Summary: Knowledge, Truth and Guilt
Having demonstrated the sinfulness of the immoral pagan (1:18-32), Paul
presents his case against the religious moralist-Jew or Gentile- by
cataloging 6 principles that govern God’s judgment: 1) knowledge (v.1); 2)
truth (vv.2,3); 3) guilt (vv.4,5); 4) deeds (vv.6-10); 5 (Impartiality
(vv.11-15); and 6) motive (v.16).
judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who
judge practice the same things.”
In 1:18-32, Paul declares that all unrighteous people are without excuse.
Now he demonstrates that the self righteous (those who judge others) are
inexcusable), by revealing the standards by which everyone will be judged.
Judgment will be 1) according to truth (vv.1-5), 2) according to works
(vv.6-11), and 3) according to the light one has of the law (vv.12-16).
Both Jews which are Paul’s audience here v.17 and moral Gentiles who think
they are exempt from God’s judgment because they have not indulged in the
immoral excess described in chapter 1, are tragically mistaken. They have
more knowledge than the immoral pagan (3:2; 9:4) and thus a greater
Condemn yourself: IF someone ha sufficient knowledge to judge another or
others, he condemns himself, because he shows he has the knowledge to
evaluate his own condition. Practice the same things: In their
condemnation of others they have excused and overlooked their own sins.
Self-righteousness exists because of two deadly errors: 1) minimizing
God’s moral standard usually by emphasizing externals; and 2)
Often times when we feel that justifiable angry about someone’s sins it is
at that time that we ought to look inside at our own lives. We need to
speak out against sin but we also must do it in the spirit of humility.
Often the sins we notice most clearly in others are the one’s that have
taken root within us. If we look closely into the culture of our inward
man we may find that we are committing the same sins in more socially
We can imagine when Paul’s letter was read in the Roman Church, no doubt
many heads nodded as he condemned idol worshipers, homosexual practices
and violent people. But what surprise his listeners must have felt when he
turned on them and said in effect, “You are just as bad, and you have no
excuse!” Paul was emphatically stressing that we have all sinned
repeatedly, and there is no way apart from Christ to be saved from sin’s
against those who practice such things.”
Truth in the sense of it is used here is not in the sense as in 1:18, 25.
There it referred to the evidence of G-D in creation’ here it refers to
the true condition of humanity.
such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of