corner graphic   Hi,    
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to

Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies
Romans 2



Other Authors
Verse 1

O man

General, but still with a general and slightly reproachful reference to the Jew.

Judgest ( κρίνων )

With the sense of condemning.

Verse 2

The judgment ( τὸ κρῖμα )

Not the act, but the contents of the judgment.

Verse 3

Reckonest ( λογίζῃ )

See on 1 Peter 5:12. Intimating a process of reasoning.

Thou shalt escape

Thou emphatic, opposed to Jewish self-conceit.

Verse 4

Despisest thou ( καταφρονεῖς )

The indicative mood unites a declaration with the question: “Do you despise? Aye, you do.”

Riches ( πλούτου )

A favorite word with Paul to describe the quality of the divine attributes and gifts. See 2 Corinthians 8:9; Ephesians 1:7, Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 2:4, Ephesians 2:7; Ephesians 3:8, Ephesians 3:16; Philemon 4:19; Colossians 1:27.

Goodness ( χρηστότητος )

See on easy, Matthew 11:30.

Forbearance and long-suffering ( ἀνοχῆς καὶ μακροθυμίας )

Ἁνοχή forbearancestrictly a holding back. In classical Greek mostly of a truce of arms. It implies something temporary which may pass away under new conditions. Hence used in connection with the passing by of sins before Christ (Romans 3:25). “It is that forbearance or suspense of wrath, that truce with the sinner, which by no means implies that the wrath will not be executed at the last; nay, involves that it certainly will, unless he be found under new conditions of repentance and obedience” (Trench). For μακροθυμία long-sufferingsee on James 5:7. This reliance on God's tolerance to suspend the rule of His administration in your case is contempt (despisest). Compare Galatians 6:7.

Not knowing ( ἀγνοῶν )

In that thou dost not know. This very ignorance is contempt.

Leadeth ( ἄγει )

The continuous present: is leading all the while thou art despising.

Repentance ( μετάνοιαν )

See on Matthew 3:2; see on Matthew 21:29.

Verse 5

Treasurest up ( θησαυρίζεις )

Accumulatest. Glancing back to riches.

For thyself

Possibly a tinge of irony.

Wrath against the day of wrath ( ὀργὴν ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ὀργῆς )

A very striking image - treasuring up wrath for one's self. Rev., better, in the day, etc. The sinner stores it away. Its forthcoming is withheld by the forbearance of God. It will break out in the day when God's righteous judgment shall be revealed.

Verse 7

Eternal life

Supply He will render.

Verse 8

Contentious ( ἐξ ἐριθείας )

Rev., better, factious. Lit., of faction. See on James 3:14. Intriguers; partisan agitators.

Indignation and wrath ( ὀργὴ καὶ θυμός )

See on be patient, James 5:7.

Verse 9

Tribulation and anguish ( θλῖψις καὶ στενοχωρία )

For tribulation, see on Matthew 13:21. Στενοχωρία anguishwhich occurs only in Paul (Romans 8:35; 2 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 12:10), literally means narrowness of place. The dominant idea is constraint. In Deuteronomy 28:53, Deuteronomy 28:57, it describes the confinement of a siege. Trench remarks: “The fitness of this image is attested by the frequency with which, on the other hand, a state of joy is expressed in the Psalms and elsewhere, as a bringing into a large room,” Psalm 118:5; 2 Samuel 22:20. Aquinas says: loetitia est latitia, joy is breadth.

Verse 11

Respect of persons ( προσωπολημψία )

Only once outside of Paul's writings, James 2:1, on which see note.

Verse 12

Without law ( ἀνόμως )

Both law in the abstract and the Mosaic law. The principle laid down is general, though apparently viewed with special reference to the law of Moses.

In the law ( ἐν νόμῳ )

Rev., under law, i.e., within the sphere of. No decision as to the reference to the law of Moses or otherwise can be based on the presence or absence of the article. Νόμος lawis used both with and without the article for the Mosaic law. Cremer correctly says that “the article is usually wanting when the stress is laid, not upon the historical impress and outward form of the law, but upon the conception itself;” or, as Bishop Lightfoot, “law considered as a principle, exemplified no doubt chiefly and signally in the Mosaic law, but very much wider than this in its application.”

