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Bible Commentaries
Romans 2

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-29

Chapter 2

Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judges ( Romans 2:1 ):

You see, I read this list and I say, "Oh, yes, it is horrible. My, I just don't know what we are going to do, the world is going so terrible, bad. Terrible that people would do those kind of things, terrible that people would live like that." Well, you are inexcusable O man whoever you are that judges.

for wherein you judge another, you are condemning yourself; for you that judge are doing the same things ( Romans 2:1 ).

We have got to be careful of this judgment bit. Because if I have the capacity to judge someone else and say, "That is wrong, he should not be doing that." Then I am condemning myself, because I know it is wrong and if I do it, it is doubly wrong, because I know it is wrong because I said it was wrong. You know, it is amazing how horrible our sins look when someone else is doing them. Let someone else commit my sins, and I can get just all kind of righteous indignation. I can tell you why I did it, I can justify it. But it is horrible when someone else does it. It is terrible. Be careful, O man, whoever you are who judges, you are only condemning yourself because you are testifying to the fact that you know better, when you have done those things yourself.

But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. [God will have true judgment.] And you think, O man, that judges those who do such things, and that you are doing the same, that you're going to escape the judgment of God? ( Romans 2:2-3 )

I Corinthians, chapter 5, Paul tells us that we are all to appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the things that we have done in our bodies, whether they be good or evil, knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we seek to persuade men. Do you think that you are going to escape the judgment of God? Do you think that you have got some kind of an immunity or a divine dispensation that you can get by with it?

Or do you despise the riches of God's goodness and forbearance and longsuffering ( Romans 2:4 );

You see, the mistake that many people so often make is the misinterpreting of the long-suffering and the patience of God. God is so forbearing with us. God is so patient with us. God is so long-suffering. He doesn't immediately smite us and cut us off when we do evil. God has great patience with evildoers. I wouldn't have that much patience. I would rather God didn't. I would rather God just wipe them out. When I read of some of these things and I read the guy murders his family up in Chino and you see him in court and you know it will be months of court appearances and you think, "Oh, God. Quick justice, Lord." But when it is me, "Oh, patience, Lord. I am working on it now and I hope one of these days, Lord, I am going to conquer." But sometimes I misinterpret that patience of God and that long-suffering as approval or that God really doesn't or it doesn't matter to God. Or people actually become so deceived that they believe that God is approving the things they do because they say, "I still have such blessing upon my life." You know, "If God wasn't pleased with the way I was doing, then He surely would have taken away the blessings and all from my life." And because their lives continue to be blessed, they say, "Well, God is approving the things that I am doing." Not so. Do you think you are going to escape the judgment of God?

Do you despise the riches of His goodness and forbearance and long-suffering?

Don't you know that the goodness of God is intended to lead you to repentance? But, after the hardness and impenitent heart, you are actually treasuring up for yourself wrath against the day of wrath and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God ( Romans 2:4-5 );

Actually, it is just like a dam holding back this judgment of God, and you are just storing up as you continue in your ways of sin and unrighteousness. It is just storing up and one day the dam is going to be released and the flood of judgment is going to carry you away. Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitors of the earth by reason of the three trumpets which are yet to sound. Then we are reading of the angels warning of the wrath of God that is coming as He pours out the cup of His wrath and fury upon man. Let me tell you something, the earth in which we live is ripening for judgment. In fact, as I look at the world today and the things in the world today, I wonder just how much longer God can wait before He judges. The Bible tells us that God waited a long time while Noah was building the ark, but the judgment did come.

God's judgment is going to come again, and it is just being treasured up, or stored up against the day of the wrath of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God.

Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, [God will grant to them] eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, [they will receive the] indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that's doing evil; the Jew first, and also the Gentile; but glory, and honor, and peace, to every man that is working good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: for there is no respect of persons with God ( Romans 2:6-11 ).

It doesn't matter if you are a Jew or Gentile, God doesn't respect your person. It is what you are that God acknowledges, and what you are doing.

For as many as have sinned without law will perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law ( Romans 2:12 );

Now the Gentiles without the law, they are going to be judged without the law. There is the law that God has written in our own hearts, the conscience, the Jews have the law, God will judge them by that law.

(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile either accusing or else excusing one another;) ( Romans 2:13-15 )

God has written His law in every man's heart. There is that consciousness and awareness of good and evil. It is innate--written in my heart by God, and my conscience either excuses or accuses me.

In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. Behold ( Romans 2:16-17 ),

Now he is addressing himself to the Jews in Rome,

you are called a Jew, and you are resting in the law, and you make your boast of God, that you know his will, you approve the things that are more excellent, because you have been instructed out of the law; and you are confident that you are a guide of the blind, a light to those which are in darkness, you are an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, you have a form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. [How about it, though,] you that are teaching others, do you not teach yourself? You that are preaching that a man should not steal, do you steal? You that say that a man should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You that abhorrest idols, do you commit sacrilege? Thou that makes thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonorest thou God? ( Romans 2:17-23 )

Paul is now talking to the Jews. They had this position of spiritual superiority over other men, "God has revealed His will to the Jews, God has given a law to the Jews. We are a guide to the blind, and we are light to those in darkness. We are an instructor of the foolish." But Paul said, "Look, in teaching others don't you listen to yourself, aren't you learning yourself?"

