Exegesis On Romans 2:14-15 – Part 4

Cranfield defies tradition and suggests that nature should be taken with what precedes. This would give the verse the following meaning; gentiles who do not possess the law by virtue of birth.

Romans 11:24 says For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree. Nature here refers to gentile descent. Galatians 2:15 We ourselves are Jews by nature and not gentile sinners. Again, nature is used to denote physical descent. Ephesians 2:3 says And we were by nature children of wrath… and Romans 2:27 says Then those who are by nature uncircumcised. Paul obviously used this word, at least at times,  in a physical and historical sense.

This fits into the argument of chapter 2 better. It is not the having or the hearing of the law that is important – it is the doing of the law. V10 has already established that a Greek / Gentile can be justified and saved by doing good. However, Paul is clear throughout chapters 4 & 5 that we are justified by faith alone, not by human effort. Hence this promise of salvation to those who do good, and who do not have the law cannot contradict with Romans 4 & 5. If these gentiles were not Christians, and they were doing what the law required why are they not saved? Paul is referring to gentile Christians who by their conversion have ‘done the law.’ Romans 13:8 says for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law and Galatians 6:2 bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. The concept that Christians fulfill the law is certainly in Pauline writings. Hence a Christian can say they have done what the law requires through the grace and sacrifice that is in Christ.


2 thoughts on “Exegesis On Romans 2:14-15 – Part 4

  1. Perhaps this post glosses over the reality that faith and true charitable works come from God. Faith and works should not be set in opposition to each other. Faith must have an implementation or manifestation in the physical world since we are corporeal bodies, not spirits. That manifestation is in works. Works cannot precede grace, but nor can faith.


    • Thanks for the comment – which I do agree with. But unfortunately you have come in part way through the conversation, so to speak. I have simply been posting part of an exegetical paper which is looking at 2 verses of Romans 2. As I am sure you know, exegesis means you focus into small areas for study and this post was part 4 of a series. Of course faith and works should never be set in opposition to one another. But part of this paper is exploring v14-15 of Romans 2, which comes straight after the Apostle Paul’s words: “those who DO the law will be declared righteous.” What does this mean? How does it fit in v14-15.

      So, I agree with you – but I think this is a good comment, but on the wrong post!


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