Romans: God is Not Fair (Romans 2:1-5)

The moral law within

(Rom 2:1 ESV) Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.

Paul continues to demonstrate why God can fairly hold Gentiles accountable for their sins, even though they didn’t have the Torah or other scriptures. And his argument is simple: everyone condemns other people for sins that they themselves commit.

We all get upset when someone breaks in line ahead of us, and we’ve all broken in line. Men get mad when someone ogles our wife, and we men have all ogled the wives of other men. We all condemn those who steal from us, and we’ve all cheated on our taxes or failed to return excess change.

(Rom 2:2-3 ESV)  2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things.  3 Do you suppose, O man — you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself — that you will escape the judgment of God?

And so God can fairly judge and damn everyone according to his own standards. You may not know all of God’s will, but you instinctively know enough about what is right and wrong to condemn others for what you yourself do. Therefore, God’s judgment rightly falls on us all.

God’s forbearance

(Rom 2:4-5 ESV)  4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?  5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

Paul now introduces a new idea: the kindness, patience, and forbearance of God.

God’s patience appears later in –

(Rom 9:22-25 ESV) 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,  23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory – 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?  25 As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”

For thousands of years, God did not call the Gentiles to account — so that when the time was right, they would accept God’s grace and enter the Kingdom.

This fits in with the larger story, also suggested by –

(Rom 3:22b-25 ESV)  22 For there is no distinction:  23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,  25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

In short, although God could have justly damned the Gentiles for their sins before the sacrifice of Jesus, he chose not to. I don’t think this means they received eternal life, because in chapter 5, Paul declares that death prevailed during that time. Rather, I think it means they died without judgment and punishment.

(Rom 5:14 ESV)  14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

(Rom 5:17 ESV)  17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Both in Rom 2:4 and Rom 11:22, Paul refers to God’s “kindness” toward the Gentiles. God was kind to forbear to punish their sins until Jesus came. He was also kind to invite them into the Kingdom through faith.

(Rom 11:22 ESV) 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.

In short, Paul argument is that God was kinder to the Gentiles before Jesus than they deserved — passing over their sins, leaving them unpunished other than by physical death. But God was even kinder after Jesus’ sacrifice, inviting them into the Kingdom so that they may enjoy eternal life with God. But the price of this second act of kindness was the risk of judgment — punishment after the end of time.

Now, is any of this fair? No. As Paul convincingly demonstrates, justice would have been punishment of the Gentiles for the sins they were accountable for. But God was more than fair in his kindness, forbearance, and patience.

But God did an amazing thing. In fulfillment of his promises to Abraham (as explained in chapter 4), God invited the nations into the Kingdom when the Messiah came and the Kingdom was established. At this point, the rules changed. The Gentiles, having been called, became subject to both the blessings and curses that come with the call. They have the potential to enjoy eternity with God or to suffer a just punishment.

They will not suffer anything less than fair; they will either receive justice or grace.

Avatar of Jay Guin

About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
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28 Responses to Romans: God is Not Fair (Romans 2:1-5)

  1. Jay,

    In short, although God could have justly damned the Gentiles for their sins before the sacrifice of Jesus, he chose not to. I don’t think this means they received eternal life, because in chapter 5, Paul declares that death prevailed during that time. Rather, I think it means they died without judgment and punishment.

    God did mete out temporal judgment on the Gentiles. Consider the flood and destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah. Consider the fate of the Egyptians in the plagues and in the Red Sea. Consider the destruction of the Assyrian army at the gate of Jerusalem (Isaiah 37:36) – and many other stated times when God punished heathen peoples.

    Is your statement above meant to suggest that the Gentiles who died prior to Christ will not be part of the resurrection to condemnation at the last day?

    Jerry

  2. rich constant says:

    YOU JAY seem to use the word dammed a lot.
    all
    verses
    from THE NET BIBLE: (New English Translation)

    Heb.
    11:40 For God had provided something better for us, so that THEY would be made perfect together with us.
    1st cor
    4:5 So then, do not judge anything before the time. Wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the motives of hearts. Then each will receive recognition3 from God.

    ROM
    2:29 but someone is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart by the Spirit and not by the written code. This person’s praise is not from people but from God.

    righteous ABLE!

