Romans 2:3-4 Commentary

Romans 2:3 But do you suppose (2SPMI) this, O man, when you pass judgment (PAPMSN) on those who practice (PAPMSA) such things and do (PAPMSN) the same yourself, that you will escape (2SFMI) the judgment of God? (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: logize (2SPMI) de touto, o anthrope o krinon (PAPMSN) tous ta toiauta prassontas (PAPMSA) kai poion (PAPMSN) auta, hoti su ekpheuxe (2SFMI) to krima tou theou

Amplified: And do you think or imagine, O man, when you judge and condemn those who practice such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape God's judgment and elude His sentence and adverse verdict? (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

Barclay: Are you counting on this, O man, you who set yourself up as a judge upon people who do such things and who do them yourself—that you will escape the condemnation of God?

KJV: 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?

NLT: Do you think that God will judge and condemn others for doing them and not judge you when you do them, too? (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: What makes you think that you who so readily judge the sins of others, can consider yourself beyond the judgment of God? (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you reason thus, O man, who judges those who practice such things, and are doing the same things, that as for you, you will escape the judgment of God?

Young's Literal: And dost thou think this, O man, who art judging those who such things are practising, and art doing them, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? (Eerdmans)

Romans — 3:21-5:21 Romans — 6:1-8:39 Romans — 9:1-11:36 Romans — 12:1-16:27
God's Holiness
God's Grace
God's Power
God's Sovereignty
Jew and Gentile
Gods Glory
Object of
of Sin
of Grace
Demonstration of Salvation
Power Given Promises Fulfilled Paths Pursued
Restored to Israel
God's Righteousness
God's Righteousness
God's Righteousness
God's Righteousness
God's Righteousness
Slaves to Sin Slaves to God Slaves Serving God
Doctrine Duty
Life by Faith Service by Faith

Modified from Irving L. Jensen's excellent work Jensen's Survey of the NT

AND DO YOU SUPPOSE THIS O MAN: logize (2SPMI) de touto, o anthrope: (2Samuel 10:3; Job 35:2; Psalms 50:21; Matthew 26:53) (O man - Ro 2:1; Daniel 10:19; Luke 12:14; 22:58,60 )

Romans 2 does not tell us how to be saved but shows us how God will judge (esp Ro 2:6-11).

Moule - “Thou” (you) is, of course, emphatic. We must remember how often the Jews of that age clung to national privilege as if it were personal immunity. It was a saying, that to live in Palestine was “equal to the observance of all the commandments.” “He that hath his permanent abode in Palestine,” so taught the Talmud, “is sure of the life to come.” (Edersheim’s Sketches of Jewish Life, p. 5.) The tendency betrayed in such thoughts is deep as the fall of man, but it has its times and ways of special manifestation.

Suppose (3049) (logizomai related to the English "logic") (Click for in depth study of logizomai) means to think about something in a detailed and logical manner and draw a conclusion. Logizomai is an arithmetical word used in bookkeeping to describe the making of an entry into the account book. It includes the ideas of to calculate or compute, as when figuring an entry in a ledger. The purpose of the entry is to make a permanent record that can be consulted whenever needed. But it is often used metaphorically or figuratively where numbers are not in question with a meaning like “take into account”, “reckon”, “consider”. It is a word that invites to reasoning, which may be why it turns up so often in Romans. It is suited to the argumentative style that Paul adopts throughout this letter. Logizomai implies a process of reasoning.

The present tense indicates "O Man" is continually making a "spiritual miscalculation" regarding the fact that he is guilty of the very sins of which he accuses others!

