Bible Conversations: Romans 2:1-3:30

Romans 2:1-3:30
Ed.-The subject of our present Conversation forms part of a long parenthesis running from 1: 20, and is introduced to show the state of the heathen, the philosophers, and the Jews at the moment when God saw the full time had come to reveal His righteousness. (1:17). The first half of chapter 2 (1-16) is occupied with "the case of the heathen moralists, and the latter part (17-29) with the Jew.
C. H. P.-What is the meaning of " thou that judgest doest the same thing" connected with " whosoever thou art" which goes before? For are there not many unconverted men who are much better than others as to outward conduct; for instance the Gentiles in verse 14?
Ed.-This is true. But the verse only speaks of those who do practice these things. Of such it affirms that however high their position, in assuming to judge others, they are really only pronouncing a righteous sentence against themselves. The next verse is very beautiful, and is indeed a sheet anchor of the christian faith. When in our ignorance we cannot pronounce how such and such an one will be judged by God, it is a great relief and stay to the soul to know this, " We are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth."
A. E. W.-In verses 3 and 4 the judgment of God is presented for two reasons, viz.:-first for sins committed, and secondly for despising God's goodness and suffering.
Ed.-And thus in verse 3 is shown how man's heart naturally loves sin, and in verse 4 how he slights and despises God's grace; two points which really sum up man's sin in the present day. Those who have heard the gospel will be judged for these two things-their sins, and their neglect of the great salvation that would have put them all away.
C. H. P.-In what way can the goodness of God be said to "lead men to repentance" if they refuse to be led?
Ed.-It is its character. Wrath gives no place for repentance, but goodness does, and will lead to it all who will be led. Man has however, as this passage shows, the fatal power of refusal.
J. M. M.-What a beautiful illustration of this passage is found in the address of Paul and Barnabas to the people of Lystra-"We preach unto you, that you should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven and earth and the sea and all things that are therein; who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." It also illustrates Rom. 1:1919Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. (Romans 1:19). "That which may be known of God is manifest to them, for God path showed it unto them." Psa. 104 also tells us of these "riches of His goodness."
C. H. P.- How often the word " riches" is used in connection with God.
Ed.-In the following verses we get briefly but clearly the broad principles of Divine justice and judgment laid down. Men, as such, will be dealt with according to the advantages enjoyed. None who do evil will escape God's judgment. The real difference between right and wrong will be maintained by judgment. God will have reality, and a Gentile who fulfills the law is better than a Jew who breaks it. Verse 6 may be compared with Prov. 24:1212If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works? (Proverbs 24:12).
C. H. P.-How would you answer people if they took up these verses to defend salvation by works?
Ed.-By asking them to read on through at least chapter 4, by which time they will clearly see that whatever else may be doubtful as to the meaning of these verses, it is at least apparent that the apostle does not mean to teach a salvation by works. As is pointed out in John 6:28, 2928Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. (John 6:28‑29), the only way to work the works of God, and which He can accept as good is to begin by accepting a salvation without works, by believing on Jesus Christ whom He bath sent. To those who have heard the gospel this verse presents no difficulty, for none can, now that a Savior has been proclaimed by God, turn their backs on Him and tell God they are seeking for " glory and honor and immortality" and are working "good." Respecting the heathen it is plain that they cannot be judged either by the law or the gospel, neither of which have they ever heard, but they will be judged by their conscience. How many it will acquit we must leave with God.
H. S.-But you do not get the thought here that by well-doing you get eternal life, do you? Is it not rather that by well-doing I am to seek for glory, honor and immortality in the eternal state?
Ed.-We do not think the construction of the passage will bear your explanation. What God renders impartially to those who lead godly lives is eternal life, while on the other hand those who live far from Him receive wrath and indignation, etc. It is the laying down of a principle which we also find in Gal. 6:1818Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. <<Unto the Galatians written from Rome.>> (Galatians 6:18).
H. S.-Is verse 10 fulfilled in this world?
Ed.-In a general sense no doubt in the government of God we may sometimes find it. But there is no reference to this in the verse which speaks of what God " will render" at the day of judgment. Coming down to verse 14, let us notice the difference between " the law" and " a law," the former of course referring to the ten commandments.
