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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Romans 2

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 2

Romans 2:5. After ἀποκαλ. D*** K L א**, min(574), and several versions and Fathers, including Or., read καί, which is adopted by Mill, Wetst. Matth. and Fritzsche.(575) Against it is the greatly preponderant authority of the uncials, and the suspicion of having been added by way of relief to the accumulation of genitives.

Romans 2:8. μέν after ἀπειθ. is wanting in B D* G א*, and is omitted by Lachm. and Tisch. (8), but was easily passed over from inattention as seeming superfluous.

The order ὀργὴ καὶ θυμός (thus also Lachm. and Tisch.) is decisively attested.

Romans 2:13. The article before νόμου, which Elz. and Fritzsche read both times, but which Lachm. and Tisch. both times omit, is wanting in A B D E (which however has it in the first case) G א, 31, 46, Damasc.; and betrays itself in the general form of the saying as inserted in order to denote the Mosaic law.

Romans 2:14. ποιῇ] Lachm. and Tisch. read ποιῶσιν, following A B א, min(576), Clem. Or. Damasc. (D* G have ποιοῦσιν). The plural is an amendment suggested by the context.

Romans 2:16. Instead of ὅτε Lachm. following A and some Fathers, has .; an interpretation; as is also ἐν ἡμέρᾳ in B.

Romans 2:17. εἰ δέ] The too weakly attested Recept(577) ἴδε or ἰδέ is either a mere copyist’s error, or an alteration to get rid of the supposed anakoluthon. See Reiche, Comm. crit.


Verse 1

Romans 2:1. διό] refers back to the main tenor of the whole previous exposition (Romans 2:18-29), and that indeed in its more special aspect as setting forth the moral condition of heathenism in respect to its inexcusableness. This reference is confirmed by the fact, that ἀναπολόγητος εἶ is said with a manifest glancing back to Romans 1:20; it is laid down by Paul as it were as a finger-post for his διό. The reference assumed by Reiche, Fritzsche, Krehl, de Wette, and older writers, to the proposition in Romans 1:32, that the rightful demand of God adjudges death to the evil-doers; or to the cognizance of that verdict, in spite of which the Gentiles were so immoral (Philippi, Baur, Th. Schott, Hofmann, Mangold), has against it the fact that this thought formed only a subsidiary sentence in what went before; whereas here a new section begins, at the head of which Paul very naturally has placed a reference, even expressly marked by ἀναπολόγητος, to the entire section ending with Romans 1:32, over which he now throws once more a retrospective glance. The connection of ideas therefore is: “wherefore,” i.e. on account of that abomination of vice pointed out in Romans 2:18-29, “thou art inexcusable,” etc.; “for”—to exhibit now more exactly this “wherefore”—wherein thou judgest the other, thou condemnest thyself, because thou doest the same thing. In other words: before the mirror of this Gentile life of sin all excuse vanishes from thee, O man who judgest, for this mirror reflects thine own conduct, which thou thyself therefore condemnest by thy judgment. A deeply tragic de te narratur! into which the proud Jewish consciousness sees itself all of a sudden transferred. A proleptic use of διό (Tholuck) is not to be thought of; not even γάρ is so used in the N. T. (see on John 4:44), and διό neither in the N. T. nor elsewhere.

ἄνθρωπε πᾶς κρίνων] Just as Paul, Romans 1:18, designated the Gentiles by the general term ἀνθρώπων, and only brought forward the special reference to them in the progress of the discourse; so also he now designates the Jews, not as yet by name (see this first at Romans 2:17), but generally by the address ἄνθρωπε, which however already implies a trace of reproach (Romans 9:20; Luke 12:14; Plat. Prot. p. 330 D, Gorg. p. 452 B, and the passages in Wetstein, Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 164), while at the same time he makes it by his πᾶς κρίνων sufficiently apparent that he is no longer speaking of the class already delineated, but is turning now to the Jews contrasted with them; for the self-righteous judging respecting the Gentiles as rejected of God (Midr. Tillin f. 6, 3; Chetubb. f. 3, 2; and many other passages) was in fact a characteristic of the Jews. Hence all the more groundless is the hasty judgment, that this passage has nothing whatever to do with the contrast between Jews and Gentiles (Hofmann). Comp Romans 2:17 ff. And that it is the condemning κρίνειν which is meant, and not the moral capacity of judgment in general (Th. Schott) and its exercise (Hofmann) (comp on Matthew 7:9), follows from the subsequent κατακρίνεις more precisely defining its import. Consequently the quite general interpretation (Beza, Calovius, Benecke, Mehring, Luthardt, vom freien Willen, p. 416) seems untenable, as well as the reference to the Gentiles as the judging subjects (Th. Schott), or to all to whom Romans 1:32 applied (Hofmann), or even specially to Gentile authorities (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, Oecumenius, Cajetanus, Grotius).

Regarding the nominative as further ethical epexegesis of the vocative, see Bernhardy, p. 67, Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 123.

ἐν ] either instrumental: thereby, that, equivalent to ἐν τούτῳ ὅτι (Hofmann); or, still more closely corresponding to the τὰ γὰρ αὐτὰ πράσσεις: in which thing, in which point. Comp Romans 14:22. The temporal rendering: eodem tempore quo (Köllner, Reithmayr), arbitrarily obscures the moral identity, which Paul intended to bring out. The κατακρίνεις however is not facto condemnas. (Estius, van Hengel), but the judgment pronounced upon the other is a condemnatory judgment upon thyself, namely, because it applies to thine own conduct. On the contrast between ἕτερον and σεαυτόν comp Romans 2:21; 1 Corinthians 10:24; 1 Corinthians 10:29; Galatians 6:4; Philippians 2:4.

τὰ αὐτά] the same sins and vices, not indeed according to all their several concrete manifestations, as previously described, but according to their essential moral categories; see Romans 2:17-24. Comp on the idea John 8:7.

κρίνων] with reproachful emphasis.


Verse 2

Romans 2:2. οἴδαμεν] Paul means to pronounce it as in his own view and that of his readers an undoubted truth (comp Romans 3:19), that the judicial decision which God will one day pronounce, etc. The δέ carries on the discourse, and the entire sentence forms the propositio major to what is now (Romans 2:3) to be proved, namely, that the person judging (the Jew), who yet makes himself guilty of wickedness similar to the things ( τὰ τοιαῦτα) in question, deceives himself if he thinks to escape the true judgment of God (Romans 2:5). Thus τὸ κρῖμα(585) τ. θεοῦ has the emphasis of contrast with that human judgment so inconsistent with their own conduct. The predicate of being κατὰ ἀλήθειαν ἐπὶ τοὺς κ. τ. λ(586) belongs not to the latter, but to the divine κρῖμα. Th. Schott erroneously emphasises πράσσοντας, dislocating the clear train of thought, as if Paul were treating of the truth that the Gentile’s knowledge of what was right would not shield him from sin and condemnation. Hofmann also introduces a similar confusion.

κατὰ ἀλήθειαν] contains the standard, in accordance with which the judgment of God is pronounced against the τὰ τοιαῦτα πράσσοντες: in accordance with truth, so that it is, without error or partiality, entirely adequate to the moral condition of these subjects. Raphel, Köllner, Krehl, Mehring, and Hofmann take it as equivalent to ἀληθῶς, really (4 Maccabees 5:15; and in Greek writers), so that the meaning would be: it is in reality issued over them. But it could not be the object of the Apostle to remind them of the reality of the divine judicial sentence, which was under all circumstances undoubted and undisputed, so much as of its truth, for the sake of the Jews who fancied that that judgment would condemn the Gentiles, but would spare the descendants of Abraham as such, and on account of their circumcision and other theocratic privileges; by which idea they manifestly denied the ἀλήθεια of the κρῖ΄α τοῦ θεοῦ, as if it were an untrue false sentence, the contents of which did not correspond to the existing state of the facts.


Verse 3

Romans 2:3. Antithesis of Romans 2:2, “That God judges evildoers according to truth, we know (Romans 2:2); but judgest thou (in the face of that proposition) that thou shalt.… escape?” This would indeed be at variance with the ἀλήθεια of the judgment. Comp Matthew 3:7; and the passages from profane writers in Grotius. The non-interrogative rendering of Romans 2:3-4 (Hofmann) is not called for by the connection with the assertive declaration in Romans 2:5; it weakens the lively force of the discourse, and utterly fails to suit the in Romans 2:4, so prevalent in double questions.

τοῦτο] preparing with emphasis (here: of surprise) for the following ὅτι σὺ ἐκφ. κ. τ. λ(588); Bernhardy, p. 284.

σὺ] Thou on thy side, as if thou madest an exception; opposed to the Jewish self-conceit (Matthew 3:7 ff.; Luke 3:7 f.). The emphasis is not on θεοῦ (Chrysostom, Theophylact, and others).

ἐκφεύξῃ] not: through acquittal (Bengel), comp Dem. 602, 2, Aristoph. Vesp. 157 al(590), but inasmuch as thou shalt not be subjected to the κρῖμα of God, but shalt on the contrary escape it and be secure afar off from it. Comp 2 Maccabees 6:26; 2 Maccabees 7:35; 1 Thessalonians 5:3; Hebrews 2:3. According to the Jewish illusion only the Gentiles were to be judged (Bertholdt, Christol. p. 206 ff.), whereas all Israel were to share in the Messianic kingdom as its native children (Matthew 8:12).


Verse 4

Romans 2:4. Or—in case thou hast not this illusion—despisest thou, etc. The draws away the attention from the case first put as a question, and proposes another; Romans 6:3; 1 Corinthians 9:6, and often elsewhere, Baeumlein, Partikell. p. 132.

The despising the divine goodness is the contemptuous unconcern as to its holy purpose, which produces as a natural consequence security in sinning (Sirach 5:5 f.).

τοῦ πλούτου τῆς χρηστ.] πλούτος, as designation of the “abundantia et magnitude” (Estius), is a very current expression with the Apostle (Romans 9:23, Romans 11:35; Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 2:4; Ephesians 2:7; Ephesians 3:16, Colossians 1:27), but is not a Hebraism (Psalms 5:8; Psalms 69:17 al(592)), being used also by Greek authors; Plat. Euth. p. 12 A, and see Loesner, p. 245.

