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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Romans 2



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Verse 1

Wherefore (διοdio). See note on Romans 1:24, Romans 1:26 for this relative conjunction, “because of which thing.”

Without excuse (αναπολογητοςanapologētos). See note on Romans 1:21.

Whosoever thou art that judgest (πας ο κρινωνpas ho krinōn). Literally, “every one that judgest,” vocative case in apposition with αντρωπεanthrōpe Paul begins his discussion of the failure of the Jew to attain to the God-kind of righteousness (2:1-3:20) 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. ΚρινωKrinō does not of itself mean to condemn, but to pick out, separate, approve, determine, pronounce judgment, condemn (if proper).

Another (τον ετερονton heteron). Literally, “the other man.” The notion of two in the word, one criticizing the other.

Thou condemnest thyself (σεαυτον κατακρινειςseauton katakrineis). Note καταkata here with κρινωkrinō to make plain the adverse judgment.

For (γαρgar). Explanatory reason for the preceding statement. The critic practises (πρασσειςprasseis not single acts ποιεωpoieō but the habit πρασσωprassō) the same things that he condemns.

Verse 2

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

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

Verse 3

And doest the same (και ποιων αυταkai poiōn auta). “And doest them occasionally.”

That thou shalt escape (συ εκπευχηιsu ekpheuxēi). Emphasis on συsu “thou conceited Jew expecting to escape God‘s κριμαkrima 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 εκπευγωekpheugō (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 καταπρονεισē kataphroneiṡ). Another alternative, that of scorn of God‘s kindness (χρηστοτητοςchrēstotētos 2 Corinthians 6:6) and forbearance (ανοχηςanochēs old word, holding back from ανεχωanechō only here in N.T.) and longsuffering (μακροτυμιαςmakrothumias late word for which see 2 Corinthians 6:4, 2 Corinthians 6:6). ΚαταπρονεωKataphroneō is old verb to think down on (κατα προνεωkataτου πλουτουphroneō) as in Matthew 6:24; 1 Corinthians 11:22. This upstart Jew actually thinks down on God. And then “the riches” (εις μετανοιαν σε αγειtou ploutou) of all that comes from God.

Leadeth thee to repentance (το χρηστονeis metanoian se agei). The very kindness (αγειto chrēston the kindly quality) of God is trying to lead (conative present μετανοιανagei) thee to a right-about face, a change of mind and attitude (metanoian) instead of a complacent self-satisfaction and pride of race and privilege.

Verse 5

After thy hardness (κατα την σκληροτητα σουkata tēn sklērotēta sou). “According to thy hardness (old word from σκληροςsklēros hard, stiff, only here in N.T.) will God‘s judgment be.”

And impenitent heart (και αμετανοητον καρδιανkai ametanoēton kardian). See μετανοιανmetanoian just before. “Thy unreconstructed heart,” “with no change in the attitude of thy heart.”

Treasurest up for thyself (τησαυριζεις σεαυτωιthēsaurizeis seautōi). See for τησαυριζωthēsaurizō on Matthew 6:19.; Luke 12:21; 2 Corinthians 12:14. Dative case σεαυτωιseautōi (for thyself) with a touch of irony (Vincent).

Wrath (οργηνorgēn). For such a Jew as already stated for the Gentile (Romans 1:18). There is a revelation (αποκαλυπσεωςapokalupseōs) of God‘s wrath for both in the day of wrath and righteous judgment (δικαιοκρισιαςdikaiokrisias a late compound word, in lxx, two examples in the Oxyrhynchus papyri, only here in N.T.). See note on 2 Thessalonians 1:5 for δικαιας κρισεωςdikaias kriseōs 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 αποδωσειhos apodōsei). 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 μενζητουσινtois meṅ̇zētousin). Dative plural of the articular present active participle of ζητεωzēteō with μενmen on the one hand.

Eternal life (ζωην αιωνιονzōēn aiōnion). Accusative case object of αποδωσειapodōsei above.

Verse 8

But unto them that are factious and obey not the truth but obey unrighteousness (τοις δε εχ εριτειας και απειτουσιν τηι αλητειαι πειτομενοις δε αδικιαιtois de ex eritheias kai apeithousin tēi alētheiāi peithomenois de adikiāi). The other side with δεde and the articular present participles in the dative again, only with εχ εριτειαςex eritheias there is no participle ουσινousin But the construction changes and the substantives that follow are not the object of αποδωσειapodōsei like ζωην αινωνιονzōēn ainōnion above, but are in the nominative as if with εσονταιesontai (shall be) understood (anger and wrath, both οργηorgē and τυμοςthumos tribulation and anguish, again a pair τλιπσις και στενοχωριαthlipsis kai stenochōria on which see note on 2 Corinthians 6:4, 2 Corinthians 12:10).

