By Terry Cheek
Continuing our study into Romans we return to Chapter Two where we read the following.
Romans 2: 12-16 “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 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;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.”
Reading this passage requires us to pay close attention to the grammatical structure. Notice the parenthesis. This is an explanatory statement by Paul. If we read the verse first without the parenthesis we find the following. “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” Paul reminds us that all will be judged according to the gospel.
Now let us take a look at Paul’s explanatory statement in the parenthesis. For all practical matters, the first-century population could be broken down into two groups. The Jew and the Gentile. The Jew had a lifetime of access to God’s written law. On the other hand, the Gentile did not. According to popular Jewish belief of that day, the Jew was privileged and not the Gentile. Paul wanted to make sure the Jew and the Gentile knew they were on equal footing with God. But how? We are told the hearers of the law are not justified, but the doers of the law are. Paul quickly refers to Hebrews 8: 7-11 “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” The new covenant was Jesus Christ. God’s law is placed into our minds and written on our hearts. Paul is explaining that to the first century Jew and Gentile.
This teaching is expounded into the twenty-first century as well. Only in the Church age, it speaks to those who have heard the preaching and teaching of God’s Word and those who may not have had access to a missionary or place of worship. All of creation is a testimony of God’s existence and His word being written on our hearts and in our minds will have our conscience bear witness of Christ’s saving grace by faith. No one will have an excuse. We are not told we will understand, we are told we will know and have the opportunity to believe in Jesus Christ, or not. Our belief will determine whether we are hearers of the law or doers of the law. And if we are justified before God through Jesus Christ. This passage is very sobering, one that demands our attention.
Until we meet again in print or person, may God bless you is my prayer
Terry is the Executive Director and broadcaster of The Inspiring Word media ministry
You can contact Terry by email at email@example.com
Or by visiting www.theinspiringword.org
Read more from Terry Cheek here.