Romans 2 Bible Commentary

The Geneva Study Bible

(Read all of Romans 2)
2:1 Therefore 1 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.

(1) He convicts those who would seem to be exempt from the rest of men (because they reprehend other men's faults), and says that they are least of all to be excused, for if they were searched well and carefully (as God surely does) they themselves would be found guilty in those things which they reprehend and punish in others: so that in condemning others, they pronounce sentence against themselves.

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

(a) Paul alleges no places of scripture, for he reasons generally against all men: but he brings reasons such that every man is persuaded by them in his mind, so that the devil himself is not able to completely pluck them out.
(b) Considering and judging things correctly, and not by any outward show.

2:4 2 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

(2) A vehement and grievous crying out against those that please themselves because they see more than others do, and yet are in no way better than others are.

2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart c treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

(c) While you are giving yourself to pleasures, thinking to increase your goods, you will find God's wrath.

2:6 3 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

(3) The foundation of the former disputation, that both the Jews and Gentiles together have need of righteousness.

2:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for d glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

(d) Glory which follows good works, which he does not lay out before us as though there were any that could attain to salvation by his own strength, but, he lays this condition of salvation before us, which no man can perform, to bring men to Christ, who alone justifies the believers, as he himself concludes; see (Romans 2:21-22).

2:8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the e truth, but obey unrighteousness, f indignation and wrath,

(e) By "truth" he means the knowledge which we naturally have.
(f) God's indignation against sinners, which will quickly be kindled.

2:11 For there is no g respect of persons with God.

(g) God does not judge men either by their blood or by their country, either to receive them or to cast them away.

2:12 4 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;

(4) He applies that general accusation against mankind particularly both to the Gentiles and to the Jews.

2:13 5 (For not the hearers of the law [are] just before God, but the doers of the law shall be h justified.

(5) He prevents an objection which might be made by the Jews whom the law does not excuse, but condemn, because it is not the hearing of the law that justifies, but rather the keeping of it.
(h) Will be pronounced just before God's judgment seat: which is true indeed if any one could be found that had fulfilled the law: but seeing that Abraham was not justified by the law, but by faith, it follows that no man can be justified by works.

2:14 6 For when the Gentiles, which have i not the law, do by k nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

(6) He prevents an objection which might be made by the Gentiles, who even though they do not have the law of Moses, yet they have no reason why they may excuse their wickedness, in that they have something written in their hearts instead of a law, as men do who forbid and punish some things as wicked, and command and commend other things as good.
(i) Not that they are without any law, but rather the law of the Jews.
(k) Command honest things, and forbid dishonest.

2:15 Which shew the work of the law l written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and [their] thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

(l) This knowledge is a natural knowledge.

2:16 7 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to m my gospel.

(7) God defers many judgments, which he will nonetheless execute at their convenient time by Jesus Christ, with a most candid examination, not only of words and deeds, but of thoughts also, be they ever so hidden or secret.
(m) As my doctrine witnesses, which I am appointed to preach.

2:17 8 Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,

(8) He proves by the testimony of David, and the other prophets, that God bestows greatest benefits upon the Jews, in giving them also the law, but that they are the most unthankful and unkind of all men.

2:18 And knowest [his] will, and n approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law;

(n) Can test and discern what things swerve from God's will.

2:20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the o form of knowledge and of the truth in the p law.

(o) The way to teach and to form others in the knowledge of the truth.
(p) As though he said that the Jews under a pretence of an outward serving of God, attributed all to themselves, when in reality they did nothing less than observe the Law.

2:25 9 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.

(9) He precisely prevents their objection, who set a holiness in circumcision, and the outward observation of the law: so that he shows that the outward circumcision, if it is separated from the inward, does not justify, and also condemns those who are indeed circumcised, of whom it is required that they fulfil that which circumcision signifies, that is to say, cleanness of the heart and the whole life according to the commandment of the law, so that if there is a man uncircumcised according to the flesh, who is circumcised in heart, he is far better and to be more regarded than any Jew that is circumcised according to the flesh only.

2:26 Therefore if the q uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his r uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?

(q) This is the figure of speech metonymy, and means "uncircumcised".
(r) The state and condition of the uncircumcised.

2:27 And shall not s uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the t letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?

(s) He who is uncircumcised by nature and race.
(t) Paul often contrasts the letter against the Spirit: but in this place, the circumcision which is according to the letter is the cutting off of the foreskin, but the circumcision of the Spirit is the circumcision of the heart, that is to say, the spiritual result of the ceremony is true holiness and righteousness, by which the people of God are known from profane and heathen men.

2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one u outwardly; neither [is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

(u) By the outward ceremony only.

2:29 But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the x spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God.

(x) Whose power is inward, and in the heart.