Study Guide

Epistle to the Romans Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

  • Okay, but before we get all judgmental about others (wait, didn't Paul just do that?), there's one important thing to remember. When you pass judgment on someone else, that makes you just as bad as them. Wait, what?
  • Oh no, you say. That can't be right. I totally know that God hates all these things, so it's fine for me to judge the people doing them, right?
  • Wrong, Paul says. (Nice try though.)
  • When you judge someone else, it's like you're saying you've never done anything bad. We all know that's not true. (Remember the time you stole that rainbow-colored eraser in third grade? Yeah, Shmoop knows about that.)
  • Basically, the idea is that you shouldn't call other people out for doing something wrong, when you're doing stuff wrong, too. But judging is so fun…
  • Look, God is a kind and gentle guy. He's trying to help you be kind and gentle, too. But if you spend all your time getting angry about what other people are doing, then he can't really make a dent in that. Anger is a tough armor to crack.
  • And once you've filled your heart up with anger, God's gonna have to give that right back to you on Judgment Day. Sorry, angry hearts, it's not looking good for you.
  • God rewards people who do good and punishes those who do bad. It's a pretty simple formula.
  • Paul assures us that it doesn't matter if we're Gentiles or Jews. God sees us all the same way. He has the same rules for everyone. God's so fair and balanced.
  • And the most important thing to God isn't just that you hear what he has to say, but that you act on it.
  • For example, Jews are supposed to be following Jewish law in order to be good people. But if a Gentile also unknowingly follows the law (and in the process becomes a good person), won't God be happy about that, too? Paul thinks that answer is a big fat yes.
  • The same thing goes for circumcision. Jews who are circumcised have an outward sign of their relationship with God. But if they don't have a relationship with God in their hearts, what does that circumcision really mean?
  • On the flip side, a Gentile who isn't circumcised might love God with all his or her heart. Isn't that person symbolically circumcised? Paul thinks so.
  • Paul's main point is that it's not about what a person seems like on the outside, it's what they truly feel inside that counts. And a person who truly follows God will be praised by God because only God can see what's in our hearts. We're guessing he has special 3-D glasses or something.

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