Vincent's Word Studies
Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
General, but still with a general and slightly reproachful reference to the Jew.
With the sense of condemning.
But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
The judgment (τὸ κρῖμα)
Not the act, but the contents of the judgment.
And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?
See on 1 Peter 5:12. Intimating a process of reasoning.
Thou shalt escape
Thou emphatic, opposed to Jewish self-conceit.
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
Despisest thou (καταφρονεῖς)
The indicative mood unites a declaration with the question: "Do you despise? Aye, you do."
A favorite word with Paul to describe the quality of the divine attributes and gifts. See 2 Corinthians 8:9; Ephesians 1:7, Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 2:4, Ephesians 2:7; Ephesians 3:8, Ephesians 3:16; Philippians 4:19; Colossians 1:27.
See on easy, Matthew 11:30.
Forbearance and long-suffering (ἀνοχῆς καὶ μακροθυμίας)
Ἁνοχή forbearance, strictly a holding back. In classical Greek mostly of a truce of arms. It implies something temporary which may pass away under new conditions. Hence used in connection with the passing by of sins before Christ (Romans 3:25). "It is that forbearance or suspense of wrath, that truce with the sinner, which by no means implies that the wrath will not be executed at the last; nay, involves that it certainly will, unless he be found under new conditions of repentance and obedience" (Trench). For μακροθυμία long-suffering, see on James 5:7. This reliance on God's tolerance to suspend the rule of His administration in your case is contempt (despisest). Compare Galatians 6:7.
Not knowing (ἀγνοῶν)
In that thou dost not know. This very ignorance is contempt.
The continuous present: is leading all the while thou art despising.
But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
Treasurest up (θησαυρίζεις)
Accumulatest. Glancing back to riches.
Possibly a tinge of irony.
Wrath against the day of wrath (ὀργὴν ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ὀργῆς)
A very striking image - treasuring up wrath for one's self. Rev., better, in the day, etc. The sinner stores it away. Its forthcoming is withheld by the forbearance of God. It will break out in the day when God's righteous judgment shall be revealed.
Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
Supply He will render.
But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
Contentious (ἐξ ἐριθείας)
Rev., better, factious. Lit., of faction. See on James 3:14. Intriguers; partisan agitators.
Indignation and wrath (ὀργὴ καὶ θυμός)
See on be patient, James 5:7.
Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
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.
But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
For there is no respect of persons with God.
Respect of persons (προσωπολημψία)
Only once outside of Paul's writings, James 2:1, on which see note.
For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
Without law (ἀνόμως)
Both law in the abstract and the Mosaic law. The principle laid down is general, though apparently viewed with special reference to the law of Moses.
In the law (ἐν νόμῳ)
Rev., under law, i.e., within the sphere of. No decision as to the reference to the law of Moses or otherwise can be based on the presence or absence of the article. Νόμος law, is used both with and without the article for the Mosaic law. Cremer correctly says that "the article is usually wanting when the stress is laid, not upon the historical impress and outward form of the law, but upon the conception itself;" or, as Bishop Lightfoot, "law considered as a principle, exemplified no doubt chiefly and signally in the Mosaic law, but very much wider than this in its application."
Shall be judged (κριθήσονται)
The antithesis shall perish suggests a condemnatory judgment. There is no doubt that the simple κρίνω is used in the New Testament in the sense of condemning. See John 3:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:12; Hebrews 13:4. The change from perish to judge is suggested by by the law. "The Jews alone will be, strictly speaking, subjected to a detailed inquiry such as arises from applying the particular articles of a code" (Godet). Both classes of men shall be condemned; in both the result will be perishing, but the judgment by the law is confined to those who have the law.
(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
Like the Jews, who heard it regularly in the synagogues. Only here in Paul. Three times in James. It brings out, better than the participle οἱ ἀκούοντες those that hear, the characteristic feature; those whose business is hearing.
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:
Lit., whenever, supposing a case which may occur at any time.
Rev., properly, Gentiles. There is no article. Not the Gentiles collectively, but Gentiles among whom the supposed case occurs.
Which have not the law (τὰ μὴ νόμον ἔχοντα)
The μὴ not negatives the possession of the law. Rev., which have no law.
Having not the law (νόμον μὴ ἔχοντες)
Here μὴ not negatives the possession of the law. Rev., having no law. It is difficult to indicate the proper emphasis in the English text, since the use of italics is limited to words not in the original.
Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
Which shew (οἵτινες ἐνδείκνυνται)
Rev., better, in that they shew, the double relative specifying the class to which they belong, and therefore the reason for what precedes. Shew, properly, in themselves (ἐν).
The work of the law
The conduct corresponding to the law.
Their conscience also bearing witness (συμμαρτυρούσης αὐτῶν τῆς συνειδήσεως)
For conscience, see on 1 Peter 3:16. The force of ούν with the verb is therewith; i.e., with the prescript of the law, respecting the agreement or disagreement of the act with it. So Rev.
The meanwhile (μεταξὺ)
Rev. renders with one another. Their thoughts one with another. The phrase μεταξὺ ἀλλήλων is variously explained. Some alternately, now acquitting and now condemning. Others, among themselves, as in internal debate. So Alford, "thought against thought in inner strife." Others again, accusations or vindications carried on between Gentiles and Gentiles. As the other parts of the description refer to the individual soul in itself and not to relations with others, the explanation expressed in Rev. - the mutual relations and interchanges of the individual thoughts - seems preferable.
