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Romans Chapter Two


Romans 2

Two things are presented here with respect to God; His judgment against evil-the evil-doer shall not escape (the real difference of right and wrong would be maintained by judgment); and His mercy, patience, and long-suffering with regard to the evil-doer-His goodness inviting him to repentance. He who continued in evil deceived himself by trying to forget the sure judgment of God and by despising His goodness. The consequences, both of a life opposed to God and to His truth on the one hand, and of the search after that which is pleasing to Him, and thereby for eternal life on the other, were sure-tribulation and anguish in the one case, in the other glory and honour; and that without more respect to the Jews than to the Gentiles.

God judged things according to their true moral character, and according to the advantages which the guilty one had enjoyed. [1] Those who had sinned without law should perish without law, and those who had sinned under the law should be judged according to the law, in the day when God should judge the secrets of the heart according to the gospel which Paul preached. This character of the judgment is very important. It is not the government of the world by an earthly and outward judgment, as the Jew understood it, but that of the individual according to God's knowledge of the heart.

Also God would have realities. The Gentile who fulfilled the law was better than a Jew who broke it. If he called himself a Jew and acted ill (chap. 2:17), he only dishonoured God, and caused His name to be blasphemed among the Gentiles whilst boasting in his privileges. He then enlarges on the point that God requires moral reality, and that a Gentile who did that which the law demanded was better worth than a Jew who disobeyed it, and that the real Jew was he who had the law in his heart, being circumcised also in the spirit, and not he who had only outward circumcision. This was a condition which God could praise, and not man only.


[1] How strikingly this also brings out what so breaks everywhere through the doctrine of this epistle that everything is according to its reality before God, God being revealed through Christ and the cross. All must take its true character and result according to what He was. Note moreover that the terms suppose gospel knowledge-"seek for glory, honour, and incorruptibility." These are known by Christianity.}

── John DarbySynopsis of Romans


Romans 2

Chapter Contents

The Jews could not be justified by the law of Moses, any more than the Gentiles by the law of nature. (1-16) The sins of the Jews confuted all their vain confidence in their outward privileges. (17-29)

Commentary on Romans 2:1-16

(Read Romans 2:1-16)

The Jews thought themselves a holy people, entitled to their privileges by right, while they were unthankful, rebellious, and unrighteous. But all who act thus, of every nation, age, and description, must be reminded that the judgment of God will be according to their real character. The case is so plain, that we may appeal to the sinner's own thoughts. In every wilful sin, there is contempt of the goodness of God. And though the branches of man's disobedience are very various, all spring from the same root. But in true repentance, there must be hatred of former sinfulness, from a change wrought in the state of the mind, which disposes it to choose the good and to refuse the evil. It shows also a sense of inward wretchedness. Such is the great change wrought in repentance, it is conversion, and is needed by every human being. The ruin of sinners is their walking after a hard and impenitent heart. Their sinful doings are expressed by the strong words, "treasuring up wrath." In the description of the just man, notice the full demand of the law. It demands that the motives shall be pure, and rejects all actions from earthly ambition or ends. In the description of the unrighteous, contention is held forth as the principle of all evil. The human will is in a state of enmity against God. Even Gentiles, who had not the written law, had that within, which directed them what to do by the light of nature. Conscience is a witness, and first or last will bear witness. As they nature. Conscience is a witness, and first or last will bear witness. As they kept or broke these natural laws and dictates, their consciences either acquitted or condemned them. Nothing speaks more terror to sinners, and more comfort to saints, than that Christ shall be the Judge. Secret services shall be rewarded, secret sins shall be then punished, and brought to light.

Commentary on Romans 2:17-24

(Read Romans 2:17-24)

The apostle directs his discourse to the Jews, and shows of what sins they were guilty, notwithstanding their profession and vain pretensions. A believing, humble, thankful glorying in God, is the root and sum of all religion. But proud, vain-glorious boasting in God, and in the outward profession of his name, is the root and sum of all hypocrisy. Spiritual pride is the most dangerous of all kinds of pride. A great evil of the sins professors is, the dishonour done to God and religion, by their not living according to their profession. Many despise their more ignorant neighbours who rest in a dead form of godliness; yet themselves trust in a form of knowledge, equally void of life and power, while some glory in the gospel, whose unholy lives dishonour God, and cause his name to be blasphemed.

