So in the last post (linked HERE) we looked at Romans chapter 1. I skipped over the long greeting of the letter, and dove right in to the point and purpose of Paul’s writing, and the begining of his teaching starting in verse 16.

Paul is setting foundation for the furtherance of his message (in later parts of the book) as he continues, so I’ll just quickly recap some essentials from chapter 1:

1) The purpose of the letter is to show how the Gospel applies to both Jews and Gentiles (v. 16)
2) This Gospel is the message of faith, and Salvation is attained by all expressly through faith (v. 17)
3) God’s wrath is coming upon ALL who do not live by faith, but hold the truth in unrighteousness (v. 18)

Paul discusses the common estate of all mankind before learning of the Gospel (v. 19-32). As Paul’s purpose is to discuss the Gospel as it applies both to Jews and to Gentles, this starting point actually encompasses ALL MANKIND, but as he continues in chapter 2, we will see he begins to distinguish between Jews (those who were given the law) and Gentiles (those who had not recieved the fulness of the law). Again, this distinction really begins in chapter 2, but chapter 1 is the common estate of all, which Paul is using as a foundation for his message to both groups (Jew and Gentile).

So the process for all mankind is thus:

1) God reveals Himself to us through creation, and in our conscience (v. 19, 21)
2) We opt not to give God glory or thanks when He is revealed to us, or when we ‘knew him’ (v. 21)
3) We become corrupted through our own imaginagings, and assume ourselves wise because we have rejected the testimony of God (v. 22)
4) We fall into all manner of moral corruption, and esteem it good, and desirable (v.32)
4a) God allows us to fall into this corruption because we have already rejected His testimony (v. 24, 26)

In fact, as you read the corruption that occurs, and that God hands us over to, it reads almost exactly like a modern day news article. Our secular society precisely models the degeneration which Paul speaks of:

Idolatry of our own intellect (v. 22) > idolatry of created things (v. 23) > sexual promiscuity and deviance (v. 24) > vile affections including (expressly called out by Paul) homosexuality in both women and men (yes, scrioture is clear that homosexuality is immoral) (v. 26 & 27) > fully reprobate minds (v. 28) > fornication, murder, debate, deciets, disobedient to parents, covenant breakers, losing natural affection (love of their own children, etc.), etc, etc. (v. 28-31)

In fact, in verse 32, he makes another interesting assertion which complies with his implication that God testifies directly to each of us:

Who knowing the judgment of God, that these who commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Paul aserts here that as mankind falls into this corruption… they know that God’s judgment is against such deeds. The interaction with which God testifies to us awakens our conscience. We know better than to be corrupted; we know of God’s judgment against such deeds, and at first must fight our guilt to coninue therein (I say ‘at first’ because when once our conscience becomes seared through continued corruption, we may the more easily dismiss the testimony of God even including our sense of guilt.).

Now the main point we should not miss is this: the process of corruption begins by rejecting faith in God.

This is very important to catch as the whole of the book is predicated on this thought; remember that Paul started his message about salvation for Jews and Gentiles by declaring that salvation is from faith to faith, and <the just shall live by faith (Rom. 1:17)

Then he shows that we had the opportunity to have faith in God when God reveals Himself to us, yet we neither glorify him as such nor are thankful to Him – this is lack of faith in God. All the corruption described after that started here (v. 21).

While many teach and emphasize that the thrust of Paul’s teaching on man’s sinfulness is the ‘original sin,’ we see that actually Paul doesn’t start there, rather, he starts with faith and our rejection of it as the cause of universal sin. Catch that? Our fall into sin; the universal truth that – as Paul says later: All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God – it does not start with the original sin, but with our rejection of faith in God. (Now, I must point out to some readers: this isn’t ‘Palagianism’ – the belief that man can be saved apart from grace; man can only be saved by grace THROUGH FAITH (Eph. 2:8) – rather this teaching shows how all of us reject this faith within ourselves of our own volition apart from the original sin. Thus, it is in no wise due to the sin of Adam, or anyone else that we fall to sin (for ALL have sinned) rather the corruption is the corruption of rejecting faith. Paul will, indeed, discuss the original sin, and its affect upon our flesh in later chalters of Romans, but here he shows we all fall to sin because we all reject faith, failing to glorify God, or be thankful to Him.

As Paul continues, let us bear in mind that his point is to show this corruption of sin to be a universal truth which applies to all mankind – both to Jews and Gentiles, and that ALL (Jew and Gentile) can only recieve God’s grace through faith: by believing the testimony which God has given, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle John also declares this same Truth in a way which we can see as a beautiful summary of Romans chapter 1: He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son. (1 John 5:10)

Okay, Romans chapter 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.