  3. rich constant says:

    ANY
    teaching must dovetail or the teaching is a miss

    so what is ” righteous life giving faith”?

    Eph. teaches everyone

    Eph.2:3 among whom all of US also formerly lived out OUR lives in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath even as the rest…

  4. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Jerry,

    As I explained in some detail in the earlier posts in this series dealing with Romans 5, the best I can figure, on the whole, Gentiles who died before Pentecost received neither heaven nor gehenna. They just died. I don’t know how else to read such passages as –

    (Act 17:30 ESV) The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,

    He obviously didn’t overlook the ignorance of the Sodomites in terms of punishment in this life.

  5. Jay,

    Many times we overlook the fact that, while God called Abraham to father a peculiar people, He also was working among the rest of humanity. We see glimpses of this in the Scripture, but do not have a complete picture.

    Think of Melchizedek, the priest of God who ministered to Abraham. Consider Jonah, the prophet sent to Nineveh. And, what about the father-in-law of Moses who also was a prophet of God?

    Job was not of Abraham’s family, though many believe he was a contemporary of Abraham.

    Prior to the flood, after the birth of Enosh, the son of Seth (Genesis 4:28), we read, “At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.” And, of course, we read of the faith of Noah in Hebrews 11. These, of course, were prior to Abraham’s call but they were still outside the Abrahamic Covanant.

    Did this lead to salvation without Jesus? I certainly do not think so – but would seeking God imperfectly have led God to look with favor on them in the same way he looked with favor on the people of Israel who sinned under the Law because they did not keep it perfectly? So how does Romans 2:14-16 play into all of this?

    For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a low to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that daw when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

    I’m not trying to be difficult, but I am curious as to how God worked among the Gentiles if all of them were doomed to perish?

  6. guestfortruth says:

    Jay !

    Why this? guestfortruth, on July 18th, 2011 at 1:21 pm Said: Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  7. guestfortruth says:

    In Romans 2 Paul dealt with the sins of the Jews, first in general (v. 1-16) and then very specifically (V. 17-29). Let us remember that all men will be judge by Christ according to the law system under which they lived ( Patriarchal Age “Law of the Conscience”, Mosaic Age( Moses Law” and today Christian Age (Law of Christ ) . We can learn to avoid pride, self-righteousness, and hypocrisy. (Rom.15:4). Let us strive to be the true spiritual Jews- those who reverently obey the law of Christ.

  8. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Jerry,

    You make a good point. The OT certainly points to God’s work among the Gentiles entirely apart from the Abrahamic covenant. However, it’s also clear that Paul considers the invitation of the Gentiles into that covenant through Christ essential to their salvation.

    (Rom 5:12-14 ESV) 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned — 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

    (Rom 5:17 ESV) 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

    I take “death” in Rom 5 to refer to the absence of eternal life, not mere physical death, as it’s contrasted with “life through the one man Jesus Christ” — an obvious reference to eternal life. That leaves us to answer the question whether Paul means by “death reigned from Adam to Moses” eternal condemnation in gehenna or death without resurrection of any kind. You can’t answer that from Rom 5.

    But Paul does seem to answer that in –

    (Rom 3:25 ESV) 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

    “Passed over” is a clear reference to the death angel’s passing over the Jews’ households marked with blood of the lamb at the beginning of the Exodus. It means “not killed by God.” But, of course, everyone died physically. Therefore, before Pentecost, the Gentiles suffered no gehenna but also received no eternal life with God.

    Paul teaches the same thing in –

    (Act 17:30-31 ESV) 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

    And so it appears to me that God did not judge the Gentiles pre-Pentecost. But that doesn’t mean he had no concern for them. He still was interested in their fates. Thus, he had Jonah plead with those in Nenivah to repent — on threat of God’s judgment. But in those days, God’s punishment against the Gentiles was temporal — usually an invading army. He rewarded and punished in this life, not the next.

    That leaves an intriguing question about Melchizedek and others who worshiped Yahweh outside of the Abrahamic covenant. I don’t know. In all the passages mentioned, Paul was plainly speaking in generalities, and his language might well allow for exceptions for YAHWEH worshipers. Who knows?

