Verse 1 – Therefore, you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.
The majority of scholars see the Jews as the subject throughout chapter 2. Judgment and condemnation follow sin. Not all people commit the same sins, but all show by their judging and criticism that they do not live up to the moral law they know. The Bible says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We are to judge ourselves before looking to someone else’s sin.
Verse 2 – But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.
Outwardly people might appear well to others, but God searches the heart and sees the secret as well as the open deeds of people. Those who practice secretly what they openly condemn, can not expect to escape the righteous judgment of God. No amount of protests or opinions will matter in that day. God’s truth will be the judge.
Verse 3 – And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?
Death in the life will not prevent anyone from standing before God’s judgment seat. All human beings, great and small, rich or poor, will be raised to stand before God.
Verse 4 – Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
God’s mercy and patience is not approval for our sin. He is patient and longsuffering in waiting for all people to recognize He is a good God. Has God been good to you? Should you have been dead by now because of things in your past that you’ve done? If not for the grace and mercy of God, I would have been dead a long time ago.
Verse 5 – But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,
An unrepentant heart becomes hardened and on the day of judgment, God’s wrath will come like flood waters that have suddenly been released.
Verse 6 – who will render to each one according to his deeds:
Our conduct, motives behind what we do, and how we treat others, does matter, not just for the Christian, but all people.
Verse 7 – eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;
Our good deeds is a response to what God has done. This is not referring to a person doing one single act of kindness. This is talking about a continual life-style of doing good for others.
Verse 8 – but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey truth, but obey unrighteousness – indignation and wrath,
Verse 9 – tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;
Verse 10 – but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jews first and also to the Greek.
Verse 11 – For there is no partiality with God.
This is referring to the verses before. Jew or Gentile will all be judged by the same justice principles.
Verse 12 – For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law
Verse 13 – (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified;
The Jews saw the Mosaic law as key in the difference between Jews and Gentiles. Paul teaches that the law can’t save people, but only reveals their sin, because no one can keep the law perfectly. However, those (Jews) who live by the law only, will be judged by the law and condemned by it.
Verse 14 – for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things contained in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,
Verse 15 – who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)
The Gentiles do not have the Mosaic law in which we live by, but have an inner law, the conscience, that informs us. Our conscience will either accuse us of wrong doing or excuse it.
Verse 16 – in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.
God has appointed His Son to administer judgment. He shall bring every work done openly or in secret, to judgment by His truth and righteousness. And then Paul states, according to the gospel he preaches, “my gospel.”
Verse 17 – Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God,
Verse 18 – and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law,
Verse 19 – and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,
Verse 20 – an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law.
Jew was the name given to people who returned to Judea from exile, but later it was extended to cover all Hebrew people wherever they lived. Paul listed eight grounds on which Jews rested their senses of moral superiority over the Gentiles. True enough, and yet Jesus taught, “Much will be required of everyone who has been given much. And even more will be expected of the one who has been entrusted with more.”
Verse 21 – You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal?
Verse 22 – You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?
The Jews had learned the law so well, that they had learned to excuse their own actions while criticizing others. Jesus pointed out that even withholding what rightfully belongs to someone else is stealing. (Think about that one for a moment. And not telling the whole truth is the same as lying.) Too many are not willing to take an honest look at themselves, before criticizing another.
Verse 23 – You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?
Do our actions line up with what others hear us speak?
Verse 24 – For “The name of God is blasphemed among Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.
Jewish sin resulted in God’s name being dishonored among the pagan nations when the Jews were defeated and exiled. To the pagans, Yahweh seemed powerless since He didn’t protect His people. What do people think if God, by watching you?
Verse 25 – For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. (Circumcision of the heart is useless without true faith. Abraham was faithful long before he was ever circumcised.)
Verse 26 – Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?
In other words: A man shall be treated as if it were so; that the lack of circumcision shall be no bar to acceptance. God judges things as they are; and as the man, though uncircumcised, who keeps the law, ought to be treated as if he had been circumcised, so he who believes in Christ agreeably to the divine promise, and trusts to His merits alone for salvation, ought to be treated as if he were himself righteous. Through God’s Son, they are accepted.
Verse 27 – And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law?
Shall not a pagan man who has none of your external privileges, if he keeps the law, condemn you who are Jews, although you have the letter and circumcision, are nevertheless transgressors of the law?
Verse 28 – For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh;
Verse 29 – but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not from men but God.
The design of circumcision was to be a sign of separation from the pagan world, and of consecration to the holy God. This implied the renunciation and forsaking of all sins; or the cutting off of everything that was offensive to God. This was a work especially of the heart. The work is to take place in the soul, and not in the body only, an internal spiritual work done by the Holy Spirit.