Meditations on the Epistle of Paul to the Romans

Romans 2  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 10
In the first half of this chapter the apostle, without respect to national position, turns to all who are enabled through this natural conscience to discern the above-mentioned condition of things. And all men have the ability to do this, because through the sin of Adam all have obtained the knowledge to discern good and evil, and are enabled thereby to judge of the difference. Therefore we have not here particularly presented either the Gentile under the consequence of his conduct against God, running openly about in filthy ways, nor the Jew with his special privileges amongst the nations. The apostle addresses himself to this class with a most general title: — “Whosoever thou art” (v. 1) —whether Jew or Gentile, or philosopher or Pharisee, (or even now a professing Christian) —thou art without excuse. He is such a one who judges the evil of another, but not of himself. But if he judge the evil of another, he condemns himself; yea, through his judging, he condemns doubly, because he proves by it that he knoweth the bad and the sentence of God concerning it, and does it in spite of it. “But the judgment of God is according to truth against them which do such things” (v. 2). May also some one through the knowledge of evil and through judging it, obtain honor of man, God is not deceived by such subtlety. This outside appearance of wisdom and knowledge enables nobody to escape the judgment of God (v. 3), because His judgment is “according to truth.”
Further now the apostle remarks in verse 4, on “the riches of the goodness and longsuffering of God.” But however immeasurably great the riches of this goodness and longsuffering are, it will never weaken nor annul the judgment of God against evil. God’s goodness invites to repentance. Who by continuance in the evil seeks to comfort himself with the goodness and longsuffering of God, and also to forget the certain judgment of God, deceives himself, and is also in truth a despiser of the goodness of God. Instead of using it unto repentance during his life of sins, he uses it for comfort. But the terrible consequence will be, that he heaps up for himself the anger that on “the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” will come upon him (v. 5). For as sure and certain as is the end of a divine life which will find “honor and glory,” even so sure and certain also is the end of a life opposing
God and His truth, which results in “indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish” (vs. 6-10). Here it is not only a question of doing good, but the perseverance in good works. The apostle has proved in the previous chapter that the Gentiles had not persevered therein, and now he argues that it was also the case with the Jews, and that therefore with regard to this all stood alike before God. God also judges, without respect of the person and regardless of Jews and Gentiles, all according to its true moral character and according to the advantages which each one has received. The Jews had the law, and to the Gentiles their own conscience bore witness that the work of the law was written in their hearts. They judged between right and wrong, and discerned between good and evil. Their consciences and their thoughts, which accused or excused one another, testified that they knew what was morally good and what was morally wrong, and their writings also bore witness of it. Therefore God will judge the Gentiles by their conscience, and the Jew by the law, and that on the day on which He, according to the gospel of Paul, will judge the secrets of the heart by Jesus Christ (vs. 12-16). Then takes place not an eternal and carnal judgment, as the Jews imagined, but the judgment concerning each one, and this after the knowledge which God has of the heart.
Now the apostle turns himself to the Jews personally, and proves the blamableness of their condition under the law. If any one called himself a Jew (v. 17), and boasted in his advantages (v. 18), and thought himself a guide and teacher of others, because of his external knowledge of the law (vs. 19, 20), and yet was blind himself and without true knowledge of God, and in every aspect a transgressor of the law (vs. 21 and 23), then did he dishonor God, and even cause His name to be blasphemed among the nations (v. 24). And the Jews not only sinned against the commandments of God, but polluted also the Cultus or divine service, because they committed sacrilege, in that they withheld from God His sacrifice and the service due to Him, and used the holy place of the temple for their own use (v. 22).
Further, now the apostle shows, that God without the fulfillment of the law regards not circumcision. The circumcision of such a one, who transgressed the law, became uncircumcision (v. 25) God requires reality. A Gentile who did what the law required was worth more than a Jew who broke the law. Therefore, also, righteousness in an uncircumcised condition shall be imputed for circumcision and receive the blessings connected therewith (v. 26). Through the principles here laid down, the apostle will simply prove that God requires reality. In the two last verses he proves finally that he only is a real Jew, who has the law in his heart, and as such is circumcised in the spirit, and not lie who professes only the outward circumcision. Though that condition had not the praise of man, yet it had the praise of God (vs. 28, 29), and upon this alone it depended.
Letters Of Interest, &c.
“There are some precious fragments remaining in the midst of the mighty ruin—and the mighty ruin only binds the soul to the perfect and enduring rest and presence of the glory. For, who can tell, beloved, the joy of spending eternity with Him who looked up to Zaccheus as he sat in the tree? Think of what a heart it was that so answered, and more than answered the desire which His own Spirit had awakened.
I have just alighted on a sight of the glories of the Lord Jesus Christ which never struck me before, at least in their combination.
Look at the close of John 1 and 2: —The Lord there knows the good and the bad in man, without being told of either. He knows the good in Nathanael, i.e., the stirrings of the Spirit of God, His own Spirit in the conscience of that guileless confessing Israelite. He knows the bad in the multitude, so that though they were wrought on by His miracles, He would not trust them.
What divine understanding is this in the bosom of Jesus? He stands, so to speak, at the spring-head of all the flowings and movements of the Holy Ghost in the elect, quickened soul; and He is in full omnisciency, aware of the deceitfulness above all things of the heart of man. Moral hidden springs are thus naked and bare under His eye. (Jer. 17:9, 109The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? 10I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:9‑10).)
I observe also in the intervening passage between the close of John 1 and close of 2, some bright expressions of glory in Christ. He touches the springs of nature as of creation, turning water into wine; and He touches also all the strength of death to wither it all, saying, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
Farewell, beloved, may we long more ardently for that Presence which has virtue to rectify and to satisfy, and to cause aboundings of health and joy beyond all measure.”
“In Col. 3:1111Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. (Colossians 3:11)-Christ is “all” and “in all?” It is not the same as 1 Cor. 15:2828And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:28)— “God all in all,” but it includes two thoughts, that Christ is “in” all, i.e., that Christ is in each believer; and then being in each, He is “all” to each of them.
It seems to me that in chap. 1 The apostle draws out the first thought, that Christ is in all; and in chap. 2, he asserts the second, that Christ is all to each of the saints.
Meditate on Colossians with this in your mind, and see if we agree.