Summary: It has been said that visitors to the labyrinths of certain of the
catacombs in Rome used to take hold of a silk thread by which they could
retrace their steps if they became fearful of becoming lost. In this
next section of Romans there are also abundant opportunities of losing one's
It is necessary, then, to keep in mind the purpose of Paul in
the verses which is stated plainly in 3:9 which is to accuse
both Gentiles and Jews that they are guilty of sin. (see the
table above) The theme of this section of Romans 2:1-16 is
that God’s judgment is righteous (right) and by
this standard every "moral" or "religious" person including the Jew (who
had the Law) is as guilty as the heathen (who did not have
the Law). Although Paul does not mention the Jews by
name until Romans 2:17, it seems to be a reasonable interpretation to state that "the
every man of you" in (Romans 2:1) would be a reference to Jews
or certainly would
addresses the interpretation of this first section writing that...
Bible scholars do not agree on whom
Paul was addressing in Romans 2:1–16. Some think he was dealing with the
moral pagan who did not commit the sins named in Romans 1:18–32, but who
sought to live a moral life. But it seems to me that Paul was addressing
his Jewish readers in this section. To begin with, his discussion of the
Law in Romans 2:12-16 would have been more meaningful to a Jew than to a
Gentile. And in Romans 2:17, he openly addressed his reader as “a Jew.”
This would be a strange form of address if in the first half of the
chapter he were addressing Gentiles. It would not be an easy task
to find the Jews guilty, since disobedience to God was one sin they did
not want to confess. The Old Testament prophets were persecuted for
indicting Israel for her sins, and Jesus was crucified for the same
reason. Paul summoned four witnesses to prove the guilt of the Jewish
nation...The Gentiles (Ro 2:1–3)...God’s blessing (Ro 2:4–11)...God’s Law
(Ro 2:12–24)...Circumcision (vv. 25–29) (Wiersbe,
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)
explains it this way...
In order to appreciate the force of
the apostle’s reasoning in this and the following verses, it should be
remembered that the principal ground on which the Jews expected to be
accepted by God was the covenant which he had made with their father
Abraham, in which he promised to be a God to Abraham and to his
descendants after him. The Jews believed that this promise guaranteed
salvation for all who retained their connection with Abraham through the
observance of the law and the rite of circumcision. Therefore they
expected to be regarded and treated not so much as individuals, each
dealt with according to his personal character, but as a community to
whom salvation was assured by the promise made to Abraham.
Paul begins his argument at a
distance; he states his principles in such general terms that they could
not fail to secure the assent of the Jew, before he was aware of their
application to himself. It is clear that the Jews are addressed in this
chapter both from the whole tenor of the argument, and from its
particular application to the Jews from verse 17 onwards. This way of
viewing the passage is now generally accepted, though many of the
earlier commentators supposed either that no particular people were
being spoken of here or that the apostle had in mind the best pagans, or
at least those who did not seem to approve of the sins mentioned in the
preceding chapter, but rather condemned them. (Hodge, C:
Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 1835)
It is easy to convince the "religious" person as well as the
Jew of the unrighteousness of the idolatrous pagans in Romans 1 because the flagrant
nature of their sins. On the other hand, convincing the "religious" person (eg, one who
goes to church or is a member of a church) or the Jews of their innate unrighteousness is another matter as many of us who have shared our faith have experienced.
The Jews thought they had
it made because of their good "genes" which gave them a
good spiritual heritage. After all they were God's
"chosen people", possessors of
His Law and His covenant sign of circumcision.
in Romans is to convince the Jew and all "religious" persons of his or
her need for genuine salvation which "brings forth fruit in keeping with
repentance" and exhibits a radically changed lifestyle as expressed in
resolutions must wholly be waived,
Your highest ambitions be crossed;
You need never think you are going to be saved
Until you have learned you are lost.
To make his point Paul
reminds his readers that the judgment of God is according to works. Be
careful here. Do not be confused. Salvation is by faith alone. In Romans 2:1-16 Paul is dealing with principles of
judgment not principles of
justification. He is not teaching us how a person is saved in
this section. As someone has well said Paul is speaking
about the "completion" of one's life, not the "commencement" of it!.
Paul is concerned about the great fact that righteousness leads to life
and unrighteousness leads to death, irregardless of how religious is
one's life. Paul is dealing with the results,
not with the process; the goal, not the way. In summary, Romans 2 does not
in any way contradict Paul's teaching that justification is by faith
alone and not by works.
As we begin our study of Romans 2, we
need to focus on this thought: mankind does not accept God’s assessment
of human sin and the imperative of divine judgment. This is not to say
that men will not admit they are sinners. It is very easy to get a
non-Christian to agree that he is a sinner (“nobody’s perfect”), but it
is almost impossible to get him to realize the gravity of his sin.
Typically he has no trouble agreeing that those who are guilty of “big
sins” like murder and rape and treason deserve judgment—even death.
However, that God’s wrath should fall on those guilty of such “lesser
sins” as envy or arrogance does not seem quite right to them. Most
people do not take God’s word about sin and judgment seriously, but
rather reject it and replace it with their own ad hominem reasoning..