χρηστότητος] is the goodness of God, in accordance with which He is inclined to benefit (and not to punish). Comp Tittmann’s Synon. p. 195.

ἀνοχή and μακροθ., patience and long-suffering—the two terms exhausting the one idea—denote the disposition of God, in accordance with which he indulgently tolerates the sins and delays the punishments. See Wetstein, and the passages from the Fathers in Suicer, Thes. II. p. 294. Comp Tittmann, Synon. p. 194.

ἀγνοῶν] inasmuch as it is unknown to thee, that etc. By this accompanying definition of the καταφρονεῖς the (guilty) folly of the despiser is laid bare as its tragic source. Bengel says aptly: “miratur Paulus hanc ignorantiam.” The literal sense is arbitrarily altered by Pareus, Reiche, de Wette, Maier, and others, who make it denote the not being willing to know, which it does not denote even in Acts 17:23; Romans 10:3; by Kollner, who, following Grotius, Koppe, and many others, holds it to mean non considerans; and also by Hofmann: “to perceive, as one ought.” Comp 1 Corinthians 15:34.

ἄγει] of ethical incitement by influencing the will. Plat. Rep. p. 572 D, al(596) See Kypke and Reisig, a(597) Soph. O. C. 253. Comp Romans 8:14. But it is not to be taken of the conatus (desires to urge), but of the standing relation of the goodness of God to the moral condition of man.(599) This relation is an impelling to repentance, in which the failure of result on the part of man does not cancel the act of the ἄγει itself. Comp Wisdom of Solomon 11:23; Appian. ii. 63.


Verse 5

Romans 2:5. A vividly introduced contrast to the preceding proposition ὄτι τὸ χρηστὸν.… ἄγει; not a continuation of the question (Lachmann, following Koppe and others; also Baumgarten-Crusius, Ewald), but affirmative (by which the discourse becomes far more impressive and striking) as a setting forth of the actual position of things, which is brought about by man through his impenitence, in opposition to the drawing of the divine kindness; for the words can only, in pursuance of the correct interrogative rendering of Romans 2:3, be connected with Romans 2:4, and not also (as Hofmann holds) with Romans 2:3.

κατά] in accordance with; in a causal sense. Comp on Philippians 4:11. On σκληρ. κ. ἀμεταν. καρδ. comp Acts 7:31. It is correlative with the previous εἰς μετάνοιαν.

θησαυρίζεις σεαυτῷ ὀργὴν] Wolf aptly says: “innuitur.… irae divinae judicia paulatim coacervari, ut tandem universa promantur.” Comp Calovius; and see Deuteronomy 32:33-35; Proverbs 1:18; Proverbs 2:7; Sirach 3:4. For passages of profane writers, where θησαυρός and θησαυρίζειν are used to express the accumulation of evils, punishments, and the like, see Alberti, Obss. p. 297; Münthe in loc(604), from Philo: Loesner, p. 246. The purposely chosen word glances back to the previous τοῦ πλούτου κ. τ. λ(605) and σεαυτῷ, to thyself, heightens the tragic nature of the foolish conduct that redounds to one’s own destruction; comp Romans 13:2.

ἐν ἡ΄έρᾳ ὀργ.] not to be taken with Luther, Beza, Castalio, Piscator, Calvin, Estius, and many others as in diem irae (Philippians 1:10; Jude 1:6; Tobit 4:9), belongs to ὀργήν: which breaks out on the day of wrath. Comp 1 Thessalonians 3:13. Regarding the repetition of ὀργῆς after ὀργήν Bengel correctly remarks: “ δεινότης sermonis magna vi.” Whose wrath, is self-evident, without its being necessary to connect ὀργής with θεοῦ (Hofmann), which is forbidden by the intervening ἀποκαλ. and by the previous absolutely put ὀργήν. The article was not required by ἡμέρᾳ on account of the genitive definitions; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Ephesians 4:30; Philippians 1:6, al(608); Winer, p. 118 f. [E. T. 155 f.]; Kühner, II. 1, p. 524.

Paul characterises the day of judgment, and with what powerful emphasis! by an accumulation of genitives and weighty expressions, with reference to the fate of the bad as ἡμέρα ὁργῆς, but with reference to its general destination (afterwards Romans 2:6 ff. to be further carried out in detail) for good and bad as a day ἀποκαλ. δικαιοκρισ. τ. θεοῦ, i.e. on which God’s righteous judgment (which until then remains hidden) is revealed, publicly exhibited. With the exception of passages of the Fathers, such as Justin, de resurr. p. 223, δικαιοκρισία occurs only in an unknown translation of Hosea 6:5 (where the LXX. read κρῖ΄α) and the the Test. XII. Patr. p. 547 and 581.


Verse 6

Romans 2:6. Compare Psalms 62:12; Proverbs 24:12; analogies from Greek writers in Spiess, Logos spermat. p. 214.

κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ] i.e. according as shall be commensurate with the moral quality of his actions. On this, and on the following amplification down to Romans 2:16, it is to be observed:—(1) Paul is undoubtedly speaking of the judgment of the world, which God will cause to be held by Christ, Romans 2:16; (2) The subjects who are judged are Jews and Gentiles, Romans 2:9 ff., consequently all men, Romans 2:16. The distinction, as to whether they are Christians or not, is left out of view in this exposition, as the latter is partly intended to introduce the reader to a knowledge of the necessity of justification by faith (down to Romans 3:20); and it is consequently also left out of view that judgment according to works cannot result in bliss for the unbelievers, because there is wanting to them the very thing whose vital action produces the works in accordance with which the Judge awards bliss, namely, faith and the accompanying regeneration. (3) The standard of the decision is moral action and its opposite, Romans 2:6-10; and this standard is really and in fact the only one, to which at the last judgment all, even the Christians themselves, shall be subjected, and by which their fate for eternity shall be determined, Matthew 16:27; Matthew 25:31 ff.; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Galatians 6:7 ff.; Ephesians 6:8; Colossians 3:24; Revelation 2:23; Revelation 20:12; Revelation 22:12. But (4) the relation of moral action in the case of the Christian to the fides salvifica, as the necessary effect and fruit of which that action must be demanded at the judgment, cannot, for the reason given above under (2), be here introduced into the discussion. (5) On the contrary, the law only (in the case of the Jews the Mosaic, in the case of the Gentiles the natural), must be presented as the medium of the decision, Romans 2:12 ff.; a view which has likewise its full truth (compare what was remarked under (3) above), since the Christian also, because he is to be judged according to his action, must be judged according to law (compare the doctrine of the tertius legis usus), and indeed according to the πλήρωσις τοῦ νόμου introduced by Christ, Matthew 5:17. Comp Matthew 25:31 ff.; Matthew 13:8-10,—although he becomes partaker of salvation, not through the merit of works (a point the further development of which formed no part of the Apostle’s general discussion here), but through faith, of which the works are the practical evidence and measure.(610) Accordingly the “phrasis legis” (Melancthon) is indeed to be recognised in our passage, but it is to be apprehended in its full truth, which does not stamp as a mere theoretic abstraction (Baur) the contrast, deeply enough experienced by Paul himself, between the righteousness of works and righteousness of faith. It is neither to be looked upon as needing the corrective of the Christian plan of salvation; nor as an inconsistency (Fritzsche); nor yet in such a light, that the doctrine of justification involves a partial abrogation of the moral order of the world (Reiche), which is, on the contrary, confirmed and established by it, Romans 3:31. But our passage yields nothing in favour of the possibility, which God may grant to unbelievers, of turning to Christ after death (Tholuck), or of becoming partakers of the salvation in Christ in virtue of an exercise of divine power (Th. Schott): and the representation employed for that purpose,—that the life of faith is the product of a previous life-tendency, and that the ἐργα perfect themselves in faith (Luthardt, Tholuck),—is erroneous, because incompatible with the N. T. conception of regeneration as a new creation, as a putting off of the old man, as a having died and risen again, as a being begotten of God through the Spirit, etc. etc. The new life (Romans 6:4) is the direct opposite of the old (Romans 6:19 ff.). The possibility referred to is to be judged of in connection with the descensus Christi ad inferos, but is irrelevant here.


Verse 7

Romans 2:7. To those, who by virtue of perseverance in morally-good work seek to obtain glory and honour and immortality, eternal life sc(611) ἀποδώσει. Consequently καθʼ ὑπο΄. ἔργου ἀγαθ. contains the standard, the regulative principle, by which the seeking after glory, honour, etc. is guided, and ἔργου ἀγαθοῦ,(612) which is not with Beza to be connected with δόξαν, is the genitive of the object to which the ὑπο΄ονή refers (1 Thessalonians 1:3; Polyb. iv. 51, 1; Theophr. Char. 6, 1); while δόξαν κ. τιμὴν κ. ἀφθαρσ. is an exhaustive description of the future salvation according to its glorious appearing (2 Corinthians 4:17; Matthew 13:43), according to the honour united with it (for it is the prize of victory, 1 Corinthians 9:25; Philippians 3:14; 2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4, the joint heirship with Christ, Romans 8:17, the reigning along with Him, 2 Timothy 2:12), and according to its imperishableness (1 Corinthians 15:52 ff.; Revelation 21:4; 1 Peter 1:4). Paul presents the moral effort under a character thus specifically Christian, just because he can attribute it only to Christian Jews and Gentiles; and hence he is only able to give his description of this first half of the subjects of future judgment, notwithstanding the generality of his language, in the Christian form, in which alone it really takes place. In keeping with this is also the ζωὴν αἰώνιον, i.e. eternal life in the kingdom of the Messiah, Romans 5:21, Romans 6:22 f.; Galatians 6:8. The above construction of the words is already followed by Theophilus, a(613) Autol. i. 20, ed. Wolf, and by most expositors, including Tholuck, Rückert, Köllner, de Wette, Olshausen, Philippi, Maier, van Hengel, Umbreit. The objection raised against it by Reiche and Hofmann, that according to the analogy of Romans 2:6 καθʼ ὑπομ. ἔργ. ἀγ. must contain the standard of the ἀποδώσει, and cannot therefore belong to ζητοῦσι, is untenable, because καθʼ ὑπο΄. ἔργ. ἀγ., though attached to ζητοῦσι, nevertheless does contain (indirectly) the standard of ἀποδώσει; so that there remains only an immaterial difference, which however is in fact very consonant to the lively versatility of the Apostle’s thought. Still less weight attaches to the objection, that to seek glory and honour is not in itself a praiseworthy thing; for the moral tenor of the ζητεῖν δόξαν κ. τ. λ(614) (comp Matthew 6:33; John 5:44) is most definitely assured by καθʼ ὑπομ. ἔργ. ἀγ. Utterly unfounded, in fine, is the objection of clumsiness (Hofmann); the symmetrical fulness of Romans 2:7-8, has a certain solemnity about it. Reiche and Hofmann, following Oecumenius,(616) Estius, and others, arrange it so that to δόξαν κ. τι΄. κ. ἀφθαρσίαν they supply ἀποδώσει, whilst ζητοῦσι is to be combined with ζωὴν αἰών. and regarded as an apposition or (Hofmann) reason assigned to τοῖς ΄έν, and καθʼ ὑπο΄. ἔργ. ἀγ. is the standard of ἀποδώσει. Substantially so also Ewald. No syntactic objection can be urged against this rendering; but how tamely and heavily is the ζητοῦσι ζωὴν αἰών. subjoined! Paul would have written clearly, emphatically, and in harmony with the contrast in Romans 2:8 : τοῖς.… ἀγαθοῦ ζωὴν αἰ. ζητοῦσι δόξαν κ. τι΄. κ. ἀφθ.


Verse 8

Romans 2:8. τοῖς δὲ ἐξ ἐριθείας] sc(617) οὖσι: paraphrase of the substantive idea, to be explained from the conception of the moral condition as drawing its origin thence (comp Romans 3:26; Romans 4:12; Romans 4:14; Galatians 3:10; Philippians 1:17, al(619)). See Bernhardy, p. 288 f. Comp the use of υἱοί and τέκνα in Ephesians 2:2. We are precluded from taking (with Hofmann) ἐκ in a causal sense (in consequence of ἐριθεία), and as belonging to ἀπειθ. κ. τ. λ(621) by the καί, which would here express the idea, unsuitable to the connection: even (Baeuml. Partik. p. 150, also Xen. Mem. i. 3, 1). This καί, the simple and, which is not however with Hofmann to be interpreted as if Paul had written μᾶλλον or τοὐναντίον (“instead of seeking after eternal life, rather,” etc.), clearly shows that τοῖς δὲ ἐξ ἐριθείας is to be taken by itself, as it has been correctly explained since the time of the Vulgate and Chrysostom.

ἐριθεία] is not to be derived from ἔρις or ἐρίζω, but from ἔριθος, a hired labourer,(622) a spinner (Homer, xviii. 550, 560; Hesiod, ἔργ. 600 f.; Dem. 1313, 6; LXX. Isaiah 38:12; hence ἐριθεύω, to work for hire (Tobit 2:11), then also: to act selfishly, to lay plots. Compare ἐξεριθεύεσθαι, Polyb. x. 25, 9, and ἀνεριθεύτος (without party intrigues) in Philo, p. 1001 E. ἐριθεια has therefore, besides the primary sense of work for hire, the twofold ethical signification (1) mercenary greed; and (2) desire of intrigue, pursuit of partisan courses; Arist. Pol. v. 2 f. See Fritzsche, Excursus on ch. 2; regarding the composition of the word, see on 2 Corinthians 12:20. The latter signification is to be retained in all passages of the N. T. 2 Corinthians 12:20; Galatians 5:20; Philippians 1:16; Philippians 2:3; James 3:14; James 3:16.

οἱ ἐξ ἐριθείας are therefore the intriguers, the partisan actors; whose will and striving are conducive not to the truth (for that in fact is a power of an entirely different kind, opposed to their character), but to immorality; wherefore there is added, as further characterizing them: καί ἀπειθοῦσι. Compare Ignatius, ad Philad. 8, where the opposite of ἐριθ. is the χριστο΄άθεια, i.e. the discipleship of Christ, which excludes all selfish partisan effort. Haughtiness (as van Hengel explains it), and the craving for self-assertion (Mehring and Hofmann) are combined with it, but are not what the word itself signifies. The interpretation formerly usual: qui sunt ex contentione (Vulg.), those fond of strife (Origen, Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Erasmus, Luther, Beza, Calvin, etc.), which was understood for the most part as those rebelling against God, is based partly on the erroneous derivation from ἔρις, partly on the groundless assumption that in the other passages of the N. T. the sense of quarrelsomeness is necessary. Since this is not the case, Reiche’s conjecture is irrelevant, that the vulgar usus loquendi had erroneously derived the word from ἔρις and had lent to it the corresponding signification. Köllner explains it rightly as partisanship, but gratuitously assumes that this was a special designation for “godless character” in general. So in substance also Fritzsche: “homines nequam.” The very addition, further describing these men, καὶ ἀπειθοῦσι.… ἀδικίᾳ, quite allows us to suppose that Paul had before his mind the strict and proper meaning of the word partisanship; and it is therefore unwarrantable to base the common but linguistically erroneous explanation on the affinity between the notions of partisanship and of contentiousness (Philippi). The question to be determined is not the category of ideas to which the ἐριθεύειν belongs, but the definite individual idea which it expresses.

ὀργὴ κ. θυ΄ός] sc(623) ἔσται. In the animation of his description Paul has broken off the construction previously followed. To connect these words with what follows (Mehring) disturbs unnecessarily the important symmetry of the passage. On the distinction between the two words, see Tittmann’s Synon. p. 131 ff. θυμός: vehement passion, in Cic. Tusc. iv. 9, 21 rendered excandescentia, here, as also in Galatians 5:20, Ephesians 4:31, Colossians 3:8, Revelation 16:19; Revelation 19:15, often also in the O. T. and the Apocrypha, made known by its combination with ὀργή, and by its being put last as the more vehement, as the holy divine wrath. Compare Isoc. xii. Rom. 81: ὀργῆς κ. θυμοῦ μεστοί. Herodian, viii. 4, 1 : ὀργῆ κ. θυ΄ᾦ χρώ΄ενος. Lucian, de column. 23, al(624)


Verse 9-10

Romans 2:9-10. Emphatic recapitulation of Romans 2:7-8, inverting the order, and in addition, giving special prominence to the universality of the retribution. The placing the penal retribution first gives to this an aspect the more threatening and alarming, especially as the terms expressing it are now accumulated in one breath.

θλῖψις κ. στενοχωρία] Tribulation and anguish, sc(625) ἔσται. The calamity is thus described as pressing upon them from without ( θλῖψις), and as felt inwardly with the sense of its being beyond help ( στενοχ.), Romans 8:35; 2 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 6:12; compare LXX. Isaiah 30:6; Deuteronomy 28:53.

ἐπὶ πᾶσαν ψυχὴν ἀνθρ.] denotes not simply “upon every man” (so even Philippi), but “upon every soul which belongs to a man” who practises evil. The ψυχή is thereby designated as that which is affected by the θλῖψ. κ. στενοχ. (Acts 2:43; Matthew 26:28, al(626)); comp Winer, p. 147 [E. T. 194]. It is the part which feels the pain.(628)

πρῶτον] Quite as in Romans 1:16. The Jews, as the people of God, in possession of the revelation with its promises and threatenings, are therefore necessarily also those upon whom the retribution of judgment—not the reward merely, but also the punishment—has to find in the first instance its execution. In both aspects they have the priority based on their position in the history of salvation as the theocratic people, and that as certainly as God is impartial. “Judaei particeps Graecus,” Bengel. The Jewish conceit is counteracted in the first clause by ʼιουδαίου τε πρῶτον, in the second by καὶ ἕλληνι, and counteracted with sternly consistent earnestness. The second πρῶτον precludes our taking the first as ironical (Reiche).

εἰρήνη] welfare, by which is intended that of the Messiah’s kingdom, as in Romans 8:6. It is not materially different from the ἀφθαρσία and ζωὴ αἰώνιος of Romans 2:7; the totality of that which had already been described in special aspects by δόξα and τι΄ή (comp on Romans 2:7).

Regarding the distinction between ἐργαζ. and κατεργαζ. (works and brings to pass) see on Romans 1:27.


Verse 11

Romans 2:11. Ground assigned for Romans 2:9-10, so far as concerns the ἰουδ. π. κ. ἕλλην.

προσωποληψία] Partial preference from personal considerations. See on Galatians 2:6. Melancthon: “dare aequalia inequalibus vel inequalia aequalibus.” The ground specified is directed against the Jewish theocratic fancy. Comp Acts 10:34 f.; Sirach 32 (35) 15.


Verse 12

Romans 2:12. Assigns the ground in point of fact for the proposition contained in Romans 2:11, in special reference to the future judgment of condemnation.(631)

ἀνόμως] i.e. without the standard of the law (without having had it). Comp 1 Corinthians 9:21; Wisdom of Solomon 17:2. Those whose sins were not transgressions of the Mosaic law (but of the moral law of nature), the sinful Gentiles, shall be transferred into the penal state of eternal death without the standard of the law, without having their condemnation decided in accordance with the requirements of a νό΄ος to which they are strangers. The ἀπολοῦνται, which is to set in at the final judgment, not through natural necessity (Mangold), is the opposite of the σωτηρία, Romans 1:16, of the ζήσεται, Romans 1:17, of the ζωὴ αἰώνιος, Romans 2:7, of the δόξα κ. τ. λ(633), Romans 2:10; comp John 3:15; Romans 14:15; 1 Corinthians 1:18. This very ἀπολοῦνται should of itself have precluded commentators from finding in the second ἀνόμως an element of mitigation (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Oecumenius), as if it was meant to exclude the severity of the law. The immoral Gentiles may not hope to remain unpunished on account of their non-possession of the law; punished they shall be independently of the standard of the law. This is the confirmation of the ἀπροσωποληψία of God on the one side, in regard to the Gentiles.

The καί before ἀπολ. is the also of a corresponding relation, but not between ἀνόμως and ἀνόμως, as if Paul had written καὶ ἀνόμ. ἀπολ., but between ἥμαρτον and ἀπολ.: as they have sinned without law, so shall they also perish without law. In this way ἀνόμως retains the emphasis of the specific how. Compare the following. The praeterite ἥμαρτον is spoken from the standpoint of the time of the judgment.

