|Romans 2:13 for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. (3PFPI). (NASB: Lockman)|
Greek: ou gar hoi akroatai nomou dikaioi para (to) theo, all hoi poietai nomou dikaiothesontai (3PFPI)
Amplified: For it is not merely hearing the Law [read] that makes one righteous before God, but it is the doers of the Law who will be held guiltless and acquitted and justified. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: For it is not merely knowing the law that brings God's approval. Those who obey the law will be declared right in God's sight. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: It is not familiarity with the Law that justifies a man in the sight of God, but obedience to it (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: For not those who are instructed in the law are righteous in the presence of God but those who are doers of the law shall be justified. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: for not the hearers of the law are righteous before God, but the doers of the law shall be declared righteous:--
|Romans — 1:18-3:20||Romans — 3:21- 5:21||Romans — 6:1-8:39||Romans — 9:1-11:36||Romans — 12:1-16:27|
Restored to Israel
FOR NOT THE HEARERS OF THE LAW ARE JUST BEFORE GOD : gar ou gar hoi akroatai nomou dikaioi para (to) theo : (Ro 2:25-note; Dt 4:1; 5:1; 6:3; 30:12, 13, 14; Ezek 20:11; 33:30, 31, 32, 33; Mt 7:21-note; Mt 7:22, 23-note; Mt 7:24,25-note; Mt 7:26, 27-note; Mt 7:28,29-note; Lk 8:21; Jas 1:19-note; Jas 1:22, 23, 24, 25-note; 1Jn 2:29; 3:7) (Ezek 33:30, 31, 32; Mt 7:13,14 -note; Mt 7:15,16-note; Mt 7:17, 18, 19, 20-note; Mt 7:21-note Mt 7:22, 23 - note; Lk 6:49; 8:11, 12, 13, 14, 15)
Remember that in this section (see chart), Paul is NOT explaining the WAY of salvation (justification) but the NEED for salvation. He is in effect presenting a "tight argument" to "paint the religious moralists" (whether they be Jew or Gentile) into a "proverbial corner," with no excuse, no escape, EXCEPT to run to Jesus and take refuge in the Gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24).
Jews attended their synagogues, week after week hearing the law read and explained to them. They were professional hearers but should have been proficient doers! (cf Jas 1:22-note)
Middletown Bible - Romans 2:13-15 are parenthetical (to see this, read verse 12 and then go directly to verse 16). The structure here is that of inverted parallelism (also known as CHIASM) and can be simply explained as follows:
For (gar) is a marker of cause or reason (See term of explanation) positioned after a preceding clause and introducing the reason or cause for what has just been stated) looks at the last clause of Ro 2:12-note and explains why the Jews shall be judged by the Law. Whenever you spot a "for" (there are over 7000 in Scripture, and most are used as a term of explanation), pause and ponder, what is being explained, why now, to whom, etc.
Not - Note that "NOT" is the Greek word "ou" which signifies absolute negation of what follows. Paul is saying that merely "hearing" the Law justifies absolutely no one. The Jew boasted in knowing the Law, but Christ said, "None of you keep the Law." Applying this passage to the modern church, in the opinion of many evangelical pastors there are many individuals who upon hearing the gospel preached have made an outward "profession" but whose lives fail to exhibit fruit in keeping with genuine repentance (Mt 3:8) or good works (Eph 2:10-note) that indicate that they have been truly born again.
Just (1342)(dikaios from dike = right, just) is an adjective which describes the one who is in right relation to another, the one who is morally and ethically righteous, upright or just the man who is in accordance with what God requires. God is totally righteous because He is totally as He should be. The righteousness of God which He requires is all that God is, all that He commands, all that He demands, all that He approves and ultimately all that He provides (through Christ).
Mere knowledge of the Law ("hearers") will not satisfy requirement for perfect righteousness. It is not the hearers, but the doers, that are justified (cf Jas 1:22-note). God’s righteous judgment is not withheld because someone has heard the Law. It is only held back if someone has done the Law. Ultimately only One has "done" the Law perfectly and we must run to Him and be covered by His imputed righteousness.
The Jew may think that he is saved because he has the Law. Paul is saying that the question he needs to address "Have I kept the Law?" The Jews may have possessed the Law but they did not practice the Law. And of course no man can "practice the law" unless they are given a divine "heart transplant" (cp Ezek 36:26-27) which is exactly what Paul is building up to in his indictment of everyone still in Adam and dead in their trespasses and sins. In a similar manner, a Gentile might suppose that he is saved because he has kept the dictates of his own conscience. When they say this, they are showing the "work of the Law written in their" hearts. Paul is arguing logically that clearly it is not possible to be justified by keeping the law, whether in a "Jewish" sense (they had the law) or a "Gentile" sense (they had conscience which showed they knew the principles stated in the written Law). And ultimately both groups "will be condemned, not because they have the Law or do not have (a written copy of) the Law, but because they have sinned." (Morris)
HCSB - Deuteronomy 6:4 calls Israel to "listen" ("Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one." Lxx uses a different verb akouo in the aorist imperative, not akroates which does not call for associated obedience) to the declaration of God's identity, but Dt 6:5 follows up by saying that merely listening is not enough. One must love God with the whole heart, which entails obedience. And yet no one will be declared righteous by obeying the law, for no one obeys the law perfectly (Ro 3:20,23; Gal 2:16; Jas 2:8-11). The only incorrupt doer of the law was Jesus, the Righteous One.
Hearers (202) (akroates from the verb akouo = hear with attention) first describes one who hears referring primarily to the perception of sounds by the sense of hearing. It was used to describe those who sat passively in an audience and listened to a singer or speaker. The use of this term by Paul implies that in ancient times their was frequent public reading of the Scriptures along with oral instruction.
James writes - But prove (present imperative = command to make this your lifestyle, the habit of your life) yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers (akroates) who delude themselves. (James 1:22-note)
In light of the fact that Paul is addressing his Jewish brethren, Rogers' note is interesting...
Denney - No degree of familiarity with the law avails if it is not done. (Ed: But the only way it can be "done" is empowered by the Holy Spirit - Php 2:13-note).
Vincent writes that "hearers" are those...
Hiebert - Among the Greeks, akroates was a common term for persons who were attendants at a lecture but not disciples of the lecturer. They were hearers who in life did not follow the instructions given. It is a common human failing from which Christians are not exempt. If all who are auditors of the Word on Sunday would put it into practice during the week, what a difference that would make! Roberts tartly remarks, "Our churches are filled with spiritual sponges who soak up the information, sit, sour, and eventually stink!" (Ibid)
Henry Alford - This is to explain to the Jew the fact, that not his mere hearing of the law read in the synagogue (his being by birth and privilege a Jew) will justify him before God, but (still keeping to general principles and not touching as yet on the impossibility of being thus justified) the doing of the law.
MacArthur - Paul here does not use the usual Greek term for hearing (akouo) but the word akroates, which was used of those whose business it is to listen. The idea is much like that of a college student. His primary purpose in class is to listen to the teacher’s instruction. Normally, he also has the responsibility of being accountable for what he hears and is tested on it. If he is simply auditing, however, he is required only to attend the class sessions. He takes no tests and receives no grade. In other words, he listens without being held accountable for what he hears. In many synagogues during Paul’s time, teaching did not focus on Scripture but on the system of man-made traditions that the rabbis had developed over the centuries since the Exile. Frequently, God’s Word in the OT was merely read and listened to, without explanation or application. Most Jews, therefore, were simply “auditing the course,” hearers of the Law and nothing more. But God recognizes no mere “auditors” of His Word. The more a person hears His truth, the more he is responsible for believing and obeying it. Unless there is obedience, the greater the hearing, the greater the judgment."
