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Wednesday, December 6th, 2023
the First Week of Advent
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Bible Commentaries
Romans 2

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

Wherefore (διο). See Romans 1:24; Romans 1:26 for this relative conjunction, "because of which thing."

Without excuse (αναπολογητος). See on Romans 1:21.

Whosoever thou art that judgest (πας ο κρινων). Literally, "every one that judgest," vocative case in apposition with ανθρωπε. Paul begins his discussion of the failure of the Jew to attain to the God-kind of righteousness (Romans 2:1-3) with a general statement applicable to all as he did (Romans 1:18) in the discussion of the failure of the Gentiles (Lightfoot). The Gentile is readily condemned by the Jew when he sins and equally so is the Jew condemned by the Gentile in like case. Κρινω does not of itself mean to condemn, but to pick out, separate, approve, determine, pronounce judgment, condemn (if proper).

Another (τον ετερον). Literally, "the other man." The notion of two in the word, one criticizing the other.

Thou condemnest thyself (σεαυτον κατακρινεις). Note κατα here with κρινω, to make plain the adverse judgment.

For (γαρ). Explanatory reason for the preceding statement. The critic

practises (πρασσεις, not single acts ποιεω, but the habit πρασσω) the same things that he condemns.

Verse 2

Judgment (κριμα). Decision rendered whether good or bad.

According to (κατα with accusative). As the rule of measure. Cf. John 7:24.

Verse 3

And doest the same (κα ποιων αυτα). "And doest them occasionally."

That thou shalt escape (συ εκφευξη). Emphasis on συ, "thou conceited Jew expecting to escape God's κριμα because thou art a Jew." Cf. Matthew 3:8. Paul justifies the bitter words of the Baptist to the Pharisees and Sadducees. The future middle of the old verb εκφευγω (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:3). The Jew posed as immune to the ordinary laws of ethics because a Jew. Alas, some Christians affect the same immunity.

Verse 4

Or despiseth thou? (η καταφρονεισ?). Another alternative, that of scorn of God's kindness (χρηστοτητος, 2 Corinthians 6:6) and forbearance (ανοχης, old word, holding back from ανεχω, only here in N.T.) and longsuffering (μακροθυμιας, late word for which see 2 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 6:6). Καταφρονεω is old verb to think down on (κατα, φρονεω) as in Matthew 6:24; 1 Corinthians 11:22. This upstart Jew actually thinks down on God. And then "the riches" (του πλουτου) of all that comes from God.

Leadeth thee to repentance (εις μετανοιαν σε αγε). The very kindness (το χρηστον, the kindly quality) of God is trying to lead (conative present αγε) thee to a right-about face, a change of mind and attitude (μετανοιαν) instead of a complacent self-satisfaction and pride of race and privilege.

Verse 5

After thy hardness (κατα την σκληροτητα σου). "According to thy hardness (old word from σκληρος, hard, stiff, only here in N.T.) will God's judgment be."

And impenitent heart (κα αμετανοητον καρδιαν). See μετανοιαν just before. "Thy unreconstructed heart," "with no change in the attitude of thy heart."

Treasurest up for thyself (θησαυριζεις σεαυτω). See for θησαυριζω on Matthew 6:19; Luke 12:21; 2 Corinthians 12:14. Dative case σεαυτω (for thyself) with a touch of irony (Vincent).

Wrath (οργην). For such a Jew as already stated for the Gentile (Romans 1:18). There is a revelation (αποκαλυψεως) of God's wrath for both in the day of wrath and righteous judgment (δικαιοκρισιας, a late compound word, in LXX, two examples in the Oxyrhynchus papyri, only here in N.T.). See 2 Thessalonians 1:5 for δικαιας κρισεως. Paul looks to the judgment day as certain (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:10-12), the day of the Lord (2 Corinthians 1:14).

Verse 6

Who will render (ος αποδωσε). Paul quotes Proverbs 24:12 as in 2 Timothy 4:14. See also Matthew 16:27; Revelation 22:12. The rendering will be in accord with the facts.

