Romans 2:1

In chapter one Paul showed the result of man rejecting general revelation.

Beginning in chapter 2:1 and going through 3:8 Paul addresses the issue of receiving special revelation (scripture) and rejecting that.

The Jews are obviously the ones who at this time had heard the most of God’s special   revelation since they where the ones who received it and were responsible for bringing it to the world.


The nation of Israel was chosen to receive the revelation, but only by the grace and calling of God.  The very fact that they were Israel and chosen cannot save them.        

They had to respond appropriately to the message.


Some would say Israel was not as bad as the Gentiles in chapter one.


Romans 2:1-16 shows that God will judge everyone.

Romans 2:1-4 the self righteous are warned.


In chapter 1 the identification of sin in 1:18 is followed with a detailed lists of accusations in 1:23, 26-32.


Likewise in chapter 2 the identification of sin in 2:1-16 is followed by the accusations of 2:17-29.


Three Principles of Judgment

1)      God’s judgment is based on truth.   Judgment is not arrived at by evaluating appearances or man’s misrepresentations.  Judgment is decided on reality and facts. (2:2)

a.       We are not judged on what we intended to do or wished we had done.

b.      We are not judged on our knowledge of right and wrong but on what we really did.

c.       It is not about knowing God’s will but about doing God’s will.

2)      God’s judgment is based on performance.  Each man’s judgment is based on what he has actually done.  NIV: “to each person according to what he has done.” (literally: “according to his works.”)  (2:6)

a.       1 Cor. 3:13, “His work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will brig it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.”

3)      God’s judgment is impartial.  God does not show favoritism.  (2:11)



1  You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.



Point of this verse is that since God’s wrath is revealed against all people and all people have knowledge of God then even the person who knows this to
be the truth and can explain this is also one of those people who are without excuse.  Even the self-righteous are one of “all people.”


This chapter picks up where chapter 1 left of by saying “You . . .have no excuse.”

In 1:20 mankind was told they have no excuse.

Now, those who have received special revelation of the written word of God also have “no excuse.”


Paul begins chapter 2 with change in style by entering into a dialog with an imaginary reader who has so far agreed with Paul’s accusations against the godless heathen      described in chapter 1.


Paul begins with the second person singular “you”.  Paul is using a a style called a diatribe:

·   Paul is not accusing his readers.  That would require the second person plural such as “you all”, or “you Romans”

·   A Diatribe is a literary style where the writer addresses and frequently questions an imaginary person in an imaginary conversation through his writing.

·   Many ancient authors used this and it is found elsewhere in the NT including James.


Some of Paul’s readers may have been able to say after reading chapter one, “We never have done that.”


They may not have gone to the extreme but they have:

·   Committed some level of the sin in their actions

·   Have had forms of this rebellion rise up in their thinking and in their hearts

·   Matthew 5-7 Jesus says that sinful desires are sin as well as sinful deeds.


This verse is speaking to the rest of mankind who sit in judgment on those in chapter one.  This verse says, “You do the same things but have no excuse because you have enough       understanding to judge those in chapter one as being wrong.”

2  Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.

“we know” is Paul making a statement that both he and his imagine discussion partner both agree on.


3  So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment?


We may think that since we have escaped judgment so far that God is not going to judge our sins or that our sins where not that bad and he did not count them.


The reason God has not called our sins to account is explained in the next verse.  He is showing us kindness so that we have time to repent.


2 Peter 3:9


Romans 2:1-3 is saying:

a) God will judge those who do “these things”

b) But, those who claim to do right still do “these things.”

c) Conclusion: Both those who admit they know and those who suppress the truth are come under the judgment of God


4  Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?


The focus is God’s kindness. 

The words “tolerance” and “patience” are descriptions of his kindness.


“Tolerance” is the translation of a Greek word that carries the idea of self-restraint.
This word was used in many Greek writings of the ancient world to describe a temporary truce.


God’s kindness and patience is not an indication that he is soft on sin or excuses sin, but instead is God trying to create a situation for you to avoid the inevitable judgment that he will surely bring to each man.


5  But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.


But, judgment is coming.  And the longer we fail to deal with our sin the more judgment we are building up for the day of judgment.


This day of judgment refers to an eschatological day when we will be judged before God.

This is a day of personal judgment and it is in the future.


There are temporal judgments that occur in time.  National judgments occur in time.


6  God "will give to each person according to what he has done."


7  To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.


Cornelius in Acts 10

Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8


8  But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.


9  There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile;

Two groups are mentioned:

a)  Jews, who have received the Law of God

b) Gentiles, who have not received the Law of God through Moses, but still have a form of God’s law revealed to each of them

10  but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.


In 1:16 the Jews were the first to receive the message of salvation.

Here they are the first to experience judgment.

11  For God does not show favoritism.


12  All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.


13  For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.



14  (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law,


“Indeed” shows that Paul is going to present a case against the boastful Jew.


When Paul uses the word “Gentiles” instead of “the Gentiles” he is no longer talking about the masses of Gentiles as a whole but as individual Gentiles who respond to God’s law that is written on their hearts.  So he is saying, “When any Gentile meets the requirements of the law they show that they already have a law even though they do not have The Law.”


15  since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)


16This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.


Justin Martyr records a Jew named Trypho as saying , “They who are the seed of Abraham according to the flesh shall in any case, even if they be sinners and unbelieving and disobedient towards God, share in the eternal kingdom.”