BUT THE DOERS OF THE LAW WILL BE JUSTIFIED: all hoi poietai nomou dikaiothesontai (3PFPI): (Ro 3:20,23; 10:5; Lk 10:25, 26, 27, 28, 29; Gal 3:11,12) (Doers Mt 7:21; 12:50; Lk 11:28; 2Co8:11; Jas 1:22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27; 4:11) (justified Ro 3:30; 4:2, 3, 4, 5; Ps 143:2; Lk 18:14; Acts 13:39; Gal 2:16; 5:4; James 2:21, 22, 23, 24, 25-see notes) (See Torrey's Topic Justification before God, see articles in ISBE Easton)
ARE DOERS OF THE LAW
But (alla) introduces a strong contrast (see term of contrast) which should always prompt one to pause and ponder, asking questions like "What is being contrasted?," etc. The contrast is easy to discern in this case--hearers versus doers.
John Piper - “Doers of the Law will be justified.” It does not say, “By doing works of the Law you will be justified.” It simply says that the ones who will be justified are also those who are doers of the law. There is no causal connection asserted. So the verse is not a contradiction of Romans 3:20-note which says, “By the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.” There is nothing in Romans 2:13b that keeps us from believing in justification by faith alone. Faith is required by the Law, and faith is the sole means of union with Christ whose righteousness vindicates us at the judgment. All the other obedience that comes from faith is the fruit of that union (cp Ro 1:5-note, Ro 16:26-note, James 2:14-26-note), not the means of it. So Romans 2:13b is not a contradiction of Paul’s teaching of justification by faith alone. (There Is No Partiality With God, Part 2)
Justified (1344) (dikaioo from dike = right, expected behavior or conformity, not according to one’s own standard, but according to an imposed standard with prescribed punishment for nonconformity) primarily means to deem to be right.
Dikaioo describes the act (note an act, not a process!) by which a man is brought into a right state of relationship to God. Dikaioo is a legal term having to do with the law and the the courtroom, where it represented the legally binding verdict of the judge. This is the sense in which Paul uses dikaioo in this section in Romans (Ro 3:21-5:11) in which he unfolds the doctrine of justification.
The meaning of dikaioo depends on the context and depending on which lexicon you consult you will come up with a variety of definitions so the following is an attempt as classifying most of the NT uses, but please be a Berean and do you own study of this word.
Dikaioo - 39x in the NT - Mt 11:19; 12:37; Lk. 7:29, 35; 10:29; 16:15; 18:14; Acts 13:38, 39; Ro 2:13; 3:4, 20, 24, 26, 28, 30; 4:2, 5; 5:1, 9; 6:7; 8:30, 33; 1Co. 4:4; 6:11; Gal. 2:16f; 3:8, 11, 24; 5:4; 1Tim. 3:16; Titus 3:7; Jas. 2:21, 24, 25.
John MacArthur - Dikaioo "means to declare the rightness of something or someone. Justification is God’s declaration that all the demands of the law are fulfilled on behalf of the believing sinner through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Justification is a wholly forensic, or legal, transaction. It changes the judicial standing of the sinner before God. In justification, God imputes the perfect righteousness of Christ to the believer’s account, then declares the redeemed one fully righteous. Justification must be distinguished from sanctification, in which God actually imparts Christ’s righteousness to the sinner. While the two must be distinguished, justification and sanctification can never be separated. God does not justify whom He does not sanctify." (MacArthur, J: Romans 1-8. Chicago: Moody Press)
The Law demands perfect (cf James 2:10) and continuous obedience for one to be "justified". Paul has clearly stated that no one is accounted righteous simply because he hears or knows what the Law says. The only conceivable way of being justified under the Law would be to keep it in its entirety. But since all men are sinners, it is impossible for them to do this. So this verse is really setting forth an ideal (and literally impossible) condition rather than stating something that is capable of human attainment (except for the God-Man, Christ Jesus! cf Mt 5:17-note).
Constable - It is not hearing the law that makes a person acceptable to God, but doing what it commands (Ro 2:13). “Justified” is a legal term that is suitable in this discussion of law observance. Justification is a legal verdict. It reflects a person’s position under the law. The justified person is one whom God sees as righteous in relation to His law (cf. Dt 25:1). The justified person is not necessarily blameless; he may have done things that are wrong. Nevertheless in the eyes of the law he is not culpable. He does not have to pay for his crimes. Paul said in Ro 2:13 that God would declare righteous the person who did not just listen to the Mosaic Law but did what it required. The Law warned that anything short of perfect obedience to it (James 2:10), even reading or studying it or hearing it preached and taught, which Jews relied on, made a person guilty before God (Dt 27:26; cf. Gal 3:10). Moses therefore urged the Israelites to accept and believe in the promised Messiah (e.g., Deut 18:15). (Constable's Expository Notes on the Bible) (Bolding added)
Paul will bring the truth about justification to fruition in Romans 3. In this chapter he is making it clear that no man in his own strength cab be justified before God.
MacDonald has a nice summary of this section
William Newell writes
Newell's point is that genuine saving faith results in a declaration of their righteousness and a consequent obedient and godly lifestyle, even though punctuated with fleshly failure from time to time. When God measured the deeds of the Jews, He found them to be as wicked as those of the Gentiles. The fact that the Jews occasionally celebrated a feast or a Sabbath did not change the fact that their consistent daily life was one of disobedience to God and to His perfect Law. God’s blessings did not lead them to repentance. The majority of them heard the Law but did not do the Law (the righteous remnant like Zacharias and Elizabeth being exceptions) and so were not justified or declared righteous (in right standing) before God.
CAN I GET TO HEAVEN BY
Middletown Bible - Consider the expression: "THE DOERS OF THE LAW SHALL BE JUSTIFIED" (v.13). Does this mean that a person can get to heaven by keeping God’s law? Consider the following facts:
Promised in Christ -Isaiah 45:25; 53:11
Is the act of God -Isaiah 50:8; Romans 8:33
Requires perfect obedience -Leviticus 18:5; Romans 10:5; 2:13; James 2:10
Man cannot attain to -Job 9:2,3,20; 25:4; Psalms 130:3; 143:2; Romans 3:20; 9:31,32
UNDER THE GOSPEL
Is not of works -Acts 13:39; Romans 8:3; Galatians 2:16; 3:11
Is not of faith and works united -Ac 15:1-29; Ro 3:28; 11:6; Ga 2:14, 15,16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21; 5:4
Is by faith alone -John 5:24; Acts 13:39; Romans 3:30; 5:1; Galatians 2:16
Is of grace -Romans 3:24; 4:16; 5:17-21
In the name of Christ -1Cor 6:11
By imputation of Christ’s righteousness -Is 61:10; Je 23:6; Ro 3:22; 5:18; 1Co 1:30; 2Co 5:21
By the blood of Christ -Romans 5:9
By the resurrection of Christ -Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:17
Blessedness of -Psalms 32:1,2; Romans 4:6-8
Frees from condemnation -Isaiah 50:8,9; 54:17; Romans 8:33,34
Entitles to an inheritance -Titus 3:7
Ensures glorification -Romans 8:30
The wicked shall not attain to -Exodus 23:7
Revealed under the Old Testament age -Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17
Excludes boasting -Romans 3:27; 4:2; 1 Corinthians 1:29,31
Does not make void the law -Romans 3:30,31; 1 Corinthians 9:21
Typified -Zechariah 3:4,5
Illustrated -Luke 18:14
Abraham -Genesis 15:6
Paul -Philippians 3:8,9
Greek: hotan gar ethne ta me nomon echonta (PAPNPN) phusei ta tou nomou poiosin (3SPAS), outoi nomon me echontes (PAPMPN) heautois eisin (3PPAI) nomos
Amplified: When Gentiles who have not the [divine] Law do instinctively what the Law requires, they are a law to themselves, since they do not have the Law. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
GWT: For example, whenever non-Jews who don't have laws from God do by nature the things that Moses' Teachings contain, they are a law to themselves even though they don't have any laws from God.
