The Berean Expositor
Volume 51 - Page 124 of 181
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"Who (the backsliders of the context) knowing the judgment of God, that they which
commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them
that do them."
Such was the terrible condition of the pagan world in Paul's day.
The Apostle now turns to the Jew and examines his condition. There was no doubt
that the people of Israel had been placed by God in a position of great favour. They had
been chosen by Him to be the premier nation of the earth, the channel through which the
knowledge of God and His gospel could spread to all mankind. This will explain why
both the gospel and divine judgment for its rejection was "to the Jew first" (i.16; ii.8-10).
It was recognition of Israel's highly favoured position, and explains the custom of the
Apostle Paul on his missionary journeys recorded in the Acts, always going first to the
synagogue [Acts 13: 14 (and note verses 46, 47);  14: 1; 17: 1, 2, 10; 18: 1, 4;
19: 1, 8; 28: 16-28]. The importance of Israel's place in the earthly purpose of God
can scarcely be over-estimated and it becomes the central theme in the middle chapters of
Roman, namely 9:-11: A fuller consideration will be given to this when those chapters
are reached.
In proceeding to deal with the Jew, Paul bases his argument on the most important
fact, that greater knowledge of God leads to deeper responsibility. And it is impossible
for it to be otherwise. This is a fact that we should always bear in mind, for it is just as
true today as it was in the Apostle's lifetime. The Jewish moralist found ample scope in
criticizing the pagan world. But what was his own life and environment like? He had
forgotten such a verse as Amos 3: 2:
"You (Israel) only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will
punish you for all your iniquities."
The first half of the verse he would revel in, but what about the other half? The
Apostle now adopts the so-called diatribe style, used by philosophical teachers of the
time. He imagines a critic intervening in the argument and is given replies which are
searching in the extreme:
"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
. . . . . 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?" (Rom. 2: 1-3).
In other words the critic and judge is involved in the same acts as the man he
condemns. As we have seen, behind all the sin and failure of chapter 1: lies idolatry,
which results in man putting himself in the place of God, and in this, as past history had
shown, the Jew had been equally guilty with the Gentile.
The human critic by his condemnation of his fellows, not only abrogates to himself
God's position but sets a standard for his own conduct. If he can see wrong in the actions
of others, then he has no excuse if he indulges in the same things himself.