Lesson 69: "There is No Respect of Persons with God" (Romans 2:11)
Paul's Missionary Journey Epistles. Welcome to lesson #69. Rom. Ch. 2! Tune it in! We're going to read the first 16 verses. Notice that Rom. 2:1 starts: "Therefore." Of course, THEREFORE means: "as a result of that", in other words: the following is a consequence of that which has already been said or in accordance with that which has been explained. What has already been explained? "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against..." Against, who? Those "who hold the truth in unrighteousness..." Or to say it another way: those who refused to obey God will be punished. V.I8-32 in the first chapter (we covered in our last lesson). Evidently related primarily to gentiles. Possibly those who thought of themselves as the "wise" up in v.l4 (of ch. 1). They professed themselves to be wise (v.22) They (who every they were) at some time, had learned at least something about God (v.21); but, they didn't practice what they knew. As a result, they "became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened." (End of v.21). God gave them over to a reprobate mind, (v.28). In the THEREFORE!, (v. 1 of ch.. 2); Paul evidently here switches to the case of the Jews. In this (that we're going to read); Paul said they (we're assuming the Jews) done the same thing. Now, the point is: Paul was evidently not accusing the Jews of homosexuality and worshiping idols and all that part of v. 18-32. But, the Jews were doing the same thing; in that they, also, knew better than what they were doing, i.e. they were just as inconsistent as the gentiles that Paul had already discussed. Now, see if you can get this in context! Let's read! Here we go, beginning in Rom. 2:1. We'll read down through v. 16. Let's read!
"Therefore thou are inexcusable, O man,
whosoever thus art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest
another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest
doest the same thing. But we are sure that the judgment
of God is according in truth against them which commit
such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest
them which do such things, and doest the same, that
thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest
thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and
long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God
leadeth thee to repentance? But, after thy hardness and
impenitent heart, treasured up unto thyself wrath against
the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous
judgment of God; who will render to ever man according
to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well
doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal
life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey
the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and
wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man
that doeth evil; of the Jew first, and also to the Gentile;
for there is no respect of persons with God. Foras 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; (for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 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: which show 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;) in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel."
O.K.! Remember now, there were both Jews and Gentiles in the church at Rome. Possibly the Judiazing doctrine had not made it to Rome or at least there's no real evidence of that. But, what was the difference between the old system and the new system; i.e. God's will before the time of Christ and after the time of Christ? Paul was writing to Christians, baptized believers. But, did they clearly understand: "The just shall live by faith?" Someone has said: everybody has a nobody! This race doesn't like that race. This neighborhood looks down ;upon that Neighborhood. Some profess themselves to be wise, get stuck-up in their own conceit. It's easy for us to see the speck in someone else's eye. But, one has to be pretty humble to sweep around his own back door before observing the flaws in his neighbor. Paul knew human nature! For many years, the Jews had expected god to use a double standard in judging the Jews and the Gentiles. John the Baptist had really turned up the torch and singed the hair on that idea. John's job it was to "turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers..." (Mai. 4:6, the last verse in the Old Testament). John the Baptist told the Jews: "think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our father..." John was saying, give up that conceited view. In other words, God would not accept them on the basis of their physical race alone. John said: "God is able of these stone to raise up children unto Abraham." (Matt. 3:9).
The way Paul approaches this, reminds me a little of the way Amos started his sermon to Israel, i.e. the northern tribes (Amos 1:3). Amos said: "Thus saith the Lords: For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof..." Then, Amos really exposed the sins of Damascus. Then Amos lit in on Gaza, and Tyre, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and the Moabites, etc. 1 suppose as Amos preached, the Israelites were saying: Amen Bro. Amos, let'em have it! Tell it like it is! Down in c. @:6, Amos finally got down to the Israelites: "For three transgressions of Israel and for four, I will not turn away the punishment there of..." Then, Amos poured it on Israel! Paul here in Romans began with all the sins of the gentiles. The Jews, (as they read this), must have said: Amen! Bor. Paul, exposed their sins! But, then in ch. 2, the apostle said (v.l) "thou that judgest doest the same things." The judgement of God is according to WHAT? (v.2)? Paul said, "we are sure that the judgment of God is according to TRUTH." Just like Amos, Paul turned it around on them. The Gentiles knew better and they didn't obey. God will punish them, yes. But, the judgment of God is according to truth, i.e. according to reality. The truth of God is righteous; not like some men hold the truth, (back in v. 18). Will God judge with a double standard? Absolutely not. So, Paul is saying, God's measuring stick that you are applying to the Gentiles; God will apply to you also. Look at v.3, here is the question: "thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?" The answer is obvious, a resounding NO! Why? Because God "will render to every man according to his deeds..." (V.6). Or! (v.4), Paul tossed in another possibility. Or...may be: they just despised the riches of God's goodness, His forbearance and His longsuffering, or (also in v.4), may be they haven't really considered, "that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance." (And another question mark!0. Then, like Amos; after Paul got their attention with a couple (in v. 3-4); Paul let'er fly. Vs.5,6,7,8,9,10,11, are one big long sentence in the KJV. You see, it's easy to get caught in our own trap. Have you heard some one argue; that its wrong to argue. Others should not argue; but, it's all right to argue that its wrong to argue. Is it? "Thou that judgest doest the same things." Paul said, the bottom line (v.ll) Paul said, "there is no respect of persons with God." What does that mean? God "will render to EVERY MAN according to his deeds." (V.6) To one group (v.7), God will render eternal life, BUT, to another group, "unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth [that's T-R-U-T-H, v.8), but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath [it will be tribulation and anguish]...upon every soul of man that doesth evil" (v.9). To both Jew and Gentile, God is not a respecter of persons. Peter said the same thin at the household of Cornelius (acts 10:34).
