Romans 2:7
To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) To them who.—Before the words “eternal life,” at the end of the verse, we must supply “He will render.” The phrase “glory, and honour, and immortality” is practically equivalent to “eternal life.” “Those who honestly seek for this life shall find it.” The stress is upon the words “by patient continuance in well doing,” From the point of view of rhetoric, no doubt exception might be taken to the tautology; but St. Paul was far too much in earnest to attend carefully to the laws of rhetoric, and it is just this spontaneity which is in great part the secret of his power.

Patient continuance.—A single word in the Greek, but rightly translated in the Authorised version, by (according to, by the rule of) patience (persistence or perseverance) in well doing (literally, in good work). In English we should naturally say, “in good works,” but the Greek, here as frequently, by the use of the singular and by the absence of the article, puts the abstract for the concrete, so covering every particular case.

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.To them - Whoever they may be.

Patient continuance - Who by perseverance in well doing, or in a good work. It means that they who so continue, or persevere, in good works as to evince that they are disposed to obey the Law of God. It does not mean those who perform one single act, but those who so live as to show that this is their character to obey God. It is the uniform doctrine of the Bible that none will be saved but those who persevere in a life of holiness, Revelation 2:10; Matthew 10:22; Hebrews 10:38-39. No other conduct gives evidence of piety but what continues in the ways of righteousness. Nor has God ever promised eternal life to people unless they so persevere in a life of holiness as to show that this is their character, their settled and firm rule of action. The words well doing here denote such conduct as shall be conformed to the Law of God; not merely external conduct, but that which proceeds from a heart attached to God and his cause.

Seek for - This word properly denotes the act of endeavoring to find any thing that is lost, Matthew 18:12; Luke 2:48-49. But it also denotes the act when one earnestly strives, or desires to obtain anything; when he puts forth his efforts to accomplish it. Thus, Matthew 6:33, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God," etc. Acts 16:10; 1 Corinthians 10:24; Luke 13:24. In this place it denotes an earnest and intense desire to obtain eternal life. It does not mean simply the desire of a sinner to be happy, or the efforts of those who are not willing to forsake their sins and yield to God, out the intense effort of those who are willing to forsake all their crimes, and submit to God and obey his laws.

Glory and honour and immortality - The three words used here, denote the happiness of the heavenly world. They vary somewhat in their meaning, and are each descriptive of something in heaven, that renders it an object of intense desire. The expressions are cumulative, or they are designed to express the happiness of heaven in the highest possible degree. The word "glory" δόξαν doxan denotes properly praise, celebrity, or anything distinguished for beauty, ornament, majesty, splendor, as of the sun, etc.; and then it is used to denote the highest happiness or felicity, as expressing everything that shall be splendid, rich, and grand. It denotes that there will be an absence of every thing mean, grovelling, obscure. The word "honor" (τιμὴν timēn) implies rather the idea of reward, or just retribution - the honor and reward which shall be conferred in heaven on the friends of God. It stands opposed to contempt, poverty, and want among people. Here they are despised by people; there, they shall be honored by God.

Immortality - That which is not corruptible or subject to decay. It is applied to heaven as a state where there shall be no decay or death, in strong contrast with our present condition, where all things are corruptible, and soon vanish away. These expressions are undoubtedly descriptive of a state of things beyond the grave. They are never applied in the Scriptures to any condition of things on the earth. This consideration proves, therefore, that the expressions in the next verse, indignation, etc. apply to the punishment of the wicked beyond the grave.

Eternal life - That is, God will "render" eternal life to those who seek it in this manner. This is a great principle; and this shows that the apostle means by "their deeds" Romans 2:6, not merely their external conduct, but their inward thoughts, and efforts evinced by their seeking for glory, etc. For the meaning of the expression "eternal life," see the note at John 5:24.

7-10. To them who, &c.—The substance of these verses is that the final judgment will turn upon character alone.

by patient continuance in well-doing, &c.—Compare Lu 8:15: "That on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience"; denoting the enduring and progressive character of the new life.

What he had laid down in general, he amplifies more particularly.

