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1: Therefore - The apostle now makes a transition
from the gentiles to the Jews, till, at (Ro 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 (Ro 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.
2: 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, (Ro 2:5,6,11); and reaches the heart as well
as the life, (Ro 2:16).
3: That thou shalt escape - Rather than the gentile.
4: 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.
5: 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, (Ro 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.
6: (Pr 24:12)
7: To them that seek for glory - For pure love does
not exclude faith, hope, desire, (1Co 15:58).
8: 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(Ps 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.
9: 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.
10: 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.
11: 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
12: 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.
13: 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, (Ro 2:14), &c.; of the latter,(Ro 2:17), &c. Here is therefore no parenthesis; for the
sixteenth verse also depends on the fifteenth, not on the twelfth.(Ro 2:12,15,16).
14: 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.
15: 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.
16: 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,(Ro 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.
17: But if thou art called a Jew - This highest point
of Jewish glorying, after a farther description of it
interposed, (Ro 2:17-20), and refuted, (Ro 2:21-24), is
itself refuted, (Ro 2:25), &c. The description consists of
twice five articles; of which the former five, (Ro 2:17,18),
show what he boasts of in himself; the other five, (Ro 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.
19: Blind, in darkness, ignorant, babes - These were
the titles which the Jews generally gave the gentiles.
20: Having the form of knowledge and truth - That is,
the most accurate knowledge of the truth.
21: 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.
24: (Isa 52:5)
25: 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.
26: 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?
27: 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.
28: 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.
29: 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 (De 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.