NLT: Even when Gentiles, who do not have God's written law, instinctively follow what the law says, they show that in their hearts they know right from wrong. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: When the Gentiles, who have no knowledge of the Law, act in accordance with it by the light of nature, they show that they have a law in themselves, for they demonstrate the effect of a law operating in their own hearts. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: For whenever Gentiles, who do not have law, do habitually by nature the things of the law, these not having law, are a law to themselves (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: For, when nations that have not a law, by nature may do the things of the law, these not having a law -- to themselves are a law
|FOR WHEN: hotan gar:
For (gar) is a marker of cause or reason positioned after a preceding clause and introducing the reason or cause for what has just been stated (see term of explanation) and here looks back not to Ro 2:13 but to Ro 2:12. Paul is explaining that the Gentiles also have a law so to speak by which they will be judged. Paul explains in this section that the Gentiles can be condemned without the law because their conscience (which is the work of the law written in their hearts) is enough to condemn them. As testimony to the truth of this principle, it is interesting to note that many of the unsaved pagan writers of Paul’s day referred to the "unwritten law" within man. Even these pagans recognized that there was something instinctively present within a man or a woman which tries to direct us in the right way. Remember that although all men are totally depraved in the sense that they cannot do anything that is righteously good, they can do a "man kind of good" like honoring their parents, paying their debts, etc. But every time they do that they prove that there is a law within them that points to that as good. Are they lost? Yes. Can they claim ignorance? No. As Paul pointed out in Romans 1, creation is around them proclaiming that God exists. In Romans 2 Paul is piling up the evidence against them, showing that by their conduct they prove that they have an inner moral law.
Ray Stedman - Now, men are continually charging God with injustice because, they say, He condemns men to hell who have never heard of Jesus Christ. This is the most frequently voiced charge against the Christian gospel. We are always hearing somebody say, "Well, what about the heathen who never hear about Christ? How can a just God condemn them to hell without their hearing about Christ?" But, you see, God never condemns anybody on that basis. As we are told right here...That is, if you disobey the truth that you have, even though you have never heard of Moses or of Christ, you perish, not because you didn't hear of Moses or of Christ, but because you have disobeyed truth that you already know -- that is the whole point. If you know of Moses and of Christ, and you still disobey the truth, you perish also, because your condemnation is even greater -- because of the greater light involved. (Ed note: See above for discussion of the principle of judgment proportionate to light received) But, as it says here, even pagans have a form of basic law written on their hearts, and this is the basis of God's just condemnation of man. It is because they are not what they themselves know they ought to be. In other words, God judges you, not by some artificial standard of His, but by your own standard. (The Secrets of Men)
Stedman goes on to give an illustration of Paul's point - "Recently, I was down in Newport Beach, teaching a Bible Class in a home. Quite a number of non-Christians were there, and one of them was a man from just across the street. He was a very charming individual, but he had made it known in the neighborhood already that he had no use for Christianity. As he came in the door, the first thing he said was, "I have come to be the Devil's advocate. I think the Devil needs a representative here tonight." We welcomed him, and told him to curl his tail around a chair, and sit down. As I began to speak on the opening chapter of Genesis, dealing with God's word to man, I could see in his face that this man had let down his guard. I don't think he was aware of how much he was revealing, but in that man's eyes I saw hunger written like I had never seen it before. At the question time, he, of course, came up with the usual question: "How about those that God condemns who never hear about Christ?" I answered (to all in the room), "Let me ask you this: Which of you has lived up to your own ideals? -- because God won't judge you on the basis of something that you have never heard, but on the basis of what you already know. Now tell me: Who of you has lived up to his own ideals? Which of you has never deliberately done wrong? Which of you can say that you measure up to your own standard of what you ought to be?" You could just hear the silence in that room! You see, it is not by some artificial standard that we stand condemned before God; it is because of what we know in our hearts about ourselves. This indicates that God measures us by our own yardstick." (The Secrets of Men)
GENTILES WHO DO NOT HAVE THE LAW DO INSTINCTIVELY THE THINGS OF THE LAW: ethne ta me nomon echonta (PAPNPN) phusei ta tou nomou poiosin (3SPAS): (Ro 2:12; 3:1,2; Dt 4:7; Ps 147:19,20; Acts 14:16; 17:30; Ep 2:12) (do Ro 2:27; Ro 1:19,20; 1Co 11:14; Php 4:8) (See Greek/Gentile in Easton, Smith, ISBE, Torrey's Topical)
HCSB - The Gentiles do not have the Mosaic law as a moral guide, but they do have an inner law that informs their conscience. All humans have this instinctively as a component of their being created in God's image (Gen 1:26). Kant, the philosopher, spoke of "the starry heavens above and the moral law within." This moral law will accuse or excuse daily moral choices, but ultimately demonstrates that all people fall short of God's holiness.
Gentiles who do not have the Law - That is they do not have the written Law as did the Jews (Ro 9:4). Without knowing the written Law of God, men and women in pagan societies by nature ("instinctively"), instinctively value and attempt to practice justice, honesty, compassion, goodness toward others, etc, this practice testifying to the fact that the divine law has been written in the heart of even the most primitive tribesman. While Paul says that a Gentile may by nature do the things contained in the law, he is very careful not to say that a Gentile could fulfill the requirements of the law by nature.
Gentiles (1484) (ethnos) refers to non-Jews or the heathen and when preceded by the definite article ("the") in Greek, means "the nations" which is synonymous with the Gentiles a description implying those who practice idolatry and are ignorant of the true and living God.
All of mankind can be divided into Jew and Gentile and thus Gentile is a synonym for anyone who is non-Jew or who is not a member of the "chosen people". The Hebrew word corresponding to Gentile is goyim. From Genesis 12 onward the majority of the Scripture deals with Israel and the Jews, with the Gentiles mentioned primarily as they interface with the Jews. The NT does have more mention of the Gentiles after the formation of the Church, but the last book, the book of Revelation is very "Jewish" with over 200 OT quotes or allusions to OT passages!
Do instinctively the things of the law - In Romans 1 Paul had clearly taught that Gentiles were "without excuse (defense)" because that which can be known about God was evident within them (cp "conscience.")
Do (poieo) is in the present tense which speaks of continual action.
Instinctively ("by nature") (5449) (phusis/physis from phuo = to bring forth. Physis gives us our root for the English word physics, study of the laws of nature) means natural condition, nature, natural order, being, essence, kind, species. Natural disposition (Eph 2:3). Phusis is “that which belongs to a person or thing by virtue of its origin,” then, “its essential character.” Nature speaks of the inherent character or basic constitution of a person or thing.
As A T Robertson says "Phusis from old verb phuō, to produce, like our word nature (Latin natura), is difficult to define," which explains quotes from a number of different resources.
Vincent says phusis is "The recognized constitution of things. (In 1Cor 11:14 phusis is) the natural distinction of the woman’s long hair."
