Romans 2:15 MEANING

Romans 2:15
(15) Which.--Rather, Inasmuch as they.

The work of the law.--The practical effect or realisation of the law--written in their hearts as the original Law was written upon the tables of stone, (Comp. Jeremiah 31:33; 2 Corinthians 3:3.)

Also bearing witness.--Or, witnessing with them, as margin. There is a double witness; their actions speak for them externally, and conscience speaks for them internally.

The mean while.--Rather, literally, as margin, between themselves--i.e., with mutual interchange, the thoughts of the heart or different motions of conscience sometimes taking the part of advocate, sometimes of accuser.

This seems, on the whole, the best way of taking these two words, though some commentators (among them Meyer) regard this quasi personification of "the thoughts" as too strong a figure of speech, and take "between themselves" as referring to the mutual intercourse of man with man. But in that mutual intercourse it is not the thoughts that accuse or defend, but the tongue. The Apostle is speaking strictly of the private tribunal of conscience.

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.Which show the work of the law written in their hearts,.... Though the Gentiles had not the law in form, written on tables, or in a book, yet they had "the work", the matter, the sum and substance of it in their minds; as appears by the practices of many of them, in their external conversation. The moral law, in its purity and perfection, was written on the heart of Adam in his first creation; was sadly obliterated by his sin and fall; upon several accounts, and to answer various purposes, a system of laws was written on tables of stone for the use of the Israelites; and in regeneration the law is reinscribed on the hearts of God's people; and even among the Gentiles, and in their hearts, there are some remains of the old law and light of nature, which as by their outward conduct appears, so by the inward motions of their minds,

their conscience also bearing witness; for, as the Jews say (r) , "the soul of a man witnesses in him"; for, or against him:

and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another; and this the Heathens themselves acknowledge, when they (s) speak of

"tameion dikasthrion kai krithrion thv suneidhsewv, "the conclave, tribunal and judgment of conscience"; and which they call , "the most righteous judge": whose judgment reason receives, and gives its suffrage to, whether worthy of approbation or reproof; when it reads in the memory as if written on a table the things that are done, and then beholding the law as an exemplar, pronounces itself either worthy of honour or dishonour.''

(r) T. Bab. Chagigah, fol. 16. 1. & Taanith, fol. 11. 1.((s) Hierocles in Carmina Pythagor. p. 81, 206, 209, 213, 214.

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