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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 9

Verse 9. Tribulation. This word commonly denotes affliction, or the situation of being pressed down by a burden, as of trials, calamities, etc.; and hence to be pressed down by punishment or pain inflicted for sins. As applied to future punishment, it denotes the pressure of the calamities that will come upon the soul as the just reward of sin.

And anguish. stenocwria. This noun is used in but three other places in the New Testament, Ro 8:35; 2 Co 6:4; 12:10.

The verb is used in 2 Co 4:8; 6:12. It means, literally narrowness of place, want of room; and then the anxiety and distress of mind which a man experiences who is pressed on every side by afflictions, and trials, and want, or by punishment, and who does not know where he may turn himself to find relief. Schleusner. It is thus expressive of the punishment of the wicked. It means that they shall be compressed with the manifestations of God's displeasure, so as to be in deep distress, and so as not to know where to find relief. These words, affliction and anguish, are often connected, Ro 8:35.

Upon every soul of man. Upon all men. In Hebrew the word soul often denotes the man himself. But still the apostle, by the use of this word here, meant perhaps to signify that the punishment should not be corporeal, but afflicting the soul. It should be a spiritual punishment, a punishment of mind. (Ambrose. See Tholuck.)

Of the Jew first. Having stated the general principle of the Divine administration, he comes now to make the application. To the principle there could be no objection. And the apostle now shows that it was applicable to the Jew as well as the Greek, and to the Jew pre-eminently. It was applicable first, or in an eminent degree, to the Jew, because

(1) he had been peculiarly favoured with light and knowledge on all these subjects.

(2.) These principles were fully stated in his own law, and were in strict accordance with all the teaching of the prophets. See Barnes "Ro 2:6".

Also Ps 7:11; 9:17; 139:19; Pr 14:32.


Of the Gentile. That is, of all who were not Jews. On what principles God will inflict punishment on them, he states in Ro 2:12-16. It is clear that this refers to the future punishment of the wicked, for

(1) it stands in contrast with the eternal life of those who seek for glory, (Ro 2:7). If this description of the effect of sin refers to this life, then the effects spoken of in relation to the righteous refer to this life also. But in no place in the Scriptures is it said that men experience all the blessings of eternal life in this world; and the very supposition is absurd.

(2.) It is not true that there is a just and complete retribution to every man, according to his deeds, in this life. Many of the wicked are prospered in life, and "there are no bands in their death, but their strength is firm," Ps 73:4. Many of the righteous pine in poverty and want and affliction, and die in the flames of persecution. Nothing is more clear than [that] there is not, in this life, a full and equitable distribution of rewards and punishments; and as the proposition of the apostle here is, that God WILL render to every man ACCORDING to his deeds, (Ro 2:6) it follows that this must be accomplished in another world.

(3.) The Scriptures uniformly affirm, that for the very things specified here, God will consign men to eternal death. 2 Th 1:8, "In flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that OBEY NOT the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction," etc. 1 Pe 4:17. We may remark, also, that there could be no more alarming description of future suffering than is specified in this passage. It is indignation; it is wrath; it is tribulation; it is anguish which the sinner is to endure for ever. Truly men exposed to this awful doom should be alarmed, and should give diligence to escape from the woe which is to come!

{1} "Gentile" or, "Greek"

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