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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Romans 2

 

 

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Verses 1-16

Romans 2:1-16. Some one interjects: "I do not approve, I condemn the sins you describe." "Then you condemn yourself," Paul retorts, "for you commit them!" The Moralist under Condemnation, with the flagitious sinner. Thrice Paul repeats, "Thou doest the same" (or "such-like") things.

Romans 2:1-3; cf. Romans 2:6; Romans 2:9 f., Romans 2:13-15 : not Jews specifically are addressed—"O man, everyone that judges!"

Romans 2:4 f. Whoso thinks to cloak unrighteous doings by his moral creed, is trifling with "God's forbearance and laying up a store of wrath."

Romans 2:6-11. Doom turns on "action," not opinion (cf. James 2:14-26); "good work" alone stands either Jew or Greek in stead at the Judgment (1 Corinthians 3:14); here lies the proof that one "seeks eternal life": the joys and miseries of the future are latent in conduct. Paul's doctrine of judgment by works complements his doctrine of salvation by faith. Faith is the spring of good works; works, the issue and evidence of faith (Ephesians 2:8-10, 1 Thessalonians 1:3).

Romans 2:12-16 places Jew and Gentile on equal terms before God's tribunal, judged by their doings; "the law" he acknowledges is the criterion for the former—the mere "hearing" of which counts for nothing; the latter has a "law inscribed in his heart," "his conscience along with" his action "attesting" the fact. Evidence from this secret forum will be forthcoming at the Day of Judgment.

Romans 2:16 is continuous with the foregoing; the brackets enclosing Romans 2:13-15 in AV are properly removed.—The words "according to my good news, through Christ Jesus" (Romans 2:16), intimate the perfect discrimination and sympathy which will mark the coming world-judgment; see in illustration Matthew 25:14-46, etc.

Romans 2:6 f. The involved clauses are best construed thus: "Who will render to each according to his works—on the one hand, to the men of perseverance in good work glory and honour and incorruption, since they seek eternal life." The reward is reaffirmed in Romans 2:10 in terms of "glory and honour"; and the soul's quest is "eternal life" (see Romans 6:22, Matthew 19:16, etc.), not "glory."


Verses 17-29

Romans 2:17-29. Now Paul accosts the Jew, reproving his pride of law, made void by disloyalty.

Romans 2:17-20. His pretensions ("But if thou bearest the name of Jew," etc.), provoke the questions of Romans 2:21-24 : the commandments he inculcates on others, he so violates that "God" is "dishonoured," and "His name is blasphemed among the Gentiles." The "blasphemy" of Isaiah 52:5 was occasioned by the insolence of Gentile oppressors; this by the hypocrisy of Israel.

Romans 2:25-29. How worthless the outward possession of the Law, and the physical mark of circumcision, without the corresponding inner reality: law-keeping uncircumcision is virtually circumcision, and vice versa; heart-obedience, not external status, "wins God's praise." For Jew or Gentile, "doing" right, not lauding nor vaunting it, avails with God at the Judgment (Romans 2:1-16) and approves itself now (Romans 2:17-29).—The words of Romans 2:22 b, "Thou that loathest the idols," etc., probably allude to some recent notorious sacrilege. [Cf. the underlying insinuation in Acts 19:37.—A. J. G.].

Romans 2:12-16 and Romans 2:25-29 exhibit Paul emancipated from Jewish prejudice; he penetrates through conventional forms to the moral realities. The first part of his indictment, bearing upon flagrant sin, terminated at Romans 1:32; its second part, bearing upon sin disguised by moral professions, occupies ch. 2.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Romans 2:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/romans-2.html. 1919.

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