Patient continuance; or perseverance in well doing, which implies patience: see Matthew 10:22 24:13 Hebrews 10:36.

Immortality; or incorruption: he adds this to show, that the

glory and honour he speaks of was not such as the Gentiles usually sought, who made worldly glory the scope of their actions; but it was eternal in the heavens, and such as never fades away.

Eternal life; i.e. God will render eternal life to such: the word render must be supplied out of the former verse. To them who by patient continuance in well doing,.... These words are descriptive of one sort of persons, to whom God will render according to their works; and must be understood not of the Gentiles, the best and most moralized among them; for they sought after worldly things, after human wisdom, and popular applause, and not after God, his honour and glory, nor after immortality, which is only brought to light by the Gospel; nor of the pharisaical Jews, who sought for righteousness by the works of the law, and honour and glory from men, and not from God; nor of any unregenerate persons, but only of such who have the true principles of grace implanted in them, whether Jews or Gentiles: now the things which these men seek after are

glory; not the glory of this world, nor any from the men of it; but the glory of God and Christ; to be glorious within and without, by the grace and righteousness of Christ here, and to enjoy eternal glory with him hereafter.

Honour; not that which Adam had in innocence, and did not abide in; but that which is, and abides with Christ, and which all the saints have, and shall have.

Immortality; not the immortality of the soul, which is common to all; but the incorruption of the body, or the glorious resurrection of it to everlasting life at the great day, or the incorruptible crown, and never fading inheritance of the saints in light. The manner in which these things are sought is, "by patient continuance in well doing"; by doing good works, and by doing these good works well, from a principle of faith and love, and with a view to the glory of God; and by patiently enduring reproaches and sufferings for well doing, and by persevering therein: not that these things are to be had, or are expected by the saints to be had for the sake of patience and well doing; yet they may be sought for, and looked unto, as an encouragement to well doing, and continuance therein; and though not "for", yet "in" well doing there is a reward. These words do not express that for the sake of which glory is had; but only describe the persons who seek, and the manner in which they seek for it, to whom God will render

eternal life, which he of his rich grace promised them before the world was, and of his free favour has put into the hands of Christ for them, and which, as a pure gift of grace, he bestows on them through him.

To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for {d} glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