Verse 9

Every soul of man (πασαν πσυχην αντρωπουpasan psuchēn anthrōpou). See note on Romans 13:1 for this use of πσυχηpsuchē for the individual.

Of the Jew first and also of the Greek (Ιουδαιου τε πρωτον και ελληνοςIoudaiou te prōton kai Hellēnos). See note 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 (προσωπολημπσιαprosōpolēmpsia). Milligan (Vocabulary) considers this word (in N.T. only here, Colossians 3:25; Ephesians 6:9) and προσωπολημπτηςprosōpolēmptēs (Acts 10:34) and προσωπολημπτεωprosōpolēmpteō (James 2:9) the earliest definitely known Christian words, not in lxx or non-Christian writings. See note on Acts 10:34 for the formation in imitation of the Hebrew to take note of the face (prosōponlambanō), to judge by the face or appearance.

Verse 12

Have sinned (ημαρτονhēmarton). Constative aorist active indicative, “sinned,” a timeless aorist.

Without law (ανομωςanomōs). 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 και απολουνταιanomōs kai apolountai). Future middle indicative of απολλυμιapollumi 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 νομωιen nomōi). In the sphere of the Mosaic law.

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

Verse 13

Not the hearers - but the doers (ου γαρ οι ακροαταιαλλ οι ποιηταιou gar hoi akroatai̇̇all' hoi poiētai). 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 τωι τεωιpara tōi theōi). By God‘s side, as God looks at it.

Shall be justified (δικαιωτησονταιdikaiōthēsontai). Future passive indicative of δικαιοωdikaioō to declare righteous, to set right. “Shall be declared righteous.” Like James 1:22-25.

Verse 14

That have no law (τα μη νομον εχονταta mē nomon echonta). Better, “that have not the law” (the Mosaic law).

By nature (πυσειphusei). Instrumental case of πυσιςphusis old word from πυωphuō 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 νομοςheautois eisin nomos). This is an obvious reply to the Jewish critic.

Verse 15

In that they (οιτινεςhoitines). “The very ones who,” qualitative relative.

Written in their hearts (γραπτον εν ταις καρδιαις αυτωνgrapton en tais kardiais autōn). Verbal adjective of γραπωgraphō 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 συνειδησεωςsunmarturousēs autōn tēs suneidēseōs). On conscience (συνειδησιςsuneidēsis) see note on 1 Corinthians 8:7; 1 Corinthians 10:25.; 2 Corinthians 1:12. Genitive absolute here with present active participle συνμαρτυρουσηςsunmarturousēs as in Romans 9:1. The word συνειδησιςsuneidēsis means Corinthians-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 (μεταχυ αλληλων των λογισμων κατηγορουντων η και απολογουμενωνmetaxu allēlōn tōn logismōn katēgorountōn ē kai apologoumenōn). 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 μουkata to euaggelion mou). What Paul preaches (1 Corinthians 15:1) and which is the true gospel

Verse 17

Bearest the name (επονομαζηιeponomazēi). Present passive indicative in condition of first class of επονομαζωeponomazō old word, to put a name upon (επιepi), 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 (επαναπαυηι νομωιepanapauēi nomōi). 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 (νομωιnomōi). It is the picture of blind and mechanical reliance on the Mosaic law.

Gloriest in God (καυχασαι εν τεωιkauchāsai en theōi). Koiné{[28928]}š vernacular form for καυχαιkauchāi (καυχαεσαι καυχασαιkauchaesaiκαυχαομαιkauchāsai) of κατακαυχασαιkauchaomai as in Romans 2:23; 1 Corinthians 4:7 and δοκιμαζεις τα διαπερονταkatakauchāsai 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 (κατηχουμενος εκ του νομουdokimazeis ta diapheronta). Originally, “Thou testest the things that differ,” and then as a result comes the approval for the excellent things. As in Philemon 1:10 it is difficult to tell which stage of the process Paul has in mind.

