Romans 2:9
Tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man that does evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
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(9) Upon every soul of man.—The phrase is not quite the same as “upon every man,” but more special in character, indicating the part in which the punishment will be felt.

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.Tribulation - This word commonly denotes affliction, or the situation of being pressed down by a burden, as of trials, calamities, etc.; and hence, to be pressed down by punishment or pain inflicted for sins. As applied to future punishment, it denotes the pressure of the calamities that will come upon the soul as the just reward of sin.

And anguish - στενοχωρία stenochōria. This noun is used in but three other places in the New Testament; Romans 8:35; 2 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 12:10. The verb is used in 2 Corinthians 4:8; 2 Corinthians 6:12. It means literally narrowness of place, lack of room, and then the anxiety and distress of mind which a man experiences who is pressed on every side by afflictions, and trials, and want, or by punishment, and who does not know where he may turn himself to find relief. (Schleusner.) It is thus expressive of the punishment of the wicked. It means that they shall be compressed with the manifestations of God's displeasure, so as to be in deep distress, and so as not to know where to find relief. These words affliction and anguish are often connected; Romans 8:35.

Upon every soul of man - Upon all people. In Hebrew the word "soul" often denotes the man himself. But still, the apostles, by the use of this word here, meant perhaps to signify that the punishment should not be corporeal, but afflicting the soul. It should be a spiritual punishment, a punishment of mind. (Ambrose. See Tholuck.)

Of the Jew first - Having stated the general principle of the divine administration, he comes now to make the application. To the principle there could be no objection. And the apostle now shows that it was applicable to the Jew as well as the Greek, and to the Jew pre-eminently. It was applicable first, or in an eminent degree, to the Jew, because,

(1) He had been especially favored with light and knowledge on all these subjects.

(2) these principles were fully stated in his own Law, and were in strict accordance with all the teaching of the prophets; see the note at Romans 2:6; also Psalm 7:11; Psalm 9:17; Psalm 139:19; Proverbs 14:32.

Of the Gentile - That is, of all who were not Jews. On what principles God will inflict punishment on them, he states in Romans 2:12-16. It is clear that this refers to the future punishment of the wicked, for,

(1) It stands in contrast with the eternal life of those who seek for glory Romans 2:7. If this description of the effect of sin refers to this life, then the effects spoken of in relation to the righteous refer to this life also. But in no place in the Scriptures is it said that people experience all the blessings of eternal life in this world; and the very supposition is absurd.

(2) it is not true that there is a just and complete retribution to every man, according to his deeds, in this life. Many of the wicked are prospered in life, and "there are no bands in their death, but their strength is firm;" Psalm 73:4. Many of the righteous pine in poverty and want and affliction, and die in the flames of persecution. Nothing is more clear than there is not in this life a full and equitable distribution of rewards and punishments; and as the proposition, of the apostle here is, that God will render to every man according to his deeds Romans 2:6, it follows that this must be accomplished in another world.

(3) the Scriptures uniformly affirm, that for the very things specified here, God will consign people to eternal death; 2 Thessalonians 1:8, "In flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction," etc.; 1 Peter 4:17. We may remark also, that there could be no more alarming description of future suffering than is specified in this passage. It is indignation; it is wrath; it is tribulation; it is anguish which the sinner is to endure forever. Truly people exposed to this awful doom should be alarmed, and should give diligence to escape from the woe which is to come.

9. Tribulation and anguish—the effect of these in the sinner himself. Tribulation and anguish; the word render is here again understood, he shall render tribulation and anguish. Some refer the former to the punishment of sin, the latter to the punishment of loss; or the one to the unquenchable fire, the other to the never dying worm: it seems to be a rhetorical exaggeration: see Psalm 11:6 Mark 9:43-48.

Every soul of man; a double Hebraism: first, the soul is put for the person, as Genesis 12:5 14:21 17:14 36:6 46:26. Secondly, every soul of man, is put for the soul of every man; as before, Romans 1:18, all unrighteousness of men, is put for the unrighteousness of all men. The soul of man shall not be punished only, but chiefly.

Of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; the Jew is first placed in order of punishment, because he better knew God’s will, and had more helps: see Matthew 11:22,24 Lu 12:47. Tribulation and anguish,.... These, with the foregoing words, are expressive of the second death, the torments of hell, the worm that never dies, and the fire that is not quenched: which will fall

upon every soul of man that doth evil; whose course of life and conversation is evil; for "the soul that sins shall die", Ezekiel 18:4, unless satisfaction is made for his sins by the blood of Christ:

of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; regard being had to what nation they belong.

Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
Romans 2:9-10. Emphatic recapitulation of Romans 2:7-8, inverting the order, and in addition, giving special prominence to the universality of the retribution. The placing the penal retribution first gives to this an aspect the more threatening and alarming, especially as the terms expressing it are now accumulated in one breath.

