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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 7
Verse 7. To them. Whoever they may be.
Patient continuance. Who by perseverance in well doing, or in a good work. It means, that they who so continue or persevere in good works as to evince that they are disposed to obey the law of God. It does not mean those who perform one single act, but those who so live as to show that this is their character to obey God. It is the uniform doctrine of the Bible, that none will be saved but those who persevere in a life of holiness, Re 5:10; Mt 10:22; Heb 10:38,39.
No other conduct gives evidence of piety but that which continues in the ways of righteousness. Nor has God ever promised eternal life to men unless they so persevere in a life of holiness as to show that this is their character, their settled and firm rule of action. The words well doing here denote such conduct as shall be conformed to the law of God; not merely external conduct, but that which proceeds from a heart attached to God and his cause.
But it also denotes the act when one earnestly strives, or desires to obtain anything; when he puts forth his efforts to accomplish it. Thus, Mt 6:33, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God," etc. Ac 16:10; 1 Co 10:24 Lu 13:24. In this place it denotes an earnest and intense desire to obtain eternal life. It does not mean simply the desire of a sinner to be happy, or the efforts of those who are not willing to forsake their sins and yield to God, but the intense effort of those who are willing to forsake all their crimes, and submit to God and obey his laws.
Glory and honour and immortality. The three words used here denote the happiness of the heavenly world. They vary somewhat in their meaning, and are each descriptive of something in heaven, that renders it an object of intense desire. The expressions are cumulative, or they are designed to express the happiness of heaven in the highest possible degree. The word glory doxan denotes, properly, praise, celebrity, or anything distinguished for beauty, ornament, majesty, splendour, as of the sun, etc.; and then it is used to denote the highest happiness or felicity, as expressing everything that shall be splendid, rich, and grand. It denotes that there will be an absence of everything mean, grovelling, obscure. The word honour (timhn) implies rather the idea of reward, or just retribution—the honour and reward which shall be conferred in heaven on the friends of God. It stands opposed to contempt, poverty, and want among men. Here they are despised by men; there they shall be honoured by God.
Immortality. That which is not corruptible, or subject to decay. It is applied to heaven as a state where there shall be no decay or death, in strong contrast with our present condition, where all things are corruptible, and soon vanish away. These expressions are undoubtedly descriptive of a state of things beyond the grave. They are never applied in the Scriptures to any condition of things on the earth. This consideration proves, therefore, that the expressions in the next verse; indignation, etc., apply to the punishment of the wicked beyond the grave.
Eternal life. That is, God will "render" eternal life to those who seek it in this manner. This is a great principle; and this shows that the apostle means by "their deeds," (Ro 2:6,) not merely their external conduct, but their inward thoughts, and efforts evinced by their seeking for glory, etc. For the meaning of the expression "eternal life," See Barnes "Joh 5:24".
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