Shall be judged ( κριθήσονται )

The antithesis shall perish suggests a condemnatory judgment. There is no doubt that the simple κρίνω is used in the New Testament in the sense of condemning. See John 3:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:12; Hebrews 13:4. The change from perish to judge is suggested by by the law. “The Jews alone will be, strictly speaking, subjected to a detailed inquiry such as arises from applying the particular articles of a code” (Godet). Both classes of men shall be condemned; in both the result will be perishing, but the judgment by the law is confined to those who have the law.

Verse 13

Hearers ( ἀκροαταὶ )

Like the Jews, who heard it regularly in the synagogues. Only here in Paul. Three times in James. It brings out, better than the participle οἱ ἀκούοντες thosethat hear, the characteristic feature; those whose business is hearing.


Verse 14

When ( ὅταν )

Lit., whenever, supposing a case which may occur at any time.

The Gentiles

Rev., properly, Gentiles. There is no article. Not the Gentiles collectively, but Gentiles among whom the supposed case occurs.

Which have not the law ( τὰ μὴ νόμον ἔχοντα )

The μὴ notnegatives the possession of the law. Rev., which have no law.

Having not the law ( νόμον μὴ ἔχοντες )

Here μὴ notnegatives the possession of the law. Rev., having no law. It is difficult to indicate the proper emphasis in the English text, since the use of italics is limited to words not in the original.

Verse 15

Which shew ( οἵτινες ἐνδείκνυνται )

Rev., better, in that they shew, the double relative specifying the class to which they belong, and therefore the reason for what precedes. Shew, properly, in themselves ( ἐν ).

The work of the law

The conduct corresponding to the law.

Their conscience also bearing witness ( συμμαρτυρούσης αὐτῶν τῆς συνειδήσεως )

For conscience, see on 1 Peter 3:16. The force of ούν with the verb is therewith; i.e., with the prescript of the law, respecting the agreement or disagreement of the act with it. So Rev.

The meanwhile ( μεταξὺ )

Rev. renders with one another. Their thoughts one with another. The phrase μεταξὺ ἀλλήλων is variously explained. Some alternately, now acquitting and now condemning. Others, among themselves, as in internal debate. So Alford, “thought against thought in inner strife.” Others again, accusations or vindications carried on between Gentiles and Gentiles. As the other parts of the description refer to the individual soul in itself and not to relations with others, the explanation expressed in Rev. - the mutual relations and interchanges of the individual thoughts - seems preferable.

Verse 16

My gospel

As distinguished from false teaching Paul's assurance of the truth of the Gospel is shown in his confident assertion that it will form the standard of judgment in the great day.

Verse 17

Behold ( ἴδε )

But the correct reading is εἰ δὲ butif.

Thou art called ( ἐπονομάζῃ )

Rev., much better, bearest the name of, bringing out the value which attached to the name Jew, the theocratic title of honor. See on Hebrews, Acts 6:1.

Restest in ( ἐπαναπαύῃ )

Rev., better, upon, giving the force of ἐπί in the verb. The radical conception of the verb ἀναπαύω is relief. See Matthew 11:28. Thou restest with a blind trust in God as thy Father and protector exclusively.

Verse 18

The things that are more excellent ( τὰ διαφέροντα )

This may be the meaning, and it is adopted by Rev. with the proper omission of more. But it may also mean the things which differ; in which case we shall render provest instead of approvest. The sense will then be: thou dost test with nice discrimination questions of casuistry. Compare Philemon 1:10. The latter interpretation seems preferable, being borne out by the succeeding being instructed.

Being instructed ( κατηχούμενος )

Systematically through catechetical and synagoguic instruction. See on Luke 1:4. This formal instruction is the basis of the critical discrimination.

Verse 20

Instructor ( παιδευτὴν )

Rev., corrector. Better, because emphasizing the element of discipline or training. See on chastise, Luke 23:16.

