Haldane: Romans 2:13 Is Law, Not Gospel

As for the last of them, which answers first in this 13th verse, he says that it is not sufficient for justification before God to have received the law, and simply to be hearers of it; but that must be observed and reduced to practice. This is incontestable truth. For the law has not been given as a matter of curiosity or contemplation as a philosophical science, but to be obeyed; and the greatest outrage against the law and the Legislator, is to hear it and not to take heed practice it. It will be in vain, therefore, for the Jew to say, I am a hearer of the law, I attend on its services, I belong to the covenant of God, who has given me his testimonies. On all these accounts, being a transgressor, as he is, he must be condemned. The presence of the article before the word law in both the clauses of this verse, which is wanting in the preceding verse, shows that the reference is to the Jews under the written law.

The doers of the law shall be justified—By this we must understand an exact obedience to the law to be intended, which can defend itself against that declaration, ‘Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.’ For it is not the same with the judgement of the law as with that of grace. The Gospel indeed requires of us a perfect obedience to its commands, yet it not only provides for believers’ pardon of the sins committed before their calling, but of those also which they afterwards commit. But the judgment of the law admits of no indulgence to those who are under it; it demands a full land perfect personal observance of all its requirements—a patient continuance in well-doing, without the least deviation, or the smallest spect of sin; and when it does not find this state of perfection, condemns the man.

Robert Haldane | Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans. A Geneva Series Commentary (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth, repr. 1996), 89 (On Romans 2:13).


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