Chapter 02/Romans

The Jews are Without Excuse
and Need Righteousness from God through Christ

Romans 2
The Big Idea: By insisting upon judging the Gentiles by law without grace and by deliberately living in sin, the Jews have refused the only way to be excused (justified) from wrath through faith in Christ.

I. SINCE THEY PRACTICED THE SAME SINS AS THE GENTILES, THE JEWS CONDEMNED THEMSELVES WHEN THEY LEGALISTICALLY CONDEMNED THE GENTILES (1-4).
A. The legalistic and judgmental Jews were practicing that for which they were condemning others (1).
B. God isn’t partial in judgment, nor is he racially prejudiced, but he judges according to truth (2).
C. The Jews cannot escape God’s judgment (3).
D. They showed contempt for God’s kindness and rejected his grace by refusing to repent (4).

II. THE STUBBORNNESS AND IMPENITENCE OF THE JEWS WHO CHOSE LAW OVER CHRIST DEMONSTRATED THEIR LACK OF FAITH AND PLACED THEM UNDER WRATH (5-11).
A. God will judge righteously –justly and not partially (5).
B. God will judge them according to what they have done (6).
1. Those who do good seeking glory, honor, and immortality will receive eternal life (7). Note: No one has done absolutely good (3:10, 11), but one who has faith will do as much good as he/she can (Gal. 5:6; James 2:19-26; Heb. 10:26).
2. The self-seeking who reject the truth and follow evil will receive wrath and anger (8).
3. For Jew or Gentile who does evil, there will be trouble and distress (9).
4. For Jew of Gentile who does good, there will be glory and honor (10).
G. God does not show favoritism (11).
H. Note: Absolute goodness is required by those who are without Christ and remain under a law system of justification (Gal. 3:10;), but none are absolutely good (Rom. 3:12). In Christ, there is cleansing by the blood (Eph. 1:7; 1 John 1:7), so, in the case of the one who turns to Christ from law, sin isn’t charged against him and his sin doesn’t bring death (Rom. 8:4; 1 John 5:14-17).

III. JUST HAVING OR HEARING THE LAW AS THE JEWS DID DOES NOT EXCUSE MEN FROM THE JUST JUDGMENT OF GOD (12-16).
A. Sinners, whether apart from or under the law, will perish (12).
B. Those who only hear the law are not righteous, but only perfect doers of the law could be righteous without Christ (13; cf. Gal. 3:10; James 2:10; 2:20-24; 4:17; Matt. 7:21).
C. When the Gentiles were without the law in a written form, they were required to do the law they had by nature (14, 15).
D. Through Christ, God will judge according to the gospel (16).
1. With grace that saves the imperfect.
2. By faith that demands obedience (Heb. 5:8, 9; James 2:19-26; Romans 1:5; 16…26).

IV. JUST BEING CALLED A JEW, HAVING THE LAW, AND BEING A TEACHER IS NOT ENOUGH TO EXCUSE PEOPLE FROM THE WRATH OF GOD VISITED UPON UNBELIEVERS WHO CHOSE LAW OVER CHRIST (17-24).
A. Those who teach others must also do what they teach:
1. Some preached against stealing, but themselves stole (21).
2. Some said people should not commit adultery, then they committed adultery (22).
3. Some abhorred idols, then robbed temples (22).
B. Some dishonor God by breaking the law (23)
C. God’s name is blasphemed among the unbelievers when those claiming to serve God live in sin (24).

V. UNDER A LEGAL SYSTEM, PHYSICAL CIRCUMCISION IS OF VALUE ONLY IF THE CIRCUMCISED ARE PERFECT IN THEIR OBEDIENCE (25-27; CF. GEN. 17:9; ROM. 4:11).
A. If a Jew is disobedient, he is as an uncircumcised person (25).
B. If an uncircumcised people obediently keep the law, they demonstrate faith, and God treats them the same as he treats those who are circumcised (26).
C. The uncircumcised who keep the law condemn the circumcised who don’t (27).

VI. SO FAR AS GOD IS CONCERNED, THE TRUE JEW OR THE TRUE CIRCUMCISED PERSON IS NOT ONE WHO IS ONLY CIRCUMCISED PHYSICALLY, BUT ONE WHO, WHETHER CIRCUMCISED OR UNCIRCUMCISED PHYSICALLY, HAS EXPERIENCED THE CIRCUMCISION OF THE HEART BY THE SPIRIT (28, 29; CF. PHIL. 3:3; COL. 2:11FF).

Conclusion: Therefore, the Jews also need the righteousness that is from God by obedient faith (forgiveness of sin through Christ–Rom. 4:5-8) the same as the Gentiles need it.

© 2004, Dr. Wm. T. (Bill) Lambert
Professor Emeritus – NT Literature and Interpretation
College of Bible and Religion
Harding University

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