“Nobody’s perfect!” “To err is human, to forgive is divine.” Or as the
philosopher Heine said in a moment of now-famous cynicism, “God will
forgive … it is his trade.” Such thinking suggests that since we are
human we are under moral obligation to sin, and that God is under moral
obligation to forgive us. Inherent in the common thinking that because
everyone is doing it, it is not so bad—as long as we do not commit the
“biggies” we will be okay—is the assumption that God does not mean what
he says or say what he means...The eternal fact is, God means what he
says and says what he means. Moreover, his judgment, despite moralisms
to the contrary, is perfect. That is what Ro 2:1–16 is all about. As we
come to understand (or reaffirm our understanding) of the perfection of
God’s judgment, we will bring health to our souls. For those of us who
are believers, this will drive us toward a greater authenticity in
life—and thus spiritual power. For the non-Christian, there will be
strong encouragement to face fundamental issues about oneself and God. (Hughes,
R. K. Romans: Righteousness from heaven. Preaching the Word. Wheaton,
Ill.: Crossway Books)
introduces this section reminding us that in Romans chapter 1...
"to our astonishment, we see how
accurately the apostle has analyzed the civilization of twentieth
century civilization as well. All that is recorded in the first chapter
of Romans took place last night in San Francisco and Los Angeles, up and
down the West coast, and throughout this nation, and the world in which
we live. Yet there are many people who would say they do not belong in
this picture. I am sure there were thousands in Paul's day, and I know
there are millions today who feel they are not described in Romans 1.
isn't talking about us. We're not like that. It may describe them, but
it does not describe us."
Whenever you read this first chapter of
Romans you find that division immediately evident -- them and
us. They are the wicked, the obviously gross, wicked people; we are
not. Many people would say, "We're law-abiding, home-loving,
clean-living, decent people." Many of these people have been church
members most of their lives. Others perhaps do not go to church at all,
but nevertheless pride themselves on their moral standards, their
ethical values, and their clean, law-abiding lives. They say the world
may be in its present condition because of the wickedness of gangsters,
radicals, revolutionaries, prostitutes, pimps, and perverts of our day;
but they themselves are the salt of the earth." (Romans
2:1-11 Sinful Morality
) (Bolding added)
Hypocritical Judgment - A
hypocrite is someone who complains there is too much sex & violence in
his DVD collection! A Hypocrite says, “Mary is always criticizing
Denney - The apostle has now
to prove that the righteousness of God is as necessary to the Jew as to
the pagan; it is the Jew who is really addressed in this chapter from
the beginning. (The
Expositor's Greek Testament)
The self-righteous and the hypocrite
tried and condemned by
I. Conscience (Romans 2:1-3).
II. The mercy of God (Romans 2:4).
III. Eternal justice (Romans 2:5-11). (J. Lyth, D. D.) (Biblical
ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE: Dio anapologetoe ei (2SPAI):
1Co 7:16; Jas 2:20)
(dio) is a
term of conclusion and is
usually a call to examine the previous passages to see what the author
is concluding or what is the basis for his conclusion. In this
particular verse, the therefore is somewhat difficult
to interpret dogmatically and some very good expositors have different
"conclusions!" (See below)
As discussed by several of the references
below, "therefore" could refer to what Paul has just said in the
last half of Romans 1. Alternatively this therefore could be
based on the facts which follow - they are the basis for Paul's
conclusion (you are
without excuse) follow instead of precede the "therefore"
(the interpretation favored by Donald Barnhouse - see below).
explains that the therefore
introduces a conclusion, not from
anything in the preceding chapter, but to establish a truth from what
follows. The Apostle had proved the guilt of the Gentiles, who, since
they had a revelation vouchsafed to them in the works of God, though
they did not possess His word, were inexcusable. The Jews, who had His
word, yet practiced the same things for which the former were condemned,
must therefore also be inexcusable. In the sequel, he specifies
and unfolds the charge thus generally preferred." (Exposition
Many are puzzled by the word Therefore.
It must be admitted that its meaning is not immediately clear. The
following interpretation, however, seems to be supported by the
preceding context: “Since it has been established (Ed: see
Romans 1:18-19ff) that the
immoral practices of the Gentiles are an abomination to God, therefore
you, too, whoever you may be, are without excuse when you practice these
same evils, the very vices you condemn in others.” (Hendriksen,
W., & Kistemaker, S. J. New Testament Commentary Set, 12 Volumes. Grand
Rapids: Baker Book House)
explanation of the therefore is a bit different - "The
chapter begins with the word “therefore,” and this needs some
explanation. As a rule this word is an illative (a word or phrase
introducing an inference), referring to something that has gone before,
acting as a hinge to draw a conclusion from a preceding premise. But in
this instance the word does not point backwards to the first chapter,
but rather anticipates that which follows. It might well be translated,
“For the following reason,” thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou
art that judgest."
Kruse - The
connection between Ro 2:1–16 and Ro 1:32 is established by the
conjunction ‘therefore’ as well as the repeated use of the verb ‘to
practice’ mentioned above. The similar factor found in Ro 1:32 and
Ro 2:1 is that people know what God requires. The difference is
that in the first instance they know what God requires but continue to
do the opposite and give their approval to others who do the same,
whereas in the second instance, knowing what God requires, they condemn
the evil actions of others while doing the same things themselves.