Of babes ( νηπίων )

The term used by the Jews to designate proselytes or novices. Paul uses it of one not come of legal age, Galatians 4:1.

The form - in the law ( μόρφωσιν )

Not mere appearance, but the scheme, the correct embodiment of the lineaments of truth and knowledge in the law.

Verse 21

Thou that preachest ( ὁ κηρύσσων )

See on Matthew 4:17. Stealing is so gross a vice that one may openly denounce it.

Verse 22

Sayest ( λέγων )

The denunciation is not so pronounced. The Talmud charges the crime of adultery upon the three most illustrious Rabbins.

Abhorrest ( βδελυσσόμενος )

The verb means originally to turn away from a thing on account of the stench. See on abomination, Matthew 24:15.

Commit sacrilege ( ἱεροσυλεῖς )

Rev. renders according to the etymology, ἱερόν temple συλάω todespoil; hence rob temples. Some explain, the pillage of idol temples; others, robbing the Jewish temple by embezzlement, withholding the temple tribute, etc. The robbery of temples as practiced by the Jews is inferred from Acts 19:37. Compare Josephus, Antiq., 4:8,10, where he lays down the law not to plunder Gentile temples, nor to seize treasure stored up there in honor of any God.

Verse 23

Transgression ( παραβάσεως )

Trench remarks upon “the mournfully numerous group of words” which express the different aspects of sin. It is ἁμαρτια themissing of a mark; παράβασις theoverpassing of a line; παρακοή thedisobedience to a voice; παράπτωμα afalling when one should have stood; ἀγνόημα ignoranceof what one should know; ἥττημα adiminishing of what should be rendered in full measure; ἀνομία or παρανομία non-observanceof law; πλημμέλεια discord.

The primary sense of the preposition παρά is beside or by, with reference to a line or extended surface. Hence it indicates that which is not on its true line but beside it, either in the way of falling short or of going beyond. Thus, in the sense of going beyond, Romans 12:3, to think more highly than he ought ( παρ ' ὃ δεῖ ), where the sense of beyond is fixed by ὑπερφρονεῖν to think beyond or over.” So Luke 13:2. In the sense of falling short, Thucydides, 3,49: “Mitylene came near such peril” ( παρὰ τοσοῦτο κινδύνου ), as if parallel to the danger but not touching it. Hence παραβάσις differs from the Homeric ὑπερβασία transgressionin that the latter carries only the idea of going beyond or over. A mark or line as a standard is thus implied. Transgression implies something to transgress. With the law came in the possibility off transgressing the law. “Where there is no law there is no transgression” (Romans 4:15). Hence Adam's sin is called a transgression (Romans 5:14), because it was the violation of a definite command. Paul habitually uses the word and its kindred παραβάτης transgressorof the transgression of a commandment distinctly given (Galatians 3:19; 1 Timothy 2:14, Romans 2:25, Romans 2:27). Hence it is peculiarly appropriate here of one who boasts in the law. It thus differs from ἁμαρτία sin(see on sins, Matthew 1:21), in that one may sin without being under express law. See Romans 5. Sin ( ἁμαρτία ) was in the world until the law; i.e. during the period prior to the law. Death reigned from Adam to Moses over those who had not sinned ( ἁμαρτήσαντας ) after the similitude of Adam's transgression ( παραβάσεως ). The sin is implicit, the transgression explicit.

Verse 25

Breaker of the law ( παραβάτης )

Rev., transgressor. See on James 2:11.

Thy circumcision is made uncircumcision

“But if any citizen be found guilty of any great or unmentionable wrong, either in relation to the gods, or his parents, or the state, let the judge deem him to be incurable, remembering what an education and training he has had from youth upward, and yet has not abstained from the greatest of crimes” (Plato, “Laws,” 854).

Verse 29


Possibly in allusion to the etymological meaning of Jew, the praised one. Compare Genesis 49:8. The word here means the holy satisfaction of God as opposed to Jewish vain-glory.


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Romans 2:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, December 5th, 2020
the First Week of Advent
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology