Romans 2:14 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Romans 2:14, NIV: "(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law."

Romans 2:14, ESV: "For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law."

Romans 2:14, KJV: "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:"

Romans 2:14, NASB: "For when Gentiles who do not have the Law instinctively perform the requirements of the Law, these, though not having the Law, are a law to themselves,"

Romans 2:14, NLT: "Even Gentiles, who do not have God's written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it."

Romans 2:14, CSB: "So, when Gentiles, who do not by nature have the law, do what the law demands, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the law."

What does Romans 2:14 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Some translations put parentheses around Romans 2:14–15, showing that Paul might be making a related side point with these two verses. In the previous verse, Paul argued that Jewish people living under the law did not become righteous before God merely by hearing the Law read. They had to keep the law, and keep it perfectly, in order to be truly righteous.

Speaking of obeying the law, Paul mentions that some non-Jewish people—Gentiles—end up keeping parts of the law "by nature," even though they are not required to do so by God. In other words, the human conscience sometimes prompts people to "do the right thing" even without having a written law to tell them to do it. This parallels Paul's point from earlier in this letter that God makes certain things obvious to all people (Romans 1:18–20). In this way, those Gentiles allow their consciences to become a kind of law for them to follow. They might not even know what is included in the written books of the Law given to the Israelites.

Notice that in this and the following verse, Paul is not suggesting that a Gentile who lives by his conscience will be declared righteous by God. His point, as implied here, is only that such a person is following some kind of minimum standard for right and wrong.