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Romans 2:5

"But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgement will be revealed". ESV. My emphasis.

  1. It is right for God to judge and no one else.

  2. His righteousness is the standard against which our works will be compared in His judgement.

  3. Human juries may make mistakes but God always rightly hears the evidence.

  4. His wrath is as right and Godly as his mercy.

I understand that 1, 2, 3 and 4 are all true, but which of them, and for what reasons, are contained in the meaning of "righteous judgement" as it occurs in Romans 2:5?

1 Answer 1

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The hapex legomenon δικαιοκρισία (dikaiokrisia) in Rom 2:5 come from two well-known words:

  • δίκαιος (dikaios) = Righteous
  • κρίσις (krisis) = judgement (technically, the process of judgement or trial before the final verdict or sentence denoted by κρίμα (krima) but I am not sure we can press the meaning this far!)

Thus, BDAG gives this meaning for δικαιοκρισία (dikaiokrisia):

just/fair verdict Rom 2:5 ('fair' because of the criterion: 'according to each one's performance')

While this word occurs only in Rom 2:5, a similar phrase occurs in 2 Thess 1:5, δικαίας κρίσεως (= righteous judgement) with exactly the same meaning.

All this is clear evidence of God’s righteous judgment. And so you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.

Again, similar to Rom 2:5, in 2 Thess 1:5 "God’s righteous judgment" is based in the behavior of those involved as per 2 Thess 1:4 (the previous verse), namely, "your perseverance and faith in the face of all the persecution and affliction you are enduring."

The only other places where the phrase "judgement of God" (or similar) occurs are the following:

  • Luke 11:42 - But woe to you Pharisees, for you pay tithes of mint and rue and every herb; and you pass by justice and the love of God. But it behooved you to do these things, and those not to neglect.
  • Rev 14:7 - And he said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come. Worship the One who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and the springs of waters.”

However, the idea receives a slightly extended discussion in John 5:22-30 and strongly connected with the eschatological resurrection.

For completeness only, I should also mention that there may be an allusion to Hosea 6:5 (according to the lexicons) because the idea of God's judgement is mentioned but it is a weak allusion at best because κρίμα is used rather than κρίσις.

Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of My mouth, and My judgments go forth like lightning.

Back to Rom 2:5

But because of your hard and unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

As noted by BDAG (quoted above), "God’s righteous judgment" is based in this verse (as elsewhere) in the individual's behavior. This is a common teaching in the scripture:

  • Rom 2:6 - God “will repay each one according to his deeds.”
  • Matt 16:27 - For the Son of Man will come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will repay each one according to what he has done.
  • 2 Cor 11:15 - It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their actions.
  • 2 Tim 4:14 - Alexander the coppersmith did great harm to me. The Lord will repay him according to his deeds.
  • 1 Peter 1:17 - And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,
  • Rev 2:23 - Then I will strike her children dead, and all the churches will know that I am the One who searches minds and hearts, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.
  • Rev 18:6 - Give back to her as she also has rendered; and pay back double to her, twofold according to her works. In the cup which she has mixed, mix double to her.
  • Rev 20:13 - The sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead, and each one was judged according to his deeds.
  • Rev 22:12 - “Behold, I am coming soon, and My reward is with Me, to give to each one according to what he has done.

APPENDIX - Judgement in the NT

In “The New Unger's Bible Dictionary”, we also have a list a several judgements. According to Unger, an inductive study of the Scriptures shows that there's more than one general judgement (with which I broadly agree) and goes as far as to specify eight distinct judgements described in the Bible

  1. Judgement of the Cross - This is the judgement upon sin effected by Christ when He said "It is finished" (John 19:30). It is the basis of the believer’s salvation when he believes. Christ has borne the sinner’s guilt and in Him, as a substitute for all on behalf of whom He died, sin has been judged. The one who believes on Christ has been released from judgment, and “there is therefore now no condemnation” (John 5:24; Rom. 8:1; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 9:26– 28; 1 Pet. 2:24).
  2. Judgement of Believers - This takes the form of divine correction and chastisement (1 Cor. 11:30-32; Heb 12:3-13; John 15:1-9). The apostle Paul says: “But if we judged ourselves rightly, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord in order that we may not be condemned along with the world” (1 Cor. 11:31–32). This, then, involves God’s disciplinary action against a sinning saint. “The sin leading to death” (1 John 5:16; cf. 1 Cor. 5:1–5; Acts 5:1–11) occurs when the believer, through deliberate continued sin, brings reproach upon the name of Christ and upon his salvation by free grace, and forfeits his physical life “that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
  3. Believer's Works - This judgement concerns only Christians and it is not a matter of judgement for sins that have been judged at the cross and with which the believer will not again be faced (John 5:24; Rom. 8:1); it involves instead the divine appraisal of the Christian’s works and service. This will entail reward or loss of reward (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10, 12; Eph. 6:8; 2 Tim. 4:8).
  4. Judgement of Self - This is referred to in 1 Cor. 11:31-32. It has reference to stern criticism of a Christian of his own ways with accommodation to the divine will and immediate confession of and turning away from all sin (1 John 1:7–9). True confession is equivalent to self-judgment and involves immediate cleansing and restoration to fellowship and walking “in the light.”
  5. Judgement of the Nations - This judgement is referred to in Matt. 25:31-46. It involves divine dealing with the nations on the basis of their treatment of Israel. The “goat” nations on the left hand involve those peoples who are sent to the lake of fire. The “sheep” nations on the right hand enter the millennial kingdom. The peculiar basis of this judgment is the way all nations have dealt with Israel during the Tribulation period preceding the second advent of Christ. OT prophecy is clear in its prediction that some Gentile nations will enter the coming kingdom of Israel (cf. Isa. 60:3; 61:6; 62:2). These nations will be subordinate to Israel. As the millennial state merges into the eternal state, Gentile nations are still asserted to be on the earth when the heavenly Jerusalem descends from heaven (Rev. 21:24, 26).
  6. Judgement of Israel - Ezekiel 20:33-44 clearly teaches that Israel must come into judgement before being restored in the millennial kingdom. This OT teaching has confirmation in the NT from the parable of the ten virgins (Matt. 25:1–13 (see Joel 3:11–15). Prophecy seems to teach that there will be a general resurrection of all truly regenerated Israelites of the past dispensation to be judged. Those who had a kingdom hope are to arise and enter the earthly glory (cf. Ezek. 37:1–14; Dan. 12:1–3).
  7. Judgement of Angels - These are fallen angels and are evidently judged in connection with the great white throne (1 Cor. 6:3; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 1:6).
  8. White Throne Judgement - This last great judgement comprehends the judgement of all unsaved of all ages (Rev. 20:11-15). The basis will be works, which evidently suggests differences and degrees of punishment. All who are not found in “the book of life” are cast into “the lake of fire.” This is called “the second death,” which means final and complete cutting off from God’s presence and a sin-cleansed universe.

To this list, Unger might have added one more:

  1. Judgement of God – this is the doctrine of Theodicy – where everyone is to judge whether God has been just or otherwise and is mentioned several times in places such as Rom 3:4 (“when You are judged”), Rev 14:7 (the judgement of God), Rev 16:4-6 where people declare God to be righteous and just. See also Ezra 9:15, Ps 51:4, 119:33, Neh 9:33, etc.

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