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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Romans 2

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-16

God's Call through Man's Conscience: Testimony to Man's Heart- Romans 1:18-32 reveals the fallen nature of the world, in particular, the Gentiles in their heathen idolatry. He then broadens his definition of depravity in Romans 2:1-16 by addressing those who condemn evil and consider themselves moral and good by showing their sinful nature. This passage focuses upon the man who lives by his conscience to discern between good and evil. Song of Solomon , in this passage Paul writes, under divine inspiration, that the best moral man is also judged as being in sin because he does the same things that the heathen do, living contrary to the law of their conscience. The testimony of the conscience, which is the voice of man's heart, bears witness to human depravity. It is not enough to have a moral law, but one must do what this law says, or be condemned. The conscience of the Gentiles had born witness that they were sinners. The Jews had violated their conscience when they broke the commandments and statutes of the Mosaic Law. This passage of the Scripture also reveals the distinctions in divine judgment between the Jews and the Gentiles.

Romans 2:1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O Prayer of Manasseh , whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

Romans 2:1 — "Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man" - Comments- We have all sinned, violating our conscience. The Jews have violated the Mosaic Law as well as their conscience.

Romans 1:20, "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:"

Romans 2:1 — "whosoever thou art that judgest" - Scripture References- Note:

Romans 8:34, "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."

Romans 2:1"for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself" - Comments- If a man speaks against a fault, and but is also found guilty of the same fault, he not only condemns the other Prayer of Manasseh , but condemns himself also.

Romans 2:1 — "for thou that judgest doest the same things" - Comments- That Isaiah , they practice those same vices listed in the previous verses of Romans 1:28-31 that the Gentiles practice.

Romans 2:2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.

Romans 2:2Word Study on "according to truth" - Comments - The phrase "according to truth" can be translate, "rightly" (BDAG [see ἀλήθεια 3], NIV).

Romans 2:2Comments- God is just and right in judging these who practice sin.

Romans 2:3 And thinkest thou this, O Prayer of Manasseh , that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Romans 2:4"Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering" - Word Study on "despisest" - Strong says the word "despisest" ( καταφρονέω) (G 2706) means, "to think against, disesteem." BDAG says it means in this verse to "think lightly, have wrong ideas of or about something."

Word Study on "goodness" - Strong says the Greek word "goodness" ( χρηστότης) (G 5544) means, "usefulness, i.e. excellence (in character or demeaner)." BDAG says it means, "goodness, kindness, generosity."

Romans 2:4"not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance" - Word Study on "goodness" - Strong says the Greek word "goodness" ( χρηστός) (G 5543) means, "employed, i.e. useful (in manner and morals)." BDAG notes the substantive use of this adjective, and translates it "kindness."

Romans 2:4 — Comments - The phrase "goodness of God" encompasses the divine virtues that immediately precedes this phrase, so that God's goodness includes His goodness, forbearance and longsuffering. When we sin, or a man persists in sin, it is God's goodness that restrains His immediate judgment and He give man ample opportunity to repent. If He executed His wrath upon every sinful deed of mankind, then no one would survive. Just as we patiently instruct and guide our children out of love, so does God watch over us in patience and love. However, God's patience is not a license to sin.

Romans 2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

Romans 2:5Word Study on "after" - The preposition κατά is translated "after" (KJV), or "according to" in some modern translations (Rotherham, YLT). The degree that we harbor a stubborn and unrepentant heart determines the degree of divine wrath that is being stored up against us. This fact is clearly stated in the next few verses of this passage of Scripture ( Romans 2:6-16).

Rotherham, "But, according to thy hardness, and thine impenitent heart, art treasuring up for thyself anger, in a day of anger and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,

YLT, "but, according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou dost treasure up to thyself wrath, in a day of wrath and of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God,"

Romans 2:5Word Study on "righteous judgment" - Strong says the Greek word "righteous judgment" ( δικαιοκρισία) (G 1341) means, "a just sentence." BDAG says it means, "righteous judgment." This word is used one time in the New Testament.

Comments - TDNT says the earliest use of the Greek word δικαιοκρισία outside the New Testament is found in the Testament of Levi, which has been debated as to it having a Jewish origin (2nd c. B.C.) or Christian origin (2nd c. A.D.). It is possible that Paul coined this word and used it for the first time in his epistle to the Romans.

Romans 2:5Comments- TDNT notes the contrast between men who judge others and commit the same sins ( Romans 2:1-3), and God's judgment, which alone is righteous. TDNT says His judgment is "according to truth" ( Romans 2:3). Paul will use a similar phrase ( τῆς δικαίας κρίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ) in 2 Thessalonians 1:5. (see TDNT on " δικαιοκρισία")

Romans 2:2, "But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things."

2 Thessalonians 1:5, "Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:"

God's wrath was poured forth upon His Son Jesus Christ on Calvary. For this reason, God is no longer judging mankind in the present age as He did in the Old Testament. For those who reject Jesus Christ, God is saving up His wrath for the Great White Throne Judgment ( Revelation 20:11-15).

