24 - Romans 2
The traditional teaching is that the first chapter of romans is primarily to the gentile saying “you have not rightousness” and you knew this even before i showed up to tell you. The 2nd chapter is to the jew saying “you don’t have it either, you just think you do…..”
1 Therefore (What was before this…) 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 Therefore connects the two chapters together in a way that indicates they are connected.
Chapter 1 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who [d]suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
How can you suppress the truth if you don’t know what the truth is?
Is everyone shown the truth? Is this speaking of a universal truth? Is it true that God has shown this to everyone? Just because a religion isn’t Christianity or isn’t Judaism, doesn’t mean that it’s as wrong as it could be. Most religions have things in common with the Christian religion and with Judaism before that.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and [g]Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Who were the people who knew God? Certainly the Jewish people knew God and they knew him in a way that others didn’t.
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like [h]corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
Sociologists want to tell us that religions evolved along with man. They will tell you that the first religions were animism. The people thought that spirits inhabited everything and that the world was governed by these spirits.
If you could appropriate the power of one of these spirits or could get a spirit to adopt you or help you in specific circumstance, you would do that. The idea here was that there were competing gods who had different limitations based on what they were a spirit of. For example a spirit of wind was different that a sprit of fire. Then these spirits of animism began to take on characteristics that were somewhat transcendent of something beyond animals and material things into Gods that had personality and people needed to gain their favor. This became a polytheistic view. There were a lot of gods and you had to please or invoke the right ones for the right circumstance. This is similar to the Greco-Roman ideas of the multiple gods like Zeus or Apollo or Athena.
These then became national gods in something called henotheism. This was the idea that while there were multiple gods, there was only one supreme god and all others were inferior.
This ultimately gave way to Monotheism, Zorastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This entire schema is upside down. Adam and Eve began knowing God in the garden. Certainly their kids would have been instructed in who God is. At this point literally everyone knew God. Then after the flood again there was only one family on earth and they knew God.
So instead of the idea that animism progressed to monotheism, it’s the other way around, Monotheism devolved into animism.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and [g]Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like [h]corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
The idea here is that for anyone who is reading chapter 1 and feels a little smug, in chapter 2 he says that their Jewishness isn’t a reason to feel superior.
2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 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?
You won’t get away with this because you are Jewish.
4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
Some people have said that God is weak or indecisive because he gives people so many opportunities or that his patience is the same as His absence.
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,
I’m not too fond about the idea of treasuring up wrath
6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”:[a]
…Without Jesus…in other words, god’s condemnation will be perfectly fair.
7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;
There will be none of these without Jesus.
8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God.
This is groundbreaking stuff here. The Jews had been sitting there feeling pretty good about their position in life. Paul is telling them that it doesn’t matter that they are Jewish. What matters will be whether you know the Savior.
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 13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 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) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.
This again is a big idea. He is saying here a few things.
doers vs hearers
Jew vs gentiles
Obedience vs Disobedience of natural law
17 Indeed[b] you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, 18 and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, 19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. 21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? 24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,”[c] as it is written.
He is saying here that these are God’s chosen people, of all the people of the earth, they should be the ones’ getting it right and setting the example for all the world. He is letting them know that their Jewishness is not protective of them as a class. Furthermore that God’s name is blasphemed because of their bad behavior. This reminds us of so many televangelists and etc. who have brought embarrassment on the name of Jesus. The issue of Priests abusing boys in the Catholic church comes to mind as something that has really sullied the name of Jesus.
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.
Look this isn’t about your foreskin
26 Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? 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 28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.
What is fulfilling the righteous requirements of the law?
Romans 13 8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” [b]“You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
And where does love come from?
Romans 5 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
So it isn’t what is external that matters, but rather what is internal.