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Romans 2:12-18

2:12 For all who have sinned apart from the law 1  will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 2:13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous before God, but those who do the law will be declared righteous. 2  2:14 For whenever the Gentiles, 3  who do not have the law, do by nature 4  the things required by the law, 5  these who do not have the law are a law to themselves. 2:15 They 6  show that the work of the law is written 7  in their hearts, as their conscience bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or else defend 8  them, 9  2:16 on the day when God will judge 10  the secrets of human hearts, 11  according to my gospel 12  through Christ Jesus.

The Condemnation of the Jew

2:17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law 13  and boast of your relationship to God 14  2:18 and know his will 15  and approve the superior things because you receive instruction from the law, 16 

1 sn This is the first occurrence of law (nomos) in Romans. Exactly what Paul means by the term has been the subject of much scholarly debate. According to J. A. Fitzmyer (Romans [AB], 131-35; 305-6) there are at least four different senses: (1) figurative, as a “principle”; (2) generic, meaning “a law”; (3) as a reference to the OT or some part of the OT; and (4) as a reference to the Mosaic law. This last usage constitutes the majority of Paul’s references to “law” in Romans.

2 tn The Greek sentence expresses this contrast more succinctly than is possible in English. Grk “For not the hearers of the law are righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be declared righteous.”

3 sn Gentile is a NT term for a non-Jew.

4 tn Some (e.g. C. E. B. Cranfield, Romans [ICC], 1:135-37) take the phrase φύσει (fusei, “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.

5 tn Grk “do by nature the things of the law.”

6 tn Grk “who.” The relative pronoun was converted to a personal pronoun and, because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

7 tn Grk “show the work of the law [to be] written,” with the words in brackets implied by the Greek construction.

8 tn Or “excuse.”

9 tn Grk “their conscience bearing witness and between the thoughts accusing or also defending one another.”

10 tn The form of the Greek word is either present or future, but it is best to translate in future because of the context of future judgment.

11 tn Grk “of people.”

12 sn On my gospel cf. Rom 16:25; 2 Tim 2:8.

13 sn The law refers to the Mosaic law, described mainly in the OT books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

14 tn Grk “boast in God.” This may be an allusion to Jer 9:24.

15 tn Grk “the will.”

16 tn Grk “because of being instructed out of the law.”

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