1 Therefore you are without excuse, O man, whoever you are who judge. For in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself. For you who judge practice the same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 3 Do you think this, O man who judges those who practice such things, and do the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and patience, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But according to your hardness and unrepentant heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath, revelation, and of the righteous judgment of God; 6 who "will pay back to everyone according to their works:" 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory, honor, and incorruptibility, eternal life; 8 but to those who are self-seeking, and don't obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, will be wrath and indignation, 9 oppression and anguish, on every soul of man who works evil, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 10 But glory, honor, and peace go to every man who works good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God. 12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without the law. As many as have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it isn't the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be justified 14 (for when Gentiles who don't have the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience testifying with them, and their thoughts among themselves accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men, according to my Good News, by Jesus Christ. 17 Indeed you bear the name of a Jew, and rest on the law, and glory in God, 18 and know his will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, 19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide of the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of babies, having in the law the form of knowledge and of the truth. 21 You therefore who teach another, don't you teach yourself? You who preach that a man shouldn't steal, do you steal? 22 You who say a man shouldn't commit adultery. Do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who glory in the law, through your disobedience of the law do you dishonor God? 24 For "the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you," just as it is written. 25 For circumcision indeed profits, if you are a doer of the law, but if you are a transgressor of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 If therefore the uncircumcised keep the ordinances of the law, won't his uncircumcision be accounted as circumcision? 27 Won't the uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfills the law, judge you, who with the letter and circumcision are a transgressor of the law? 28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit not in the letter; whose praise is not from men, but from God.
The apostle shows that the Jew, who condemns the Gentiles, and considers them utterly unworthy of the blessings of the Gospel, is inexcusable, because he is guilty of the same crimes; and therefore shalt not escape the righteous judgment of God, Romans 2:1-3. It is an awful thing to despise the goodness and long-suffering of God, which lead to repentance, Romans 2:4, Romans 2:5. God, the impartial judge, will render to every man according to his works, Romans 2:6-11. The Jews and the Gentiles will be judged according to their respective advantages and disadvantages, Romans 2:12, Romans 2:13. In some cases, the Gentiles, who had no law, have shown a better disposition than the Jews, Romans 2:14-16. The Jews, by their unfaithfulness, have been a stumbling-block to the Gentiles, Romans 2:17-24. Jewish rites and ceremonies of no advantage, unless productive of change of heart and conduct, Romans 2:25. The Gentiles, who attend to the small light which they have received from God, are in a better state than the unfaithful Jews, with all their superior privileges, Romans 2:26, Romans 2:27. What constitutes a real Jew in the sight of God, Romans 2:28, Romans 2:29.
Dr. Taylor makes the following sensible observations at the commencement of this chapter.
"The representation of the moral state of the heathen world, in the foregoing chapter, is a demonstration of the necessity of the Gospel for the reformation and salvation of man. And how rich is the favor wherewith God has visited the world! To have destroyed a race of apostate rebels, who had abused their understandings and every gift of a bountiful Creator, would have been justice; to have spared them would have been lenity and goodness; but to send his only begotten Son from heaven to redeem us from all iniquity and ungodliness by his own blood; to grant us a free pardon for all our sins; to put us in a state of mercy and salvation; to take us into his kingdom and family; to give us an inheritance among his saints; to bless us with immortality and all spiritual blessings in heavenly places; - this is most wonderful and exuberant favor. Rightly is the doctrine which teaches it called the Gospel, or glad tidings. One would think it could not possibly have met with opposition from any part of mankind. But the Jew opposed it! He abhorred the Gentile, and contradicted the grace that honored and saved him. The apostle pleads and defends our cause. His business is to confound the Jew, and to prove that we have as good a right as he to all the blessings of the Messiah's kingdom. And, by his description of the vicious state of the Gentiles, in the former chapter, he has wisely made his advantage of the prejudices of the Jew; for nothing could please him more than the preceding discourse, in which the Gentiles are reduced to so vile and abject a state. Thus the apostle gives him an opportunity to condemn the Gentiles; but he does this that he may the more effectually humble him in this chapter; in which he proves that the Jews, having in an aggravated manner despised the goodness and broken the law of God, were as obnoxious to his wrath as the Gentiles; and if so, how could they, with any conscience or modesty, arrogate all the Divine mercy to themselves, or pretend that others were unworthy of it, when they had done as much or more to forfeit it! Must they not exclude themselves from being the people of God under the Gospel, by the same reason that they would have the Gentiles excluded! But this was an argument highly ungrateful to the Jew; and it would be very difficult to fix any conviction upon his mind. Therefore the apostle addresses him in a covert way: - Thou art therefore inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest; not giving out expressly that he meant the Jew, that the Jew might more calmly attend to his reasoning, while he was not apprehensive that he was the man. This point secured, the apostle, very judiciously and with great force of reasoning, turns his thoughts from his present superior advantages to the awful day of judgment, Romans 2:5, Romans 2:6, when God, in the most impartial equity, will render to all mankind, without exception, according to their works. Thus the apostle grounds his following argument, very methodically and solidly, in God's equal regards to all men, in all nations, who uprightly practice truth and godliness; and his disapproving, and at last condemning, all men, in any nation, however privileged, who live wickedly. This was a blow at the root, and demolished, in the most effectual manner, the Jew's prejudices in favor of his own nation, and the unkind thoughts he had entertained of the Gentiles. For, if a Jew could be convinced that a sober, upright heathen might be blessed with eternal salvation, he must be persuaded that it was no absurd matter that believing Gentiles should now be pardoned, and taken into the visible Church. Thus the apostle advances with great skill, insinuating himself, by degrees, into the Jew's conscience. It is reasoning is well adapted to encourage the Gentile, humbled by the dismal representation in the preceding chapter; for he would here see that he was not utterly abandoned of God, but might, upon good grounds, hope for his mercy and kindness."