  9. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    GFT,

    I do not moderate comments, but sometimes the anti-spam software does. I check the box for blocked comments at least daily. I rescue them if I disagree with the software — which is almost always. There’s no need to post a comment or send an email.

    However, in this case, your lengthy comment does not appear to be your original work, and therefore is not appropriate. The comment will therefore not be posted.

  10. Alabama John says:

    Jay,
    As I see it every person that lived on this earth had the opportunity to live eternally with God.
    If not, then how did the spirit and soul of man get into those other than the Jews or others we feel did have that opportunity?
    If it was placed there by God, then God placed a spirit and soul in a person knowing that person would not receive eternal life but simply die and their spirit and soul do what, just disappear and not live for eternity like everyone elses? This would be most of the people that have lived on the earth.
    On judgment day I read of two categories: those being told to go to the right and the left, I don’t read of a third category being told to just disappear.

  11. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Alabama John,

    Plato taught that there are eternal souls placed in babies by the gods, which go to Hades when the physical body dies.

    The scriptures, however, use “soul” (nephesh in Hebrew, psyche in Greek) to refer to our essential selves. We are souls.

    The meaning varies with context, but typical uses are —

    (Mat 22:37 ESV) And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

    (Mat 26:38 ESV) Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”

    (1Co 15:45 NAS) So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

    “Soul” carries many shades of meaning, but God did not give Adam a soul. Adam became a soul — a living, sentient being with feelings.

    I’m not sure that fully responds to your question, but I think it requires a re-phrasing. It’s not that God gave babies souls. Rather, the problem is that there are millions of people who deserve destruction, not eternity with Jesus.

    We can’t change what they deserve, but we can change their fate by showing them how to receive the free gift. The problem isn’t God. It’s our failure to spread God’s good news.

  12. Alabama John says:

    Jay,

    Replace the word soul with spirit.

    There are millions that have lived and live now that deserve destruction or hell.

    There are also many more millions that do not as they never had the opportunity to know what we know. Some are alive today. If their not knowing is our fault, then we instead of them will be judged harshly (to be kind) as you say, its our failure, not theirs.

  13. Avatar of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Alabama John,

    Everyone deserves gehenna. Every single accountable person ever born or created, other than Jesus.

    Paul concludes his argument in chapter 2 with –

    (Rom 3:23 ESV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

    No one merits eternity with God.

    (Rom 3:9-12 ESV) 9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

    But Paul’s argument is not at all based on the failure to accept the gospel. He doesn’t say everyone falls short of the glory of God because no one has accepted the gospel. Rather, his argument, beginning all the way back in chapter 1, is that we all deserve damnation because we all sin against laws for which we are accountable. Even those Gentiles who’ve never heard of the Torah violate their own consciences and their own cultural norms. “No one does good, not even one.”

    Those who’ve never heard the gospel deserve damnation, and those who have heard the gospel deserve damnation. Those who reject the gospel deserve damnation, and those who accept the gospel, well, we deserve damnation, too. But we receive the “free gift” of eternal life. But it’s not justice. And it’s not fair.

    As I read Romans, therefore, it’s a mistake to conclude that someone deserves salvation because he never had a chance to hear the gospel. No one deserves salvation. Salvation is not fair. Therefore, it’s not unfair to deny salvation to those who’ve never heard the gospel. That’s what Paul is saying — over and over.

    But God is gracious. He has absolutely no obligation to be gracious, and owes no one anything. And he chooses to be gracious to those who have faith in Jesus — not that faith is an arbitrary condition (but that’s for another post coming one day in the future).

    God is also gracious in that he does not damn for breaking laws unless we’re accountable for those laws. He doesn’t damn for those laws we don’t know. In this sense, he is entirely fair.

    And he is more than fair to those who were outside the Jewish community before Pentecost. The Gentiles didn’t have special revelation, and so God did not call them to account. He could have — as Paul argues quite thoroughly — but he didn’t. But neither do they receive eternal life. They just die — which is merciful, and like all mercy, it’s an unfair, undeserved mercy.

