Romans 2:1-16

Jul 20, 2008


There is much that has and could be said about this passage, but much of that is better saved for the commentaries.  The outline above should say a good portion about the structure.  The little space in the left hand column only allows so much, but it is good enough to orient anyone interested in further study.  Although the center of the overall chiasm is the easiest to spot (B & B’ is its own chiastic structure in v.6-11), it is interesting how much light is also shed on God’s judgment by the A & A’ material that surrounds that center.  Aside from the general parallels on the judgment theme, there are specific thematic parallels such as between “the secrets of men” v 16 contrasted with “the truth” v 2 and “revelation” v 5.  Note also the references to outcomes such as “wrath” v 5 and  “perish” v 12, plus “justified” in v 13.  Need I  mention the obvious (that my labels are not perfect and so may not capture the gist of the associated verses)?  I merely use labels to note some parallels that are immediately to be observed.  My references to subjective and objective aspects of God’s judgment in the A & A’ sections are meant to draw attention respectively to the judgment as it applied to individuals or as it referred to in general.  Note also that the interior points in the A & A’ sections are both times of a more present reference as opposed to the future references to God’s judgment.  In the last of these sections, this helps to determine where the parenthetical break should occur such that the A & A’ are the beginning and end of the sentence.

One of the key things I wanted to at least plant in the reader’s head for consideration is not really related to the chiastic structure.  It is the idea that the parenthetical section (2:14-15) is a reference to Paul’s gentile Christians.  It is not the basis for some Pauline conception of a universal or natural law within all humankind.  It is most probably a reference to his gentile believers who, through the obedience of faith, fulfill the righteous requirements of the Law through the Holy Spirit, who dwells within their hearts. See further Romans Rom 5:5 and especially 8:1-4 (and the New Covenant promises in Ezekiel and Jeremiah).