Charles Hodge On Romans 2:13

VERSE 13. For not the hearers of the law. This verse is connected with the last clause of the preceding, and assigns the reason why the Jews shall be judged or punished according to the law; the mere possession or knowledge of the law would not avail, for it is not the hearers, but the doers of the law that are just before God. The expression hearers instead of readers, is explained by the fact that the law was read in the presence of the people, and by hearing rather than by reading, their knowledge of it was obtained. Comp. Matt. 5:21, John 12:34, Gal. 4:21, James 1:22. To be just before God, and to be justified, are the same thing. They are both forensic expressions, and indicate the state rather than the character of those to whom they refer. Those are just in the sight of God, or are justified, who have done what the law requires, and are regarded and treated accordingly; that is, are declared to be free from condemnation, and entitled to the favour of God. In obvious allusion to the opinion, that being a Jew was enough to secure admission to heaven, the apostle says, It is not the hearers but the doers of the law that are justified. He is not speaking of the method of justification available for sinners, as revealed in the gospel, but of the principles of justice which will be applied to all who look to the law for justification. If men rely on works, they must have works; they must be doers of the law; they must satisfy its demands, if they are to be justified by it. For God is just and impartial; he will, as a judge administering the law, judge every man, not according to his privileges, but according to his works and the knowledge of duty which he has possessed. On these principles, it is his very design to show that no flesh living can be justified.

—Charles Hodge, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, New Edition. (Grand Rapids, MI: Louis Kregel, 1882), 81–82.

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