In Romans 1, especially from verses 18-32, Paul specifically concentrated on those that despite having the knowledge of God, refused to honor Him, give thanks to Him or acknowledge Him. Their knowledge of God came from what God has revealed about Himself in nature, and Paul says this knowledge is enough to render them without an excuse for their willful rebellion against God, hence the wrath of God is revealed against them. It is generally accepted that these people are gentiles (gentiles are non-Jews) since the Jews would have had not only nature, but also the law of God to give them knowledge about God. Now in chapter 2, Paul turns towards Jews who are agreeing with him that the gentiles have no excuse for their sin and deserve the wrath of God. Paul shows them that they are hypocritical judges.
Romans 2:1-5 (ESV Strong’s)
1 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
In verse 1, Paul turns to the Jews who by implication from reading this passage, agree with Paul that the gentiles are without an excuse for their rebellion against God, and deserve God’s wrath for refusing to honor Him, give thanks to Him or acknowledge Him. Paul tells the Jews that they also have no excuse. Why? Because as they are passing judgement on the gentiles, they are condemning themselves. Why? Because they are doing the very same things the gentiles are doing. In other words, they are hypocritical Judges. They condemn the gentiles for doing the very same things that they also are doing. If the gentiles deserve God’s wrath for what they are doing and have no excuse, then the Jews also deserve God’s wrath and have no excuse, since they are doing the very same things.
In verse 2, Paul then says that the Jews who are hypocritically judging the gentiles, do the very same things that the gentiles are doing, and this is where the difference comes in, they do these things despite knowing that the judgement of God falls rightly on those who are practicing such things. Paul said in chapter 1 verse 32 that gentiles practiced these things despite knowing that those who practiced such things die and now, Paul says the Jews practice such things despite knowing that God’s judgement rightly falls on those who practiced such things. Therefore, despite how the knowledge of God was acquired, both the Jews and the gentiles have no excuse for their rebellion against God and in both cases, it is willful rebellion.
In verse 3, Paul then asks the Jews if they think somehow they will escape God’s judgement since they are judging the gentiles for the very same things that they are also doing. In verse 4 Paul continues to ask them if they take for granted or have little regard for God’s abundant kindness, tolerance and patience towards them, not knowing that this abundant kindness is meant to lead them to repentance. Paul then says in verse 5, that because of their stubborn refusal to repent, they are storing up for themselves wrath on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgement will be revealed.
In simple terms, Paul is saying to the Jews that they will not escape God’s wrath because just like the gentiles, they have no excuse for their willful rebellion against God. The fact that God has not by now judged them, but showed them instead abundant kindness, is meant to lead them to repentance but, since they will not repent, they are storing up wrath for themselves and they will be judged.
Paul is saying to the Jews that they are hypocritical Judges because they judge the gentiles for the very same things that they are doing. Paul tells them that by judging the gentiles, they are condemning themselves as well. Paul tells them that they will also not escape God’s wrath because they are doing the very same things the gentiles are doing. Paul continues to tell them that they have completely missed the point with regards to God’s abundant kindness, tolerance and patience towards them, despite their sinful willful rebellion against Him. This kindness does not mean that they will escape God’s wrath, but it is meant to lead them to repentance. Instead of repenting, they stubbornly refuse and as a result are storing up wrath for themselves on the day of wrath when God’s judgement will be revealed.
Principles for us Today
- Do not judge hypocritically
- Hypocritical judging is self-condemnation
- All sinners will be judged.
- No one will escape God’s judgement no matter who you are
- God’s kindness towards sinners, His tolerance of sin and His patience towards sinners, is meant to lead us to repentance and not to think that we will not be judged.
- Failure or refusal to repent will bring God’s wrath upon us on the day of wrath.
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