John the Baptist warned his Jewish audience of the "miscalculation" that physical lineage or bloodline guaranteed immunity to God's judgment, admonishing them…

"Therefore (i.e., because of "the wrath to come" - the judgment of God) bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance (fruit or works would not save them but fruit borne of the Spirit and abiding in the Vine, Jesus, would prove they were genuinely regenerate new creations in Christ) and do not suppose (not logizomai but dokeo - still the idea is similar) that you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father' (i.e., just because you are a physical offspring of Abraham does not mean that you will escape from God's judgment); for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham." (Mt 3:8-9)

The able French commentator, F. Godet renders this section - Dost thou reason that thou wouldst escape, -thou? A being by thyself? A privileged person?" And he adds, "The Greek word here used (logizomai) well describes the false calculations whereby the Jews persuaded themselves that they would escape the judgment wherewith God would visit the Gentiles. According to the Jewish tradition only the Gentiles would be judged; while all ‘Jews, as the children of the "kingdom" of Messiah, would inherit it!"

Donald Grey Barnhouse offers this pithy paraphrase of Romans 2:3 - "You dummy-do you really figure that you have doped out an angle that will let you go up against God and get away with it? You don’t have a ghost of a chance. There is no escape. Do you understand? No escape-ever. And this means you-the respectable person, sitting in judgment upon another fellow creature, and remaining unrepentant yourself” (Expositions of Bible Doctrines, vol. 2, God’s Wrath. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans)

Paul obliterates his reader's false reasoning. He is saying in essence that…

Those using the law as their ladder to heaven will be left standing in hell.


The Greek Tenses are very important in an accurate interpretation of this passage - Practice and Do are both in the present tense which signifies that both speak of one's habit or lifestyle ("continually practice" "continually do").

In spite of the axiomatic truth that God judges righteously, there are always those who think they can escape the inescapable. In this verse Paul addresses those who think they will "get in before the Ark closes!"

The first insight into the minds of self-righteous moralizers is that they do not understand the nature and extent of sin. They imagine that because they have not actually committed one of the "big" sins, they are beyond God's judgment. The truth is that a man may not have committed adultery physically, but it has happened in his heart if they have looked at a woman with lust (Mt 5:27-28) They may not have committed murder, but numerous times their "knife of anger" has plunged into another person's heart (so to speak) (Mt 5:21-22). And the omniscient God sees both our external action but our heart attitude! He is not deceived by our indulging in self-righteous delusion by renaming a sin such as lying, by saying we are simply stretching the truth (aka "a little, white lie"). While others steal, we just "borrow." And while other people are prejudiced, we have "convictions."

The second insight, related to the first, is that the self-righteous have an intrinsic blindness to their own faults. They do not see they are doing the same things for which they condemn others. An example of this is found in the life of David (see previous note) after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and Nathan the prophet came and told the king the tale of a rich man who took a poor man’s sheep which the poor man loved and slaughtered it to feed his guests. David was horrified (2 Sa12:5-7) David, though immensely guilty of a similar and far greater sin, was blind to his own condition even while enraged at the similar sin of another. The religiously self-righteous easily forgets his own wrongs and feels that others’ sins are worse than his own.

As Brunner has said "The knowledge of the good is not the good itself”. I would add that righteous talk does not equate necessarily with a righteous walk.

Robert Burns famous request was

O, wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see ourselves as ithers see us!

THAT YOU WILL ESCAPE JUDGMENT: hoti su ekpheuxe (2SFMI) to krima tou theou: (Ro 1:32; Pr 11:21; 16:5; Eze 17:15,18; Mt 23:33; 1Th 5:3; Heb 2:3; 12:25)

Do you think that God will judge and condemn others for doing them and not judge you when you do them, too? (NLT)

The stress rests upon the second “you” of the verse , the Greek word for "you" (su) being emphatic (placed at the beginning of the Greek sentence for emphasis). Do you think that you, because you are "religious" or "moral", will escape? Do you think that you, because you are a Jew, will escape the righteous judgment of God? "Do you think that you of all people will escape… ?” The clear implication is of course “No; you do not stand a ghost of a chance. There is no escape, not now, not ever!”

Some Jews did expect precisely this: “even if we sin we are thine” (Taken out of context - This passage is from the apocrypha, Wisdom 15:2).