Commentary on Romans 2:25-29

(Read Romans 2:25-29)

No forms, ordinances, or notions can profit, without regenerating grace, which will always lead to seeking an interest in the righteousness of God by faith. For he is no more a Christian now, than he was really a Jew of old, who is only one outwardly: neither is that baptism, which is outward in the flesh: but he is the real Christian, who is inwardly a true believer, with an obedient faith. And the true baptism is that of the heart, by the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Ghost; bringing a spiritual frame of mind, and a willing following of truth in its holy ways. Let us pray that we may be made real Christians, not outwardly, but inwardly; in the heart and spirit, not in the letter; baptized, not with water only, but with the Holy Ghost; and let our praise be, not of men, but of God.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Romans


Romans 2

Verse 1

[1] Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

Therefore — The apostle now makes a transition from the gentiles to the Jews, till, at Romans 2:6, he comprises both.

Thou art inexcusable — Seeing knowledge without practice only increases guilt.

O man — Having before spoken of the gentile in the third person, he addresses the Jew in the second person. But he calls him by a common appellation, as not acknowledging him to be a Jew. See verses Romans 2:17,28.

Whosoever thou art that judgest — Censurest, condemnest.

For in that thou judgest the other — The heathen.

Thou condemnest thyself; for thou doest the same things — In effect; in many instances.

Verse 2

[2] But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.

For we know — Without thy teaching That the judgment of God - Not thine, who exceptest thyself from its sentence.

Is according to truth — Is just, making no exception, Romans 2:5,6,11; and reaches the heart as well as the life, Romans 2:16.

Verse 3

[3] And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

That thou shalt escape — Rather than the gentile.

Verse 4

[4] Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Or despisest thou — Dost thou go farther still, - from hoping to escape his wrath, to the abuse of his love?.

The riches — The abundance.

Of his goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering — Seeing thou both hast sinned, dost sin, and wilt sin. All these are afterwards comprised in the single word goodness. Leadeth thee - That is, is designed of God to lead or encourage thee to it.

Verse 5

[5] But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

Treasurest up wrath — Although thou thinkest thou art treasuring up all good things. O what a treasure may a man lay up either way, in this short day of life! To thyself - Not to him whom thou judgest.

In the day of wrath, and revelation, and righteous judgment of God — Just opposite to "the goodness and forbearance and longsuffering" of God. When God shall be revealed, then shall also be "revealed" the secrets of men's hearts, Romans 2:16. Forbearance and revelation respect God, and are opposed to each other; longsuffering and righteous judgment respect the sinner; goodness and wrath are words of a more general import.

Verse 6

[6] Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

Proverbs 24:12

Verse 7

[7] To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

To them that seek for glory — For pure love does not exclude faith, hope, desire, 1 Corinthians 15:58.

Verse 8

[8] But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

But to them that are contentious — Like thee, O Jew, who thus fightest against God. The character of a false Jew is disobedience, stubbornness, impatience.

Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish — Alluding to Psalms 78:49: "He cast upon them," the Egyptians. "the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble;" and finely intimating, that the Jews would in the day of vengeance be more severely punished than even the Egyptians were when God made their plagues so wonderful.

Verse 9

[9] Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

Of the Jew first — Here we have the first express mention of the Jews in this chapter. And it is introduced with great propriety. Their having been trained up in the true religion, and having had Christ and his apostles first sent to them, will place them in the foremost rank of the criminals that obey not the truth.

Verse 10

[10] But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

But glory — Just opposite to "wrath," from the divine approbation.

Honour — Opposite to "indignation," by the divine appointment; and peace now and for ever, opposed to tribulation and anguish.

Verse 11

[11] For there is no respect of persons with God.

For there is no respect of persons with God — He will reward every one according to his works. But this is well consistent with his distributing advantages and opportunities of improvement, according to his own good pleasure.

Verse 12

[12] For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

For as many as have sinned — He speaks as of the time past, for all time will be past at the day of judgment.

Without the law — Without having any written law.

Shall also perish without the law — Without regard had to any outward law; being condemned by the law written in their hearts. The word also shows the agreement of the manner of sinning, with the manner of suffering.

Perish — He could not so properly say, Shall be judged without the law.

