Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

Confraternity - Home | Free Downloads | Transcriber's Notes | Abbreviations | Contact Us

ROMANS - Chapter 2

          < Previous Chapter                    -----                    Next Chapter >         

Romans 2

Supplemental Commentary:

1, 18 -- 11, 36 (continued)

1.  Humanity without Christ  1, 18 -- 3, 20 (continued)

2, 1-11:  All Will Be Rewarded or Punished.  In this Paul declares that the Jews likewise, in spite of their claims to a privileged position, are far from salvation and are inexcusable.

1.  Wherefore connects this passage with 1, 32.  The argument is: if the pagan is inexcusable, how much more responsible is the Jew who, in spite of the revelations he enjoys, is guilty of the same sin.    2.  According to truth: according to man's responsibility, and not misguided by racial privilege.    4.  Riches of his goodness, etc.: God has shown patience with the Jews in not inflicting on them a like punishment; but this indulgence is only to offer time for repentance.    5.  In contrast with this leniency is their hardness and unrepentant heart.  The day of wrath: the day of judgment.  6.  According to his works: this clearly indicates that, while Paul denies that the works of the Law give salvation, he does not disparage good work in themselves.  Cf. 1 Cor. 3, 8.13-15; Gal. 6, 7-9; Eph. 6, 8; Heb. 6, 10.

7 f.  The divine judgment will divide men into two classes.  Life eternal will be the reward of the good; wrath and indignation (cf. 1, 18) that of the contentious, who do not submit to the truth, by refusing the revelation of Christ.    9.  The soul of every man: the soul as responsible for sin, but the punishment of the body is not excluded.  Jew first: as first to receive the opportunity of salvation.  Greek: the Gentile as distinguished from the Jew.    11.  The divine judgment unswayed by external conditions, as in v.2.

2, 12-16:  Gentiles to Be Judged by the Natural Law.  Here Paul digresses somewhat from his main line of thought to explain how the Gentiles can be judged though they have no written law.  They have not had the advantages of the Mosaic Law, but they have known the "ordinance of God" (1, 32).  This knowledge came to them through the natural law, an objective norm of conduct.

12.  There is, therefore, one norm for the Gentiles, another for the Jews.    14 f.  Law unto themselves: without the revealed Law, the Gentiles depended on the moral dictates of their natural reason.  Conflicting thoughts: the conflict of pros and cons in their natural judgment.    16.  Will take place: these words are not in the original, but are supplied to make clear the connection with what precedes.  Some would attach v.16 to v.13, considering vv.14 and 15 a parenthesis.  My gospel: Paul had more occasion than the other Apostles to emphasize the fact that the Gentiles were free from the Mosaic Law, and yet subject to divine judgment.

2, 17-24:  The Jews Transgress the Law.  The Jews had many blessings not enjoyed by the Gentiles, but they failed to take advantage of them.    17 f.  If thou art called Jew: a name of honor in virtue of divine favors granted the race.  These favors are enumerated: possession of the safe guidance of the revealed Law, the glory of being the chosen people of God, knowledge of God's will through the prophets, and thus enabled to discern what is good and pleasing to God.    19 f.  The Greek text connects this immediately with v.18 by "and."  A light: Wisd. 18, 4 speaks of the pure light of the Law given to the world through the Jews.  In Jewish thought all those without the Law are unwise.    21 f.  Through these questions the Apostle shows how the Jews had failed to profit by their advantages.  Cf. note to text.    23 f.  The full indictment against the Jews.

2, 25-29:  True Circumcision.  St. Paul's point of view here is that of the old dispensation prior to the promulgation of the new.  It does not conflict with what he says in Gal. 5, 2-6.  Christianity abrogated the Mosaic Law and nullified its rites.    25 f.  Has become uncircumcision: circumcision without the observance of the entire Law availed nothing; one might as well have been without the circumcision.  On the other hand, the uncircumcised Gentile, observing to the best of his knowledge the natural law, could be pleasing to God.    27.  Will judge: as the men of Nineve (Matt. 12, 41).    28 f.  The conclusion, then, is that a sincere internal disposition and not an external circumstance merits praise from God.  This is often demanded by Paul even of Christians.

Confraternity Bible:

All Will Be Rewarded or Punished  1 Wherefore, thou art inexcusable, O man, whoever thou art who judgest.  For wherein thou judgest another, thou dost condemn thyself.  For thou who judgest dost the same things thyself.  2 And we  know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who do such things.  3 But dost thou think, O man who judgest those who do such things and dost the same thyself, that thou wilt escape the judgment of God?  4 Or dost thou despise the riches of his goodness and patience and long-suffering?  Dost thou not know that the goodness of God is meant to lead thee to repentance?  5 But according to thy hardness and unrepentant heart, thou dost treasure up to thyself wrath on the day of wrath and of the revelation of the just judgment of God, 6 who will render to every man according to his works.  7 Life eternal indeed he will give to those who by patience in good works seek glory and honor and immortality; 8 but wrath and indignation to those who are contentious, and who do not submit to the truth but assent to iniquity.  9 Tribulation and anguish shall be visited upon the soul of every man who works evil; of Jew first and then of Greek.  10 But glory and honor and peace shall be awarded to everyone who does good, to Jew first and then to Greek.  11 Because with God there is no respect of persons.

Gentiles to Be Judged by the Natural Law  12* For whoever have sinned without the Law, will perish without the Law.  13 For it is not they who hear the Law that are just in the sight of God; but it is they who follow the Law that will be justified.  14 When the Gentiles who have no law do by nature what the Law prescribes, these having no law are a law unto themselves.  15 They show the work of the Law written in their hearts.  Their conscience bears witness to them, even when conflicting thoughts accuse or defend them.  16 This will take place on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the hidden secrets of men through Jesus Christ.

The Jews Transgress the Law  17 But if thou art called "Jew," and dost rely upon the Law, and dost glory in God, 18 and dost know his will, and dost approve the better things, being informed by the Law, 19 thou art confident that thou art a guide to the blind, a light to those who walk in darkness, 20 an instructor of the unwise, a teacher of children, having in the Law the pattern of knowledge and of truth.  21 Thou therefore who teachest another, dost thou not teach thyself?  Thou who preachest that men should not steal, dost thou steal?  22 Thou who sayest that men should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery?  Thou who dost abominate idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?  23 Thou who dost glory in the Law, dost thou dishonor God by transgressing the Law?  24 "For the name of God," as it is written, "is blasphemed through you among the Gentiles."

True Circumcision  25 Circumcision, indeed, profits if thou keep the Law; but if thou be a transgressor of the Law, thy circumcision has become uncircumcision.  26 Therefore if the uncircumcised keep the precepts of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be reckoned as circumcision?  27 And he who is by nature uncircumcised, if he fulfill the Law, will judge thee who with the letter and circumcision art a transgressor of the Law.  28 For he who is not a Jew who is so outwardly; nor is that circumcision which is so outwardly in the flesh; 29* but he is a Jew who is so inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart in the spirit, not in the letter. His praise is not from men but from God.


12: In this passage the Mosaic Law is probably meant.

29: Circumcision of the heart means the uprooting of vices and evil tendencies from the heart.