    Now, God calls everyone to account for what portions of God’s laws they are accountable for. Therefore, those who are accountable and who die outside of Jesus are damned to gehenna. For them, the time of God’s wrath is now — but they don’t suffer a perpetual, eternal torment. They suffer whatever God deems just — and his justice is perfect, deserved, and entirely fair.

    This is how I read Romans. It strikes me as entirely consistent with the OT witness and the rest of the NT. I’m not inclined to argue with Paul. Rather, my place is to discern his meaning and apply it. And the application is that I need to get busy saving the lost.

    You wrote,

    If their not knowing is our fault, then we instead of them will be judged harshly (to be kind) as you say, its our failure, not theirs.

    If God isn’t going to punish those who’ve never heard the gospel, what are we going to be punished for? No harm, no foul! No, we need to spread the gospel because a failure to spread the gospel has eternal consequences for those who never heard. That’s Paul’s argument in –

    (Rom 10:14-15 ESV) 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

    The context is –

    (Rom 10:9-13 ESV) 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

    Paul’s implicit point is that faith in Jesus saves and ONLY faith in Jesus saves. That’s why we must send missionaries. If Paul was saying that those who don’t hear the gospel will also be saved, he’d have stayed home and saved himself beatings, starvation, shipwrecks, and imprisonments.

    There are a lot of very good people — people I appreciate and admire — who teach the “available light” argument, but I think they’re mistaken. You just can’t make Romans teach that. In fact, it teaches quite the opposite.

    I wish I could buy available light, because I’d sleep better at night. I’d feel less pressure to be involved in personal evangelism and to support missions. It would be easier to live with the knowledge of my failings and the failings of God’s church if there were another way.

    But even though I’d much prefer to find a different answer in Romans, I don’t see it. I’ve read the “available light” articles by lots of good, smart people, and their arguments all take Paul badly out of context. And my interpretation of Rom 1 – 3 is pretty conventional in this respect. I think the church has understood Paul correctly for many centuries. And that’s why the gospel has spread as far as it has — we’ve sometimes paid the price to the send the missionaries and spread the Word.

    When a missionary preaches the gospel to a culture for the very first time, he is not damning anyone. He is offering a free gift that they desperately need.

  14. Alabama John says:

    Jay,

    Thank you for your answering and explanation of how you believe on this.

    I can’t explain my position as well. Its based more on love of God than laws or even the Bible.

    Simply it is hard, no, impossible for me to imagine that God made so many people throughout the ages and put them on this earth knowing they would not receive the word and laws. Even worse, because of not obeying what they did not know they will burn for eternity in hell.

    Realizing that is probably 99 out of a hundred that have ever lived here, that teaching is just too hard for me to grasp and if I allow my self to believe that, to love a God like that.

    Fear. definitely, love, no.

    God is love, sounds hollow and Christ dying for our sins does too.

    You are right, thinking like I do does make you sleep better at night.

    We’ll see how it plays out one day.

  15. guestfortruth says:

    Jay,
    What do you have to say about this fact “ He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Does this passage means reject the Gospel? What about Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. “ The way that Romans chapter 2 end is this way “but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” Romans 2 did not end with Romans chapter 3:23. Are you giving up chapter 3 ?
    Verse 29: The circumcision required under the new covenant “Christian Age under the Law of Christ” is not the cutting of the flesh, but it is the circumcision of the heart, and of course our sins are cut off (remitted, forgiven) in baptism. The following are some of the many verses that teach this fact:
    In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, (Col. 2:11-13).
    Not only does baptism save the obedient sinner, but also when one is baptized he enters Christ (Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27) and the same time through the act of baptism he enters the body, the church (1 Cor. 12:13). When we are baptized, we also becomes a “spiritual Jew,” for Paul wrote:
    For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal. 3:26-29).

  16. Randall says:

    @ GFT,
    Apparently you like the great commission from Mark’s account better than from Matthew’s gospel. What do you have to say about the next two verses that follow Mark 16:16 – here they are from the ESV on line:
    17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

    Are you able to do any of these things, and if so, how frequently have you performed these acts. Please don’t tell me those things were for the past unless you want to apply that to verse 16 as well.

    Many textual scholars believe verses 9-20 are NOT part of the original text. What say you?

