The Role The Law Does Or Does Not Play In The Condemnation Of Gentiles In Rom 2:12–15 -- By: Bryan Blazosky

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 59:1 (Mar 2016)
Article: The Role The Law Does Or Does Not Play In The Condemnation Of Gentiles In Rom 2:12–15
Author: Bryan Blazosky


The Role The Law Does Or Does Not Play In
The Condemnation Of Gentiles In Rom 2:12–15

Bryan Blazosky*

* Bryan Blazosky is a Ph.D. student in NT at Ridley College, 170 The Avenue, Parkville, VIC, Australia, 3052.

Abstract: While much has been written on the Mosaic law’s relationship to believing Gentiles, less attention has been given to what role the law may have in the condemnation of unbelieving Gentiles. Some texts appear to affirm that the law condemns all humanity. Yet Rom 2:12–15 seems to suggest that the Mosaic law will have no role in condemning Gentile sinners. Those who have sinned ἀνόμως perish ἀνόμως. Essential to this question is the ongoing debate concerning the identity of the Gentiles in 2:14–15, who, though not having the law, do the law. Authors such as Kuhr, Moo, Schreiner, and Witherington see these Gentiles as unbelievers, while authors such as Flückiger, Jewett, Wright, Gathercole, and Cranfield see them as new covenant believers. Because of such focus on the identity of those described in 2:14–15, less attention is given to what Paul says about the role νόμος plays at the judgment. Thus, while we argue that Paul describes unbelievers in 2:14–15, our focus is on whether the law will factor into the final judgment of Gentiles. It is our contention that, although Paul initially asserts a categorical distinction between how God will judge Jews and Gentiles in regard to the law (2:12), he immediately minimizes and virtually nullifies this very distinction (2:14–15). The degree to which νόμος functions as a criterion for judgment differs between Jews and Gentiles (2:12); but νόμος will nonetheless stand as a witness, alongside conscience, condemning Jew and Gentile for failure to keep its righteous requirements.

Key Words: Law, Paul, condemnation, Gentiles, Romans, judgment.

In Rom 1:18–3:20, Paul writes the lengthiest sustained explanation of the condemnation of humanity in Scripture. This section begins with the revelation of the wrath of God upon all ungodliness and unrighteousness (1:18), and it concludes with a litany of citations from the OT asserting that humanity is both unri...

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