The Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Romans 2:1-11

God Shows No Partiality

Paul has thus far focused his attention on the ancient pagan world, the Gentiles of his day who did not know God and so practiced every form of lewdness the godless human heart can imagine.  In chapter two he will now turn his attention to the Jew, though that is not entirely clear until later in the chapter.  Indeed in the beginning of the chapter, Paul seems to be addressing the self-righteous believer at large.

The theme of this passage is that God shows no partiality, no favoritism, to the religious person or to the moralist who deems himself better than unbelieving pagans.  Why is this?  Because the religionist and the moralist are just as guilty as the pagan, so that when they pass judgment, they themselves are condemned for doing the same things.  The religious person may think that he escapes judgment because he is God’s man, God’s chosen one, and member of the covenant community.  He has the “A Ticket” and so is in the clear.  The moralist supposes that he is not as bad as the pagan; granted, he is a sinner to be sure but still a step or two above his immoral neighbor.  Each considers himself beyond the criticism due to others.

But God judges differently.  He sees beyond the deed to the wicked human heart.  Jesus said, “Everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).  Or perhaps the religious person is shameless enough to believe that though he has committed adultery he is guiltless because of his religion.  In harboring such abhorrent beliefs, these only presume upon God’s kindness to them, a kindness which should lead them to repentance, not self-righteousness and vanity.  God will have the final say and judgment day will be no less dreadful for these as it will be for the idolaters.

Verses six through eleven must be read within the context of the whole letter.  Paul is not suggesting that there are some who earn eternal life by patience in well-doing; indeed, Paul will later say that “by works of the law no human being will be justified in [God’s] sight” (3:20).  For certain, the one who does right will be rewarded salvation and the one who doesn’t will be rewarded damnation, for that is what one would expect of a just and impartial God.  The problem is that no one fits the former description but only the latter; Paul was only showing the religionist and moralist their own precarious condition before an impartial God.  As Christians we must never forget: We are no longer under the law, but neither are we ever above it.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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