Romans 2:1 forms a rather neat chiasm, particularly if we follow the Greek word order:

Therefore, you are without excuse

O man everyone who judges
for in that you judge (KRINO)
the other
yourself
you condemn (KATAKRINO)
for the same things you practice one who judges

The exchange at the center is quite revealing. The judgment rendered on the other reverses and comes back on the one who is judging. This is, of course, the opposite effect to what the man who judges intends. Passing judgment is always an act of distancing and separation, an effort to place ourselves outside the circle of those who are condemned as much as it is an effort to place others WITHIN that circle. The man Paul is addressing hopes by judging those who practice evil that he has distanced himself from that evil; but insofar as he is doing the same things he is implicated in the judgment he passes on another. The fact that he judges those who practice these things means that he’s placing himself in that circle. What keeps us out of the circle of the condemned, Paul says, is not our distancing moves of judging others, but actually DOING good (vv. 7, 13).

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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