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Bible Commentaries

The Bible Study New Testament

Romans 2

Verse 1


Do you? Paul has shown in chapter 1 just why God’s wrath comes on the Gentiles. Now he shows the Jews that they are no better, even though they had God’s special revelation, the Old Testament. The Jews may not have gone as deep into moral decay as did the Gentiles, but the same root lay at the bottom of their sin. They rejected God’s truth. For this reason, every time they denounced the Gentiles, they denounced themselves also.

Verse 2


We know that God is right. Truth makes it right for God to judge those who make sin a habit, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. Compare Revelation 18:4-66.18.9.

Verse 3


These very things yourself. The Jew did think he was exempt from God’s wrath. Read what Jesus said in Matthew 7:3-40.7.5. Many think their own sin will go unpunished!

Verse 4


Or perhaps you despise. They did despise God’s love, because they did not understand. The fact that God did not punish them immediately for their sin caused them to think they would never be punished. Therefore they despised the Law, because they believed it was inoperative. But God’s kindness was intended to make them repent. See 2 Peter 3:9.

Verse 5


But you have a hard and stubborn heart. By misunderstanding God’s kindness, they closed their minds to Truth. They used God’s patience to sin even more against him. This increased the amount of their guilt. [Degrees of punishment? See note on Luke 12:48.]

Verse 6


For God will reward. Having Abraham for an ancestor will be no help. God treats all men alike. The greatest sin is disbelief. The greatest work is to believe Jesus is the Messiah. [On the nature of faith, see note on James 2:19.]

Verse 7


Some men keep on doing good. Even though salvation is based entirely on God’s act in Christ, we save ourselves by a series of actions (see Philippians 2:12; Acts 2:40; 1 Corinthians 15:58; 2 Peter 1:10). Man divides himself into two groups: those who obey God; and those who obey the Devil. Faith is action (see James 2:22).

Verse 8


Other men are selfish. This verse shows the character of the wicked. Romans 2:9 shows their punishment. God lets us choose which group we are in, and Jesus is the basis of that choice (see John 14:21-43.14.24).

Verse 9


There will be suffering and pain. God’s wrath will come on the wicked. See Jude 1:14-65.1.16. Compare note on Revelation 15:1. For the Jews first. The Jews were first in line to receive God’s truth. Therefore, they will be first in line to be judged.

Verse 10


But God will give glory. Glory, honor, and peace are the eternal reward of those who do what is good. Again, the Jew stands first in line, because he heard about it first. [But no man really does good. See Romans 3:9-45.3.20.]

Verse 11


By the same standard. Both Jew and Gentile are measured by the same standard. Acts 10:34-44.10.35 explains this.

Verse 12


The Gentiles do not have the Law of Moses. The subject is “Jews and Gentiles.” The TEV restates the subject to make it clear. The Law of Moses was God’s revelation to the Jew only. The Gentile had no part in the Law. He sinned and was lost apart from the Law. See also Acts 17:30.

Verse 13


But by doing. The Jew heard the Law, but did not obey it. Therefore it did him no good. Only those who obey the Law can be put right with God by it. [The technical term is justified.] Whether there is anyone who actually can obey the Law is not a question asked here.

Verse 14


The Gentiles. When we examine things closely, we see that there is no such thing as a man absolutely without the knowledge of God’s will. Romans 1:18-45.1.32 shows this, therefore Paul’s argument is accurate. The Law did not make the Jew closer to God than the Gentile, even though it was an advantage. The whole point of Paul’s reasoning is that God has decreed only one method of putting men right with himself, and will follow one rule in rewarding and punishing them.

Verse 15


Their conduct shows. Their actions show that they do have this Law written in their hearts. Their consciences also demonstrate this by showing they know right from wrong. They have a sense of moral values. The codes of law in the ancient Gentile world showed this also.

Verse 16


And so. This verse connects with Romans 2:12-45.2.13. There will be no secrets on that Day! Those who have sinned (the whole human race) will be judged, whether under the Law or apart from the Law. See Romans 2:3. Through Jesus Christ. The fact that God will judge the whole human race through Jesus Christ is declared many times in the scriptures. See John 5:22; John 5:27; Acts 17:31; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10.

Verse 17


What about you? Some were proud and boasted because they were Jews. Paul has showed that all will be strictly judged according to their actions, whether they have the Law or not. In Romans 2:17-45.2.20, Paul shows what the Jew claimed for himself. You call yourself a Jew. They were proud of this name, because it meant to them that they were “God’s chosen people,” and this made them proud. You depend on the Law. There is an article before law in the corrected Greek text. The Law was their “good luck charm.” And boast about God. They thought of God as “their personal property,” and believed they were “eternally secure,” no matter what they did!

Verse 18


You know what God wants you to do. They did have this advantage. But they thought it was enough if they had this knowledge. Compare Romans 2:13.

Verse 19


A guide for the blind. This was their claim. God intended the Jews to be teachers of the Truth. But they failed to do it. Their actions did not match their claims.

Verse 20


You are certain. They believed the Law was God’s complete revelation to the world. [It wasn’t! God’s complete revelation is Jesus Christ. Compare John 1:17; Hebrews 1:1-58.1.3; John 1:1-43.1.4. The Law was in charge of us until Christ came (Galatians 3:24).]

Verse 21


You teach others. In Romans 2:21-45.2.24, he shows their actual practice. They did not “practice what they preached.” Do not steal. The Law said this, but Jews were famous (or infamous) for their shrewd business deals.

Verse 22


Do not commit adultery. The Law said this, but some of the best known teachers of the Law made a habit of this sin. You detest idols. Babylonian captivity taught the Jews never to worship idols again! By “robbing temples,” Paul means they conducted business deals which brought them in contact with idols and their temples, defiling themselves, but feeling no guilt about it.

Verse 23


You boast about. They were proud of the fact that God had given them the Law. But they shamed God by the way they lived their lives.

Verse 24


The scripture says. The quotation is from Isaiah 52:5 in the Septuagint. Their greed, their cheating, and their hypocrisy were well known to the Gentiles. And the Gentiles judged the Law of Moses by what they saw in those who claimed to follow it,

Verse 25


If you obey the Law. The Jews were very proud of their circumcision, because this was the seal of the Covenant. But it could not substitute for obedience. Compare Paul’s inspired statement in Galatians 5:12.

Verse 26


If the Gentile. The Gentile who obeys is “circumcised in spirit,” that is, he becomes a descendant of Abraham (Galatians 3:29). The disobedient Jew is no better than a Gentile. The obedient Gentile is as good as a Jew.

Verse 27


Will be condemned by the Gentiles. Compare Matthew 12:41-40.12.42 and notes. The obedience of the Gentiles who did not have the Law, condemned the Jews who did have the Law but did not obey it.

Verse 28


Who is a real Jew? Nationality and circumcision did not make a real Jew.

Verse 29


Who is a Jew on the Inside. Circumcision of the heart means inward purity. Compare Colossians 2:11-51.2.12. The work of God’s Spirit. This contrasted with the letter of the Law. Compare Philippians 3:3; Titus 3:5; Romans 3:24. This man receives his praise from God. Men may say evil things about one who is a true Jew, a spiritual descendant of Abraham, but God will approve him. The religious advantages which a Jew had, made him that much more guilty when he did not live up to what he knew. Compare James 4:17 and note.

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Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Romans 2". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.