In Ephesians 2:3 Paul calls all men "by nature (phusis) children of wrath" because we have sinful natures. However, when we are saved by God's grace, we are "partakers of His divine nature [phúsis]" (2Pe 1:4). The wonder and miracle of grace is that it effects our very being, our essence.
Physis is used in the classical sense of origin in Gal 2:15 “Jews by nature” or “Jews by birth” (Gal 2:15).
Liddell-Scott - the nature, natural qualities, powers, constitution, condition, of a person or thing
Vine - (a) “the nature” (i.e., the natural powers or constitution) of a person or thing, Eph. 2:3; Jas. 3:7 (“kind”); 2 Pet. 1:4; (b) “origin, birth,” Rom. 2:27, one who by birth is a Gentile, uncircumcised, in contrast to one who, though circumcised, has become spiritually uncircumcised by his iniquity; Gal. 2:15; (c) “the regular law or order of nature,” Ro 1:26, against “nature” (para, “against”); Ro 2:14, adverbially, “by nature” (In Rom. 11:21, 24 the preposition kata, “according to,” with the noun phusis, “nature,” is translated “natural,” of branches, metaphorically describing members of the nation of Israel); 1 Cor. 11:14; Gal. 4:8, “by nature (are no gods),” here “nature” is the emphatic word, and the phrase includes demons, men regarded as deified, and idols; these are gods only in name (the negative, me, denies not simply that they were gods, but the possibility that they could be).
Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible - Of the words often translated “nature” and “natural,” physis denotes (a) a condition, endowment, or status inherited from one’s ancestors, as in reference to those who “by nature” are Jews (Gal. 2:15), heathen (Ro 2:27), “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3 NRSV), or the “natural” and “wild” branches of the olive tree (Ro 11:21, 24); (b) innate characteristics and instinctive dispositions, as of false gods (Gal. 4:8), men (Ro 2:14; Jas. 3:7b), or even God (2 Pet. 1:4); (c) the established order within nature, as of sexual relations (Ro 1:26b) or decorum (1Cor 11:14); and (d) a creature or product of nature (Jas. 3:7a). The cognate adjective physikos G5879 is employed with reference to natural human instincts (Ro 1:26–27), and in a deprecatory sense of only the natural instincts (2Pet. 2:12).
BDAG - 1. condition or circumstance as determined by birth, natural endowment/condition, nature, esp. as inherited from one’s ancestors, in contrast to status or characteristics that are acquired after birth 2. the natural character of an entity, natural characteristic/disposition 3. the regular or established order of things, nature
Complete Biblical Library - (1) one’s natural condition as that which is inherited from one’s ancestors: Ro 11:21; Ro 11:24; “uncircumcision which is by nature” Romans 2:27; “graffed contrary to nature” (Romans 11:24); “the natural branches” (Romans 11:24); “we who are Jews by nature” (Galatians 2:15); and “by nature the children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). In Romans 11:24 phusis is that which has grown “naturally” and with no artificial intervention. (2) The disposition or natural characteristics: Galatians 4:8 and “partakers of the divine nature” 2 Peter 1:4) (3) Nature as the regular natural order: Romans 1:26, that is, unnatural intercourse. Plato also held that homosexuality was unnatural [para phusin, “beside nature”] since animals do not engage in it [Laws 8.836c]); “when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law” (Romans 2:14); and “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” (1 Corinthians 11:14). (4) The product of nature, the creature, or the natural being: “every kind (phusis) of beasts” (James 3:7), thus species. The term continued in use down through the patristic era. It was used to describe theologically the divine nature shared equally by the three Persons of the Trinity.
NIDNTT (Uses in Classical Greek) 1. physis denotes source, commencement, origin, descent and also the lineage of adults or of children (kata phusin huion, “his son in the line of descent”). Aristotle regards it as the primal substance compounded from the elements. 2. From the basic understanding of presence and existence due to growth, physis denotes the natural condition, quality or state (e.g. of the air, of blood, or the physical features of a land); outward form and appearance; and stamp or character. 3. physis can further denote the → creation, the world of nature, e.g. the creatures who live in the sea. 4. physis is also the efficacious generative power, the charm which causes plants to appear and (e.g.) hair to grow. 5. physis also stands for the regular order of nature. Among the Stoics, physis became a god of the universe, as in the famous quotation from Marcus Aurelius, “O Nature, from you comes everything, in you is everything, to you goes everything.” There is no Heb. equivalent in the OT for physis. The Hebrews lacked the Greek conception of nature.
Jay Adams - Personality is the sum total of all that one is by nature and nurture (1) phusis, i.e., inherited nature and (2 acquired habits). While the phusis is genetic and largely unchangeable, one may radically change the ways in which he uses his nature. Temperament, for instance, may be attributable to a given trait (there may well be in Tom inherited traits of persistence). But how this temperament develops and is used (on the one hand Tom may develop these traits as stubbornness, hardheadedness, etc., while on the other hand, the Spirit of God may develop them into patience and endurance) is his responsibility before God. So then, the counselee is responsible in this way even for the phusis (inherited nature). (The Christian counselor’s manual)...Many habits become so strongly ingrained that it is often difficult to separate them from the natural (phusis) or instinctual drives. (Competent to counsel: introduction to Nouthetic counseling)
James B Deyoung - The Linguistic Setting Of Physis It is necessary to consider first the possible meanings that physis may have in Rom 1:26-27. 1. Greek usage. The word physis is used profusely in secular Greek. Any citation of uses must necessarily be selective, but I believe that they are representative. The word has these meanings: (1) origin, including birth and growth;8 (2) the natural form or constitution of a person, animal or thing, including nature or character of a person; (3) the regular order of nature; (4) philosophically, nature as an originating power (parallel to theos among the stoics), Nature personified, elementary substance (fire, water, air, earth11), the concrete idea of the creation; (5) creature or mankind; (6) kind, sort, species; (7) sex; and (8) approximately equal to law (nomos). (The Meaning of "Nature" in Romans 1...)
Physis is a component of the heresy of Monophysitism (monos = one + physis = nature) regarding the person of Christ. It is often associated with Eutyches (378-454) (leader of a monastery at Constantinople who espoused the heretical teaching that the human nature of Christ absorbed into the divine nature and something entirely new resulted (greater than human, less than divine). The problem with this heresy is that both His humanity and His deity are lost!
Collins English Dictionary - physio- or before a vowel phys- combining form 1 of or relating to nature or natural functions: physiology 2 physical: physiotherapy [from Greek phusioo, from phusis nature, from phuein to make grow]
Phusis - 14x in 11v in NAS - Translated - instinctively(1), natural(1), natural*(1), nature(7), physically(1), race(1), species(1), unnatural*(1).
NET Note - Some (e.g. C. E. B. Cranfield, Romans [ICC], 1:135–37) take the phrase phusei, "by nature" to go with the preceding "do not have the law," thus: "the Gentiles who do not have the law by nature," that is, by virtue of not being born Jewish.
The Law In The Heart - Marilyn Laszlo dedicated her life to giving the Hauna people of New Guinea the Bible in their own language. As she worked on the translation, she came to the word for “sin.” When Marilyn asked the people what they thought sin was, they told her, “It’s when you lie.” “It’s when you steal.” (Ed note: cp Ex 20:15) “It’s when you kill.” (cp Ex 20:13) “It’s when you take another man’s wife.” (cp Ex 20:14) Marilyn was astounded. They were giving her God’s standards as spelled out in the Ten Commandments. “God’s law is written on the heart of man,” she later commented, underscoring the truth found in Romans 2:14-15.