We begin this chapter with a further affirmation of the point that this corruption described in chapter 1 is a universal truth; while Paul pointed out specific points of corruption (homosexuality, fornication, covetousness, murder, debate, disobedience, etc. thus showing a wide spectrum of moral corruption) he points out here that we cannot condemn others for their evil even if it takes a different form than ours, or seems ‘worse’ to us than ours. We all are corrupted by this same process because we have rejected the testimony of God. We are faithless, and the same process of corruption is at work in us.

2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.

Now, as I pointed out above, Paul has not brought up, nor is he speaking of the phenomena of the ‘original sin’ (he will discuss that later), and I pojnt that out again here because as a result of some of the teaching on original sin, many get the impression that God is judging us for Adam’s sin rather than our own. But Paul has just shown that each of us rejects the counsel of faith and becomes corrupted – we are judged for our own sins only.

This biblical Truth was plainly stated by Ezekiel when the people accused God of punishing them for the sins of their fathers:

Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE.

But if a man be just and do that which is lawful and right,

Hath walked in my statutes and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is JUST he shall surely live, saith the Lord God. (Ezek. 18:4-5 & 9)

God is not unjust to punish us for the sins of others, we are punished for our own sin: those that WE have committed. Again, this is important foundation of understanding for the things which Paul will show us later in the book, and much of the book is (and will be) misunderstood if we do not first learn these foundational thoughts which he is laying.

God’s judgment is according to truth, not according to bias – as the judgment of sinners is. He contrasts the judgment of men (v. 1) with that of God (v. 2), showing that we who are sinners cannot judge in Truth, and God, who is righteous judges in perfect Truth.

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?

Here he points out that simply knowing what is evil is not sufficient to be saved from judgment, for we may see it in others, and acknowledge it to be evil, yet we ourselves do the same. It is not righteousness to condemn others for their sin, it is hypocrisy (this is another slam against Palagianism – for theologians out there – because man cannot become rightous on his own, say by acknowledging what righteousness and wickedness is for Paul shows this only leads to hypocrisy (further sin). Rather righteousness is only by grace through faith).

4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Here is an important point about this – and about condemning others: many may ask why God does not immediately judge the wicked (say those who harm others), yet the reason is that judgment can be canceled if we repent of our sins and live by faith. Even in giving a sinner over to corruption God displays His patience, and goodness rather than immediately punishing them who could be converted; He continues to leave us opportunity to repent, to receive His testimony.

5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

Each one of us will be judged according to OUR deeds, not those of others. Paul has stripped away our defense by showing us that we all are lost to corruption through the same process. We cannot judge others, for we, ourselves sin in our rejection of the testimony of God. The Lord knows our hearts and deeds, and we will be judged according to our own works. See how his thought is building in the same direction, and affirming the foundation he has already laid?

7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

Now, if these verses were taken out of the context of the previous chapter and verses, one could assume that all a person needs is to pursue glory, honor and immortality in order to attain eternal life – without understanding that the pursuit of this means trusting the testimony of God (faith). Yet because he has explained the process of our corruption via rejecting faith, we can begin to see that he actually means we pursue glory honor and immortality by faith: through heeding God’s testimony, by glorifying Him as God, and giving thanks to Him.

Here Paul mentions specifically Jews and Gentiles again. Thus far he has been showing this condition to be true of all mankind, however, as he will move into discussing shortly, that the Jews received not only the testimony of God through the creation and their conscience, but also the law. How does that make their condition different? On the basis of what he has shown so far, it does not – for all have received at least this much, but he will shortly begin to discuss the greater proveledge the Jews received in the Law, and what that means for THEIR salvation.

For the momment suffice it to say Paul knows that the Jews (for he, himself is a Jew), having received the testimony of the law arrive at this conversation with the understanding that observance of the law is what makes them righteous, not necessarily, as Paul has said: faith.

10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

11 For there is no respect of persons with God.

In his verse Paul begins to point out that the Jew and the Gentile have the same opportuity for righteousness, for salvation through faith. This flies in the face of the belief of the Jews who saw themselves favored by God in that they received the Law. Yet because of the universiality of the message of the first chapter – that we all are in this same sinful condition – Paul makes this brash statement that there is no respect of persons (even for Jews who received the Law) with God! Can you believe it? Cheeky.

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;

13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

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:

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;)

WOW! I hope you see the weight of the assertions Paul is making here, because… WOW!

