Romans 2 – God’s Principles of Judgment & The City of Rome

The Forum was Ancient Rome’s meeting place, with the Senate House and temples. These buildings are now ruins, but still impressive.

Tomorrow we’ll look more into the Romans in regards to…

Romans 2
God’s Principles of Judgment

1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

2:1-16 – in this section Paul sets forth principles that govern God’s judgment.  God judges according to:

* Truth,

* Deeds, and

* The light a person has.

Julius Caesar was an ambitious general. Fearing he might make himself Rome’s king, Caesar’s enemies killed him in the Forum in 44 B.C.

These principles lay the groundwork for Paul’s discussion of the guilt of the Jews.

“Inexcusable” – Paul’s teaching about judging agrees with that of Jesus, who did not condemn judging as such, but hypocritical judging.

“Whosoever…that judgest” – a warning that had special relevance for Jews, who were inclined to look down on Gentiles because of their ignorance of God’s revelation in the Old Testament and because of their immoral lives.

2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.

3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

Jesus also condemned this attitude (Matt 7:3).

4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

The purpose of God’s kindness is to give opportunity for repentance (2 Pet 3:9).  The Jews had misconstrued His patience to be a lack of intent to judge.

5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

“Day of wrath” – judgment at the end of time in contrast to the judgment discussed in 1:18-32.

6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

2:6-8 – Paul is not contradicting his continual emphasis in all his writings, including Romans that a person is saved not by what he does but by faith in what Jesus does for him.

Rather, he is discussing the principle of judgment according to deeds.  If anyone persists in doing good deeds he will receive eternal life. 

This silver coin was made for Rome’s first emperor Augustus, about 28 BC..

No one can do this spotlessly (accept Jesus), but if anyone could, God would give him life, since God judges according to what a person does.

7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life:

8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

“Of the Jews first” – with spiritual privilege comes spiritual responsibility (see Amos 3:2; Lk 12:48). 

Caligula was emperor of Rome from AD 12 – 24. Written of as cruel and insane, it is said that he tried to make his horse, Incitatus a consul (head of government) and a priest.

It is said that nothing is free in this world, and this is true.  Yet, God is not of this world and His salvation/everlasting life is free, but so is death. 

You don’t have to do anything to obtain salvation, all you have to do is believe in Jesus Christ.

Spiritual privilege is not free, it can only be obtained through absolute trust in God and absolute means always.

10 But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

11 For there is no respect of persons with God.

12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

“Things contained in the law” – does not mean that pagans fulfilled the requirements of the Mosaic law but refers to practices in pagan society that agreed with the law, such as caring for the sick and elderly, honoring parents and condemning adultery.

“Law unto themselves” – the moral nature of pagans, enlightened by conscience functioned for them as the Mosaic law did for the Jews.

15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

Nero was emperor of Rome from AD 54 – 68. He killed his mother, and was blamed for a fire that burned down Rome.

16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

17 Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,

2:17-24 – the presentation takes the form of a dialogue.  Paul knew how a self-righteous Jews thought, for he had been one himself.  

He cites one advantage after another that Jews considered to be unqualified assets.

But those assets became liabilities when there was no correspondence between profession and practices.  Paul applied to the Jew the principles of judgment set forth in vv. 1-16.

18 And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law;

19 And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,

2:19-20 – “The blind…babes’ – Gentiles, to whom Jews regarded themselves as vastly superior because they (the Jews) possessed the Mosaic law.  And they still do today.

20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.

A statue of Septimius Severus. He was the first African emperor of Rome (A.D. 192 – 211). He died in Britain, at York.

21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?

22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?

“Dost thou commit sacrilege?” – Lit. “rob temples.”  Large amounts of wealth were often stored in pagan temples.

23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?

24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.

25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.

“Circumcision” – a sign of the covenant that God made with Israel and a pledge of the covenant blessing.  The Jews had come to regard circumcision as a guarantee of God’s favor.

26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?

27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?

If a Gentile’s deeds excelled those of a Jew in righteousness, that very fact condemned the Jew, who had an immeasurably better set of standards in the law of Moses.

28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

“In 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 Ghost within – what Paul meant by circumcision…of the heart” (see Deut 30:6).

The City of Rome

How did Rome get its name?

Rome is now the capital city of Italy. 2,000 years ago it was the center of the Roman Empire. Building started in 753 BC. The Romans had a story to explain how Rome began.

Capitoline Wolf. Traditional scholarship says the wolf-figure is Etruscan, 5th century B.C., with figures of Romulus and Remus added in the 15th century A.D. by Antonio Pollaiuolo.
Recent studies suggest that the wolf may be a medieval sculpture dating from the 13th century A.D.

Twin boys, Romulus and Remus, were the sons of Mars (the Roman god or war). An evil uncle took them as babies from their mother and threw them into the River Tiber to drown.

The babies floated to land, and a mother wolf fed and cared for them. Later a herdsman looked after the twins until they grew up.

Years later, Mars told his twin sons to build a city where they had been found. The city was Rome. One day, Remus made fun of the wall Romulus had built around the city. The twins argued, fought, and Romulus killed Remus.

Today, historians and archaeologists agree that people were living in Rome long before 753 B.C., but the legend is one of the most famous in world history.

Mars was the god of war, and one of the most prominent and worshipped gods.
In early Roman history he was a god of spring, growth in nature, and fertility, and the protector of cattle. Mars is also mentioned as a chthonic god (earth-god) and this could explain why he became a god of death and finally a god of war. He is the son of Jupiter and Juno.

According to some sources, Mars is the father of Romulus and Remus by the Vestal Ilia (Rhea Silvia). Because he was the father of these legendary founders of Rome, and thus of the Roman people, the Romans styled themselves ‘sons of Mars’.

How was Rome ruled?

The people of Rome were farmers and herders. For a time, they were under the control of their neighbors, the Etruscans.

Rome became a rich city, ruled by kings. In 509 B.C., the Romans drove out their last king, Tarquin the Proud. Rome then became a republic.

The republic was ruled by a Senate. Rich men, called senators, ran the government. Poor men (called plebeians) had much less power.

The plebeians fought for fairer treatment. A plebeian, who was a free man (someone who was not a slave), could be a Roman citizen.

People in lands conquered by the Romans could become citizens too. Women and slaves though, could not be citizens – so they could not vote in elections.

The Senate could not always control the Roman army. Army generals sometimes fought one another. Rome’s best general was Julius Caesar.

He lived in the 1st century B.C. and invaded Britain twice. Caesar came close to being emperor of Rome, but he was murdered in 44 B.C. By then, Rome was more than a city. It was the capital of an empire.

The Romans ruled lands from France to North Africa. You can see this in the map below.

Who were the Roman emperors?

A Roman emperor was the man who ruled over the empire. The first Emperor ruled Rome after years of fighting between rival leaders.

His name was Octavian. He took a new name, Augustus, when he became Emperor in 27 B.C.

Augustus brought peace after years of fighting. Not all the emperors were good and wise. Some were terrible. Some wanted to be gods.

The emperor had a troop of special soldiers to protect him. They were called the Praetorian Guard.

However, some of the bad emperors were so unpopular that their Praetorian Guards killed them!

A map of the Roman Empire, at the end of Julius Caesar’s rule.

Fun Facts:

In his portraits, Julius Caesar wore a wreath on his head to hide his baldness!

The Emperor Claudius rode an elephant when he visited Britain in AD 43. People in Britain were amazed to see such a sight.

To be a Roman citizen, or even an Emperor, you did not have to be born in Rome. The Emperor Septimius Severus was an African, from Libya.

…Rebellion.