In first century Judaism there was a common teaching theme known as The Two Ways. The Jewish Christian community who the Gospel of Matthew was either written to or was written by also produced The Lord’s Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations, known in Greek as The Didache (Teaching).
Chapter 1. “There are two ways, one of life and one of death, but a great difference between the two ways. The way of life, then, is this: First, you shall love God who made you; second, love your neighbor as yourself, and do not do to another what you would not want done to you. And of these sayings the teaching is this: Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast for those who persecute you. For what reward is there for loving those who love you? Do not the Gentiles do the same? But love those who hate you, and you shall not have an enemy. Abstain from fleshly and worldly lusts…”
Chapter 5. “And the way of death is this: First of all it is evil and accursed: murders, adultery, lust, fornication, thefts, idolatries, magic arts, witchcrafts, rape, false witness, hypocrisy, double-heartedness, deceit, haughtiness, depravity, self-will, greediness, filthy talking, jealousy, over-confidence, loftiness, boastfulness; persecutors of the good, hating truth, loving a lie, not knowing a reward for righteousness, not cleaving to good nor to righteous judgment, watching not for that which is good, but for that which is evil; from whom meekness and endurance are far, loving vanities, pursuing revenge, not pitying a poor man, not laboring for the afflicted, not knowing Him Who made them, murderers of children, destroyers of the handiwork of God, turning away from him who is in want, afflicting him who is distressed, advocates of the rich, lawless judges of the poor, utter sinners. Be delivered, children, from all these.”
The Lord taught, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14 ESV.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 ESV.
Paul referred to the Messianic Jewish sect as, “that Way” in his speech from the steps of the barracks to the Jews in the Temple saying, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women,” Acts 22:40-41
The Jewish sect of believers were know as followers of The Way, the Way of Truth, and of Life. The life which He gives us freely if we will repent of our sins, turn to Him, profess with our lips and believe in our hearts that Jesus the Christ is Lord. Acknowledge that God, by the power of the Holy Spirit raised Him from the dead, He was seen by men, ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father making intercession for all men. And once we profess that He is Lord He can then be our Savior. For there is no salvation without becoming His bond slave. The price was paid at Calvary, therefore He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
So with that in mind, shall we continue down The Roman Road Home.
Romans 2:6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, 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 everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality. ESV
V6. “He will render to each one according to his works”
Yes God expects us to work, to do good deeds, to do the work of God and to be His hands and feet. God has actually predestined (prepared beforehand) what we, who serve Him in the Royal Family Kids Clubs, call teachable moments. Teachable moments are when the kids ask us about our faith or why we are doing these good deeds for them.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 ESV.
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” 2 Timothy 4:2NASB.
“Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.” Titus 3:14NASB.
V7. “to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life”
Now this does not mean tht people can be saved by good works, for this epistle is written to the believers in Rome, but He does know why we do good works. If the good deeds that we do are for our glory they count for nothing with God. You can not game God. Let’s look at what our Lord Jesus the Christ had to say about it.
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.” Matthew 6:1-4 NKJV.
V8. “but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.”
The way of death is clearly stated by The Lord, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. Matthew 23:13-15 NASB.
A warning about motives for evangelizing and making disciples. Are we making disciples of Christ or of ourselves? I just can’t stand “Religious people” who are constantly running down another sect of Christianity because of some minor bit of nonessential doctrine. Most of it is nonsensical in the fact that they can not even accurately explain the theology they think is so essential for salvation. You know things like trans-substantiation, contrans-substantiation, full emersion, regenerative baptism, religious art, depictions of the cross, speaking in tongues as a sign that you have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, predestination and even which way a person should genuflect and cross themselves. With my bad knees I’m grateful to God that I don’t feel the need to kneel to pray, but I do try and pray in a private place.
Even a very good theology such as the Trinity can stumble us. I’ve heard God fearing Christian brothers who have been in church for 60 years say, “I think anyone who is a Trinitarian is saved.” I agreed that the Trinity is a good theology, but not essential for salvation because the theology of the Trinity is not lucidly (clearly) taught in Scripture and I asked them to explain their understanding of the Trinity. One brother replied, “They are separate, but equal.” Sadly that is about as brief and accurate of an understanding of it that can be made, but to truly explain the evolution of the theology of the Trinity would take a longer Theological brief than an expositation of the entire New Covenant written in His blood, which is essential. So if you are a staunch Trinitarian that’s ok. Or if you are a Unitarian that’s ok, but I will warn you that the Godhead is beyond human understanding. So when asked I reply I believe in the Triune Godhead. The One God our Father, His only begotten Son Jesus the Christ and their Holy Spirit because that is clearly taught in Scripture.
V9. “There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,”
All who follow the way of death (spiritual death) will have the wrath of God abide upon them. For there is no partiality with God, and as Paul makes it quite clear to the Jew first and also to the Greek. A good spiritual application to the church might read, “To those who have grown up in the church and to those who are new to it.” Or, “To those who like to worship in a liturgical, traditional church or those who like to praise God in a loud and very animated fashion.”
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22 ESV.
“Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.” 2 Timothy 2:14 ESV.
V10-11. “but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.”
A pastor friend of mine from the “Old days” at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa once told me this story, “A Catholic priest and a Protestant minister were waiting at the ferry for the boatman to take them to the other side of a wide river. The two men were engaged in a heated debate regarding works and faith. They both were quoting scripture when they saw the boatman come out of the fog bank.
He drew up to the dock and as they stepped in they could clearly see that his hands were tattooed with one word on each hand. FAITH on one and WORKS on the other. As they pulled away from the dock and back into the fog the Priest said, “Bless you my son, I see there that you have WORKS tattooed on your hand.” The old boatman nodded yes and kept on rowing.
The Minister quickly stated, “Brother, I see ye also have FAITH tattooed on your other hand.” Without missing a stroke the old boatman nodded yes again.
The Priest and Minister continued their debate as the fog grew thicker and thicker. Then they both
asked, “Tell us which is greater FAITH or WORKS?”
The old boatman humbly said as he pulled on only one oar, “This is FAITH!” And around and around went the boat. Then he started pulling on the other oar until both the Priest and Minister were completely at a loss as to where the opposite bank was and he said, “This is WORKS!” Then with a mighty pull upon both oars he straightened the boat and boldly stated, “It takes Faith and Works pulling together to get you across the river and to the other side.”
As the Priest and Minister stepped out onto the dock they remembered they had forgot to pay the boatman his fare. They turned around to see that the fog was gone and so was the boatman.
You see it not just Faith or is it Works, but it’s the Faith that Works.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 ESV.
May all who read this humble commentary by someone who is not worthy to be considered the least in the Kingdom of Heaven be blessed and instructed in essential theology.
May the LORD our God be with you all of your days.