Verse 13

[13] (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

For not the hearers of the law are, even now, just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified - Finally acquitted and rewarded a most sure and important truth, which respects the gentiles also, though principally the Jews. St. Paul speaks of the former, Romans 2:14, etc.; of the latter, Romans 2:17, etc. Here is therefore no parenthesis; for the sixteenth verse also depends on the fifteenth, not on the twelfth. Romans 2:16,15,12.

Verse 14

[14] For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

For when the gentiles — That is, any of them. St. Paul, having refuted the perverse judgment of the Jews concerning the heathens, proceeds to show the just judgment of God against them. He now speaks directly of the heathens, in order to convince the heathens. Yet the concession he makes to these serves more strongly to convince the Jews.

Do by nature — That is, without an outward rule; though this also, strictly speaking, is by preventing grace.

The things contained in the law — The ten commandments being only the substance of the law of nature. These, not having the written law, are a law unto themselves - That is, what the law is to the Jews, they are, by the grace of God, to themselves; namely, a rule of life.

Verse 15

[15] Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

Who show — To themselves, to other men, and, in a sense, to God himself.

The work of the law — The substance, though not the letter, of it.

Written on their hearts — By the same hand which wrote the commandments on the tables of stone.

Their conscience — There is none of all its faculties which the soul has less in its power than this.

Bearing witness — In a trial there are the plaintiff, the defendant, and the witnesses. Conscience and sin itself are witnesses against the heathens. Their thoughts sometimes excuse, sometimes condemn, them.

Among themselves — Alternately, like plaintiff and defendant.

Accusing or even defending them — The very manner of speaking shows that they have far more room to accuse than to defend.

Verse 16

[16] In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

In the day — That is, who show this in the day. Everything will then be shown to be what it really is. In that day will appear the law written in their hearts as it often does in the present life.

When God shall judge the secrets of men — On secret circumstances depends the real quality of actions, frequently unknown to the actors themselves, Romans 2:29. Men generally form their judgments, even of themselves merely from what is apparent.

According to my gospel — According to the tenor of that gospel which is committed to my care. Hence it appears that the gospel also is a law.

Verse 17

[17] Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,

But if thou art called a Jew — This highest point of Jewish glorying, after a farther description of it interposed, Romans 2:17-20, and refuted, Romans 2:21-24, is itself refuted, Romans 2:25, etc. The description consists of twice five articles; of which the former five, Romans 2:17,18, show what he boasts of in himself; the other five, Romans 2:19,20, what he glories in with respect to others. The first particular of the former five answers to the first of the latter; the second, to the second, and so on.

And restest in the law — Dependest on it, though it can only condemn thee.

And gloriest in God — As thy God; and that, too, to the exclusion of others.

Verse 19

[19] And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,

Blind, in darkness, ignorant, babes — These were the titles which the Jews generally gave the gentiles.

Verse 20

[20] An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.

Having the form of knowledge and truth — That is, the most accurate knowledge of the truth.

Verse 21

[21] Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?

Thou dost not teach thyself — He does not teach himself who does not practise what he teaches.

Dost thou steal, commit adultery, commit sacrilege — Sin grievously against thy neighbour, thyself, God. St. Paul had shown the gentiles, first their sins against God, then against themselves, then against their neighbours. He now inverts the order: for sins against God are the most glaring in an heathen, but not in a Jew.

Thou that abhorrest idols — Which all the Jews did, from the time of the Babylonish captivity.

Thou committest sacrilege — Doest what is worse, robbing Him "who is God over all" of the glory which is due to him. None of these charges were rashly advanced against the Jews of that age; for, as their own historian relates, some even of the priests lived by rapine, and others in gross uncleanness. And as for sacrilegiously robbing God and his altar, it had been complained of ever since Malachi; so that the instances are given with great propriety and judgment.

Verse 24

[24] For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.

Isaiah 52:5

Verse 25

[25] For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.

Circumcision indeed profiteth — He does not say, justifies. How far it profited is shown in the third and fourth chapters.

Thy circumcision is become uncircumcision — is so already in effect. Thou wilt have no more benefit by it than if thou hadst never received it. The very same observation holds with regard to baptism.

Verse 26

[26] Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?

If the uncircumcision — That is, a person uncircumcised.

Keep the law — Walk agreeably to it.

Shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision — In the sight of God?

Verse 27

[27] And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?

Yea, the uncircumcision that is by nature — Those who are, literally speaking, uncircumcised.

Fulfilling the law — As to the substance of it.

Shall judge thee — Shall condemn thee in that day.

