Introduction

\\INTRODUCTION TO ROMANS 2\\

This chapter contains, in general, a vindication of the justice and
equity of the divine procedure against men, such as are described in
the preceding chapter; and a refutation of the several pleas that might
be made by the Gentiles, who had not the law, and by the Jews who had
it; and concludes with exposing the wickedness of the latter, and with
showing who they are that are properly Jews, and circumcised persons,
in the account of God. It begins, in \\#Ro 2:1\\, with an inference
deduced from what had been said in the latter part of the foregoing
chapter; concluding that such, be they who they will, Jews or Gentiles,
are inexcusable, who do the things they condemn others for: but though
the judgment of such persons is wrong, the apostle observes, \\#Ro 2:2\\,
that the judgment of God, in the condemnation of them, is right, of
which he, and others, were fully assured; and which judgment is
commended, by the rule of it, being according to truth; by the objects
of it, criminals, who are left without excuse, and by the
inevitableness of it, \\#Ro 2:3\\, being such as cannot possibly be
escaped: and though some men might hope to escape it, because not
immediately punished, but loaded with the blessings of Providence, and
peculiar benefits of divine goodness; yet this was to be ascribed to
the forbearance of God for the present; and that if these favours were
despised, and they had not a good effect upon them to bring to
repentance, but instead thereof were more and more hardened under them,
as their guilt would be increased, so wrath would be secretly laying up
for them, which will be revealed in the day of judgment, \\#Ro 2:4,5\\,
at which time justice will be done to every man as his works will be
found to be, \\#Ro 2:6\\, then follows a description of the several
sorts of persons that will be judged, and of the different things that
will be their portion: as that eternal life will be given to good men,
\\#Ro 2:7\\, and the wrath of God poured down on bad men, whether they
be Jews or Gentiles, \\#Ro 2:8,9\\. The happiness of good men is
repeated again, and explained, and promised to the Jew first, and then
to the Gentile, \\#Ro 2:10\\, and a reason given of this just and equal
distribution, taken from the nature of God, who is no respecter of
persons, \\#Ro 2:11\\, an instance of which is produced in both Jews
and Gentiles, that sin; the one perishing with, the other without the
law, \\#Ro 2:12\\, since it is not barely having and hearing the law,
but acting up to it, which only can justify before God, \\#Ro 2:13\\,
upon which the apostle proceeds to refute the plea that might be made
by the Gentiles, in favour of themselves, why they should not be
condemned, taken from their not having the written law; for though they
had not the law written on tables of stone, as the Jews had, yet they
had, as he observes, the law of nature written on their hearts, against
which they sinned: this he proves by the effects of it, discernible in
many of them by their outward lives and conversations, in conformity to
the law; and by the inward testimony of their consciences, approving of
good deeds, and reproaching for bad ones, \\#Ro 2:14,15\\, which two
verses being put into a parenthesis, \\#Ro 2:16\\, is connected with
\\#Ro 2:13\\, and points at the time when the doers of the law shall be
justified, even at the day of judgment: which judgment is described by
the author of it, God; by the subject of it, the secrets of men's
hearts; by the person employed in the divine procedure, Jesus Christ;
and by the evidence and certainty of it, the Gospel preached by the
apostle, and then follow a description of the Jews, an account of their
profession of religion, and an ironical concession of the several
characters they assumed to themselves: they are described by their
name, a Jew; by their religion, which lay in trusting in the law of
Moses, and in boasting of their interest in God, as the God of Israel,
\\#Ro 2:17\\, by their knowledge of the will of God, and approbation of
the excellent things of his law, \\#Ro 2:18\\, and by the characters
they took to themselves, \\#Ro 2:19,20\\, from which the apostle takes
an occasion to expose the wickedness of some of their principal men,
even their teachers, \\#Ro 2:21,22\\, by whose wicked lives and
conversations God was dishonoured, and his name blasphemed among the
Gentiles, \\#Ro 2:23,24\\, hence it appears, that their name,
profession, and character, would not justify them before God; wherefore
the apostle goes on, to remove their plea taken from circumcision,
showing that could be of no use to them, but became void through their
breach of the law, \\#Ro 2:25\\, and that, on the other hand, an
uncircumcised Gentile, by keeping the law from right principles, and to
a right end, appeared to be the true circumcision, \\#Ro 2:26\\,
wherefore the circumcised Jew that broke the law, stood condemned by
the uncircumcised Gentile that fulfilled it; so far was circumcision
from being any part of his justification, or a plea in favour of it,
\\#Ro 2:27\\. Then the apostle concludes the chapter, by giving a
definition of a real Jew, and of true circumcision; which he does first
negatively, that it is not anything external that makes him a Jew, or
anything in the flesh that is right circumcision; but secondly,
positively, that it is an inward work of grace that denominates a man a
Jew, in a spiritual sense, or an Israelite indeed; and that it is the
circumcision of the heart, which is wrought by the Spirit of God, that
is true and genuine: and such a Jew, and such a circumcision, are
approved of by God, and commended by him, when the other have only
praise of men, \\#Ro 2:28,29\\, and therefore, however such persons
may be justified before men, they cannot be justified in the sight of
God; which is the drift and design of the apostle in the whole.