(d) Glory which follows good works, which he does not lay out before us as though there were any that could attain to salvation by his own strength, but, he lays this condition of salvation before us, which no man can perform, to bring men to Christ, who alone justifies the believers, as he himself concludes; see Ro 2:21-22.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 2:7. To those, who by virtue of perseverance in morally-good work seek to obtain glory and honour and immortality, eternal life sc[611] ἀποδώσει. Consequently ΚΑΘʼ ὙΠΟΜ. ἜΡΓΟΥ ἈΓΑΘ. contains the standard, the regulative principle, by which the seeking after glory, honour, etc. is guided, and ἜΡΓΟΥ ἈΓΑΘΟῦ,[612] which is not with Beza to be connected with ΔΌΞΑΝ, is the genitive of the object to which the ὙΠΟΜΟΝΉ refers (1 Thessalonians 1:3; Polyb. iv. 51, 1; Theophr. Char. 6, 1); while δόξαν κ. τιμὴν κ. ἀφθαρσ. is an exhaustive description of the future salvation according to its glorious appearing (2 Corinthians 4:17; Matthew 13:43), according to the honour united with it (for it is the prize of victory, 1 Corinthians 9:25; Php 3:14; 2 Timothy 4:8; Jam 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4, the joint heirship with Christ, Romans 8:17, the reigning along with Him, 2 Timothy 2:12), and according to its imperishableness (1 Corinthians 15:52 ff.; Revelation 21:4; 1 Peter 1:4). Paul presents the moral effort under a character thus specifically Christian, just because he can attribute it only to Christian Jews and Gentiles; and hence he is only able to give his description of this first half of the subjects of future judgment, notwithstanding the generality of his language, in the Christian form, in which alone it really takes place. In keeping with this is also the ζωὴν αἰώνιον, i.e. eternal life in the kingdom of the Messiah, Romans 5:21, Romans 6:22 f.; Galatians 6:8. The above construction of the words is already followed by Theophilus, a[613] Autol. i. 20, ed. Wolf, and by most expositors, including Tholuck, Rückert, Köllner, de Wette, Olshausen, Philippi, Maier, van Hengel, Umbreit. The objection raised against it by Reiche and Hofmann, that according to the analogy of Romans 2:6 καθʼ ὑπομ. ἔργ. ἀγ. must contain the standard of the ἈΠΟΔΏΣΕΙ, and cannot therefore belong to ΖΗΤΟῦΣΙ, is untenable, because ΚΑΘʼ ὙΠΟΜ. ἜΡΓ. ἈΓ., though attached to ΖΗΤΟῦΣΙ, nevertheless does contain (indirectly) the standard of ἈΠΟΔΏΣΕΙ; so that there remains only an immaterial difference, which however is in fact very consonant to the lively versatility of the Apostle’s thought. Still less weight attaches to the objection, that to seek glory and honour is not in itself a praiseworthy thing; for the moral tenor of the ζητεῖν δόξαν Κ.Τ.Λ[614] (comp Matthew 6:33; John 5:44) is most definitely assured by καθʼ ὑπομ. ἔργ. ἀγ. Utterly unfounded, in fine, is the objection of clumsiness (Hofmann); the symmetrical fulness of Romans 2:7-8, has a certain solemnity about it. Reiche and Hofmann, following Oecumenius,[616] Estius, and others, arrange it so that to ΔΌΞΑΝ Κ. ΤΙΜ. Κ. ἈΦΘΑΡΣΊΑΝ they supply ἈΠΟΔΏΣΕΙ, whilst ΖΗΤΟῦΣΙ is to be combined with ΖΩῊΝ ΑἸΏΝ. and regarded as an apposition or (Hofmann) reason assigned to ΤΟῖς ΜΈΝ, and ΚΑΘʼ ὙΠΟΜ. ἜΡΓ. ἈΓ. is the standard of ἈΠΟΔΏΣΕΙ. Substantially so also Ewald. No syntactic objection can be urged against this rendering; but how tamely and heavily is the ΖΗΤΟῦΣΙ ΖΩῊΝ ΑἸΏΝ. subjoined! Paul would have written clearly, emphatically, and in harmony with the contrast in Romans 2:8 : ΤΟῖς.… ἈΓΑΘΟῦ ΖΩῊΝ ΑἸ. ΖΗΤΟῦΣΙ ΔΌΞΑΝ Κ. ΤΙΜ. Κ. ἈΦΘ.

[611]
c. scilicet.

[612] The singular without the article indicates the thing in abstracto; the rule is for every given case: perseverance in good work. The idea that the work of redemption is referred to (Mehring, in accordance with Php 1:6), so that ὑπομ. ἔργ. ἀγ., would be equivalent to ὑπακοὴ πίστεως, ought to have been precluded by the parallel in ver. 10. Comp. ver. 2.

[613] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[614] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[616] Τὸ ὑπερβατὸν οὕτω τακτέον· τοῖς καθʼ ὑπομονὴν ἔργου ἀγαθοῦ ζητοῦσι ζωὴν αἰώνιον, ἀποδώσει δόξαν καὶ.… ἀφθαρσίαν. But there is no ground whatever for the assumption of a hyperbaton, in which Luther also has entangled himself. Very harshly Bengel, Fritzsche, and Krehl separate τοῖς καθʼ ὑπομον. ἔργου ἀγ. from what follows, and supply οὖσι; and then take δόξαν.… ζητοῦσι as apposition to τοῖς.… ἔργου, but make ζωὴν αἰ. likewise dependent on ἀποδώσει.Romans 2:7. καθʼ ὑπομονὴν ἔργου ἀγαθοῦ: cf. the collective ἔργον—“life-work”: S. and H.—in Romans 2:15 : “by way of stedfastness in well-doing”. δόξαν = the glory of the future life, as revealed in the Risen Saviour. τιμήν = honour with God. ἀφθαρσίαν “proves that the goal of effort is nothing earthly” (Lipsius). ζωὴ αἰώνιος comprehends all these three: as its counterpart, θάνατος in Rom 2:32, involves the loss of all. ζωὴν is governed by ἀποδώσει.7. to them who by patient continuance, &c.] More lit., to those who according to patience of (i.e. in) a good work seek, &c.; i.e., who, in that method, by that path, seek for eternal bliss. “Patience” here, as often in N. T., practically means active patience, perseverance. (Cp. Luke 8:15; Hebrews 10:36; Hebrews 12:1). “Work” is here, as often, used in the singular as a summary of the Christian’s whole course of obedience.

