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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Spirit and the Letter.: Chapter 44

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 44.—The Answer Is, that the Passage Must Be Understood of the Faithful of the New Covenant.

Has the apostle perhaps mentioned those Gentiles as having the law written in their hearts who belong to the new testament? We must look at the previous context. First, then, referring to the gospel, he says, “It is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” 920 Then he goes on to speak of the ungodly, who by reason of their pride profit not by the knowledge of God, since they did not glorify Him as God, neither were thankful. 921 He then passes to those who think and do the very things which they condemn,—having in view, no doubt, the Jews, who made their boast of God’s law, but as yet not mentioning them expressly by name; and then he says, “Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile: but glory, honour, and peace, to every soul that doeth good; to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: for there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law; for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” 922 Who they are that are treated of in these words, he goes on to tell us: “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law,” 923 and so forth in the passage which I have quoted already. Evidently, therefore, no others are here signified under the name of Gentiles than those whom he had before designated by the name of “Greek” when he said, “To the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” 924 Since then the gospel is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and, also to the Greek;” 925 and since “indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, are upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek: but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that doeth good; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek;” since, moreover, the Greek is indicated by the term “Gentiles” who do by nature the things contained in the law, and which have the work of the law written in their hearts: it follows that such Gentiles as have the law written in their hearts belong to the gospel, since to them, on their believing, it is the power of God unto salvation. To what Gentiles, however, would he promise glory, and honour, and peace, in their doing good works, if living without the grace of the gospel? Since there is no respect of persons with God, 926 and since it is not the hearers of the law, but the doers thereof, that are justified, 927 it follows that any man of any nation, whether Jew or Greek, who shall believe, will equally have salvation under the gospel. “For there is no difference,” as he says afterwards; “for all have sinned, and come short p. 102 of the glory of God: being justified freely by His grace.” 928 How then could he say that any Gentile person, who was a doer of the law, was justified without the Saviour’s grace?


Footnotes

101:920

Rom. 1:16, 17.

101:921

Rom. i. 21.

101:922

Rom. ii. 8-13.

101:923

Rom. ii. 14.

101:924

Rom. i. 16.

101:925

Rom. i. 16.

101:926

Rom. ii. 11.

101:927

Rom. ii. 13.

102:928

Rom. iii. 22-24.


Next: Chapter 45

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