Wisdom 15:1-2 But you, our God, are good and true, slow to anger, and governing all with mercy (Ed: Yes, this is true!). 2 For even if we sin, we are yours (Ed: Not true if one practices a lifestyle of sin, so it should not be taken out of context, for even the latter part of this verse calls for a curtailing of sin), and know your might; but we will not sin, knowing that we belong to you.

Jewish tradition taught that Abraham sat at the gate of hell to prevent any Jew from entering! The Jews were not ignorant of God, but of God’s design to bring them to repentance. Jesus rightly accused the Pharisees and the scribes, the Jewish religious leaders, of

invalidating (making of no effect) the Word of God by your tradition (paradosis = literally that which is handed down, from generation to generation) which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that. (Mark 7:13)

Escape (1628) (ekpheugo from ek = out of, from + pheugo = move quickly from a point; flee; run) means to flee out of a place, flee from, run away or escape. The idea is to seek safety in flight or to become free from danger by avoiding some peril.

Ekpheugo - 8x NT translated in the NAS as: escape, 5; escaped, 2; fled, 1.

A review of the NT uses of ekpheugo gives one a graphic picture of the meaning…

Regarding His second coming and the difficult times that would precede His return Jesus warned men to "keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place (judgment of God when His wrath is fully revealed), and to stand before the Son of Man (the Righteous Judge)." (Luke 21:36)

The Philippians jailer "when (he) had been roused out of sleep and had seen the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners (including Paul and Silas) had escaped." (Acts 16:27)

In Acts Luke describes a man possessed by an evil spirit who "leaped on (the seven sons of Sceva) and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of (ekpheugo) that house naked and wounded." (Acts 19:16)

Paul recounting his escape from the king of Damascus explained "I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and so escaped his hands." (2 Corinthians 11:31)

In a passage that parallels Romans 2:3 Paul explains that preceding the coming Day of the Lord men will be deluded "saying, "Peace and safety!" (and) then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape (ekpheugo)" (1Thessalonians 5:3-note)

Comment: The Day of the Lord is a familiar Old Testament image for the ultimate day of God’s judgment, His final day in court when He settles the injustices of the world.

The writer of Hebrews asks "how shall we escape (in context refers to the judgment of God) if we neglect (are careless of, unconcerned about) so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard" (Hebrews 2:3-note)

Finally and once again in the context of God's judgment the writer of Hebrews warns his readers (and all men) to "See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape (judgment) when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less [will we escape] who turn away from Him who warns from heaven." (Hebrews 12:25-note)

Comment: Because the Israelites refused to listen to God when He spoke to them on earth in regard to His law, that generation perished in the wilderness. How much more accountable, then, will those be who disregard the infinitely greater message of the gospel? And how can they escape?

The Septuagint (LXX) has 6 uses of ekpheugo (Jdg. 6:11; Est. 8:12; Job 15:30; Pr. 10:19; 12:13; Isa. 66:7). In Proverbs we see a contrast in two lifestyles and associated destinies declaring that

An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, but the righteous will escape from trouble. Proverbs 12:13

As MacDonald notes that…

The judgment of God is inescapable on those who condemn others for the very sins they practice themselves. Their capacity to judge others does not absolve them from guilt. In fact, it increases their own condemnation. The judgment of God is inescapable unless we repent and are forgiven." (Believer's Bible Commentary)

Hodge writes…

“If, then,” as Theophylact says, “he cannot escape his own judgment, how can he escape the judgment of God? If we are forced to condemn ourselves, how much more will the infinitely Holy condemn us?” (Hodge, C. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 1835)

Why might they think they will escape? Solomon explains that men are inclined to consider that God is condoning their ways if…

"the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil. " (Eccl 8:11).