What a remarkable verification of biblical truth! Our faith is strengthened by accounts like this. But there’s something else. If each person on earth is aware of sin (which is true even though some deny it), we need to make sure everyone hears the remedy. Jesus paid the penalty for sin and offers all sinners a life free from bondage.
God put His law in our heart, but we can never live up to its requirements (Ro 3:23; Jas 2:10; 1Jn 1:8). The law shows us how enslaved we are by sin, but God’s grace to us through Christ brings liberty. If we have experienced that forgiveness and freedom, it’s up to us to share the good news with others.
The perfect Law of God reveals
THESE, NOT HAVING THE LAW, ARE A LAW TO THEMSELVES: houtoi nomon me echontes (PAPMPN) heautois eisin (3PPAI) nomos:
The Gentile's practice of some good deeds and their aversion to some evil ones demonstrate an innate knowledge of God’s law and this knowledge will actually witness against them on the day of judgment.
John Calvin adds that here Paul
To reiterate, Paul is simply saying that God has written on the heart of every man a basic moral code. That code is similar to the things contained in the Ten Commandments. This universal moral code consists of things like "Do not steal," "Do not cheat," "Tell the truth," "Honor your parents," "Keep your word," "Help the poor," "Do not kill," etc. It would be hard to find a culture anywhere in the world where those moral values are not honored. The Greek poet Sophocles spoke of "the unwritten and indelible laws of the gods." The Platonic philosopher Plutarch called it "a law which is not written in books, but implanted in the heart of man." In fact, this concept of a universal moral code was widely discussed by the Greeks and Romans. Paul simply picks up that concept and applies it to the Gentiles.
Don't misunderstand what Paul is saying with the phrase "a law to themselves". He is not implying that these "obedient Gentiles" made up their own law (as we often use the expression in modern parlance describing a rebel as a "law unto himself"), but that they were obedient to conscience, the work of the law residing in themselves.
Note also that while Paul that a Gentile, may, by nature do the things contained in the law; he does not say that a Gentile could fulfill the requirements of the law by nature (i.e., he could not be justified).
One other thought to keep in mind when reading Paul is that the word “Law” can be confusing, and can refer to the Pentateuch, to the entire Old Testament, to the Ten Commandments, to the whole body of God’s requirements for Israel, or to the way of life adopted by the covenant community. In Romans 2-3 the basic meaning of “law” is “God’s revealed requirements for righteous living.”
Dirty Hands - One of William Shakespeare’s most intriguing characters is Lady Macbeth. Having heard a prophecy that her husband would become king, she convinced him to assassinate the reigning monarch. When the bloody deed was done, Macbeth was conscience-stricken. His wife rebuked his squeamishness and helped him cover up the crime. Her husband was crowned king. But that wasn’t the end. Lady Macbeth’s initial resolve turned to remorse. She grew mentally unstable, and couldn’t stop washing her hands. “Will these hands ne’er be clean?” she asked. Finally, the guilt drove Lady Macbeth to suicide.
Guilt is an emotion that can weigh us down whenever we cross a moral boundary. All of us are capable of feeling guilty when we violate the law of God written in our hearts (Ro 2:14, 15). If we continue to sin willfully, however, we will dull our conscience.
Lady Macbeth is a good reminder of a biblical principle: Whatever we sow, we will certainly reap (Galatians 6:7, 8). When we feel temptation, we need to listen to our conscience—not try to silence it. It’s far better to avoid committing an act we will later regret than to live with the consequences. —Dennis Fisher (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
WHO SAYS THAT'S RIGHT? - Romans 2:14-15 Gentiles, who do not have the law ... show the works of the law written in their hearts. - People who reject absolute standards of right and wrong are often inconsistent When they think they are being treated unfairly, they appeal to a standard of justice that they expect everyone to adhere to. A philosophy professor began each new term by asking his class, "Do you believe it can be shown that there are absolute values like justice?" The free-thinking students all argued that everything is relative and no single law can be applied universally. Before the end of the semester, the professor devoted one class period to debate the issue. At the end, he concluded, "Regardless of what you think, I want you to know that absolute values can be demonstrated. And if you don't accept what I say, I'll flunk you!" One angry student got up and insisted, "That's not fair!" "You've just proved my point," replied the professor. "You've appealed to a higher standard of fairness." God has given everyone a conscience to tell right from wrong (Ro 2:1415), and His moral standards are written in the Bible. Every time we use the words good and bad, we imply a standard by which we make such judgments. Biblical values are true for any age, because they originate with an eternal, unchanging God. - Dennis De Haan
God has not left us in the dark
Romans 2:15 in that they show (3PPMI) the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness (PAPFSG), and their thoughts alternately accusing (PAPMPG) or else defending (PMPMPG) them (NASB: Lockman)
Greek: hoitines endeiknuntai (3PPMI) to ergon tou nomou graphton en tais kardiais auton, summarturouses (PAPFSG) auton tes suneideseos kai metaxu allelon ton logismon kategorounton (PAPMPG) e kai apologoumenon (PMPMPG)
Amplified: They show that the essential requirements of the Law are written in their hearts and are operating there, with which their consciences (sense of right and wrong) also bear witness; and their [moral] decisions (their arguments of reason, their condemning or approving thoughts) will accuse or perhaps defend and excuse [them] (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
CSB They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts. Their consciences testify in support of this, and their competing thoughts either accuse or excuse them
KJV 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;)
NAB They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them
NIV since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)
NJB They can demonstrate the effect of the Law engraved on their hearts, to which their own conscience bears witness; since they are aware of various considerations, some of which accuse them, while others provide them with a defense . . . on the day when,
NLT: They demonstrate that God's law is written within them, for their own consciences either accuse them or tell them they are doing what is right. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Their own consciences endorse the existence of such a law, for there is something which condemns or commends their actions (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: they being such that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing joint-witness and their reasonings in the meanwhile accusing or also excusing one another (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: who do shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also witnessing with them, and between one another the thoughts accusing or else defending
IN THAT THEY SHOW THE WORK OF THE LAW WRITTEN IN THEIR HEARTS: hoitines endeiknuntai (3PPMI) to ergon tou nomou graphton en tais kardiais auton: (Ro 1:18, 19- notes)
In that they show - “inasmuch as they show.” How do they show? It has to be by being doers (Ro 2:14), not perfect and not in any sense meriting justification (which is ONLY by faith apart from works).
They show - The idea is that they demonstrate. In other words, they show clearly. They prove it to be certain, even beyond the possibility of doubt.
Karl Barth holds that Gentile Christians are in view here, but this scarcely suits the context.
Show (1731) (endeíknumi [word study] from en = in, to + deíknumi = explain meaning or significance of something by demonstration) means to indicate by word or act. The idea is to show forth, demonstrate, prove, whether by arguments or acts. The signifies that they continually show by their instinctive doing of the law that it is written in their heart.
Bengel comments on this verb in the middle voice signifies - " they show) [demonstrate] to themselves, to others, and, in some respects, to God Himself."
The work of the Law - The Amplified version helps understand this phrase - "They show that the essential requirements of the Law are written in their hearts and are operating there." Denny says this phrase refers to "the work which the law prescribes, collectively."
The Pulpit Commentary: Seeing that graptos implies evident reference to the tables of the Law, it seems best to take ergon as denoting the efficacy of the Law, as opposed to the letter, which alone was written on the tables....The very possibility of their doing this is evidence of an innate moral sense in the human heart, which, however it may often be obscured or perverted, remains as a characteristic of humanity, and is more or less operative in all communities.
