SELF-RIGHTEOUS AND RELIGIOUS PEOPLE
THE JEW UNDER LIKE CONDEMNATION WITH THE GENTILE.
“Therefore, thou are inexcusable O man, whosoever thou art that judgest, for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things”
“Therefore, thou are inexcusable O man,”
Literally: “Therefore, O man, you are without excuse”–Paul shows that the Jew, who condemns the Gentiles, and considers them utterly unworthy of the blessings of the Gospel, is inexcusable, because he is guilty of the same crimes; and therefore shall not escape the righteous judgment of God.
The purpose of this and the following chapter is to show that the Jews were no less guilty than the Gentiles, and that they needed the benefit of the same salvation. This Paul does by showing that they had greater light than the Gentiles, and yet that they did the same things. They were in the habit of accusing and condemning the Gentiles, as wicked and abandoned but they excused themselves on the ground that they possessed the Law and oracles of God, and were His favorite people.
Lest the Jews should swell and be puffed up with pride after hearing what Paul had just said in chapter one of the detestable wickedness of the Gentiles, and the heavy displeasure of God against them; in this chapter Paul pronounces them to be guilty of the same sins of which they had accused the Gentiles. This is showing that the Jews had offended as much against the Law of Moses, just as much as the Gentiles had offended against the law of nature; consequently, their censuring and judging others, when they did the same things themselves, would render them totally inexcusable at God's tribunal.
THEREFORE: (Grk.–dio)-–Literally: “Therefore; because of this; for this cause;” This really is referring back to 1:32. There is a good rule of thumb that says that when you find the word “therefore” beginning a phrase, then you should go back and read what came before this to get the intent and see what the “therefore” is there for.
The sense of “dio” might be expressed this way: “Since you Jews condemn the Gentiles for their sins, on the grounds that they have the means of knowing their duty, therefore you, who are far more favored than they, are entirely without any excuse for doing the same things.”
This Paul does by showing that they had greater light than the Gentiles, and yet they did the same things. They were in the habit of accusing and condemning the Gentiles as being wicked and abandoned; and at the same time they excused themselves on the ground that they possessed the Law and oracles of God, and were His favorite people.
Paul here affirms that they were without any excuse in their sins; that they must be condemned in the sight of God on the same ground on which they condemned the Gentiles; because they had light, and yet committed wickedness. If the Gentiles were without excuse (1:20) in their sins, and they did not have the light, much more would the Jew, who condemned them, be without excuse on the same ground.
WITHOUT EXCUSE: (Grk.–anapologētos)–Literally: “inexcusable; without an apology or defense.”
The word, “apology” is not in the sense of begging one’s pardon, but rather it is used in the sense of removing one’s self off from a charge. The Jew is unable to talk himself off; that is, out of the charge of failing to live up to the light he has.
This does not mean so much that they were inexcusable for judging others; but that they had no excuse for their own sins before God; or that they were under condemnation for their crimes, and needed the benefits of another plan of justification. As the Gentiles whom they judged were condemned, and were without excuse (1:20), so were the Jews who condemned them without excuse, on the same principle and in a still greater degree.
O MAN: (Grk.–ō anthrōpe)–“Man,” (anthrope), is a Greek generic term meaning both men and women; referring to mankind in general, and it includes both Jews and gentiles.
If Paul were speaking specifically to “men” he would have used the Greek nouns anthrōpos or anēr. This address is general to any man who should do this; but many expositors assume from the connection, that he especially means the Jews; however, he does not really name the Jews until verse 9. We might word this verse this way: “And now, as for you other people; you really don’t have any excuse, for when you judge another, when you are passing judgment on the Gentile you condemn yourself because you, the judging , are doing the very same things.”
Paul’s wording of this verse is an example of his skill in argument. If he had openly named the Jews; here at first, it would have likely incited opposition from them. He therefore approaches the subject gradually, affirms it of mankind in general, and then makes a particular application to the Jews;
“whosoever thou art that judgest”
Literally: “everyone judging”–The word, “judge” is used here in the sense of condemning.
JUDGE: (Grk.–krineis)–This word is referring to the condemning of a man, and not to estimating his value. They were accustomed to expressing themselves freely and severely regarding the character and doom of the Gentiles; of judging, literally with an adverse verdict; i.e., condemning.
From the N.T., as well as from their own writings, there can be no doubt that the Jews regarded the entire Gentile world with abhorrence and considered them as being shut out from the favor of God.
Paul is now passing from the general to the specific; from the masses to the specific persons. Besides, the Jews, who were filled with religious pride, were greatly given to judging others. The meaning of this clearly is, “for the same thing for which you condemn the heathen, you condemn yourselves.”
“for wherein thou judgest another”
Lterally: “for in that in which you judge other”–You Jews who condemn other nations.
ANOTHER: (Grk.–heteron)–The Greek says “the other;” the other division of the world; that is, the Gentiles.
“thou condemnest thyself”
Literally: You condemn yourself.”– Because they were practicing the same things that they were condemning in others. The Gentile is readily condemned by the Jew when he sins and equally so is the Jew condemned by the Gentile in like case.