(Pillar NT Commentary)
- Therefore links this with the preceding; what Paul says now
arises out of what he said at the end of the previous chapter. There is
a difficulty in that it is not obvious how the guilt of the Gentile
world brings the Jew under condemnation. We seem to require that those
addressed here are included in the previous section. The explanation may
be that, while it is true that in chapter 1 Gentiles are primarily in
mind, the sins of all people are castigated, and here, while the Jews
are at center stage, all who judge others are condemned. (Pillar
on therefore - The Jew is ready enough to judge the Gentile. But
he forgets that the same principle on which the Gentile is condemned,
viz., that he does evil in spite of better knowledge (Ro 1:32), condemns
himself also. His very assent to the impeachment in Ro 1:18–32 is his
own condemnation. This is the force of dio: therefore.
explains therefore - Because of the universal facts of the
voice of conscience and the knowledge of the divine condemnation and
punishment of sin and of the consequences of practicing evil and
consenting with it, in spite of that knowledge. (Collected writings of
W. E. Vine)
therefore - Therefore] It is difficult to state the precise bearing
of this word; the exact premise to which it refers. It is, perhaps, best
explained by a brief statement of the apparent general connection here.
St Paul has described the great fact of Human Sin. He has done so in
terms which point specially to heathendom, but not exclusively. Two
points, the universality of sin, and the universality of conscience (Ro
1:18, 32), are plainly meant to be true of all men, idolaters or not.
But now, in our present verse, he has it in view to expose specially the
state of Jewish sinners; but to do this by leading gradually up to the
convincing point, which is not reached till Ro 2:16. Really, but not
explicitly, therefore, he here addresses the Jew, as included in the
previous condemnation, but as thinking himself all the while the "judge"
of heathen sinners. In words, he addresses any self-constituted "judge;"
while in fact he specially, though still not exclusively, addresses the
Jew. And he addresses him as "inexcusable," because of his sin, and
because of his conscience, a conscience in his case peculiarly
enlightened. The "therefore" thus points mainly to the words just
previous; to the fact of a knowledge of God's penal statute against sin,
while yet sin is committed and abetted. doest the same things] The
reference is doubtless to the passage from about Ro 1:26. External
idolatry had vanished among the Jews since the captivity; but other
forms of the subtle "worship of the creature" had taken its place; a
gross immorality was far from rare; and sins of "strife, craft, and
malignity," were conspicuous. (The
Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans - Google Books)
The connection between this chapter
and chapter 1, which is indicated by the particle therefore, is
somewhat obscure. Some suppose that the inference comes out of the
teaching from 1:18: God is just and is determined to punish all man’s
unrighteousness and ungodliness; so those who commit the sins which they
condemn in others have no excuse. In this case, however, the conclusion
does not exactly fit the premises. It is not so much the inexcusableness
of sinners as the exposure that follows from the justice of God. Most
commentators, therefore, hold that the inference therefore in Ro 2:1 is
drawn from Ro 1:32, where it is said that all men know that those who sin
are worthy of death. The inference is that those who commit sin have no
excuse, however censorious their self-conceit may make them towards
The verb are
present tense indicating
that they were continually without excuse. Wuest says they are
"without a defense," for Paul like a skilled prosecuting attorney is
weaving his air-tight case against his readers.
excuse (379) (anapologetos
from a = without + apologéomai =
apologize or more literally to speak oneself off and so to plead for
oneself) means inexcusable. This word
pertains to not being able to defend oneself or to justify one’s actions
The root word
in Romans 2:15) was used in secular Greek in a judicial sense to
describe a legal petition or defense.
The only other use
of anapologetos is in the previous chapter where Paul writes
"since the creation of the world His
invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been
clearly seen (note the "seeing" of the "invisible attributes, which he
goes on to explain - what they see of the Creation generates an inner
seeing so to speak), being understood through what has been made, so that they
are without excuse." (Ro 1:20-21-note)
Why is everyone without excuse
In Romans 1:18-32 all the "unrighteous" are without excuse and in Romans 2 he begins to demonstrate that all
the "self-righteous" are also without excuse. They are
without excuse because of the universal facts of the
external creation and the internal voice of conscience (God made it
evident within them). What was true of the "pagans" in Romans 1:18-32 is also true of this group
he identifies with the pronoun "you" (in contrast to the
pronoun they he had used repeatedly in Romans 1:18-32).
Therefore both they and you are without excuse. In the following
verses, Paul refers to you as if he is addressing an imaginary representative of a real and identifiable group of
people. Undoubtedly, in many ways the Jew of Paul's day typified the
moralist, but as discussed, his words in Romans 2:1-16 seem to have a
wider application to all who think they are morally righteous (in
comparison to the gross immorality described in Romans 1).
The key to the argument is the word, “inexcusable.” The first
chapter asks, in effect, Did you ever look upon nature? The present
verse asks, Have you ever criticized anyone for anything? Then you are
without excuse, because your criticism arises from the fact that you
have a conscience, which now recognizes a sin in another because it is
aware of the existence of sin in self; and you have never lived up to
the light of your conscience, whatever it may be. Anyone who has ever
criticized anything in anybody has thereby written his own
condemnation...No individual has ever criticized another for lying
without having, sometime or other, been guilty of shading the truth. The
conscience that makes you aware of imperfection in another finds written
on itself the guilt of its own imperfection.
