Romans ii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Wherefore thou art inexcusable, &c. He seems to give a general admonition to every one, both Jews and Gentiles, not to blame, judge, or condemn others, when perhaps he, or those of his religion, may be guilty of the like sins. Let him rather call to mind the just judgment of God, which, they that are sinners, cannot escape. Let him also reflect, that if God hath hitherto deferred to punish him, it hath been through the riches and abundance of his goodness, patience, and long-forbearance, or longanimity: that he must take care not to harden his heart any longer, lest he heap up to himself a fatal treasure at the day of judgment, when God will render to every one according to his works, and not according to his faith only, says St. Chrysostom, hom. v. (Witham)

Ver. 5. The apostle is evidently speaking to the converted Jews, and not to the Gentiles. For the Gentiles believed in certain judges in hell, who passed sentence on every one as soon as he departed out of life. This is what the learned call poetical theology, and considered as fabulous. But besides a particular judgment at the hour of death, the Hebrews believed in a general judgment of all men, or at least of all the just, in the valley of Jehosaphat; as may be seen in the prophets, and the books of Wisdom and Machabees. (Calmet)

Ver. 9-10. Of the Jew first, and also of the Greek. That is, God, as a just judge, will not have any respect to their persons, but punish or reward both Jews and Gentiles, according to their good or bad works. And salvation is now offered to both. (Witham)

Ver. 12. Whosoever have sinned without the law. That is, without the written law of Moses, against their reason and conscience, &c. And also those who being Jews, have sinned under this written law, shall be judged, even with greater severity, for having transgressed against the known law. (Witham)

Ver. 14-15. When the Gentiles…do by nature, or naturally, that is, without having received any written law, these men are a law to themselves, and have it written in their hearts, as to the existence of a God, and their reason tells them, that many sins are unlawful: they may also do some actions that are morally good, as by giving alms to relieve the poor, honouring their parents, &c. not that these actions, morally good, will suffice for their justification of themselves, or make them deserve a supernatural reward in the kingdom of heaven; but God, out of his infinite mercy, will give them some supernatural graces, by which they come to know, and believe, that he will reward their souls for eternity. Such, says St. Chrysostom, were the dispositions of Melchisedech, Job, Cornelius the Centurion, &c. (Witham)

Ver. 17. But if thou art called a Jew. In the common Greek copies, we read, behold, thou art a Jew, &c. St. Paul here turns his discourse particularly to the Jews, who valued themselves so much upon their law, their temple, and their ceremonies; and therefore are said to rest on the law, as if it were enough to be by profession a Jew. (Witham) — But many manuscripts, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, St. Ambrose, Sedul., Theophylactus, &c. read it as in the Vulgate, ei su Ioudaios. (Calmet)

Ver. 21. Thou, therefore, that teachest another, teachest not thyself, &c. St. Chrysostom (hom. vi.) takes these sentences as so many interrogations; dost thou teach thyself? dost thou not steal? dost thou not commit adultery? &c. (Witham)

Ver. 22. Idols, &c. The Jews, at the time of our Saviour, were free from idolatry, to which their ancestors had been so prone for so long a time. But to this evil had succeeded another, scarcely less heinous, viz. sacrilege, and a profanation of holy things. The greater part of the high priests bought their office. The priests permitted in the temple itself a kind of traffic, which caused our Saviour to declare to them, that they had made the house of his Father a den of thieves. And to favour their own avarice, they taught that it was lawful to defraud their creditors, and refuse to their parents the necessary succour, in the case of vows to give to the temple. St. Paul does not here reproach them for the profanations of the temple which they committed in the last siege of Jerusalem, for it had not then taken place; but he knew full will the dispositions of their hearts, and the little regard they had for the most sacred things. (Calmet)

Ver. 24. The apostle here only repeats the reproaches which the prophets had repeated so often before, that the Jews, by the contrast between their lives and the sanctity of their religion, had been the cause of that religion and worship being the ridicule and laughing-stock of the Gentile world. (Calmet) — A reproach this, which also bears very heavy upon many Christians of the present day; who by their profession believe the truth of the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic faith, and by their conduct belie the same, leading lives unworthy of pagans. (Haydock)