Written (only used here) (1123) (graptos) is an adjective which pertains to that which is written, marked with letters, inscribed. Lxx uses 2Chr 36:22, Ezra 1:1.
Heart (2588) (kardia) does not refer to the physical organ but is always used figuratively in Scripture to refer to the seat and center of human life. It represents the inner person, the seat of motives and attitudes, the center of personality. In Scripture kardia is much more than emotion or feelings, but includes the thinking process and particularly the will.
Barclay commenting on the "Work of the Law" writes that...
People who have never heard God's word directly still have a moral compass that they are accountable to. E.g., all men know it is wrong to lie, steal, and murder. Mankind recognizes that there is a code of ethics. In fact man has a guilty conscience because he violates that very code of ethics within him.
William Newell (Romans 2) asked Chinese who had never heard the Law or the gospel if they knew these things were wrong; they all admitted they did. Even those persons who have never heard of the Bible have still been preached to with sufficient clarity (God has made it evident within them - Ro 1:19-note, as well as without - Ro 1:20-note) to remove every excuse from their hearts forever. He is not- saying that the Law of Moses is written on their hearts, as people often say, but that the work of the law, i.e., what the law requires of people, is written there.
MacArthur makes an interesting observation noting that...
Thus Paul explains why the Gentile can be condemned without the law...how it is that God is fair in condemning those who have never even had a Bible. Paul clearly demonstrates that their conscience (the work of the law written in their hearts) is enough to condemn. Many pagan authors of Paul's day referred to the "unwritten law" within man; something which points us to the right way.
People who have never heard God’s word directly still have a moral compass that they are accountable to.
Morris observes that Paul...
THEIR CONSCIENCE: auton tes suneideseos: (Romans 9:1-note; John 8:9; Acts 23:1; 24:16; 2Corinthians 1:12; 5:11; 1Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:15-note) (Click 2Timothy Notes or Titus Notes for more on "conscience") (Torrey's Topic Conscience, Nave's Topic Conscience; see also Easton, ISBE)
F F Bruce - Paul uses conscience (and perhaps he was the first to do so) in the sense of an independent witness within, which examines and passes judgment on one’s conduct. In Christians this examination and judgment should be specially accurate because their conscience is enlightened by the Holy Spirit (cf. Ro 9:1).
Conscience (4893) (suneidesis [word study] from sun = with + oida = know) means literally "a knowing with" or a co-knowledge (with oneself) and represents the witness borne to one's conduct by one's own indwelling, instinctive sense of right and wrong that produces guilt when violated ("alternately accusing").
Suneidesis - 30x in 29v - Acts 23:1; 24:16; Rom 2:15; 9:1; 13:5; 1 Cor 8:7, 10, 12; 10:25, 27ff; 2 Cor 1:12; 4:2; 5:11; 1 Tim 1:5, 19; 3:9; 4:2; 2 Tim 1:3; Titus 1:15; Heb 9:9, 14; 10:2, 22; 13:18; 1 Pet 2:19; 3:16, 21
Conscience has been succinctly described as the "soul distinguishing between what is morally good and bad, prompting to do the former and shun the latter."
In addition to an innate awareness of God’s law, men have a warning system that activates when they choose to ignore or disobey that law. It's that instinctive, built-in sense of right and wrong that activates guilt.
All mankind has an innate inner sense of right and wrong which Scripture refers to as conscience. And so sociologist have encountered in all cultures a sense of sin and fear of judgment which leads that culture to make some attempt to appease whatever gods are feared and this built in "moral/ethical radar detector" (so to speak) is what Paul is alluding to here in Romans 2.
Conscience is like an inner judge that accuses and condemns us when we have done wrong and approves and commends us when we have done right. The conscience varies in sensitivity, depending on the degree of one’s knowledge of and feeling about right and wrong. The person who has considerable knowledge of God’s Word will have a more sensitive conscience than someone who has never had opportunity to know Scripture. Furthermore, repeated sinning hardens the conscience so that it becomes “seared” like scar tissue (1Ti 4:2). To continually reject God’s truth causes the conscience to become progressively calloused, hardened and less sensitive to sin, as if covered with layers of unspiritual scar tissue. There is an interesting parallel in tropical medicine which has discovered that the gross disfigurement so commonly seen in individuals with leprosy is not due to the leprosy bacterium per se, but is secondary to the organism's destruction of the nerve fibers that convey a sense of pain and touch. Unprotected by the body's natural warning signals the leper repeatedly injures the extremity with cuts, burns, infections, etc, all without even realizing that he is injured! This is exactly the picture of the seared conscience which becomes insensitive to sin and may eventually cease sending warning signals. Thus, though God has His work within every man resulting in conscience, man can corrupt that work, so that the "sin sensitivity" rating of the conscience varies from person to person.
Ray Stedman has some interesting thoughts on conscience writing that...
Franklin P. Jones wrote that
Christopher Morley said about conscience
The late General Omar Bradley was more serious in commenting on conscience
On the subject of conscience Martin Luther declared before the court of the Roman Empire at Worms in 1521
When a person comes to faith in Christ, his conscience becomes acutely sensitive to sin. No longer as a Christian can he sin with impunity. The story is told about an old Indian chief who was converted. Later a missionary asked him:
Billy Graham set out the importance of a clear conscience
MacArthur recounts an interesting illustration of the human conscience:
Pritchard offers a hypothetical illustration:
A W Tozer - Conscience singles you out as though nobody else existed. God has given us a faithful witness inside of our own being...It is able to single a man out and reveal his loneliness, the loneliness of a single soul in the universe going on to meet an angry God. That’s the terror of the conscience. Conscience never deals with theories. Conscience always deals with right and wrong and the relation of the individual to that which is right or wrong. Remember the conscience is always on God’s side! It judges conduct in the light of the moral law, and as the Scripture says, excuses or accuses."
Barclay gives an interesting historical perspective on "conscience" referring to it as...
Unless of course it becomes seared as did the "inner moral compass" of the Roman Emperor Nero, whose evil exploits are too despicable to even be reviewed in these notes.
Thomas Brooks - Conscience is God's deputy, God's spy, God's notary, God's viceroy...Conscience is God's preacher in the bosom.
BEARING WITNESS: summarturouses (PAPFSG):
JOINT WITNESS OF
Bearing witness (4828) (summartureo from sún = together, with, + marturéo = to witness) means to witness with another or to testify with. This verb was used in the Greek secular writings where the signature of each attesting witness is accompanied by the words "I bear witness with and I seal with". The present tense indicates the activity of their conscience (with preceding doing or deeds) is continually providing evidence by testifying.
Pulpit Commentary - Conscience is not the Law in the heart, but rather our consciousness, whereby wittingly, in accordance with that Law, we approve or condemn. The compound verb summartureo seems to denote a joint witness of conscience. In Ro 8:16 and Ro 9:1, where alone the word occurs elsewhere, it is followed by a dative, and means certainly concurrent witness. But, if so here, with what? Probably with the show (demonstration) already spoken of. Right conduct on principle (Ro 2:14), and conscience approving, witness together to the inward law; or, conduct and conscience together witness to a man’s merits or demerits in accordance with that law. Then, what is added about the logismos shows how conscience operates. Reason (logic) comes into play, evoked by conscience, to reflect on its witness, and definitely condemn or approve what has been done. A kind of court of judicature is supposed. Man calls himself to the bar of his own moral judgment; his conscience adduces witness to the character of his deeds, or rather, with his deeds bears witness for or against himself; his thoughts are as advocates on both sides, arguing for condemnation or acquittal.
