Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds”eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.” Romans 2:1-11

The Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Romans approximately 25 years after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even though a quarter of a century is a relatively short period of time in history, a lot happened between the Resurrection and Paul’s writing his letter to Romans. Paul was the chief prosecutor of the early Church, but became its most powerful preacher after he was saved during a direct encounter with the risen Christ.

Paul had received two great educations in his life: at the feet of one of the best-known rabbinical leaders of the 1st century, Gamaliel, and at the feet of the eternal Lord of Glory, Jesus Christ. Paul’s knowledge of Judaism and the Law was without parallel and his personal experience and knowledge under the leadership of Jesus and the Holy Spirit placed him in a unique position to writes letters to individual churches, like the letter to the Romans.

In our last study we looked at Romans 2:5-6 –

But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds …

We move now to verses 7-11 –

“…eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.”

Lots of important things to see here, so we’ll look at each verse carefully.

Verse 7

“eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality”

τοις μεν καθ υπομονην εργου αγαθου δοξαν και τιμην και αφθαρσιαν ζητουσιν ζωην αιωνιον

Paul moved from the idea that God “will render to each one according to his deeds” to explain what that rendering (ἀποδίδωμι – give back, return, restore) would include. God is going to judge people and give them what they “stored up, treasured up” for themselves (v. 5).

Paul introduced his readers to two oppositional categories of people in verses 7 and 8. He began with those who did “good” works.

τοις μεν καθ (tois men kath) – literally, “to those that indeed with”

υπομονην (hupomonén) means “endurance, steadfastness, patiently waiting for.”

εργου αγαθου (ergou agathou) translates literally as “in work good.”

δοξαν (doxa) means “honor, renown, glory.” A corresponding word in the Old Testament, כָּבוֹד (kabowd). Both words carry the idea of “to be heavy” and the intrinsinc worth (value) of something or someone.

και (kai) “and”

τιμην (timé) comes from tiō, “pay respect,” and is a noun that means “a price, a value.”

και (kai) “and”

αφθαρσιαν (aphtharsian) is a noun and means “indestructibility, incorruptibility”, thus “immortality.”

ζητο (zétó) means “to seek by inquiring.”

ζωην (zóén) is a noun that means “life, existence.” That would include physical and spiritual life.

αιωνιον (aiónion) is an adjective and means “age-long, eternal, unending.”

This is the first time in Romans that Paul used the words “life eternal.” He used them to make a significant point with the Jews reading his letter because they viewed eternal life as something they would gain because of being Jewish. Paul wrote that being born a Jew or Gentile didn’t determine where either would spend eternity.

Caution

Upon reading verse 7, some people have attempted to claim that Paul taught a works-oriented salvation. Not so. Paul is presenting a case, much like a lawyer would in a court of law, so he’s presenting evidence methodically, logically – one point at a time – that will lead to his conclusion. Even as it would be a mistake to claim to understand a lawyer’s final conclusion early in his legal presentation, we would make a big mistake to attempt to reach a conclusion about the point Paul was making by trying to interpret it all based on verse 7. Paul’s theme continues to be the wrath of God and His righteous judgment on all people, Gentiles and Jews.

Let’s keep reading.

Verse 8

“… but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath …”

τοις δε εξ εριθειας και απειθουσιν μεν τη αληθεια πειθομενοις δε τη αδικια θυμος και οργη

Paul now describes the second oppositional category of people – those who do not do “good” works.

τοις δε εξ (tois de ex) is literally “to those however of.”

εριθειας (eritheias) is a noun and means “self-seeking, ambition, rivalry.”

και (kai) “and”

απειθουσιν (apeithousin) is a verb and means “rebel, disobey.” It literally means “refuse to be persuaded.”

τη αληθεια (té alétheia) means “the truth.”

Paul was addressing people who sought their own way through ambition and rivalry and rebelled/disobeyed “the truth.”

πειθομενοις (peithomenois) is a verb that means “persuade, urge.”

δε τη (de té) “however”

αδικια (adikia) is a noun that means “unrighteousness, injustice.”