Instructed out of the law (κατηχεωkatēchoumenos ek tou nomou). Present passive participle of katēcheō a rare verb to instruct, though occurring in the papyri for legal instruction. See note on Luke 1:4 and note on 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 τυπλωνhodēgon tuphlōn). Accusative οδηγονhodēgon in predicate with ειναιeinai to agree with σεαυτονseauton accusative of general reference with infinitive ειναιeinai in indirect discourse after πεποιταςpepoithas Late word (Polybius, Plutarch) from οδοςhodos way, and ηγεομαιhēgeomai to lead, one who leads the way. ΤυπλωνTuphlōn 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 (πωςphōs). “A light for those in darkness” (των εν σκοτειtōn en skotei 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 απρονωνpaideutēn aphronōn). Old word (from παιδευωpaideuō) for instructor, in Plato, and probably so here, though corrector or chastiser in Hebrews 12:9 (the only N.T. instances). See note on Luke 23:16. Late inscriptions give it as instructor (Preisigke). ΑπρονωνAphronōn is a hard word for Gentiles, but it is the Jewish standpoint that Paul gives. Each termed the other “dogs.”

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

The form (την μορπωσινtēn morphōsin). 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 μορπωσιςmorphōsis as “the rough-sketch, the pencilling of the μορπηmorphē 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 ετερονho oun didaskōn heteron). Paul suddenly breaks off (μη κλεπτεινanacoluthon) the long sentence that began in 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 (μηmē kleptein). Infinitive with κερυσσωνmē in indirect command (indirect discourse) after κλεπτεισkerussōn

Dost thou steal? (κερυσσωνklepteiṡ). The preaching (μη μοιχευεινkerussōn) was fine, but the practice? A home-thrust.

Should not commit adultery (λεγωνmē moicheuein). Infinitive in direct command again after legōn “The Talmud charges the crime of adultery upon the three most illustrious Rabbins” (Vincent).

Verse 22

That abhorrest (ο βδελυσσομενοςho bdelussomenos). 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 (ειδωλαeidōla see note on Acts 7:41 and note on 1 Corinthians 12:2). See note on Matthew 24:15 for “abomination.”

Dost thou rob temples? (ιεροσυλεισhierosuleiṡ). Old verb from ιεροσυλοςhierosulos (Acts 19:37) and that from ιερονhieron temple, and συλαωsulaō 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 νομουdia tēs parabaseōs tou nomou). Old word for stepping across a line. Trench calls attention to “the mournfully numerous group of words” for the varieties of sin like αγνοημαagnoēma ignorance, ανομιαanomia violation of law, αμαρτιαhamartia missing the mark, εττημαhettēma falling short, παραβασιςparabasis passing over the line, παρακοηparakoē disobedience to a voice, παρανομιαparanomia putting the law aside, παραπτωμαparaptōma falling down, πλημμελειαplēmmeleia discord.

Verse 24

Because of you (δι υμαςdi' humas). 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 πρασσειςean nomon prasseis). Condition of third class and the present (continued action) subjunctive of πρασσωprassō a verb meaning to do as a habit.

Is become uncircumcision (ακροβυστια γεγονενakrobustia gegonen). 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 (πυλασσηιphulassēi). Present subjunctive with εανean condition of third class, mere supposition like that in Romans 2:25, “keep on keeping” perfectly, Paul means.

For (ειςeis). As often in N.T.

Verse 27

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

Judge thee (κρινεισεkrinei̇̇se). Unusual position of σεse (thee) so far from the verb κρινειkrinei

With the letter and circumcision (δια γραμματος και περιτομηςdia grammatos kai peritomēs). ΔιαDia means here accompanied by, with the advantage of.

Verse 28

Which is one outwardly (ο εν τωι πανερωιho en tōi phanerōi). ΙουδαιοςIoudaios (Jew) has to be repeated (ellipse) with the article, “the in the open Jew” (circumcision, phylacteries, tithes, etc.). Likewise repeat περιτομηperitomē (circumcision).

Verse 29

Who is one inwardly (ο εν τωι κρυπτωιho en tōi kruptōi). Repeat ΙουδαιοςIoudaios (Jew) here also, “the in the inward part Jew” (circumcision of the heart περιτομη καρδιαςperitomē kardias and not a mere surgical operation as in Colossians 2:11, in the spirit εν πνευματιen pneumati 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 επαινοςhou ho epainos). The antecedent of the relative ουhou is ΙουδαιοςIoudaios (Jew). Probably (Gifford) a reference to the etymology of Judah (praise) as seen in Galatians 4:28.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Romans 2:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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Wednesday, October 28th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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