St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans Chapter 2

Beloved and eternal Father,

You have given us the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the sake of
our salvation’a gift of grace beyond all price and a gift which cannot be bought
or earned’only a truly righteous God does for His children what they cannot do
for themselves.  Lord, in honor of Your servant St. Thomas Aquinas we now make
his prayer of faithfulness to You our prayer, as St. Thomas prayed: “Grant O
merciful God, that I may ardently desire, carefully examine, truly know and
perfectly fulfill those things that are pleasing to You and to the praise and
glory of Your holy name.  Direct my life, O my God, and grant that I might know
what You would have me to do and for me to fulfill it as it is necessary and
profitable to my soul. Grant to me, O Lord my God, that I may not be found
wanting in prosperity or in adversity and that I may not be lifted up by one nor
cast down by the other.  May I find joy in nothing but what leads to You and
sorrow in nothing but leads away from You.  May I seek to please no one or fear
to displease anyone save only You.  Grant to me O Lord God a vigilant heart that
no subtle speculation may ever lead me from You; a noble heart that no unworthy
affection may draw me from You; an upright heart that no evil purpose may turn
me from You.  Give me a steadfast heart that no tribulation may shatter and a
free heart that no violent affection may claim as its own. And finally, grant me
O Lord my God a mind to know You, diligence to seek You, wisdom to find You.
Given me a way of life pleasing to You; perseverance to trust and await You in
Confidence that I shall embrace You at the last.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, pray
for us.


It is our petition Lord, that You send us Your Holy Spirit to
guide us as we study Your message of salvation as given to Your servant St.
Paul.  We pray in the name of our One Holy and Eternal God’Father, Son and Holy
Spirit.  Amen.


+ + +

“Men sit as judges
of the external things only.  It is God who judges things hidden.  For Scripture
says: ‘Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks upon the heart.’  When
Christ judges, then God is the judge.” 
Apollinaris of Laodicea, AD 310 –
392 [quoting 1 Samuel

” Planning to make
known the way of heavenly salvation, he went further and from the start
manifested himself to our first parents.  Then, after their fall his promise of
redemption aroused in them the hope of being saved (cf. Genesis 3:15) and from
that time on he ceaselessly kept the human race in his care, to give eternal
life to those who perseveringly do good in search of salvation (cf. Romans 2:6-7).  Then, at
the time he had appointed, he called Abraham in order to make of him a great
nation (cf. Genesis
).  Through the patriarchs and after them through Moses and the
prophets, he taught this people to acknowledge himself the one living and true
God, provident Father and just judge, and to wait for the Savior promised by
him, and in this manner prepared the way for the Gospel down through the
centuries.” The Sixteen Documents of Vatican II, Dei Verbum 1, 3


After the greeting in his letter to the Church in Rome, a
church composed of both Gentile and Jewish Christians, St. Paul announces the
theme of his letter in Romans 1:16-17‘salvation
through the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ which God makes available to
everyone, both Jews and Gentiles. Paul then describes in Romans 1:18-32 the sad
human condition apart from the influence of the saving power of the Gospel.  He
begins in the positive, asserting God’s righteousness and justice in Romans 1:16 and 17 and then moves to the
negative, asserting that without the Gospel of salvation man becomes a slave to
sin and becomes estranged from God.  The result of this willful rejection of
God’s sovereignty, Paul tells us in Romans 1:18-32 is to
incur God’s righteous wrath / judgment.

Question: In Romans 1:17 what word does Paul repeat to
link God’s righteousness in the Gospel of Jesus Christ to His righteous wrath in
Romans 1:18?

Answer: Paul connects God’s righteous goodness as
expressed in the saving power of the Gospel to His righteous wrath with the word
“revealed” in 1:17
and 1:18:

  • Romans 1:17: “for in
    [the Gospel of Jesus Christ] is revealed the saving
    [righteousness/ rightness] of God: a justice [righteousness]
    based on faith and addressed to faith.”
  • Romans 1:18: “The
    retribution of God from heaven is being revealed against the ungodliness
    and injustice of human beings who in their injustice
    hold back the truth.”

The word “revealed” in the Greek is the word
apokalupto [ap-ok-al-oop’-to], a verb meaning “to uncover, disclose, to
reveal.”  The noun is apokalupsis [ap-ok-al’-oop-sis], meaning “revealed,
revelation” [see Strong’s Concordance #s 601-602].  Perhaps you recognize this
word in the name of the last book of the New Testament, “The Apocalypse” or “The
Revelation.” In the first century AD this word was also used to describe the
moment the Jewish Bridegroom lifted the veil of his virgin Bride at the
conclusion of the wedding ceremony and the beginning of their intimate life
together as man and wife. In using the word “revealed” to link these two
passages Paul is revealing to us the truth of the nature of God’because He is
all truth and all justice to those who live by righteousness in faithful
obedience He reveals His righteous judgment just as He reveals to the
unrighteous and rebellious His wrathful judgment.


In Romans 1:18-32 of his
letter Paul is focusing on God’s righteous wrath as a reaction to humanity’s
failure to recognizing the revealed truth of God in the signs He gave through
the mystery of creation.  Therefore, the topic of Romans 1:18-32 is God’s
righteous judgment as a reaction to human wickedness and unrighteousness.  For
St. Paul the reverse of the positive revelation of God’s love is the righteous
wrath or judgment of God visited on those who persist in rebellious unbelief.
This perspective is perfectly in keeping with the Jewish sense of the whole
world in the Last Age of man moving toward a final and imminent judgment where
God’s righteousness will manifest itself in righteous wrath poured out in all
its divine retribution against all human wickedness.