It is very remarkable to find here, in the first pages of this great Treatise on Gratuitous Salvation, the distinct mention of the blessed result of “good work.” (See specially, by way of contrast, Romans 4:2; Romans 4:6, Romans 11:6; and also Ephesians 2:9-10.)—It must be remembered that St Paul expressly teaches that man’s knowledge and love of God in this life, and by consequence its practical results, are as much His gift, a gift perfectly free and special, as is the bliss of the life to come; and that the two are inseparably connected. Divine mercy gives the “patient continuance in well-doing” as well as the “glory, honour, and immortality.” It is most true that the just freedom of Scripture language frequently leaves this connexion out of explicit statement; but this whole Epistle tends to remind us that it is among the very foundations of truth.

seek] As a traveller on his homeward road seeks for (aims at, moves toward) his home. Cp. Hebrews 13:14.

glory] The heavenly state, on its side of exaltation; the dignity of the vision and the likeness of God. See ch. Romans 5:2 for its deep connexion with His presence: it is “the glory of God.”

honour] Often associated with “glory.” See 1 Peter 1:7 for an instructive parallel. St Paul here speaks of “perseverance in good works;” St Peter there of the “fiery trial” of faith; both as preliminary to the Master’s welcome.

immortality] Lit. incorruptibility. Same word as 1 Corinthians 15:42; 1 Corinthians 15:50; 2 Timothy 1:10. (E. V., “immortality.”) It indicates perpetuity not merely of existence but of purity and power, the immortality of heaven. See further, next note.

eternal life] On these two most weighty words we can only summarize thus. (1) “Life,” beyond question, may, and very often does, mean more than bare existence. A “lifeless” tree, or body, yet exists, though in another state than before. In regard of spiritual life, it is clear that existence may be strong and conscious where there is no such “life.” See John 6:53; Ephesians 2:1. Existence, to be in this sense “life,” must contain happiness and holiness, whether in the germ (as here), or in maturity (as hereafter). (2) “Eternal.” Much has been written on the Greek of this word; aionios. But its connexion with duration, in derivation and usage, is certain. For N. T. usage in this respect, see e.g. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18. And it is equally clear that its ruling idea is duration unending in respect of the period referred to. If used e. g. with regard to the present world, or a human lifetime, it naturally means unending while that world, or lifetime, lasts. When applied to the unseen and ultimate world, it appears equally naturally to mean unending while that world lasts. “Everlasting” is thus no arbitrary equivalent for it, for both words have much the same consistent elasticity of meaning.Romans 2:7. Τοῖς) sc. οὖσι; comp. the following verse; for κατὰ (see Acts 25:23,) is employed here nearly in the same sense as ἐξ, next verse; save that ἐξ implies a something natural to the sinner; κατὰ, a something supervenient [not natural, but super-induced]. You will see the difference, if you interchange the particles with one another: ἐξ ὑπομονῆς κτλ. In this view, τοῖς and ζητοῦσι stand in apposition, the conjunction being omitted by the figure asyndeton.[26]—ὑπομονὴν ἔργου, patience in work) so the patience of hope, 1 Thessalonians 1:3; ὑπομονὴ, patience, includes, in this passage, obedience, steadiness, and that, too, with submission.—ἔργου, in work. There is great force in the singular number here (well-doing.—Engl. Vers.; the good work is referred to, of which), Php 1:6; Revelation 22:12.—δόξαν, glory) The construction is, τοῖς δόξαν κτλ ζητοῦσιν (ἀποδώσει) ζωήν, to those who seek for glory, etc. (he will render) life. Pure love does not exclude faith, hope, desire, 1 Corinthians 15:58.—ζητοῦσι, to them that seek) Whereas thou, O Jew, thinkest, that thou hast no need of any seeking [Industry is requisite.—V. g.]

