|New International Version (©2011)|
(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law.
New Living Translation (©2007)
Even Gentiles, who do not have God's written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it.
English Standard Version (©2001)
For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.
New American Standard Bible (©1995)
For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves,
King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
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:
Holman Christian Standard Bible (©2009)
So, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, instinctively do what the law demands, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the law.
International Standard Version (©2012)
For whenever gentiles, who do not possess the Law, do instinctively what the Law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the Law.
NET Bible (©2006)
For whenever the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things required by the law, these who do not have the law are a law to themselves.
Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)
For if the Gentiles who have not The Written Law would perform those things of The Written Law by their nature, while they have not The Written Law, they would be The Written Law to themselves.
GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)
For example, whenever non-Jews who don't have laws from God do by nature the things that Moses' Teachings contain, they are a law to themselves even though they don't have any laws from God.
King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
For when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
American King James Version
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 to themselves:
American Standard Version
(for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves;
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:
Darby Bible Translation
For when those of the nations, which have no law, practise by nature the things of the law, these, having no law, are a law to themselves;
English Revised Version
for when Gentiles which have no law do by nature the things of the law, these, having no law, are a law unto themselves;
Webster's Bible Translation
For when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law to themselves.
Weymouth New Testament
For when Gentiles who have no Law obey by natural instinct the commands of the Law, they, without having a Law, are a Law to themselves;
World English Bible
(for when Gentiles who don't have the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are a law to themselves,
Young's Literal Translation
For, when nations that have not a law, by nature may do the things of the law, these not having a law -- to themselves are a law;
|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.
Verses 14, 15. - For when Gentiles, which have not law, do by nature (or, having not law by nature, do; cf. ver. 27, ἡ ἐκ φύσεως ἀκροβυστία) the things of the Law (i.e. the Mosaic Law), these, not having law, are law unto themselves; which (οἵτινες, with its usual significance of quippequi) show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness (or, bearing witness therewith), and their thoughts betwixt each other accusing or else excusing (not, as in the Authorized Version, meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another, μεταξὺ being used as a preposition, governing ἀλλήλων). The "for" at the beginning of ver. 14 connects it with the preceding one thus: "Not hearers but doers of law will be justified." The Jew, therefore, has no advantage in the way of justification over the Gentile from being in a peculiar sense a hearer. For Gentiles also may be doers, though not of a positive revealed law, yet of the law of conscience. It is not, of course, implied that on the ground of any such doing they "shall be justified;" only that, so far as they do, they will, equally with the Jews, be rewarded. Nor is it said that any, in fact, do all that law enjoins. We observe the hypothetical form of expression, ὅταν ποιῇ, and also, τὰ τοῦ νόμου, i.e. any of the Law's requirements. The Law, for instance, says, "Thou shalt not steal;" and if a Gentile, though knowing nothing of the ten commandments, on principle refrains from stealing, his conscientious honesty will have its own reward as much as that of the Jew who refrains in obedience to the revealed commandment. A few of the expressions in these verses call for consideration.
(1) What is meant by τὸ ἔργον τοῦ νόμου, said to be "written in their hearts"? Τὸ ἔργον cannot be pleonastic, as supposed by Tholuck. One view is that it is equivalent to τὰ ἔργα τοῦ νόμου, which is an expression frequently used elsewhere (Romans 3:27, 28; Romans 9:32; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:2, 5, 10); and the singular number has been explained as collective, as in 1 Corinthians 3:13; Galatians 6:4, and ver. 7 above (so Meyer), or as "applying to each of the particular cases supposed in the ὅταν... ποιῶσιν (so Alford). The objection to this view is that it is not the works of the Law that can be said to be written, but rather the Law itself from which the works proceed. Seeing that γραπτὸν implies evident reference to the tables of the Law, it seems best to take ἔργον as denoting the efficacy of the Law, as opposed to the letter, which alone was written on the tables. So in effect Bengel: "Legem ipsam cum sua activitate. Opponitur literae, quae est accidens."
(2) How do they show (ἐνδείκνυνται) this ἔργον νόμου? Evidently, from the context of ver. 14, by doing τὰ τοῦ νὸμου; i.e. doing them (as is, of course, implied) as being the right things to do, and approving them. The very possibility of their doing this is evidence of an innate moral sense in the human heart, which, however it may often be obscured or perverted, remains as a characteristic of humanity, and is more or less operative in all communities. "Nulls enim gens unquam sic ab humanitate abhorruit ut non se intra leges aliquas contineret. Constat absque dubio quasdam justitiae et rectitudinis conceptiones, quas Graeci προλήψεις recant, hominum animis esse naturaliter ingenitas" (Calvin).
(3) What is exactly meant by the conscience witnessing, and the thoughts accusing or else excusing? Συνειδήσις is not the Law in the heart, but rather our consciousness, whereby wittingly, in accordance with that Law, we approve or condemn. The compound verb συμμαρτυρούσης seems to denote a joint witness of conscience. In Romans 8:16 and Romans 9:1, where alone the word occurs elsewhere, it is followed by a dative, and means certainly concurrent witness. But, if so here, with what? Probably with the ἔνδειξις already spoken cf. Right conduct on principle, and conscience approving, witness together to the inward law; or, conduct and conscience together witness to a man's merits or demerits in accordance with that law. Then, what is added about the λογισμοὶ shows how conscience operates. Reason comes into play, evoked by conscience, to reflect on its witness, and definitely condemn or approve what has been done. A kind of court of judicature is supposed. Man calls himself to the bar of his own moral judgment; his conscience adduces witness to the character of his deeds, or rather, with his deeds bears witness for or against himself; his thoughts are as advocates on both sides, arguing for condemnation or acquittal. "Observa quam erudite describat conscientiam, quum dicit nobis venire in mentem rationes, quibus quod recte factum est defendimus; rursum quae nos flagitiorum accusent et redarguant" (Calvin).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For when the Gentiles which have not the law,.... The objection of the Gentiles against their condemnation, taken from their being without the law, is here obviated. The apostle owns that they had not the law, that is, the written law of Moses, and yet intimates that they had, and must have a law, against which they sinned, and so deserved punishment, and which they in part obeyed; for these men
do by nature the things contained in the law. The matter and substance of the moral law of Moses agrees with the law and light of nature; and the Gentiles in some measure, and in some sort, did these things by nature; not that men by the mere strength of nature without the grace of God, can fulfil the law, or do anything that is acceptable to God; and indeed, what these men did was merely natural and carnal, and so unacceptable to God. Some understand this of nature assisted by grace, in converted Gentiles, whether before or after the coming of Christ; others expound the phrase, by nature, freely, willingly, in opposition to the servile spirit of the Jews, in their obedience to the law; though it rather seems to design the dictates of natural reason, by which they acted: and so
these having not the law, the written law,
are a law to themselves; which they have by nature and use, and which natural reason dictates to them. So Plato distinguishes the law
"into written and un written (q): the written law is that which was used in commonwealths; and that "which was according to custom or nature", was called unwritten, such as not to go to market naked, nor to be clothed with women's clothes; which things were not forbidden by any law, but these were not done because forbidden by the unwritten law;''
which he calls "unwritten", because not written on tables, or with ink; otherwise it was written in their minds, and which by nature and use they were accustomed to.
(q) Laertii Vit. Philosoph. l. 3. in Vita Platon.
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