3/05/15 – Romans 2:1-16 “Don’t be a Hypocrite”
We continue on from last week’s teaching on rebellion against God who rejects those who wilfully and consistently oppose His law for no other reason than it suits them to do what they want to do. Such people march to the tune of “I did it my way”, all the way to hell, in fact, because only those who do it God’s way (that is, according to God’s holy requirements) will be permitted to enter eternal life in heaven.
Romans 2:1 – Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
The word ‘therefore’ means that this passage follows on, is the result of, the previous passage in the 2nd half of Romans 1. God had chosen His special people, the Jews, to serve Him, and had called them to be a priesthood to the nations (the Gentiles).
Exodus 19:5-6 – 5Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth [is] mine: 6And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These [are] the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
In verses 9 & 10 of today’s passage, Paul makes a point of putting the Jews first but also the Greeks, and explains in Vs 11 that God has no favourites when it comes to judgement. It is clear, therefore (now, there’s that word again!) that the one being judged was the Greek (Gentile) while the one doing all the self-righteous judging was the (shock, horror) Jew, God’s special people!
But what did Jesus say about the pharisees? (And He surely had a lot to say!!)
Matthew 23:1-14; 23-36 – 1Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: 3All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, [that] observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. 4For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay [them] on men’s shoulders; but they [themselves] will not move them with one of their fingers. 5But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, 6And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. 8But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, [even] Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9And call no [man] your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, [even] Christ. 11But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. 13But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in [yourselves], neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. 14Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
23Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier [matters] of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 24[Ye] blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. 25Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26[Thou] blind Pharisee, cleanse first that [which is] within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead [men’s] bones, and of all uncleanness. 28Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. 29Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 30And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33[Ye] serpents, [ye] generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? 34Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and [some] of them ye shall kill and crucify; and [some] of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute [them] from city to city: 35That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. 36Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. (And it did indeed come upon their generation!)
Yes, when it came to being good according to the law, the pharisees were the Olympic gold medalists! (not God’s law, of course, but their own – see Matthew 15:9 – But in vain they do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men.)
They judged others around them; they even judged Jesus for being such a “sinner”.
Matthew 9:11 – And when the Pharisees saw [it], they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
Luke 15:2 – And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
And when Jesus continued to reveal their lies and deceit, they falsely accused Him of crimes leading to His crucifixion.
Mark 14:53, 55-56, 63-64 – 53And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes..…….
55And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. 56For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together.…………
63Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? 64Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.
Luke 23:13-15 – 13And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined [him] before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: 15No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him.
John 19:6-7 – 6When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify [him], crucify [him]. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify [him]: for I find no fault in him. 7The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.
Romans 2:2 – But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
But such hypocrites cannot escape God’s judgement. The truth reveals their sin and the truth judges their lies. God’s word is truth. Therefore all that opposes the truth must by logic be lies.
Romans 2:3 – 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?
Such people should not judge others while doing the same sin as that which they condemn. This is the meaning behind…..
Matthew 7:1-5 – 1Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye? 5Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
Note that Christians are required to make judgements concerning the behavior of people, as to whether they are sinning or not. We are not told to avoid judging others; rather we are not to judge others when we do the same thing ourselves – that is, judge as hypocrites. Too often people who desire to avoid being judged will tell us that we shouldn’t judge others – judge not that you be not judged! But this is almost always used by people who have some sin in their lives and want it to stay hidden (or occult – which means “secret” or “hidden”!). Ultimately, it is God who will judge all. Or, more specifically, God has committed all judgement to the Son. John 5:22 – For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:
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?
despisest – kataphroneo = to treat with disdain. It appears to be an assumption that because they existed as God’s people, therefore they should be considered saints, rather than sinners. Even today, especially in churches that should know better, people have a strong tendency to feel that because they are attending church as God’s people, then they must by association with God be blessed as His people. They see the health and wealth gospel as a natural consequence of being God’s people. They despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance and longsuffering (patience). Instead of God’s apparent goodness leading us to think we should be blessed by Him, rather we should repent all the more for being so undeserving of His goodness etc. That is, the more we know of God, the more we should perceive our lack of worth in and of ourselves.