But in chapter 23 Paul will change his
focus to God’s judgment on the failed attempt of the Jews to seek holiness in
God’s sight only by observance of the Law of Moses.  The result of which is
God’s judgment manifested against those who try to work out their own
salvation’just as the pagans had’apart from grace and faith but unlike the
pagans by only observing the imperfect Law of Moses as a formula for


Question: Why is it that the Law of Moses could not
offer salvation to the people of God in the Old Sinai Covenant?  What was the
purpose of the Law of Moses?  See CCC #1961-64


  • “The Old Law is the first stage of revealed Law” [CCC# 1962].
  • “…the [Old] Law is holy, spiritual, and good,
    yet still imperfect.  Like a tutor it shows what must be done, but does not
    itself give the strength, the grace of the Spirit, to fulfill it. Because of
    sin, which it cannot remove, it remains a low of bondage
    [CCC# 1963]
  • “The Old Law is a preparation for the Gospel” [CCC# 1964]

In Romans chapter 7 St. Paul
will in fact declare that the only function of the Law of Moses was to reveal
sin and to train the Covenant people to recognize and avoid sin.


Question: What was the imperfect remedy offered for
sin in the Old Covenant Law of Moses?  Why was this remedy imperfect? See Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:7, 22.

Answer: Animal sacrifice.  No animal could be a
perfect enough sacrifice to remove sin.  Only Jesus the Messiah, the sinless Son
of God was a perfect enough sacrifice to free mankind from slavery to sin and

  • “Sacrifice gives you no pleasure, burnt offering you do
    not desire.  Sacrifice to God is a broken spirit, a broken, contrite heart you
    never scorn.”
  • “Look the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall
    make a New Covenant with the House of Israel (and the House of Judah), but not
    like the covenant I made with their ancestors the day I took them by the hand to
    bring them out of Egypt, a covenant which they broke, even though I was their
    Master, Yahweh declares.  No, this is the covenant I shall make with the House
    of Israel when those days have come, Yahweh declares.  Within them I shall plant
    my Law, writing it on their hearts.  Then I shall be their God and they will be
    my people.  There will be no further need for everyone to teach neighbor or
    brother, saying, ‘Learn to know Yahweh!’   No, they will all know me, from the
    least to the greatest, Yahweh declares, since I shall forgive their guilt and
    never more call their sin to mind.'”
    Jeremiah 31:31-34
  • Jesus at the Last Supper: “This cup is the New Covenant
    in my blood poured out for you.”
  • “Bulls’ blood and goat’s blood are incapable of taking
    away sins, […].  Every priest stands at his duties every day, offering over
    and over again the same sacrifices which are quite incapable of taking away
    sins.  He, on the other hand, has offered one single sacrifice for sins, […].
    When these have been forgiven, there can be no more sin offerings.”
    Hebrews 10:4, 11, 18.


In Romans
chapters 1
through 3 Paul distinguishes
between and contrasts the unrighteousness status of humanity, for both the
Gentile and the Old Covenant Jew clinging to the Old Covenant sacrifices and
sacraments apart from without the saving power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ’a
dangerous status which places mankind under the wrath of God in contrast to the
saving power of the Gospel which places humanity under the right-ness or
righteousness of God [see Romans 3:21-31].


Please read Romans 2:1-10: The
Dangers of judging others

1″So no matter who you
are, if you pass judgment you have no excuse.  It is yourself that you condemn
when you judge others, since you behave in the same way as those you are
2 We are well aware that
people who behave like that are justly condemned by God.
3 But you-when you judge those who behave like
this while you are doing the same yourself’do you think you will escape God’s
4 Or are you not
disregarding his abundant goodness, tolerance and patience, failing to realize
that this generosity of God is meant to bring you to repentance?
5 Your stubborn refusal to repent is only storing
up retribution for yourself on that Day of retribution when God’s just verdicts
will be made known. 
6 He will repay
everyone as their deeds deserve. 
For those who aimed for glory and honor and immortality by persevering in
doing good, there will be eternal life;
but for those who out of jealously have taken for their guide not truth
but injustice, there will be the fury of retribution.
9 Trouble and distress will come to every human
being who does evil’Jews first, but Greeks as well;
10 glory and honor and peace will come to everyone
who does good’Jews first, but Greeks as well.  There is no favoritism with


Question: Instead of continuing to address God’s
righteous judgment as he did in Romans 2:1-10, what kind
of judgment does Paul address and what is his warning?

Answer: Human judgment; those who judged will
themselves also be judged by God for the same sins they point out in others.

Question: In Paul’s diatribe against sin in Romans 1:18-32 what
group seemed to be Paul’s focus?  Is his focus Jews and Gentiles’that is all
humanity, or is he referring only to the unrighteousness of Gentiles?  What is
the focus stated in Romans
? In 2:12-3:31?

Answer: Bible scholars are divided on the focus of the
text.  Some scholars believe Paul is referring to all humanity in Romans 1:18-32, but in
Romans 2:9 he comes
back to the duality of the Jews and the Greeks and then he narrows his focus to
the Jews alone in 2:12-3:31.  Therefore,
other scholars believe the focus in 1:18-32 is on the sinful
condition of pagan Gentiles.


It is possible they are both correct.  The Gentile Christians
were probably inclined to believe that this passage is directed to the sins of
all humanity but the Jewish Christian audience, who know in their righteous
superiority that they have been trained in holiness through obedience to the Law
of Moses, surely think Paul must be decrying the sins of the heathen Gentiles.
Every vile sin he lists was acceptable in the Gentile world; even sexual sins
like the ritual prostitution of girls and boys was practiced in pagan temples.
But what about the sin of idolatry: “they exchanged the glory of the immortal
God for an imitation, for the image of a mortal human being, or of birds, or
animals, or crawling things”?
Weren’t the Israelites guilty of worshiping
the golden calf, an Egyptian representation of the god Osiris that the
Israelites fashioned to represent a visually and physically present Yahweh [see
Exodus 32:3-6]?  And
didn’t the Israelites take the Bronze serpent that Moses had fashioned in the
wilderness journey to cure the people of snake bites [Numbers 21:4-9] and years
later begin to offer sacrifices to it as a worshipped idol so that it had to be
destroyed [called the Nehushtan, see 2 Kings 18:4; Wisdom 16:6-7] ?  And
weren’t they guilty of such sins as arrogance, greed and malice among others?
Probably not in their own minds’in the same way that the Pharisees in their
arrogance challenged Jesus and could not see their own sins.