In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
As distinguished from false teaching Paul's assurance of the truth of the Gospel is shown in his confident assertion that it will form the standard of judgment in the great day.
Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,
But the correct reading is εἰ δὲ but if.
Thou art called (ἐπονομάζῃ)
Rev., much better, bearest the name of, bringing out the value which attached to the name Jew, the theocratic title of honor. See on Hebrews, Acts 6:1.
Restest in (ἐπαναπαύῃ)
Rev., better, upon, giving the force of ἐπί in the verb. The radical conception of the verb ἀναπαύω is relief. See Matthew 11:28. Thou restest with a blind trust in God as thy Father and protector exclusively.
And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law;
The things that are more excellent (τὰ διαφέροντα)
This may be the meaning, and it is adopted by Rev. with the proper omission of more. But it may also mean the things which differ; in which case we shall render provest instead of approvest. The sense will then be: thou dost test with nice discrimination questions of casuistry. Compare Philippians 1:10. The latter interpretation seems preferable, being borne out by the succeeding being instructed.
Being instructed (κατηχούμενος)
Systematically through catechetical and synagoguic instruction. See on Luke 1:4. This formal instruction is the basis of the critical discrimination.
And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,
An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.
Rev., corrector. Better, because emphasizing the element of discipline or training. See on chastise, Luke 23:16.
Of babes (νηπίων)
The term used by the Jews to designate proselytes or novices. Paul uses it of one not come of legal age, Galatians 4:1.
The form - in the law (μόρφωσιν)
Not mere appearance, but the scheme, the correct embodiment of the lineaments of truth and knowledge in the law.
Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?
Thou that preachest (ὁ κηρύσσων)
See on Matthew 4:17. Stealing is so gross a vice that one may openly denounce it.
Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?
The denunciation is not so pronounced. The Talmud charges the crime of adultery upon the three most illustrious Rabbins.
The verb means originally to turn away from a thing on account of the stench. See on abomination, Matthew 24:15.
Commit sacrilege (ἱεροσυλεῖς)
Rev. renders according to the etymology, ἱερόν temple, συλάω to despoil; hence rob temples. Some explain, the pillage of idol temples; others, robbing the Jewish temple by embezzlement, withholding the temple tribute, etc. The robbery of temples as practiced by the Jews is inferred from Acts 19:37. Compare Josephus, Antiq., 4:8, 10, where he lays down the law not to plunder Gentile temples, nor to seize treasure stored up there in honor of any God.
Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?
Trench remarks upon "the mournfully numerous group of words" which express the different aspects of sin. It is ἁμαρτια the missing of a mark; παράβασις the overpassing of a line; παρακοή the disobedience to a voice; παράπτωμα a falling when one should have stood; ἀγνόημα ignorance of what one should know; ἥττημα a diminishing of what should be rendered in full measure; ἀνομία or παρανομία non-observance of law; πλημμέλεια discord.
The primary sense of the preposition παρά is beside or by, with reference to a line or extended surface. Hence it indicates that which is not on its true line but beside it, either in the way of falling short or of going beyond. Thus, in the sense of going beyond, Romans 12:3, to think more highly than he ought (παρ' ὃ δεῖ), where the sense of beyond is fixed by ὑπερφρονεῖν to think beyond or over." So Luke 13:2. In the sense of falling short, Thucydides, 3, 49: "Mitylene came near such peril" (παρὰ τοσοῦτο κινδύνου), as if parallel to the danger but not touching it. Hence παραβάσις differs from the Homeric ὑπερβασία transgression, in that the latter carries only the idea of going beyond or over. A mark or line as a standard is thus implied. Transgression implies something to transgress. With the law came in the possibility off transgressing the law. "Where there is no law there is no transgression" (Romans 4:15). Hence Adam's sin is called a transgression (Romans 5:14), because it was the violation of a definite command. Paul habitually uses the word and its kindred παραβάτης transgressor, of the transgression of a commandment distinctly given (Galatians 3:19; 1 Timothy 2:14, Romans 2:25, Romans 2:27). Hence it is peculiarly appropriate here of one who boasts in the law. It thus differs from ἁμαρτία sin (see on sins, Matthew 1:21), in that one may sin without being under express law. See Romans 5. Sin (ἁμαρτία) was in the world until the law; i.e. during the period prior to the law. Death reigned from Adam to Moses over those who had not sinned (ἁμαρτήσαντας) after the similitude of Adam's transgression (παραβάσεως). The sin is implicit, the transgression explicit.
For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.
For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.
Breaker of the law (παραβάτης)
Rev., transgressor. See on James 2:11.
Thy circumcision is made uncircumcision
"But if any citizen be found guilty of any great or unmentionable wrong, either in relation to the gods, or his parents, or the state, let the judge deem him to be incurable, remembering what an education and training he has had from youth upward, and yet has not abstained from the greatest of crimes" (Plato, "Laws," 854).
Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?
And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?
For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
Possibly in allusion to the etymological meaning of Jew, the praised one. Compare Genesis 49:8. The word here means the holy satisfaction of God as opposed to Jewish vain-glory.