MacDonald rightly reminds us that...
Fallen man can see faults in others
more readily than in himself. Things hideous and repulsive in the lives
of others seem quite respectable in his own. But the fact that he can
judge sins in others shows that he knows the difference between right
and wrong. If he knows that it is wrong for someone to steal his
wife, then he knows that it is wrong for him to steal someone else’s
wife. Therefore, when someone commits the very sins he condemns in
others, he leaves himself without excuse. The sins of cultured people
are essentially the same as those of the heathen. Although a moralist
may argue that he has not committed every sin in the book, he should
remember the following facts:
1. he is capable of committing them
2. by breaking one commandment, he is guilty of all (Jas. 2:10).
3. he has committed sins of thought which he may never have committed in
actual deed, and these are forbidden by the word. Jesus taught that the
lustful look, for instance, is tantamount to adultery (Mt. 5:28-29). (Believer's Bible Commentary)
When we seek to share with others their great need of Christ's
free gift of salvation we meet with a variety of responses:
What about the heathen?
A loving God would never send anyone to hell.
I'm okay because I belong to the church.
Oh I don't show it or live it but I'm a Christian and I'm okay so you
can worry about someone else."
addressed the first objection - the heathen did know about God but suppressed
this truth and therefore are guilty. Romans 2 addresses the other
objections and misconceptions about genuine salvation and man's need for
Jews were the people who judged, pronouncing all Gentiles to be born
in sin and under condemnation.
They loved to criticize the Gentile "dogs" as they called them and it
warmed their hearts to hear Paul put those dirty heathen sinners in
their place in Romans 1. Paul's unexpected conclusion (you are without excuse)
abruptly challenges the self righteous Jew or anyone who thought himself
exempt from the indictment in Romans 1.
A good example of
a "religious person" with a judgmental attitude is found in Jesus'
illustration of the Pharisee and the Publican where Jesus addresses the
"self-righteous", judgmental Pharisee to show him his need for God's
men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a
tax-gatherer. 11 "The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself,
'God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust,
adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer. 12 'I fast twice a week; I
pay tithes of all that I get.' 13 "But the tax-gatherer, standing some
distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was
beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!' 14 "I
tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the
other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who
humbles himself shall be exalted."
best understands his need for the good news of the Gospel when he understands he is guilty before
God--whether immoral (Ro 1) or moral (Ro 2), whether Gentile (Ro 1)
or Jew (Ro 2). Their sins may be
different but their guilt is the same. But as everyone knows, it's not
easy to convince a "moral man" of his guilt, because "moral"
men truly believe they are better than other people. This is deception.
And when a person is deceived, they do not even know it! (See the
deceitful effect of sin - Heb 3:13).
So whether one is a Jew or a "moral Gentile", both groups think
they are exempt from God’s judgment because they have not indulged in
the immoral excesses described in Romans 1. Paul is emphasizing that they are mistaken
and deceived. In fact in some ways they are worse off than the pagans, for they have more knowledge
(e.g., the Jews "were entrusted with the oracles of God" Romans 3:2) and thus
they had a greater accountability. If the Gentile is without excuse, then the Jew is
even more so because he had more information at his disposal. Later in
this chapter Paul informs us that he
"will be judged by the Law" (Romans 2:12). His judgment will be according to light
and he will receive a greater degree of punishment because of his refusal of
the light. The principle of greater light bringing greater
accountability and a more severe judgment is clearly taught in
Scripture - study the following passages (Mt 10:15, 11:20, 21, 22, 23,
24, 12:41 Jn 19:11, Lu 10:12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 12:47,48, 20:46, 47, Heb
RELIGION, INTERNAL DEADNESS - The Queen Mary was the largest ship to
cross the oceans when it was launched in 1936. Through 4 decades and a
World War she served until she was retired, anchored as a floating hotel
and museum in Long Beach, California. During the conversion, her 3
massive smoke-stacks were taken off to be scraped down and repainted.
But on the dock they crumbled. Nothing was left of the 3/4-inch steel
plate from which the stacks had been formed. All that remained were more
than 30 coats of paint that had been applied over the years. The steel
had rusted away. There was no substance, only an exterior appearance!
“No substance, only an exterior appearance!”
Al Davis understood he was "without excuse" - “Death is the only
thing I’m afraid of,” said Al Davis, the aging managing general partner
of the Oakland Raiders. “It’s the only thing you can’t control. The
football I’ll get straight. My biggest thing now is this death
business. I’ve always been able to control the elements of my
life, dominate my environment without hurting others. But this death
business … I can’t beat it. I can’t win.” And of course death is the
inevitable consequence of the entrance of sin into this world (Ro 5:12).
EVERY MAN WHO PASSES JUDGMENT: o anthrope pas o krinon
(Ps 50:16, 17, 18, 19, 20; Mt
7:1, 2, 3, 4, 5-see
notes; Mt 23:29, 30, 31; Lk 6:37; 19:22; Jn 8:7, 8, 9; Jas
KING DAVID: A PICTURE
OF EVERY MAN WHO JUDGES OTHERS
Read the tragic example of David
judging and getting judged by God through His prophet Nathan - "You are the
man!" David had "one finger" pointing at the man, but 4 were
pointing at himself!