Which brings us to the question:

Question: What was Paul’s desire for every Christian
community composed of New Covenant Jews and Gentiles?

Answer: Christian unity.

Question: And what was the greatest hindrance to
Christian unity in these communities of both Jewish and Gentile Christians?

Answer: Jewish criticism of the Gentile
Christians’judgmental condemnation, an

unbrotherly lack of charity, and demands that Gentiles follow
them in observance of the Law of Moses, in the sacrament of circumcision, and
other purity rites.


And so perhaps Paul has sprung a very eloquent trap.  He has
listed all sorts of sin of which the Jews believe the Gentiles are guilty and
then he preaches about the danger of judging others in the tradition of Jesus’
Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 7‘with
the Jewish Christians of course nodding their heads in agreement until the
reader of Paul’s letter comes to Romans 2:9-13 where they
realize that Paul is talking about them: “Trouble and distress will
come to every human being who does evil’Jews first, but Greeks as well; glory
and honor and peace will come to everyone who does good’Jews first, but Greeks
as well.  There is no favoritism with God.”

Question: Why does Paul say that judgment will come to
the Jews first?

Answer: Because they should know better, having been
trained in the Law of Moses they are the older brothers in the Covenant, and
because they are guilty of uncharitable judgment of Gentile Christians who are
younger children in the family of God’judgment of sins for which they are not


But, returning to the teaching on the danger of judging
others in Romans

Question: Notice that there has been a change in
Paul’s address to this audience.  What is the change?  To whom is Paul
addressing this part of his letter?

Answer: The change is from the less personal third
person “those, them and they” to the very personal “you”.  He is addressing the
Jewish Christian and Paul has returned to the theme of those who judge being
judged by God for the same fault they have found in others’in this case, the
Jews who have been trained by the Law of Moses to avoid unrighteous behavior
being guilty of the same sins they are so quick to judge in Gentiles.



Question: What teaching did Jesus give in the Sermon
on the Mount that is similar to this teaching?  See Matthew chapter 7.

Answer: In Matthew 7:1 Jesus
commands us to “stop judging that you may not be judged”?


Question: Does this mean we must never judge others
and that we must be tolerant of every kind of behavior no matter how personally
repugnant or harmful to the community?  Remember the rule in correctly
interpreting a Biblical passage: Scripture must be studied in light of other
Scripture; interpretation must not conflict with or contradict other Bible
passages nor can interpretation conflict with the doctrine of the Church passed
down to us through the Apostles and interpreted by their successors, the
Magisterium.  What is it that Jesus is not teaching concerning judgment
in Matthew chapter 7 and
what is Paul not advocating concerning human judgment in Romans chapter 2 and in
his other letters?


  • These passages can’t mean that we never judge.
    Neither Jesus nor Paul is suggesting that civil law courts be suspended nor do
    they mean that we shouldn’t critically judge sin or that we should ignore faults
    in others that are harmful to themselves and to the community.  In Matthew 23:15-20 Jesus
    will address the steps one needs to take within the faith community when a
    brother or sister sins [either in a sinful act or a false teaching].  In order
    to correct a brother or sister the Christian has to determine what is and isn’t


  • Nor does Jesus or Paul want us to refuse to judge between
    truth and error or between good and evil.
    Jesus’ teaching during this
    entire homily of the Sermon on the Mount is based on the assumption that the
    Christian disciple should use his/her critical powers to discern between
    righteous and unrighteous behavior and then to avoid unrighteous behavior; and
    St. Paul writing to the Church at Corinth concerning problems with sexual
    immorality within the community advised: “I have written to you in my letter
    not to associate with sexually immoral people–not at all meaning the people of
    this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters.  In that
    case you would have to leave this world.  But now I am writing you that you must
    not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or
    greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler.  With such a man
    do not even eat.  What business is it of mine to judge those outside the
    church?  Are you not to judge those inside?  God will judge those outside
    Expel the wicked man from among you”
    1 Corinthians 5:9-13. In
    this Corinthians passage Paul is addressing our responsibility to judge sins
    within the Covenant family.


In 1
Corinthians 5:1-3
, St. Paul makes a similar demand for excommunication of an
unrepentant sinful brother or sister and in his letter to the Church in Rome and
in his letter to the Church in Thessalonica he warns the faithful concerning
members of the community who have gone astray into false teaching or immoral

  • “I urge you, brothers, be on your guard against the
    people who are out to stir up disagreements and bring up difficulties against
    the teaching which you learnt.  Avoid them.  People of that sort are servants
    not of our Lord Christ, but of their own greed; and with talk that sounds smooth
    and reasonable they deceive the minds of the unwary.”
    Romans 16:17-18
  • “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we urge you,
    brothers, to keep away from any of the brothers who lives an undisciplined life,
    not in accordance with the tradition you received from us”
    and “My
    brothers, never slacken in doing what is right.  If anyone refuses to obey what
    I have written in this letter, take note of him and have nothing to do with him,
    so that he will be ashamed of himself, through you are not to treat him as an
    enemy, but to correct him as a brother.”
    2 Thessalonians 3:6, 13-16.

We are responsible for the conduct of those within the
Church; those outside the Church are to be disciplined by God [1 Corinthians 5:13] and
by the civil authority [Matthew 22:21].


