Romans 1:18-3:20 New Living Translation (NLT)
God’s Anger at Sin
18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.[a] 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.
28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.
God’s Judgment of Sin
2 You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. 2 And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. 3 Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things? 4 Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
5 But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 He will judge everyone according to what they have done. 7 He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. 8 But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. 9 There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile.[b] 10 But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.
12 When the Gentiles sin, they will be destroyed, even though they never had God’s written law. And the Jews, who do have God’s law, will be judged by that law when they fail to obey it. 13 For merely listening to the law doesn’t make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in his sight. 14 Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. 15 They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. 16 And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.
The Jews and the Law
17 You who call yourselves Jews are relying on God’s law, and you boast about your special relationship with him. 18 You know what he wants; you know what is right because you have been taught his law. 19 You are convinced that you are a guide for the blind and a light for people who are lost in darkness. 20 You think you can instruct the ignorant and teach children the ways of God. For you are certain that God’s law gives you complete knowledge and truth.
21 Well then, if you teach others, why don’t you teach yourself? You tell others not to steal, but do you steal? 22 You say it is wrong to commit adultery, but do you commit adultery? You condemn idolatry, but do you use items stolen from pagan temples?[c] 23 You are so proud of knowing the law, but you dishonor God by breaking it. 24 No wonder the Scriptures say, “The Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because of you.”[d]
25 The Jewish ceremony of circumcision has value only if you obey God’s law. But if you don’t obey God’s law, you are no better off than an uncircumcised Gentile. 26 And if the Gentiles obey God’s law, won’t God declare them to be his own people? 27 In fact, uncircumcised Gentiles who keep God’s law will condemn you Jews who are circumcised and possess God’s law but don’t obey it.
28 For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. 29 No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise[e] from God, not from people.
God Remains Faithful
3 Then what’s the advantage of being a Jew? Is there any value in the ceremony of circumcision? 2 Yes, there are great benefits! First of all, the Jews were entrusted with the whole revelation of God.[f]
3 True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful? 4 Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about him,
“You will be proved right in what you say,
5 “But,” some might say, “our sinfulness serves a good purpose, for it helps people see how righteous God is. Isn’t it unfair, then, for him to punish us?” (This is merely a human point of view.) 6 Of course not! If God were not entirely fair, how would he be qualified to judge the world? 7 “But,” someone might still argue, “how can God condemn me as a sinner if my dishonesty highlights his truthfulness and brings him more glory?” 8 And some people even slander us by claiming that we say, “The more we sin, the better it is!” Those who say such things deserve to be condemned.
All People Are Sinners
9 Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles,[h] are under the power of sin. 10 As the Scriptures say,
“No one is righteous—
19 Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. 20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.
Romans 1:18-3:20 New King James Version (NKJV)
God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who [a]suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is [b]manifest [c]in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and [d]Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like [e]corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their [f]women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the [g]men, leaving the natural use of the [h]woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, [i]sexual immorality, wickedness, [j]covetousness, [k]maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 [l]undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, [m]unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
God’s Righteous Judgment
2 Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your [n]impenitent heart you are [o]treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the [p]Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God.
12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law 13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.
The Jews Guilty as the Gentiles
17 [q]Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest[r] on the law, and make your boast in God, 18 and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, 19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. 21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? 24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.
Circumcision of No Avail
25 For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? 27 And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your [s]written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law? 28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose [t]praise is not from men but from God.
God’s Judgment Defended
3 What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? 2 Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the [u]oracles of God. 3 For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? 4 Certainly not! Indeed, let God be [v]true but every man a liar. As it is written:
“That You may be justified in Your words,
5 But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.) 6 Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world?
7 For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner? 8 And why not say, “Let us do evil that good may come”?—as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their [w]condemnation is just.
All Have Sinned
9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.
10 As it is written:
“There is none righteous, no, not one;
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become [y]guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Romans 1:18-3:20 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
The Guilt of the Gentile World
18 For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, 19 since what can be known[a] about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse. 21 For though they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became worthless, and their senseless hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.
24 Therefore God delivered them over in the desires of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served what has been created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.
