THE UNRIGHTEOUSNESS OF SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS Romans 2:1-11 “Self-Righteous” People Just As Guilty as “Self-Indulgent” People Therefore you are without excuse, O man, whoever you are that judges others, for whenever you judge another, you judge yourself, since you who judge do the same things. 2 And we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who do such things. 3 And do you think, O man, you who judges them that do such things, while doing the same, that you will escape God’s judgment?  4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, His forbearance and His longsuffering, not knowing that it is the goodness of God that leads you to repentance?   “Self-Righteous” People Deserve  the Same Wrath as “Self-Indulgent” People 5 But after your hardness and impenitent heart treasures up, unto yourself, wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who will render to every man according to his deeds – 7 To those who, by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, honour and immortality: eternal life.  8 To those, however, who are contentious, not obeying the truth, but obeying unrighteousness: indignation, wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish upon the soul of everyone who does evil, that of the Jew, first, and that of the Gentile.  10 But glory, honour and peace, to everyone who does good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11 For there is no respect of persons with God.  

  • The “self-righteous sinners” of chapter 2 are those whose judgment is viewed as future (2:5). The sinners of chapter 1 seem to have lives of chaos and disorder as the present consequence of their sin. The sinners of chapter 2 seem to be living quite well. They are not aware of their sinfulness. They actually feel righteous. They misinterpret God’s present kindness, thinking it is their reward for righteous living. They do not understand that it is the result of God’s long-suffering. He is delaying judgment to give opportunity for repentance (2:5). The “self-righteous sinner” occupies himself with judging others (2:1). He certainly believes in sin, but not in his own.
  • God’s righteousness, Paul contends, is demonstrated by His judgment of sinners, sinners of either kind—the self-indulgent or the self-righteous. God’s righteousness is seen not only in the fact that He judges sinners, but also in the fact that He judges them impartially. This principle of impartiality is put forward in 2:9-11 and is played out in the remainder of this section.

    THE UNRIGHTEOUSNESS OF THOSE WITHOUT THE LAW Romans 2:12-16 The Unwritten Law of Conscience Similar to the Written Law of Moses 12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13 (For not the hearers of the law, but the doers of the law shall be justified before God.  14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, they, without the law, have a law for themselves, 15 which shows the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another;) 16 in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.  

  • The righteousness of God requires His wrath to be expressed toward unrighteousness. This Paul has maintained. But now he sets out to show how God’s wrath is expressed impartially, toward all sinners, both Jew and Gentile. The Jews prided themselves in their privileged position and in their possession of the Law, but they failed to practise it.

    THE UNRIGHTEOUSNESS OF THOSE WITH THE LAW  Romans 2:17-29  The Privilege of the Jews 17 Behold, you are called a Jew, and rest in the law, and make your boast of God, 18 and know his will, and approve the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law. 19 You are confident that you, yourself, who have knowledge and truth in the form of the law, are a guide of the blind, a light of those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes.   Jews, Despite Having Privilege, Doing The Same As Gentiles 21 You therefore who teach others, do you not teach yourself?  You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal?  22 You who say a man should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do thou commit sacrilege?  23 You who boast about having the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?  24 For the name of God is “blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.   Physical Circumcision – No Guarantee Of True Righteousness 25 Circumcision really does profit, if you keep the law, but if you are a breaker of the law, then your circumcision is like uncircumcision.   26 Therefore if the uncircumcised keeps the righteousness of the law, shouldn’t his uncircumcision be reckoned as  circumcision?  27 And shouldn’t the person, who is naturally uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you, who, even though circumcised according to the letter of the law, transgress the law?  28 For a real Jew is not one, outwardly; neither is real circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.  29 Rather, a real Jew is one, inwardly, and real circumcision is that of the heart, according to the spirit, not the letter, eliciting the praise, not of men, but of God.  

  • In these verses, Paul shows that possession of the Law (symbolized by physical circumcision) was of no value unless the Law was also practiced. In fact, there is even greater condemnation for those who have the greater revelation of the Law and yet fail to meet its demands. The hypocrisy of claiming to uphold the Law, while actually rejecting it, is exposed and condemned.
  • The Jew, therefore, cannot attain righteousness by means of law-keeping. He, like the pagans he condemns, is only revealed to be a sinner by the Law. The outward symbol of circumcision was of no value to the Jew apart from possessing a true righteousness, a righteousness which law-keeping could not achieve.
  • If God’s righteousness is seen by the fact that God condemns man’s unrighteousness, Paul also teaches that God’s righteousness is revealed by the way that He judges unrighteousness. God condemns sinners without partiality. He has no “favorites” whose sin He overlooks, nor are there those whom He dislikes whose condemnation is contrived. He judges men impartially and righteously in that He judges men on the basis of the revelation given to them.
  • In the final analysis, Jews are judged by the Law they possess, while others are judged only on the basis of natural revelation (chapter 1).


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