2 Samuel 12:1-10 Then the
LORD sent (a)Nathan to David. And he came to him and said, "There were
two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor. 2 "The rich man
had a great many flocks and herds. 3 "But the poor man had nothing
except one little ewe lamb Which he bought and nourished; And it grew up
together with him and his children. It would eat of his bread and drink
of his cup and lie in his bosom, And was like a daughter to him. 4 "Now
a traveler came to the rich man, And he was unwilling to take from his
own flock or his own
herd, To prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him; Rather he took
the poor man's ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to
him." 5 Then David's anger burned greatly against the man, and he said
to Nathan, "As the LORD lives, surely the man who has done this
deserves to die. 6 "He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold,
because he did this thing and had no compassion." 7 Nathan then said to
are the man! Thus says the
LORD God of Israel, 'It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is
I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 'I also gave you your
master's house and your master's wives into your care, and I gave you
the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would
have added to you many more things like these! 9 'Why have you
despised (Heb = bazah = disdain; regarded with contempt; Lxx =
phaulizo = considered worthless, held cheap, disparaged, treated
with contempt) the Word of the LORD by doing evil in His sight? (Note:
Phaulizo is used in Nu 15:31 - notice what happened to that man!)
You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his
wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of
Ammon. 10 'Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house,
because you have despised (Heb = bazah; Lxx =
= utterly despised) Me and have taken
the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.' (We all need to remember
this passage before you commit what you know to be a flagrant sin, be it
in the area of immorality or otherwise! Woe! Read 2Sa 12:11-14!)
(pas) means all without exception. As Ray Stedman quipped
in his sermon on this section...
Here Paul talks about those who pass
judgment on others. If there are any here this morning who do not belong
in that category, we will excuse you. You are free to go, because I want
to talk to those who have, at one time or another, passed judgment on
someone else. (Romans
2:1-11 Sinful Morality)
(anthropos) is the generic name in distinction from gods and the
animals. It refers to a man or woman, an individual of the human race or
a person. The KJV renders this with the phrase "O man".
(krino) primarily signifies to distinguish, separate or
discriminate and then, to distinguish between good and evil, right and
wrong, without necessarily passing an adverse sentence, though this is
usually involved. Krino means to sift out and analyze evidence.
present tense indicating
that they were continually passing judgment. Passing judgment, by
implication, means condemning.
imaginary interlocutors ("you...every man")
are envisaged not as
objecting to what Paul had said but as agreeing with it very strongly.
It is that tendency (in all of us) to point the finger at someone else
-- the amazing ability to find someone whom we consider worse than we
are, and to ask God to concentrate on him and leave us alone.
But Paul corrects their (and our) mistaken conclusions by explaining that when "Mr. I'm Okay" meets his Maker,
he will be judged by
God. This section presents the principles by which that judgment takes
makes the point that...
The sins of cultured people are
essentially the same as those of the heathen. Although a moralist may
argue that he has not committed every sin in the book, he should
remember the following facts:
1. he is capable of committing them
2. by breaking one commandment, he is guilty of all (James 2:10."For whoever
keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty
3. he has committed sins of thought which he may never have committed in
actual deed, and these are forbidden by the word. Jesus taught that the
lustful look, for instance, is tantamount to adultery (Matt. 5:28-note
"but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her
has committed adultery with her already in his heart.") (Believer's Bible Commentary)
a Jewish audience, many of whom were undoubtedly convinced of their
self-righteousness, admonished them to...
judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged;
and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. And why do
you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice
the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother,
'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your
own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then
you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
MacArthur writes that...
"The phrase "O man"
(cf. Ro 2:3; 9:20)
is a general
reference to any moralist who thinks he's exempt from judgment because
he hasn't sunk to idolatry, homosexuality, or any other reprobate
Paul's description fits us all to a certain extent...for we all have an
amazing tendency to point the finger at someone else -- the amazing
ability to find someone whom we consider worse than we are, and to ask
God to concentrate on him and leave us alone. All of us know someone
whom we consider a little bit lower on the ethical scale than we are,
and what a comfort they are to our hearts! Every time our conscience
gives us a little stab, we immediately remember these people, and we
take courage, and feel a lot better.
Have you ever noticed how frequently this attitude is encountered? When
you are stopped by a traffic policeman, and he comes up beside your car,
you say to him,
"Officer, what are you bothering me for? Why don't you go out and catch
some of the teenage speeders, and leave us law abiding citizens alone?"
We all want a lightning rod that will divert the stroke of divine wrath
from us, and channel it off to someone we consider a little more worthy
J: Romans 1-8. Moody)
Harry Ironside writes that...
In the first sixteen verses of this
chapter of Romans another class of people is brought into view: the
world of culture and refinement. Surely among the educated, the
followers of the various philosophic systems, will be found men who lead
such righteous lives that they can come into the presence of God
claiming His blessing on the ground of their own goodness! Certainly
there were those who professed to look with disgust and abhorrence upon
the vile lewdness of the ignorant rabble. But were their private lives
any holier or any cleaner than those whom they so loudly condemned?