[26] Beng. construes it “to them who are animated by (κατά) patient continuance in well-doing, even those who seek glory, etc.—ED.]Verses 7-9. - To them who by patient continuance in well-doing (literally, good work, ἔργου ἀγαθοῦ, with reference to ἔργα preceding) seek for glory and honour and immortality (literally, incorruption, ἀφθαρσίαν), eternal life. But unto them which are contentious (so Authorized Version; in Revised Version, factious. As to true meaning, see below), and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth (rather, worketh, ἐργαζομένῳ, with reference again to ἔργα in ver. 6) evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile (literally, Greek). The expression, τοῖς ἐξ ἐριθείας, is rendered in the Authorized Version "them which are contentious," ἐριθεία being translated "contention" also in 2 Corinthians 12:20; Galatians 5:20; Philippians 1:16; Philippians 2:3; James 3:14, 16. So, too, the Vulgate, qui sunt ex contentione; and similarly Origen, Chrysostom, OEcumenius, Theophylact, Erasmus, Luther, Beza, Calvin, etc. This, however, is not the classical sense of the word, which is not connected with ἕρις ("strife"), but with ἔριθος, which means originally a day labourer, or a worker for hire, being so used in Homer. Hence ἐριθεία meant

(1) labour for wages, and came to mean

(2) canvassing or intriguing for office, and

(3) faction, or party-spirit (cf. Arist., 'Pol.,' 5. 2, 6; 3, 9).

Notwithstanding the weight of ancient authority for its bearing the sense of "contention" in the New Testament, that of "faction" seems more likely and suitable in the passages where it occurs; and certainly so here, the idea seeming to be that the persons spoken of factiously renounced their allegiance to "the truth," obeying ἀδικία instead. We observe how expressions are here heaped up, significant of the Divine indignation against high-handed sin, unrepented and unatoned for, of which the apostle, in very virtue of his view of the eternal δικαιοσύνη, had an awful sense (see above on Romans 1:18; and cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:8, etc.; and also Hebrews 10:27; Hebrews 12:29). Still, neither this verse nor ver. 5 is of necessity inconsistent with other well-known passages, where St. Paul seems to contemplate God's reconciliation in the end of all things to himself in Christ (see Romans 5:15, et seq.; 1 Corinthians 15:24-29; Ephesians 1:9, 10, 22, 23; Colossians 1:20). The "indignation and wrath" spoken of in the passages before us (being, as was said under Romans 1:18, inseparable from a full conception of the eternal righteousness) may still be conceived as having a corrective as well as a punitive purpose. Nor is the doctrine which has been called that of "eternal hope" of necessity precluded by statements which imply no more than that sin, unrepented and unatoned for, must inevitably undergo its doom in the unknown regions of eternity. The thought, at the end of ver. 9, for the first time passes distinctly to the Jew's assumed exemption from the condemnation of the rest of mankind; and to this exclusively the remainder of the chapter is devoted. The "indignation," etc., it is said, will be upon the Jew first (cf. ch. 1:16), which may mean either in the first instance, or principally. His priority in Divine favor involves priority in retribution, while his pre-eminence in privilege carries with it corresponding responsibility (cf. Luke 12:47, 48; also Psalm 1:3-8 and 1 Peter 4:17). Then in ver. 10 a like priority is assigned to the Jew with respect to reward, the general assertion of ver. 7 being repeated (with some differ-once of expression) in order to complete the view of his prior position in both respects. For the covenant was with the Jews; the promises were to them: the Gentiles were as the wild olive tree, grafted in, and made partakers of the root and fatness of the olive tree (Romans 11:17). "Judaei particeps Graecus" (Bengel). Eternal life

Supply He will render.

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