Romans 2:1 (KJV)

1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

Emphasis added.

Does this refer to Gentiles mentioned in the previous chapter (Rom 1) or Jews who despised Gentiles & condemned the Gentiles on the basis of them being a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness?

3 Answers 3


I don't think there is a perfectly clear answer here.

It certainly has a general application to all men, calling to mind the Gospel teaching Judge not, that ye be not judged. For what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged (Matthew 7:1-2; see also Luke 6:37).

But in the context of the verse it could refer to any or all of the pagans, Jews, rulers, or subject. (Orthodox Archbishop) Dmitry Royster comments on this verse:

The question that naturally occurs to us is, "to whom is this admonition addressed? O man?" To mankind in general? To pagans or to the Jews? According to St. John Chrysostom, "These things he says, with an aim at the rulers, inasmuch as that city [i.e. Rome] had the rule of the world put into its hands" (On Romans, Homily V). Then he adds, "He is not addressing himself to the rulers only, but to private individuals and subjects also ... they judge those that offend, in conversations and public meetings, and by the vote of their conscience" (ibid., on v.2). Whether their sin of judgment remains unexpressed or not, they will be judged for it.

There is no doubt that it is also to the Jews that this is addressed, because so many of them thought that God's giving them the Law made them superior to and judges of all. And, to return to the sense of 1:18, judgment of others and condemnation are part of the unrighteousness against which God's wrath is revealed.

St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans: A Pastoral Commentary


It refers to the Jews in Roman who do not totally embrace the grace of God.

The theme of the beginning chapters of Romans is about both Jews and Gentiles aren't good enough on their own. Gentiles who are without the Mosaic law, their conscience acts as law condemning them. The Jews with the Law, the Law condemning their transgressions since no one can ever keep the Law.

If you look further down at 2:4, it clearly shows that it was those who fail to understand that God uses His goodness to draw people in and bring people to repentance.

this is a short article from my personal blog, talking about this verse: https://teamjesus.blog/2016/08/10/despising-the-goodness-of-god/

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    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 18:10

It is referring to the Jews. The whole of chapter 2 is talking to the Jews. Note verse 17: Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,

The second half of chapter 1 is talking to the gentiles, and from chapter 2 he starts talking to the jews, bringing both gentiles and jews to the same boat as seen in verses 8,9 and 10.

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