It is now their turn to be summoned
into court, so to speak, where the apostle fearlessly arraigns them
before the august tribunal of the righteous Lord, who loveth
righteousness. "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" (Romans 2:1).
Philosophy does not preserve its devotee from the indulgence of the
flesh. A recognition of the evil is not necessarily power to overcome
the evil. Culture does not cleanse the heart nor education alter the
nature. The judgment of God according to truth will be rendered against
the evildoer. To praise virtue while practicing vice may enable one to
get by with his fellows, but it will not deceive Him who is of purer
eyes than to behold iniquity. (Romans
And Galatians: An Ironside Expository Commentary)
Ray Pritchard defines this "man" as
"...a good person who is not a
Christian. He pays his taxes, loves his wife, helps his kids, works
hard, obeys the law and every year buys five boxes of Girl Scout
cookies. Although he is a good neighbor, a hard worker, and an
all-around nice guy, he is not a Christian. To be even more specific, he
probably is a church member, but he is not saved. He is moral, but
lost." (Romans 2:1-16: Mr. I.M. Okay Meets
FOR IN THAT
YOU JUDGE ANOTHER
YOU CONDEMN YOURSELF: en o gar krineis (2SPAI) ton heteron seauton katakrineis
(krino). Note that the
present tense is used for every occurrence for judging
in this verse emphasizing the habitual action which is tendency in all
from katá = against + kríno = judge)
means to pronounce sentence against, adjudge guilty. It always denotes
“to pass an adverse sentence”. The derivation of the English word is
worth noting = from Latin condemnare, from com- +
damnare to condemn, related to "damn" from damnum ‘loss,
damage’. The meaning of condemn is to declare to be
reprehensible, wrong, or evil usually after weighing evidence and
without reservation. What a paradox = the judge condemns himself!
Jesus warned in
His famous Sermon on the Mount in what is probably one of the most well
know and frequently used (especially by non-believers) verses in
"Do not judge lest you be judged.
(Then Jesus explained why we had better be careful judging with wrong
motives or from a critical, condemnatory spirit) For in the way you
judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be
measured to you." (Mt 7:1-2 -note)
All of us know someone whom we
consider a little bit lower on the ethical scale than we are, and what a
comfort they are to our hearts! Every time our conscience gives us a
little stab, we immediately remember these people, and we take courage,
and feel a lot better. If we analyze our thoughts, we find that we
secretly feel God has no right to bother us while these people are
around. Let him concentrate on them! They are the ones who need it!...We
all want a lightning rod that will divert the stroke of divine wrath
from us, and channel it off to someone we consider a little more worthy
of it. (Romans
2:1-16: The Secrets of Men)
It is important to
understand that in the process of passing judgment on others these
people show that they know the difference between right and wrong;
otherwise they would not presume to be judging. In other words, they
have a clear understanding of a standard of what is right and what is
Ray Stedman list
some "practical" ways in which we all try to elude the fact that we are
guilty of the very things that we judge others for thinking, saying or doing:
toward our own faults -- We are just not aware of them. We do not see
that we are doing the same things that others are doing, and yet other
people can see that we are. We all have these blind spots. One of the
greatest lies of our age is the idea that we can know ourselves. We
often argue, "Don't you think I know myself?" The answer is, "No, you do
not know yourself. You are blind to much of your life." There can be
areas that are very hurtful and sinful that you are not aware of. (see
Jeremiah's analysis of your "heart"
2) Conveniently forgetting what we
have done that is wrong -- We may have been aware of our sin at the
time, but somehow we just assume that God is going to forget it. We do
not have to acknowledge it in any way -- he will just forget it. As the
sin fades from our memory, we think it fades from His, as well
(Wrong!)....In the Sermon on the Mount we learn that if we hold a
feeling of animosity and hatred against someone, if we are bitter and
resentful and filled with malice toward an individual, then we are
guilty of murder, just as though we had taken a knife and plunged it
into that person's breast, or shot them with a gun. If we find ourselves
lustfully longing to possess the body of another, if we play with this
idea over and over in our mind, and treat ourselves to a fantasy of sex,
we have committed fornication or adultery. If we find ourselves filled
with pride, yet we put on the appearance of being humble and considerate
of others, we are guilty of the worst of sins. Pride of heart destroys
humanity. We think these things will go unnoticed, but God sees them in
our heart. He sees all the actions that we conveniently have forgotten.
He sees it when we cut people down, or speak with spite and sharpness,
and deliberately try to hurt them...Isn't it remarkable that when others
mistreat us we always think it is most serious and requires immediate
correction. But when we mistreat others, we say to them. "You're making
so much out of a little thing! Why it's so trivial and insignificant."
3) Cleverly renaming things --
Other people lie and cheat; we simply "stretch the truth a little".