Question: What then does Jesus mean when He tells us
not to judge?  What does Paul teach?  Do we or do we not have a duty to judge
between right and wrong and between good and evil?

Answer: If we do not judge between what is good and
what is evil how can we strive to “… be perfect, just as your heavenly
Father is perfect”
Matthew 5:48?  After
all, isn’t the search for holiness the primary purpose in our lives?  Perhaps
the key word is “judge”.  We are to assess sin and then critically examine the
consequences of sin, but we are not to judge the person committing the sin.
That is a judgment reserved for the one true judge’God.  St Paul wrote to the
Church in Rome and applied the teaching of Jesus in this passage in Romans 14:4: “Who are
you to pass judgment on someone else’s servant?  Before his own master he stands
or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

The point is we can critically analyze and judge actions but we cannot judge
hearts and motives’only God, the single truly righteous Judge’can judge the
intent of a human heart and judge the eternal destination of the human soul.


Question: But if we do judge the behavior of a person,
whether for proper or improper motives, what warning does Jesus give us in Matthew 7:1-2 and St.
Paul repeats in 2:1-5?

Answer: If we judge a person we too will fall under
judgment and will be closely examined for the same sin in our own lives.  If we
take on the responsibility of judge then we cannot plead ignorance if we fall
into the same sin; in fact, we will be judged more harshly.  Jesus’ command not
to judge, therefore, is not a command to be ignorant or blind but a plea to
be merciful because there for the grace of God we might also tread.
Luis de Leon writes in his commentary on the life of Job, “God measures out
according as we measure out and forgives as we forgive, and comes to our rescue
with the same tenderness as he sees us having toward others.”
[quoted from
the Navarre Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, page 80].


Please note that Paul is also aware that as he condemns
the Gentiles and Jews who seek salvation outside of the Gospel that he is
condemning himself if he behaves as they behave [see verses 1-5 and 17-24].


Question: In Romans 2:3 Paul strongly
chastises those in the community he identifies as “you judge those who behave
like this while you are doing the same yourself.”
What sin is Paul accusing
these “judges” of and what link do you see between similar accusations made by
Jesus during His ministry?

Answer: Paul accuses members of the community of being
hypocrites.  Jesus often accused the Pharisees, and other Jews, of hypocrisy
[see Matthew 6:2, 5, 16; 15:7; 16:3; 22:18; and 7 times in Matthew 23:13, 14, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29; 24:51; Mark 7:16; Luke 11:44; and 12:56.


Question: What does Paul mean when he refers to
“that Day of Retribution” in Romans 2:5?  Hint: see Amos 5:18; 1 Corinthians 1:7-9; 1 Thessalonians 4:13; Revelation 20:11-12;
1 Corinthians 3:10;
CCC# 1021; 1038.

Answer: The “Day of Yahweh” will be a day of judgment
and a day of salvation.  There are, in fact, two days of judgment:  first there
is our individual judgment which the Catechism calls the Particular Judgment
[see CCC# 1021-22]
which will occur after our physical death and in the Second Advent of Christ
there will be a general Last or Universal Judgment [see CCC# 1038-1041].


The Individual or Particular Judgment: “… human
beings die only once, after which comes judgment..,
Hebrews 9:27.

  • “For at the judgment seat of Christ we are all to be seen for
    what we are, so that each of us many receive what he has deserved in the body,
    matched to whatever he has done, good or bad.”
    2 Corinthians 5:10
  • CCC#
    : “Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at
    the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers to his life
    to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven’through a purification
    or immediately’or immediate and everlasting damnation.”
    [also see CCC# 1021]

[For additional references in Scripture see: Matthew 16:26; 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10; Philippians 1:23]


The Return of Christ and the Day of the Last Judgment:
“At the signal given by the voice of the Archangel and the trumpet of
God, the Lord himself will come down from heaven; those who have died in Christ
will be the first to rise, and only after shall we who remain alive be taken up
in the clouds, together with them, to meet the Lord in the air.  This is the way
we shall be with the Lord forever.”
1 Thessalonians

  • Jesus warned of the Last Judgment in His last homily to the
    crowds of Jerusalem before His Passion: “When the Son of man comes in his
    glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of
    glory.  All nations will be assembled before him and he will separate people one
    from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats.”
    Matthew 25:31-32 [read
    the entire passage about the Last Judgment in 25:31-46].  For other
    Scripture references on the Day of Judgment see Matthew 10:15; 11:22, 24; 12:36; 2 Peter 2:9; 3:7; 1 John 4:17.


  • The shepherd prophet Amos of Tekoa prophesied the
    eschatological “Day of Yahweh” when Jesus Christ returns in all His divine glory
    as a day of disaster for the unrepentant sinner: “Disaster for you who long
    for the Day of Yahweh!  What will the Day of Yahweh mean for you?  It will mean
    darkness, not light, as when someone runs away from a lion, only to meet a
    ] and in Matthew 25:46 Jesus
    warns the unrighteous, “And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the
    upright to eternal life.”
    Also see Matthew 16:27-28.



  • On that Day the dead, righteous and wicked, will arise from
    their graves: “What I am saying, brothers, is that mere human nature cannot
    inherit the kingdom of God: What is perishable cannot inherit what is
    imperishable.  Now I am going to tell you a mystery: we are not all going to
    fall asleep, but we are all going to be changed, instantly, in the twinkling of
    an eye, when the last trumpet sounds.  The trumpet is going to sound, and then
    the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed, because this
    perishable nature of ours must put on imperishability, this mortal nature must
    put on immortality.”
    1 Corinthians 15:50-53
    [read the entire passage in 1 Corinthians 15:12-57].


  • St. John received a vision of the Last Judgment in Revelation 20:11-15:
    “Then I saw a great white throne and the One who was sitting on it.  In his
    presence, earth and sky vanished, leaving no trace.  I saw the dead, great and
    small alike, standing in front of his throne while the books lay open.  And
    another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged
    from what was written in the books, as their deeds deserved.”
    [Revelation 20:11-12].


