Chapter 2, The Study
A Matter Of The Heart

J. Deering,

Chapter 2:5-29 – A Matter Of The Heart

I.       INTRODUCTION: The Introductive Sentences, 1:1-15

II.     THE TRUTH: Concerning Man Apart from the Grace of God, 1:16-2:29
          A.      The Power of God, 1:16-32
          B.      The Predicament of The Lost, 2:1-4
          C.      The Judgment of God, 2:5-11

The Predicament of the Lost, 2:1-4

There is No Excuse for Judging Each Other and Judging Another Produces Condemnation for You

Paul continues into Chapter 2 with issues of judgment. He's going to press upon those believers who have the habit of passing judgments upon other believers. The root problem is that God reserves the activity of judgment for Himself and He has delegated this responsibility to His Son (John 5:22). Judgment is to be under His sole authority when it comes to spiritual and temporal personal judgments. God has set aside certain judgments to be made by civil governments and within the Body of Christ (under elders). But when it comes to you or I standing in judgment of another believer, especially in the area of salvation - that is to be left to God.

When the believer proclaims judgment against another believer he steals the prerogative of God and acts as if there was no God (the fool).

(2:1) Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.

Specifically Paul is addressing those Christians who come from a Jewish background who are judging Gentile believers as to whether they have any right to be Christians at all. And, at the same time, Gentile Christians who are judging Jewish believers (who were bound up in the law) as to whether they have any right to be Christians at all. One big happy church family - divided right up the middle.

We might call this whole discussion of the Jew's position on thinking they should judge the Gentile "Privilege with out Responsibility." The Jew thought they had special privilege because of their physical relationship to Abraham - they had a false sense of security, trusting in their law, and not trusting in God.

Right at the top of Paul's discussion he states that no one has any right to judge any other as to their salvation or spirituality - THAT IS GOD'S JOB. God is a jealous God and He has reserved the act of judgment for Himself - He has not delegated it to you or me.

Paul states that when we condemn another's position before God we become the recipients of God's condemnation for usurping His authority. Before his audience objects - Paul states that those who judge have no right to judge because their lives are full of the very things that they judge other for.

God is jealous of His name as well. Those who profess to keep the law (as opposed to those who live by faith) as a way of expressing their faith bring blasphemy against God's name. It was common knowledge that the countries surrounding Israel laughed at them and their God because Israel was as corrupt and fleshly as any other country in practice. Not only does God not take being laughed at lightly, but He does not deal with those who cause Him to be laughed at lightly as well.

It should be noted that here again in verse one, we are reminded that God is not pleased with those judges who PRACTICE the same things - meaning that this is their habitual activity. There is always grace for those who stumble and fall - but not for those who PRACTICE wickedness.

The Apostle James was known as the apostle who lived "by the Law." He knew he was saved by grace, he knew he was free in-Christ, and through the power of the Holy Spirit was able to live "according to the Law." But - look here what he has to say about trying to be righteous and judging fellow believers.

James 4:11
Do not speak against one another, brethren He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.

James 5:9
 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.

Other Verses:

Matthew 7:1-2
Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Luke 6:37
Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

Romans 14:4
Who art thou that judges another man's servant? to his own master he stands or falls. Yea, he shall be held up: for God is able to make him stand
(the other man's master is God - how dare you judge him?)

2:2-4, God's Purpose is The Lost Person's Repentance
2:3, Acting as a Judge Does Not Prevent Condemnation

(2:2) And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things.

Paul now appeals to those who see "unspiritual" activities as being in need of their judgment - it seems that judgment indeed should fall upon those who's lives "clearly" indicate that they are not living In-Christ.

(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?

Paul catches them off guard - It's YOU, it's you who not only judges others, but who does these things that should be judged. Do you think that by playing judge you will escape the Judgment of God?

The question each of us must ask is "Am I judgmental hoping to avoid Judgment myself?"

(2:4), The Lost Person has forgotten God – God Leads to Repentance

(2:4) Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

So the question is asked of You who believes...

do you think lightly of the riches of His
kindness, and

You who are so quick to judge others, have you forgotten that the Almighty Creator God of the Universe is a God of GRACE? Everything God does is good, by definition. He proclaims that the way He acts is by GRACE. Every decision, every action, every blessing, every judgment, every everything - is good and gracious.