Others betray; we simply are protecting our rights. Others steal; we
borrow. Others have prejudices; we have convictions. Others murder and
kill; we exploit and ruin. Others rape; we pollute. We cry, "Those
people ought to be stoned!" Jesus says, "He that is without sin among
you, let him cast the first stone," (John 8:7). Yes, we are all guilty
of the same things we accuse others of doing. (Adapted from
The Greek verb for "judging" in the first verse does not mean to
estimate a man's value but to condemn his person. (Romans
from katá = against + kríno = judge)
means to pronounce sentence against, condemn, adjudge guilty. Katakrino
was a legal technical term meaning to pronounce a sentence after
determination of guilt. In human judgment it is the verdict as
distinguished from its execution, but the two converge in divine
judgment (cf. Mk 16:16; 1Cor 11:32; 2Pe 2:6-note).
Here are the 18
uses of katakrino in the NT - Mt 12:41, 42; 20:18; 27:3; Mk 10:33;
14:64; 16:16; Lk 11:31, 32; Jn 8:10, 11; Ro 2:1; 8:3, 34; 14:23; 1Co
11:32; He 11:7; 2Pe 2:6
Katakrino always denotes to pass an adverse sentence. In this case
the "judger" condemns himself or herself. If one has enough
knowledge to judge others, he or she is thus self-condemned, for each
has enough to judge their own true condition.
condemnation is based on what
has been done; therefore the person who condemns the act condemns the
agent, whether the agent is himself or someone else, whether he is a Jew
or a Gentile. (Hodge, C. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 1835)
Now this is really
nothing new because historically, we have always blamed others for our
own decisions. Adam blamed Eve for enticing him to take of the forbidden
fruit rationalizing to God that...
"The woman whom Thou gavest to be
with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate." (Genesis
Eve blamed the
"The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
Fallen men and
women are still playing the blame-game. One of the hardest things we
have to learn is that when we point a finger at others, we point four at
ourselves! That’s what Paul is saying in this section. We look at
another person’s actions, and we say, “That’s wrong.” And as soon as we
do, we admit that moral standards exist. After all, we used some
standard to determine he or she was “wrong”! So anyone who judges
others, and we all do, says in effect, “It’s right to judge. Standards
Nathan's confrontation of King David is a classic example of
the judge himself being condemned,
Scripture recording that the prophet began by telling the king a tragic
"Now a traveler came to the rich man,
And he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd, To
prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him; Rather he took the poor
man's ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him." Then
David's anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, "As
the LORD lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. And he
must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing
and had no compassion." (2 Samuel 12:4-7)
In response to
David's judgment on the "rich man" Nathan declared..."You are the man!"
David in judging the rich man's sin, had condemned himself!
In a Connecticut city, fifty-three residents of a
certain neighborhood signed a petition to stop reckless
driving on their streets. The police set a watch. A few
nights later five violators were caught. All five had signed
When the Day of
Judgment finally rolls around, God will not be fooled by pious
pretenses. He'll look beyond our outer facade to see how we have lived
when no one else was looking. In particular, he will notice our many
moral judgments of other people. If
someone has sufficient knowledge to judge others, he condemns himself,
because he shows he has the knowledge to evaluate his own condition. For
example, what about Seneca, the Roman moralist and tutor of Nero? He
would have agreed wholeheartedly with Paul regarding the morals of most
pagans. But a man like Seneca would have thought himself different. Many
Christians admired Seneca and his strong stand for "morals" and "family
values". But too often he tolerated in himself vices not so different
from those which he condemned in others - the most flagrant instance
being his connivance at Nero's murder of his mother Agrippina.
Lenski comments on the "moral man":
"Paul's object is far greater than merely to
convict also them of unrighteousness. He robs them, absolutely must rob
them, of their moralism and their moralizing because they regard this as
the way of escape from God's wrath."
You might try the following "experiment" on the skeptical person who pretends, as many do
these days, that morality is personal and relative. Such folks will tell
“What I do may be wrong for you, but it’s all right for me.”
if you ever hear a moral relativist condemn any action, say,
You just condemned yourself.”
And then explain. By admitting that moral
standards exist, that person made himself subject to judgment. By God.
Charles Colson said that
"The Gospel is GOOD News. But Jesus never said it was EASY news.
The central truth of the cross is DEATH before LIFE, REPENTANCE before
REWARD. Before His Gospel can be the Good News of redemption, it must be
the BAD NEWS of the conviction of sin."
FOR YOU WHO
JUDGE PRACTICE THE SAME THINGS: ta gar auta prasseis (2SPAI) o krinon (PAPMSN):
(gar) is a conjunction which explains the reason they are
The basic problem with
the self righteous Jew and religious moralist is that they are hypocrites. At the moment they are looking down at others, they
secretly are doing the very thing they condemn. In their condemnation of
others they have excused and overlooked their own sins.
"Some time ago I (Pritchard)
talked with a good friend who is having trouble in his marriage. When I
asked him what was his main problem and what was her main problem, my
friend smiled ruefully and said with total honesty, "I see her problems
much better than I see my own." I laughed and admitted that I'm the same
way. I always look pretty good to myself! That's human nature, isn't it?
