Romans Chapter 2

Scripture Translations

Romans 2:11 For God shows no partiality [undue favour or unfairness; with Him one man is not different from another]. AMPC

A group of Hands with a heart of love painted on them

"Paul attacks these ranking tendencies head on in Romans 1 and 2. He begins his catalogue of sinners by listing flagrant violators: depraved, perverts, murderers, God-haters (though, curiously, he also mentions such everyday sins as greed, envy, gossip and disobeying parents). Just as his good citizen readers nod knowingly, smug in their moral superiority, Paul turns the tables in Romans 2:1, ‘You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgement on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other,  you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgement do the same things.’ I may never have robbed a bank, but have I ever fudged on my income tax? Or ignored a pressing need because of compassion fatigue? Paul follows Jesus’ logic in the Sermon on the Mount: murder and adultery differ from hatred and lust only by a matter of degree. Indeed the flagrantly evil person has a peculiar advantage of sorts: an inner gyroscope of conscience that registers a sense of being off course."

From Philip Yancey's book, 'What good is God?' (Page 76)

Teaching Videos

​Commentaries

Romans Chapter 2:1-3

Romans Chapter 2:1-3 NLT - You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things?

Be Right - How to be right with God, yourself, and others - By Warren W. Wiersbe

"They thought that they were free from judgment because they were God’s chosen people. But Paul affirmed that God’s election of the Jews made their responsibility and accountability even greater." Page 35

NKJV MacArthur Study Bible

Romans 2:1 - inexcusable . . . you . . . who judge. Both Jews (Paul’s primary audience here; cf. v. 17) and moral Gentiles who think they are exempt from God’s judgment because they have not indulged in the immoral excesses described in chap. 1 are tragically mistaken. They have more knowledge than the immoral pagan (3:29:4) and thus a greater accountability (cf. Heb. 10:26–29James 3:1). condemn yourself. If someone has sufficient knowledge to judge others, he condemns himself, because he shows he has the knowledge to evaluate his own condition. practice the same things. In their condemnation of others they have excused and overlooked their own sins. Self-righteousness exists because of two deadly errors: 1) minimizing God’s moral standard usually by emphasizing externals; and 2) underestimating the depth of one’s own sinfulness (cf. Matt. 5:20–2227287:1–315:1–3Luke 18:21).

What good is God? By Philip Yancey

As Paul makes clear in his letter to the Romans, however, the more 'respectable' sins may cause more damage that the ones society disdains. Remember, moral superiority led him to assist in the stoning of Stephen, a memory that may have weighed on him as he wrote to Timothy. Recovery groups cut apart our artificial grouping of sins and force us to, in the words of step five, 'admit to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Page 224

Joyce Meyer - The Everyday Life Bible

Romans 2:1 teaches us that the things we judge in other people are the very things we do ourselves. The Lord once gave me a good example to help me understand this principle. I was pondering why we would do something ourselves and think it was perfectly all right, but jedge someone else for doing it. He said, "Joyce, you look at yourself through rose-coloured glasses, but you look at everyone else through a magnifying glass." .... Judgemental thoughts come from a negative mind - a mind that thinks about what is wrong with an individual instead of what is right. Page 1802.

Wendy's thoughts on related scriptures

Romans 2:1 NKJV - 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.

Jesus often reminded us in scripture not to judge others ...

Matthew 7:3-5 NIV - “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."

John 8:7 AMP - However, when they persisted in questioning Him, He straightened up and said, “He who is without [any] sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Romans Chapter 2:4-11

Romans 2:4-11 NIV - Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? 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. God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.

Be Right - How to be right with God, yourself and others by Warren W. Wiersbe

Instead of giving the Jews special treatment from God, the blessings the Jews received from Him gave them greater responsibility to obey Him and glorify Him.... It is not the judgement of God that leads men to repentance, but the goodness of God - but Israel did not repent....

Paul was dealing here with the consistent actions of a persons life, the total impact of his character and conduct. For example, David committed some terrible sins, but the total emphasis of his life was obedience to God. Judas confessed his sin and supplied the money for buying a cemetery for strangers, yet the total emphasis of his life was disobedience and unbelief. True saving faith results in obedience and godly living, even though there may be occasional falls.

