1. The apostle Paul was one of the great thinkers of his day. His reputation as a scholar, theologian, and philosopher extended far beyond the confines of the Christian community. The Epistle to the Romans has stood the test of time as the greatest single exposition of the Gospel of Christ ever written and, as we said last week, Romans 1:16 - 3:20 stands out in the Epistle as the most comprehensive teaching ever set forth regarding and plight of sinful mankind before the righteous Sovereign Lord God of the Universe.
a. Romans 1:16-17 Paul declared the twin themes of the Epistle:
(1) the r __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ of God, and
(2) the doctrine of j __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ by faith.
b. In Romans 1:18-32 -- last week's text passage -- Paul described the w __ __ __ __ of God as it has been and is being revealed in response to mankind's persistent wickedness.
2. Having made his case for the wrath of God, Paul in Chapter 2 utilizes a popular literary tool of ancient Greek philsophers: the "diatribe," a teaching style characterized by the antogonist or the apologist responding to rhetorical questions raised by imaginary interlocutors.
a. "Paul's opponents, of course, were not imaginary. In the synagogues and marketplaces of his missionary travels he had encountered the attitude of moral superiority and divine favoritism expressed in 2:1; indeed, he had once been part of it (see Philippians 3:4-7). Paul was no friend of the illusion that the sunlight of privilege exempts one from the cloud of divine judgment." - James R. Edwards: Romans (Volume 6, New International Biblical Commentary)
b. "The fact that God is righteous -- or always 'in the right' -- is both a challenge and a comfort. The challenge comes to mankind through the realization that the rightness of human action must be determined not be the fluctuating moral standards of a volatile society but by the unchanging revelation of an eternal God. The comfort of knowing that God is always 'in the right' is found in the experience of the humble person who, in consistently turning to the Lord for wisdom when surrounded by a cacophony of contradictions, discovers that truth can be known and that right still exists. Comfort, however, is short-lived because, knowing what is right and doing what is right are so far from each other. The closer a man gets to the rightness of God, the more uncomfortable he becomes about the unrighteousness of himself." - D. Stuart Briscoe: Romans (Volume 6, The Communicator's Commentary)
c. Paul knew that nearly all of his readers stood in full agreement with the unvarnished portrait of wickedness he had painted in 1:18-32. But he was also aware that many of his readers saw themselves as set apart from the rest of wicked mankind on the basis of either their heritage (his Jewish readers) or their "acceptable" moral standards (his Gentile readers).
B. TEXT: Romans 2:1-16
1. Paul's diatribe encompasses v.1-3 and consists of a classic syllogism:
a. MAJOR PREMISE (v.1)