Romans 2

Romans 2:1 wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things

Spencer J. Condie

"Joseph Smith assured the Saints, 'I do not dwell upon your faults, and you shall not upon mine. Charity, which is love, covereth a multitude of sins, and I have often covered up all the faults among you; but the prettiest thing is to have no faults at all. We should cultivate a meek, quiet and peaceable spirit.' In admonishing the Saints to cover each other's sins, he did not indicate that we should 'call evil good,' rather he was advocating that the Saints look for the good in others and refrain from continual criticism.

"The Savior's statement in the Sermon on the Mount is good medicine for all of us: 'Judge not, that ye be not judged.' He further asks us: 'And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?' (Matt. 7:1, 3.) In this same vein, the Apostle Paul wrote the Romans in unmistakable terms that 'wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things' (Rom. 2:1). In short, our criticisms of others are generally a reflection of our own weaknesses with which we, ourselves, are currently struggling." (In Perfect Balance [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1993], 217.)

Spencer W. Kimball

"Our vision is completely obscured when we have no mirror to hold up to our own faults and look only for the foibles of others. When we follow the instructions of the Lord, we are kept so busy perfecting ourselves that we come to realize that the faults of others are small in comparison. We should establish the delightful habit, then, of minimizing the weaknesses of others and thus increase our own virtues.

"He who will not forgive others breaks down the bridge over which he himself must travel." (The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], 269)

Romans 2:2 we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth

"If the Lord uses his own criteria for judging, we are assured of a just and merciful judgment. (Ps. 103:8; John 5:30.) Are we confident enough with the criteria we use in judging others that we are willing to have the Lord judge us by our criteria rather than his? Do we want him to judge us in the same way we judge others? If not, then perhaps we should be hesitant to criticize and condemn others." (Kenneth L. Higbee, "Judge Not," Ensign, Sept. 1973, 12)

Romans 2:4 the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance

"In his letter to the Romans, Paul speaks of the 'goodness of God' that 'leadeth thee to repentance.' (Rom. 2:4.) What does he mean? He means that when we become vividly aware of God's tender goodness, our hearts are mellowed to 'Godly sorrow for sin'" ("Aspects of the Atonement" by Nephi Jensen, Improvement Era, 1923, Vol. Xxvi. October, 1923. No. 12. .)

James E. Talmage

"Repentance is a means of pardon and is therefore one of God's great gifts to man. It is not to be had for the careless asking; it may not be found upon the highway; nevertheless it is given with boundless liberality unto those who have brought forth works that warrant its bestowal. That is to say, all who prepare themselves for repentance will be led by the humbling and softening influence of the Holy Spirit to the actual possession of this great gift...Paul also, in writing to the Romans, teaches that repentance comes through the goodness of God." (Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], 103.)

Romans 2:6 God will render to every man according to his deeds

Spencer W. Kimball

"On highway signs and from sectarian pulpits, we are told: 'For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.' (Ephesians 2:8-9.) ... This above verse, together with other isolated ones taken out of context, are interpreted by many to mean that personal religious activity and works are unnecessary and that all men need do is to believe in the name of Christ....

"He said: 'Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.' (Matthew 7:21.)

"To receive so great a reward by merely believing is unthinkable. We pay a price for everything commensurate with its value. Paul points out throughout his epistles that to enjoy the greater blessings of eternal life there was much work to do...

"Paul told the Romans that Christ '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.' (Romans 2:6-7.)

"There is no doubt. Intellectual assent will no more exalt mortal men than it will the evil spirits. The acknowledgment and confession of the divinity of Christ in itself is insufficient to bring the great eternal gift of exaltation.

"And John the Revelator made it clear that, at the bar of God, men will be judged according to their works.

"The truth in the matter is understandable to all who will search and read and pray and open their hearts." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 68-70.)