From Idolatry to Depravity
26 For this reason God delivered them over to disgraceful passions. Their women[b] exchanged natural sexual relations[c] for unnatural ones. 27 The men[d] in the same way also left natural relations with women and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons[e] the appropriate penalty of their error.
28 And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a corrupt mind so that they do what is not right. 29 They are filled with all unrighteousness,[f] evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 senseless, untrustworthy, unloving,[g] and unmerciful. 32 Although they know God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die[h]—they not only do them, but even applaud[i] others who practice them.
God’s Righteous Judgment
2 Therefore, every one of you[j] who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things. 2 We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is based on the truth. 3 Do you really think—anyone of you who judges those who do such things yet do the same—that you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you despise the riches of his kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing[k] that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? 5 Because of your hardened and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed. 6 He will repay each one according to his works:[l] 7 eternal life to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but wrath and anger to those who are self-seeking and disobey the truth while obeying unrighteousness. 9 There will be affliction and distress for every human being who does evil, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does what is good, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no favoritism with God.
12 All who sin without the law will also perish without the law, and all who sin under[m] the law will be judged by the law. 13 For the hearers of the law are not righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be justified.[n] 14 So, when Gentiles, who do not by nature have the law, do[o] what the law demands, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law[p] is written on their hearts. Their consciences confirm this. Their competing thoughts either accuse or even excuse them[q] 16 on the day when God judges what people have kept secret, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus.
Jewish Violation of the Law
17 Now if[r] you call yourself a Jew, and rely on the law, and boast in God, 18 and know his will, and approve the things that are superior, being instructed from the law, 19 and if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light to those in darkness, 20 an instructor of the ignorant, a teacher of the immature, having the embodiment of knowledge and truth in the law— 21 you then, who teach another, don’t you teach yourself? You who preach, “You must not steal”—do you steal? 22 You who say, “You must not commit adultery”—do you commit adultery? You who detest idols, do you rob their temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 For, as it is written: The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.[s]
Circumcision of the Heart
25 Circumcision benefits you if you observe the law, but if you are a lawbreaker, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 So if an uncircumcised man keeps the law’s requirements, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? 27 A man who is physically uncircumcised, but who keeps the law, will judge you who are a lawbreaker in spite of having the letter of the law and circumcision. 28 For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh. 29 On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart—by the Spirit, not the letter.[t] That person’s praise is not from people but from God.
Paul Answers an Objection
3 So what advantage does the Jew have? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? 2 Considerable in every way. First, they were entrusted with the very words of God. 3 What then? If some were unfaithful, will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? 4 Absolutely not! Let God be true, even though everyone is a liar, as it is written:
That you may be justified in your words
5 But if our unrighteousness highlights[v] God’s righteousness, what are we to say? I am using a human argument:[w] Is God unrighteous to inflict wrath? 6 Absolutely not! Otherwise, how will God judge the world? 7 But if by my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I also still being judged as a sinner? 8 And why not say, just as some people slanderously claim we say, “Let us do what is evil so that good may come”? Their condemnation is deserved!
The Whole World Guilty before God
There is no one righteous, not even one.
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are subject to the law,[ag] so that every mouth may be shut and the whole world may become subject to God’s judgment.[ah] 20 For no one will be justified[ai] in his sight by the works of the law, because the knowledge of sin comes through the law.
Romans 1:18-3:20 New International Version (NIV)
God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
God’s Righteous Judgment
2 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”[a] 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.
12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
The Jews and the Law
17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”[b]
25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the[c] written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.
28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.
3 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? 2 Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God.
3 What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? 4 Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written:
“So that you may be proved right when you speak
5 But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) 6 Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? 7 Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” 8 Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!
No One Is Righteous
9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
Romans 1:18-3:20 The Voice (VOICE)
18 For the wrath of God is breaking through from heaven, opposing all manifestations of ungodliness and wickedness by the people who do wrong to keep God’s truth in check. 19 These people are not ignorant about what can be known of God, because He has shown it to them with great clarity. 20 From the beginning, creation in its magnificence enlightens us to His nature. Creation itself makes His undying power and divine identity clear, even though they are invisible; and it voids the excuses and ignorant claims of these people 21 because, despite the fact that they knew the one true God, they have failed to show the love, honor, and appreciation due to the One who created them! Instead, their lives are consumed by vain thoughts that poison their foolish hearts. 22 They claim to be wise; but they have been exposed as fools, frauds, and con artists— 23 only a fool would trade the splendor and beauty of the immortal God to worship images of the common man or woman, bird or reptile, or the next beast that tromps along.