    May God be gracious to you as you study to show yourself approved.
    Randall

  17. abasnar says:

    Many textual scholars believe verses 9-20 are NOT part of the original text. What say you?

    Yes, because 3 (three) manuscripts out of thousands don’t have it … But Irenaeus is referring to Mark 16:17 in his work Against Heresies around (180 AD) which is older than the manuscripts with the missing end in Mark.

    As for the verse 17, it says these signs will follow those who believe – it does not say that all Christians expeirience these on a regular basis. Do all speak in tongues? And it does not say that these signs will be following the saints always; which means there is room for the opinion that in the ceturies after the apostles the signs at least diminished. What Mark wrote, however, is a confirmation from his own experiences in the apostolic age (see verse 20).

    Any way – it is a side issue for this topic. God is just and fair – I am not happy at with withe the way the question is put or the topic is titled, as I said earlier. This is a misleading approach in general, and sonme of the statements above really sound very strange to me – thanks to Jerry Starling who pointed out out some of the wrong conclusion.

    I am offline now for four weeks …
    God bless you all

    Alexander

  18. Randall says:

    Hi Alexander,
    You seem to harbor little or no doubt that the passage is authentic to the original autograph. I did not know that you were a textual scholar. I am not one, but I do have a lot of respect for the work of those involved in textual criticism.

    I have not read the passage from Irenaeus that you referred to. Truth be told, I have read only a little of Irenaeus and that was a long time ago. Would you be kind enough to provide the passage here – or a link to it – and discuss why you are sure that He is referring to a passage from Mark’s gospel, rather than from a tradition or other document that was later included in Mark. I would be most appreciative. Seriously.

    Also, the passage does not suggest the was a limit as to the acts that would be performed in verses 17 and 18. We have to jump through some hoops to get there if the passage is indeed part of the great commission.
    Hesed,
    Randall

  19. guestfortruth says:

    Randall,
    I accept both accounts of the Great commission (both account clarify the whole picture in versus 17 of Matthew 28 says: “17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but “some doubted”. ) . the context of the Great Comission is this in mark “ Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Are you agree with those secularistic scholars? Have you witness the majority text or the textus receptus? By the way, do you believe that the Holy Spirit literally guide us today as the apostles in the first century?

  20. Some time ago, I commented on Mark 16:9-20 here. I would like to think that this text is genuine. However, I have a problem in that Mark 16:12-13 appears to contradict Luke 24:33-34. Mark says the disciples in Jerusalem did not believe the testimony of the two who saw Jesus on the road, whereas Luke says that when the two arrived in Jerusalem, the other disciples were already saying that He was risen and had appeared to Simon.

    A couple of people who commented on my blog about this argued that there is no real contradiction – or that the apparent contradiction is just proof that the Mark passage is genuine. (If someone were making up an ending to Mark, they would make sure it agreed with the other accounts.) However, the arguments were not conclusive to me. The evidence from Irenaeus that Mark 16:9ff was known in his day is more convincing – but still is not conclusive to me, as it does nothing to satisfy the “contradiction.”

    To me, it is an academic issue that has little bearing on faith and practice. Hence, it should not affect our fellowship in Christ. As I said, I would prefer to think that this passage is genuine – but to me it has at least a shadow of doubt hanging over it.
    Jerry

  21. Randall says:

    FWIW, here is what wiki has to say about Mark 16: 9-20

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_16

    Hesed,
    Randall

  22. guestfortruth says:

    Randall,

    I trust God and his word, as it is written:

    4 Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written:

    “ That You may be justified in Your words,
    And may overcome when You are judged.”

    remenber the warning in James 1:1

    My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”

    All false teaching will be uncover on judgement day and everybody is amenable to the Law of Christ!

  23. Randall,
    What is that comment to imply? That any who disagree with you are under the condemnation of being a liar?

    I really believe that all who comment on this blog are wanting to let God be true. It is in examining His Word that we discover His truth. Just because someone disagrees with me does not make him a liar. (After all, sometimes I find that I – today – disagree with me – in positions I once held firmly. I was not being dishonest in holding those. I honestly believed that those were the truth of God. However, as I grow in understanding (some might say “misunderstanding”), I find that I now disagree with what I once believed fervently.