John MacArthur gives an illustration of judgment:

It has been told that nomadic tribes roamed ancient Russia much as American Indians once roamed North America. The tribe that controlled the choicest hunting grounds and natural resources was led by an exceptionally strong and wise chief. He ruled not only because of his superior physical strength but because of his utter fairness and impartiality. When a rash of thefts broke out, he proclaimed that if the thief were caught he would be punished by ten lashes from the tribal whip master. As the thefts continued, he progressively raised the number of lashes to forty, a punishment that everyone knew he was the only one strong enough to endure. To their horror, the thief turned out to be the chief’s aged mother, and speculation immediately began as to whether or not he would actually sentence her to the announced punishment. Would he satisfy his love by excusing her or would he satisfy his law by sentencing her to what would surely be her death? True to his integrity, the chief sentenced his mother to the forty lashes. But true also to his love for his mother, just before the whip came down on her back he surrounded her frail body with his own, taking upon himself the penalty he had prescribed for her. In an infinitely greater way, Christ took the penalty of all men’s sin upon Himself. (MacArthur, J: Romans 1-8. Moody)

Why is it important to understand that one day there will be an actual judgment of God? Listen to Francis Schaeffer's answer in his section entitled "The Necessity of Judgment":

But let me stress this warning. It (the message of coming judgment) is more than just. It is the only message that is able to speak into the 20th-century mentality because it is the only message which really gives an answer to the two great problems of all men—modern man and man throughout the ages. First, man needs absolutes, universals, something by which to judge. If one has no basis on which to judge, then reality falls apart, fantasy is indistinguishable from reality, there is no value for the human individual and right and wrong have no meaning.

There are two ways to get away from God's judgment of men. One is to say that there is no absolute. But one must be aware that if God does not judge on a 100% basis, he is indeed like an old man in the sky. And worse—not only is man left in relativism, but God himself is bound by relativism. God must be the judge whose own character is the law of the universe or we have no absolute. We do not need to be embarrassed as we speak of the individual coming to God to be judged in the full historic sense of judgment. It is quite the other way. If this is not true, then we no longer have an absolute, and we no longer have an answer for 20th-century man. (The Church at the End of the 20th Century, pp. 49-50)

William Newell - Of course, this whole second chapter, and the first part of the third, is meant by God, whose name is Love, to drive us out of our false notions of Himself and His judicial procedure, into the arms of our Redeemer, Christ; who has borne wrath, the wrath of God, as our Substitute. But whether you are brought to flee to Christ or not, you must face the facts: God is a God of judgment, and a God of truth. See how He "spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up." It is not because God loves to judge and condemn, for He definitely says judgment is "His strange work" (Isa28:21). Nevertheless, He must judge, and it must be "according to truth, " according to the facts, the realities which are, of course, known to Him. He needs no "jury" to decide any case. He is Himself Witness, Jury and Judge. " (Romans 2)

Ray Stedman -As G. K. Chesterton points out, it is impossible to swear properly without reference to God. Imagine ripping off a round oath in the name of natural selection, for instance. So, you see, there is a knowledge of God. And there is enough knowledge of God in the conscience of man, and in nature around, to induce a spirit of reverent worship if it is followed. But men refuse to recognize this knowledge, and this is the basic human sickness that grips our race. They suppress and smother the truth they know by permitting wrong actions and wrong attitudes in their lives. I shouldn't say, they, I should say, we. We do this, don't we? Even Christians do it! (The Secrets of Men)

Brian Bell - We don’t become righteous by pointing out the sins of others. If you see another stumble or fall, let your first thought be…of all men you are most likely to stumble or fall in that same manner.

We are congenitally blind to our own faults.

We have amnesia when it comes to our past sins.

We rationalize it (that’s not pornography…it’s art!).

We rename it something more palatable (affair/adultery; white lie/lie; prayer request/gossip)

We might be righteous in our own eyes but it doesn’t mean we are in God’s!

I find it very easy to cover up my own failures by criticizing others! How about you? (Holier Than Thou Club)