The Impartiality of God
12 For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without [regard to] the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged and condemned by the Law. 13 For it is not those who merely hear the Law [as it is read aloud] who are just or righteous before God, but it is those who [actually] obey the Law who will be [b]justified [pronounced free of the guilt of sin and declared acceptable to Him]. 14 When Gentiles, who do not have the Law [since it was given only to Jews], do [c]instinctively the things the Law requires [guided only by their conscience], they are a law to themselves, though they do not have the Law. 15 They show that the [d]essential requirements of the Law are written in their hearts; and their conscience [their sense of right and wrong, their moral choices] bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or perhaps defending them 16 on that day when, [e]as my gospel proclaims, God will judge the secrets [all the hidden thoughts and concealed sins] of men through Christ Jesus.(C)
The Jew Is Condemned by the Law
17 But if you bear the name “Jew” and rely on the Law [for your salvation] and boast in [your special relationship to] God, 18 and [if you claim to] know His will and [f]approve the things that are [g]essential or have a sense of what is excellent, based on your instruction from the Law, 19 and [if you] are confident that you are a [qualified] guide to the blind [those untaught in theology], a light to those who are in darkness, 20 and [that you are] [h]a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the [spiritually] [i]childish, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth— 21 well then, you who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal [in ways that are discrete, but just as sinful]? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, [j]do you commit adultery? You who detest idols, do you rob [pagan] temples [of valuable idols and offerings]?(D) 23 You who boast in the Law, do you [repeatedly] dishonor God by [k]breaking the Law? 24 For, “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” just as it is written [in Scripture].(E)
25 Circumcision [the sign of the covenant of Abraham] is indeed of value if you practice the Law; but if you habitually break the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision [it is meaningless in God’s sight]. 26 So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded [by God] as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps [the spirit of] the Law will judge you who, [l]even though you have the written code and circumcision, break the Law. 28 For he is not a [real] Jew who is only one outwardly, nor is [true] circumcision something external and physical. 29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and [true] circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by [the fulfillment of] the letter [of the Law]. His praise is not from men, but from God.
- Romans 2:1 This is not a prohibition of judgment, nor is it a command to stop using godly wisdom, common sense, and moral courage together with God’s written word to discern right from wrong, to distinguish between morality and immorality, and to judge doctrinal truth. There are many judgments that are not only legitimate, but are commanded (cf John 7:24; 1 Cor 5:5, 12; Gal 1:8, 9; 1 John 4:1-3; 2 John 10); however, you cannot judge another if you are committing the same type of sin.
- Romans 2:13 Because of one’s personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, God graciously credits His righteousness to the believer. Justification denotes a legal standing with God as designated only by God. God declares a believer to be acquitted or innocent, then designates the believer to be brought into right standing before Him.
- Romans 2:14 Lit by nature.
- Romans 2:15 Lit work of the Law.
- Romans 2:16 Lit according to my gospel.
- Romans 2:18 Or discerningly distinguish between the things which differ.
- Romans 2:18 Or excellent.
- Romans 2:20 Or an instructor.
- Romans 2:20 Lit infants.
- Romans 2:22 In Judaism at that time, one of the leading schools of thought (that of Hillel) taught that a man could divorce his wife for any reason, such as cooking a bad meal. Paul may have in mind men who use a flimsy excuse to divorce their wives, with the real intent of marrying another woman. In God’s eyes, this is an act of adultery.
- Romans 2:23 The Pharisees were distorting and breaking God’s law by giving their own interpretations priority over the plain meaning of the Scriptures.
- Romans 2:27 Lit through the letter.
- Romans 2:6 : Ps 62:12; Prov 24:12
- Romans 2:11 : Deut 10:17; 2 Chr 19:7
- Romans 2:16 : Eccl 12:14
- Romans 2:22 : Deut 7:25; Acts 19:37
- Romans 2:24 : Is 52:5; Ezek 36:20