Chapter two opens like this “Therefore you have no excuse,”
Chapter two is starting deep within a thought, the passage, therefore, demands that we stay within the context. To do that we have to go back to Romans 1:21.
Romans 1:21 NASB For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Who is Paul speaking about in Romans 1:21 when he says they?
Can we apply this statement to ourselves?
The short answer is yes. BUT, since we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit, are we subject to the wrath of God, as Israel brought on themselves? (See Ephesians 1:13).
The long answer is No, as it certainly seems as though there are so-called Christians that fit the description we see in Romans 1:21. If you don’t understand this idea of so-called Christians, then consider what John said.
1 John 2:19 NASB They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.
It is rather clear that not everyone is a part of the body of Christ. Since we have a terrible time distinguishing between wheat – an edible grain, and brome – a weed, it is wisest to let Jesus sort them out at the end of the millennium.
Sealed is the Greek word sphragizō and means to stamp for security, preservation, to secure to someone, make sure, deliver over safely.
All the defining words for sealed lean toward God marking us, just as He marks the 144,000 so that they cannot be harmed. At this juncture, I want to point something out. God is not necessarily preserving you from the daily tribulations of life – for some, those tribulations are deadly and we are not in the time of wrath as yet. So don’t go thinking that tribulations include the propeller on your speed boat. Considering that Jesus said, they will hate you because of Me; this hatred then would have more to do with your testimony, whatever that looks like, than your whining about having to replace the tire rim on your sports car.
Back to Romans 1:21 “For even though they knew God…”
What qualified as knowing?
Samuel, raised in the courts of the “temple” should have and would have known God and His ways/laws, and yet his sons did not.
1 Samuel 2:12 NLT Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels who had no respect for the LORD
Job, lamenting to his companions, tells them to shut up and listen for a moment, and then they can go back to berating him. When they stop talking, he says,
Job 21:7-13 NLT “Why do the wicked prosper, growing old and powerful? (8) They live to see their children grow up and settle down, and they enjoy their grandchildren. (9) Their homes are safe from every fear, and God does not punish them. (10) Their bulls never fail to breed. Their cows bear calves and never miscarry. (11) They let their children frisk about like lambs. Their little ones skip and dance. (12) They sing with tambourine and harp. They celebrate to the sound of the flute. (13) They spend their days in prosperity, then go down to the grave in peace.
And yet they say to God,
Job 21:14-18 NLT ‘Go away. We want no part of you and your ways. (15) Who is the Almighty, and why should we obey him? What good will it do us to pray?’ (16) (They think their prosperity is of their own doing, but I will have nothing to do with that kind of thinking.) (17) “Yet the light of the wicked never seems to be extinguished. Do they ever have trouble? Does God distribute sorrows to them in anger? (18) Are they driven before the wind like straw? Are they carried away by the storm like chaff? Not at all!
And James in the New Testament says,
James 4:17 NLT Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.
Historically, what do we know of people obeying God’s law and ways, or not?
Eve, knew the law, even when there was none (written in stone); she disregarded the law that was passed to her by Adam and partook of the fruit. Cain knew the law, and we can know this because God himself said, if you do what is right. The implications are that Cain knew what was right. The statement from God would be illogical if this information had not been passed along to Cain. Noah, upon leaving the Ark, made a sacrifice, proving that he too knew what was right, and still there was NO known law, as we understand it.
Romans 1:32 NASB and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
Chapter one of Romans spells out how the Gentiles, without the law, practice the law of God, and contrasts this against the Jews, who were given the law of Moses, and expected to know it and live it.
So, the “they” can mean almost anybody here.
With Romans 2:1 the idea is that God is talking to people in general, and yet to a specific crowd that feels comfortable judging others.
Romans 2:1 NASB Therefore you have no excuse, every one of you who passes judgment, for, in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.
Who is passing judgment?
Aside from possible envy or racial hatred, why would the Gentile world pass judgment? The Jewish world, on the other hand, has a deep resentment for the Gentiles. (The Gentiles are not merely white Americans; they are anyone outside of Judaism; and, they are considered dogs. The Assyrians, for example, were considered among the nations, and, as we see in the story of Jonah, a hated people.)
