. So everyone is equally guilty.

Application

Think soberly for a moment about this passage. That which we condemn others of doing we have done or are doing. We excuse ourselves with, “At least I am trying to be better,” or “I don’t do that or believe that way anymore.” We are all sinners. We have all sinned and we continue to sin. Our condemnation of other is unhelpful and only aids in our own condemnation.

As our Lord said, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew (6:14-15) “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew (7:1-2)

Paul is laying it on strong. I hate to cut off the study here because it leaves us in such despair. Paul is laying out our need for the gospel. If after reading this section of scripture you are feeling the weight of your guilt, confess to Christ your sin, repent and trust Him for your salvation.

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