Ok, let’s break it down a bit: all are corrupted through rejection of faith (<–the preliminary thought) those who didn’t have the law will be judged quote: ‘without the law.’ I.e. if they didn’t know he law, God will not hold hem to account for it. Wow! That’s awesome! Earthly governments don’t do that, if you didn’t know he law and you break it, you’ll get busted anyways. But Paul has already pointed out that GOD’S judgment, rather than man’s is according to truth. God knows what you know, and won’t hold you to account if you legitimately didn’t know. Paul affirms this again later when he says: ‘Sin is not imputed where here is no law.’ (Rom. 5:13b)

Ah, but here’s the thing, we’ll still be judged without the law. So.. all the stuff you did that you knew was wrong even though no one told you… it was just obvious, you still did that. And all the times that you went against your conscinece where God was testifying to your soul that something was wrong and you did it anyways, you’ll be judged for that. God’s judgment is according to Truth. He’s not Santa Clause, but He knows when you’ve been sleeping, He knows when you’re awake, He knows if you’ve been good or bad, so have faith for goodness sake!

As many as have sinned in the law… well it’ll just simply be the law that judges them.

Then get a load of verse 13 and 14 – these should blow your mind if they haven’t already! It isn’t those who hear the law who are justified. Yipes, that sort of blows the perspective of the Jews who thought themselves preferred by god because they received the law. Preferred, no. Priveledged, yes. But as the old adage’ from Spiderman goes: “With great power comes great responsibility.” But we’ll look at that when we get to chapter 3.

Rather it is the DOERS of the law who are justified. Now one of the hings hat amazes me about this verse is that Paul writes it in the context of BOTH Jews who have received the law AND Gentiles who have not. Then he follows it wih verse 14 & 15:

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:

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;)

Now, not to keep bringing up Palagianism, but again, if these verses were taken out of context we might assume that Paul is saying that there are Gentiles who are exempt from the process of falling into sin, and who can live righteously without grace through faith. Yet again, on the basis of context, Paul is NOT saying that. He’s still pojnting out that the just shall live by faith. AND he’s pojnting out that if a Gentile who has not received the priveledge of God’s word (as the Jews did), he could yet believe he testimony of God to his own heart and live by faith.

In fact, Paul will later show us the example of Abraham, Abraham was obviously not a biological Gentile, being the father of the Hebrew race (the Jews), BUT Abraham did not have the the Law (in fact the law came through Moses some several centuries later). Abraham was as Paul will show us, the father of thise who live by faith, He believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. In the exampke of Abraham (which will later be detailed) we have an example of essentially this phenomena. Abraham didn’t have he law, but he believed the testi ony of God to him and lived by faith. As he walked with God, and believed Him, God revealed more and more of Himself to Abraham, and he recieved (by faith) the direct and personal covenant with God… even apart from (prior to) the law.

Yet by Paul’s statment we can infer that Abraham was not the only one, but that there are Gentiles who recieve God’s testimony and live by faith apart from the law; God reveals the law to their conscience and are, quote ‘a law unto themselves.’ (Which is a phrase often misused, but we can see by context that Paul means that they live by their conscience, not that they are above the law. Understanding what he has said about the judgment, this means their conscience will judge them.)

16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

Here again the hought is confirmed: God knkws the secrets of our hearts, and we shall be judged according to the law (if we are under it) or our conscience (if we are not under the law). Thus we see that while the Jews had the priveledge of the law, the Gentiles also had opportunity to live by faith.

Now Paul switches from speaking of the lawless Gentiles (and their need for faith) to speaking to the Jews (and their need to live by faith):

17 Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,

18 And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law;

19 And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,

20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.

21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?

22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?

23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?

24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.

25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.

So Paul changed tracks here to point out that just having recieved the law doesn’t save the Jew, in order for the law to be profitable to them, they must live by the law. For if they do not live by the law, but they know it, they will be judged by it, and it thus condemns them, rather than saves them.

26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?

Again he contrasts wih the Gentiles who are a ‘law unto themselves.’ Those who live by he righteousness of the law but haven’t even recieved it are better off than those who received the law, and don’t live righteously by it.

27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?

Further, any who attains righteousness having not had the priveledge of the law only further condemns those who received the law, and didn’t live by it.

28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

Wow, now, again, Paul makes an asertion which must be very offensive to his Jewish readers. He’s pointing out to the Jews – who believe themselves to be saved by the law – that receiving the law does not mean they are saved if they do not live by faith, THEN he says a True Jew is the one who lives by faith, and might actually be a Gentile rather than those who have the law and the covenant of circumcision, because these things don’t automatically mean they have faith. Rather its just outward and carnal.

29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

Again, God sees the heart a True Jew is one who lives by faith, and acts righteously whether they received the law or not.

In the next chapter, Paul will talk more about the advantage given to the Jews, and how the universal truh he has discussed about the corruption of sin still applies to Jews just as it does to Gentiles, and that the Jews also need the salvation provided by Christ (and not to rely on the law) to be saved.