Summartureo - 3x in Bible - all in Romans -
Mark Twain quipped that you can tell if something you did was morally good if you "felt good afterward." But if it left you "feeling bad," it was morally wrong. This statement can be understood in two ways. One is that good or bad conduct can produce good or bad feelings. This is true. The other is that feelings determine what is good or bad. A secular writer showed the fallacy of this interpretation when he said, with tongue in cheek, that he liked Twain's statement because it implied that you've got to try something at least once to know whether it's good or bad.
Beware that feelings are not a reliable indicator of moral conduct. The only trustworthy standard is God's Holy Inerrant Fully Sufficient Word. To obey the Lord's commands sometimes goes against our emotions (or feelings). To forgive others, for example, isn't our natural tendency. Yet we know that is what God wants us to do. And when you've either forgiven someone or sought forgiveness, haven't you experienced an inner relief and release after obeying your conscience? Sure you have.
Spurgeon (speaking of believers but an apt description for the most part to unbelieving Gentiles) describes - "a wind which sometimes blows upon men—a penetrating, searching, cutting wind—which may bring good with it, but which, at the time it is blowing, is a truly terrible wind to endure! I mean that of spiritual distress on account of discovered sin when, looking into your soul, you have spied out what you could not have believed was there. Sins and iniquities which had long hidden their heads, have suddenly appeared before you and you have been almost swept off your feet as by a tornado! I recollect when that wind blew through and through my soul. No comfort could I get by day or by night. My transgressions haunted and hunted me (Ed: cf "accusing..."). I had not been worse than other young men, nor as bad as many whom I knew, but I seemed so to myself. It appeared to me as if I had become the very chief of sinners and the most surely condemned of all who ever lived! Remembering the experience I then passed through, I can truly say that I know of no pain that can be felt by the body which is comparable to the terrible pangs of conscience when the searching breath of the Eternal Spirit goes through the soul and withers up all the comeliness of our own righteousness and spoils all the supposed beauty of our own good works! That is a wind which I trust we all have felt, or shall yet feel, but, still, while it blows, it is dreadful to endure." (Our Hiding Place)
AND THEIR THOUGHTS ALTERNATIVELY ACCUSING OR ELSE DEFENDING THEM: kai metaxu allelon ton logismon kategorounton (PAPMPG) e kai apologoumenon (PMPMPG): (Genesis 3:8, 9, 10, 11; 20:5; 42:21,22; 1Kings 2:44; Job 27:6; Ecclesiastes 7:22; 1John 3:19, 20, 21)
ESV Romans 2:15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them
Thoughts (3053)(logismos from logizomai = process of careful study or reasoning and arriving at a conclusion) represents the product of cognition and thus means consideration, reasonings, reflections, calculations. The Greeks used logismos to describe the consideration and thought which preceded and determined one's conduct. Based on their instinctive knowledge of right and wrong that comes from their conscience, unbelievers still possess the ability to determine things as basically right or wrong. In each unregenerate person is the ability to contemplate or reason what someone does as right or wrong. For example, a person without Christ hears about someone who murdered a child. What is his reaction? Unless he's completely given over to evil, he's going to accuse the murderer.
Here the logismos or thoughts are personified (see Pulpit Commentary note above) as both a prosecuting attorney and defense attorney!
Another way to look at this verse is to note that whether unbelievers kept or broke these natural laws determined whether their thoughts acquitted or condemned them.
That unbelievers could know enough to do right some of the time renders them without excuse for ever doing wrong.
Alternately (3342) (metaxu) means "in the middle of."
Accusing (2723)(kategoreo from kata = against + agora = the assembly, a place of public speaking. Other sources have agoreuo = to speak. The prefixed preposition suggests animosity!) means to speak against a person before a public tribunal or bring an accusation in court. To accuse formally and before a tribunal, to bring a charge publicly. The idea is to speak openly against, to condemn or accuse mainly in a legal sense. The cognate word kategoria was a legal technical term that referred to the content of the accusation or charge made against someone. Note that all of the Gospel uses involve accusing Jesus (except John 5:45).
The present tense indicates this accusation is on ongoing activity.
Richards - These words (kategoria, kategoreo) were in everyday use as legal terms, involving criminal charges and accusations. When we read of Jesus or of Paul being accused at their trials, a word from this group is used in the original. Jesus used such a word when he warned the unbelieving Jewish leaders of his day that Moses through the OT law is the one who was bringing charges against them (Jn 5:45). Satan will still scream his vindictive charges against the saints at history’s end, even though he has been overcome by the blood of the Lamb (Rev 12:11). Today the conscience of the pagan generates thoughts that charge him with wrongdoing (Ro 2:15), for it is only those who have been reconciled to God and thus made holy who can be pronounced unblemished in God’s court (Col 1:22). (New international encyclopedia of Bible words)
Kategoreo - 23x in 22v - accusation against(1), accuse(10), accused(3), accuses(2), accusing(3), bring against(1), charges they bring against(1), charges you make(1), make accusation(1), prosecute(1).
Defending (626) (apologeomai from apó = from + lógos = speech) literally means to speak oneself off, hence to plead for oneself, to defend or speak or plead for oneself before a tribunal or elsewhere
The derivative word anapológetos is used in Ro 1:20 of the Gentiles who have "no excuse" (no defense) and in Ro 2:1 of the Jews and religious folks who likewise have no excuse (no defense). Their "case" is indefensible and inexcusable.
Apologeomai - 10x in 10v - defend(1), defending(2), make a defense(1), make...defense(3), said in...defense(1), saying in...defense(1), speak in...defense(1).
A Cleansed Conscience - The much-loved children's story Pinocchio is about a wooden puppet whose nose grows long when he tells a lie. His friend Jiminy Cricket chirps, "Let your conscience be your guide." Pinocchio follows his advice, repents, and returns to Geppetto his creator, where he is given a heart of flesh and is freed from his strings. There's a principle in this story for God's children. If we don't listen to that voice deep down inside that tells us what we should and should not do, we live in bondage. But a cleansed conscience brings freedom. Some people have no strong basis for making godly decisions. Their conscience is weak, and they can be easily swayed by the behavior of others. Then there are those whose conscience is defiled. The standard by which they measure good and evil is corrupted, polluted, and impure (Titus 1:15-note). But saddest of all are those who have a "seared" conscience (1Timothy 4:2). They have resisted that inner voice for so long that they no longer hear what it has to say. But you ask, "How can we have a cleansed conscience?" We must repent of our sin and return to our Creator. We must ask Him to conform our desires and behavior to His Word and then be careful to obey it. —David Roper (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
THE WITNESS OF CONSCIENCE (F B Meyer, Our Daily Walk) - CONSCIENCE HOLDS the mirror to the inner life, and shows us just what we are in the light of God's infinite purity and righteousness. The word is derived from the Latin con, with; scio, I know. Conscience is what a man knows with or against himself.
Sometimes we can meet ourselves with a smile; this is what we term a good conscience; at other times we do not like to meet ourselves, but feel ashamed--we cannot deceive ourselves, or hoodwink conscience. We know, and we know that we know, that this is right and that wrong; this is good, and that evil. Conscience is an ill bed-fellow, says the old proverb, and when we are troubled with evil dreams, turning, tossing, starting up in fear, rest becomes impossible. It is very necessary to keep on good terms with your conscience, and we do not wonder that the Apostle made it his aim to preserve a conscience void of offence towards God and man (Act 24:16).