Other Bible passages concerning
the judgment of man include:



In Romans 2: 5-11 Paul
writes that “God’s just verdicts will be made known.  He will repay everyone
as their deeds deserve…”

Question: How is it that on the Day of Judgment God
will “repay everyone”?  Will anyone be exempt from this judgment? How will
people be judged?  Hint: see Daniel 7: 9-10; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10;
Revelation: 20:4-15;
CCC #1470

Answer:  Every individual’s deeds or works will be
judged by God. “While I was watching, thrones were set in place and one most
venerable took his seat.  His robe was white as snow, the hair of his head as
pure as wool.  His throne was ablaze of flames, its wheels were a burning fire.
A stream of fire poured out, issuing from his presence.  A thousand thousand
waited on him, ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.  The court was
in session and the books lay open.”

There are two kinds of books or scrolls from which the
righteous and the wicked will be judged:

  1. The Scroll(s) or Book(s) of Works, which records human deeds
    [also see Jeremiah
    ; Psalm 40:8;
    56:8; Malachi 3:16; Luke 10:20; Revelation 20:12].

    • “The Day which dawns in fire will make it clear and the
      fire itself will test the quality of each person’s work.  The one whose works
      stand up to it will be given his wages; the one whose work is burnt down will
      suffer the loss of it, though he himself will be saved; he will be saved as
      someone might expect to be saved from fire.”
      1 Corinthians 3:13-15
    • “Alleluia!  The reign of the Lord our God Almighty has
      begun; let us be glad and joyful and give glory to God, because this is the time
      for the marriage of the Lamb.  His Bride is ready, and she has been able to
      dress herself in dazzling white linen, because her linen is made of the good
      deeds of the saints.”
      Revelation 19:7-8


  1. The Scroll or Book of Life, the last to be opened, is the
    list of those destined for eternal life [also see Daniel 7:10; 12:1; Luke 10:20; Acts 13:48; Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27]
  • “There are a few in Sardis, it is true, who have kept their
    robes unstained, and they are fit to come with me, dressed in white.  Anyone who
    proves victorious will be dressed, like these, in white robes; I shall not blot
    that name out of the book of life, but acknowledge it in the presence of my
    Father and his angels.”
    Jesus to the Church at Sardis in Revelation 3:4-5
  • Vision of the heavenly Jerusalem: “And the city did not need
    the sun or the moon for light, since it was lit by the radiant glory of God, and
    the Lamb was a lighted torch for it.  The nations will come to its light and the
    kings of the earth will bring it their treasures.  Its gates will never be
    closed by day’and there will be no night there’and the nations will come
    bringing their treasure and their wealth.  Nothing unclean may come into it: no
    one who does what is loathsome or false, but only those who are listed in the
    Lamb’s Book of Life.”
    Revelation 21:23-27


The condemnation of the wicked in the Last Judgment is called
“the second death”: Jesus in his message to the Church at Smyrna said,
“Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.  The
victor shall not be harmed by the second death.”
Revelation 2:11. [Also
see Revelation 20:6,
14-15; 21:8].


Please read Romans 2:12-16, There is no
salvation in the Old Covenant Law’only judgment:

12  All those
who have sinned without the Law will perish without the Law; and those under the
Law who have sinned will be judged by the Law.
13 For the ones that God will justify are not
those who have heard the Law but those who have kept the Law.
14 So, when gentiles, not having the Law, still
through their own innate sense behave as the Law commands, then, even though
they have no Law, they are a law for themselves.
15 They can demonstrate the effect of the Law
engraved on their hearts, to which their own conscience bears witness; since
they are aware of various considerations, some of which accuse them, while
others provide them with a defense…on the day when,
16 according to the Gospel that I preach, God,
through Jesus Christ, judges all human secrets.”


Romans 2:12 “All
those who have sinned without the Law will perish without the Law; and those
under the Law who have sinned will be judged by the Law.” 

Question: In Romans 2:6-11 Paul stated
the basic principle that God will deliver judgment strictly according to what

Answer: Judgment will be according to deeds or works
for both Jew and Gentile. For the Jew judgment will be harsher because, having
been trained in holiness under the Law of Moses they known what is expected of
them in living a life of righteousness’they have no excuse.


Paul makes the point that it is the Law of Moses that
convicts the Jew’it is the Law that functions as an instrument of justice.
Whether you sin under the Law or apart from the Law, the judgment will be
equally swift and sever.  Paul tells the Jews in verse 12 that contrary
to acting as a vehicle for salvation, the Law of Moses was only meant to guide
the Covenant people to salvation and in that sense the Law can only condemn them
of the sins which they are commanded to avoid.  In the same way that the Law of
Moses guides the Jew, the Gentiles can be guided by their conscience through the
natural law as a means to show them the way to salvation.  The Gentile who
responds to God in faith and obedience through the natural law is equal to the
Jew responding to God in faith and obedience through the Law of Moses.


Question: According to verse 13 who is
righteous before God and how is this verse connected to Romans 1:5?

Answer: This verse is connected to Paul’s theme of
faithful obedience: it is the “doers” not just the “hearers” who will be
justified before God.  It is interesting that Paul should contrast
hearers” with “doers”.  Hearing this passage the Jewish Christians would
have probably made the connection to the profession of faith Jews were required
to repeat three times a day known as the Shema’, named for the first word
of the prayer: “Hear O Israel, Yahweh, your God,
Yahweh is One.”  They are, of course, the “hearers” who should be the
“doers” who are being a good example for their younger Gentile brothers and
sisters in the faith.  One wonders if at this time Jewish Christians had
discerned the Trinitarian nature of the Shema’, the prayer given to God’s
Covenant people Israel in the Sinai Covenant [Yahweh (1), your God (2), Yahweh
(3) is one]?