Spencer W. Kimball

"Few, if any, have understood these matters (grace and works) better than the Apostle Paul... Throughout his writings he stresses the importance of deeds of righteousness. He preaches against sin of any kind, urging repentance and indicating that forgiveness is a necessary element of salvation. He declares in his Epistle to the Romans that 'the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ... unrighteousness of men.' (Rom. 1:18.) He not only condemns all evil things but promises that God 'will render to every man according to his deeds.' (Rom. 2:6.) He promises eternal life to those 'who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality.' (Rom. 2:7.) He emphasizes, 'For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.' (Rom. 2:13.) And as discussed previously in this book, he points out specific sins in considerable number and calls on men to repent of them." (The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], 208)

Romans 2:7 patient continuance in well doing

Angel Abrea

"Patience must be our constant companion during the journey which carries us toward that great goal, 'Continue in patience until ye are perfected,' the counsel the Lord gave to the elders of the Church. (D&C 67:13.)

"It should be made clear that we are not talking here about a passive patience which waits only for the passing of time to heal or resolve things which happen to us, but rather a patience that is active, which makes things happen. Such was the patience Paul described in his epistle to the Romans when he used the words 'by patient continuance in well doing.' (Rom. 2:7.)" ("Patience in Affliction," Ensign, May 1992, 26)

Neal A. Maxwell

"Once we have become grounded, rooted, established, and settled, the concluding quality needed is to endure well to the end. Clearly this is much more than merely surviving over the months and the years of life: 'And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.' (D&C 121:8. Italics added.)

"Patient perseverance in Christian service is part of this final challenge: 'To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life.' (Romans 2:7.) Commandment keeping, serving well, letting 'all these things' tutor us and give us that experience which is for our good-these are things that should continue to the end. We do not, therefore, merely go on living in the world-we overcome it: 'He that is faithful and endureth shall overcome the world.' (D&C 63:47.)" (We Will Prove Them Herewith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 114.)

Hugh B. Brown

"The gospel of Jesus Christ is not only a theory to be believed, a creed to be recited, or a set of rules of conduct to be adopted. It is a goal to be achieved by 'patient continuance in well doing.' (Rom. 2:7-8.) Christ is more than a theological dogma. He is a moral ideal. He was what he taught, and he asked that we show our love for him and our testimony of him by keeping his commandments. In other words, by being, not seeming.

"The very essence of Mormonism is practical and active morals. In our articles of faith we say, 'We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, etc.' Merely repeating the words or giving intellectual assent to the idea of honesty, virtue, etc., will never save a man.

"Bringing one's life into harmony with God's laws is prerequisite..." (Continuing the Quest [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1961], 277.)

Romans 2:11 For there is no respect of persons with God

The fact that God is not respecter of persons means that he loves you as much as he loves the Bishop, the Relief Society President, the Stake President, or the General Authorities. It means that God loves those outside the church as much as those inside the church. He does not play favorites. Nobody is given special privileges. In seeking God's grace, nobody is allowed to cut in line. No one gets back stage passes. Through the justice of God, the benefits of salvation are equally available to all people in spite of race, creed, education, etc. Nephi wrote, 'he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile' (2 Ne. 26:33)

Spencer W. Kimball

"The scriptures and the prophets have taught us clearly that God, who is perfect in his attribute of justice, is no respecter of persons. (Acts 10:34.) We know also that God is perfect in his love for each and all of us as his spirit children. When we know these truths, my sisters and associates in this divine cause, it should help us greatly as we all experience much less than perfect love and perfect justice in the world. If, in the short term, we are sometimes dealt with insensitively and thoughtlessly by others, by imperfect men and women, it may still cause us pain, but such pain and disappointment are not the whole of life. The ways of the world will not prevail, for the ways of God will triumph.

"We had full equality as his spirit children. We have equality as recipients of God's perfected love for each of us." (My Beloved Sisters, p. 35.)