CONDEMN: (Grk.–katakrinō)–Literally: “to judge down; to condemn” This Greek word here does not of itself mean to condemn, but to “pick out, separate, approve, determine, pronounce judgment, condemn” (if proper).
This is a simple word that is used for a judgment on the level of selection, choice or estimate. This same word is used in Acts 27:1 where Paul describes the route of his voyage to Rome: “When it was determined (katakrinō) that we should sail into Italy…”
“doest the same things”
Literally: “practice the same things”–
SAME: (Grk.–autos)–The meaning is not identical things, but things that are just as bad in God’s sight as the awful, depraved acts of the heathen which are offensive to you.
It is clearly implied here, that they were guilty of offences similar, or just as bad as those practiced by the Gentiles. This may imply that substantially the same crimes which were committed among the heathen were also committed among the Jews. The Jews were not guilty, in the time of Paul of idolatry; but of the other crimes enumerated in the first chapter, the Jews might be guilty.
The character of the nation, as given in the New Testament, is that they were “an evil and adulterous generation,” (Matt. 12:39; John 8:7); that they were a “generation of vipers,” (Matt. 3:7; 12:34); that they were wicked, (Matt. 12:45); that they were sinful (Mark 8:38); that they were proud, haughty, hypocritical, etc.., (Matt. 23:1). If such was the character of the Jewish nation in general, there is no improbability in supposing that they practiced most of the crimes specified in Chapter 1. This verse points out:
1. That men are prone to be severe judges of others.
2. This is often, perhaps commonly, done when the accusers themselves are guilty of the same offences.
3. Remarkable zeal against sin may be no proof of innocence.
4. The heart is deceitful.
VERSES 2-4–JUDGMENT ACCORDING TO TRUTH—NOT HUMAN IMAGININGS
“But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things"
“we are sure”
Literally: “we know.”–Absolute knowledge; that is, it is the common and admitted sentiment of mankind;
In other words, “We know that the judgment of God is according to reality.” There are so many people today, including church members, who live in a world of unreality. And there are a great many Christians today who say they want Bible study, but they don’t want the reality and directions that the Word of God teaches. They would rather keep what the Bible teaches in the “theoretical” but not in the practical or directional.
It is known and believed by men generally that God will punish such crimes. It is implied in this declaration that this was known to the Jews, and it was particularly to the purpose of Paul to so express himself as to include the Jews. They knew it because it was everywhere taught in the O.T. (the Tanakh), and it was the acknowledged doctrine of that nation. Unfortunately, all that stuff relating to judgment was for others, but not themselves. They considered themselves to be the righteous, and everybody else to be unrighteous. Paul is pointing out to them that they who practiced secretly what they condemned openly, could not expect to escape the righteous judgment of God. Without respect of persons God would punish wickedness, whether it was open, as among the Gentiles, or whether it was concealed under the guise of great regard for religion, as among the Jews.
“the judgment of God”–Man has an inherent knowledge that he must be judged by a higher power. The coming judgment of God is something every man without Christ either dreads or denies.
THE JUDGMENT: (Grk.–to krima)—This does not refer to the act, but rather to the contents of the judgment.
God condemns it, and will punish it. He regards those who do these things as guilty, and will treat them accordingly. God is impartial in His judgments, and will punish sin where ever, and in whomever He finds it. Paul is saying that transgression in a Jew is no less criminal to God than iniquity in a Gentile. There are principles of judgment, not principles of salvation.
William Newell, in his superb commentary on Romans gives seven Principles of God’s Judgment found in this Chapter 2. God’s judgment is:
1. According to truth (v. 2).
2. According to accumulated guilt (v. 5).
3. According to works (v. 6).
4. Without respect of persons (v. 11).
5. According to performance, not knowledge (v. 13).
6. Reaches the secrets of the heart (v. 16).
7. According to reality, not religious profession (vv. 17-19).
“according to truth”–This expression is capable of two meanings.
1. The Hebrews sometimes use it to denote truly or certainly.
God will certainly judge and punish such deeds.
2. That God will judge those who are guilty of such things, not according to appearance, but in integrity, and with righteousness, This is probably the correct meaning here.
God will judge men according to the real nature of their conduct; and not as their conduct may appear unto men. The secret as well as the open sinner, therefore; the hypocrite, as well as the abandoned profligate, must expect to be judged according to their true character. This meaning comports with the purpose of Paul, which is to show that the Jew, who secretly and hypocritically did the very things which he condemned in the Gentile, could not escape the righteous judgment of God.
God is just. He makes no exception (vv. 5-6, 11); and reaches the heart as well as the life, (v. 16). The judgment of God is in contrast with man’s judgment. Man does not have all the facts so his judgment is either partial or prejudiced; however, God does have all the facts and knows the actual state of man; that is, just what he really is. And on that basis God will judge him.
Literally: “On those.”–That is, the judgment of God is on every man, no matter of what age or nation, who does these things. ALL guilty persons are under condemnation alike, whether Jew or Gentile.
