What does Romans 2:10 mean?
ESV: but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.
NIV: but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
NASB: but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who does what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
CSB: but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does what is good, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.
NLT: But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good — for the Jew first and also for the Gentile.
KJV: But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
Paul restates something similar to what he wrote in verse 7. God is completely fair and impartial with humanity. He will judge each person according to that person's own works, not the works of family, or their community, or their nation. If a person were able to lead a life full of ongoing unselfish good works, God would reward that person with glory and honor and peace. Verse 7 went further: God would give them eternal life. Of course, as Paul will show later, that kind of perfection is not possible for sinful mankind (Romans 3:23).
Paul writes again that this reward would be given first to the Jewish people and then to the Greeks—here meaning the same thing as Gentiles, or non-Jews. In other words, it's the same for all, no matter of race or nationality. Paul will show in the following chapter that none of us are able lead such a life. We simply cannot, do not, "do good." Instead, every last one of us, by nature, turns away from God and becomes worthless (Romans 3:12).
So what hope do we have? That's why Paul is writing this letter. He will show that our only hope of receiving eternal life, along with glory and honor and peace, is through faith in Christ. We have no hope through our own ability to do good.
Romans 2:1–11 springs a trap, of sorts, for every reader who thought that Paul's devastating list of sins at the end of Romans 1 was about other people. In truth, everyone is guilty of sin. Those who judge others are guilty, also, of hypocrisy. Nobody will escape God's judgment for personal sin, including religious Jews and Gentiles. God will absolutely judge each person according to what he or she has done. If someone has lived sinlessly, doing only good, he will receive rewards and eternal life. If not, he deserves wrath and fury. This point sets up Paul's explanation of how we can, in fact, obtain salvation: by grace through faith.
Romans 2 springs a trap on any religious person who read Paul's lists of sins at the end of Romans 1 and thought it wasn't about them. Paul calls them out for making themselves judges when they are also guilty. He shows that God will judge everyone, including those under the law, based on their works. This prefaces this letter's theme of salvation by grace, through faith, rather than by works. Many benefits come with having the law, but only if those under the law keep it. Jewishness—circumcision—must be an inner state, not just an outer one. Paul will show in the following chapter that none of us really meets those conditions.
Having just concluded a list of terrible sins humanity indulges in as a result of rejecting God, Paul turns to religious people and says, ''This applies to you, too.'' Nobody can judge arrogantly, because we are all guilty. Even God's people the Jews will stand before Him in judgment based on their works. Having the law only matters if someone can keep the law. Paul asks his Jewish readers why they don't and shows that they must be Jewish and circumcised in their hearts for it to matter. In the following chapter, he will show that nobody can keep the law.
The book of Romans is the New Testament's longest, most structured, and most detailed description of Christian theology. Paul lays out the core of the gospel message: salvation by grace alone through faith alone. His intent is to explain the good news of Jesus Christ in accurate and clear terms. As part of this effort, Paul addresses the conflicts between law and grace, between Jews and Gentiles, and between sin and righteousness. As is common in his writing, Paul closes out his letter with a series of practical applications.
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