Yesterday I had the opportunity to preach Romans 2:1-11 as we continued our series through Romans on the Lord’s Day. The focus of the text was centered on Jewish hypocrites who were more than willing to judge the Gentiles, but were often guilty of engaging in the same exact sins. Paul turned from his focus on Gentiles in chapter 1 to his own people—the Jews in chapter 2. This important shift places the hypocrisy of these Jews front and center, and as we consider the hypocrisy of Paul’s day, we would do well to consider the hypocrisy that often consumes us.
Warning Regarding Hypocrisy
The word hypocrite “ὑποκριτής” means an actor or pretender. It depicts the one warning a mask to conceal the true identity of the actor. All through the Scriptures, we see warnings to such individuals. Jesus provided some sobering warnings in Matthew 6:2, 5, and 16. Here, Paul turns to the religious Jew and warns them that they too were in danger of hell-fire.
The Jews, Paul’s own people, were all in agreement that God was not pleased with the sinful practices described back in chapter 1. God will judge such depraved persons in accordance with their sin. However, in many ways, the Jews were guilty of similar sins, and they often believed that God would overlook them because they are the chosen nation. God chose Israel in order to show His glory among the nations and according to Deuteronomy 7, it wasn’t anything special about Israel that caused God to choose them.
Deuteronomy 7:6–8 – “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
The Jews, were known as “the circumcision” which was a sign of their covenant with God. Separated unto God. They looked down upon the Gentiles (non-Jews) as “the uncircumcision.” The Gentiles were looked upon as the savages – rebels – and unholy people. Jews would walk from northern regions to southern regions taking the long road around Samaria in the middle region because they rejected the Samaritans as rebels – half breeds – who had broken their covenant with God. Many Jews would give a funeral service to their son who married a Gentile woman. Jews were not permitted to aid in the birth of a Gentile woman’s child because they were seen as assisting in bringing another Gentile into the world. Often, Jews would shake the dust from their feet after having to travel through Samaria and other places known as Gentile regions in order to show their disapproval for those people.
According to John MacArthur in his sermon on this very text, “For example, they had some interesting sayings. One of them was, ‘God loves Israel alone of all the nations.’ Another one: ‘God will judge the Gentiles with one measure and the Jews with another.’ They said this: ‘Abraham sits beside the gates of hell and does not permit any wicked Israelite to go through.’” Paul writes to these people, in this culture of hypocrisy, in order to warn them of the coming judgment of God that would one day consume the disobedient Gentile as well as the disobedient Jew.
Paul warned them that they were storing up “θησαυρίζω” wrath upon wrath for the day of judgment. Paul speaks of the fury of God’s wrath which is a frightening picture—one that these disillusioned Jews needed in order to shake them out of their state of sin.
Reassurance of God’s Perfect Judgment
While other judges may rule with imperfection, our God rules with precision. Paul stresses that point has he points out that God will judge every person according to their works (Rom. 2:6). Be sure of this, God’s judgment is righteous and pure. There will never be a single soul who accuses God of unrighteous judgment. R.C. Sproul, in his commentary on Romans, writes, “The judgment of God is not simply righteous, but it is according to truth. God makes no mistakes when he hears a case, when he brings us before him on trial.” 
As God judges with perfection, we must be reminded that every sin will be judged and every sinner will receive a due penalty. Therefore, we must conclude that hell will not be the same for every damned soul who enters the lake of fire. We see this truth explained by Jesus in Luke 10:13-15 as well. If God judges with perfection and precision, the vile murderer such as Hitler will have his due penalty just the same as the man who lived in a jungle and never once heard the name of Jesus, never murdered a single person, and worshipped a carved image in a tree. Hell will not be the same for both individuals. Just as Martin Luther once reminded us that “the devil is God’s devil,” we must remember too that hell is God’s hell. He owns it and he is sovereignly overseeing it—in every detail.
Just as Paul announced salvation to the Jew first and also to the Greek in Romans 1:16, he too reminds these Jews that God will judge the Jew first and also the Greek. There are no back door deals with God. Our perfect Judge rules with righteousness and purity and there will be no under the table deals made to get a person into heaven. God doesn’t honor the “good ole’ boy” network. God judges without partiality.
Are you a mask-wearing Jesus follower? Are you a hypocrite who needs to be saved? Are you prepared to stand before the King of kings and Lord of lords? One day soon you will—and you will need righteousness that you cannot earn and that you cannot buy. You will need perfection. The only means whereby a guilty sinner can receive such righteousness is through Jesus Christ—the perfect God-man. Any and all who come to him by faith will be saved. Will you trust in his finished work on the cross for your salvation?
- R. C. Sproul, The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans (Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1994), 47.