: “For the ones that God will justify are not those who have heard
the Law but those who have kept the Law.”
For the Catholic Christian
justification if both a state and a process.  See CCC# 1987-1995 on the
different aspects of “justification.”   Justification is imputed to us as an act
of grace in response to our faith in the saving power of the Gospel of Jesus
Christ. “Initial justification” has been merited for us through the grace of God
by the Passion of Jesus who offered Himself as a living victim for the sake of
our salvation.  The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us’to
cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us “the righteousness of God
through faith in Jesus Christ” and through our Baptism into the death, burial,
and resurrection of Jesus.  In our Baptism we are raised with Him to new life in
the Spirit’becoming infused with new life as righteous sons and daughters of
God.  Our initial justification is only the first step in a life-long process of
justification in which we continually turn away from sin and turn back to God
through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and in which we are strengthened through
the other Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of the Eucharist.  We are
continually justified when we submit ourselves to God as He pours faith, hope
and charity into our hearts and uses us to bring His righteous mercy and charity
to the world.  These works become the deeds of the Saints which form the texture
of the bridal dress of the Bride of Christ in Revelation 19:8 “His
Bride is ready, and she has been able to dress herself in dazzling white linen,
because her linen is made of the good deeds of the Saints.”


Question: In Romans 2:13 what does
Paul establish as the criterion for on going justification in the life of the

Answer: Those who are doers and not only hearers
will be justified and made righteous through the saving power of the
Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is obvious in this passage that Paul fully embraces
the principle of justification according to one’s works’not works alone but
justification through works which are not our works but instead the works of God
working in us as the fruit of a life lived in obedience of faith to the Gospel
of Jesus Christ.

Question: What teaching of Jesus is found in the
Gospel of Matthew in which Jesus links faithful obedience to works and final
judgment?  Hint: see Matthew 25:31-46

Answer: In Jesus’ last homily before the events of the
Last Supper He preaches that He will recognize the faithful that belong to Him
through their acts of mercy and love done in His name, “Then the upright will
say to him in reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty
and give you drink?  When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome,
lacking clothes and clothe you?  When did we find you sick or in prison and go
to see you?’ And the King will answer, ‘In truth I tell you, in so far as you
did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.’  Then
he will say to those on his left hand, ‘Go away from me, with your curse upon
you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was
hungry and you never gave me food, I was thirsty and you never gave me anything
to drink…[…] Then he will answer, ‘In truth I tell you, in so far as you
neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to
me.’  And they will go away to eternal punishment and the upright to eternal
[Also see Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:21-23]


Question: Then in Romans 2:14-15 Paul
writes about the Gentiles deprived of the Law of Moses, who turn to God through
natural or moral Law and live in righteousness.  What does he mean by “natural

Answer: Paul is writing about a “natural moral Law”
which God has revealed to all mankind.  Read CCC # 195060.  The principal
precepts of natural moral law are expressed in the 10 Commandments and that is
why the 10 Commandments are carried over into the New Covenant.  “The New Law
or the Law of the Gospel is the perfection here on earth of the divine law,
natural and revealed.  It is the work of Christ and is expressed particularly in
the Sermon on the Mount.”
From CCC# 1965; for the
Sermon on the Mount see Matthew chapters 5-7.


Question: What is Paul teaching concerning Gentiles
who have never heard the Gospel of salvation in Romans 2:14-15?  Is
salvation possible for the Gentile who has never heard of the Law of Moses or of
the saving power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  Hint: see CCC# 839-48

Answer:  In CCC# 847 the Church
teaches, “…. Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the
Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere
heart, and moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it
through the dictates of their conscience’those too may achieve eternal
However, to have to rely on one’s conscience for salvation is
very, very difficult.  A conscience can become damaged to the point that a
person can become unable to listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to him through a
conscience distorted by the ravages sin.


Question: The Catholic Church has always taught that
“outside the Church there is no salvation”, and since there is only one
Church founded by Jesus Christ through His Apostles and we believe that Church
is the Catholic Church what about the salvation of non-Catholic Christians?
Hint: see CCC#
; CCC# 813-22;

Answer: In essence the Church teaches that we are
bound by the teachings of Jesus Christ and that salvation is only through Him
[Acts 12:4] and
through the Church He founded through His Apostles’this is why we are One Holy,
Catholic and Apostolic Church.  However, although we are bound to what He has
given us, He is not bound and may save anyone He desires to save’but no matter
how that individual’s salvation occurs, whether by obedience to God through the
revelation of natural and moral Law, or through the New Covenant of the
Gospel–salvation is still through Christ and through His Church.  Furthermore,
any “Christian” church which practices the sacrament of Baptism by water and the
Spirit in the correct Trinitarian formula is a member of the Body of Christ but
perhaps not fully incorporated through the Sacraments Christ gave His Church.
There is and can only be one universal= Catholic Church which is unified as the
Body of Christ.  It is as St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote circa 107AD on his way
to martyrdom: “Where there is Christ Jesus, there is the Catholic
.”  Unity is the essence of the Church as expressed in Jesus’ high
priestly prayer to God the Father in John 17:21, “May they
all be one, just as, Father, you are in me and I am in you, so that they also
may be [one] in us.”
In the 2nd century AD the great Christian
theologian St. Clement of Alexandria wrote, “What an astonishing mystery!
There is one Father of the universe, one Logos of the universe, and also one
Holy Spirit, everywhere one and the same, there is also one virgin mother, and I
should like to call her ‘Church.'”
It is “mother” Church who guides us,
teaches us, chastises us when we fail, and encourages us on the road to


Romans 2:16: “…
according to the Gospel that I preach, God, through Jesus Christ, judges
all human secrets.”
Paul closes the discussion concerning the tension
between obedience to the Law verses obedience to the conscience with the
reminder that nothing can be hidden by God and whatever our motives or
intensions, all will be revealed on the Day of Judgment by God from whom nothing
can be hidden.