The Passion Translation Footnotes

Romans 2:7 TPT - For those living in constant goodness and doing what pleases him,seeking an unfading glory and honor and imperishable virtue, will experience eternal life

Footnote: Doing what pleases God comes from faith. We must first believe in Jesus, the Anointed One. Then our life and works will bring honor to him.

Wendy's thoughts on related scriptures

Romans 2:4 NKJV - Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance.

The goodness of God leads you to repentance - We have the revelation of our sin and God's grace - sacrificing His Son Jesus for us.

Romans 2:5 NKJV - You are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath

What are we treasuring up for ourselves? Jesus had something to say about what the treasures we are to store up ...

Matthew 6:19-21 ESV - “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust​ destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Romans 2:6-7 AMP - For He will render to every man according to his works [justly, as his deeds deserve]: To those who by patient persistence in well-doing [springing from piety] seek [unseen but sure] glory and honor and [the eternal blessedness of] immortality, He will give eternal life.

Revelation of God's love for us -> Faith in Jesus -> leads us to serve Him

John 3:16 NKJV - For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

James 2:14-26 NIV -  What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”​ and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Romans 2:10-11 NKJV - but glory, honour, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.

We are all sinners. God loves each of us.

NLT - For God does not show favouritism

AMPC - For God shows no partiality [undue favor or unfairness; with Him one man is not different from another].

J.B.Philips New Testament - For there is no preferential treatment with God.

John 3:16-18 The Message - “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

Worship Songs

Romans Chapter 2:12-16

Romans 2:12-16 NKJV - 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 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 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, 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 themin the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

Be Right - How to be right with God, yourself, and others - By Warren W. Wiersbe

"Paul's statement in Romans 1:11, "For there is no respect of persons with God," would show the Jews, for they considered themselves deserving of special treatment because they were chosen by God." Page 37

"But Paul made it clear that it was not the possession of the law that counted, but the practice of the law. The Jews looked on the Gentiles as blind, in the dark, foolish, immature, and ignorant. But if God found the "deprived" Gentiles guilty, how much more guilty were the "privileged" Jews. God not only judges according to truth (Romans 2:2), and according to men's deeds (Romans 2:6), but He also judges "the secrets of men" (Romans 2:16). He sees what is in the heart. Page 38

NKJV MacArthur Study Bible

Romans 2:15 - conscience. Lit. “with knowledge.” That instinctive sense of right and wrong that produces guilt when violated. In addition to an innate awareness of God’s law, men have a warning system that activates when they choose to ignore or disobey that law. Paul urges believers not to violate their own consciences or cause others to (13:51 Cor. 8:71210:25292 Cor. 5:11; cf. 9:1Acts 23:124:16), because repeatedly ignoring the conscience’s warnings desensitizes it and eventually silences it (1 Tim. 4:2). See 2 Cor. 1:124:2.

Wendy's thoughts on related scriptures

Romans 2:14-15 AMPC -  When Gentiles who have not the [divine] Law do instinctively what the Law requires, they are a law to themselves, since they do not have the Law. They show that the essential requirements of the Law are written in their hearts and are operating there, with which their consciences (sense of right and wrong) a​​​​lso bear witness; and their [moral] decisions (their arguments of reason, their condemning or approving thoughts) will accuse or perhaps defend and excuse [them]

The essential requirements of the Law are written in their hearts. There are many scriptures that tell of the importance of having God's word in our heart (not just head knowledge). Having His truth in us to guide us in all we do.

Psalm 119:11 NLT - I have hidden your word in my heart, that I may not sin against you.

Psalm 40:8 NLT - I take joy in doing your will my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.

2 Corinthians 3:3 NLT - Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.

Worship Songs

Romans Chapter 2:17-24

Romans 2:17-24 GOD's WORD Translation -  You call yourself a Jew, rely on the laws in Moses’ Teachings, brag about your God, know what he wants, and distinguish right from wrong because you have been taught Moses’ Teachings. You are confident that you are a guide for the blind, a light to those in the dark, an instructor of ignorant people, and a teacher of children because you have the full content of knowledge and truth in Moses’ Teachings. As you teach others, are you failing to teach yourself? As you preach against stealing, are you stealing? As you tell others not to commit adultery, are you committing adultery? As you treat idols with disgust, are you robbing temples? As you brag about the laws in Moses’ Teachings, are you dishonoring God by ignoring those laws? As Scripture says, “God’s name is cursed among the nations because of you.”