καὶ ὅσοι ἐν νὁμῳ κ. τ. λ(635)] This gives the other aspect of the case, with reference to the Jews, who do not escape the judgment (of condemnation) on account of their privilege of possessing the law, but on the contrary are to be judged by means of the law, so that sentence shall be passed on them in virtue of it (see Deuteronomy 27:26; comp John 5:45).

ἐν νό΄ῳ] Not on the law (Luther), which would be εἰς νόμον, but the opposite of ἀνό΄ως: with the law, i.e. in possession of the law, which they had as a standard,(637) Winer, p. 361 [E. T. 482]. On νόμος without the article, used of the Mosaic law, see Winer, 117 [E. T. 152]. So frequently in the Apocrypha, and of particular laws also in classical writers. To question this use of it in the N. T. (van Hengel, Th. Schott, Hofmann, and others) opens the way for artificial and sometimes intolerable explanations of the several passages.

κριθήσ.] an unsought change of the verb, suggested by διὰ νόμου.


Verse 13

Romans 2:13 proves the correctness of the proposition, so much at variance with the fancy of the Jews, ὅσοι ἐν νόμῳ ἥμαρτον, διὰ νόμου κριθήσονται.

The placing of Romans 2:13-15 in a parenthesis, as after Beza’s example is done by Grotius, Griesbach, and others, also by Reiche and Winer, is to be rejected, because Romans 2:13, which cannot be placed in a parenthesis alone (as Koppe and Mehring do), is closely joined with what immediately precedes, and it is only in Romans 2:14 that an intervening thought is introduced by way of illustration. The parenthesis is (with Baumgarten-Crusius) to be limited to Romans 2:14-15, as is done also by Lachmann. See on Romans 2:16.

οἱ ἀκροαταί] A reference to the public reading of the Thorah on the Sabbath. Comp Acts 15:21; 2 Corinthians 3:14; John 12:34; Josephus, Antt. v. 1, 26, v. 2, 7. The substantive brings out more forcibly than the participial form of expression would have done the characteristic feature: those, whose business is hearing. Compare Theile, a(639) Jac. i. 22, p. 76.

παρὰ τῷ θεῷ] ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ, Romans 3:20, according to God’s judgment. 1 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:6; Winer, p. 369 [E. T. 492].

δικαιωθήσ.] They shall be declared as righteous, normal. See on Romans 1:17. This οἱ ποιηταὶ νόμου δικαιωθήσονται is the general fundamental law of God who judges with righteousness (Galatians 3:12); a fundamental law which required to be urged here in proof of the previous assertion ὅσοι ἐν νόμῳ ἥμαρτον, διὰ ν. κριθήσ. Compare Weiss, bibl. Theol. § 87. How in the event of its being impossible for a man to be a true ποιητὴς νόμου (Romans 3:9 ff.) faith comes in and furnishes a δικαιοσύνη ἐκ πίστεως, and then how man, by means of the καινότης ζωῆς (Romans 6:4) attained through faith, must and can fulfil (Romans 8:4) the law completed by Christ (the νόμος τοῦ πνεύματος τῆς ζωῆς, Romans 8:2), were topics not belonging to the present discussion. Compare on Romans 2:6. “Haec descriptio est justitia legis, quae nihil impedit alia dicta de justitia fidei,” Melancthon.


Verse 14

Romans 2:14. ὅταν] quando, supposes a case which may take place at any time, and whose frequent occurrence is possible, as “eventus ad experientiam revocatus” (Klotz, a(643) Devar. p. 689): in the case if, so often as.

γάρ] introducing the proof that the proposition of Romans 2:13 also holds of the Gentiles. See above.

ἔθνη] not to be understood of the Gentiles collectively, to which Reiche, de Wette, Köllner, Philippi refer it—for this must have been expressed by the article (against which view neither Romans 9:30 nor Romans 3:29, nor 1 Corinthians 1:23, is to be adduced), and the putting of the case ὅταν.… ποιῇ with respect to the heathen generally would be in itself untrue—but Paul means rather Gentiles among whom the supposed case occurs.

τὰ μὴ νόμον ἔχοντα] they who have not the law; a more precise definition bearing on the case, and bringing forward the point on which here the argument turns. See Winer, p. 127 [E. T. 174]. Observe the distinction between μὴ νόμον ἔχ. and νό΄ον ΄ὴ ἔχ. The former negatives—while the contrast of the φύσει floats before the mind—the possession of the law, instead of which they have merely a natural analogue of it (compare Stalb. a(644) Plat. Crit. p. 47 D); the latter negatives the possession of the law, which is wanting to them, whilst the Jews have it.

φύσει τὰ τοῦ νόμου ποιῇ] Most expositors uphold this connection, including Rückert, 2nd ed. On the other hand Bengel and Usteri join φύσει to ΄ὴ νό΄. ἔχοντα, but thus make it superfluous and even unsuitable, and deprive it of all weight in the connection, especially as the word φύσις has here no other sense than nativa indoles, i. e. the original constitution given with existence, and not moulded by any extraneous training, culture, or other influence beyond the endowments of nature and their natural development (comp on Ephesians 2:3); φύσει: “quia natura eorum ita fert,” Stalb. a(646) Plat. Phaedr. p. 249. The dative denotes the mediating cause. And that it is the moral prompting of conscience left to itself, which Paul means by φύσει in contrast to the divine leading of the law, is plain from Romans 2:15. The φύσει ποιεῖν lies beyond the sphere of positive revelation and its promptings, leadings, etc. It takes place in virtue of an indoles ingenita, not interventu disciplinae divinae formata, so that the thought of an operation of grace or of the Logos taking place apart from Christ is quite foreign to this passage, and its affirmation is not in harmony with the truncus et lapis of the Formula Concordiae. See the later discussions of dogmatic writers as to this point in Luthardt, v. freien Willen, p. 366 ff.

τὰ τοῦ νόμου] what belongs to the law, i.e. its constituent elements, its precepts. Paul does not say simply τὸν νόμον; for he is thinking not of Gentiles who fulfil the law as a whole, but of those who in concrete cases by their action respond to the particular portions of the law concerned. Compare Luthardt l.c(647) p. 409. The close relation, in which the ποιεῖν τὰ τοῦ νόμου here stands to ποιηταὶ νό΄ου in Romans 2:13, is fatal to the view of Beza, Joh. Cappell., Elsner, Wetstein, Michaelis, Flatt, and Mehring, who explain it as quae lex facit, namely, the commanding, convincing, condemning, etc.

ἑαυτοῖς εἰσὶ νόμος] They are the law unto themselves, i.e. their moral nature, with its voice of conscience commanding and forbidding, supplies to their own Ego the place of the revealed law possessed by the Jews. Thus in that ποιεῖν they serve for themselves as a regulator of the conduct that agrees with the divine law. For parallels (Manil. v. 495, al(648): ipse sibi lex est, Arist. Nicom. Romans 4:14 : νόμος ὤν ἑαυτῷ al(649)) see Wetstein; compare also Porph. a(650) Marc. 25, p. 304.

Observe further that here, where the participle stands without the article—consequently not οἱ νόμ. μὴ ἔχοντες (as previously τὰ ΄ὴ.… ἔχοντα)—it is to be resolved by since they, because they; which however does not convey the idea: because they are conscious of the absence of the law (as Hofmann objects), but rather: because this want occurs in their case. See Buttmann’s neut. Gr. p. 301. The resolution by although (Th. Schott) is opposed to the connection; that by while (Hofmann) fails to convey the definite and logical meaning; which is, that Gentiles, in the cases indicated by ὅταν κ. τ. λ(651) would not be ἑαυτοῖς νόμος, if they had the positive law.

The οὗτοι comprehends emphatically the subjects in question; Kühner, II. 1, p. 568; Buttmann l.c(652) p. 262 f.


Verses 14-16

Romans 2:14-16. The οἱ ποιηταὶ νόμου δικαιωθήσονται just asserted did not require proof with regard to the Jews. But, as the regulative principle of the last judgment, it could not but appear to need proof with regard to the Gentiles, since that fundamental rule might seem to admit of no application to those who sin ἀνόμως and perish ἀνόμως. Now the Gentiles, though beyond the pale of the Mosaic law and not incurring condemnation according to the standard of that law, yet possess in the moral law of nature a certain substitute for the Mosaic law not given to them. It is in virtue of this state of things that they present themselves, not as excepted from the above rule οἱ ποιηταὶ νόμου δικαιωθ., but as subjected to it; namely, in the indirect way that they, although ἄνομοι in the positive sense, have nevertheless in the natural law a substitute for the positive one—which is apparent, as often as Gentiles do by nature that which the positive Mosaic law not given to them enjoins. The connection may therefore be paraphrased somewhat thus: “With right and reason I say: the doers of the law shall be justified; for as to the case of the Gentiles, that ye may not regard them as beyond reach of that rule, it is proved in fact by those instances, in which Gentiles, though not in possession of the law of Moses, do by nature the requirements of this law, that they are the law unto themselves, because, namely, they thereby show that its obligation stands written in their hearts,” etc. It is to be observed at the same time that Paul does not wish to prove a justification of the Gentiles really occurring as a result through the fulfilment of their natural law—a misconception against which he has already guarded himself in Romans 2:12,—but he desires simply to establish the regulative principle of justification through the law in the case of the Gentiles. Real actual justification by the law takes place neither among Jews nor Gentiles; because in no case is there a complete fulfilment, either, among the Jews, of the revealed law or, among the Gentiles, of the natural law—which in fact is only a substitute for the former, but at the same time forms the limit beyond which their responsibility and their judgment cannot in principle go, because they have nothing higher (in opposition to Philippi, who refers to the πλήρωμα νόμου, Romans 13:10).