Please read Romans 2: 17-24, The
Jews are not exempt from the retribution of God:

17 If you can
call yourself a Jew, and you really trust in the Law, and are proud of your God,
18 and know his will, and tell right
from wrong because you have been taught by the Law;
19 if you are confident that you are a guide to
the blind and a beacon to those in the dark,
20 that you can teach the ignorant and instruct
the unlearned because the Law embodies all knowledge and all truth’
21 so, then, in teaching others, do you teach
yourself as well?  You preach that there is to be no stealing, but do you steal?
22 You say that adultery is
forbidden, but do you commit adultery?  You detest the worship of objects, but
do you desecrate holy things yourself? 
If, while you are boasting of the Law, you disobey it, then you are
bringing God into contempt. 
24 As
Scripture says: It is your fault that the name of God is held in contempt among
the nations.”


Question: What Scripture passage is Paul quoting in Romans 2:24?  Hint: see
52:5-6 and Ezekiel 36:20-22

Answer: Paul is quoting the Greek Septuagint
translation of Isaiah
“..because of you my name is continually blasphemed among the
He is applying the words of the prophet Isaiah to the Jew’s
transgression of the Mosaic Law.  When the Jews boast of their privileged
position in covenant with Yahweh as His “holy people” while at the same time
failing to obey His will, the Gentile people are disgusted by their hypocrisy
and are prevented from coming to known God because of the Jews bad example.  To
hinder the faith of those Yahweh is mercifully calling into covenant by claiming
to be a holy people while engaging in sinful acts will bring down God’s
righteous wrath on the offender.  After all Israel’s vocation was to be a light
to the Gentile nations and to bring them to salvation. But their bad example
instead of sanctifying God’s name has dishonored His name.


The other passage where this quotation is found is in Ezekiel
36:20-22.  It is important to remember that whenever an Old Testament passage is
quoted in the New Testament you cannot properly interpret the New Testament
passage without reading the entire Old Testament text when the Old Testament
verse is found.  Ezekiel was God’s holy prophet during the early years of the
Babylonian exile just prior to the destruction of Jerusalem.  God’s promise to
the sorrowing exiles in Ezekiel chapter 36 is that the day will come when He
will gather Israel back from the Gentile nations where they have been
scattered.  He will purify them from all uncleanness with water the cleansing
water of baptism and that He will take away their hearts of stone and replace
them with a new heart and a new spirit which will enable them to give faithful
obedience to all His statues and ordinances: “For I shall take you from among
the nations and gather you back from all the countries, and bring you home to
your own country.  I shall pour clean water over you and you will be cleansed; I
shall cleanse you of all your filth and of all your foul idols. I shall give you
a new heart, and put a new spirit in you; I shall remove the heart of stone from
your bodies and give you a heart of flesh instead.  I shall put my spirit in
you, and make you keep my laws, and respect and practice my judgments.”

Ezekiel 36:24-28.  The Jews and Gentile Christians listening to Paul’s letter
would have understood that this prophecy is fulfilled in them and now it is
their responsibility to live the promise because they have received through the
miracle of baptism by water and the Spirit, circumcised hearts that beat in
union with the heart of the indwelling, living Jesus Christ.


Question: What are the implications of Paul’s
criticism for us today?

Answer: As New Covenant believers we are now God’s
holy people and serve as His light to the peoples of the earth who do not know
of His merciful love and gift of salvation through the power of the Gospel of
Jesus Christ.  If by our failure to lead holy lives of mercy and charity we
hinder the spread of the Gospel, we too will experience the wrath of God.


Please read Romans 2:25-29, Circumcision does not assure

Circumcision has its value if you keep the Law; but if you go on breaking
the Law, you are no more circumcised than the uncircumcised. 
26 And if an uncircumcised man keeps the commands
of the Law, will not his uncircumcised state count as circumcision?
27 More, the man who, in his native
uncircumcised state, keeps the Law, is a condemnation of you, who, by your
concentration on the letter and on circumcision, actually break the Law.
28 Being a Jew is not only having the
outward appearance of a Jew, and circumcision is not only a visible physical
29 The real Jew is the
one who is inwardly a Jew, and real circumcision is in the heart, a thing not of
the letter but of the spirit. He may not be praised by any human being, but he
will be praised by God.”

The practice of circumcise was
not unknown in the ancient world.  It was often practiced in the cultures of the
ancient Near East; however, there is little evidence that it was practiced by
the Canaanites and in Egypt the practice was apparently reserved for members of
the pagan priesthood.  The oldest depiction of circumcision is found on a relief
from the tomb of Ankhmahor, vizier of Pharaoh Teti who ruled Egypt circa
2345-2333 BC.   In Jeremiah 9:24-25 the
prophet Jeremiah lists the circumcised peoples of the Levant and the term
“uncircumcised” became for the Hebrews a title of contempt [the Philistines
were, for example, the contemptuous– “the uncircumcised”].  The rite of
infant circumcision was, however, unique to the Hebrews
.  Other people who
were neighbors of Israel practiced circumcision as a rite of passage into
manhood at about age 13 [the age at which Ishmael, the son of Abraham by Hagar
the Egyptian slave girl, was circumcised in Genesis 17:23-27].


Question: Why did God
require circumcision as a condition of the covenant with Abraham and later
continued in the Sinai Covenant with Israel?  