24 So God gave them just what their lustful hearts desired. As a result, they violated their bodies and invited shame into their lives. 25 How? By choosing a foolish lie over God’s truth. They gave their lives and devotion to the creature rather than to the Creator Himself, who is blessed forever and ever. Amen. 26-27 This is why God released them to their own vile pursuits, and this is what happened: they chose sexual counterfeits—women had sexual relations with other women and men committed unnatural, shameful acts because they burned with lust for other men. This sin was rife, and they suffered painful consequences.
28 Since they had no mind to recognize God, He turned them loose to follow the unseemly designs of their depraved minds and to do things that should not be done. 29 Their days are filled with all sorts of godless living, wicked schemes, greed, hatred, endless desire for more, murder, violence, deceit, and spitefulness. And, as if that were not enough, they are gossiping, 30 slanderous, God-hating, rude, egotistical, smug people who are always coming up with even more dreadful ways to treat one another. They don’t listen to their parents; 31 they lack understanding and character. They are simple-minded, covenant-breaking, heartless, and unmerciful; they are not to be trusted. 32 Despite the fact that they are fully aware that God’s law says this way of life deserves death, they fail to stop. And worse—they applaud others on this destructive path.
Paul sounds a sober warning. God’s wrath is here; it is not some far-off future event. Paul says that God’s wrath is already at work in the world in what is effectively God’s “hands-off” policy. God, he says, steps aside and gives us over to idolatry, sexual sins, and depraved minds. Human sin and depravity are both its cause and effect. You see, we are not only punished for our sins, but we are punished by our sins. If God’s salvation consists essentially of His presence with us, then His wrath consists of His absence or separation from us. The bad news is this: God’s wrath is real. Without the good news of Jesus, no hope exists.
2 So you can see there are no excuses for any of us. If your eyes shift their focus from yourselves to others—to judge how they are doing—you have already condemned yourselves! You don’t realize that you are pointing your fingers at others for the exact things you do as well. 2 There’s no doubt that the judgment of God will justly fall upon hypocrites who practice such things. 3 Here’s what is happening: you attack and criticize others and then turn around to commit the same offenses yourselves! Do you think you will somehow dodge God’s judgment? 4 Do you take the kindness of God for granted? Do you see His patience and tolerance as signs that He is a pushover when it comes to sin? How could you not know that His kindness is guiding our hearts to turn away from distractions and habitual sin to walk a new path?[a]
5 But because your heart is obstinate and shameless, you’re storing up wrath that will count against you. On the day of His choosing, God’s wrath and judgment will be unleashed to make things right. 6 As it goes, everyone will receive what his actions in life have cultivated. 7 Whoever has labored diligently and patiently to do what is right—seeking glory, honor, and immortality—God will grant him endless joy in life eternal. 8 But selfish individuals who make trouble, resist the truth, or sell out to wickedness will meet a very different fate—they will find fury and indignation as the fruit of living in the wrong. 9 Suffering and pain await everyone whose life is marked by evil living (first for the Jew, and next for the non-Jew). 10 But if you do what is right, you will receive glory, admiration, and peace (again, first for the Jew, then for the non-Jew). 11 God has no favorites.
12 If one lives life without knowledge of the law—the teachings of the Torah—he will sin and die apart from the law. If someone else lives life under the law, his sin will be judged by what the law teaches. 13 Here’s my point: just because a person hears the law read or recited does not mean he is right before the one True God; it is following the law that makes one right, not just hearing it. 14-15 For instance, some outsiders who are not required to follow the law often live quite naturally by its teachings. Even though the law wasn’t given to them, in themselves they have the law. Here’s the thing: their lives demonstrate that God has inscribed the law’s teachings on their hearts. On judgment day, their consciences will testify for them, and their thoughts will both accuse and defend them. 16 This good news given to me declares that this affirmation and accusation will take place on that day when God, through Jesus, the Anointed One, judges every person’s life secrets.
