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Rom2

Page history last edited by Andrew C Bain 13 years, 5 months ago
DID UNBELIEVING GENTILES "DO BY NATURE THE LAW"?

===Romans 2:14 "Whenever [hotan] nations not having Law do by nature the things of the Law..."===

The lexicon says:

hotan  hot'-an:  whenever (implying hypothesis or more or less uncertainty); also causatively (conjunctionally) inasmuch as -- as long (soon) as, that, + till, when(-soever), while.

Could Romans 2:14 be hypothetical? Whenever a Gentile obeyed the Law by nature he would show that he has it written on his heart. But this doesn't necessarily mean that any Gentile "by nature" has obeyed the Law. It's hypothetical.

Young's translation of verse 15 is interesting:

==="[Gentiles] who do shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also witnessing with them, and between one another the thoughts accusing or else DEFENDING [apologeomai],"===For there is no respect of persons with God. ===

apologeomai  ap-ol-og-eh'-om-ahee :  to give an account (legal plea) of oneself, i.e. exculpate (self) -- answer (for self), make defence, excuse (self), speak for self.

So the Gentiles that obey the Law have it written on their hearts. And this Law both convicts them of sin and defends or vindicates their actions when they obey it.

After all, what is the context of Paul's whole argument? Is Paul trying to prove that unregenerate Gentiles naturally obey the Law? Of course not. That's the last thing he would want to do.

Paul seems to be be arguing for the equality of Jews and Gentiles before the Law.

===Romans 2:11

And then in verse 12 Paul says that it doesn't matter whether someone had the Mosaic Law or the Law of the nations. Either way they are condemned for breaking it.

===Romans 2:12 For as many as sinned without Law will also perish without Law. And as many as sinned within Law will be judged through Law.===

So Paul is concluding the negative part of his argument. All who sin within the Law they have, will perish in it.

But in verse 13 Paul changes his the direction of his argument. He is still arguing for Jewish-Gentile equality before the Law. But now it becomes positive. If someone obeys the whole Law they will be justified.

===13 For not the hearers of the Law are just with God, but the doers of the Law shall be justified.===

A lot of Jews during Paul's dad thought that because they were Jewish -- "hearers of the Law" -- they would be justified.

Paul smashes to pieces any hopes of them being saved by their Jewishness. You must in fact do the Law -- obey it perfectly -- in order to be justified.

Paul now emphasises the point in verse 14. Can you believe it ? He is about to tell these proud racist Jews that if a Gentile perfectly obeyed the Law of the nations, then that Gentile would be justified. Wow. These two verses would have shocked some Jews.

=="Whenever [hotan] nations not having Law do by nature the things of the Law, they not having Law are a law to themselves, who show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience witnessing with them, and the thoughts between one another accusing or even defending [apologeomai]"===So any Gentiles that obey the Law "by nature" have it written on their hearts. And this Law both convicts them of sin and defends or vindicates their actions when they obey it.===But this shall be the covenant that I will cut with the house of Israel: After those days, declares Jehovah, I will PUT MY LAW IN THEIR INWARD PARTS, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. (Jeremiah 31:33)===PART II: THE NATIONS HEARD ABOUT GOD

Of course this is completely hypothetical. Since all Gentiles were born with Adam's sin imputed to them, they could NOT obey the Law "by nature."

In the same way, there was never a Jewish "doer of the Law" by nature. The whole thrusts of Paul's argument in Romans 1 and 2 is that ALL Gentiles and Jews naturally DISOBEY God's Laws. Elsewhere he says the unregenerate "have their consciences seared as with a hot iron." Furthermore, the Bible says "they call God evil and evil God." Even Paul home-schooled in the Torah didn't realise that murdering Christians was wrong. "Being IGNORANT, I did it in unbelief."

This means that only the regenerate have God's Law written on their hears.

Romans 1:32 says that the Gentiles knew that murderers and evildoers are worthy of death ("those practicing such things are worthy of death")

 

Here, Paul is saying that the Gentiles knew about the truth of capital punishment.

Now, can you know the truth about capital punishment from looking at creation? Of course not. The sky says nothing about capital punishment, does it?

Instead, could the truth of capital punishment have been handed down from generation to generation? Could God have maintained his witness among the Gentiles by WORD OF MOUTH ?

That is how they knew about captial punishment, right? Couldn't all revelation about God have been maintained by word of mouth too? That's how God revealed himself to the Babylonians -- by the words of Daniel. And to the Egyptians by the words of Joseph. And to those at Nineveh -- by the words of Jonah. The list could go on and on.

Indeed, when Bildad was arguing with Job about the nature of God, he appeals to a knowledge of God handed down from generation to generation.

"Does the Almighty pervert the right? ... For now ask of the former generation, and prepare to the search of their fathers; ... SHALL THEY NOT TEACH YOU, speak to you, and bring forth words out of their heart?" (Job 8:3,8,10)

Bildad is saying that the former generations would teach them about God, and speak to them about God. So God maintained a witness among the Gentiles where Bildad and Job lived by causing the knowledge of Himself to be handed down from generation to generation. This is why Numbers 14:15 says the nations "HEARD" about the fame of Jehovah. Revelation comes by WORD OF MOUTH. For the name of God is blasphemed among the nations" because of Israel. So the nations heard about Jehovah because of Israel. Indeed, throughout the Old Testament Israel is referred to as God's "WITNESS" to the nations. Deuteronomy 29:24Daniel 6:25"And Jehovah shall scatter you among the peoples" ( Deuteronomy 4:27). The nations have ... heard Your fame" (Numbers 14:15)

The Apostle Paul says "

Many passages say that ALL nations have HEARD about Jehovah.

" And ALL THE NATIONS shall say, Why has Jehovah done this to this land? For what is the heat of this great anger?"

"King Darius wrote to ALL THE PEOPLES, the nations, and the languages who were LIVING IN ALL THE EARTH ... 'there shall be trembling and fear before the God of Daniel ...." 

Also, Jews went throughout ALL the world taking the knowledge of God with them,

"I will shake the HOUSE OF ISRAEL AMONG ALL THE NATIONS, as one shakes with a sieve; yet not a grain shall fall to the ground." (Amos 9:9). " And Jehovah shall scatter you among all people, from one end of the earth even to the other," (Deuteronomy 28:64).

Thus Solomon could say,

"For ALL the peoples of the earth know that Jehovah, He is God; there is no other." (1 Kings 8:60).

So the Gentiles were condemned for their disobedience -- they heard truth but did not obey it -- and God was Just in punishing them for their personal sins.

"

CONCLUSION

The nations HEARD about God, they did NOT know him innately.

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