All of us, even the best of us, are prone to hypocrisy because we all by
nature let ourselves off the hook too easily." (Romans 2:1-16: Mr. I.M. Okay Meets
We can better understand this section if we understand the historical
context on Jewish thought in first century: Most Jews of Paul’s day
believed in the idea that performing certain moral and religious deeds
produced "righteousness". Specifically, they believed that
they could earn God’s favor and
therefore eternal life by keeping the LAW and the TRADITIONS. Many even
believed that if they failed in the deeds effort, they might forfeit
some earthly reward but were still exempt from God’s judgment simply
because they were Jews, God’s chosen people! They were
firmly convinced that God would judge and condemn pagan Gentiles because
of their idolatry and immorality but that no Jew would ever experience
such condemnation. They loved to repeat such sayings as,
“God loves Israel alone of all the nations,”
“God will judge the Gentiles with one measure and the Jews with another.”
Some even taught that Abraham sat
outside the gates of hell in order to prevent even the most wicked Jew
from entering. And so we read that Justin Martyr in his work
"Dialogue with Trypho" quotes his Jewish opponent saying:
“They who are the seed of Abraham according to the flesh shall in any
case, even if they be sinners and unbelieving and disobedient towards
God, share in the eternal kingdom.”
illustrates this tendency we all have to condemn others of what we
ourselves are guilty of:
"The tendency toward hypocrisy shows itself in many subtle ways.
Have you ever noticed how we like to "rename" our sins? We do that by
ascribing the worst motives to others, while using other phrases to let
ourselves off the hook. If you do it, you're a liar; I merely "stretch
the truth." If you do it, you're cheating; I am "bending the rules."
(Romans 2:1-16: Mr. I.M. Okay Meets
And then he lists examples of this behavior and some come too close to
You lose your
temper; I have righteous anger.
You're a jerk; I'm having a bad day.
You have a critical spirit; I bluntly tell the truth.
You gossip; I share prayer requests.
You curse and swear; I let off steam.
You're pushy; I'm intensely goal-oriented.
You're greedy; I'm simply taking care of business.
You're a hypochondriac; but I'm really sick.
You stink; I merely have an "earthy aroma."
If you know Jesus Christ as your Savior, your sins have already been
judged on the cross (Jn 5:24; Ro 8:1). But are you ready for the judgment
seat of Christ where your works will be judged (Ro 14:10, 11, 12; 2Co 5:10)?
Ask yourself the following questions.
Do I judge myself or others (Ro 2:1, 2, 3)?
How easy it is to cover up my own failures by criticizing
others (Mt 7:1,2 see notes
Am I grateful for God’s goodness (Ro 2:4-note)?
It is not
the badness of man but the goodness of God that brings us to repentance
Do I take God’s many blessings for granted? Is my faith
proved by works (see notes
Do I obey God’s truth and persist in holy living?
Do I have a hard heart or a tender heart?
Am I hiding behind RELIGION and/or RITUAL (Ro 2:12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 24,
25, 26, 27, 28, 29-see
Godet analyzes section as follows...
The course followed by the apostle is
this:—In the first part, Ro 1:1-16, he lays down the principle of God's
true (impartial) judgment. In the second, Ro 1:17-29, he applies it
directly to the Jew.—The first part contains the development of three
1. Favors received, far from forming
a ground for exemption from judgment, aggravate the responsibility of
the receiver, Ro 1:1-5.
2. The divine sentence rests on the
works , Ro 1:6-12.
3. Not on knowledge , Ro 1:13-16.
The Jews boasted of
their LAW, but it could not save them. EXTERNAL rituals do not produce
INTERNAL changes. God searches the SECRETS of the heart.
What does He see in my heart?
Do I practice what I profess (Ro 2:17-24)?
Do I tell others what is right but then do what is wrong (Ro 2:21)?
honestly (Ro 2:2) and without partiality (Ro2:11), and no secret is
hidden from Him (Ro 2:16).
Are you prepared?
Thomas à Kempis said
“How rarely we weigh our neighbor
in the same balance in
which we weigh ourselves.”
THE FOLLY OF JUDGING OTHERS BEFORE WE REMOVE THE LOG OUT OF OUR OWN EYE:
For some reason, it is easier to jump to negative conclusions about
people than it is to assume the best about them. When we do this, we
ascribe to them bad intentions and evil purposes that may not be true.
We also reveal something about ourselves, for the faults we see in
others are actually are reflection of our own.
In his little book
Illustrations of Bible Truth, H. A. Ironside pointed out the
folly of judging others. He related an incident in the life of a man
called Bishop Potter.
“He was sailing for Europe on one of the great transatlantic ocean
liners. When he went on board, he found that another passenger was to
share the cabin with him. After going to see the accommodations, he came
up to the purser’s desk and inquired if he could leave his gold watch
and other valuables in the ship’s safe. He explained that ordinarily he
never availed himself of that privilege, but he had been to his cabin
and had met the man who was to occupy the other berth. Judging from his
appearance, he was afraid that he might not be a very trustworthy
person. The purser accepted the responsibility for the valuables and
remarked, ’It’s all right, bishop, I’ll be very glad to take care of
them for you. The other man has been up here and left his for the same
of God's Judgment
from Romans 2
Is according to truth
|| Romans 2:2
|| Romans 2:3
Is sometimes delayed
|| Romans 2:4
Is measured out according to
the accumulation of guilt
|| Romans 2:5
Is according to works
|| Romans 2:6
Is according to privilege or
|| Romans 2:9
Is without respect of persons
Is according to performance,
Will take into account the
secrets of men's heart
Is according to reality, not