Now for clarification, I want you to read v.12 and then skip down and read v.16. Notice, v.13-14-15 (in between) is one big long parenthesis. So, leave out the parenthesis for a minute; it reads like this: "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;...[then skipping to v.16, it reads] in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel." O.K. v.12 say in effect everyone will be judged. Will any escape the judgment of God?(end of v.30? God will render to every man (that leaves out none); God will render to every man ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS (v.6). But, in v. 12 it is clear that God will not judge every man on exactly the same standard. Those who lived under the law of Moses AND were answerable to the law of Moses will be judged according to that law (Moses' law) But, as many as sinned with out law; i.e. with out the law of Moses, they shall not be judged by the law of Moses. Because, of course, they were not answerable to the law of Moses, it was not given to them. Now, that does not mean NO LAW, in the sense that God made no requirements whatsoever of the gentiles, i.e. non-Jews, or those who were not under the law of Moses. The gentiles were answerable to some law, according to Rom. 1:19-20, God Hath showed it unto them." If they were under absolutely no law, they could not sin. Because, sin is the transgression of the law, (i.e. some law); because that is the very definition of "sin" (I John 3:4). What the law saith (Rom. 3:19), "it saith to them who are under the law." Sin will be punished, (v. 12). God is no respecter of persons, (v.l 1). Thus, God will make allowances for the different requirements he has given to his different peoples at different times in the past; but, all will be judged. And, according to Paul's gospel (v. 16); "God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ..." This is consistent with John 5:22 and every other scripture.
Now, that immediately brings up the question (even to us) as to what law the gentiles (not under the Mosaic code) would be judged by and it is only natural that question would have been much more on the minds of those in the Roman church, made up of both Jews and Gentiles. And, beyond that, it was very relevant to the roman Christians who were trying to teach others with reference to this point. So, that's the reason for the parenthesis (v.13-14-15). A parenthesis contains additional information, thrown in for good measure, that illustrates, defines or explains). First of all (in v.l 3), it takes more than just law. It takes more than just hearing and knowing the law. It takes DOING!, i.e. keeping the law of God to which we are answerable. "For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the do's of the law shall be justified." Thus, Paul explained that obedience is required. As James said, "faith without works is dear." (Jas. 2:26). Or in another place, James concluded: "Therefore to him that knoweth to be good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."
Next, in v. 14-15, after stressing the necessity of obedience (in v.l3), the apostle confirmed and verified the statement in v. 12, that not everyone that has lived on this old planet were answerable to exactly the same law. Those who were answerable to the law of Moses would be judged by the law of Moses. Nevertheless, those not answerable to the Law of Moses; God will still judge the secrets of their hearts by Jesus Christ (v.16) according to the law to which they were answerable. Some Gentiles, of course, done by nature the things contained in the law, i.e. the law of Moses (v. 14). By that, (I would infer) that even though the decalogue or ten commandment law was not give to them directly; some, nevertheless, understood God's requirements under that law and thus, would be judge accordingly. Now, you must keep all this in proper context, under: God is no respecter of persons. And, God will render to every man according to his deeds, e.e. all will be held accountable (v.6,11). There were others, who lived before the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai, of course, and even during the time the Mosaic law was in force; there were others, who had absolutely no knowledge of that law and were not answerable to that law. To what law, then, were they answerable and by what law will they be judged? The answer to that question is not clearly stated in the context we are considering; at least not to my satisfaction. But, when we consider other passages; like Eph. 2:11-17 that discusses the middle wall of partition between the Jews and Gentiles, many (and I think it is fair to say most) commentators believe those people were amenable to Patriarchal law even down to the time of Christ; i.e. the law that God gave to and through Adam, Noah, Abraham, etc. But, you must realize that from the very beginning, from the time of Adam and Eve in the Garden; God has made known to mankind certain rules and laws to which they were obligated to obey and live by. That is the thought back up in 1:19-20. And, God will render to every man according to his deeds. This is consistent with everything else in the New Testament, e.g. Rev. 20:14. We must realize also, God's rules to which every man is obligated (in his own time) is more than what is involved in and defined by the term conscience. The word conscience is made up of two parts: "con" which means against, and "science" or that which is systematic or, in other words, being consistent. Man, innately, has some sense of recognizing consistency and inconsistency with reference to right and wrong. But, you must also realize that this ability (called conscience) is trainable and educable to a large degree. A man can override his conscience. The word "conscience" is used here in v.l5 and, of course, has some bearing upon discerning what God requires. But, you must realize "the law written in then- hearts" (v. 15) is not merely the human conscience. It involves much more than the conscience; this is evident from this very verse.
However, far more important to us: is the fact that this does not apply to you or me. Every human being living today will be judged by the law of Christ. That middle wall of partition between the Jews and the Gentiles has been abolished. "In Christ Jesus...ye are made high by the blood of Christ...who hath made us both one. And hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us," i.e. between the Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2:13-14). Everyone today is answerable to and will be judged by the law of Christ; i.e. the gospel, the new covenant or the New Testament. Both the law of Moses for the Jews, and Patriarchal law for all others, ended at the cross and gave way to the law of Christ. Thus, we will be judged by Christ's law. God will render to every man according to his deeds (v.6) and God is no respecter of persons (v.l 1). "The just shall live by faith." The righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel (1:17). "Faith cometh by hearing" (Rom. 10:17). And, "we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth..." (Rom. 2:2). "God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ" according to Paul's gospel. (V.16). Until our next lesson, this is saying: have a good day!