Already in his letter to the Romans, Paul has made a strong case for the depth of human depravity by discussing the ways in which we condemn ourselves: through rejecting and suppressing God’s truth, and through judging others due to our own self-righteousness. Then, as if to fully level the condemnation playing field, the apostle goes one step further in today’s passage. In a phrase that simultaneously contains some of the most freeing and unsettling words of the Bible, Paul deftly reminds both the Jew and the non-Jew that God doesn’t play favorites, especially when it comes to consideration of sin.
- What do you know about God, his law, and/or the gospel of Jesus Christ? What have you done with what you know?
READ THE WORD: ROMANS 2:9-16 (ESV)
9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.
12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- What will people who do evil experience (vs. 9)? What about those who do good?
- Take some time to ponder verse 11. Why would these words be important for both Jews and Greeks (non-Jews or Gentiles) to hear? What does it mean to you that God shows no favoritism, especially in terms of judging sin?
- Verses 12-15 referenced the Mosaic Law, given by God to his chosen people, the Jews. While Gentiles weren’t bound by the law, the example Paul uses here is of the Gentile with an instinctive moral code, so to speak. Understanding this, what was Paul communicating to both Jews and Gentiles regarding hearers versus doers (vss. 13-15)?
- Who will judge one day, and what will be judged (vs. 16)?
- Imagine what it would look like if God were to judge your heart today. Would you be exposed as only a hearer or as a doer of God’s truth?
RESPOND TO GOD
Almost 2,000 years later, the enormity of the apostle’s message remains. Not a single person is exempt from God’s judgment. Both our outward actions and the hidden parts, our truest selves, will be examined by an impartial God. But consider this as well: If God judges without partiality, then by the same token, he extends his grace without partiality. We may be equally condemned by our sin, but we are also equally extended his grace in Jesus Christ. As Paul will later assure us, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24).
- Ask God to show you if you are a hearer of his truth, a doer of his truth, or ignorant of his truth.
- Thank God for not playing favorites. Thank him for the grace and salvation extended to you through Jesus Christ.