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A Study and Exposition of Romans 2:1-16
(Part 1) * 2:1-5
Those who condemn sin in other people, but commit the same or worse sins are inexcusable.
He made free use of Christian vocabulary. He talked about the blessing of the Almighty and the Christian confessions which would become the pillars of the new government. He assumed the earnestness of a man weighed down by historic responsibility. He handed out pious stories to the press, especially to the church papers. He showed his tattered Bible and declared that he drew the strength for his great work from it as scores of pious people welcomed him as a man sent from God. Yes, Adolf Hitler was a master of outward religiosity-- with no inward reality!
B. Translation of the Passage
2:1 Therefore you are without defense all who are judging, for in which you judge another you condemn yourself for you do the same thing. 2:2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth on them who are doing such things. 2:3 And do you think this O man, you that are judging them that do such things and are doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? 2:4 Or do you despise the riches of God’s goodness and the forbearance and the longsuffering not know that the goodness of God brings you to repentance? 2:5 But according to the hardness and impenitent heart, you treasure up to yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation and righteous judgment of God. (GM)
C. Full Exegetical Outline
2A The Righteous judgment of God has been revealed to be against any persons who pervert the righteousness of God. (1:18-3:20)
1B The righteous judgment of God has been revealed against the Jews who have perverted the righteous judgment of God (2:1-16)
1C The Jews have perverted the righteous judgment of God by condemning sin in the Gentiles while they are practicing the very same sins. (2:1-5)
2C The Jews who have perverted the righteous have been treated without any partiality or distinction by God (2:6-11)
3C The Jews who have perverted the righteous judgment of God do not have an advantage over the Gentiles
D. Simple Point Outline
2A The Sinful Hebrew Are Under the Wrath of God (2:1-3:8)
1B The Judgment against the Hebrews is Declared (2:1-16)
1C The Jews deserve the wrath of God (2:1-5)
2C The Jews are treated impartially by God (2:6-11)
3C The Jews have no exemption from the wrath of God (2:12-16)
E. Exposition Proper
The section, 2:1-16, is part of the larger and second section of material in 1:18-3:20 (cf. the outline provided in the first session). The function of this material, as the therefore in 2:1 indicates, it to demonstrate that the Jews are as equally guilty before God and are rightfully under the wrath of God even though they are Jews.
Paul levels the playing field between the Jews and the Gentiles. He demonstrates how they are both condemned before God because of their sin. He demonstrates how or why the Jews are condemned. In this section Paul demonstrates that the Jews are guilty and liable to God.
This is true because the Jews not only condemn the vile sinful practices of the Gentiles but they are also guilty of the very same sins that they are condemning. The point of 2:1-16 is to silence the Jews agreement with Paul and to realize why God’s wrath has been revealed against them and the Gentiles. This passage shows that God does not judge individuals based on their race but on the behavior or practices.
The Jews thought that God condemned the Gentiles because they were Gentiles. They also believed that God would not condemn them because they were Jews. They failed to see that God judges based on individual lifestyles.
Conclusion: The Jews are guilty and have no viable excuse to exonerate them from the wrath and judgment of God. This is the point that Paul makes in 2:1-16.
This section, 2:1-16, can be broken down into three (3) smaller units; 2:1-5, 6-11, and 12- 16. The first sections deals with the fact that the Jews deserve God’s wrath, the second section deals with the fact that God deals impartially with the Jews, and the third section deals with the fact that God judges behavior or practice rather than possessing or not possessing the law of God.
2:1-5 With the introductory word therefore Paul securely connects 1:18-32 (and 1:18-3:20) with 1:32, namely that all those who practice the aforementioned sins are guilty and are deserving of wrath.
Paul begins by setting his “sights” on the “person” who is holding the Gentiles in contempt and criticism. This “person” has agreed with the diagnosis and the prescription given by Paul in chapter one and this “person” concludes with a hearty Amen. This “person” believes himself to be far superior to the sinful heathen described in 1:18-32.
This person does not know that “he” is in the same boat as the heathens he has just passed judgment on. Who is this person? Paul is referring to the Jews. As previously mentioned Paul brings the Jews into the mix in verses 9, 11 and the rest of the chapter, especially beginning in verse 17, refers specifically to the Jews.
Paul makes it clear that the Jews deserve this charge. They deserve the wrath and judgment of God because, not only do they condemn the Gentiles for their sin, they practice the very same sin.