Romans 2:12 as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law

It is impossible to sin without the law. Sin is defined as violation of God's law. As Jacob taught, 'where there is no law given there is no punishment; and where there is no punishment there is no condemnation; and where there is no condemnation the mercies of the Holy One of Israel have claim upon them' (2 Ne 9:25). When Paul says that those who 'have sinned without law shall also perish without law,' he is explaining what happens to those Gentiles who the judgmental Jews in Rome considered to be sinners. The judgmental Jews (see v. 17-20) scorned those Gentiles who did not do as they did. Paul calls them sinners for their benefit, explaining that they who lived without the law will die (or perish) without the law.

What Paul doesn't explain is the eternal reward of those who have no law given to them. Their reward is much greater than those who violate the law. Mormon explained, 'they that are without the law [are alive in Christ]. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent' (Moro 8:22). For the most part, they will receive a terrestrial glory (DC 76:72) and come forth in the afternoon of the first resurrection, 'then shall the heathen nations be redeemed, and they that knew no law shall have part in the first resurrection; and it shall be tolerable for them' (DC 45:54).

Joseph Smith

"[God] will judge them 'not according to what they have not, but according to what they have' [2 Cor. 8:12]. Those who have lived without law will be judged without law, and those who have a law will be judged by that law. We need not doubt the wisdom and intelligence of the great Jehovah. He will award judgment or mercy to all nations according to their several deserts, their means of obtaining intelligence, the laws by which they are governed, the facilities afforded them of obtaining correct information, and his inscrutable designs in relation to the human family. And when the designs of God shall be made manifest and the curtain of futurity be withdrawn, we shall all of us eventually have to confess that the Judge of all the earth has done right. . . .

"To say that the heathen would be damned because they did not believe the gospel would be preposterous. And to say that the Jews would all be damned that do not believe in Jesus would be equally absurd. For 'how can they believe on him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can he preach except he be sent?' [Rom. 10:14-15]. Consequently, neither Jew nor heathen can be culpable for rejecting the conflicting opinions of sectarianism, nor for rejecting any testimony but that which is sent of God, for as the preacher cannot preach except he be sent, so the hearer cannot believe [except] he hear a sent preacher. And [he] cannot be condemned for what he has not heard, and being without law [he] will have to be judged without law." (Kent P. Jackson, comp. and ed., Joseph Smith's Commentary on the Bible [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 154 - 155.)

Romans 2:12 as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law

Paul is explaining that the Jews who violate the law will be worse off than the Gentiles who were never given the law. Again we turn to the teachings of Jacob, 'but wo unto him that has the law given, yea, that has all the commandments of God, like unto us, and that transgresseth them...for awful is his state!' (2 Ne 9:27) "Paul argues that the Jew who violated this moral law was inferior to the Gentile who kept his covenant of conscience by his righteous actions." (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 175.)

Romans 2:13 the doers of the law shall be justified

We should clarify that it is impossible for the doers of the law to be justified on their own merits. To be justified means to be right with the law, to be found in complete conformity with all aspects of the law. Hence, the 'doers of the law shall be justified' by their own merits only if they keep the law perfectly. What if you keep 90% of the law? Are you justified? What about 95%? Is that good enough? What if you keep 99% of the law? Will that save you? James taught, 'whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all' (James 2:10). Therefore, even if you keep 99.9% of the law, you are still a transgressor and come short of the glory of God. Such an individual is 'exposed to the whole law [and] the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption' (Alma 34:16). It is this exercise of faith which brings about the power of Christ's atonement. Hence, Paul taught that 'the just shall live by faith' (Rom. 1:17). If they live by the law or if they live by the merits of their own obedience, they will unavoidably perish. Justification is only possible 'in the name of our Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God' (1 Cor. 6:11).

"To be justified by God is to be made clean in spite of one's inability to repay the Master, to be made innocent in spite of one's lack of moral perfection. It is to be acquitted from sin through one's faith in Christ, faith which manifests itself in the works of righteousness (see Romans 2:6-7, 13; Galatians 5:6; Titus 3:8, 14). The Lord Jesus compensates for the chasm between man's simple strivings and God's immutable standards of perfection, between where a man really is and where he must eventually be." (Selected Writings of Robert L. Millet: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2000], 518.)