We are told that those who pass judgments are only condemning themselves – for these judges are doing the same thing.
Romans 2:3 NASB But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?
If we are talking about believers, and that is who Paul was writing to, then what judgment(s) are we looking forward to?
None of us are looking forward to judgment, however, there is only ONE for the believer, and that is the Bema seat of Christ. At this judgment seat, you get rewarded.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
2 Corinthians 5:10 KJV
Judgment here is the Greek word bema.
J. Vernon McGee tells us:
“This was the place where the judges of the city would meet the citizens and would judge them for certain things—there was no question of life or death. At the judgment seat of Christ only believers will appear. It is not a judgment of the believer’s sins, which Christ fully atoned for on the Cross. The judgment is to see whether you are going to receive a reward or not.”
What if your judgments against others, entirely fall upon you, here, in this life; in my case, that was very true.
Does it strike anyone else odd when verse three describes an inescapable judgment and then refers to that judgment as, the goodness of God which leads to repentance?
Romans 2:4 MKJV Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, and the forbearance and long-suffering, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
Maybe the implication is this:
But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will judge everyone according to what they have done. (Romans 2:5-6 NLT)
Since the religious idea is that this judgment is completed while standing before Him, at the Bema seat.
Where are we at this point?
We made it; we are in heaven, and here you should NOT have any possible consequence of being sent back to earth, where you could endure the pains of God’s wrath.
If that is the case, then what’s the problem – why worry?
Yes, this inordinate mercy puzzles me too, and no, I do not have a good answer as to why this happens, aside from the fact that God is more merciful than I can comprehend.
The NASB renders Romans 2:6 in this manner.
“who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS:”
Thayer’s definition of render – is the Greek word apodidōmi. It means 1) to deliver, to give away for one’s own profit what is one’s own to sell 2) to pay off, discharge what is due 2d) to render account 3) to give back, restore 4) to requite, recompense in a good or a bad sense
Most of these definitions speak to me of a God showing mercy and giving life, where I often think that none would be deserved. An example of this is seen in point #1, where it says, “to give away for one’s own profit what is one’s own to sell.”
Jesus did just that and will do it, again. While, by legal standards, we do not, will not, and, cannot measure up, thank God, Jesus did measure up; and, we are not judged by any other standards.
In definition #2 we are told that He paid off and discharged what was due because of OUR sin. Therefore, our rendering would be based upon what Jesus deserved, not us, and He gets life with the Father; glory, and honor.
The context has not changed as we move forward.
Romans 2:7-10 NASB to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; (8) but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath, and indignation. (9) There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, (10) but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Verse ten screams out of the Sheep and goat judgment. – Matthew 25:31-46.
(I get it, religion screams that everyone being presented here, at the great throne of judgment, goes to hell; but that attitude demonstrates your lack of Biblical understanding and a leaning on tradition over scripture. You need to put those methods of interpretation in the trash.)
In Matthew’s account of the final judgment, the good shows up as Jesus responds to the crowd He designates as sheep, saying, you are gaining this access today because you acted in a similar loving manner that I would have. For example, you visited Me in prison; you gave Me a drink of water when I was thirsty; and, you put clothes on Me, when I had none, and so on.
Paul continues to explain –
Romans 2:7-10 NLT He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. (8) But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. (9) There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. (10) But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile.
Verses 7-10 have a positive and a negative spin to them.
Let’s just say that my goal is to live my life in the light of verses 7 and 10, where I pursue eternal life; keep doing good – as much as I am able; and to seek after the glory, honor, and immortality that God offers. Then the end result should be and will be, glory, honor, and peace from God.
Note the negative side of this.
“There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil – for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good – for the Jew first and also for the Gentile.” (Romans 2:9-10 NLT)
Romans 2:11 NLT For God does not show favoritism.
Although the theme leans toward the Jews and Gentiles,
What if, it is speaking to those of us, who by the grace of God alone, have salvation and peace?
What if, our salvation has nothing to do with where we can afford to eat dinner, the size of our RV, or the beauty of our KOA campground?
What if, no matter how much money you have, you found out that WE are all in the same boat, and our REWARD is based purely upon the conversational relationship we have with God and acceptance, on our part of His Son?