Ten years later, do I still think the trap closes? Yes. When I read the closing bracket in chapter 14 - why do you judge your brother? The best answer is given by the Grand Inquisitor in The Brothers Karamazov - because the people cannot stand the freedom You have placed them in. That is why we misread Romans. As I noted in a recent comment somewhere, we have no capacity to judge till we have died. (We learn that we have died in Romans 6 and how to make it effective for us in Romans 8.)
[The section on judgment finds an echo in chapter 14 - the thesis statement is completed in 3:27 - but first Paul begins with the sorry state of the world with respect to righteousness for both Gentile and Jew. Judgment - law - grace - faith are tightly woven in his thinking.]
[C.2.1 Addressing all - I see no justification (in agreement with Fitzmeyer) for seeing this as addressing only Gentiles as Esler and others suggest. Note how Dunn (Theology) identifies repentance in 2:4 as a unique usage within Paul's letters of this common term in Gospels and Acts. Repentance as command is directed at the religious. They knew something explicitly and have forgotten it so must turn to it again. It is not directed to the Gentile, to whom many metaphors are directed for their crucial transition to faith.]
you [singular] have no excuse, O human, whoever you are, when you judge another;
for in passing judgment upon another you condemn yourself,
because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. 2:
We know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who do such things. 3:
Do you suppose, O human, that when you judge those who do such things
and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? 4:
Or do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience?
Do you not know that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
5: But by 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.
6: For he will render to every one according to each one's works: 7:
to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality,
he will give eternal life; (zwen aiwnion) 8:
but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness,
there will be wrath and fury. 9:
There will be tribulation and distress
for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10:
but glory and honor and peace
for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.
11: For God shows no partiality.
12: All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law,
and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.
13: For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.
14: When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires,
they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15:
They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts,
while their conscience also bears witness
and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them 16:
on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of humanity by Christ Jesus.
Christ Jesus - did Paul get the name backwards? No. It is the rule of Christ and it is evident in the man Jesus, where the Spirit dwells fully. This second Adam becomes the life-giving Spirit. Do we give such life? Do we take what is his and reveal it to others?
This series on Romans begins here