2:6-11 This section forms a self-contained unit of thought. The main idea of this independent section is found at the very beginning and the very end of the unit. God will judge every person with perfect impartiality. He will judge each person on the basis of their own “works.” So this passage expands and explains the fact that God’s judgment is perfect. We see in this unit that there are two (2) possible results.
2:12-16 This section is closely related to verses 1-11. Paul continues to talk of the standard of God’s judgment and he continues to defend it. Paul is demonstrating why the Jews who have the law do not have any advantage over the Gentiles. Paul informs the Jews that it doing or keeping the law rather than merely possessing it that matters. He also states even the Gentiles who have never been given the law in a written form, have the law in their heart. The Jews have no advantage.
Exegetical Idea: Although the Jews are God’s covenant people they deserve the judgment of God against them since they have perverted the righteousness of God.
Theological Idea: Although all human beings are God’s creation they all deserve the judgment of God that is against them since they have all perverted the righteousness of God.
Homiletical Idea: The Jews deserve the wrath of God
Idea: The Jews deserve the wrath of God.
Why do the Jews deserve the wrath of God?
This passage supplies three reasons that tell us why the Jews deserve the wrath of God:
· The Jews are guilty of practicing sin in their daily lives (2:1-5)
· God judges the sins of the Jews with impartiality (2:6-11)
· The law does not exonerate the Jews from judgment (2:12-16)
2A The Sinful Hebrews (2:1-3:8)
1B God’s Righteous Judgment Is Declared (2:1-16)
1C The Judgment declared against the Jews is deserved (2:1-5)
2C The Judgment declared against the Jews is detached (2:6-11)
3C The Judgment declared against the Jews is defended (2:12-16)
Remember, David wrote, “He (God) loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.” (Psalms 33:5, NKJV)
To convert the original meaning of a passage of scripture from the ancient to the present requires you to observe and detect or determine the principles that are taught in the passage. This called principalizing the text.
G. The Principles of the Text
When you read scripture you must ascertain what the ancient writer said and what the ancient audience understood. But then you must extract principles from the text in order to make proper application.
There are at least five (5) principles in this text that make it relevant and applicable to you today:
Principle # 1 – There is no viable defense for sin.
This is something that we all need to realize and to use as a principle by which to live our everyday lives. The Jews were not only sinners, but they were hypocritical sinners. They thought they were shielded from the anger and judgment of God because they were Jews. Jews condemned the sin of the Gentile while practicing or committing the same sin.
There is no defense for sin. When we try to stand behind a shield or a defense of some kind, it stops us from accepting responsibility for our sin and from confessing our sin as sin.
Even though our sin was dealt with by Christ on the cross, we still experience daily sin. Jesus likened it to feet and ankles that got dirty when the disciples walked on the dirty paths and dusty roads. The disciples might not need a complete bath but hey certainly needed their feet and ankles cleansed or washed.
This is what John meant when he wrote 1 John 1:7-2:1. We don’t need to be saved again each time we sin, but we do get our “feet dirty” as we experience each day. So we need to agree with God that our sin is sin and confess the daily acts of sin that we commit.
The danger is becoming like Flip Wilson when he took on the persona of Geraldine. If you remember when ever Geraldine “sinned” “she” would say, “The Devil made me do it.” Maybe. But not probably. The Devil can only be in one place at one time and I doubt he is messing with you or me. We sinned, the sin remaining in our flesh lured us and enticed us and we succumbed to the temptation and we sinned.
So there is no viable defense for sin. It is not somebody else’s fault, it is not because of our hair color, our nationality, our spouse, our children, our employer, or other people. Nothing will stand up as an excuse or defense in God’s court when God judges.
By the way any teaching or idea that produces a sense of security in sinning against God is false.
And so, the first principle found in this text that we should guide our attitudes and actions by is, there is no viable defense for sin.
Principle # 2 – God is just in everything that He does.
This principle should govern and color everything thing that we think about God. God’s process and standards are infinitely superior to any of our process or standards. God is absolutely perfect and without any prejudice or partiality in everything that He does.
Genesis 18:25 ends with this question, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25, NKJV)
Deut 32:4 says, “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His was are justice. A God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.” (Deut 32:4, NKJV)
Ps 37:28a, “For the LORD loves justice…” (Psalms 37:28a, NKJV)
Zeph 3:5 – “The LORD is righteous in her midst, He will do no unrighteousness. Every morning He brings is justice to light; He never fails… (Zephaniah 3:5, NKJV)
Revelation 15:3 says, “They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb saying: ‘Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the saints!’” (Revelation 15:3, NKJV)
Do you really believe this? Do you believe it concerning your own life? Are you committed to the principle that anything and everything that God does in our life or allows in your life is absolutely just and perfect?