Yet, Paul's point is that the doers of the law are the ones who have faith sufficient to bring about justification. The hearers pretend to have such faith but are not worthy of the Lord's saving grace. They don't have real faith. Real faith produces action. It inspires one to keep the law, to do one's best, to be a "doer." Hence, the doers of the law shall be justified, not by their obedience, but by their faith-not by their own merits, but through 'the merits of Him who is mighty to save' (2 Ne. 31:19).

Howard W. Hunter

"'But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only.' (James 1:22) The value of participating in church services, according to James, is realized when the word heard becomes the word in action. If anyone considers himself to be a devout worshiper without carrying over into his daily living the truths he has heard, his worship is as useless as a glance in a mirror, which is straightway forgotten.

"'Honorary' membership in inherited tradition!

"The apostle Paul made a statement that is somewhat similar. He referred to the requirements of the law in his letter to the saints in Rome in these words: 'For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.' (Rom. 2:13.) In other words, it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous but the doers of the law. Paul's remarks are aimed at those who live under the guise of the mistaken notion that an honorary membership in an inherited religious tradition will constitute them believers entitled to blessings. They pay only lip service but are not doers of the law.

"In referring to the parable of the two houses, Luke records the statement of Jesus concerning lip service:

'And why call me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.' (Luke 6:46-49.)"
(Conference Report, October 1967, First Day-Morning Meeting 12.)

Romans 2:14 the by nature the things contained in the law...their conscience also bearing witness

How is it possible that the Gentiles could 'do by nature the things contained in the law'? How could they do the right thing without ever being taught the right? Isn't it by the light of Christ? Certainly, it is the light of Christ which writes the law in their hearts. Certainly, it is the light of Christ which is the light of their conscience. Certainly, it is the light of Christ which inspires them to 'do by nature the things contained in the law' even before they had been taught.

LeGrand Richards

"It will thus be seen that even where the law is not given and understood, that through this light 'which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,' that all men have 'the law written in their hearts,' and that their consciences bear witness of right and wrong...'.'For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.' (Moroni 7:16.)" (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, pp. 108-11.)

Romans 2:16 God shall judge the secrets of men

Dallin H. Oaks

"If we refrain from evil acts, we have clean hands. If we refrain from forbidden thoughts, we have pure hearts. Those who would ascend and stand in the ultimate holy place must have both.

"In the second chapter of Romans, the Apostle Paul teaches to the same effect. He explains that God will 'judge the secrets of men' (Rom. 2:16) 'according to truth' (Rom. 2:2). He contrasts the position of the Gentiles who do not have the Mosaic law but by their actions 'shew the work of the law written in their hearts' (Rom. 2:15) with those Jews who preach the law and then do not practice it. The Apostle Paul then concludes with these profound truths:

'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.' (Rom. 2:28-29.)

"What do these teachings about feelings and desires mean for each of us?

"Are we sure to be guiltless under the law of God if we merely refrain from evil acts? What if we entertain evil thoughts and desires?

"Will hateful feelings go unnoticed in the day of judgment? Will envy? Will covetousness?

"Are we guiltless if we engage in business practices that are intended to deceive, even if they involve no act punishable by law?

"Are we guiltless under the law of God just because the law of man provides no legal remedy for our victim?

"Are we eligible for blessings if we seem to seek the things of God, such as by preaching or publishing the gospel message, but do so to obtain riches or honor rather than with an eye single to his glory?

"Our answers to such questions illustrate what we might call the bad news, that we can sin without overt acts, merely by our feelings and the desires of our hearts.