Verse 7

To them that seek (τοις μεν--ζητουσιν). Dative plural of the articular present active participle of ζητεω with μεν on the one hand.

Eternal life (ζωην αιωνιον). Accusative case object of αποδωσε above.

Verse 8

But unto them that are factious and obey not the truth but obey unrighteousness (τοις δε εξ εριθειας κα απειθουσιν τη αληθεια πειθομενοις δε αδικια). The other side with δε and the articular present participles in the dative again, only with εξ εριθειας, there is no participle ουσιν. But the construction changes and the substantives that follow are not the object of αποδωσε like ζωην αινωνιον above, but are in the nominative as if with εσοντα (shall be) understood (anger and wrath, both οργη and θυμος, tribulation and anguish, again a pair θλιψις κα στενοχωρια on which see 2 Corinthians 5:4; 2 Corinthians 12:10).

Verse 9

Every soul of man (πασαν ψυχην ανθρωπου). See Romans 13:1 for this use of ψυχη for the individual.

Of the Jew first and also of the Greek (Ιουδαιου τε πρωτον κα Hελληνος). See on Romans 1:16. First not only in penalty as here, but in privilege also as in Romans 2:11; Romans 1:16.

Verse 11

Respect of persons (προσωπολημψια). Milligan (Vocabulary) considers this word (in N.T. only here, Colossians 3:25; Ephesians 6:9) and προσωπολημπτης (Acts 10:34) and προσωπολημπτεω (James 2:9) the earliest definitely known Christian words, not in LXX or non-Christian writings. See on Acts 10:34 for the formation in imitation of the Hebrew to take note of the face (προσωπον, λαμβανω), to judge by the face or appearance.

Verse 12

Have sinned (ημαρτον). Constative aorist active indicative, "sinned," a timeless aorist.

Without law (ανομως). Old adverb "contrary to law," "unjustly," but here in ignorance of the Mosaic law (or of any law). Nowhere else in N.T.

Shall also perish without law (ανομως κα απολουντα). Future middle indicative of απολλυμ, to destroy. This is a very important statement. The heathen who sin are lost, because they do not keep the law which they have, not because they do not have the Mosaic law or Christianity.

Under law (εν νομω). In the sphere of the Mosaic law.

By the law (δια νομου). The Jew has to stand or fall by the Mosaic law.

Verse 13

Not the hearers--but the doers (ου γαρ ο ακροαται--αλλ' ο ποιητα). The law was read in the synagogue, but there was no actual virtue in listening. The virtue is in doing. See a like contrast by James between "hearers" and "doers" of the gospel (James 1:22-25).

Before God (παρα τω θεω). By God's side, as God looks at it.

Shall be justified (δικαιωθησοντα). Future passive indicative of δικαιοω, to declare righteous, to set right. "Shall be declared righteous." Like James 1:22-25.

Verse 14

That have no law (τα μη νομον εχοντα). Better, "that have not the law" (the Mosaic law).

By nature (φυσε). Instrumental case of φυσις, old word from φυω, to beget. The Gentiles are without the Mosaic law, but not without some knowledge of God in conscience and when they do right "they are a law to themselves" (εαυτοις εισιν νομος). This is an obvious reply to the Jewish critic.

Verse 15

In that they (οιτινες). "The very ones who," qualitative relative.

Written in their hearts (γραπτον εν ταις καρδιαις αυτων). Verbal adjective of γραφω, to write. When their conduct corresponds on any point with the Mosaic law they practise the unwritten law in their hearts.

Their conscience bearing witness therewith (συνμαρτυρουσης αυτων της συνειδησεως). On conscience (συνειδησις) see on 1 Corinthians 8:7; 1 Corinthians 10:25; 2 Corinthians 1:12. Genitive absolute here with present active participle συνμαρτυρουσης as in Romans 9:1. The word συνειδησις means co-knowledge by the side of the original consciousness of the act. This second knowledge is personified as confronting the first (Sanday and Headlam). The Stoics used the word a great deal and Paul has it twenty times. It is not in the O.T., but first in this sense in Wisdom 17:10. All men have this faculty of passing judgment on their actions. It can be over-scrupulous (1 Corinthians 10:25) or "seared" by abuse (1 Timothy 4:12). It acts according to the light it has.