17 Listen, if you claim to be a Jew, count on the law, and boast in your relationship with God; 18 if you know His will and can determine what is essential (because you have been instructed in the law); and 19 if you stand convinced that you are chosen to be a guide to the blind, a light to those who live in darkness, 20 a teacher of foolish wanderers and children, and have in the law what is essentially the form of knowledge and truth— 21 then tell me, why don’t you practice what you preach? If you are going to sermonize against stealing, then stop stealing. 22 If you are going to teach others not to commit adultery, then be completely faithful to your spouse. If you hate idolatry, then stop robbing the temples! 23 If you pride yourself in having God’s law, then stop dishonoring God by failing to keep its teaching. 24 Here’s what it says: “Because of you, God’s reputation is slandered by those outside the covenant.”[b]
25 You see, circumcision is of value only if you keep the law’s teachings. But if you keep breaking God’s rules, you are no different than those without the mark. 26 So if an uncircumcised man abides by God’s just precepts, doesn’t that make his standing before God the same as one who is circumcised? 27 The man who is physically uncircumcised but still keeps the law, he will stand in judgment over the person who is circumcised and yet continually breaks God’s law. 28 A mark that is evident doesn’t necessarily make one a Jew, and circumcision that is evident only in the flesh is not true. 29 But the true Jew is Jewish on the inside—in secret places no one but God can see—and true circumcision involves the heart; it comes from the Spirit, not from some written code. The praise and reputation of that kind of Jew come from God, not from man.
When God’s people—or people who claim to be God’s people—are hypocrites, then God is the one who gets the bad name. How often do we say one thing and do another? How often have we set a standard for others only to break it ourselves? The saying is true: we practice every day what we believe; all the rest is religious talk. There is a lot of religious talk out there, a lot of smugness and self-satisfaction. But every day people readily violate their consciences and the Lord’s reasonable teachings. For faith to matter, it has to get under your skin.
3 So then, do the Jews have an advantage over the other nations? Does circumcision do anything for you? 2 The answer is yes, in every way. To begin with, God spoke to and through the Jewish people. 3 But what if some Jews have been unfaithful? Does the fact that they abandoned their faith zero out God’s faithfulness? 4 Absolutely not! If every person on the planet were a liar and thief, God would still be true. It stands written:
Whenever You speak, You are in the right.
5 If our perpetual injustice and corruption merely accentuate the purity of God’s justice, what can we say? Is God unjust for unleashing His fury against us? (I am speaking from our limited human perspective.) 6 Again, absolutely not! If this were so, how could God stand as Judge over the world? 7 But if my lie serves only to point out God’s truth and bring Him glory, then why am I being judged for my sin? 8 There are slanderous charges out there that we are saying things like, “Let’s be as wicked as possible so that something good will come from it.” Those malicious gossips will get what they deserve.
9 So what then? Are we Jews better off? Not at all. We have made it clear that people everywhere, Jews and non-Jews, are living under the power of sin. 10 Here’s what Scripture says:
No one is righteous—not even one.
Sin is more than just wrong choices, bad decisions, and willful acts of disobedience that violate God’s Word and are contrary to His will. It is that and much more. Paul knows sin is missing the mark or deliberately stepping over the line, but he also knows that sin is a power at work in him and every child of Adam. As strange as it may sound, sin seems to have a will of its own. Like an addiction, sin takes hold of us and causes us to act in ways we never wanted. For Paul the cross of Jesus deals finally and definitively with the dual reality of sin. Not only are we forgiven of our sins—our willful acts of disobedience—but we are also liberated from the power of sin.
19 We want to be clear that whatever the law says, it says to everyone who is under its authority. Its purpose is to muzzle every mouth, to silence idle talk, and to bring the whole world under the standard of God’s justice. 20 Therefore, doing what the law prescribes will not make anyone right in the eyes of God—that’s not its purpose—but the law is capable of exposing the true nature of sin.