The connection of thought between Romans 2:14 and what precedes it has been very variously apprehended. According to Koppe (compare Calvin, Flatt, and Mehring) Romans 2:14-16 prove the condemnation of the Gentiles asserted in Romans 2:12, and Romans 2:17 ff. that of the Jews; while Romans 2:13 is a parenthesis. But, seeing that in the whole development of the argument γάρ always refers to what immediately precedes, it is even in itself an arbitrary proceeding to make ὅταν γάρ in Romans 2:14, without any evident necessity imposed by the course of thought, refer to Romans 2:12, and to treat Romans 2:13, although it contains a very appropriate reason assigned for the second part of Romans 2:12, as a parenthesis to be broken off from connection with what follows; and decisive against this view are the words καὶ ἀπολογουμένων in Romans 2:15, which place it beyond doubt that Romans 2:14-16 were not intended as a proof of the ἀπολοῦνται in Romans 2:12. Philippi regards Romans 2:14 as establishing only the first half of Romans 2:13 : “not the hearers of the law are just before God, for even the Gentiles have a law, i.e. for even the Gentiles are ἀκροαταὶ τοῦ νόμου.” But we have no right to exclude thus from the reference of the γάρ just the very assertion immediately preceding, and to make it refer to a purely negative clause which had merely served to pave the way for this assertion. The reference to the negative half of Romans 2:13 would only be warranted in accordance with the text, had Paul, as he might have done, inverted the order of the two parts of Romans 2:13, and so given to the negative clause the second place.(640) And the less could a reader see reason to refer the γάρ to this negative clause in the position in which the Apostle has placed it, since Romans 2:14 speaks of Gentiles who do the law, by which the attention was necessarily directed, not to the negative, but to the affirmative, half of Romans 2:13 ( οἱ ποιηταὶ κ. τ. λ(641)).(642) Such a mode of presenting the connection is even more arbitrary than if we should supply after Romans 2:13 the thought: “and therewith also the Gentiles” (Köllner and others), which however is quite unnecessary. Our view is in substance that given already by Chrysostom ( οὐκ ἐκβάλλω τὸν νόμον, φῆσιν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐντεῦθεν δικαιῶ τὰ ἔθνη), Erasmus, and others; more recently by Tholuck, Rückert, Reiche, Köllner, Fritzsche, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Reithmayr, van Hengel, Ewald, Th. Schott, though with very various modifications.


Verse 15

Romans 2:15. οἵτινες κ. τ. λ(653)]. quippe qui. See on Romans 1:25. The οὗτοι of Romans 2:14 are characterised, and consequently the ἑαυτοῖς εἰσὶ νό΄ος, just asserted, is confirmed: being such as show (practically by their action, Romans 2:14, make it known) that the work of the law is written in their hearts, wherewithal their conscience bears joint witness, etc.

That ἐνδείκνυνται should be understood of the practical proof which takes place by the ποιεῖν τὰ τοῦ νόμου (not by the testimony of conscience, Bengel, Tholuck) is required by the συν in συ΄΄αρτυρούσης, which is not a mere strengthening of the simple word (Köllner, Olshausen; comp Tholuck, following earlier expositors; see, on the other hand, Romans 8:16, Romans 9:1), but denotes the agreement of the internal evidence of conscience with the external proof by fact.(655) It is impossible to regard the ἐνδείκνυνται as taking place on the day indicated in Romans 2:16 (Hofmann), since this day can be no other than that of the last judgment. See on Romans 2:16.

τὸ ἔργον τοῦ νόμου] The work relating to the law, the conduct corresponding to it, fulfilling it. The opposite is ἁμαρτήματα νόμου, Wisdom of Solomon 2:12. Compare on Galatians 2:16. The singular is collective (Galatians 6:4), as a summing up of the ἔργα τ. νόμου (Romans 3:20; Romans 3:28, Romans 9:32; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:2; Galatians 3:5; Galatians 3:10). Compare τὰ τοῦ νόμου above. This stands written in their hearts as commanded, as moral obligation,(656) as ethical law of nature.

γραπτόν] purposely chosen with reference to the written law of Moses, although the moral law is ἄγραφος (Plato. Legg. p. 481 B, Thuc. ii. 37, 3, and Krüger, in loc(657) p. 200; Xen. Mem. iv. 4, 19; Soph. Ant. 450; Dem. 317, 23, 639, 22; Dion. Hal. vii. 41). Compare Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10, and the similar designations among the Rabbins in Buxtorf, Lex Talm. p. 852, 1349. The supplying of ὄν serves to explain the adjective, which is used instead of the participle to denote what continues and is constant. Compare Bornemann, a(658) Xen. Mem. i. 5, 1; Symp. 4, 25. See the truly classic description of this inner law, and that as divine, in Cicero, de Republ. iii. 23; of the Greeks, comp Soph. O. T. 838 ff., and Wunder, in loc(660)

συμμαρτυρούσης αὐτῶν συνειδήσεως, καὶ μεταξὺ κ. τ. λ(661)] While they make known outwardly by their action that the ἔργον of the law is written in their hearts, their inner moral consciousness accords with it; namely (1), in reference to their own, personal relation: the testimony of their own consciences; and (2), in regard to their mutual relation: the accusations or vindications(662) that are carried on between Gentiles and Gentiles ( μεταξὺ ἀλλήλων) by their thoughts, by their moral judgments. This view of the sense is required by the correlation of the points αὐτῶν and μεταξὺ ἀλλήλων placed with emphasis in the foreground ( μεταξὺ occurring in Paul’s writings only here, and therefore all the more intentionally chosen in this case); so that thus both the personal individual testimony of conscience ( αὐτῶν) and the mutual judgment of the thoughts ( μεταξὺ ἀλλήλων), are adduced, as accompanying internal acts, in confirmation of the ἐνδείκνυνται. The Gentiles, who do the requirement of the law, practically show thereby that that requirement is inscribed on their hearts; and this is attested at the same time, so far as concerns the actors themselves, by their (following) conscience, and, so far as concerns their relation to other Gentiles, by the accusations or the vindications which they reciprocally practise in their moral thoughts, the one making reflections of a condemnatory or of a justifying nature on the other.(663) The prominence thus given to αὐτῶν and μεταξὺ ἀλλήλων, and the antithetical correlation of the two points, have been commonly misunderstood (though not by Castalio, Storr, Flatt, Baumgarten-Crusius), and consequently κ. μετ. ἀλλ. τῶν διαλογ. κ. τ. λ(664) has been taken merely as an explanatory description of the process of conscience, in which the thoughts accuse or vindicate one another (i.e. one thought the other); so that ἀλλήλων is referred to the thoughts, and not, as is nevertheless required by the αὐτῶν standing in contradistinction to it, to the ἔθνη. This view ought even to have been precluded by attending to the fact that, since συ΄΄αρτ.… συνειδήσεως must, in harmony with the context, mean the approving conscience, what follows cannot well suit as an exposition, because in it the κατηγορούντων preponderates. Finally, it was an arbitrary expedient, rendering ΄εταξὺ merely superfluous and confusing, to separate it from ἀλλήλ., and to explain the former as meaning at a future time, viz. ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κ. τ. λ(665) (Koppe), or between, at the same time (Köllner, Jatho).


Verse 16

Romans 2:16 has its connection with what goes before very variously defined. While Ewald goes so far as to join it with Romans 2:5, and regards everything intervening as a parenthesis, many, and recently most expositors, have connected it with the immediately preceding συμμαρτ.… ἀπολογ.; in which case, however, ἐν ἡμέρᾳ cannot be taken for εἰς ἡμέραν (Calvin), nor the present participles in a future sense (Fritzsche), since, in accordance with the context, they are contemporary with ἐνδείκνυνται. And for that very reason we must reject the view, which has been often assumed, that Paul suddenly transports himself from the present into the time of the judgment, when the exercise of conscience in the Gentiles will be specially active, and that for this reason he at once adds ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κ. τ. λ(666) directly without inserting a καὶ τοῦτο ΄άλιστα, or καὶ τοῦτο γενήσεται, or the like (Rückert; Tholuck, de Wette, Reithmayr, Philippi, van Hengel, Umbreit; comp Estius). The supposition of such an illogical and violent leap of thought in so clear and steady a thinker as Paul is thoroughly arbitrary and wholly without analogy. Moreover, the simple temporal self-judgment of the Gentiles fits into the connection so perfectly, that Paul cannot even have conceived of it as an anticipation of the last judgment (Mehring). Quite an incorrect thought, repugnant to Romans 2:12 and to the whole doctrinal system of the Apostle, is obtained by Luthardt (v. freien Willen, p. 410 f.), when, very arbitrarily joining it only with καὶ ἀπολογουμένων, he discovers here the hope “that to such the reconciling grace of Christ shall one day be extended.” This is not confirmed by Romans 2:26. A relative natural morality never in the N. T. supplies the place of faith, which is the absolutely necessary condition of reconciling grace. Compare Romans 3:9; Romans 3:22, Romans 7:14 ff. al(668) Lastly Hofmann, who formerly held a view similar to Luthardt’s (see Schriftbew. I. p. 669), now connects ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κ. τ. λ(669) to ἐνδείκνυνται in such a way, that he explains Romans 2:16 not at all of the final judgment, but, in contrast even to the latter, of every day on which God causes the Gospel to be proclaimed among the Gentiles; every such day shall be for all, who hear the message, a day of inward judgment; whoever believingly accepts it, and embraces salvation, thereby proves that he himself demands from himself what the revealed law enjoins on those who possess it. This interpretation, which would require us to read with Hofmann κρίνει (the present) instead of κρινεῖ, is as novel as it is erroneous. For the expressions in Romans 2:16 are so entirely those formally used to denote the last judgment (comp on ἡμέρᾳ, 1 Corinthians 1:8; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:14 al(671); on κρινεῖ, Romans 2:2-3; Romans 2:5; Romans 3:6 al(672); on θεός as the Judges 3:6; Judges 14:10; Judges 14:12 al(673); on τὰ κρυπτά, 1 Corinthians 4:5; on διὰ ʼιησοῦ χ. 2 Corinthians 5:10; Acts 17:31), that nothing else could occur to any reader than the conception of that judgment, which moreover has been present to the mind since Romans 2:2, and from which even κατὰ τὸ εὐαγγ. μου does not draw away the attention. Every element in Hofmann’s exposition is subjectively introduced, so that Paul could not have wrapped up the simple thought, which is supposed to be expressed in so precious a manner, in a more strange disguise—a thought, moreover, which is here utterly irrelevant, since Paul has to do simply with the natural law of the Gentiles in its relation to the revealed νόμος of Judaism, and apart as yet from all reference to the occurrence of their conversion; and hence also the comparison with Hebrews 4:12 is here out of place. The proper view of the passage depends on our treating as a parenthesis, not (with Winer and others) Romans 2:13-15, but with Lachmann, Romans 2:14-15. This parenthetical insertion is already indicated as such by the fact, that the great judicial proposition previously expressed: οἱ ποιηταὶ νόμου δικαιωθήσονται is in Romans 2:14-15 proved only with reference to a part of mankind, with regard to which it might seem possibly doubtful: it is required by the circumstance, that without it ἐν ἡμέρᾳ has no proper logical reference whatever; and lastly, it is confirmed by the consideration that, if it is adopted, the whole is wound up not with an illustration having reference to the Gentiles, but—and how emphatically and solemnly!—with the leading thought of the whole discussion.(674)

τὰ κρυπτὰ τῶν ἀνθρ.] The hidden things of men, i.e. everything in their inner or outer life which does not come to the knowledge of others at all, or not according to its moral quality. This special characteristic of the judgment is given with reference to Romans 2:13, inasmuch as it is just such a judging that is necessary for, and the preliminary to, the realisation of what is affirmed in Romans 2:13.