Or do you or have you felt that God was a little unfair or unjust for the things that have taken place in your life? Do you trust God to always treat you justly or are you disappointed with the way God has handled your life?
Life takes on a whole different hue when we fully are committed to the principle that God is absolutely just and perfect in everything He does.
Principle # 3 – The Design of God’s goodness, patience, and longsuffering is to lead a sinner to repentance
Psalms 25:8 says, “Good and upright is the LORD; therefore He teaches sinners in the way.” (Psalms 25:8, NKJV)
Psalm 119:68, (You are good, and do good…” (Psalms 119:68, NKJV)
God hates sin. He has an intense and holy hatred of it. We see God’s hatred for sin in a number of places:
· The spiritual death and physical death of Adam and Eve
· The universal flood that killed every man, woman, boy, girl, toddlers, and infants
· The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
· The brutal killing of His own Son on the cross
· The death and destruction of the bowls and vials in the tribulation
· The creation of an eternal lake of fire
It is clear that God hates sin. It is also clear that God does not instantly wipe out anyone who sins. Men have lulled themselves into a fatal and false security because they think that because God did not deal with their immediate sin immediately that He doesn’t care.
God is very patient. In fact He is perfect in His patience. His patience is designed to lead sinners to repent of their sin.
So, when we sin in our daily lives, God may not judge or discipline us immediately. He may withhold chastisement as He encourages us to repent of our sin.
It is a tremendous abuse of God’s goodness and His patience to use his goodness and patience as a reason to continue to sin or to refuse to repent.
Always keep this in mind, if the goodness of God does not lead a sinner to repentance, it will harden a heart which will increase or intensify God’s anger and condemnation.
Principle # 4 – A sinful and harden heart refuses to repent of sin
Sin breeds sin. One sin stacks on to sin and dulls and hardens the heart. At some point there is no more sorrow for sin; for violating the standards of God. The heart stops caring and is hardened. There is no repenting.
Sin causes hearts to grow hard, especially continual and unrepentant sin. Now we know that “if we confess our sins, [Jesus] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:9). However, if we don’t confess our sins, they have a cumulative and desensitizing effect on the conscience, making it difficult to even distinguish right from wrong. And this sinful and hardened heart is tantamount to the “seared conscience” Paul speaks of in1Timothy 4:1–2. Scripture makes it clear that if we relentlessly continue to engage in sin, there will come a time when God will give us over to our “debased mind” and let us have it our way. The apostle Paul writes about God’s wrath of abandonment in his letter to the Romans where we see that godless and wicked “men who suppress the truth” are eventually given over to the sinful desires of their hardened hearts (Romans 1:18–24).
Principle # 5 – Refusing to utilize God’s goodness and patience in order to repent will aggravate God’s anger and judgment against sinner
The goodness of when abused aggravates or increases the anger of God. The abusers of God’s goodness accumulate a store of anger for themselves.
Sins will be punished according to their accumulation. A man is rich based on the amount of his treasure. So the wicked will be punished according to the number and severity of their sin.
The unrepentant Jew and for that matter the unrepentant Gentile are making deposits into a bank account which one day he will collect to his eternal damnation.
[So, what should you do?]
H. The Application
P First, remember that God hates sin. He hates sin in an unbeliever and he also hates sin in a believer. More than once New Testament Bible writers tell believers to avoid sin and to put to death sin. Paul will tell the Romans to put to death sin in their mortal bodies and to refuse to allow sin to use their various body parts. Always remember God hates sin.
P Second, avoid refusing to repent when you do sin. Even though God hates sin and has freed the saint from the bondage of sin, we do sin. Repent immediately. Do not quench the convicting work of the HS. Don’t blame others, don’t refuse personal responsibility, and don’t excuse your sin. Avoid refusing to repent.
P Finally, thank God for His goodness that led you and continues to lead you to repentance. Thank God that He has not hardened your heart through sin to His grace and goodness. His goodness and grace is designed to lead you to repentance in order to cleanse the slate and restore fellowship with Him. Don’t let sin rob you of that precious fellowship. Always be thanking God for His justice and goodness.
So, I exhort you as genuine believers to: always believe that God is just. God will deal with the lost, Jew or Gentile and will deal with you perfectly and justly. I exhort you to not abuse the grace and goodness of God.