θυμος (thumos) is a noun that means “wrath, passionate outburst.”

και (kai) “and”

οργη (orgé) means “anger, wrath, passion.”

Verse 9

“tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek”

θλιψις και στενοχωρια επι πασαν ψυχην ανθρωπου του κατεργαζομενου το κακον ιουδαιου τε πρωτον και ελληνος

Verse 9 is a continuation of the description for the category of people introduced in verse 8.

θλιψις (thlipsis) is a noun that means “pressure, affliction, persecution.”

και (kai) “and”

στενοχωρια (stenochória) is a noun that means “great distress.” It comes from stenos, “narrow,” and chóra, “space.” The word literally means “narrow space” in the sense of a difficult situation or circumstance. The unbelieving, disobedient person will experience both outer and inner affliction and pressure.

επι (epi) “upon”

πασαν (pasan) “every”

ψυχην (psuchén) is a noun that means “the soul, self.”

ανθρωπου (anthrópou) is a noun that means “member of the human race, mankind.” Paul presented a problem for every member of the human race, not just “some” based on ethnicity as Jews would presume.

κατεργαζομενου (katergazomenou) is a verb that means “work out, achieve, produce, accomplish.” It literally means “work down to the end point.”

κακον (kakon) is an adjective that means “inner evil, bad, wicked.” The idea is of something that is rotten.

ιουδαιου (Ioudaiou) is an adjective that means “Jewish.”

πρωτον (próton) is an adverb that means “first, before.”

και (kai) “and also”

ελληνος (Hellénos) is a noun that means “Hellene, Greek.”

Reading verses 8 & 9 in context –

“… but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek …”

Now Paul moves his case up a notch. This impacts Jews and Gentiles. Why the Jew first? Paul will explain soon enough.

Verse 10

“… but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

δοξα δε και τιμη και ειρηνη παντι τω εργαζομενω το αγαθον ιουδαιω τε πρωτον και ελληνι

Paul continues his comparison of the person who does bad (evil) to the person who does good. The person who does bad (“self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness”) will receive “indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish.” What will the person who does good receive?

δοξα (doxa) “glory”

και (kai) “and”

τιμη (timé) “honor”

και (kai) “and”

ειρηνη (eiréné) “peace”

παντι (panti) “to everyone”

εργαζομενω (ergazomenó) “work, perform”

αγαθον (agathon) “intrinsically good”

ιουδαιου (Ioudaiou) “Jewish”

πρωτον (próton) “first, before”

και (kai) “and also”

ελληνι (Helléni) “Hellene, Greek”

Again, important that we not reach a theological conclusion about salvation based on this verse until we allow the Apostle Paul to finish his case and present his conclusion. It’s coming soon.

Verse 11

“For there is no partiality with God.”

ου γαρ εστιν προσωποληψια παρα τω θεω

It is difficult for us in the 21st century to comprehend the power of this statement to Jews in the 1st century. They thought of themselves as God’s “chosen people,” God’s “favored children,” God’s “elect.” This statement by the Apostle Paul would have stunned the Jewish readers of the letter to Romans.

ου γαρ εστιν (ou gar estin) literally “not indeed there is”

προσωποληψια (prosópolémpsia) is a noun that means “partiality, favoritism.” It comes from another noun, prosópolémptés, which means “one who shows partiality.”

παρα τω θεω (para tó theó) “with God”

God does NOT show favorites, Paul claims, when it comes to blessing those who do good and judging those who do evil.

“For God shows no partiality [no arbitrary favoritism; with Him one person is not more important than another].” Amplified Bible

“In his capacity as a Judge, it is applied often to God. It means that he will not be influenced in awarding the retributions of eternity, in actually pronouncing and executing sentence, by any partiality, or by regard to the wealth, function, rank, or appearance of people. He will judge righteous judgment; he will judge people as they ought to be judged; according to their character and deserts; and not contrary to their character, or by partiality.” Barnes Notes

In the next part of our study, we will look at something that many people think may answer questions about what happens to people when they die who never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Are they right in their interpretation? We’ll see next time.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

GraceLife

 

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