All men have a conscience, else God could not judge them; there would be no standard by which to try or convict, but in most cases conscience is uninstructed. It judges rightly, so far as it knows, but its knowledge is scant, and its power of making accurate distinctions is limited. The Christian conscience is illumined and instructed by the light that falls on it from the face of Christ. See to it that your conscience is constantly corrected by Christ's standard. Never tamper with conscience, nor gag her protestations, nor drown her voice. Never say it does not matter for once in a way. Never dare to let her voice wear itself out. To behave thus is to tamper with the most delicate moral machinery in the universe. Let us see that our hearts are sprinkled from an evil conscience in the blood of Jesus, so that we may draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith (Heb 10:19, 20, 21, 22, 23-note).
PRAYER: O Lord, give me Thy Holy Spirit in greater measure, that His saving presence may cleanse my conscience, and His holy inspiration enlighten my heart. AMEN.
Our Daily Homily (F B Meyer) - The law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith. (r.v.) This is a great announcement, and shows how God can judge men who have never heard of the Bible or the Decalogue. The latter is engraven on their hearts, and is witnessed to by conscience.
Conscience is an original faculty. We are no more called upon to investigate its origin than the mathematician to inquire how the mind can add, or multiply, or divide; or than the artist to ask why we can appreciate the beautiful. It is part of the make-up and constitution of our moral nature. The word ought lies behind conscience, investing it with the certainty and irresistibleness of the throne of God.
Conscience is the judgment-seat of God set up within our nature. You may always know when conscience speaks. She never hesitates, or questions, or pronounces on the expediency of a course; but, as any case is presented to her, she pronounces absolutely and directly upon it as right or wrong. And as she speaks, she anticipates the verdict of the great white throne.
Doubtless conscience may be impaired in its action by long neglect, or by the determined preference of human maxims as our rule of action; but it is always liable to resurrection when the voice of God is sounding. The office of the minister, like “Old Mortality” in the story, is to go through the world, chisel in hand, clearing the inscriptions of the law from the grit of growth which has rendered them almost illegible in too many cases. The Prince, in the old fairy story, sounded a blast at the gate of the Sleeping Palace, and broke the spell, so that all its inmates sprang up into alert vitality; and similarly the Spirit. of God, through the Truth, appeals to the human conscience, which is his ally in the heart of man.
Greek: en hemera hote krinei (3SPAI) o theos ta krupta ton anthropon kata to euaggelion mou dia Christou Iesou.
NLT: The day will surely come when God, by Jesus Christ, will judge everyone's secret life. This is my message. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: We may be sure that all this will be taken into account in the day of true judgment, when God will judge men's secret lives by Jesus Christ, as my Gospel plainly states (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: in the day when God judges the hidden things of men according to my gospel through Jesus Christ. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my good news, through Jesus Christ.
On that day- the day of judgment, "the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God" Paul had first mentioned in Ro 2:5-note. Remember that Romans 2 is not about how to be saved, but to convince religious people (especially the Jews), that they desperately need the Gospel, an intrinsic component of which is judgment (cp Ro 1:18-note).
Spurgeon describes the judgement of God...
Saints (saved sinners) will stand at the Judgment seat (bema - see note) of Christ and unsaved sinners at the Great White Throne judgment (described in Rev 20:11, 12, 13, 14,15-note) and all be be judged according to "my gospel." On the day when God will judge the secrets of men, no man can find refuge from God’s judgment by claiming ignorance of His written revelation for violation of God’s internal revelation is enough to condemn us all. Notice that the day of judgment was a part of Paul's gospel and he did not shrink from declaring man's absolute accountability to God.
Vincent comments that the expression, “my gospel” distinguished Paul's message
Spurgeon - "My gospel" saith he, with a rapture of delight, as he presses to his bosom the sacred deposit of truth. "My gospel" Does not this show his courage? As much as to say, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." He says, "My gospel" as a soldier speaks of "my colors," or of "my king." He resolves to bear this banner to victory, and to serve this royal truth even to the death. "My gospel" There is a touch of discrimination about the expression. Paul perceives that there are other gospels, and he makes short work with them, for he saith, "Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let me be accused." (Gal 1:6ff) (Sermon)
GOD WILL JUDGE THE SECRETS OF MEN: krinei (3SPAI) o theos ta krupta ton anthropon: (Ro 2:5-note; Ro 3:6-note; Ro 14:10, 11, 12-note; Genesis 18:25; Psalms 9:7,8; 50:6; 96:13; 98:9; Eccl 3:17; 11:9; 12:14; Mt 16:27; 25:31-46; Lk 8:17; Jn 12:48; 1Co 4:5; 2Co 5:10; He 9:27-note; 1Pe 4:5-note; 2Pe 2:9-note; Rev 20:11, 12, 13, 14,15-note)
You've probably heard the statement - Secret sin on earth is open scandal in heaven.
As a believer I often cringe at the thought of the parallel truth in 1Co 4:5...
TDNT writes that krupto (krypto)...
Kruptos - 17x - Matt 6:4, 6; 10:26; Mark 4:22; Luke 8:17; 12:2; John 7:4, 10; 18:20; Rom 2:16, 29; 1 Cor 4:5; 14:25; 2 Cor 4:2; 1 Pet 3:4. NAS = hidden, 5; inwardly, 1; secret, 7; secrets, 2; things hidden, 2;
Here Paul is referring primarily to the motives that lie behind men’s actions. The only way to truly judge a person is to judge the secrets of the heart, conscience, and thoughts. Some actions that appear good may be wrongly motivated; other, less visible actions may be done with good intentions. Secret services shall be rewarded, secret sins shall be then punished, and brought to light. To Christians this principle means that God knows everything and that one day we will stand before him to give account of our lives (cf 2Co 5:10-note).
Alva McAllaster suggested something of this when she wrote a satirical ditty personifying "Envy"...
Do you find her words convicting? If not perhaps you should read them again, this time very slowly. The truth is that envy is not the only "sin" that goes to church. So do sensuality and pride and malice and judgmentalism and many others. And what Paul is saying here is that God knows all of these things.
Francis Schaeffer - Let me stress this warning. It (the judgment through Christ Jesus) is more than just. It is the only message that is able to speak into the 20th-century mentality because it is the only message which really gives an answer to the two great problems of all men—modern man and man throughout the ages. First, man needs absolutes, universals, something by which to judge. If one has no basis on which to judge, then reality falls apart, fantasy is indistinguishable from reality, there is no value for the human individual and right and wrong have no meaning. There are two ways to get away from God’s judgment of men. One is to say that there is no absolute. But one must be aware that if God does not judge on a 100% basis, he is indeed like an old man in the sky. And worse—not only is man left in relativism, but God himself is bound by relativism. God must be the judge whose own character is the law of the universe or we have no absolute. We do not need to be embarrassed as we speak of the individual coming to God to be judged in the full historic sense of judgment. It is quite the other way. If this is not true, then we no longer have an absolute, and we no longer have an answer for 20th-century man. (The Church at the End of the 20th Century, pp. 49-50)
Through Christ Jesus - Scripture repeatedly attest to the truth that the Son Who is the Savior of all men will one day be the Judge of all men who refuse His gracious offer of salvation while it is still called "Today"...
The idea that God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ was distinctively Christian. The Jews taught that God the Father Alone would judge the world, committing judgment to no one - not even the Messiah
Beet notes that Paul
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