Romans 2:1-29 is about divine judgment. When God judges, He does it without partiality. For this reason, those who reject Him at God-consciousness or Gospel-hearing are without excuse before God. God judges in accordance with His justice, but He also blesses in accordance with His justice. This is the reason we talk about “adjusting” to the justice of God. At God-consciousness, an unbeliever adjusts to the justice of God by believing that God exists and wanting to know more about Him. Upon Gospel-hearing, an unbeliever also has an opportunity to adjust to the justice of God by believing in Jesus Christ as Savior. Rejection of God, at either God-consciousness or Gospel-hearing, means the justice of God must adjust to the person who rejects Him.
This verse is about the presumption of the self-righteous unbeliever (the person who is maladjusted to the justice of God at Gospel-hearing), who decides to build up a system of righteousness on his own, to reach God. A self-righteous person is normally a very moral person. For this reason, the self-righteous tend to compare themselves to others who are immoral and to judge them accordingly. Rationalizing that you are righteous because you are not immoral is self-righteous arrogance. When properly compared to the perfect standard of righteousness, Jesus Christ, no one can claim to be righteous. We all have sinned and come short of the righteousness of God. Only when a person chooses to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation can he become righteous before God.
Therefore you are, is a reference to the moral and self-righteous man who often compares himself to the man in chapter one (the immoral, heathenistic type) and says to himself, “I don’t do those things.” Because he doesn’t do those things he rationalizes that he is righteous. He compares himself to the immoral person instead of to the perfect divine standard, Jesus Christ. Self-righteousness is blind. You cannot build your righteousness on someone else’s unrighteousness. Divine righteousness is imputed as a result of faith in Christ. (II Corinthians 5:21)
Without excuse is the Greek word “anapologetos” (a = negative; apologeomai = to defend oneself against charges in court), which says in effect that you have no defense. Therefore you keep on being without excuse.
Every man refers to all people who gossip, malign and judge. It is addressed to any self-righteous person who assumes, in arrogance, to have arrived at the point of human righteousness where he has the right or prerogative to make pronouncements about others. Pride is the basic sin of the self-righteous person.
Who passes judgment is the Greek word “krino,” which means to judge and refers to the self-righteous person who assumes the prerogative of judging others. The present tense denotes what habitually occurs when arrogance combines with self-righteousness to judge others. The word to judge here means to malign, to slander or to use verbal sins directed toward someone else.
For in that you judge another is the Greek word krino, once again, used to cover all of the mental attitude sins which lead to gossip, maligning and judging others. “Krino” is primarily a legal word, used for both official and personal judgment. When used with God as the subject, it is official judgment. When used with self-righteous persons, as in this context, it is personal judgment, tantamount to maligning, to slandering and to gossiping. The present tense of “krino” is a descriptive present, which describes what is now going on in the conflict between the self-righteous person and the person he chooses to judge.
You condemn yourself is the Greek verb “katakrino” (kata = down or against; krino = to judge]. It means to judge down, to judge against or to judge in such a way that you condemn. Both condemnation and execution are gathered up in this compound verb. The self-righteous legalist produces the action of the verb by judging.
For you who judge practice the same things, is used to show a reason why a self-righteous person condemns himself when he judges others. The Greek word for practice is “prasso” meaning the habit of doing something. The phrase, the same things, is a reference to the sins mentioned in Romans 1:29-31. The self-righteous judge is as sinful as the object of his/her condemnation. The moral man is just as sinful as the immoral man. Only the justice of God has the right to correctly evaluate the life of anyone. Jesus Christ, the perfect judge can produce only perfect judgment. The self-righteous man assumes that he is “perfect,” but his judgment of others merely proves and demonstrates his imperfection, sinfulness and hypocrisy. Imperfect people are not qualified to judge other imperfect people. By doing so, the self-righteous person puts himself/herself in the place of God.
We have a poor translation of verse 2 in the NASB translation. The King James is actually more correctly translated in this case.
Paul was speaking of himself and other mature believers when he said, “And we know…” The Greek word for know is “oida” meaning to perceive or to have seen. That the judgment of God is a good translation. The Greek word for judgment is “krima” meaning condemnation or judicial verdict.
Rightly falls is also a good translation. However, the NASB leaves out the very important phrase, “according to truth.” The judicial judgment of God does rightly, fairly or properly fall on the self-righteous person who judges others. However, God’s judicial judgment is always according to truth (Bible doctrine), which phrase is included in the King James translation. Therefore, the judgment of God is always fairly placed on those who practice the previously mentioned sins in chapter one, according to a standard of Bible doctrine. Such things in this verse mean similar things.
The self-righteous person has the tendency to overlook his own brand of sin, while condemning the sins and the weaknesses of others. Self-righteous ones rationalize their sins by comparing less obvious sins (mental attitude sins) with the obvious sins (overt sins) of others. While the self-righteous person sees himself favourably, compared with others, the justice of God condemns him along with the entire human race. At the expense of the immoral man, the self-righteous person attempts to build a system of human righteousness with which he seeks to gain the approbation of God. The self-righteous person is maladjusted to the justice of God. God’s standard of Bible doctrine condemns the self-righteous, along with the immoral, and all others. Sin is sin, and God condemns sin. God’s Word teaches the total depravity of man and the universality of sin. Man is born spiritually dead and functions in the realm of spiritual death by sinning. All sin is condemned by God. The justice of God never compromises with sin.
Righteousness and justice combine to form God’s perfect holiness. Infinite holiness acting toward other beings results in the function of the justice of God. Righteousness demands righteousness - God cannot change. As long as God is God, He must demand holiness and punish sin. Because of the justice of God, His judgments are vindicating but not vindictive.
1. God is absolute holiness — righteousness plus justice.
2. The moral excellence of God is not attained but is infinite, absolute and eternal.
3. God is the sum total of perfection in all of His attributes.
4. God’s holiness is not maintained by His will or His sovereignty, but it is His unchangeable, immutable self.
5. God is immutable because of His perfect character. He can never be better or worse than He was the day before.
6. The being of God is unalterable, absolute and totally consistent.
7. When infinite holiness acts toward man, the justice of God is involved.
8. His judgments are perfect and demand perfection. His righteousness is perfect and therefore not only rejects sin, but condemns it.
9. God’s love for holiness is revealed by His righteousness. God’s hatred of sin is revealed by His justice.
10. Because the justice of God judged our sins at the Cross, divine justice found a way to vindicate rather than to condemn.
11. Judgment is the prerogative of God.
12. Divine judgment is from the source of the justice of God.
13. God has both the character and the information with which to function as a judge (mankind does not).
14. The same source of judgment (the justice of God) is the source of blessing to the believer because the sins of the world were judged on the Cross. Christ was bearing our sins when the justice of God judged them. (II Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24)
15. The justice of God is free to give us salvation when we believe in Christ. Salvation instead of condemnation is the result of adjustment to the justice of God. (Romans 5:1, 8:1)