Read: Romans 2.1-16
All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God's sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified.
Romans 2.12-13 (NRSV)
What is justice? Is it ethical or judicial? Is it fairness as agreed to by the majority or is it to be found only in God? In his epistle to the Church at Rome, Paul attempted to describe God’s standard of judgment so that we might have a model, an example in our dealings with one another.
The Apostle Paul travelled throughout Asia Minor, Macedonia and Greece preaching; planting churches; training leaders; and serving many congregations. He did not, however, establish the Church at Rome. At the time of this letter (in the mid-50’ A.D.), Paul had not yet even visited that church. Fortunately, Paul had a large cadre of friends, associates, and fellow workers who resided in Rome (Romans 16). These relationships would enhance their capacity to hear and heed what Paul wrote to them. The Roman congregation was home to both Jewish and Gentile believers; no doubt there were some long standing prejudices that had to be addressed and overcome. For example, the Jewish believers could point to their experience with the Law of Moses as the “inside track” to God’s mercy. Paul, however, was a Jew who grew up in Tarsus, in a Gentile culture. He knew (from this dual experience) and preached (by the inspiration of the Spirit) that being a hearer of the law did not make one a doer of the law. In fact, God would punish all sinners whether they were Jews disobedient to the Law of Moses, or if they were Gentiles who disregarded the sense of conscience that God placed in them. God would not hold Gentiles responsible for a law they never received; they would be judged by the natural law they experienced in Creation.
The Lord our God has given all his children a variety of gifts and experiences and made us in a plethora of colors and cultures. Yet God is able to apply just judgments to everyone because God is not swayed by our status or stature. God shows no partiality. He is no respecter of persons (Romans 2.11). There is no doubting God’s justice.
Reverend Steven B. Lawrence