The manner in which you and He came together and you believed upon His Son ... is the result of His graciousness. His very aim is your salvation and the salvation of all men and women. He acts graciously. Every God ordered event in every life is in an attempt to win them to Faith - right down to the very expensive gift of His only Son - for you and them that they might have salvation.

His kindness leads to repentance and belief. But what do men and women, self-worshippers in their own hearts do. They proclaim that there is not God, or that they are god themselves, or that a carved stick represents god. Anything but God. Any route but the one to God. Any savior except God's perfect only born Son.

But - God is kindness, God is forbearance, God is patience, God is longsuffering.

Think of where we believers would be without His longsuffering and patience. There would be no remedy for truths like James 1:14-15,

"But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death."

1 John 1:9 is the remedy!

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

We fall down, He picks us up and forgives us. Like a little child learning to walk. We fall down, He picks us up - over and over and over again. He is Gracious.

2:5-29 A Matter of the Heart
2:5-15 The Danger of Usurping God’s Authority

A Person’s Deeds are an expression of the Heart

(2:5) But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,

Paul is laying the ground work for a much larger argument - Where is humanity in relationship to a Righteous God, without grace?

Speaking of all humanity before salvation, before the Grace of God is realized in the heart through faith, Paul speaks to humanities unrepentant heart. That heart is "hard hearted." Man's heart has placed a wall between itself and God. Having been made in the image and likeness of God we posses the characteristics of our maker. One of those characteristics is that He is a jealous God (He is jealous over us. His desire is protective to such an extent that only His Son could purchase us from sin and sins effects.) But, as a result we are jealous but our jealousy is perverted. We think we are god and we will do anything to protect that false image. That jealousy leads us to "storing up wrath" for ourselves in that day when, after repeated attempts by God to free us and save us, only to have us reject Him and His Son, at the end of the age He reveals Himself to even the hardest hearted and only too late to find shelter or salvation from His righteous judgment and wrath.


Remembering that Paul's speaking of humanity apart from God's grace. He's not speaking to the saved, that's not part of his argument here. There is coming a time when God will weigh you according to your deeds, but not to determine your salvation, but your responsibilities and blessing going into eternity. But that's not this verse.

Humanity will be judged by almighty God. Every soul will be transparently judged, none would escape, none would have special privileges for God is not a respecter of persons. It would be of no benefit to be either Jew or Gentile.

(2:7) to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;

On the one hand there are those whose lives would be exemplified by their good works. They persevere in their doing good, their lives are characterized by their efforts to seek glory, honor, immortality and eternal life.

(2:8) but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.

But there are also those whose lives are exemplified by the lack of desire to do good for any reason. Paul says that they are selfish, ambitious, disobedient, unrighteous, destructive and indignant toward their fellow man and toward God. These things are the characteristics of their lives. Self Seekers.

(2:9) There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek,

It doesn't matter to God whether you are Jew or Gentile (any one not Jewish). He doesn't care about your nationality or your family heritage. If you are a person of SELF there will be tribulation. The way that God will divide up the sinners for punishment will be to the Jew First and then to the Gentile. The Jew who never submitted to God the Father (God the Son in our age) is guilty before God in a manner different than the Gentile. It is a serious affront to God that a Jew does not believe. The only way God will be a respecter of person for punishment is to punish the Jew first, then the Gentile.

(2:10) but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

In like manner it doesn't matter to God whether you are Jew or Gentile in the matter of rewards either, with the exception that the Jew will receive his judgment first, and then the Gentile. We should not forget that the Jew is blessed because of their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God LOVED them and made promises to them that He would bless their descendants. He made that promise unilateral. Israel did not have to be obedient for God to bless the country of Israel. There would be those of Israel who would fall away from favor with God, those who would not believe, those who were willingly disobedient. And there would be those who willingly chose to make Him their personal God and choose to be obedient to His will. But, the blessing is upon the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Gentiles (the nations) had no such relationship with God.

(2:11)  For there is no partiality with God.

For there is no partiality with God. Those who will not allow God to be God in their lives, whether Jew or Gentile, will be judged and found guilty and condemned. Those who would allow God to be God in their lives, whether Jew or Gentile, will be judged and found innocent and blessed.

Sin demands Judgment 2:12-29

(2:12) For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law;

This is a restatement of the truths of the preceding verses - just to make sure you are clear. It doesn't matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, a person with the Law or a person without the Law (of Moses). Good will be seen to be good and rewarded, evil will be seen to be evil and punished.