Who by the letter and circumcision — Who having the bare, literal, external circumcision, transgressest the law.

Verse 28

[28] For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

For he is not a Jew — In the most important sense, that is, one of God's beloved people. Who is one in outward show only; neither is that the true, acceptable circumcision, which is apparent in the flesh.

Verse 29

[29] But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

But he is a Jew — That is, one of God's people.

Who is one inwardly — In the secret recesses of his soul. And the acceptable circumcision is that of the heart - Referring to Deuteronomy 30:6; the putting away all inward impurity. This is seated in the spirit, the inmost soul, renewed by the Spirit of God.

And not in the letter — Not in the external ceremony.

Whose praise is not from men, but from God — The only searcher of the heart.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Romans


Chapter 2. The Sin of the Jews


I. Judge the Self-righteousness

  1. Pass Judgement on Others
  2. Give According to His Deeds
  3. Doing Good vs. Following Evil

II. The Gentiles without the Law

  1. Observing the Law
  2. The Effect of Obeying the Law
  3. Consciences

III. The Jews under the Law

  1. Three "bragging"
  2. Break the Law Knowingly
  3. The Emptiness of the Law
── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament
Chapter Two General Review
1) To see how people without a direct revelation of God's Will can
   still be lost
2) To see how people who may have a written Law from God are also in
   need of salvation
Having vividly depicted the condition of the Gentile world in chapter
one, Paul now addresses his comments to those who pass judgment on
others when they themselves are guilty of the same things (1).  He
points out that they are in danger of God's righteous judgment, who
"will render to each one according to his deeds" (2-6).  This judgment
will offer either eternal life or wrath and indignation, given without 
partiality, and the decision is based on whether one does good or evil 
To justify the condemnation of Gentiles who did not have a written Law 
(like the Jews), Paul affirms that the Gentiles could "by nature do the 
things contained in the law" and that their own consciences will bear 
witness of their guilt on the day of judgment.  In this way Paul 
demonstrated the Gentiles' need of salvation (12-16).
Lest the Jews think their having the Law frees them from condemnation, 
Paul proceeds to demonstrate that they too are in need of salvation.  
Though they have the Law, their failure to keep it perfectly caused 
them to dishonor God and blaspheme His Name (17-24).  Introducing a 
thought he will expand upon later in the epistle, he points out that a 
true Jew is one who is circumcised in his heart, and not just in the 
flesh (25-29).
OUTLINE (adapted from Jim McGuiggan)
      1. The inconsistent judge judges himself (1)
      2. The hypocritical judge is judged by truth (2)
      3. The foolish judge reasons poorly (3)
      4. The presumptuous judge treasures up wrath (4-11)
      1. Those who sin will still perish (12)
      2. The Gentiles DO have a law (13-15)
      3. Jesus Christ will judge accordingly (16)
      1. The Jewish self-portrait (17-20)
      2. The Jewish inconsistency and dishonor of God (21-24)
      1. Voided by transgressing the Law (25-27)
      2. The true Jew is one circumcised in the heart, in the Spirit
judgment - in some places, the idea is "discernment;" in other places 
           "condemnation" is the idea - the context must determine
wrath - anger (in God's case, a just displeasure in response to sin)
law - when preceded by the definite article "the" (in the Greek) it 
      usually refers to the Law of Moses, otherwise it may refer to the
      principle of law in general; there are exceptions, and the
      context must determine
by nature - "a mode of feeling and acting which by long habit has
            become nature" (THAYER)
conscience - that faculty of thought which makes moral judgments
             (either excusing or condemning our actions); developed
             through training
1) List the main points of this chapter
   - The Gentiles' Need Of Salvation (1-16)
   - The Jews' Need Of Salvation (17-29)
2) Why is one who passes judgment without excuse? (1)
   - They are guilty of the same thing and so condemn themselves
3) How does God try to lead one to repentance? (4)
   - Through kindness, forbearance, and longsuffering
4) What is the reward given to those who do good?  To those who do
   evil? (9,10)
   - Eternal life to those who do good; wrath and indignation,
     tribulation and anguish to those who do evil
5) How will God judge those who do not have a "written" law? (14-16)
   - The law of their conscience will condemn them when God judges the
     secrets of their hearts by Jesus Christ
6) Without a "written" Law, how did the Gentiles know the difference
   between right and wrong? (14,15)
    - "by nature" (note the definition above); they are able to do the
      things contained in the Law, for they have the "work of the Law"
      written in their hearts
7) Why were the Jews in need of salvation? (21-24)
   - Through inconsistency and disobedience to the Law, they dishonored