    I am willing to grant that you are being honest in your convictions. If we differ, let us study together – with mutual respect for God and His Word as we examine the Scriptures to see if these things be so.

    BTW, the passage in James you quoted was 3:1, not 1:1.

    Jerry

  24. Randall,

    The phrase, “the law of Christ” appears only one time in the Scriptures and that is Galatians 6:2. The full verse is:

    Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (ESV)

    Before you start condemning someone for not honoring the “law of Christ,” you need to consider what that “law” is.

    The verse itself tells us that when we bear one another’s burdens we fulfill the law of Christ.

    The book of Galatians is an exposition of law and grace. When people seek to be justified by law, they become severed from Christ (Galatians 5:4).

    Gal 3:21 states unequivocally, “…if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law (ESV).” Note the difference between “a law” and “the law” in this text. (The Greek does not have an article for “a law”; it does for “the law.”) If any law could save us, Paul says The Law (i.e., the Law of Moses) would indeed make us righteousness. Yet, it could not. It provided guidance until salvation by faith in Christ came to make us God’s sons (Gal. 3:26-27).

    In Galatians 4, Paul talked about the difference between being under bondage and being a son, a true heir of God. As a child, there is little difference between the slave and the heir. Paul said that, though the Galatians had been enslaved (Gal. 4:8), they were now sons of God by faith in Christ (having become one with Him at baptism), and had received the Spirit of God (Gal 4:6).

    Galatians 4:21-31 contrasts their present freedom with their past bondage in the allegory of Sarah and Hagar. In Galatians 5, he applies this to our freedom that is in Christ.

    For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Gal 5:1 ESV)

    How are we entangled again in slavery? It is by making the gospel of Christ of no effect by adding the rule of law to the good news of Jesus.

    It is in this context that we read in Galatians 5:4-6,

    You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. (ESV)

    Note that in v. 4, the NIV has it right, for there is no Greek article before law. This is not being justified by the Law of Moses (though the specific example in this verse is from that law). It is the law-principle, which says that only those who do the law are justified and that we stand condemned if we do not do all that law requires, when we trust our obedience to law instead of having a trusting faith in Jesus. Why? Because it is only those who do all that law requires who can be justified, if that is what we trust.

    Galatians 5:13-26 shows us the difference between walking in the Spirit by faith and in living under law, which according to the flesh.

    Lest any say that trusting Jesus and His grace sets aside obedience to God in the Spirit, Paul states categorically in Galatians 5:13-14, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

    This leads into his discussion of the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit – which leads into this:

    Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal 6:1-2, ESV)

    In context, the Law of Christ is that we walk in the Spirit by faith in Christ, loving one another and letting the Spirit produce His fruit in our lives. This is a far higher call than to isolate a few “essential” commands and call them collectively “the Law of Christ.” It encompasses our entire lives.

    Respectfully,

    Jerry

  25. Randall says:

    @ Jerry,
    You seem to be under the impression that I wrote the comment. I believe Guest For Truth wrote the comment (referred to James 1:1) and directed it at me. I have a lot of gray hair and sometimes become confused. Please look at the comment again and see if I wrote it or someone else.
    Hesed,
    Randall

  26. guestfortruth says:

