The Impartiality of God
1Therefore you have no excuse or justification, everyone of you who [hypocritically] [a]judges and condemns others; for in passing judgment on another person, you condemn yourself, because you who judge [from a position of arrogance or self-righteousness] are habitually practicing the very same things [which you denounce]. 2 And we know that the judgment of God falls justly and in accordance with truth on those who practice such things. 3 But do you think this, O man, when you judge and condemn those who practice such things, and yet do the same yourself, that you will escape God’s judgment and elude His verdict? 4 Or do you have no regard for the wealth of His kindness and tolerance and patience [in withholding His wrath]? Are you [actually] unaware or ignorant [of the fact] that God’s kindness leads you to repentance [that is, to change your inner self, your old way of thinking—seek His purpose for your life]? 5 But because of your callous stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are [deliberately] storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 He will pay back to each person according to his deeds [justly, as his deeds deserve]: 7 to those who by persistence in doing good seek [unseen but certain heavenly] glory, honor, and immortality, [He will give the gift of] eternal life. 8 But for those who are selfishly ambitious and self-seeking and disobedient to the truth but responsive to wickedness, [there will be] wrath and indignation. 9 There will be tribulation and anguish [torturing confinement] for every human soul who does [or permits] evil, to the Jew first and also to the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and inner peace [will be given] to everyone who habitually does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality [no arbitrary favoritism; with Him one person is not more important than another].
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.
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]? 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].
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.