Ed.-We cannot say. All that we can say is that no man will be condemned who walks up to all the light God has given him. Whether such a man has ever lived, we cannot say.
C. H. P.-What a contrast (ver. 17) between resting in the law and resting in Christ.
Ed. Yes. Paul found that out and tells us the result in Phil. 3
C. H. P.-What is the meaning of " Dost thou rob temples?'' ver. 22 Revised Version.
Ed.-This might be done in many ways. Mal. 3:88Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. (Malachi 3:8), also Mal. 1 and ii., show some ways in which the Jews did this.
C. H. P. -Do not we christians (as well as mere professors) often cause our God's name to be blasphemed among the unconverted through our inconsistency? Is not " Give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully," a parallel passage to this?
Ed.-Yes. And it is well to try and find ourselves rebuked in such a passage, instead of merely sitting together in condemnation upon others.
C. H. P.-What does ver. 25 mean? Was law-keeping of any use after the death of Christ?
Ed.-Not for salvation. But the apostle is not speaking of this at all. He merely says that the advantage and profit of circumcision was in having the oracles of God. But this was valueless if they broke them.
E.-How verses 28, 29 (and especially the last line of verse 29), when applied in principle to our hearts, cut right at them.
Ed.-Indeed they do. In ways in which many of us little think, we may be regarding the praise of man rather than that of God. A single eye is a great blessing.
G. K. B.-What a privilege Israel had in being the depository of God's written word!
Ed.-And this only increased their responsibility.
G. F.-I think ver. 3 reads better in the Revised Version " For what if some were without faith? shall their want of faith make of no effect the faithfulness of God? "
G. K. B.-How indignantly in verse 4 the apostle repudiates the slightest failure on God's part. The Jew also (ver. 6) was willing enough to allow the justice of God in dealing with the world at large (Gen. 18:2525That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? (Genesis 18:25).) "Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?"
Ed.-" And not rather" in verse 8 obscures the sense which is clearly given in the Revised Version "And why not" let us do evil, etc., following on to verse 7.
G. K. B.-Every part of man is corrupt. Throat, tongue, lips, mouth, feet, eyes, and not man merely, but the proud Jew, as the revealed sentence of the law proves. The apostle quotes from the Psalms and the Prophets. The Psalm (53) terminates with an earnest wish that the turning-point for Israel were come out of Zion and their captivity given place to deliverance. The prophecy (Isa. 59) terminates with the declaration that the Redeemer shall come out of Zion. Then both passages in their original connection close their sad account of Israel's sin with the yearning after and the distinct prediction of the future blessing and glory, and the kingdom being restored to Israel. But here these Scriptures are followed by the grace of God to every sinner that believes in Christ.
C. F.-Verse 9 is I think better rendered in the Revised Version, " For we before laid to the charge" etc., this he had done in 1:28, etc.
Ed.-Yes, it is much clearer. Before we close let us notice the force of "every" in verse 19. The great difficulty was to stop the Jew's mouth. It was certain that if they could be silenced, every mouth would be stopped, and having thus brought their own Scriptures to bear upon themselves, all are morally silenced, and the whole world has become subject to the judgment of God.
F.-Do you not think that from verse 10 to the first half of verse 19 may be a parenthesis, and that the reason why every mouth is stopped (v. 19) is because the apostle has already (v 9 being a summary) proved both Jews and Gentiles to be all under sin?
Ed.-The passage would then read thus: " We have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;.... that every mouth may be stopped and all the world become guilty before God," and this certainly seems to give greater clearness to the passage. All that we have now therefore to expect is to hear the sentence pronounced, and, ware it not that God is love as well as light, that is what would follow. But as it is, what we hope to hear in our next conversation are the wonderful words of love that God has to say to condemned sinners when once their mouths are fairly stopped. When a sinner's mouth is really stopped half the battle is over. The reason so, many are not saved, is because they will keep talking instead of listening to what God has got to say.