κατὰ τὸ εὐαγγέλ. μου] contains, according to the usual view, the accordance of the assertion κρινεῖ θεός τὰ κρυπτὰ τ. ἀνθρ. διὰ ʼι. χρ. with the Apostle’s official proclamation of salvation. But the fact that God will judge, etc., was so universally known and so entirely undoubted, that the addition in that sense would have been in the highest degree superfluous; and indeed the μου in that case would have no significance bearing on the matter, since no one proclaiming the Gospel could call in question that truth. We must therefore explain it, with Pareus, Calovius, and many others, including Umbreit and Hofmann, as referring to the manner of the κρινεῖ. Paul was so certain of the sole truth of the Gospel committed to him (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 4:20 f.) which he had by revelation of God (Galatians 1:11 f.), that he could not but be equally certain that the future judgment would not be held otherwise than according to his Gospel, whose contents are conceived as the standard of the sentence. In that same Gospel he knew it to be divinely determined, to whom the στέφανος τῆς δικαιοσύνης, the eternal life and its δόξα, or on the other hand its opposite, eternal ἀπώλεια, should be awarded by the judge. But he knew at the same time the axiom announced in Romans 2:13, with which Romans 2:16 connects itself, to be not at variance therewith (comp Romans 3:31); as indeed on the contrary, it is just in the Gospel that perfection in the fulfilment of the law is demanded, and accordingly (see ch. Romans 6:8, Romans 13:8 ff.) the judicial recompense is determined conformably to the conduct, Romans 8:4; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Ephesians 5:5; 1 Corinthians 6:9 f.; Galatians 5:19-23. On μου Calvin’s note suffices: suum appellat ratione ministerii, and that, to distinguish it from the preaching not of other apostles, but of false, and especially of Judaizing teachers. Comp Romans 16:25; 2 Timothy 2:8. The mistaken view is held by Origen, Jerome and other Fathers (see Fabricius, Cod. apocr. p. 371 f.), that Paul meant by his Gospel that of Luke.

διὰ ιησοῦ χρ.] As He is the Mediator of eternal salvation, so also it is He who is commissioned by God to hold the judgment. Comp Acts 17:30-31; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10 al(678); John 5:27; Matthew 25:31.


Verses 17-20

Romans 2:17-20 contain the protasis, whose tenor of censure (called in question without ground by Th. Schott and Hofmann) reveals itself at first gently, but afterwards, Romans 2:19 f., with greater force.

ἱουδαῖος ἐπονομάζῃ] if thou art named “Jew.” This was the theocratic title of honour opposed to heathenism ( יודה יה, see Philo, Alleg. I. p. 55 B, de plant. Noë, p. 233 A). Comp Revelation 2:9. So much the less therefore is ἐπονομάζ. to be here understood of a surname (Bengel). Full effect is given to the compound in classic writers also by the notion of name-giving, imposing the name. See Plat. Crat. p. 397 E, p. 406 A Phaedr. p. 238 A al(683); Xen. Oec. 6, 17; Thuc. ii. 29, 3; Polyb. i. 29, 2; comp Genesis 4:17; Genesis 4:25 f. Van Hengel arbitrarily imports the idea: pro veteri nomine (Israelitarum) novum substituens.

ἐπαναπαύη τῷ νόμῳ] acquiescis, thou reliest (Micah 3:11; 1 Maccabees 8:12; see Wetstein) on the law, comp John 5:45, as if the possession and knowledge of it were to thee the guarantee of salvation. The rest, of not being obliged first of all to seek what God’s will is (Hofmann), cannot be meant; since such a seeking cannot be separated from the possession of the law, but is on the contrary directed to that very law (see Romans 2:18). But in the law the Jew saw the magna charta of his assurance of salvation. He relied upon it.

ἐν θεῷ] As being the exclusive Father and Protector of the nation. Comp Genesis 17:7; Isaiah 45:25; Jeremiah 31:33. Observe the climax of the three points in Romans 2:17. The ἐν with καυχ. (2 Corinthians 10:15; Galatians 6:13), a verb which in Greek authors is joined with ἐπί or εἰς or the accusative, denotes that, wherein the καυχ. rests, according to the analogy of χαίρειν, τέρπεσθαι ἐν (Bernhardy, p. 211; Kühner, II. 1, p. 403).

Romans 2:18, τὸ θέλημα] κατʼ ἐξοχήν. Whose will it was, that was to be obeyed on the part of man, was obvious of itself. Comp on ὄνομα, Acts 5:41.

δοκιμάζεις τὰ διαφέρ.] Thou approvest the excellent. Respecting the lexical correctness of this rendering comp on Philippians 1:10. Its correctness in accordance with the connection is plain from the climactic relation, in which the two elements of Romans 2:18 must stand to each other. “Thou knowest the will of God and approvest (theoretically) the excellent”—therewith Paul has conceded to the Jews all possible theory of the ethical, up to the limit of practice. Others, taking δοκιμάζειν as to prove, explain τὰ διαφέροντα as meaning that which is different; and this either (comp Hebrews 5:14) of the distinction between right and wrong (Theodoret, Theophylact, Estius, Grotius and others, including Reiche, Rückert, Tholuck, Fritzsche, Krehl, Philippi, van Hengel, Th. Schott), or that which is different from the will of God, i.e. what is wrong, sinful (Clericus, Glöckler, Mehring, Hofmann; compare Beza). But, after γινώσκεις τὸ θέλημα, how tame and destructive of the climax is either explanation! The Vulgate rightly renders: “probas utiliora.” Compare Luther, Erasmus, Castalio, Bengel, Flatt, Ewald.

κατηχούμ. ἐκ τ. νόμου] Being instructed out of the law (through the public reading and exposition of it in the synagogues, comp ἀκροάται, Romans 2:13), namely as to the will of God, and as to that which is excellent.

Romans 2:19-20 now describe, with a reference not to be mistaken (in opposition to Th. Schott and Hofmann) to the Jewish presumption and disposition to proselytize (Matthew 23:15), the influence which the Jews, in virtue of their theoretic insight, fancied that they exercised over the Gentiles. The accumulated asyndetic designations of the same thing lend lively force to the description. They are not to be regarded with Reiche as reminiscences from the Gospels (Matthew 15:14; Luke 20:32; Luke 2:32); for apart from the fact that at least no canonical Gospel had at that time been written, the figurative expressions themselves which are here used were very current among the Jews and elsewhere. See, e.g. Wetstein on Matthew 15:14. Observe, further, that Paul does not continue here with the conjunctive καί, but with the adjunctive τέ, because what follows contains the conduct determined by and dependent on the elements of Romans 2:18, and not something independent. Comp Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 790.

σεαυτὸν ὁδηγ. κ. τ. λ(692)] that thou thyself for thy part, in virtue of this aptitude received from the law, etc. πέποιθα, accompanied by the accusative with the infinitive, occurs only here in the N. T., and rarely in Greek authors (Aesch. Sept. 444).

παιδευτὴν κ. τ. λ(693)] trainer of the foolish, teacher of those in nonage. Comp Plat. Pol. x. p. 598 C: παῖδάς τε καὶ ἄφρονας.

τὴν μόρφωσιν τ. γνώσ. κ. τ. ἀλήθ.] the form of knowledge and of the truth. In the doctrines and precepts of the law religious knowledge and divine truth, both in the objective sense, attain the conformation and exhibition (Ewald: “embodiment”) proper to them, i.e. corresponding to their nature (hence τὴν μόρφ.), so that we possess in the law those lineaments which, taken collectively, compose the σχηματισμὸς (Hesychius) of knowledge and truth and thus bring them to adequate intellectual cognizance. Truth and knowledge have become in the law ἔμμορφος (Plut. Numbers 8, Mor. p. 428 F), or μορφοειδής (Plut. Mor. p. 735 A). Paul adds this ἔχοντα τὴν μόρφ. τ. γν. κ. τ. ἀλ. as an illustrative definition (ut qui habeas, etc.) to all the points previously adduced; and in doing so he places himself entirely at the Jewish point of view (comp Wisdom of Solomon 14:31 ff.), and speaks according to their mode of conception; hence the view which takes μόρφ. here as the mere appearance (2 Timothy 3:5), in contrast to the reality, is quite erroneous (in opposition to τινές in Theophylact, Oecumenius, Pareus, Olshausen). Even Paul himself could not possibly find in the law merely the appearance of truth (Romans 3:21; Romans 3:31). On μόρφωσις compare Theophrastus, h. pl. iii. 7, 4, and διαμόρφωσις in Plut. Mor. p. 1023 C.