Romans 2:6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

Romans 2:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

Romans 2:8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

Romans 2:9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

Romans 2:9 — "of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile" - Comments - Why does God judge the Jew first? God judges them in this manner because Israel was given the truth and they rejected it (See Ezekiel 16, Luke 10:12-15). Paul will later say, "Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen." ( Romans 9:4-5) Thus, Israel will be held more accountable on the day of judgment than the Gentile nations.

We know as I write in May 2001, the Lord is coming soon and the Tribulation will be coming upon the earth soon. We note that the Jews preceded this event, going through a great tribulation sixty years earlier during the Holocaust of World War II. The world mourns for those Jews who died and suffered during the Holocaust, not knowing that the Tribulation will bring such heartache to the Gentiles who do not turn to Jesus Christ.

Scripture References:

Matthew 11:24, "But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee."

Luke 12:47, "And that servant, which knew his lord"s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."

Romans 2:10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

Romans 2:11 For there is no respect of persons with God.

Romans 2:12 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;

Romans 2:12 — "For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law" - Comments- Romans 1:12 a primarily refers to God's method of judging the Gentiles, while Romans 1:12 :b refers to His way of judging the Jewish people who lived under the Law. This verse answers the common question of what happens to those who have died and have never had the opportunity of hearing about Christ. The Bible says that they will we judged differently than those who have heard and rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Romans 2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

Romans 2:13Comments- It is not enough to know the Law and righteousness, but one must also do them, or else he is like the man in Romans 2:12, "as many as have sinned in the law."

Romans 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

Romans 2:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

Romans 2:15 — "which shew the work of the law written in their hearts" - Comments- Gentile nations, who have never heard the Law, have the deeds, or works, of the Law in their standards of living. Their conscience bears witness to this. Their laws and ethical codes bare a great similarity to the Mosaic Law.

Romans 2:15Comments - Keith Moore once said that feelings are the voice of the body, reason is the voice of the mind and our conscience is the voice of our spirit. 152] God has given to every human being a conscience, so that he instinctively knows between good and evil.

152] Keith Moore, interviewed by Kenneth Copeland, Believer's Voice of Victory (Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Fort Worth, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

Romans 2:12-15Comments - Man's Conscience - In Romans 2:12-15 Paul speaks directly about man's conscience as a moral guide. Mankind received their awareness of right and wrong when Adam and Eve partook of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Up until the time of the Fall, Adam and Eve lived in a state of innocence. At this time, man became conscience of good and evil. He now had a conscience to guide him in his actions. Before this act of sin, man lived in a state of innocence, being unaware of sin because his conscience has never told him that he had done something wrong. When he partook of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, his conscience convicted him of sin for the first time in his life. This is why God gave the tree its name, because it causes man to become aware of good and evil. It was Adam and Eve's conscience that brought them to that knowledge. When they ate of the tree, then both knew they had done wrong because their conscience told them. At the same time, their sin brought shame. This shame made them aware that their nakedness was unpleasant. Thus, they covered themselves.

Romans 2:16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

Romans 2:16 — "according to my gospel" - Comments - Eusebius (A.D 260 to 340) tells us that because of Paul"s close companionship with Luke , he is referring in this phrase to the Gospel of Luke in distinction to other Gospels that have been written at this time. Note:

"But Luke , who was of Antiochian parentage and a physician by profession, and who was especially intimate with Paul and well acquainted with the rest of the apostles, has left us, in two inspired books, proofs of that spiritual healing art which he learned from them. One of these books is the Gospel, which he testifies that he wrote as those who were from the beginning eye witnesses and ministers of the word delivered unto him, all of whom, as he says, he followed accurately from the first. The other book is the Acts of the Apostles which he composed not from the accounts of others, but from what he had seen himself. And they say that Paul meant to refer to Luke"s Gospel wherever, as if speaking of some gospel of his own, he used the words, ‘according to my Gospel.'" (Ecclesiastical History 347-8)

Note the other times when Paul used this phrase:

Romans 16:25, "Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,"

2 Timothy 2:8, "Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:"

To Paul the apostle was given the divine assignment of establishing the doctrines of the New Testament church, which he did by writing his thirteen (fourteen) epistles. Thus, the phrase "my Gospel" may imply Paul's efforts to lay down these doctrines for the churches.


Verses 17-20

God's Call through the Mosaic Law: Testimony to Man's Actions - In Romans 1:18-32 Paul reveals man's depravity and rejection of God. He then broadens his definition of depravity in Romans 2:1-16 by addressing those who condemn evil and consider themselves moral and good by showing their sinful nature. Now in Romans 2:17 to Romans 3:20 Paul further broadens his definition of man's depravity to include the Jew. Throughout this lengthy passage of Romans 1:18 to Romans 3:20 Paul is attempting to explain how man's sinful nature serves as a testimony of God's righteousness in inflicting His wrath upon mankind from heaven ( Romans 1:18), which is the underlying theme of this passage of Scripture.