INTRODUCTION TO ROMANS 2
This chapter contains, in general, a vindication of the justice and equity of the divine procedure against men, such as are described in the preceding chapter; and a refutation of the several pleas that might be made by the Gentiles, who had not the law, and by the Jews who had it; and concludes with exposing the wickedness of the latter, and with showing who they are that are properly Jews, and circumcised persons, in the account of God. It begins, in Romans 2:1, with an inference deduced from what had been said in the latter part of the foregoing chapter; concluding that such, be they who they will, Jews or Gentiles, are inexcusable, who do the things they condemn others for: but though the judgment of such persons is wrong, the apostle observes, Romans 2:2, that the judgment of God, in the condemnation of them, is right, of which he, and others, were fully assured; and which judgment is commended, by the rule of it, being according to truth; by the objects of it, criminals, who are left without excuse, and by the inevitableness of it, Romans 2:3, being such as cannot possibly be escaped: and though some men might hope to escape it, because not immediately punished, but loaded with the blessings of Providence, and peculiar benefits of divine goodness; yet this was to be ascribed to the forbearance of God for the present; and that if these favours were despised, and they had not a good effect upon them to bring to repentance, but instead thereof were more and more hardened under them, as their guilt would be increased, so wrath would be secretly laying up for them, which will be revealed in the day of judgment, Romans 2:4, at which time justice will be done to every man as his works will be found to be, Romans 2:6, then follows a description of the several sorts of persons that will be judged, and of the different things that will be their portion: as that eternal life will be given to good men, Romans 2:7, and the wrath of God poured down on bad men, whether they be Jews or Gentiles, Romans 2:8. The happiness of good men is repeated again, and explained, and promised to the Jew first, and then to the Gentile, Romans 2:10, and a reason given of this just and equal distribution, taken from the nature of God, who is no respecter of persons, Romans 2:11, an instance of which is produced in both Jews and Gentiles, that sin; the one perishing with, the other without the law, Romans 2:12, since it is not barely having and hearing the law, but acting up to it, which only can justify before God, Romans 2:13, upon which the apostle proceeds to refute the plea that might be made by the Gentiles, in favour of themselves, why they should not be condemned, taken from their not having the written law; for though they had not the law written on tables of stone, as the Jews had, yet they had, as he observes, the law of nature written on their hearts, against which they sinned: this he proves by the effects of it, discernible in many of them by their outward lives and conversations, in conformity to the law; and by the inward testimony of their consciences, approving of good deeds, and reproaching for bad ones, Romans 2:14, which two verses being put into a parenthesis, Romans 2:16, is connected with Romans 2:13, and points at the time when the doers of the law shall be justified, even at the day of judgment: which judgment is described by the author of it, God; by the subject of it, the secrets of men's hearts; by the person employed in the divine procedure, Jesus Christ; and by the evidence and certainty of it, the Gospel preached by the apostle, and then follow a description of the Jews, an account of their profession of religion, and an ironical concession of the several characters they assumed to themselves: they are described by their name, a Jew; by their religion, which lay in trusting in the law of Moses, and in boasting of their interest in God, as the God of Israel, Romans 2:17, by their knowledge of the will of God, and approbation of the excellent things of his law, Romans 2:18, and by the characters they took to themselves, Romans 2:19, from which the apostle takes an occasion to expose the wickedness of some of their principal men, even their teachers, Romans 2:21, by whose wicked lives and conversations God was dishonoured, and his name blasphemed among the Gentiles, Romans 2:23, hence it appears, that their name, profession, and character, would not justify them before God; wherefore the apostle goes on, to remove their plea taken from circumcision, showing that could be of no use to them, but became void through their breach of the law, Romans 2:25, and that, on the other hand, an uncircumcised Gentile, by keeping the law from right principles, and to a right end, appeared to be the true circumcision, Romans 2:26, wherefore the circumcised Jew that broke the law, stood condemned by the uncircumcised Gentile that fulfilled it; so far was circumcision from being any part of his justification, or a plea in favour of it, Romans 2:27. Then the apostle concludes the chapter, by giving a definition of a real Jew, and of true circumcision; which he does first negatively, that it is not anything external that makes him a Jew, or anything in the flesh that is right circumcision; but secondly, positively, that it is an inward work of grace that denominates a man a Jew, in a spiritual sense, or an Israelite indeed; and that it is the circumcision of the heart, which is wrought by the Spirit of God, that is true and genuine: and such a Jew, and such a circumcision, are approved of by God, and commended by him, when the other have only praise of men, Romans 2:28, and therefore, however such persons may be justified before men, they cannot be justified in the sight of God; which is the drift and design of the apostle in the whole.
(v. 1-16) The Jews could not be justified by the law of Moses, any more than the Gentiles by the law of nature.
(Romans 2:17-29) The sins of the Jews confuted all their vain confidence in their outward privileges.
SUMMARY.--He who Condemns Others Condemns Himself. God's Judgments According to Truth; without Respects of Persons or Race. Having the Law does not Justify without Obedience to the Law. The Jews Condemned by their own Law. Circumcision Cannot Save. The True Circumcision that of the Heart.
*More commentary available by clicking individual verses.