“Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God.” (Romans 2:9–11, KJV 1900)
If you have followed any of the court cases involving prominent or wealthy people, it might seem as though some privileged people get away with murder. I mean, they find a slick attorney who finds some way to get the jury to acquit. It seems somewhat unfair to the ones that are not so privileged.
This is not the way it works with God. Paul is writing concerning the Jews who considered themselves to be better than the Gentiles because of their lineage and status under the Law. Here he indicates that in the judgment, God will render to every man according to his works. (While Paul will bring this argument to light later in the letter, we must understand that man will not escape the judgment by doing good works, for he is saved by grace alone through faith (Eph 2:8-9). We must also understand that one who has been justified by faith will characteristically display good works as a testimony of the working of God’s grace in them.)
Here, Paul differentiates between the righteous and unrighteous, not by backgrounds, lineages, or titles, but by the demonstrated proof of their faith. God shows no partiality. There are many people today who, like the Jews, have a hope for eternity that is based upon status. The Jews believed that they had a righteousness that was based upon their relationship to Abraham, their adherence to the religion of Judaism, and their citizenship as an Israelite. However, the only means of justification before a holy God is and always had been faith.
Many today are holding to a false hope for eternity. They think they will escape the judgment based on things like these. I was raised in a Christian home; well, pack your birth certificate and see if that helps at the judgment. My dad was a preacher; make a Xerox copy of his ordination certificate and pack it for the day of judgment. I was baptized; also pack your baptism certificate. I made this prayer and I have this tract with the date and my signature on it. I joined ABC Church; great pack your membership book also. I sang in the church choir; get a signed affidavit from the choir director. Pack all these things in your portfolio and have it ready for the day of judgment. And none of it will mean anything, for God shows no partiality. The only way to escape the judgment is to have truly trusted in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross alone for your salvation.
Paul and Silas gave the Philippian jailer only one requirement to escape the judgment. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:31, KJV 1900) Have you truly believed? If you have, your life will be marked by a beautiful transformation (2 Cor 5:17).