θλῖψις κ. στενοχωρία] Tribulation and anguish, sc[625] ἔσται. The calamity is thus described as pressing upon them from without (ΘΛῖΨΙς), and as felt inwardly with the sense of its being beyond help (ΣΤΕΝΟΧ.), Romans 8:35; 2 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 6:12; compare LXX. Isaiah 30:6; Deuteronomy 28:53.

ἘΠῚ ΠᾶΣΑΝ ΨΥΧῊΝ ἈΝΘΡ.] denotes not simply “upon every man” (so even Philippi), but “upon every soul which belongs to a man” who practises evil. The ψυχή is thereby designated as that which is affected by the ΘΛῖΨ. Κ. ΣΤΕΝΟΧ. (Acts 2:43; Matthew 26:28, al[626]); comp Winer, p. 147 [E. T. 194]. It is the part which feels the pain.[628]

πρῶτον] Quite as in Romans 1:16. The Jews, as the people of God, in possession of the revelation with its promises and threatenings, are therefore necessarily also those upon whom the retribution of judgment—not the reward merely, but also the punishment—has to find in the first instance its execution. In both aspects they have the priority based on their position in the history of salvation as the theocratic people, and that as certainly as God is impartial. “Judaei particeps Graecus,” Bengel. The Jewish conceit is counteracted in the first clause by ʼΙουδαίου τε πρῶτον, in the second by ΚΑῚ ἝΛΛΗΝΙ, and counteracted with sternly consistent earnestness. The second ΠΡῶΤΟΝ precludes our taking the first as ironical (Reiche).

εἰρήνη] welfare, by which is intended that of the Messiah’s kingdom, as in Romans 8:6. It is not materially different from the ἀφθαρσία and ΖΩῊ ΑἸΏΝΙΟς of Romans 2:7; the totality of that which had already been described in special aspects by ΔΌΞΑ and ΤΙΜΉ (comp on Romans 2:7).

Regarding the distinction between ἘΡΓΑΖ. and ΚΑΤΕΡΓΑΖ. (works and brings to pass) see on Romans 1:27.

[625] c. scilicet.

[626] l. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[628] See Ernesti, Urspr. d. Sünde, II. p. 101 ff.Romans 2:9. ὀργὴ is wrath within; θυμός wrath as it overflows. θλίψις and στενοχωρία, according to Trench, Synonyms, § 55, express very nearly the same thing, under different images: the former taking the image of pressure, the latter that of confinement in a narrow space. But to draw a distinction between them, based on etymology, would be very misleading. In both pairs of words the same idea is expressed, only intensified by the reduplication. Supply ἔσται for the changed construction. κατεργαζομένου τὸ κακόν: who works at evil and works it out or accomplishes it. The Jew is put first, because as possessor of an express law this is conspicuously true of him.9. tribulation and anguish] Both words, in Greek as well as in English, indicate the crushing and bewildering power of great grief or pain. “Anguish” is the stronger of the two; for see 2 Corinthians 4:8, where the original of “distressed” is cognate to that of “anguish” here.

It is remarkable that the antithesis here to “eternal life” is the conscious experience of the effects of Divine anger.

doeth] The Gr. is somewhat emphatic; practiseth, worketh, worketh out. A habit of sin is intended. Same word as “worketh” in next verse.

of the Jew, &c.] Lit. both of the Jew, first, and of the Greek. The phrase is as if St Paul had been writing simply “of the Jew and of the Greek,” “of Jew and Greek alike;” and then, as by a verbal parenthesis, inserted the word “first” to emphasize what was all along most in his view in the simple phrase; viz., the special accountability of the Jew. On Jew and Greek, see on Romans 1:16.Romans 2:9. Θλίψις καὶ στενοχωρία, affliction and anxiety [tribulation and anguish]. θλίψις, affliction or tribulation for the present; στενοχωρίκ, anxiety or anguish, in regard to things future; θλίψις, affliction, or tribulation, presses down; στενοχωρία, frets and harasses [œstuat et urget], Job 15:20, etc. In these words we have a proof of the avenging justice of God; for the anger of God has for its object, to teach the sinful creature, who is experiencing wrath and every species of adversity, to have himself, because in his whole conduct, he has set himself in opposition to God; and so long as the creature shrinks from this most just hatred of himself, he continues under punishment.—πᾶσαν ψυχὴν, every soul) This term adds to the universal character of the discourse, ch. Romans 13:1.—πρῶτον, first). So Psalm 94:10 : He that chastiseth the nations, shall he not correct (you among the people?). The Greek is a partaker [in the judgment] along with the Jew.Tribulation and anguish (θλῖψις καὶ στενοχωρία)

For tribulation, see on Matthew 13:21. Στενοχωρία anguish, which occurs only in Paul (Romans 8:35; 2 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 12:10), literally means narrowness of place. The dominant idea is constraint. In Deuteronomy 28:53, Deuteronomy 28:57, it describes the confinement of a siege. Trench remarks: "The fitness of this image is attested by the frequency with which, on the other hand, a state of joy is expressed in the Psalms and elsewhere, as a bringing into a large room," Psalm 118:5; 2 Samuel 22:20. Aquinas says: loetitia est latitia, joy is breadth.

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