2:1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
Paul’s epistle to the Romans is expository in nature, meaning he intends to explain something. In Romans 1:18, Paul explains that the wrath of God is revealed against all men (men being an inclusive term for all humanity). With this fact present, no one was excluded from his wrath, particularly because of the original sin nature instilled in all humanity (we will further discuss depravity shortly).
Recognize this fact as we now home in on a sub-division of humanity, although it is a rather large deviance. The “therefore” which inaugurates Romans 2, is consequential to the attributes described in Romans 1:16-32. This is the passage addressing all who knew God but did not retain Him in His knowledge. Paul explains that there are none without excuse.
Much of these early Romans chapters will be preliminary to Paul’s dissertation and examination of salvation, which truly is a rather simple one (Romans 10:9).
Looking back to Romans 1:32, we see an interplay between the knowledge of the Jew and the knowledge of the Gentile. Here, the Apostle addresses those who “know[ing] the judgment of God…” This would be the apple of God’s eye, Israel (Jews), who esteemed God’s Law and Godly wisdom as the apple of their eye (Proverbs 7:1-3).
The Apostle Paul warns of those who know the Law, judge others by the Law, yet falls short of the Law themselves. This is the epitome of hypocrisy and of it, Jew and Gentiles are guilty.
The Jews transgression is to be held no less accountable, eternally at least, as the ignorance of a Gentile. God is impartial.
The term used here for “judge” is krinō which has a number of renderings but all stem back to a “judger.” This is literally someone who attempts to make judgements concerning what is right and wrong. Inherently, there is nothing wrong with this. But two things disqualified the Roman church from doing so.
First of all, Paul is addressing those outside the Body of Christ and or young in the faith. We know this by the content area addressed in chapter one. Paul states that those who he is addressing “that judgest doest the same things” (1).
On top of this, verse two has Paul explaining that the standard of right and wrong is not by man’s word. God judges (first thing to recognize), according to truth. Paul is calling these people who are aware of the Law of God, to return to the only standard by which any judgment can be made, which is the Truth. Not only this, but in righteous integrity, which without Christ, we have none. Here a problem arises.
Moving on, the perverted actions described in chapter 1 are something that the Roman church would be familiar with. Being a church and called out as separate, it would be easy to judge the lost brethren but in itself, this would be a sin for those within the church that did likewise (Romans 14:10-11).
The judgment of God is according to truth. There is a popular misconception that God is constantly angry and waiting to assault humanity to perhaps blow off some steam. This is not so.
Indeed, God has the attribute of love and indeed He has the attribute of wrath. But His wrath is consequent to His holiness and humanities assault on His truth (1 Samuel 2:2) . As we shall read, God provided all means to ascertain holiness (2 Corinthians 7:1). Even within an Old Testament context, God gave the Israelite people means to provisionally appease His wrath, all though countlessly violated (Leviticus 17:11).
2:2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
God is the only truly impartial judge. He is Truth, He speaks/spoke Truth, He authors all things authentically true, therefore when He aligns humanities conduct by His truth, what inevitably will He find?
2:3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?
[Reference notes on 2:1]
2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
Faith is something that we cannot be on the fence about. The question is: Are you for God or against Him? Culture now attempts to delineate and provocate “gray areas” where Scripture is “not entirely clear.”
Scripture is entirely clear regarding God’s goodness as an attribute and His patience for human offense against it. The goodness of God is what calls us to the Gospel, the manifold message of grace and truth.
The Gospel’s message is exclusive and the Gospel’s audience is inclusive. The message states that there is but one way to salvation and that is by believing in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and His finished work on the Cross and henceforth in the Resurrection. There is no greater example of goodness to mankind.
The Gospel’s audience is inclusive because anyone of any background, race, gender, and lifestyle can come to believe this and be radically changed by an entirely exclusive message. Think deeply and ask yourself this question:
With Christ’s ultimate sacrifice and resurrection, we now can live in truth and grace by the Holy Spirit pursuing holy living (Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Thessalonians 4:7). Spiritual life is the result of God’s goodness and grace . His righteousness is imputed (put on) to us making us “right with” God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Continuing on, Paul’s letter aims to establish a church that he did not plant. As Romans 14 and other select passages show, there were spiritually weaker believers within the church, who needed edifying guidance without over-critical commentary.
Coinciding this, Paul “hits two birds with one stone,” as there was obviously a Jewish lot within the Roman church. To a Jew reading this, their pride may be lifted up, until they see the coming passages and turn their attention to them where they are asked if they have any better hope by zealous dedication to the Law of Moses or the circumcision (Romans 3:1).
The scene is set within this letter to show that every person born is in desperate need of the salvation provided by Christ Jesus with no exceptions: Jew or Gentile.
2:5-7 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
These are the two routes that can be taken by humanity. There are no other two. Paul, up to this point, has not fully laid out the intricacies of each route but Gentile and Jew are being prepared to see what has been done on their behalf, and what their response should be in order to ascertain eternal life and furthermore, grow in faith.
That being said, one note should be made regarding sanctification, which we shall also read about in depth. Whether saved, or unfortunately not, this does not negate the fact that all people will be held accountable for their deeds.
All will give an account of themselves to God (Matthew 12:36; Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10). This is inevitable. Therefore, as we soon explore the topic of sanctification, I would like to prep you by offering that sanctification parallels justification.
However, like justification is an eternal matter, so is sanctification. Sanctification’s primary end is also to our refinement as vessels for good works, but unto Heaven where we will receive just reward, not a superficial title or ranking in this world (1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Timothy 2:19-21).
Neglecting these routes and continuing in self-righteousness cultivates hardness and impenitent hearts. The Greek word for “hardness” indicates a heart that is callous. The word impenitent represents someone who lives with a calloused heart, recognizes this, refuses or has no desire to change their mind (repent). They are synonyms; however, impenitent hearts progress from a heart that at first, was merely hardened.
As aforementioned, when saved, we begin living for a “good heavenly reward,” but before salvation there is no storing of goodness. Only a surplus of wrath that is built upon, ultimately ending in eternal judgment.
This judgment is righteous and once again, according to God’s Truth. You will have the fairest Judge of all time. Just understand, fairness is not always positive. If a serial killer was given back-to-back life sentences or death, this would be “more fair” than giving the serial killer a light sentence. God sees to it, that you get what you deserve.
When we are judged and are in Christ, God sees Christ’s work and gives us what He deserves. This is one of the many beautiful mysteries of God’s grace and love.