Verses 17-24

Romans 2:17-24. The logical connection of this “oratio splendida ac vehemens” (Estius), introduced once more in lively apostrophe,(679) with what precedes is to be taken thus: Paul has expressed in Romans 2:13-16 the rule of judgment, that not the hearers but the doers of the law shall in the judgment be justified. He wishes now vividly to bring home the fact, that the conduct of the Jews, with all their conceit as to the possession and knowledge of the law, is in sharp contradiction to that standard of judgment. The δέ and the emphatic σύ are to be explained from the conception of the contrast, which the conduct of the Jews showed, to the proposition that only the doers δικαιωθήσονται. As to the construction of Romans 2:17-23, the common assumption of an anakoluthon, by which Paul in Romans 2:21 abandons the plan of the discourse started with εἰ, and introduces another turn by means of οὖν (see Winer, p. 529 [E. T. 712], Buttmann, p. 331) is quite unnecessary. The discourse, on the contrary, is formed with regular and logically accurate connection as protasis (Romans 2:17-20) and apodosis, namely thus: But if thou art called a Jew, and supportest thyself on the law, etc., down to Romans 2:20, dost thou (interrogative apodosis, Romans 2:21-22), who accordingly ( οὖν, in accordance with what is specified in Romans 2:17-20) teachest others, not teach thyself? Stealest thou, who preachest against stealing? Committest thou adultery, who forbiddest adultery? Plunderest thou temples, who abhorrest idols? These questions present the contrast to the contents of the protasis as in the highest degree surprising, as something that one is at a loss how to characterise—and then follows in Romans 2:23, with trenchant precision, the explanation and decision regarding them in the categorical utterance: Thou, who boastest thyself of the law, dishonourest God by the transgression, of the law, a result which is then in Romans 2:24 further confirmed by a testimony from the O. T. Romans 2:23 also might indeed (as commonly explained) be taken as a question; but, when taken as declaratory, the discourse presents a form far more finished, weighty and severe. Paul himself, by abandoning the participial expression uniformly employed four times previously, seems to indicate the cessation of the course hitherto pursued. According to this exposition of the connection, in which it must not be overlooked that the force of the οὖν in Romans 2:21 is limited solely to the relation of the διδάσκων ἕτερον and the following participles to what has been said before,(680) we must reject the view of Benecke, Glöckler, and Hofmann that the apodosis only begins with Romans 2:23, but in Romans 2:21 f. there is a continuation of the hypothetical protasis—an idea which cannot be tolerated, especially at the beginning of the new form of discourse (the antithetical), without repetition of the εἰ. Paul would have written εἰ οὖν διδάσκων κ. τ. λ(681) (compare Baeumlein, Partik. p. 178). Th. Schott erroneously finds in ἐπαναπαύῃ and καυχᾶσαι the apodosis, which is then explained.


Verse 21-22

Romans 2:21-22. Apodosis interrogating with lively indignation. See generally, and respecting οὖν, above on Romans 2:17-24. The form of the questions is expressive of surprise at the existence of an incongruity so much at variance with the protases, Romans 2:17 f.; it must have been in fact impossible. So also in 1 Corinthians 6:2.

Dost thou, who teachest others accordingly, not teach thine own self? namely, a better way of thinking and living than thou showest by thy conduct. Analogous passages expressing this contrast (comp LXX. Psalms 1:6 ff.; Ignat. Eph. 15) from Greek and Rabbinical authors may be seen in Wetstein.

The following infinitives do not include in themselves the idea of δεῖν or ἐξεῖναι (see Lobeck, a(697) Phryn. p. 753 f.), but find their explanation in the idea of commanding, which is implied in the finite verbs; see Kühner, a(698) Xen. Mem. ii. 2, 1, Anab. v. 7, 34; Heindorf, a(699) Plat. Prot. p. 346 B Wunder, a(700) Soph. O. C. 837.

βδελυσσόμενος τὰ εἴδωλα ἱεροσυλεῖς] Thou, who abhorrest idols, dost thou plunder temples? This is necessarily to be understood of the plundering of idols’ temples, with Chrysostom, Theophylact,(701) Clericus, Wetstein, Koppe, Rosenmüller, Fritzsche, de Wette, Tholuck, Philippi; Mehring (Rückert indecisively); as is required by the antithetic relation in which ἱεροσυλεῖς stands to the βδελυσσό΄. τὰ εἴδωλα. “Thou who holdest all contact with idols as a detestable pollution—dost thou lay plundering hands on their temples?” Abhorrence of idols and (not, it might be, temple-destruction, Deuteronomy 7:25, but greedy) temple-plundering(702)

Paul could not have placed at the close of his reproachful questions a contrast between theory and practice more incisively affecting Jewish feeling. That robbery of temples actually occurred among the Jews, may justly be inferred from Acts 19:37, but especially from Josephus, Antt. iv. 8, 10. See also Rabbinical passages in Delitzsch’s Hebrew translation, p. 77. It is differently explained by Pelagius, Pareus, Toletus, Grotius, Heumann, Michaelis, Cramer, Reiche, Glöckler, Reithmayr, van Hengel, Ewald, and Hofmann, who understand it of robbing the Jewish temple by the embezzlement or curtailment of the temple-moneys and sacrifices (for proofs of this crime, see Josephus, Antt. viii. 3, 5 f.), by withholding the temple tribute, and the like. Compare Test. XII. Patr. p. 578. Luther, Calvin, Bengel, and others, including Morus, Flatt, Köllner, and Umbreit, interpret it, with still more deviation from the proper sense, as denoting the “profanatio divinae majestatis” (Calvin) generally.(703) Compare Luther’s gloss, “Thou art a robber of God; for it is God’s glory which all who would be holy through works take from Him.” Such unjustifiable deviations from the literal sense would not have been resorted to, if attention had been directed on the one hand to the actual unity of the object in the whole of the antitheses, and on the other to the appropriate climax: theft, adultery, robbery of idols’ temples.


Verse 23

Romans 2:23 gives to the four questions of reproachful astonishment the decisive categorical answer. See above on Romans 2:17-24.

διὰ τῆς παραβ. τ. νόμου] To this category belonged especially the ἱεροσυλεῖν; for in Deuteronomy 7:25 f. the destruction of heathen statues is enjoined, but the robbery of their gold and silver is repudiated.

τὸν θεὸν ἀτιμάζεις] How? is shown in Romans 2:24.

τὸν θεὸν] who has given the law.


Verse 24

Romans 2:24. For confirmation of his τὸν θεὸν ἀτιμάζεις Paul subjoins a Scripture quotation, namely Isaiah 52:5, in substance after the LXX., not the far more dissimilar passage Ezekiel 36:22 f. (Calvin, Ewald and others), which, according to Hofmann, he is supposed to express according to the Greek translation of Is. l.c(704) “more convenient” for him. But he applies the quotation in such a way that he makes it his own by the γάρ not found in the original or the LXX.; only indicating by καθὼς γέγραπται at the close, that he has thus appropriated a passage of Scripture. Hence καθὼς γέγ. is placed at the end, as is never done in the case of express quotations of Scripture. The historical sense(705) of the passage is not here concerned, since Paul has not quoted it as a fulfilled prophecy, though otherwise with propriety in the sense of Romans 3:19.

διʼ ὑ΄ᾶς] i.e. on account of your wicked conduct.

βλασφημεῖται ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσι] among the Gentiles, inasmuch, namely, as these infer from the immoral conduct of the Jews that they have an unholy God and Lawgiver, and are thereby moved to blaspheme His holy name. Comp Clement, Cor. I. 47.


Verse 25

Romans 2:25. Having in Romans 2:17-24 (not merely taken for granted, but) thrown a bright light of illumination on the culpability of the Jews in presence of the law, Paul now briefly and decisively dissipates the fancy of a special advantage, of which they were assured through circumcision. “For circumcision indeed, the advantage of which thou mightest perchance urge against this condemnation, is useful, if thou doest the law; but if thou art a transgressor of the law, thou hast as circumcised no advantage over the uncircumcised.”

γάρ therefore annexes a corroboration of the closing result of Romans 2:23-24, and does so by excluding every advantage, which the Jew transgressing the law might fancy himself possessed of, as compared with the Gentile, in virtue of circumcision. Stat sententia! in spite of thy circumcision! Hofmann is the less justified, however, in taking the μέν elliptically, with the suppression of its antithesis (Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 414, and generally Baeumlein, Part. p. 163), since against its correspondence with the immediately following δέ no well-founded logical objection exists.

περιτομή] circumcision, without the article. It is not however, with Köllner and many others, to be taken as a description of Judaism generally; but definitely and specially of circumcision, to which sacrifice of the body—consecrating men to membership of the people of God (Ewald, Alterth. p. 127), and meant to be accompanied by the inner consecration of moral holiness (see on Romans 2:28)—the theocratic Jewish conceit attributed the absolute value of a service rendering them holy and appropriating the Abrahamic promises.

ὠφελεῖ] seeing that it transfers into the communion of all blessings and promises conferred by God on His covenant people; which blessings and promises, however, are attached to the observance of His law as their condition (Genesis 17:1 ff.; Leviticus 18:5; Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 5:3), so that circumcision points at the same time to the new covenant, and becomes a sign and seal of the righteousness that is by faith (see on Romans 4:11). This however the Apostle has not yet in view here.

ἐὰν νόμ. κ. τ. λ(707)] Not on the presupposition that, but rather, as also the two following ἐάν: in the case that, Winer, p. 275 [E. T. 366].

ἀκροβυστία γέγονεν] Has become עָרְלָה, has lost, for thee, every advantage which it was designed to secure to thee over the uncircumcised, so that thou hast now no advantage over the latter, and art, just as he is, no member of God’s people. Paul conceives of the latter as a holy people, like the invisible church of God, in which the mortua membra of the people have no part. The same idea is illustrated concretely by R. Berechias in Schemoth Rabb. f. 138, 13 : “Ne haeretici et apostatae et impii ex Israelitis dicant: Quandoquidem circumcisi sumus, in infernum non descendimus. Quid agit Deus S. B.? Mittit angelum et praeputia eorum attrahit, ita ut ipsi in infernum descendant.” See other similar passages in Eisenmenger’s entdeckt. Judenth, II. p. 339 f.

γέγονεν] Present of the completed action; Romans 7:2; Romans 14:23; John 20:23. It is the emergent ethical result, which takes place.


Verse 26

Romans 2:26. Interrogative inference of the corresponding inverse relation, drawn from Romans 2:25.

ἀκροβυστία αὐτοῦ] referring to the concrete ἀκρόβυστος understood in the previous ἀκροβυστία. See Winer, p. 138 [E. T. 182].

τὰ δικαιώματα τ. νόμου φυλ.] The same as τὰ τοῦ νόμου ποιεῖν in Romans 2:14, as also the following τ. νόμον τελοῦσα of Romans 2:27.(708) A “perfect, deep inner” fulfilment of the law (Philippi), is a gratuitous suggestion, since there is no modal definition appended. Paul means the observance of the Mosaic legal precepts (respecting δικαιώματα comp on Romans 1:32 and Romans 5:16), which in point of fact takes place when the Gentile obeys the moral law of nature, Romans 2:14 f.