The Goodness Of God (2:4-11)
1. Many people live their lives with little regard to the goodness of
   a. Unaware of how gracious God has been and is willing to be toward
   b. Unaware of how their neglect will one day come back to haunt them
2. Have you given much thought to the goodness of God...?
   a. The many blessings He bestows?
   b. The consequences if you fail to respond properly?
[One passage of Scripture that ought to give us pause is the one written
in Ro 2:4-11, in which Paul expounds upon "The Goodness Of God."  From
verse 4, we can glean some things about...]
      1. He is rich in grace - Ep 1:7
      2. He is rich in mercy - Ep 2:4
      3. He is rich in supplying need - Ph 4:19
      4. He is rich in giving things to enjoy - 1 Ti 6:17
      5. He is rich in the strength He provides the Christian - Ep 3:
      1. "Forbearance" (anoche) means "a holding back" - ISBE
      2. We see God's forbearance...
         a. In the days of Israel - cf. Psa 78:38
         b. In our present day (since the fullness of God's wrath has
            yet to come)
      1. "Longsuffering" (makrothumia) describes "a slowness in avenging
         wrath" - Strong's
      2. We see God suffering long...
         a. In the days of Noah, prior to the flood - cf. 1 Pe 3:20
         b. In our present day, prior to the day of judgment - cf. 2 Pe
[The Psalmist summarizes well the nature of God's goodness:  "But You, O
Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, Longsuffering and
abundant in mercy and truth." (Psa 86:15).  As we return to our text in
Romans, we are told of...]
      1. God's goodness is intended to cause man to repent - Ro 2:4
      2. Based on Paul's description of repentance elsewhere, God's
         goodness should produce...
         a. Godly sorrow which leads to repentance - cf. 2 Co 7:9-10
         b. A change of mind (the actual meaning of metanoia,
            repentance) - Strong's
         c. A turn from sin to God (as evidence of repentance) - cf.
            2 Co 7:10-11
      1. As just described, an indication of true repentance - cf. 2 Co
      2. As later described in our text, it should lead to doing good...
         a. With patient continuance - Ro 2:7a
            1) Where God was longsuffering (makrothumia) before
            2) We are to do good patiently (hupomone) now - cf. Lk 8:15
         b. Seeking glory, honor, immortality - Ro 2:7b
            1) Glory and honor that will come at the revelation of Jesus
               Christ - cf. 1 Pe 1:7; 2 Co 4:16-18
            2) Immortality (incorruption) that will be given at the same
               time - 1 Co 15:51-54
[Thus  "eternal life" will be given to those who are properly motivated
by God's goodness to repent and do good (Ro 2:7).  But what of those who
spurn the riches of God's goodness...?]
      1. For they despise God's goodness - Ro 2:4
      2. For they evidently are insensitive and unappreciative  of God's
         goodness - Ro 2:5
      3. For they remain impenitent in their heart - Ro 2:5
      1. The wrath of God's righteous judgment - cf. Ro 2:5
      2. A day of wrath involving indignation, tribulation, and anguish
         - Ro 2:8-9a
      3. A vivid description of which is found in 2 Th 1:7-9
1. Such is the end of one who does not properly respond to God's
   a. Especially as that manifested through the gospel of Jesus
   b. Which Paul will expound upon later in this epistle to the Romans
2. As we close, be careful to note:  there is no partiality with God!
   - Ro 2:9-11
   a. Those who do evil will be punished
   b. Those who do good will be blessed
Have you allowed "The Goodness Of God" to lead you to repentance,
especially that repentance called for in the proclamation of the gospel?
- cf. Ac 2:36-39; 3:19; 17:30-31


--《Executable Outlines


The Sin of the Jews




I.  Judge the Self-righteousness

1.    Pass Judgment on Others

2.    Give According to His Deeds

3.    Doing Good vs. Following Evil

II.The Gentiles without the Law

1.    Observing the Law

2.    The Effect of Obeying the Law

3.    Consciences

III.       The Jews under the Law

1.    Three “bragging”

2.    Break the Law Knowingly

3.    The Emptiness of the Law

-- Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament