Romans 2:1–11; 3:21–26comment (0)
September 8, 2011
By Robert Olsen
Related Scripture: Romans 2:1–11; 3:21–26
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Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
Good News to Hear
Romans 2:1–11; 3:21–26
God Is Patient With Us (2:1–5)
In the end of Chapter 1, Paul established that God is going to judge all men who do wrong and there is no excuse. Even those who have never heard the gospel are condemned because Paul here pointed out that men are without excuse because everyone has some idea of what God desires (see Romans 1:19–20). However, Paul turned his attention to the Jews, who did have divine Scripture but still failed to live lives pleasing to God. Those who passed judgment on others were guilty of doing the same things that these Gentiles did. God doesn’t like hypocritical judgment; Jesus Christ Himself stated this in Matthew 7:1–5. Often we are critical of those who are guilty of sinning in the same way that we sin. David’s indignation at Nathan the prophet’s story is a reminder of such a situation. David was angry over the same sin of which he was guilty. And if we agree, as Paul established in the end of Chapter 1, that such sinners are guilty, then we have to admit that we are guilty and face God’s judgment. For the Jews, who had the special revelation from God in the Scriptures and yet did not turn to Him, revealed in Christ, God’s wrath awaited just as it awaited the Gentiles who rejected the truth about Him and chose to live lives however they wanted, living for themselves instead of Him. Thankfully, for all of us, God is patient and anyone can turn to Him at anytime. It is never too late for anyone to accept Christ as Savior.
God Is Impartial Toward Us (2:6–11)
Paul, having established that God will judge, now showed how He will judge. God is going to judge based upon what each person has done. Paul was not changing his mind about how people are saved; he’s not teaching that salvation is by works, overturning what he had already clearly stated in Romans 1:16–17. Even later in Romans 3:20, Paul asserted that righteousness does not come by observing the law. Rather what Paul was stating here is that God will judge people by whether they have followed His will, which is living according to faith and performing works in accordance with faith. How does one live this way? By doing works such as helping the poor, feeding the hungry, taking care of the sick, etc. These are all clearly laid out by Jesus in the Gospels as well as the prophets in the Old Testament. True faith will be lived out. One cannot claim to have faith and yet have no works that demonstrate as much. God does not show partiality. Many people compare themselves to others and think that God will judge them based upon some sort of curve, as if not being as bad as someone else is a basis for going to heaven. But we are all sinful and separated from God, so He judges us all the same, by whether we have accepted Christ as Savior.
God Offers to Forgive Us (3:21–26)
Leading up to these verses, Paul established that no one is righteous. Both Jews and Gentiles alike were guilty of sin. Paul even asserted that obedience to the law does not make one righteous. If this is the case, then what hope is there for mankind? Paul avowed that righteousness from God has been revealed by Him, prophesied by the prophets of old; this righteousness comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. This is the good news of the gospel; everyone has sinned and therefore deserves condemnation. But when we put our confidence in Christ to forgive our sins, this makes us right before God.
Previously God had passed over the sins of others, but this was only a temporary action. God is just. He will not allow any sins to go unpunished. It is obvious in the Old Testament, just as it is for us today, that often wicked people prosper. This does not mean that God is not going to judge them. He is just and punishes sin. Those who died before Christ will be judged as well. Those faithful God-fearers of the Old Testament who looked forward to the coming of Christ will be rewarded, and those wicked individuals who rejected God and were disobedient will be punished.
Christ’s death is the demonstration of God’s justice. Christ died for the sins of mankind, but the salvation that this brings is applied only to those who believe in and place their trust in Him.