|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:1-16 The Jews thought themselves a holy people, entitled to their privileges by right, while they were unthankful, rebellious, and unrighteous. But all who act thus, of every nation, age, and description, must be reminded that the judgment of God will be according to their real character. The case is so plain, that we may appeal to the sinner's own thoughts. In every wilful sin, there is contempt of the goodness of God. And though the branches of man's disobedience are very various, all spring from the same root. But in true repentance, there must be hatred of former sinfulness, from a change wrought in the state of the mind, which disposes it to choose the good and to refuse the evil. It shows also a sense of inward wretchedness. Such is the great change wrought in repentance, it is conversion, and is needed by every human being. The ruin of sinners is their walking after a hard and impenitent heart. Their sinful doings are expressed by the strong words, treasuring up wrath. In the description of the just man, notice the full demand of the law. It demands that the motives shall be pure, and rejects all actions from earthly ambition or ends. In the description of the unrighteous, contention is held forth as the principle of all evil. The human will is in a state of enmity against God. Even Gentiles, who had not the written law, had that within, which directed them what to do by the light of nature. Conscience is a witness, and first or last will bear witness. As they nature. Conscience is a witness, and first or last will bear witness. As they kept or broke these natural laws and dictates, their consciences either acquitted or condemned them. Nothing speaks more terror to sinners, and more comfort to saints, than that Christ shall be the Judge. Secret services shall be rewarded, secret sins shall be then punished, and brought to light.
Verse 12. - For as many as have sinned without Law (ἀνόμως) shall also perish without Law (ἀνόμως). Their perdition, if it ensues, will not be due to transgression of a code they had not, but to sin against such light as they had; if without knowledge of Law they sinned, without reference to Law their doom will he, And as many as have sinned in Law (or, under Law. Ἐν νόμῳ denotes the condition in which they were; cf. ἐν περιτομῇ and ἐν ὀκροβυστίᾳ, Romans 4:10) shall be judged by Law. The requirements of the Law which they knew they will be held accountable for transgressing - κριθήσονται here, instead of ἀπολοῦνται, because a definite standard of judgment is supposed (cf. Psalm 1.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For as many as have sinned without law,.... This is an instance of the strict justice of God, and proves him to be no respecter of persons; for the Gentiles, who were "without law", the written law of Moses, not without the law of nature in their breasts, nor without some civil laws and statutes of their own; inasmuch as they "sinned" against the God of nature, and the law and light of nature, they
shall also perish without law: not that their condemnation and perdition will be illegal, or not in due course of law; but it will not proceed upon, or according to the law of Moses, they never had; and much less for not believing in Christ, of whom they never heard; but their perdition will be for their sins committed without the law of Moses, against the law of nature: their not having the written law of Moses will be no plea in their favour, or be a reason why they should not be condemned; their persons will not be regarded as with or without the law, but their sins committed by them, to which facts their consciences will bear witness:
and, so on the other hand,
as many as have sinned in the law; who have been in and under the law of Moses, and have sinned against it, meaning the Jews:
shall be judged by the law; and condemned by it, as they were in this world, and will be hereafter: their having this law will be no bar against their condemnation, but rather an aggravation of it; their hearing of it will be no plea in their favour; nor their doing of it neither, unless they could have done it to perfection; for perfect obedience it requires, as a justifying righteousness, otherwise it curses, condemns, and adjudges to death.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12. For as many as have sinned—not "as many as have sinned at all," but, "as many as are found in sin" at the judgment of the great day (as the whole context shows).
without law—that is, without the advantage of a positive Revelation.
shall also perish without law—exempt from the charge of rejecting or disregarding it.
and as many as have sinned in the law—within the pale of a positive, written Revelation.
shall be judged by the law—tried and condemned by the higher standard of that written Revelation.
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