Wednesday 07 March 2012

Bible Book:

"There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honour and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality." (vv. 9-11

Romans 1:28 - 2:11 Wednesday 7 March 2012


The downward spiral began in our reading yesterday reaches its depth at thebeginning of today's passage. The writer, Paul, suggests that pointhad been reached where people even seemed confused about right andwrong.

The list of human wrongdoings in verses 29-31 are enough to breakall of the Jewish commandments in Exodus20 and they certainly opposed to the greatest commandmentto love God and love your neighbour, given by Jesus (Matthew22:34-40). The original readers would have recognised thesewrongs in the Roman society around them, which was morally andethically bankrupt. Theirs was a society that held entertainmentshows for the applause of the masses, based on violence,humiliation and cruelty. Paul makes clear the seriousness of thesituation that faced the readers, with death as the deserved resultof wrongdoing.

The focus of the writing subtly changes here, perhaps aimed towardssome of his more self-assured Jewish readers. Paul gives no 'getout' clause for anyone. It is God who judges and if any human beingpasses judgement on anyone else they condemn themselves. What isneeded is repentance, ie a full turning around from wrongdoing to alife devoted back to God.

The phrase "day of wrath" (v. 5), brings to mind somethingdifferent from the wrath of God revealed in verses 18-32. Paul usesthis phrase to refer to some future date when God will judgeeverything that has happened. There is a simple equation made,doing good deeds receives a good reward, doing bad things exacts aterrible price. This principle of judgement according to deeds isthe same for everyone whatever their religious or culturalbackground. Paul is setting out for the reader the reality of thehuman condition and its seriousness. As no one can live up to thismoral and ethical standard of God, it leaves Paul and the readerswith a question to answer: How can anyone pass God'sstandard?

To Ponder

When have you or your culture applauded otherpeople's wrongdoing or the humiliation of others, perhaps in thename of entertainment?

How can you respond to Paul's challenge ofrepentance, especially when times are good?

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