Session 3: Romans 2.1-3.20: The (Failed) Solution
In session 3, the solution to the problem in session 2 has become part of the problem. Now God has to find a way to save everyone.
- Play: Session 3 Video
What Paul gave us in Romans 1-18-32 is actually a standard Jewish critique of Gentile idolatry. The people who worship God looked at those who don’t and said, “We can see clear as day why you’ve ruined this place.”
The Jews, or Jewish Christians, were probably cheering Paul on – yeah, see, you guys are the problem. And yet in chapter 2 Paul basically says, “Not so fast.”
Judge lightly b/c God will judge fairly (2.1-16)
- None of you come out clean (2.1-3)
- God judges fairly or impartially – according to what we have or know. (2.12)
The solution has become part of the problem (2.17-29)
“The well has been poisoned” …
- Look again at 2.19ff – this is how they liked to think of themselves
- And this is who they were called to be! Think about how the Old Testament story goes. Adam . . . Abraham/Israel… And yet?
Think about the story of Jonah – he was God’s chosen means to reach the Assyrians, but he ran the other direction. I think Jonah is the best metaphor for what Paul is saying here about Israel as a whole. This is the OT story in miniature.
Despair doesn’t account for God. Surely God won’t cash in. Surely he’ll figure out a way to solve the problem and the solution that became part of the problem. And the next section will be one of the most frustrating parts of Romans if you don’t get what Paul’s doing. Basically, he’s setting the table for the rest of Romans. Let’s look at it.
God has an answer, but the Law isn’t it (3.1-20). God will make a way, but the Law is not that way.
3.3 – Is God going to abandon his covenant? His promise? His world? Of course not!
But the Law cannot solve our problem (the Law itself makes clear).
The Law itself admits that we are all a mess.
- Side-to-side… (10-12)
- Up-and-down… (13-18)
The Law itself makes clear that the helpers need help. (19-20)
And with that Paul makes his case: We have a serious problem. All failed. Then God chose one nation and promised to save all the others through her, but that one became like all of them and failed too. Now God has to find a way to save everyone without abandoning that promise. God will fix it, we can be sure. But we don’t really know how.
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