NKJV MacArthur Study Bible

Romans 2:17 NKJV - Jew. Previously called Hebrews and Israelites, by the first-century “Jew” had become the most common name for the descendants of Abraham through Isaac. “Jew” comes from “Judah,” (meaning “praise”), one of the 12 tribes and the designation for the southern half of Solomon’s kingdom after his death. From the time of the Babylonian captivity, the whole race bore this title. Their great heritage, however, (cf. Gen. 12:3) became a source of pride and complacency (cf. Jon. 4:2Mic. 3:1112Matt. 3:7–9John 8:31–3440–59), which led to judgment instead of “praise.”

Romans Chapter 2:25-29

Romans 2:25-29 The Message - Circumcision, the surgical ritual that marks you as a Jew, is great if you live in accord with God's law. But if you don't, it's worse that not being circumcised. The reverse is also true: The uncircumcised who keep God's ways are as good as the circumcised - in fact, better. Better to keep God's law uncircumcised than break it circumcised. Don't you see: It's not the cut of a knife that makes a Jew. You become a Jew by who you are. It's the mark of God on your heart, not a knife on your skin, that makes a Jew. And recognition comes from God, not legalistic critics.

The Circumcision in the Stable of Christ

Be Right - How to be right with God, yourself and others by Warren W. Wiersbe

"This was the great mark of the covenant, and it had its beginning with Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation (Gen. 17). To the Jews, the Gentiles were “uncircumcised dogs.” The tragedy is that the Jews depended on this physical mark instead of the spiritual reality it represented (Deut. 10:16Jer. 9:26Ezek. 44:9)." People today make this same mistake with reference to baptism or the Lord’s Supper, or even church membership.  Page 38

Case for Christ Study Bible

Romans 2:29 - by the Spirit. The true sign of belonging to God is not an outward mark on the physical body, but the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit within (see Tit 3:5 and note) — what Paul meant by “circumcision of the heart” (see Dt 30:6 and notes on Ge 17:10Jer 4:4).

IVP New Testament Commentaries

Colossians 2:11 NLT - When you came to Christ, you were 'circumcised,' but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision - the cutting away of your sinful nature."

Circumcision by Christ 

The implication Paul draws for his Gentile readers (that is, those who were once dead in sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature—2:13) is centered on the Jewish practice of circumcision—a symbol of identity with the people who are covenanted with God for salvation. The word translated putting off (apekdysis) has the sense of stripping off one's clothes. In this case, it is used in parallel with "to circumcise" to create the harsh (and therefore vivid) image of stripping off the flesh (or foreskin) of the penis, done by the rabbi during circumcision. Thus, Paul is able to make a bold contrast between Jewish and Christian identity. In some quarters of Judaism, Gentile converts were made to endure physical circumcision; in the Christian faith the same rite of passage is done by Christ, who "cuts off" the sinful nature (literally, "the body of flesh") of those in him. Paul has made this same christological point with different words and images in 1:13-14. There, the rite of passage is into the Son's kingdom, where redemption is found because God has forgiven our sins and rescued us from their consequences.

In this more polemical setting, Paul recasts this christological point in order to contrast Judaism and Christianity. Some commentators speculate that Colossian Judaism, whose mysticism many think influenced the false teacher (see introduction, under "The Crisis in Colosse"), taught that the act of circumcising the Gentile convert to Judaism triggered the activity of heavenly powers and authorities, which resulted in the convert's mystical passage into the covenant community. It is possible that Colossian Judaism has influenced the teaching of Colossian Christianity, and that Paul is challenging a similar belief and practice among these believers. Against this teaching, Paul redefines circumcision as done by Christ rather than by the hands of men (compare Rom 2:28-29), so that Gentile converts to Christianity may have renewed confidence that their membership in the covenant community is by trusting in Christ's death and resurrection.

Worship Songs

What's next?

Some questions to consider:

1. What did God say to you when studying this passage?

2. What does that mean for how you live your life? (ie is there something you believe God wants you to do differently?)

3. How can we as a Lifegroup support you?

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