God’s goodness should lead us therefore to be like the tax collector, rather than the pharisee!
Luke 18:9-14 – 9And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men [are], extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as [his] eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified [rather] than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
In fact, this passage in Romans could very well reflect this parable of Jesus.
Romans 2:5 – But after thy hardness (obstinacy; stubbornness) and impenitent (unrepentant) heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
If we take this passage as a warning against hypocrisy, with the pharisees being key examples of such, then instead of them building up treasures in heaven, they are building up wrath in the day of judgement when God reveals all their works for what they are. (See Malachi 4:1 where the wicked are burned up like stubble.)
Romans 2:6 – Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
Proverbs 24:12 – If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider [it]? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth [not] he know [it]? and shall [not] he render to [every] man according to his works?
We will reap what we sow. We do it our way or God’s way!
Romans 2:7 – To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
This is the lot of those who seek after God. The ‘good’ side of the coin.
Matthew 6:33 – But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Our first priority is to seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness. This will bring eternal life, because we have patiently sought to follow God’s pathway for our lives.
Romans 2:8 – But unto them that are contentious (a desire to put one’s self forward in opposition to God), and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
The contentious ones are those who think their way is right, and therefore any other way is wrong. If God says to obey righteousness, then they will obey unrighteousness. They seek their own way, and no-one, not even God will tell them otherwise. They only know their own “truth” and no-one else may oppose. These ones are contentious for the sake of going in another direction to God’s truth, much like those in Romans 1:18-32, especially Vs 32.
And, these self-seeking contentious ones – those who ‘did it their way’ – will conveniently avoid the truth, and instead seek that which appears to promise them what they decide they should have. However, the consequences of rebellious self-seeking behavior is the indignation and anger of God…… (This is the ‘bad’ side of the same coin. There are usually two ways of looking at things, from God’s point of view, and our point of view.)
Romans 2:9 – Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
….. and the tribulation and anguish that comes from a life lived in selfishness, in opposition to God’s truth and righteousness. We will reap what we sow; if we sow contention, then ultimately we’ll reap contention. If we sow evil, then we’ll reap tribulation and anguish.
Man does evil because he thinks of what he can get out of it, but he remains unsatisfied. His soul is empty of goodness and he has nothing in his life with which to bless others. He can do no good for anyone else; he has filled his life with greed, and greed cannot help those around him. We fill ourselves by filling others. Paul here makes the point that it is the Jew who is first to be accused of evil (because they of all people should have known better). The Jew who thinks he is above the law is the one who will be judged by that same law (Vs 12 below).
However, the Gentile also, even without the benefit of the knowledge of the law, will still perish without the law (Vs 12 below). This once again is the ‘bad’ side of the coin.
Romans 2:10 – But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
Here we return to the ‘good’ side of the coin. Paul continues to contrast those who do what is good with those who do what is bad. In particular, he has noted the hypocrisy of many of the Jews who, being God’s people, still sin, yet more so because they who have the law will be judged by the law (Vs 12 below). That is, the knowledge of the law has increased their guilt. They should have known better! And it is the Jew who is also placed first here in the benefits for working that which is good, because the law was given to the Jews as God’s people. However, this also doesn’t exclude the Gentile from the same benefits for those who seek to do that which is good. Ultimately it doesn’t matter whether you are Jew or Gentile; all will reap the consequences of either obeying or disobeying God.
Romans 2:11 – For there is no respect of persons with God.
God does not have favourites. If the Gentile sins, then the Gentile is condemned, and if the Jew sins, the Jew is condemned. The soul that sins shall die.
Ezekiel 18:19-32 – 19Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, [and] hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live. 20The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. 21But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. 22All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. 23Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: [and] not that he should return from his ways, and live?
24But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, [and] doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked [man] doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.
25Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal? 26When a righteous [man] turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die. 27Again, when the wicked [man] turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. 28Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die. 29Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal? 30Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God. Repent, and turn [yourselves] from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.
31Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? 32For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn [yourselves], and live ye.