In Romans 2:17 to Romans 3:20 Paul turns to the Jews who justify themselves in the Law, which reveals man's actions. Paul offers a more lengthy discussion about the depravity of the Jew than the Gentiles because they had been given the oracles of God and had been used under the old covenant to reveal God's standard of justification to the world.The Jews, who observe the disgusting behavior of the heathen take comfort in their traditions and conservative lifestyles. Yet, they too are condemned by the very Law they serve. Paul first rehearses the multitude of boasts that the Jews make in their religious heritage ( Romans 1:17-20). He then reveals that all such boasting is in vain as he exposes their hearts ( Romans 2:21-24). He explains that true circumcision is that of the heart, and not of the flesh ( Romans 2:25-29). He next explains to them the advantages of being a Jew ( Romans 3:1-8). Paul then quotes from the Law (primarily Psalm and Isaiah) to reveal how God's wrath has been placed upon them also. Paul uses the Law to reveal how everyone is in a state of sin, even the Jew. He directly addresses the Jews as he uses the Law to convict them of their sins ( 1 Timothy 1:8).

1 Timothy 1:8, "But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;"

Although the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God ( Romans 3:1-8), these oracles only declare that all have sinned ( Romans 3:9-20). He explains that all men, Jews and Gentiles, are under sin ( Romans 3:9). They have a wicked heart ( Romans 3:10-12), and speak wicked words from their minds ( Romans 3:13-14), and commit deeds of wickedness with their bodies ( Romans 3:15-17), because they have no fear of God in their hearts ( Romans 3:18). The Law has simply served to reveal man's sinful nature rather than justify him ( Romans 3:19-20).

Outline- Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Jew Makes His Boast in God — Romans 2:17-20

2. The Jew as a Sinner — Romans 2:21-24

3. True Circumcision — Romans 2:25-29

4. The Advantage of the Jews: God's Oracles — Romans 3:1-8

5. The Law has Declared Both Jews and Gentiles as Sinner — Romans 3:9-20

A Summary of Paul's Experience in Debating with the Jews- Romans 2:17 is a key verse to chapters 2,3of Romans in that Paul presents argument of his Jewish opponents in a rhetorical manner and answers them. Paul had spent years in the Jewish synagogues debating with them on these points. It explains that the Jews were trusting in the Law and boasting in God. Paul"s conclusion to this attitude of the Jews is found in Romans 2:29. Paul says that being a Jew is of the heart and not in the circumcision of the flesh.

Romans 2:17, "Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,"

Romans 2:29, "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."


Verses 21-24

The Jew as a Sinner- After acknowledging the Jews' claims to a right standing before God and Prayer of Manasseh , Paul pulls back the curtain of their heart in Romans 2:21-22 and reveals the wickedness found within the Jewish society. He was a Jew himself and knew how many of them lived a sinful lifestyle while having an outward form of their Jewish religion and traditions.

Romans 2:22 — "thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?" - Word Study on "sacrilege" - Strong says the Greek word "sacrilege" ( ἱεροσυλέω) (G 2416) literally means, "to be a temple robber."

Comments- Sacrilege means to misuse what has been consecrated to God.

Romans 2:24Comments - In Romans 2:24 Paul is quoting from Isaiah 52:5. However, the environment in which Paul was speaking to the Romans was one of growing Roman hostility towards the Jews. Claudius has evicted the Jews from Rome in A.D 49 because of their behaviour. Song of Solomon , Paul could very well apply Romans 2:24 to the Jews in their current Roman setting. The name of God is blasphemed by the Gentiles when the Jews who boast in the name of God have their sins made public to the world.

Isaiah 52:5, "Now therefore, what have I here, saith the LORD, that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the LORD and my name continually every day is blasphemed."


Verses 25-29

True Circumcision - In Romans 2:25-29 Paul explains true circumcision as being of the heart, and not of the flesh. Circumcision was the way a Jew made a distinction between him and a Gentile. In this passage Paul will use the example of Jewish proselytes who converted the Judaism and kept the law with religious zeal while some of their fellow Jews in the synagogues lazily followed the Law because they were trusting in their Jewish birth for justification before God. Paul argues that these Jewish proselytes should be credited with righteousness before the lazy Jews. Paul then concludes that God makes a distinction between a Jew and a Gentile by looking at the heart, and not at the flesh.

Romans 2:26Comments - In Romans 2:26 Paul appears to be referring to Jewish proselytes who are converted and keep the law with greater zeal that their fellow Jews, who lazily follow their traditions, but trust in their birth as Jews for justification before God.

Romans 2:29 — "and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter" - Comments - We understand by reading the phrase "of the heart, in the spirit," which stands in apposition in the Greek text, that Isaiah , they stand beside each other as equal meanings, that the "spirit" of man is also called the "heart."

Romans 2:29Comments - In Romans 2:29 Paul says that Christians are Jews in a spiritual since. Paul calls Christians the Israel of God in Galatians 6:16. Believers, being children of faith, are also called the children of Abraham ( Matthew 3:9, Romans 4:16-16, Galatians 3:7).

Galatians 6:16, "And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God."

Matthew 3:9, "And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham."

Romans 4:16-17, "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were."

Galatians 3:7, "Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham."

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Romans 2:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/romans-2.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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