    Bro. Jerry,
    I agree about “let us study together – with mutual respect for God and His Word as we examine the Scriptures to see if these things be so.” (Acts 17:11). Thank you for correcting my mistype should be James 3:1. I don’t know the purpose of Randall chose the account according to Mark like I just believe that part of the scripture and to show “his higher criticism ” what was his purpose? He provide a link about the missing part of the Gospel of Mark from Wikipedia How reliable is that source? and as soon he received the answer from Alexander, He still continue in his incredulity . So Jerry why you don’t believe that the text is Genuine? Does both passages mention the two disciples? When we read the accounts we need to notice that God revealed to the writers part of the true event, and other passages “ give light” to explain what happened (The text explain the text) and the answer is in 1 Cor. 15 1-11. Do you know that God is not the author of confusion 1 Cor. 14:33? Have you read John 20:31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.?
    what I see sometime , in his postings Jay has been around the Denominations mainly Baptist teachings of Neocalvinistics as Randall hold that position (getting some part of the domino Theology) and sometime is more important the opinions of man than the inspired, inerrant word of God what we read about God’s facts (the written Tradition of God and not tradition of men) that he has been involved. in modernistic theories from 19 century Annihilation Doctrine (Edward’s fudge ) and post modernistic doctrines (patrick mead) (open theology) that under the Label of “freedom of academical teaching” what happened when we contrast the teaching of God with the theories “Traditions” of men? God wants us be careful in the use of the scriptures as mention in 2 Tim. 2:15 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Because whatever teaching we hold that is not according to God (his written sacred tradition) , we are accountable every doctrine we hold (1 Tim. 4:16) . There are some teachings that God hates and he is not satisfy with those false teachings (Hebrews 13:9) . Examples. who hold the doctrine of Balaam Rev. 2:14, “who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans” Rev. 2:15, “ But hold fast what you have till I come.” Rev. 2:25.
    with all due respect ,
    to be true there are 2 passages that mention the Law of Christ Gal. 6:2 and 1 Cor. 9:21 “To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.”(KJV) in the greek text says ” ennomos christou” clearer the NASB “to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.” The ( NLT) says “21 When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.” God in his inspired word explain that we are not under the Law of Moses as is mention in Hebrews 7:12 “12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law.” What Law brother Jerry? The Law of Christ, This is the new covenant that is spiritual and Universal, Attention must be given to the fact that the Law of Christ is greater in scope that was the Law of Moses. Moses’s Law was limited to Israel, but Christ Law is Universal. Unfortunately, many of us and those who are involve in evangelism and preaching the first steps of the Gospel “the gospel to every Creature” (Mk. 16:15-16) fail to realize that the Gospel of Christ is a part of the Law of Christ. Giving His “Great Commission,” Jesus said: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 “ teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you”; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Mt. 28:19-20). The New Testament teachings is the whole law of Christ also known as the Doctrine of Christ . Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit said, “2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers. I hope we are not that kind of disciples to have itching of ears according to our own desires.

  27. Dear Guest,

    My final paragraph sums it up:

    In context, the Law of Christ is that we walk in the Spirit by faith in Christ, loving one another and letting the Spirit produce His fruit in our lives. This is a far higher call than to isolate a few “essential” commands and call them collectively “the Law of Christ.” It encompasses our entire lives.

    The law of Christ is designed to develop in us the character of Christ. It does this in a way that the law contained in ordinances never could. This is certainly not doing sin that grace may abound – nor is it to sift the New Testament for imagined “rules” to govern our lives and worship. Either of these pervert the grace of God and become the ungodly people of whom Jude wrote in Jude 4.

    Jerry

  28. guestfortruth says:

    Bro. Jerry,
    said” nor is it to sift the New Testament for imagined “rules” to govern our lives and worship.”
    The plan of God was the law of moses was imperfect as you said and The law of Christ is designed to develop in us the character of Christ. It does this in a way that the law contained in ordinances never could (Hebrews 8:7 . But, this one under better promises .
    so in the kingdom of God there is not law for keeping us under God care ? from where did you learn the commandments of God? Are we in the Christian Age? That passage of Judes 1:4 talk about those who are not abide to the Law of Christ. Those who reject the authority of Christ rejecting the scriptures by living ungodly. It is a serious error to contend that, because we are saved by grace, we therefore are not under law of any kind or in any way in the New Testament Age. If this were the case, we could not even sin, for “Sin is lawlessness” (1 Jun. 3:4), or living in violation of the law, and “where there is no law, neither is there transgression” (Rom. 4:15). The gospel of Christ is called “the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2), “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:2), “ the perfect law of liberty” (Jas 1:25). Paul clearly stated that he was “under law to Christ” (1 Cor. 9:21).
    Yet, we find repeated affirmation in the New Testament that we are not “under law” or “under the law.” Which law ? The Law of Moses (Jn. 1:17). Have you study the Jesus Transfigured on the Mount? Does it tells you something about the ages of the bible? . This story is in Luke 9: 27-34 also in Mark 9: 1-13. What does it represent the presence of Moses and Elijah? The apostle peter said : ““Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” This happened after Jesus told them about the kingdom on Earth.

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