Thursday 08 March 2012

Bible Book:

"All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged under the law." (v. 12)

Romans 2:12-24 Thursday 8 March 2012


In the first part of the letter to the Romans, the writer Paulkept the focus primarily on non-Jews. In the passage today hedramatically shifts the focus. It is almost as if he has beengetting his Jewish Christian readers on side, only to turn thetables on them.

The term "sinned" is used for the first time in the letter, and thereaders would have understood this, in the light of the Jewishexperience and scriptures, as acting against God's will. At thesame time the concept of "the law" is introduced. This is ashorthand term for the rules for living given to the Jewish peopleby God, and contained within the Torah (the first five books of theBible). Those who are "apart from the law" are non-Jews; those whoare "under the law" are the Jews.

Paul argues that just to be a 'hearer of the law' (v. 13), in otherwords being Jewish, did not put them in any better position withGod than non-Jews. To be justified is a legal term meaningacquittal; in this context it is to be judged as blameless for anywrongdoing by God. He speaks out against a hypocritical view of theworld where people set themselves up as knowing best and yet do notpractise what they preach. Any outward show of religion must besubstantiated with a life that is changed. Otherwise theconsequence is much worse than no religion at all. Interestingly inverses 21-23 Paul chooses sins that are blatant, ones which any Jewcould be expected to keep. Perhaps in this he is echoing thestandard that Jesus sets in Matthew5:27-28, where the sin is committed in the heart without anyoutward act necessary.

The quote in verse 24 is from Isaiah52:5. This was originally made in the context of the nation ofIsrael being overpowered, exiled and shamed by other nations. Paulapplies it to leave the responsibility of the blasphemy with thereligious hypocrite. The Jewish punishment for blasphemy wasstoning to death (Leviticus 24:10-16). Before his conversion Paulapproved of, and was present at, the stoning of Stephen forblasphemy (Acts 6:117:58).

To Ponder

Can you identify any areas of your life where youare hypocritical? How could you change this and make your heartlife and outward life match?

What actions of yours cause God to be blasphemed?And, again, how might you change this?

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