Their thoughts one with another accusing or also excusing them (μεταξυ αλληλων των λογισμων κατηγορουντων η κα απολογουμενων). Genitive absolute again showing the alternative action of the conscience, now accusing, now excusing. Paul does not say that a heathen's conscience always commends everything that he thinks, says, or does. In order for one to be set right with God by his own life he must always act in accord with his conscience and never have its disapproval. That, of course, is impossible else Christ died for naught (Galatians 2:21). Jesus alone lived a sinless life. For one to be saved without Christ he must also live a sinless life.

Verse 16

According to my gospel (κατα το ευαγγελιον μου). What Paul preaches (1 Corinthians 15:1) and which is the true gospel

Verse 17

Bearest the name (επονομαζη). Present passive indicative in condition of first class of επονομαζω, old word, to put a name upon (επ), only here in N.T. "Thou art surnamed Jew" (Lightfoot). Jew as opposed to Greek denoted nationality while Hebrew accented the idea of language.

Restest upon the law (επαναπαυη νομω). Late and rare double compound, in LXX and once in the Didache. In N.T. only here and Luke 10:6 which see. It means to lean upon, to refresh oneself back upon anything, here with locative case (νομω). It is the picture of blind and mechanical reliance on the Mosaic law.

Gloriest in God (καυχασα εν θεω). Koine vernacular form for καυχα (καυχαεσαι, καυχασα) of καυχαομα as in verse Romans 2:23; 1 Corinthians 4:7 and κατακαυχασα in Romans 11:18. The Jew gloried in God as a national asset and private prerogative (2 Corinthians 10:15; Galatians 6:13).

Approvest the things that are excellent (δοκιμαζεις τα διαφεροντα). Originally, "Thou testest the things that differ," and then as a result comes the approval for the excellent things. As in Philippians 1:10 it is difficult to tell which stage of the process Paul has in mind.

Instructed out of the law (κατηχουμενος εκ του νομου). Present passive participle of κατηχεω, a rare verb to instruct, though occurring in the papyri for legal instruction. See on Luke 1:4; 1 Corinthians 14:19. The Jew's "ethical discernment was the fruit of catechetical and synagogical instruction in the Old Testament" (Shedd).

Verse 19

A guide of the blind (οδηγον τυφλων). Accusative οδηγον in predicate with εινα to agree with σεαυτον, accusative of general reference with infinitive εινα in indirect discourse after πεποιθας. Late word (Polybius, Plutarch) from οδος, way, and ηγεομα, to lead, one who leads the way. Τυφλων is objective genitive plural. The Jews were meant by God to be guides for the Gentiles, for salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22).

A light (φως). "A light for those in darkness" (των εν σκοτε, objective genitive again). But this intention of God about the Jews had resulted in conceited arrogance on their part.

Verse 20

A corrector of the foolish (παιδευτην αφρονων). Old word (from παιδευω) for instructor, in Plato, and probably so here, though corrector or chastiser in Hebrews 12:9 (the only N.T. instances). See Luke 23:16. Late inscriptions give it as instructor (Preisigke). Αφρονων is a hard word for Gentiles, but it is the Jewish standpoint that Paul gives. Each termed the other "dogs."

Of babes (νηπιων). Novitiates or proselytes to Judaism just as in Galatians 4:1. Paul used it of those not of legal age.

The form (την μορφωσιν). Rare word only in Theophrastus and Paul (here and 2 Timothy 3:5). Pallis regards it as a Stoical term for education. Lightfoot considers the μορφωσις as "the rough-sketch, the pencilling of the μορφη," the outline or framework, and in 2 Timothy 3:5 "the outline without the substance." This is Paul's picture of the Jew as he sees himself drawn with consummate skill and subtle irony.