"There is also good news. Under the law of God, we can be rewarded for righteousness even where we are unable to perform the acts that are usually associated with such blessings." ("The Desires of Our Hearts," Ensign, June 1986, 66)

Romans 2:17-23 Paul Paraphrased

Paul is speaking to the Jewish segment of the Church. Some of them mean well, while others insist that the gospel of Christ be lived in the same rigorous, rule-oriented fashion as they had lived the Law of Moses. Their traditions of religious superiority were pervasive and destructive. Paul is trying to be nice as he corrects them. He uses diplomatic language, but what he really means is, "You Jews are so proud of the Law of Moses; you think you are so great. You are just sure that you are wise while everyone else is foolish. You are just sure that you are going to be saved while all the Gentiles will be thrust down to hell. You are so happy to set yourselves up as guides to the blind and as teachers of infidels. Yet your pride and your hypocrisy are an offense to God."

Romans 2:21-22 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? Thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?

Thomas S. Monson

"'A teacher,' as Henry Brook Adam's observed, 'affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.' This truth pertains to each of our teachers: first, the teacher in the home; second, the teacher in the school; third, the teacher in the Church....let us turn to the teacher we usually meet on Sunday-the teacher in the Church. In such a setting, the history of the past, the hope of the present, and the promise of the future all meet. Here especially, the teacher learns it is easy to be a pharisee, difficult to be a disciple. The teacher is judged by his students-not alone by what and how he teaches, but also by how he lives.

"The apostle Paul counseled the Romans: 'Thou . . . which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery?' (Rom. 2:21-22.)" (Conference Report, April 1970, Afternoon Meeting 97-98.)

Romans 2:25 if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision

Gerald N. Lund

" was not circumcision itself but what it stood for that gave it its greatest significance. In many places the Lord speaks of the true circumcision as being that of the heart or, in other words, loving God and being obedient to the Spirit. The 'uncircumcised of heart' are the wicked, proud, and rebellious (see Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Jer. 4:4; Ezek. 44:7; Acts 7:51; Rom. 2:25-29; Col. 2:11). Though a person may have the token of circumcision in the flesh, unless he is righteous the covenant is invalidated and the circumcision becomes profitless. Thus, circumcision was only a sign or token of what needed to happen to the inward man. If the inward change had not taken place, then circumcision was virtually meaningless. Following the atonement of Christ, the token of circumcision was no longer required of God's covenant people since it was replaced by baptism, the symbol of Christ's own death and resurrection (see Jer. 9:25-26; Acts 15:22-29; 1 Cor. 7:19; Gal. 5:1-6; 6:12-15; Phil. 3:3-4)." (Neal A. Lambert, ed., Literature of Belief: Sacred Scripture and Religious Experience [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1981], 43 - 44.)

Romans 2:26 Paul Paraphrased

"Therefore, if the Gentiles keep the law by the light of Christ, shouldn't they be considered clean even though they are uncircumcised?"

Romans 2:28-29 he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly...But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly

Dallin H. Oaks

"'...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.' (Romans 2:28-29.)

"To paraphrase, a person is a true Latter-day Saint if he (or she) is so inwardly, if his conversion is that of the heart, in the spirit, whose praise is not from men for outward acts but from God for the inward desires of his heart.

"As we seek to determine whether we have become true Latter-day Saints-inwardly as well as outwardly-it soon becomes apparent that the critical element is progress, not longevity. The question is not how much time we have logged, but how far we have progressed toward perfection. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell has said, 'Life is not lineal, but experiential, not chronological, but developmental' (Ensign, December 1986, p. 23). The issue is not what we have done but what we have become. And what we have become is the result of more than our actions. It is also the result of our attitudes, our motives, and our desires. Each of these is an ingredient of the pure heart.

"Some persons achieve great progress toward perfection with just a few of life's experiences. Others seem to pass through the same experiences again and again and yet remain relatively unchanged by them. The contrast is suggestive of the difference between the status of one person with four years' experience and another person with one year's experience repeated twenty times. The question is not longevity but growth. Growth is not measured by a clock or an odometer but by what has happened in the heart." (Pure in Heart [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 138.)