Bible Discussion — Romans 2

September 5, 2007, 12:00 pm; posted by
Filed under Bible, Chloe, Connie, David, Djere, Josh J, Mike J, Steve  | No Comments

This week, Bweinh.com looks at the next chapter in the book of Romans, Romans 2.

Genesis: 1-4 | 5-9 | 10-14 | 15-18 | 19-22 | 23-26
27-29 | 30-32 | 33-36 | 37-39 | 40-43 | 44-46 | 47-50

Exodus: 1-4 | 5-8 | 9-11 | 12-14 | 15-18
19-22 | 23-26 | 27-30 | 31-34 | 35-40

And the book of Romans: Chapter 1

 
INTRODUCTION:
Mike:
Paul turns the tables on his “righteous” readers. In ch. 1, we can almost hear them “Amen”-ing Paul’s devastating critique of ungodly Gentiles. But in ch. 2, he argues that the religious folks are equally unrighteous.

David:
In Chapter 1, Paul introduced the Gospel and proved the whole world guilty before God. In chapter 2, he deals specifically with the Jews, who condemned and despised the Gentiles, but did not acknowledge any guilt among themselves.

Connie:
This chapter is Paul’s “prophetic” realistic view of hardened religious hearts and his warnings that God is not fooled by outward appearances and actions.

 
SOMETHING YOU’D NEVER NOTICED BEFORE:
Steve:
Verse 5 says that rather than repenting, “in accordance with [their] hardness and [their] impenitent heart,” the Romans were “treasuring up wrath,” to be cashed in on the day of judgment. I never noticed this particular turn of phrase before, and its connotation of gradual accumulation of punishment is chilling, like a Direct Deposit of damnation.

Connie:
I guess I never realized that this problem could be so widespread. Keith Green sang about it. Recently Mother Teresa’s private letters even alluded to it. Do we all suffer from it at some point, but believe we’re the only one?

Djere:
I guess I never really noticed how judgment-heavy Romans was… the first couple chapters are so thick they’re a blur.

Mike:
How very focused on works Paul is here: at least in this passage, it is our wicked works that lead to God’s judgment — vv. 3, 6, 8, 9, 12. It’s too easy to break down Paul’s thoughts into faith vs. works. Rather, there seems to be an inward change that is vital to salvation, and works testify to that inward change.

 
BEST BAND NAME FROM THE PASSAGE:
David: Babes
Josh: Mere Man; Glory, Honor and Immortality
Chloe: Perish Apart
Djere: Inward Jew
Connie: Inexcusable Man
Steve: Impartial
Mike: Instinctively Obedient Gentiles

 
STORY IT REMINDS YOU OF::
Djere:
This one time, some fundamentalist preachers came to OSU (Oswego-Sodom University) and almost got lynched by the mobs of people they angered. But it was their fault for marching around with a banner that said “You are going to hell” or something equally tactless. I tried to have a discussion with them, about the difference between preaching the law and preaching Christ, but they wouldn’t have it.

Mike:
My whole life. I attended largely conservative Republican Houghton College during the Clinton administration, and more (at least socially) progressive Eastern Seminary (as well as pastoring a church largely more liberal than myself) during the Bush administration.

We all have an incredible ability to pick and choose what is wrong with “the other side,” then be guilty of the same mindset and sins ourselves.

Josh:
2:1 reminds me of the prophet Nathan’s riddle/rebuke of King David. It is always easier to recognize wrong when someone else is doing it, but remember, “you are the man!”

David:
The Jews condemning the Gentiles while committing the same sins and thinking they were somehow exempt from judgment reminds me of Jimmy Swaggart saying, “Who could I go to? I was Jimmy Swaggart!”

Steve:
It seems that chapter 2 plays itself out every year in politics. Family values Republicans get caught with hookers. Anti-corruption Democrats take a few hundred thousand bucks from the cookie jar. I’ve heard it said that frequently, the loudest voices seeking to regulate or ban a particular vice are its own secret practitioners.

But maybe rather than hypocrisy, it’s a desperate effort at self-preservation. They can’t stop, but maybe the government can stop them.

Chloe:
Verse 24 says, “As it is written: ‘God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles among you.'” I know a lot of people who won’t go to church, or who hate Christianity, because of how abundant hypocrisy is among Christians. Of course, hypocrisy is inevitable because we are preaching perfection, and we will fall again and again. I just pray people aren’t cursing God because I can’t get it right.

 
DEEP THEOLOGICAL MEANING:
Chloe:
Paul tackles the problem of pride in this chapter, how many Jewish believers were looking at themselves as better than the Gentile believers. Paul’s goal is not only to humble these people, but also to show those being shamed for their heritage that they are actually quite blessed. Sometimes when we look at someone who has fallen away and come back into the fold, or someone who has made a lot of mistakes, it’s hard not to feel a little pride at the fact that we aren’t them. But even the smallest bit of secret self-importance is exactly what Paul is talking about in the first verse. We have all sinned and fallen short, whether our sins are obvious or not, and none of us are any better than the rest.

David:
Anyone who sets themselves up as a judge had better be living what they preach. No one gets a free pass based on the group they belong to. We all face the same judgment.

Connie:
Micah 6:8 — “walk humbly with thy God.”

Djere:
If you’re not inwardly changed, your religion, whether it’s Old or New Testament, is absolutely worthless, straight up. Don’t fool yourself.

Mike:
Christianity is NOT just a relationship, it is a religion. By that I mean that we are asked to truly change our hearts and minds from an old way of thinking to a new. While we know that outward rituals mean nothing, true changes of the heart are expected and necessary. It is not simply who you know, but what you do.

Josh:
“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (2:4)

Some Christians seem resentful of those who come to repentance late in life. Like the workers in the vineyard, they feel these latecomers are less deserving. They forget the great debt they owe, how the same grace has saved them. They lack a heart for the unsaved, forgetting that love for God is impossible without love for man.

But I think the greatest flaw in this attitude is its implication that living without salvation as long as possible is a better deal here on earth. We are often envious of those who “get” to live a life of sin. Salvation isn’t about getting the lowest price possible for eternal life. It’s about life more abundant the moment we start walking with Christ.

 
RANDOM THOUGHT:
Mike:
Take circumcision out of v. 25 and replace it with modern Christian worship practices. If we disobey God’s law, our singing becomes “unsinging;” our preaching becomes “unpreaching;” our baptism becomes “unbaptism;” our communion becomes “uncommunion.” Yikes.

Steve:
Part of the reason I love the doctrinal books of the New Testament is because they’re set forth as logical argument. In two chapters, Paul has effectively shown the wretched state of unredeemed man — whether part of God’s chosen people or not — and what could be next now but the solution? The Alcoholics Anonymous people didn’t invent the notion of hitting rock bottom before making a change.

Djere:
What happened to Jaleel White? MAN! Direct-to-DVD? Urk!

Chloe:
I have the requirements of the law written on my heart!

David:
When vv. 15-16 talk about Gentiles “doing by nature the things contained in the law” and “having the law written in their hearts,” I believe he is talking about Christians operating in what Ezekiel and Jeremiah prophesied, and in the “divine nature” that Peter taught. There aren’t groups of “noble savages” out there who just naturally do right.

 
WHERE IS JESUS IN THIS PASSAGE:
David:
Paul’s teaching on the Jews’ hypocrisy was derived from Jesus’ teaching — “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” and “He that is without sin cast the first stone,” as well as other passages.

Mike:
Probably most clearly in v. 15: writing his law on the hearts of his children, Gentiles and Jews alike.

 
VERSE TO REMEMBER:
Josh:
2:7 — “[E]ternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality.”

Steve, Mike:
2:29 — “[B]ut he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.”

Chloe:
2:1 — “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.”

Connie:
2:11 — “For there is no partiality with God.”

Djere:
2:6-8 — “[W]ho ‘will render to each one according to his deeds': eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness–indignation and wrath.”

David:
2:10 — “[B]ut glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

 
PORTION YOU WOULD MOST LIKE EXPLAINED IN HEAVEN:
Steve:
Paul writes that those who don’t have the law nonetheless “are a law to themselves,” their consciences bearing witness to the truth of God’s standards. I wonder how God works this out for those of diminished capacity; the young, the mentally ill, the psychopathic. Thank God that He makes these determinations.

Djere:
Verses 14-16 and what happens to people who die without having heard the Gospel.

Mike:
The apparently nebulous rules for admission to heaven in v. 15. Why can’t God have hard and fast rules that are never contradicted?

Chloe:
Why does it say, “first for the Jew, then for the Gentile,” then insist that God does not show favoritism? Not that it matters, I suppose, but those verses have always struck me as just a little bit funny.

 
LESSON TO TAKE AWAY:
David:
Paul said, “God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you,” because the Jews preached one thing and lived another, while claiming the moral high ground. We Christians have certainly had our own turn at that.

Connie:
Do not be a hypocrite.

Chloe:
If you’re a Gentile, listen to Jiminy Cricket.

Josh:
By Paul’s time circumcision had become for many a hollow and rote tradition, devoid of the spiritual commitment it was meant to represent. In our time we have our own sacraments to water down — baptism, communion, even church attendance (or in my tradition, enrollment and uniform wearing). I believe very strongly in the importance of outward signs, but we must remember that these symbols only have power inasmuch as the commitment of the heart they are meant to represent truly exists. In and of themselves they mean nothing.

Steve:
As I Corinthians 10:12 says, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” We should never be satisfied with our “righteousness” or our relationship with God, and we should take care to guard against falling victim to the very things we warn against.

Djere:
God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”

 
GENERAL RESPONSE TO THE PASSAGE:
David:
Now that Paul has convinced the Jews that they are as guilty as the Gentiles, he can begin examining their special status and the requisite obligations.

Mike:
A scary passage for a Christian leader to read, as I aspire to be somewhat of a “guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, and a teacher of children” (vv. 19-20). The passage is tough on people who want to do that.

Steve:
Ah, hypocrisy, a most universal vice and a most contemptible virtue. Maybe it has its benefits — after all, if the teacher, preacher or parent isn’t doing the right thing, at least he’s encouraging others to do so — but those are probably offset by the corrosive effect it has on society’s respect for morals and standards; as Paul writes, the acts of the Jews caused the Gentiles to blaspheme God.

The finger-pointing went beyond rank hypocrisy too, extending to everyone who knows what is right and yet sometimes falls short, even those who properly “make their boast in God.” Everyone is guilty. Everyone is a hypocrite. The real evil is in the pretension.

 
CONCLUSION:
Connie:
Live your beliefs by simply living what you believe. Nothing less and nothing more.

Mike:
Kind of a downer of a passage; but I guess Paul has to establish the sinfulness of all people in order to explain how God desires to save us.

David:
Verse 11 — “There is no respect of persons with God.”


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