Verse 21

Thou therefore that teachest another (ο ουν διδασκων ετερον). Paul suddenly breaks off (anacoluthon) the long sentence that began in verse Romans 2:17 and starts over again with a phrase that gathers it all up in small compass (teachest) and drives it home (therefore) on the Jew (thyself).

Not to steal (μη κλεπτειν). Infinitive with μη in indirect command (indirect discourse) after κερυσσων.

Dost thou steal? (κλεπτεισ?). The preaching (κερυσσων) was fine, but the practice? A home-thrust.

Should not commit adultery (μη μοιχευειν). Infinitive in direct command again after λεγων. "The Talmud charges the crime of adultery upon the three most illustrious Rabbins" (Vincent).

Verse 22

That abhorrest (ο βδελυσσομενος). Old word to make foul, to stink, to have abhorrence for. In LXX, in N.T. only here and Revelation 21:8. The very word used by Jesus to express their horror of idols (ειδωλα, see on Acts 7:41; 1 Corinthians 12:2). See Matthew 24:15 for "abomination."

Dost thou rob temples? (ιεροσυλεισ?). Old verb from ιεροσυλος (Acts 19:37) and that from ιερον, temple, and συλαω, to rob. The town clerk (Acts 19:37) said that these Jews (Paul and his companions) were "not robbers of temples," proof that the charge was sometimes made against Jews, though expressly forbidden the Jews (Josephus, Ant. IV. 8, 10). Paul refers to the crime of robbing idol temples in spite of the defilement of contact with idolatry.

Verse 23

Through thy transgression of the law (δια της παραβασεως του νομου). Old word for stepping across a line. Trench calls attention to "the mournfully numerous group of words" for the varieties of sin like αγνοημα, ignorance, ανομια, violation of law, αμαρτια, missing the mark, εττημα, falling short, παραβασις, passing over the line, παρακοη, disobedience to a voice, παρανομια, putting the law aside, παραπτωμα, falling down, πλημμελεια, discord.

Verse 24

Because of you (δι' υμας). Free quotation from the LXX of Isaiah 52:5. The Jews were jealous for the Name of God and would not pronounce the Tetragrammaton and yet acted so that the Gentiles blasphemed that Name.

Verse 25

If thou be a doer of the law (εαν νομον πρασσεις). Condition of third class and the present (continued action) subjunctive of πρασσω, a verb meaning to do as a habit.

Is become uncircumcision (ακροβυστια γεγονεν). The Jew is then like the Gentile, with no privilege at all. Circumcision was simply the seal of the covenant relation of Israel with God.

Verse 26

Keep (φυλασση). Present subjunctive with εαν, condition of third class, mere supposition like that in verse Romans 2:25, "keep on keeping" perfectly, Paul means.

For (εις). As often in N.T.

Verse 27

If it fulfill the law (τον νομον τελουσα). Present active participle (conditional use of the participle) of τελεω, to finish, continually fulfilling to the end (as would be necessary).

Judge thee (κρινει--σε). Unusual position of σε (thee) so far from the verb κρινε.

With the letter and circumcision (δια γραμματος κα περιτομης). Δια means here accompanied by, with the advantage of.

Verse 28

Which is one outwardly (ο εν τω φανερω). Ιουδαιος (Jew) has to be repeated (ellipse) with the article, "the in the open Jew" (circumcision, phylacteries, tithes, etc.). Likewise repeat περιτομη (circumcision).

Verse 29

Who is one inwardly (ο εν τω κρυπτω). Repeat Ιουδαιος (Jew) here also, "the in the inward part Jew" (circumcision of the heart περιτομη καρδιας and not a mere surgical operation as in Colossians 2:11, in the spirit εν πνευματ, with which compare 2 Corinthians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 3:6). This inward or inside Jew who lives up to his covenant relation with God is the high standard that Paul puts before the merely professional Jew described above.

Whose praise (ου ο επαινος). The antecedent of the relative ου is Ιουδαιος (Jew). Probably (Gifford) a reference to the etymology of Judah (praise) as seen in Galatians 49:8.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Romans 2". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/romans-2.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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