Today’s Reading from Vigils (Romans 2:12-16)

6 July 2007

When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.

This passage struck me today during Vigils (whole reading here). I have been greatly influenced by Garry Wills’ reading of Paul, especially his emphasis that when referring to Jew and Greek/Gentile, Paul means Jewish Christians and Greek/Gentile Christians most of the time.

Yet here, in Romans, Paul seems to be saying that morally upright Gentiles, ignorant and unbound by the law, can be judged favorably (presumably, “excuse[d]”) 0r unfavorably (“accuse[d]”) depending on what their conscience bears witness.

I wonder if Paul means Gentiles in the sense of those outside of Christian community and if the “hearers/doers of the law” in this passage, presumably a reference to Jews, is a reference to Jewish Christians or non-Christian Jews or both. I’m not sure.

This whole passage (Romans 2) begins with an exhortation to not judge, because God will judge each according to his deeds, with no partiality, punishing the wicked and rewarding the good. I get the sense that, according to Paul, the punishment and reward will be meted out to Jew and Greek, both those within the Christian community and those without. If this is true (and I don’t know if it is: I have neither the Greek text in front of me or much recent instruction in this part of Romans), Paul seems to be arguing the possibility of the salvation of all. Not an Origenist or Nyssan universalist claim certainly, but a Balthasarian hope that all might be saved.

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One Response to “Today’s Reading from Vigils (Romans 2:12-16)”


  1. […] Paul meant.  Not the book, I mean this. 2 […]

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