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;
as many as have sinned – whosoever, whoever, all who have……
without law – written law, as opposed to natural law which all have. Vs 14 & 15
shall…perish – apollumi – metaphorically: to devote or give over to eternal misery in hell
judged by the law – they that know of God’s written law will be condemned by their failure to obey it, suggesting the greater condemnation for such people.
Many Jews (especially the pharisees) arrogantly thought that because they were God’s special people, God would always be on their side, watching over them, and protecting them. But, says Paul, those who know the law will be judged by that law (and, of course, found guilty if they sinned). Those who didn’t know the law wouldn’t be judged by that law, but their consciences would still know good from evil, and this would still condemn them (see Vs 15 below).
The pharisees would condemn the Gentile as being outside the law; they considered all those outside the law to be unable to be saved. To them, the Gentiles were the unredeemable sinners, not the Jews, especially the self-righteous pharisees!
Either way, with or without the law, all will be found guilty if they sin. (And because all have sinned – Romans 3:23 – all will be found guilty.) And especially for the Jew, having the law was a burden, not a benefit, if they sinned. The pharisees just didn’t get the point of it all, that the law was meant to condemn them and lead them to throw themselves upon God’s mercy (see Luke 18:9-14).
Romans 2:13 – (For not the hearers of the law [are] just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
Hearing the law is of no benefit unless people are actively obedient to that law.
James 1:22 – But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. And those who do manage to actively obey the law shall be justified. However, Romans 3 clearly demonstrates that by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight (Romans 3:20). No-one could ever fully obey 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:
Even the Gentiles, who don’t have the written law of God, still know enough to be guilty of sin against God, and thus have no excuse, no defence, against God’s holy judgement. It is built into their nature to know what the law teaches. And if they see something as wrong, even if they are not one of God’s people, their conscience about their behaviour will still condemn them. See Vs 15.
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;)
The law that is written in their hearts, their very being, their conscience, will lead them to know that which is right and that which is wrong. For instance, all human societies know that murder is a crime against their society. And yet in the animal kingdom, conquest by death is a natural thing.
thoughts – logismos – reasonings, opinions, reflections, judgements such as passed by conscience. These reflections on their behaviour will either accuse them, or excuse them, as good consciences should do.
Romans 2:16 – In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
In the day – often signifies the end-times, but can also signify the reaching of a particular point in time, in particular the final judgement here. This continues on from Vs 12 with Vs 13-15 being added (in parentheses – brackets) as explanations in between. God’s judgement by the law on those who have sinned by the law (Vs 12) will be by Jesus Christ –
John 5:22 – For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:
the secrets – Ecclesiastes 12:14 – For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether [it be] good, or whether [it be] evil..
of men – not just Jew, nor Gentile, but all men are included here.
according to my gospel – the gospel Paul was sent to preach as an apostle of Christ (an apostle is one sent with orders, and probably used this way by Paul in Romans 1:1). This gospel preached that man must receive forgiveness (by God’s grace) for his sins without which he could not come before God with confidence.
Hebrews 4:16 – Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
All mankind is required to make peace with a holy God without which there is no forgiveness for sin, and thus eternal condemnation for all who refuse the gift of life in Jesus Christ, whether they be Jew or Gentile. In particular, those who think they have an inside seat on God’s favour (as those to whom God gave the written law), think again, for God does not have favourites, especially if they think that by being God’s people they deserve special consideration above others who are not seemingly as favoured by God. Note well all those who think that by attending church they are doing God a favour!
Paul has introduced the gospel, the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16), and then looked at the reasons for the gospel. For if there is no sin, then the gospel is of no effect! It is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth (Romans 1:16) yet without sin, the gospel is irrelevant. But because all have sinned (Romans 3:23) then Christ’s gospel must be for the justification of all by faith (Romans 3:24-25).
And while those who had the law (the Jews) were clearly judged by the law, not one Gentile could claim that his lack of the law could excuse him, for the working of the law is written within his heart (his inner being, his thinking, his conscience) and can never be denied. That is, They are without excuse (Romans 1:20). Effectively, because no-one may be justified by the works of the law (which condemns all), therefore justification for all must be by faith without the deeds of the law.
Romans 3:28 – Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Romans 3:19-20a – 19Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight