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1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
Ver. 1. Therefore thou art inexcusable ] Though thou have no pleasure in them that do evil, as Romans 1:32 , but dost superciliously censure them, being thyself otherwise as bad. Cato is said to have exercised usury, to have prostituted his wife, to have slain himself. God often sets a Noverint universi "let it be known to the whole world" upon the world’s wizards, for the foulest fools.
2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
Ver. 2. Which commit such ] As Cato, Romans 2:1 , whom yet Velleius affirmeth to have been hominem virtuti simillimum. But God judgeth not as man.
3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?
Ver. 3. Thinkest thou ] This is preaching to the conscience, to the quick. Our exhortations should be as forked arrows to stick in men’s hearts; and not wound only, as other arrows. A poor hermit came to our Richard I, A. D. 1195, and preaching to him the words of eternal life, bade him be mindful of the subversion of Sodom, and to abstain from things unlawful: otherwise, said he, the deserved vengeance of God will come upon thee. The hermit being gone, the king neglected his words. But afterwards falling sick, he more seriously bethought himself, and waxing sound in soul as well as in body, he grew more devout, and charitable to the poor. (Hoveden. Speed.)
4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
Ver. 4. The goodness of God ] Gr. το χρηστον , his native goodness, ready to be employed to the behoof and benefit of the creature, Titus 3:4 . Now as the beam of the sun shining on fire doth discourage the burning of that; so the shining of God’s mercies on us should dishearten and extinguish lust in us. This is so equal and needful a duty, that Peter picks this flower out of Paul’s garden, as one of the choicest, and urgeth it upon those to whom he writes, 2 Peter 3:15 .
5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
Ver. 5. Treasurest up unto thyself ] Sicut mittentes pecuniam in gazophylacium, quod, ubi iam impletur, confringitur, saith Stella upon Luke. In treasuring, there Isaiah 1:1-31 . Laying in; 2. Lying hidden; 3. Bringing out again, as there is occasion. Wicked persons, while by following their lusts they think they do somewhat to their happiness, shall in the end find, pro thesauro carbones, those burning coals, Psalms 140:10 .
6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
Ver. 6. Who shall render ] The Papists hence infer merit of works. But it is well observed that the Church in the Canticles is nowhere described by the beauty of her hands, or fingers. Christ concealeth the mention of her hands, that is, of her works (Cotton on Canticles): 1. Because he had rather his Church should abound in good works in silence than boast of them (especially when they are wanting), as Rome doth. 2. Because it is he above that worketh all our works for us, Isaiah 26:12 ; Hosea 14:4 ; John 15:5 . Certum est nos facere quod facimus; sed ille facit, ut faciamus. (Augustine.) We do what we do; but it is he that causeth us so to do. See Trapp on " Mat 16:27 "
7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
Ver. 7. Who by patient continuance ] Or, by suffering persecution for righteousness’ sake. Gordus the martyr said, "It is to my loss, if you bate me anything in nay sufferings." Maiora certamina, maiora sequuntur praemia, οπου πλειων κοπος, πολυ κερδος , saith Ignatius. Much pains hath much gains.
8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
Ver. 8. But unto them that are contentious ] That wrangle and thwartle against clearest truths, searching the devil’s skull for carnal arguments, as those Athenians,Acts 17:16-21; Acts 17:16-21 ; being refractory as Pharaoh, who would not sit down under the miracle, but sent for the magicians. And though the word doth eat up all they say, as Moses’s rod did, yet harden they their hearts, as Pharaoh, and resolve to curse, as Balaam, whatever come of it. These are those contentious ones, εξ εριθειας .
9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
Ver. 9. Of the Jew first ] Qui ideo deteriores sunt, quia meliores esse deberent. Who are therefore worse, because they should be better. Salvian.
10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
Ver. 10. Peace ] Safety here and salvation hereafter.
To every man that worketh good ] Yet not for his work’s sake, because no proportion between the work and the wages; no more than between in a nutshell. That wretched monk therefore died blasphemously, who said, Redde mihi aeternam vitam quam debes, Pay me eternal life, that thou owest me. And how dare Bellarmine say, that good works are mercatura regni caelestis, the price we pay for heaven? or that other Papist, God forbid, that we should enjoy heaven as of mere alms to us: no, we have it by conquest. Strange impudence!
11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
Ver. 11. For ] See Trapp on " Act 10:34 "
12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
Ver. 12. Perish without law ] Or, though they had no written law, as that of Moses.
13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
Ver. 13. But the doers of the law ] The Scriptures are verba vivenda non legenda, as Egidins, Abbot of Nuremberg, said of the 119th Psalm. Boni Catholici sunt qui et fidem integram sequunfur, et bones mores. (Aug.) Lessons of music must be practised, and a copy not read only but acted. Divinity must be done as well as known.
14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
Ver. 14. Do by nature, &c. ] Velleius saith that Cato was Homo virtuti simillimus, cui id solum visum est rationem habere, quod haberet iustiam, omnibus humanis vitiis immunis, &c. Aristides, Phocion, and Socrates were famous for their integrity. (Plin. vii. 31.)
Are a law to themselves ] The Thracians gloried that they were αυτονομοι living laws, walking statutes.
15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
Ver. 15. Their thoughts meanwhile ] Or, between whiles: or in every interim of this life, μεταξυ . Other faculties may rest; an obscene dream by night shall not escape conscience’s record; it is index, iudex, vindex, informer, judge and defender, God’s spy and man’s overseer; and it is better to have it sore than seared.
16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
Ver. 16. According to my gospel ] Which promiseth heaven to believers. This is comfort to those that are faithful in weakness, though but weak in faith. The sentence of the last day shall be but a more manifest declaration of that judgment that the Lord in this life, most an end, hath passed upon men. Heathens shall be judged by the law of nature; profligate professors by the law written, and the word preached; believers by the gospel, which saith, "If there be a willing mind, God accepteth," &c.
17 Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,
Ver. 17. Restest in the law ] So spending thy time in a still dream, but thou shalt have sick waking, then when God shall send out summons for such sleepers. Men dream their Midianitish dreams, and tell them for law or gospel to their neighbours, Judges 7:13 .
18 And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law;
Ver. 18. Being instructed out of the law ] Gr. κατηχουμενος , Being well catechised and principled, thou art able to discern the doctrines, and choose the best. Luther somewhere professeth himself to be discipulum catechismi, a scholar to the catechism; and those that are not well seen in the principles, can make no good progress in religion.
19 And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,
Ver. 19. Of the blind ] The Chinese say that all other nations see but with one eye, they with two. The Pharisees were called Pekachin aperti, open-eyed: because they only saw. One of them was called Or hagnolam, " The light of the world." In Scripture, wise men only are termed Seers, Pekakim, Exodus 23:8 ; "Are we also blind?" say they to our Saviour; q.d. No, we scorn it: and yet how often hear we in that one chapter, Matthew 23:16-17 ; Matthew 23:19 ; Matthew 23:24 ; Matthew 23:26 "Thou blind Pharisee, Ye fools and blind."
20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.
Ver. 20. Which hast the form of knowledge ] A platform of wholesome words, a system, a method artificially moulded, μορφωσις , such as tutors and professors of arts and sciences have, and do read over again and again to their auditors.
21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?
Ver. 21. Teachest thou not thyself? ] He that knows well and does worse is but as a whiner which carrieth a torch in his hand to show others his own deformities. I have read of a woman, who living in professed doubt of the Godhead, after better illumination and repentance, did often protest that the vicious life of a great scholar in that town did conjure up those damnable doubts in her soul. Neronis illud (quautus artifex pereo?) quadrabit in te peritum et periturum. That is the best sermon that is digged out of a man’s own breast. Origen’s teaching and living were said to be both one. Eusebius said that he preached not by his words only, but by his practice; and that thereby he had almost persuaded Alexander Severus the emperor to be a Christian; his mother Mammaea he fully persuaded. But Ferdinand I, emperor, complained of some divines that they were in sua ipsorum vitia fecundi satis, bitter against those vices in others which they too much favoured in themselves. a
a Non verbis solum sed exemplis Grammatici de Ulisis erroribus disserentes suos non vident. Bern.
22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?
Ver. 22. Thou that sayest ] Hypocrites can talk of religion, as if their tongues did run upon pattens, they are fair professors, but foul sinners; as was that carnal cardinal Cremensis, the pope’s envoy, sent hither, A. D. 1114, to interdict priests’ marriages, and being taken in the act with a common strumpet, he excused it by saying he was no priest himself, but a correcter of them.
Dost thou commit sacrilege? ] The chronicler noteth of Queen Mary, that she restored again all ecclesiastical livings assumed to the crown, saying that she set more by the salvation of her own soul than she did by ten kingdoms. Shall not she that abhorred not idols rise up and condemn those that do, and yet commit sacrilege? (Speed’s Chron.)
23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?
Ver. 23. Through breaking ] By shooting short, or beyond, or wide of the mark; by omission, commission, or failing in the manner.
24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.
Ver. 24. For the name of God, &c. ] Heretics and hypocrites do still with Judas deliver up the Lord Christ to the scoffs and buffetings of his enemies. Augustine (De Civ. Dei, i. 52) complains of the ancient heretics, that in them many evil-minded men found matter of blaspheming the name of Christ because they also pretended to the Christian religion. Epiphanius addeth, that for the looseness of such men’s lives, and the baseness of their tenets, many of the heathens shunned the company of Christians, and would not be drawn to hear their sermons. Origen before them both cries out, Nunc male audiunt, castiganturque vulgo Christiani, quod aliter quam sapientibus convenit vivant, et vitia sub obtentu nominis celent, &c. There is an ill report goes of Christians for their unchristian conversation, &c. Ammianus Marcellinus, a heathen historian, deeply taxeth the pride, luxury, contentions, covetousness of the bishops in his time, and the deadly hatreds of common Christians. Nullae infestae hominibus bestiae sunt, ut sibi ferales plerique Christiani, saith he. A sad thing that a heathen should see and detest such hellish miscarriages among Christians. Bellarmine telleth us of certain hereties anciently called Christianocategori, that is, accusers of Christians, because for their sakes Christians were accused as worshippers of idols. a Papists give the same offence to Jews, who call scandal Chillul Hesham, a profaning of God’s name, which they hold the greatest of sins.
a De Eccles. Triumph. lib. ii. 11.
25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.
Ver. 25. If thou keep the law ] Which thou art thereby bound to do, either by thyself, or by thy surety Christ Jesus.
Thy circumcision is made uncircumcision ] Thou art no whit privileged by it. Unregenerate Israel is to God as Ethiopia, Amos 9:7 .
26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?
Ver. 26. If the uncircumcision ] Which it can never do. But admit it could, &c.
27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?
Ver. 27. Judge thee ] Men’s guilt is increased by their obligations, as was Solomon’s in departing from Gad, who had appeared unto him twice, 1 Kings 11:9 .
28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
Ver. 28. Neither is that circumcision ] See Colossians 2:11 . See Trapp on " Col 2:11 " Inward circumcision is (as Origen describeth it) Purgatio animae et abiectio vitiorum, or (as St Paul in the place above named) the putting off old Adam with his actions, by the circumcision of Christ, by his merit and Spirit.
29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
Ver. 29. Which is one inwardly ] An Israelite indeed, John 1:47 , that hath put away the foreskin of his heart, Jeremiah 4:4 . That worshippeth God in spirit, rejoiceth in Christ Jesus, and hath no confidence in the flesh, Philippians 3:3 .
Whose praise is not ] He seeks not the applause of men, but God’s approbation; and holds the Euge well done of conscience far better than the world’s Hic est. Here is. The holy virgin was so far from affecting the vain praises of men, that she was troubled when truly praised of an angel.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Romans 2". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent