Romans 2:11
For there is no respect of persons with God.
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(11) Respect of persons.—Regard for the external circumstances of a man as opposed to his internal condition; here, especially, “regard for the circumstances of birth and race.” (Comp. Acts 10:34; Galatians 2:6; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25; James 2:1; James 2:9.) It is interesting to observe the phrase appearing in such different quarters. The great result of the Christian revelation was to break down the belief in race-religions—the “middle wall of partition,” as St. Paul calls it.

The essential equality of Jew and Gentile before God is not affected by the precedence of the former in point of time or order, whether as regards punishment or reward.

2:1-16 The Jews thought themselves a holy people, entitled to their privileges by right, while they were unthankful, rebellious, and unrighteous. But all who act thus, of every nation, age, and description, must be reminded that the judgment of God will be according to their real character. The case is so plain, that we may appeal to the sinner's own thoughts. In every wilful sin, there is contempt of the goodness of God. And though the branches of man's disobedience are very various, all spring from the same root. But in true repentance, there must be hatred of former sinfulness, from a change wrought in the state of the mind, which disposes it to choose the good and to refuse the evil. It shows also a sense of inward wretchedness. Such is the great change wrought in repentance, it is conversion, and is needed by every human being. The ruin of sinners is their walking after a hard and impenitent heart. Their sinful doings are expressed by the strong words, treasuring up wrath. In the description of the just man, notice the full demand of the law. It demands that the motives shall be pure, and rejects all actions from earthly ambition or ends. In the description of the unrighteous, contention is held forth as the principle of all evil. The human will is in a state of enmity against God. Even Gentiles, who had not the written law, had that within, which directed them what to do by the light of nature. Conscience is a witness, and first or last will bear witness. As they nature. Conscience is a witness, and first or last will bear witness. As they kept or broke these natural laws and dictates, their consciences either acquitted or condemned them. Nothing speaks more terror to sinners, and more comfort to saints, than that Christ shall be the Judge. Secret services shall be rewarded, secret sins shall be then punished, and brought to light.For - This particle is used here to confirm what is said before, particularly that this punishment should be experienced by the Jew as well as the Gentile. For God would deal with both on the principles of justice.

Respect of persons - The word thus rendered means "partiality," in pronouncing judgment, in favoring one party or individual more than another, not because his cause is more just, but on account of something personal - on account of his wealth, or rank, or function, or influence, or by personal friendship, or by the fear of him. It has special reference to a judge who pronounces judgment between parties at law. The exercise of such partiality was strictly and often forbidden to the Jewish magistrates; Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:17; Proverbs 24:23; James 2:1, James 2:3,James 2:9. In his capacity as a Judge, it is applied often to God. It means that he will not be influenced in awarding the retributions of eternity, in actually pronouncing and executing sentence, by any partiality, or by regard to the wealth, function, rank, or appearance of people. He will judge righteous judgment; he will judge people as they ought to be judged; according to their character and deserts; and not contrary to their character, or by partiality.

The connection here demands that this affirmation should be limited solely to his dealing with people as their judge. And in this sense, and this only, this is affirmed often of God in the Scriptures; Deuteronomy 10:17; 2 Chronicles 19:7; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25; Galatians 6:7-8; 1 Peter 1:17; Acts 10:34. It does not affirm that he must make all his creatures equal in talent, health, wealth, or privilege; it does not imply that, as a sovereign, he may not make a difference in their endowments, their beauty, strength, or graces; it does not imply that he may not bestow his favors where he pleases where all are undeserving, or that he may not make a difference in the characters of people by his providence, and by the agency of his Spirit. All these are actually done, done not out of any respect to their persons, to their rank, function, or wealth, but according to his own sovereign good pleasure; Ephesians 1. To deny that this is done, would be to deny the manifest arrangement of things everywhere on the earth. To deny that God had a right to do it, would be,

(1) To maintain that sinners had a claim on his favors;

(2) that he might not do what he willed with his own; or,

(3) To affirm that God was under obligation to make all people with just the same talents and privileges, that is, that all creatures must be, in all respects, just alike.

