Romans 2:1-16
No Excuses, No Escape

Marrieds with a Ministry Sunday School Class
Two Rivers Baptist Church
Nashville, TN, USA

For Sunday, 03 March 2002

Handout: No Excuses, No Escape


Green: on hand out

Ink: to be filled in on hand out

Bright blue: term from text (to be defined or discussed)


REVIEW Ch. 1:18-32 (Mark Brown)

  • Ungodliness is (v.21, 23) idolatry, neglecting to give God the honor He is due, religious perversion.
  • Unrighteousness is (v. 24) immorality, behavior contrary to God's design and Law, moral perversion.
  • Everyone knows that he is responsible to God, even those who have only Creation to go on (vv. 19, 20, 25, 28, 32).
  • One of the great themes of Romans is exchange (vv. 23, 25, 26).

Chapter 2

OK, sure. The people described in 1:18-32 deserve death. They not only do bad things, they applaud others for doing them. What about those of us good church going folks who agree that those things are wrong? What about those of us who lobby against gay "rights," and picket abortion clinics? Doesn't that count for something?

v. 1. O man is a New Testament term for Jews. The Jews had God's Word--the Law--but the rest of the world, at that time, did not. Compare 1:19-20 with 2:12. Today, ch. 2 applies both to Jews and to any Gentiles who live where God's Word is known and observed.

By condemning the sin of others, we admit that man is worthy of judgment and that there is an absolute standard of right and wrong by which we will all be judged.1

Paul is not accusing us of crass idolatry and homosexual behavior. Our sins may be subtler but they are no less offensive to God's holy character. Is there absolutely no immorality in my life? Have I always given God the honor He is due?

v. 2. According to truth or rightly means "according to the facts of the case."2

However much slack we cut ourselves, we know that God will cut us none. Our excuses will not fly with God.

When we judge others, we are never making a perfectly true and just judgment. But God's judgment is always just.3

v. 3. Most people count on God grading on a curve.4 They think they will be excused and escape His judgment. Paul's rhetorical question shows this to be folly.

v. 4. Despise means to form a low estimate of.5

They despise the goodness of God, who form such a wrong estimate of it, as to suppose that it gives them a license to sin; who imagine that he will not punish, either because he long forbears, or because his goodness towards us is so great that we shall escape, though others perish. Charles Hodge 6

Most Jews thought then (and many evangelicals think today) that God will excuse them based on their religious affiliations.

  • Matt. 3:7-10. Don't think to say, "I was born in a Christian country," "I was raised in a Christian family," or "I'm a member of Two Rivers Baptist Church." It won't fly with God.
  • John 8:31-39 Sin is a slave owner. Christianity is all about relationship--family relationship: whose child are you?

"Now a second reason for this baseless tranquility is added, namely, 'I have not been abandoned by God to a life of scandalous immorality (1:22-32); therefore it must be that God...must be very pleased with me.'" 7

Not knowing means not comprehending the true purpose or design of.8

The goodness of God leads us to repentance, because it shows us our duty towards a Being who is so kind, and because it gives us ground to hope for acceptance... The not here speaking of gracious influence but of the moral tendencies of providential dispensations. Charles Hodge 9

v. 5. Treasuring up wrath is an accounting term related to banking, savings, and compound interest. Each day that God is patient with us in our impenitence, we make another deposit to the wrath of God against ourselves.10

v. 6. Paul supports his point with Scripture. Prov. 24:12, Jer. 17:9-10, Ps. 62:11-12. Jesus used the same words in Matt. 16:27.

vv. 7-11. Paul is here expounding the law, not the gospel. He is laying out an eternal principle, the legal basis of judgment according to works. He is "combating the false hopes of the Jews" (and of some evangelicals) in escaping judgment through keeping the Law. Until we understand the law that binds us, we cannot properly understand the gospel that frees us.11

vv. 12-15. Those who have God's written Word will be judged by the Law. Those who do not have God's written Word have a different form of God's Law, one written on their hearts, in their consciences.

Recommended reading:

David J. Finnamore
Orlando, FL