Topic: Describing the sins of the Jews – Divine principles of judgment that prove that the Jews are equally condemned with the Gentiles
Text: Romans 2:1-11
In the last week lesson, the universal sinfulness of humankind was introduced by studying the sins of the Gentile world. In today’s lesson, Paul continues the subject by turning his attention on the Jews. Romans 2:1-11 is, however, not quite clear whether Paul was still thinking about the Gentiles or Jews. There are three possible interpretations. Some scholars are of the opinion that Paul was still speaking to Gentiles because he did not mention Jews until verse 17. Others think he was referring to anyone, Jew or Gentile, who thinks that for some reason he is better than other people in the sight of God, because verses 9-10 refer to ‘every human being.’ Others also say Paul was speaking to Jews, because they were particularly aware of the special blessings they had received (2:4), and believed themselves to be superior to Gentiles (2:1). In this study, we shall follow the last interpretation remembering that these words are often as true of Gentiles today as they are of Jews.
Principles of Divine Judgment
In this chapter, Paul returns the searchlight on his own people, the Jews, and shows that they are equally condemned as sinners before God. For though they have the law, they do not do uniformly or consistently live up to the law, and therefore they, too, stand guilty before God. In 1:20, he states that the Gentiles are without excuse, and in 2:1 he states that the Jews are without excuse. In this second chapter, Paul points out four divine principles of judgment that prove the Jew is equally condemned with the Gentile.
- Judgment is according to God’s Truth (2:1-5)
Verse 1: No excuse: Paul’s teaching about judging agrees with that of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf
7:1), who did not condemn judging as such, but hypocritical judging. You who pass judgment, a warning that had special relevance for Jews, who were inclined to look down on Gentiles because of their ignorance of God’s revelation in the Old Testament and because of their immoral lives.
Verse 2: God’s judgement of men is not according to hearsay, gossip, our own good opinions, or man’s evaluations; it is according to truth (v2). How easy it is for us today, as in Paul’s day, to condemn others, yet have the very same sins in our own lives. People are often quick to see the faults of others, but slow to see the same faults in themselves (cf. Nathan’s story in 2 Samuel 12:1-9). Do you know of a similar story?
But the Jew may have argued back: Surely God would not judge us with the same truth he applies to the Gentiles. Why, see how good God has been to Israel. But they were ignorant of the purpose God had in mind when He poured out His goodness on Israel and waited so patiently for His people to obey: His goodness was supposed to lead them to repentance. Instead, they hardened their hearts and thus stored up more wraths for that day when Christ will judge the lost (Rev. 20).
It is common to hear people say: Oh, I’m sure God isn’t going to send me to hell. Why, He’s done many good things for me. Little do they realize that God’s goodness is the preparation for His grace; and instead of bowing in humble gratitude, they harden their hearts and commits more sin, thinking that God loves them too much to condemn them.
These same two excuses that the Jews used in Paul’s day are still heard today:
- I am better than others, so I don’t need Christ;
- God has been good to me and will certainly never condemn me
But God’s final judgment will not be according to men’s opinions and evaluations; it will be according to His truth.
- God’s Judgment is According to a Person’s Deeds (2:6-11)
The Jews thought they held the highest status among God’s people, not realizing that it is one thing to be a hearer of the law, and quite another to be a doer (v. 13). Keep in mind that these verses do not tell us how to be saved. They describe how God judges humankind according to the deeds performed in the course of life. Verse 7-8 are not talking about a person’s occasional actions, but the total purpose and drift of persons whole life, the “life-choice”. People do not get eternal life by patiently seeking it; but if they are seeking for life, they will find it in Christ.
As pointed out already, using the Jews as an example, Paul brings out some principles of Divine judgment that is applicable to all. Paul’s use of the phrases: each person (v.6), every human being (v. 9), everyone (v. 10) show that God is no respecter of persons but judges all mankind on the basis of the lives they have lived.
- What is the meaning of divine Judgment?
- Explain the statement that the Jews are without Excuse before God.
- How does God judge humankind according to God’s Truth? Discus
- What is your view on the statement that, God is not a respecter of persons?
- Does God’s Judgment according to persons deeds relate to salvation? Explain
Rev. John Kwasi Fosu
Pastor in Charge,
Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg