Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 2:3
“But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?” – Romans 2:3
What Paul is addressing is the idea of hypocrisy. The main thought here is that some people believe they can get away with, or in the language of the above verse, escape the judgement of God regarding things they believe are worthy of judgement in others. Now, this is clarified from what is denoted in chapter one. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.” Romans 1:18-19. This verse speaks of all humanity being given the knowledge of God, however not all are accepting and acting upon this knowledge. Chapter two is referring to those who acknowledge acceptance and belief in God, be they Jew or Gentile.
Paul starts chapter two showing their self-righteousness. “Therefore you have no excuse, every one of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” Romans 2:1. He speaks of judging actions they do in a negative way that they themselves do. The problem here is that they judge the actions of another as wrong, however, because they considered themselves ‘righteous’ they believe this addresses the issue and are not to be judged. Paul is saying that what is considered righteous and unrighteous is not based on anything but how God sees it and has nothing to do with how we see it. This is made very clear by the last part of this verse, “for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” Romans 2:1b.
Paul then continues with the following. “And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things.” Romans 2:2. Now, having accused the self-righteous person of doing the same things as another, Paul now affirms as a general principle the fact and fairness of God’s judgement of such practices. We know that God’s judgement is according to truth. He is affirming that God’s judgement against sin is completely just for it is based on what actually happened. However, those who acted as such believed that their relationship with God should be a part of what is sin and what is not. This was a huge issue with the Jews of this time period. Paul here was not denying this relationship; however it does not shield them from the consequences of their sins.
Now we come to our focus verse. “But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?” Romans 2:3 Paul is asking this very important question. ‘Just because you have a special relationship with God, does that make it OK for you to do things you judge as wrong for someone else?’ Do they really believe they will not be judged by God for these wrongdoings? Paul then answers this further down. “There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.” Romans 2:9-11. Paul is simply saying that God will judge all people and their actions in the same way, whether they have a relationship with God or not, for He is not partial in any way. As He judges one, He judges all.
We need to be careful we do not fall into this error ourselves. If we judge something as sin in another, then we must see it as sin in ourselves. There is nothing that is OK for one to do but is acceptable for another. This is the idea of Paul’s message here. We will all be judged according to how God judges based on how He sees each action, not according to who did it. So be careful not to pass judgement on another. In chapter 14 he says the following, “Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” Romans 14:1-4.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.