(2:13)  for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.

This could be more than a little confusing for those of this age. We could ask, "What, If I can keep the law I will be justified." The answer would be "Yes." But the truth hiding behind the words here is that no one can keep the law. We know that in our age it has been revealed by the Apostles and writers of the New Testament that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law. If we are IN-HIM, as Paul says so often, then we become the fulfillment of the law in ourselves as well. Every commandment of the law, and there were thousands, leads to fulfillment in Jesus. If you have Him, then, as Paul says "you are dead to the Law." You have the the fulfillment of law living in your very body in the form of His Holy Spirit. The Law if fulfilled in you. The believer has a transformed (or in the process of transformation) heart. The believer is not just a "hearer" of the Law, he or she is a "doer" of the Law and thusly Justified.

(2:14-15) For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,

It's hard to not get lost in Paul's arguments. At this verse he is defining the non-difference as to being under the law whether you are a Jew or a Gentile. Remember back when the Gentiles were held accountable for the natural revelation of the existence of God? Being cognizant of God and His Power, etc., makes individuals live as if there was a God. It also introduces the human being to conscience. It is the conscience that Paul points to for the Gentiles (the Jews had God and His revelation) that makes them no different than the Jew when it comes to acting for or against righteousness. Conscience acts like law, first it bears witness to what they should be doing, or agreeing with them that they are doing what they should. So the non-Jew becomes just as the Jew - "Under the Law" as far as God is concerned.

(2:16) on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

That Day is set in God’s schedule and His righteous judgment will come to bear upon all men, to the Jew first, and then to the Gentile. Where will you stand on “That Day” and why? Like the parable of the soils (Matthew 13), Some will hear the Gospel and not understand it (seed sown beside the road). Some will hear the Gospel and think "isn't this lovely" and then walk away from it when it become burdensome (seed sown on rocky ground). Some will hear the word but the world, the flesh, and the devil will wear it away and become unfruitful (seed sown among the thorns). Some will hear the word and understand it, bears fruit and multiplies (seed sown on good ground). Which ground are you?

The judgment of man will be done by Jesus Christ and the issue will never be what you have done or no done in this life, but whether He (Jesus Christ) is IN YOU. Does He occupy you, your every thought, your every action, your every moment? If He does - then you are most blessed. If He does not - then you need to reevaluate your stand before Almighty God, because That Day is coming.

What God finds valuable - the Circumcised Heart

(2:17) But if you bear the name "Jew" and rely upon the Law and boast in God, (2:18)  and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, (2:19) and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, (2:20)  a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth,

A clearer translation would replace the leading "But," with "And." for Paul continues his thoughts on judgment. Then Paul unleashes a powerful stream of accusatory truth toward the unbelieving Jew. Verse 17 sets up the hearer. First a string of superlative characteristics for the "good" Jew.

(2:21)  you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? (2:22)  You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? (2:23)  You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?

Then Paul comes crashing down upon them. Historically the Nation of Israel has forsaken God and instead been determined to worship the Law instead. Choosing to worship the created instead of the creator. To make matters worse for them then also often made laws and interpreted existing laws to benefit themselves at other's expense forgetting the Grace and provision of God for them.


What a shock - the truth is out! The Name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you - Just as it is written! They make their laws, they act so pious. Whitewashed sepulchers full of dead men's bones (Matthew 23:27).

The question the believer should ask is "do I act like that?" Does your public image mirror your Christian image. Are you the same person in the work place as on Sunday morning in church?

(2:25)  For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.

Paul hits them square between the eyes. For the Jew who practices the Law - completely, finds value in having a circumcised heart. But the Jew who does not, finds no value, and no circumcised heart before the Lord.

(2:26-29)  So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law? 28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. 29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

Paul's question is one of values.

The Jew who is circumcised - and keeps the requirements of the Law (circumcised in his heart) - has value before the Lord
The Jew who is circumcised - and does not keep the requirements of the Law (un-circumcised in his heart) - has no value before the Lord
The non-Jew who is un-circumcised in his heart - has no value before the Lord
The non-Jew who is circumcised in his heart - has value before the Lord

Then it is a matter of the heart not of works. He who loves the Lord will have a circumcised heart - sin and willfulness are cut away - by the Spirit, not by the letter of the Law - that person will have his praise from God.