εἰς περιτ. λογισθήσεται] will be reckoned as circumcision ( εἰς in the sense of the result; see Romans 9:8; Acts 19:27; Isaiah 40:17; Wisdom of Solomon 9:6; Theile, a(710) Jac. p. 138). The future is not that of the logical certainty (Mehring and older expositors), or of the result (Hofmann), which latter sense would be involved in a form of expression corresponding to the γέγονε; but the glance of the Apostle extends (see Romans 2:27) to the last judgment. To the uncircumcised person, who observes what the law has ordained, i.e. the moral precepts of the law, shall one day be awarded the same salvation that God has destined, subject to the obligation of fulfilment of the law, for those who through circumcision are members of His people. As to the thought comp Matthew 8:11; Matthew 3:9; 1 Corinthians 7:19; Galatians 5:6. The reference to proselytes of the gate (Philippi) is not only arbitrary, but also incorrect, because the text has in view the pure contrast between circumcision and uncircumcision, without any hint of an intermediate stage or anything analogous thereto. The proposition is to be retained in its unlimited expression. The mediation, however, which has to intervene for the circumcised as well as for the uncircumcised, in order to the procuring of salvation through faith, is still left unnoticed here, and is reserved for the subsequent teaching of the Epistle. See especially ch. 4.


Verse 27

Romans 2:27 is regarded by most modern expositors, including Rückert, Reiche (undecidedly), Köllner, Fritzsche, Olshausen, Philippi, Lachmann, Ewald and Mehring, as a continuation of the question, so that οὐχί is again understood before κρινεῖ. But the sequence of thought is brought out much more forcibly, if we take Romans 2:27 as affirmative, as the reply to the question contained in Romans 2:26 (as is done by Chrysostom, Erasmus, Luther, Bengel, Wetstein and others; now also by Tholuck, de Wette, van Hengel, Th. Schott, Hofmann). In this case the placing κρινεῖ first conveys a strong emphasis; and καί, as often in classic authors (Thiersch, § 354, 5 b.; Kühner, a(712) Xen. Mem. ii. 10, 2) is the simple and, which annexes the answer to the interrogative discourse as if in continuation, and thus assumes its affirmation as self-evident (Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 880). And the natural uncircumcision, if it fulfils the law, shall judge, i.e. exhibit in thy full desert of punishment (namely, comparatione sui, as Grotius aptly remarks(713)), thee, who, etc. Compare, on the idea, Matthew 12:41; the thought of the actual direct judgment on the last day, according to 1 Corinthians 6:2, is alien to the passage, although the practical indirect judgment, which is meant, belongs to the future judgment-day.

ἐκ φύσεως ἀκροβ.] The uncircumcision by nature, i.e. the (persons in question) uncircumcised in virtue of their Gentile birth. This ἐκ φύσεως, which is neither, with Koppe and Olshausen, to be connected with τὸν νό΄. τελ., nor, with Mehring, to be taken as equivalent to ἐν σαρκί, is in itself superfluous, but serves to heighten the contrast διὰ γρ. κ. περιτ. The idea, that this ἀκροβυστία is a περιτο΄ή ἐν πνεύ΄ατι, must (in opposition to Philippi) have been indicated in the text, and it would have no place in the connection of our passage; see Romans 2:29, where it first comes in.

τὸν διὰ γρά΄΄. κ. περιτ. παραβ. νό΄ου] who with letter and circumcision art a transgressor of the law. διά denotes the surrounding circumstances amidst which, i.e. here according to the context: in spite of which the transgression takes place.(714) Compare Romans 4:11, Romans 14:20; Winer, p. 355 [E. T. 475]. Others take διά as instrumental, and that either: διὰ νόμου.… προαχθείς (Oecumenius; comp Umbreit) or: “occasione legis,” (Beza, Estius, and others; comp Benecke), or: “who transgressest the law, and art exhibited as such by the letter,” etc. (Köllner). But the former explanations introduce a foreign idea into the connection; and against Köllner’s view it may be urged that his declarative rendering weakens quite unnecessarily the force of the contrast of the two members of the verse. For the most natural and most abrupt contrast to the uncircumcised person who keeps the law is he, who transgresses the law notwithstanding letter and circumcision, and is consequently all the more culpable, because he offends against written divine direction ( γραμμ.) and theocratic obligation ( περιτ.)


Verse 28-29

Romans 2:28-29. Proof of Romans 2:27. For the true Judaism (which is not exposed to that κρινεῖ) resides not in that which is external, but in the hidden world of the internal.

ἐν τῷ φανερῷ] i.e. ὃς ἐν τῷ φ. ἐστι (see Bornemann, Schol. in Luc. p. 116): for he is not a Jew, who is so openly, i.e. not he who shows himself to be an ἰουδαῖος in external visible exhibition (in profession, circumcision, dress, ceremonial service, and the like) is a genuine, ἀληθινόςἰουδαῖος answering to the idea. See Matthiae, p. 1533, Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 335 f. The second half of Romans 2:28, in which ἐν σαρκί forms an apposition to ἐν τῷ φανερῷ, more precisely defining it, is to be taken as quite parallel.

Romans 2:29 is usually rendered: But he who is a Jew in secret (scil. is a true Jew), and circumcision of the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter (scil. is true circumcision). But against this view it may be urged that ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ is so completely parallel to the ἐν τῷ φανερῷ in Romans 2:28, that a different mode of connection cannot but seem forced. Hence the following construction and exposition result more naturally (comp Luther, Erasmus, and others; also Fritzsche): But he is a Jew (in the true sense) who is so in secret (in the invisible inner life), and (instead of now saying, in parallel with Romans 2:28 : ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ περιτομή, Paul defines both the ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ and the true spiritual meaning of περιτο΄ή more precisely, and says) circumcision of the heart resides (the ἐστί to be supplied) in the spirit, not in the letter.(718) Stripped of figure, περιτομὴ καρδίας is: the separation of all that is immoral from the inner life; for circumcision was accounted even from the earliest times as σύμβολον ἡδονῶν ἐκτομῆς (Philo). See Leviticus 26:41; Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 4:14; Jeremiah 9:26; Ezekiel 44:7; compare Philippians 3:3; Colossians 2:11; Acts 7:51; Philo, de Sacrif. p. 58: περιτέμνεσθε τὰς σκληροκαρδίας, τόδε ἐστι τὰς περιττὰς φύσεις τοῦ ἡγεμονικοῦ, ἃς αἱ ἄμετροι τῶν παθῶν ἔσπειράν τε καὶ συνηύξησαν ὁρμαὶ καὶ κακὸς ψυχῆς γεωργὸς ἐφύτευσεν, ἀφροσύνη, μετὰ σπουδῆς ἀποκείρεσθε. See also Schoettgen, Hor. p. 815. The uncircumcised heart is ἀμετανόητος, Romans 2:5.

ἐν πνεύ΄ατι] is the power, in which the circumcision of the heart finds its causal ground, namely, in the Spirit, i.e. in the Holy Spirit, through whose power it takes place, not in the letter, which effects the outward circumcision by its commandment. In true Judaism also the Holy Ghost is the divine active principle (comp Romans 7:14). So much the less reason is there for making πνεύ΄α in our passage mean the true Jewish public spirit proceeding from God (de Wette, comp Tholuck); or the spirit of the law, in contrast to its outward observance (van Hengel, who wrongly urges the absence of the article); or the new life-principle in man, wrought in him by the Spirit of God (Rückert, comp Luther’s gloss); on the contrary, the πνεύ΄α is to be left as the objective, concrete divine πνεύμα, as the Holy Spirit in the definite sense, and as distinguished from the spiritual conditions and tendencies which He produces. The correct and clear view is held by Grotius, Fritzsche, and Philippi; compare Hofmann. Others, as Theodore of Mopsuestia, Oecumenius (Chrysostom and Theophylact express themselves very indefinitely), Erasmus, Beza, Toletus, Heumann, Morus, Rosenmüller, Reiche, Mehring, take πνεύμα as meaning the spirit of man. But that the circumcision of the heart takes place in the spirit of man, is self-evident; and the similar contrast between πνεύμα and γρά΄΄α, Romans 7:6 and 2 Corinthians 3:6, clearly excludes the reference to the human spirit.

οὔ] of which, is neuter, and refers to the entire description of the true Jewish nature in Romans 2:29. The epexegetical relative definition hears to it an argumentative relation: id quod laudem suam habet etc. οὗ γε would be still more emphatic. To interpret it as masculine with reference to ἰουδαῖος (Augustine, Erasmus, Beza, Bengel, and many others; including Reiche, Rückert, Köllner, de Wette, Olshausen, Tholuck, Fritzsche, Philippi, Ewald, and Hofmann; compare van Hengel), is, especially seeing that Paul has not written ὧν, as in Romans 3:8 (Schoem. a(722) Is. p. 243), a very unnecessary violence, which Grotius, who is followed by Th. Schott, makes still worse by twisting the construction as if the ἐστίν of Romans 2:28 stood immediately before οὔ (it is not the evident Jew, etc., whose praise, etc.). As is often the case in classic authors, the neuter of the relative belongs to the entire sentence; see especially Richter, de anac. gr. linguae, § 28; Matthiae, II. p. 987 f.

ἔπαινος] i.e. the due praise (not recompense). See on 1 Corinthians 4:5. Compare, on the matter itself, John 5:44; John 12:43. Oecumenius rightly says: τῆς γὰρ κρυπτῆς καὶ ἐν καρδία περιτομῆς οὐκ ἔσται ἐπαινέτης ἄνθρωπος, ἀλλʼ ἐτάζων καρδίας καὶ νεφροὺς θεὸς. Compare the δόξα θεοῦ, Romans 3:23. This praise is the holy satisfaction of God [His being well-pleased], as He has so often declared it to the righteous in the Scriptures.

Observe how perfectly analogous Romans 2:28 f. in its tenor of thought is to the idea of the invisible church. Compare on Romans 2:25.

 


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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Romans 2:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/romans-2.html. 1832.

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the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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