“which commit such things”
Literally: “Practicing such things.” Meaning the crimes enumerated in Chapter 1.
Paul is not specifically saying that each and every individual among the Jews was guilty of the specific crimes charged on the heathen, but that they, as a people, were inclined to the same things. Even where they might be externally moral, they might be guilty of cherishing evil desires in their hearts, and thus be guilty of that offence (Matt. 5:28). When men desire to do evil, and are prevented by the providence of God, it is right to punish them for their evil intentions. The fact that God prevents them from carrying their evil purposes into execution does not constitute a difference between their real character and the character of those who are suffered to act out their wicked designs.
“And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shall escape the judgment of God.”
“and thinkest thou”
Literally: “Do you think?”–Paul now appeals to their common sense; to their deep and instinctive conviction of what was right.
If they condemned those who practiced these things; if, imperfect and obscure as their sense of justice was; if, unholy as they were, they yet condemned those who were guilty of these offences, would not a holy and just God be far more likely to pronounce judgment? And could they escape who had themselves delivered a similar sentence? God is of “purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look upon iniquity,” (Habakkuk 1:13).
THINK: (Grk.–logizomai)—Meaning, “to reckon, compute, calculate, take into account, to deliberate.” This implies a process of reasoning.
THOU: (Grk.–su)—Literally: “you.” In the original Greek this is emphatic, indicating a fond conceit about oneself. Paul’s real meaning is, “you the Jew.” In many cases, the Jew thought that the privilege of his birth would of itself ensure his entrance into the kingdom (Matt. 3:8-9). At least, this was his practical conviction, whether or not it was his true creed.
“O man,”–(Grk.–ō anthrōpe)–We ran into this back in verse 1: Man,” (anthrope), being a Greek generic term meaning both men and women; referring to mankind in general, and it includes both Jews and Gentiles.
“that judgest them which do such things”
Literally: “The (one) judging those practicing such things.”–And if men condemned their fellowmen, how much more would a pure and holy God condemn iniquity.
JUDGE: (Grk.–krineis)–Another word we have back in verse 1, referring to the condemning, and not just estimating, examining, making a judgment of a man, and his value.
This appeal here is obviously directed against the Jew. It was doubtless a prevalent sentiment among them, that provided they adhered to the rites of their religion, and observed the ceremonial law, God would not judge them with the same severity as he would the abandoned and idolatrous Gentiles (comp. Matt. 3:9; John 8:33). Paul shows them that crime is crime, wherever committed; that sin does not lose its essential character by being committed in the midst of religious privileges; and that those who professed to be the people of God have no peculiar license to sin.
Paul is appealing to their common sense; to their deep and instinctive conviction of what was right.
1. If they condemned those who practiced these things; and,
2. If, imperfect and obscure as their sense of justice was;
3. If, unholy as they were,
They yet condemned those who were guilty of these offences, would not a holy and just God be far more likely to pronounce judgment upon them? And could they escape who had themselves delivered a similar sentence?
“and doest the same”
Literally: “And doing them.”–You who do such things. Myers said, “According to the Jewish notion, only the Gentiles shall be judged; while all Jews, as the children of the kingdom–of Messiah–shall inherit it.”
“that thou shalt escape the judgment of God”
Literally: “That you will escape the judgment of God.” Antinomians in all ages, like the Jews, have supposed that they, being the friends of God, have a right to do many things which would not be proper in others; things that what would be sin in others.
Antinomians believe that they are saved by grace, but yet they live sinful lives. They say, “What we do does not matter as long as we believe rightly.” Antinomianism comes from the Greek words, “anti,” meaning against, and “nomos” meaning law. Putting the two words together and you get lawless. In Christian theology it is a term for the teaching that Christians are under no obligation to obey the laws of ethics or morality. Although the term came into use only in the Sixteenth Century, the doctrine itself can be traced in the teaching of earlier beliefs. Early Gnostic sects were accused of failure to follow the Mosaic Law in terms that suggest the modern term "antinomian." Some Gnostic sects did not accept parts of the O.T. moral law. For example, the Manicheans held that their spiritual being was unaffected by the action of matter and regarded carnal sins as being, at worst, forms of bodily disease.
The Jews believed that such things they may commit with impunity; and that God will not be strict to mark the offences of His people. Against all this we see that Paul is directly opposed, and the Bible uniformly teaches that the most aggravated sins among men are those committed by the professed people of God (comp. Isa.1:11-17; 65:2-6; Rev. 3:10).
It seems to us strange folly for the Jew to regard Gentile sinners under condemnation, but fancy that he might do the same things. Still this error is not just confined to the Jews. Many a sinner persuades himself that his own sins, the very sins he condemns in others, will go unpunished.
Donald Barnhouse gave a viable paraphrase of this verse into our American vernacular, of what Paul may be saying: “You dummy, do you really figure that you have doped out an angle that will let you go up against God and get away with it? You don’t have a ghost of a chance.” There is no escape. No escape—EVER! And this means you–the respectable “religious” person, who is sitting in judgment upon a fellow human being, and remaining unrepentant your own self.