1. It was a blood sacrifice that
was a sign of obedience to God in all matters

2. Sign of belonging to a
Covenant people.

3. Symbolically circumcision also
represented the “cutting off of the sinful old life and the spiritual union with
Yahweh.  As a sacrament of the Old Covenant circumcision was an external sign
that represented an internal condition: 
To be “circumcised of heart” is
signified by a new life bonded in the covenant union with God; a
commitment that was from the core of one’s being:

  • Leviticus 26:41: “I
    in my turn will go against them and bring them into the land of their enemies.
    Then their uncircumcised hearts will grow humble and then they will accept the
    punishment for their guilt.”
  • Deuteronomy 10:16:
    “Circumcise your heart then and be obstinate no longer; for Yahweh your God
    is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, triumphant and terrible, free
    of favoritism, never to be bribed.”
    [note: sacrifice to pagan gods was a
    bribe to secure some favor for the offerer. Sacrifice to Yahweh was worship
    which signified a turning away from sin and restoring fellowship between God and
    the offerer or an act of thanksgiving in worship of the one true God.  See the
    list of “The
    Levitical Sacrifices of the Old Covenant
    ” in the Charts section].
  • Jeremiah 4:4:
    “Circumcise yourselves for Yahweh, apply circumcision to your hearts, men of
    Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or my wrath will leap out like a fire and
    burn with no one to quench it, in return for the wickedness of your deeds.”

Foreigners who were both
uncircumcised of heart and flesh could not be admitted to the Israelite Temple
[Ezekiel 44:7]. Also
see Deuteronomy 30:
, 6; Romans 2:25; Leviticus 26:41; Colossians 2: 9­13; Philippians 3:3; 1 Corinthians 7:18-19.


From the time of Abraham, infants
in the community of the children of God were brought into the Covenant with
Yahweh through circumcision on the 8th day of their lives. [Today
medical science has discovered that an infant’s blood does not clot properly
until after an infant is 7 days old.]   The designation for circumcision on the
8th day is Biblically significant:

  • 8 people were saved in the ark
    from the great Flood.
  • In Scripture 8 is the number of
    salvation, regeneration and redemption.
  • It will be on the 8th
    day, the day after the 7th day Sabbath, that Jesus will be raised
    from the dead.

Question: Circumcision as
a covenant sign pointed to what Sacrament in the New Testament?

Answer: Baptism. Baptism
is our entrance into the New Covenant family of God in which, by water and the
Holy Spirit, we receive new life in Christ’no longer a child of Adam but reborn
as a child of God.


Question: In Romans 2:25-29 why does
Paul say that circumcision does not make the real Jew?  What are the key
verses?   What link is Paul making to Old Testament passages about

Answer: The key verses are Romans 2:28-29.  Paul is
reminding the Jewish Christian who trusts circumcision as a true link to his
place in the covenant with God that the Scriptures themselves emphasize that the
important link is not a cut foreskin for membership in the covenant of the
“chosen people” but rather God looks for what the outward sign only signifies,
the interior transformed life and circumcision of the heart which represents the
purified and holy motivation of all covenant conduct’not in the letter of the
Law but in the spirit of the Law written on purified hearts.  Thus Paul is
saying the real “Jew” [and perhaps Paul is making a play on the word “Jew” from
the tribe of Judah, which in Hebrew is Yehuda, meaning “Yahweh’s people”] is the
one of purified heart whether he is born a Jew or a Gentile, and this is the
faithful believer who is praised by God.


Note: most Christian commentators translate “Judah” as
“praise” from the Hebrew word yahad.  This is not the meaning given in 2 Chronicles 7:14 to
describe the Solomon’s tribe of Judah as Yahweh’s people who bear His name:
“…if my people who bear my name humble themselves, and pray and seek
my presence and turn from their wicked ways, then I will listen from heaven and
forgive their sins and restore their country.”
When the nation of Israel
split into two kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the 10 tribes of Israel disappeared
as a people after the 7th century BC but Judah continued, as God
promised, and this is why the Old Covenant people are called Jews to this day.
In Strong’s Concordance in the Hebrew lexicon between # 3050 = Yah and 3068 =
YahVeh, are most of the words which pertain to Yah v(w)eh’s people “who are
called by His name”.  It is true that there is a difference in vowel points
between the words referring “Yah” and the words referring to “Yah Hudah”
(Yehuda); however, these vowel points were not added until the 7th
century AD by the Jewish scholars, known as the Masorites, who retranslated the
Greek translation of the Old Testament back into Hebrew.  This addition of vowel
points happened long after the Jews had decided that it was not proper to refer
to Yahweh (Yah Veh) by His covenant name, either orally or in writing [this is
why some English Bible translations substitute God’s covenant name Yahweh as
LORD in all capital letters].  This tradition is, I believe, reflected in the
difference in vowel points between the name Yahweh and Yehudah (Yah Hudah).  The
tradition of not using God’s covenant name is, by the way, contrary to Yahweh’s
command in Genesis
; Exodus
; 2 Chronicles
; Psalms 68:4;
83:18; Isaiah 12:2; 42:8; 52:6; Jeremiah 33:2; Ephesians 3:15; and Revelation 14:1.  The
restriction against using God’s covenant name came about through a superstition
that for an enemy to use one’s name gave an enemy power and that God’s name was
too holy to repeat out loud, especially in the presence of non-covenant people.
The High Priest only voiced God’s holy covenant name once a year on the Feast of

Yahweh called us into His Covenant in our Baptism’He called
us to a new life and a circumcised heart transformed by the Holy Spirit which
identifies us as no longer children in the family of Adam but children in the
family of God.  But to keep the holiness of our circumcised heart is a life-long
process as we journey through the wasteland of this life to the Promised Land of
heaven.  Our prayer for a circumcised heart should be the prayer of the psalmist
in Psalm 51:10-13,
“God, create in me a clean heart, renew within me a resolute spirit, do not
thrust me away from your presence, do not take away from me your spirit of
holiness.  Give me back the joy of your salvation; sustain in me a generous
spirit.  I shall teach the wicked your paths, and sinners will return to

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