Now Jesus said to His disciples, "Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees you're not going to enter the kingdom of heaven." As He began to illustrate that statement, He shows that the righteousness of the Scribes and the Pharisees was totally related to outward observances of the law, when inwardly they were violating the law. The law says, thou shalt not kill, but you hate that man so much you would love to kill him. As far as Jesus is concerned, you are guilty of violating the law "thou shall not kill." Thou shall not commit adultery, and yet you have such great lust and desire for that gal. God says, "Hey, you have committed adultery in your heart. The law is spiritual. So Paul is saying, "Hey, you teach you shouldn't commit adultery, do you commit adultery? Do you say you shouldn't have idols, do you commit sacrilege? Is there some idol in your life? Something that you hold up to be more important than God. Some goal or ambition or desire that supercedes your love for God?

For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. For circumcision verily profiteth, if you keep the law: but if you be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision ( Romans 2:24-25 ).

Now the idea of circumcision. There is a spiritual concept behind it and it is the cutting away of the flesh, which means I am to live after the Spirit and not after the flesh. That was the spiritual symbolism of circumcision, a race of people who would live after the Spirit, who would walk after God, not walking after the flesh. But the people began to take the physical rite and deny the spiritual application. Though physically they were circumcised, spiritually they walked after the flesh. Paul said, "I don't care if you have been physically circumcised, if you are still walking after the flesh, your physical circumcision is meaningless."

Because it isn't the circumcision of the flesh that really counts before God, it is the circumcision of the heart. In the same token as Christians, water baptism symbolizes the death and the end of the old life after the flesh, and coming up out of the water symbolizes the new resurrected life in Jesus Christ. If I have been baptized forward, backwards and three times in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and I am still walking after the flesh, that baptism is totally meaningless. For it is the baptism of the heart that counts, the circumcision of the heart that counts. God wants me to be walking after the Spirit, to be desiring in my heart the walk of the Spirit.

Therefore, if the uncircumcision [that is, the Gentile uncircumcised] keeps the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? ( Romans 2:26 )

Now this is also true in baptism. If a person has never gone through the physical rite of baptism, if he is indeed alive unto God in the Spirit and living and walking after the Spirit, his faith in God and walk after the Spirit counts for his not being baptized in water. I disagree with these people who place a tremendous emphasis upon getting them down to the water and baptizing them in order that they might be saved. For the true baptism is of the heart, a clear conscience before God. It isn't the washing away of the filth of the flesh according to Peter. And Paul the apostle himself said, "I thank God I didn't baptize any of you but Crispus and Gaius," as he wrote to the Corinthian church. He said, "God didn't call me to baptize, but to preach the gospel."

Therefore, God is looking at the man's heart. God is looking at your heart. What is it that you desire? "One thing have I desired of the Lord, and that will I seek after." Am I really seeking after the Lord, to dwell in His presence, to live and fellowship, continual fellowship with Him? Or do I pay Him service on Sunday and then the rest of the week devote my life to my pursuit after my fleshly, worldly desires, goals, and ambitions?

Shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision are transgressing the law? For he is not a Jew, who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God ( Romans 2:27-29 ).

Not seeking the approval of men, but seeking the approval of God, walking after God in the Spirit. It isn't the life in the flesh that man sees that is important, it is the life in the Spirit that God sees which is important--my heart and the position of my heart before God.

Now Paul has in the first two chapters successfully made us all guilty. The Gentile world in its degraded state, reprobate mind, guilty before God, because not only are they doing these unspeakable things, but they are taking pleasure in those that do them. But also the Jew who judges the Gentile and says, "Oh, isn't it terrible that they are doing those things and living that way?" He is also guilty before God, because though he is giving God lip service, perhaps making outward observances of the law within his heart, there is defilement. He judges others for what they are doing, but he is guilty of doing the same himself. So he also is guilty before God. The man who has never heard is guilty because God has written His law in his heart, and he will be judged without the law. God has revealed Himself in nature and that which can be known of God is plainly, clearly displayed in nature but is ignored. The message of God through nature, because he didn't want to retain God in his heart, and thus, he looked at nature with a presuppositional base that God does not exist. The whole world is now guilty before God.

Terrible place to leave you. When we come back we'll find God's solution in chapters 3-4 with a guilty world. We will see God's provision for sinful man as Paul begins to unfold for us the glorious grace of God revealed through Jesus Christ. Paul loves to paint pictures; he loves to paint pictures of the grace of God, but in order that we might enjoy all of the beauties and the brilliance of the grace of God, the colors, it is important, first of all, to paint a background for the picture. So he takes his canvas and he dips his brush in cold black paint, and he paints the background, in chapters 1 and 2 of Romans. He is giving you this background that he might now splash upon the canvas the brilliance of the glory of the grace of God that He has revealed to us through Jesus Christ. We, the sinning world, deserving that wrath of God, and yet, being offered a glorious place of fellowship and life with God, living and walking after the Spirit, that eternal life of God being offered to man. So we'll get into the glorious grace of God, God's solution for sinning man. So you can move ahead. There is no rule against reading chapters 3 and 4 in advance, discovering what God has done, provide for us His glorious grace.

May the Lord be with you and bless you as you walk with Him. May the Lord clean up your T.V. viewing, your magazine reading. God help us not to be caught in that trap of living after the flesh, that is death. Not to enjoy the things of the flesh, taking pleasure in those that do them. May we take pleasure in walking with God, fellowshipping with Him, experiencing His presence, His love, His power in our lives. May you come into a deeper, richer, fuller appreciation of God's love and grace for you. In Jesus' name. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Romans 2". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/romans-2.html. 2014.
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