This passage, therefore, is very improperly brought to disprove the doctrine of decrees, or election, or sovereignty. It has respect to a different thing, to the actual exercise of the office of the Judge of the world; and whatever may be the truth about God's decrees or his electing love, this passage teaches nothing in relation to either. It may be added that this passage contains a most alarming truth for guilty people. It is that God will not be influenced by partiality, but will treat them just as they deserve. He will not be won or awed by their rank or function; by their wealth or endowments; by their numbers, their power, or their robes of royalty and splendor. Every man should tremble at the prospect of falling into the hands of a just God, who will treat him just as he deserves, and should without delay seek a refuge in the Saviour and Advocate provided for the guilty: 1 John 2:1-2.

10. to the Jew first—first in perdition if unfaithful; but if obedient to the truth, first in salvation (Ro 2:10). This seems to be borrowed from 2 Chronicles 19:7, and Deu 10:17. You have the same again, Acts 10:34: see Job 34:19 Galatians 2:6 3:28 Ephesians 6:9 1 Peter 1:17. Obj. God loved Jacob, and hated Esau, when they were yet unborn, and had done neither good nor evil.

Answer. This was not properly a respecting of persons, because God did not this as a judge, but as an elector: so the apostle states it, Romans 9:11-13. God is gracious to whom he will be gracious, and may do what he will with his own.

For there is no respect of persons with God. It will not come into consideration, at the day of judgment, of what nation men are; or from what parents they are descended; nor of what age and sex persons be; nor in what state and condition they have lived in this world; nor will it be asked to what sect they have belonged, and by what denomination they have been called; or whether they have conformed to such and such externals and rituals in religion; but only whether they are righteous men or sinners; and accordingly as they appear under these characters, judgment will proceed. Some object from hence, though without any reason, to the doctrine of particular election of certain persons to everlasting salvation. This passage respects matters of strict justice, and is a forensic expression relating to courts of judicature, where persons presiding are to have no regard to the faces of men, but do that which is strictly just between man and man; and does not respect matters of grace and free favour, such as giving alms, forgiving debts, &c. A judge, as such, is to regard no man's person, but to proceed in matters before him, according to the rules of law and justice; should he do otherwise, he would be chargeable with being a respecter of persons; but then he may bestow alms on what objects he pleases; and forgive one man who is personally indebted to him, and not another, without any such imputation. This, applied to the case in hand, abundantly clears it; for though God, as a Judge, respects no man's person; yet in matters of grace he distinguishes one person from another, as it is plain he does by the bounties of his Providence. Besides, God is not bound to any person by any laws, but acts as a Sovereign; he is not moved by anything in the creature; as his choice is not confined to persons of any particular nation, family, sex, or condition, so neither does it proceed upon anything, or a foresight of anything in them, or done by them; and as there is no worthiness in them that are chosen, and saved above others, so no injury is done to the rest: add to all this, that those that are saved by virtue of electing grace, are saved in a way of righteousness agreeably to the holy law, and strict justice of God; so that no complaint can be made against the distinguishing methods of grace, upon the foot of strict justice. For there is no {g} respect of persons with God.

(g) God does not judge men either by their blood or by their country, either to receive them or to cast them away.

Romans 2:11. Ground assigned for Romans 2:9-10, so far as concerns the Ἰουδ. π. κ. Ἕλλην.

προσωποληψία] Partial preference from personal considerations. See on Galatians 2:6. Melancthon: “dare aequalia inequalibus vel inequalia aequalibus.” The ground specified is directed against the Jewish theocratic fancy. Comp Acts 10:34 f.; Sirach 32 (35) 15.

11. for there is no respect of persons] “For” points to the last words of Romans 2:10, and shews that though St Paul has just emphasized the special privilege of the Jew, (“to the Jew first,”) as balanced with his special accountability, yet his main emphasis of thought is on the position of the Gentiles as side by side with the Jews. See Acts 10:34-35, where St Peter at length admits the equal acceptability of pious Jews and pious Gentiles before God.

with God] The Greek construction is one often used in judicial connexions;=before God; “in His court, at His bar.” It may, however, mean no more than “with,” “in the case of;” French chez, German bei.

Romans 2:11Respect of persons (προσωπολημψία)

Only once outside of Paul's writings, James 2:1, on which see note.

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