Ver. 25. Circumcision profiteth indeed, inasmuch as it was ordained by Almighty God, as were also the precepts of the law, which were to be observed before the publishing of the new law of Christ. See Galatians v. 6. But it was never profitable to the transgressors of the law. Nay, the uncircumcised Gentiles, who have complied with those natural precepts, which are also commanded by the law of Moses, shall judge and condemn those, who received the written law, and at the same time were transgressors of it. (Witham)

Ver. 26. Shall not his uncircumcision (Literally, his prÄ™putium [foreskin]) be reputed for circumcision? Nonne prÄ™putium illius in circumcisionem reputabitur? e peritome sou akrobustia gegonen. A translation may adhere to the letter too much; this seems literal enough. (Witham)

Ver. 28. Nor is that circumcision, which is outwardly in the flesh. St. Paul distinguisheth two sorts of circumcision; that which is made in the flesh, according to the letter of the law, which is an outward circumcision; and a more necessary circumcision of the heart, and of the spirit, by which a man’s interior is reformed, and by which his vices and disorders are cut off. The first circumcision would never avail a man any thing without the second. (Witham)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

The Jews are censured, who make their boast of the law, and keep it not. He declares who are the true Jews.

1 Wherefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest.* For wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself: for thou dost the same things which thou judgest.

2 For we know that the judgment of God is, according to truth, against them that do such things.

3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them who do such things, and dost the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and patience, and longsuffering?* knowest thou not that the benignity of God leadeth thee to penance?

5 But according to thy hardness, and impenitent heart, thou treasurest up to thyself wrath, against the day of wrath, and revelation of the just judgment of God,

6 *Who will render to every man according to his works:

7 To them indeed, who, according to patience in good work, seek glory, and honour, and incorruption, life everlasting:

8 But to them that are contentious, and who obey not the truth, but give credit to iniquity, wrath and indignation.

9 Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek.

10 But glory, and honour, and peace, to every one that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

11 *For there is no respect of persons with God.

12 For whosoever have sinned without the law, shall perish without the law: and whosoever have sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law.

13 *For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

14 For when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature those things that are of the law; these having not the law, are a law to themselves:

15 Who shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness to them, and their thoughts between themselves accusing, or excusing them,

16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

17 *But if thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,

18 And knowest his will, *and approvest the things that are more profitable, being instructed by the law,

19 Art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them that are in darkness,

20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, having the form of knowledge and of truth in the law.

21 Thou, therefore, that teachest another, teachest not thyself: thou that preachest that men should not steal, stealest:

22 Thou that sayest, men should not commit adultery, committest adultery: thou that abhorrest idols, committest sacrilege:

23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, by the transgression of the law dishonourest God.

24 *(For the name of God, through you, is blasphemed among the Gentiles, as it is written.)

25 Circumcision profiteth indeed if thou keep the law: but if thou be a transgressor of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.

26 If then the uncircumcised keep the ordinances of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be reputed for circumcision?

27 *And shall not that which by nature is uncircumcision, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision art a transgressor of the law?

28 *For it is not he is a Jew, who is so outwardly: nor is that circumcision which is outwardly in the flesh:

29 But he is a Jew that is one inwardly: and the circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter: whose praise is not of men, but of God.



1: Matthew vii. 2.

4: Wisdom ix. 24.; 2 Peter iii. 2.

6: Matthew xvi. 27.

11: Deuteronomy x. 17.; 2 Paralipomenon xix. 7.; Job xxxiv. 19.; Wisdom vi. 8.; Ecclesiasticus xv. 35.; Acts x. 34.; Ephesians vi. 9.; Colossians iii. 25.; 1 Peter i. 17.

13: Matthew vii. 21.; James i. 22.

17: Apocalypse xi. 9.

18: Philippians i. 10.

24: Isaias lii. 5.; Ezechiel xxxvi. 20.

27: Matthew xii. 42.

28: Isaias xlviii.