The Meaning of Romans 2:13 Explained

Romans 2:13

KJV: (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

YLT: for not the hearers of the law are righteous before God, but the doers of the law shall be declared righteous: --

Darby: (for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

ASV: for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified:

What does Romans 2:13 Mean?

Study Notes

the law a law.
The statement is general, true of "a law," any law.

Context Summary

Romans 2:12-20 - The Searcher Of All Hearts
The Apostle goes on to show that all men, whether Jews or Gentiles, will be judged by the same standard. For the Jew that law was written upon the pages of the Old Testament; but for the Gentiles, who possessed neither Moses nor Sinai, it was written on the tablets of the heart and known as "conscience." The difference between the two is comparable to that between the time of day indicated by the sun and by the watch which each man carries in his pocket. It is a blessed and profound truth, which makes all men amenable to God's judgment, that deep down in every man's soul He has engraven His holy law.
How clearly Scripture bears witness to the eternal judgment! Acts 17:31. The secrets of men are to be judged, Romans 2:16. How thankful we should be that those who stand in Christ shall not come under condemnation! He has borne the curse of a broken law for us, and is not ashamed to call us brethren, Hebrews 2:11. [source]

Chapter Summary: Romans 2

1  No excuse for sin
6  No escape from judgment
14  Gentiles cannot;
17  nor Jews

Greek Commentary for Romans 2:13

Not the hearers - but the doers [ου γαρ οι ακροαταιαλλ οι ποιηται]
The law was read in the synagogue, but there was no actual virtue in listening. The virtue is in doing. See a like contrast by James between “hearers” and “doers” of the gospel (James 1:22-25). [source]
Before God [παρα τωι τεωι]
By God‘s side, as God looks at it. Shall be justified (δικαιωτησονται — dikaiōthēsontai). Future passive indicative of δικαιοω — dikaioō to declare righteous, to set right. “Shall be declared righteous.” Like James 1:22-25. [source]
Shall be justified [δικαιωτησονται]
Future passive indicative of δικαιοω — dikaioō to declare righteous, to set right. “Shall be declared righteous.” Like James 1:22-25. [source]
Hearers [ἀκροαταὶ]
Like the Jews, who heard it regularly in the synagogues. Only here in Paul. Three times in James. It brings out, better than the participle οἱ ἀκούοντες thosethat hear, the characteristic feature; those whose business is hearing.sa40 [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Romans 2:13

Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed [δικαιοσύνη γὰρ Θεοῦ ἐν ἀυτῷ ἀποκαλύπτεται]
Rev., more correctly, therein is revealed a righteousness of God. The absence of the article denotes that a peculiar kind of righteousness is meant. This statement contains the subject of the epistle: Righteousness is by faith. The subject is not stated formally nor independently, but as a proof that the Gospel is a power, etc. This word δικαιοσύνη righteousnessand its kindred words δίκαιος righteousand δικαιόω tomake righteous, play so important a part in this epistle that it is desirable to fix their meaning as accurately as possible. -DIVIDER-
Classical Usage. In the Greek classics there appears an eternal, divine, unwritten principle of right, dwelling in the human consciousness, shaping both the physical and the moral ordering of the world, and personified as Themis ( Θέμις ). This word is used as a common noun in the phrase θέμις ἐστὶ itis right (fundamentally and eternally), like the Latin fas est. Thus Homer, of Penelope mourning for Ulysses, θέμις ἐστὶ γυναικός itis the sacred obligation of the wife (founded in her natural relation to her husband, ordained of heaven) to mourn (“Odyssey,” 14,130). So Antigone appeals to the unwritten law against the barbarity of refusing burial to her brother.“Nor did I deem thy edicts strong enough,That thou, a mortal man, shouldst overpass The unwritten laws of God that know not change.”Sophocles, “Antigone,” 453-455.See, also, “Odyssey,” 14,91; Aristophanes, “Clouds,” 140; “Antigone,” 880. This divine ordering requires that men should be shown or pointed to that which is according to it - a definite circle of duties and obligations which constitute right ( δίκη ). Thus what is δίκαιος righteousis properly the expression of the eternal Themis. While δίκη and θέμις are not to be distinguished as human and divine, δίκη has a more distinctively human, personal character, and comes into sharper definition. It introduces the distinction between absolute right and power. It imposes the recognition of a moral principle over against an absolutely constraining natural force. The conception of δίκη is strongly moral. Δίκαιος is right; δικαιοσύνη is rightness as characterizing the entire being of man. -DIVIDER-
There is a religious background to the pagan conception. In the Homeric poems morality stands in a relation, loose and undeveloped indeed, but none the less real, to religion. This appears in the use of the oath in compacts; in the fear of the wrath of heaven for omission of sacrifices; in regarding refusal of hospitality as an offense against Zeus, the patron of strangers and suppliants. Certain tribes which are fierce and uncivilized are nevertheless described as δίκαιοι righteous“The characteristic stand-point of the Homeric ethics is that the spheres of law, of morals, and of religion are by no means separate, but lie side by side in undeveloped unity.” (Nagelsbach). -DIVIDER-
In later Greek literature this conception advances, in some instances, far toward the christian ideal; as in the fourth book of Plato's “Laws,” where he asserts that God holds in His hand the beginning, middle, and end of all things; that justice always follows Him, and punishes those who fall short of His laws. Those who would be dear to God must be like Him. Without holiness no man is accepted of God. -DIVIDER-
Nevertheless, however clearly the religious background and sanction of morality may be recognized, it is apparent that the basis of right is found, very largely, in established social usage. The word ethics points first to what is established by custom. While with Mr. Grote we must admit the peculiar emphasis on the individual in the Homeric poems, we cannot help observing a certain influence of social sentiment on morals. While there are cases like the suitors, Paris and Helen, where public opinion imposes no moral check, there are others where the force of public opinion is clearly visible, such as Penelope and Nausicaa. The Homeric view of homicide reveals no relation between moral sentiment and divine enactment. Murder is a breach of social law, a private and civil wrong, entailing no loss of character. Its penalty is a satisfaction to the feelings of friends, or a compensation for lost services. -DIVIDER-
Later, we find this social aspect of morality even more strongly emphasized. “The city becomes the central and paramount source of obligation. The great, impersonal authority called 'the Laws' stands out separately, both as guide and sanction, distinct from religious duty or private sympathy” (Grote). Socrates is charged with impiety because he does not believe in the gods of the state, and Socrates himself agrees that that man does right who obeys what the citizens have agreed should be done, and who refrains from what they forbid. -DIVIDER-
The social basis of righteousness also appears in the frequent contrast between δίκη and βία , right and force. A violation of right is that which forces its way over the social sanction. The social conception of δίκαιος is not lost, even when the idea is so apprehended as to border on the christian love of one's neighbor. There is a wrong toward the gods, but every wrong is not in itself such. The inner, personal relation to deity, the absolute and constraining appeal of divine character and law to conscience, the view of duty as one's right, and of personal right as something to be surrendered to the paramount claim of love - all these elements which distinguish the christian conception of righteousness - are thus in sharp contrast with a righteousness dictated by social claims which limit the individual desire or preference, but which leave untouched the tenacity of personal right, and place obligation behind legitimacy. -DIVIDER-
It is desirable that the classical usage of these terms should be understood, in order to throw into sharper relief the Biblical usage, according to which God is the absolute and final standard of right, and every wrong is a sin against God (Psalm 51:4). Each man stands in direct and primary relation to the holy God as He is by the law of His own nature. Righteousness is union with God in character. To the Greek mind of the legendary age such a conception is both strange and essentially impossible, since the Greek divinity is only the Greek man exaggerated in his virtues and vices alike. According to the christian ideal, righteousness is character, and the norm of character is likeness to God. This idea includes all the social aspects of right. Love and duty toward God involve love and duty to the neighbor. -DIVIDER-
Here must be noted a peculiar usage of δίκαιος righteousand δικαιοσύνη righteousnessin the Septuagint. They are at times interchanged with ἐλεημοσύνη mercyand ἔλεος kindnessThe Hebrew chesed kindness, though usually rendered by ἔλεος , is nine times translated by δικαιοσύνη righteousnessand once by δίκαιος righteousThe Hebrew tsedakah usually rendered by δικαιοσύνη , is nine times translated by ἐλεημοσύνη mercyand three times by ἔλεος kindnessCompare the Heb. and Sept. at Deuteronomy 6:25; Deuteronomy 24:13(15); Genesis 19:19; Genesis 24:27. This usage throws light on the reading δικαιοσύνην , Rev., righteousness (kindness? ), instead of ἐλεημοσύνην mercyA.V., alms, Matthew 6:1. Mr. Hatch (“Essays in Biblical Greek”) says that the meaning kindness is so clear in this passage that scribes, who were unaware of its existence, altered the text. He also thinks that this meaning gives a better sense than any other to Matthew 1:19“Joseph, being a kindly ( δίκαιος , A.V., just ) man.”-DIVIDER-
1. In the New Testament δίκαιος is used both of God and of Christ. Of God, 1 John 1:9; John 17:25; Revelation 16:5; Romans 3:26. Of Christ, 1 John 2:1; 1 John 3:7; Acts 3:14; Acts 7:52; Acts 22:14. In these passages the word characterizes God and Christ either in their essential quality or in their action; either as righteous according to the eternal norm of divine holiness (John 17:25; 1 John 3:7; Romans 3:26), or as holiness passes into righteous dealing with men (1 John 1:9). -DIVIDER-
2. Δίκαιος is used of men, denoting their normal relation to the will and judgment of God. Hence it means virtuous, upright, pure in life, correct in thinking and feeling. It stands opposed to ἀνομία lawlessness ἁμαρτία sin ἀκαθαρσία impuritya contrast wanting in classical usage, where the conception of sin is vague. See Romans 6:13, Romans 6:16, Romans 6:18, Romans 6:20; Romans 8:10; 2 Corinthians 6:7, 2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 5:9; Ephesians 6:14; Philemon 1:11; James 3:18. -DIVIDER-
Where δικαιοσύνη righteousnessis joined with ὁσιότης holiness(Luke 1:75; Ephesians 4:24), it denotes right conduct toward men, as holiness denotes piety toward God. It appears in the wider sense of answering to the demands of God in general, Matthew 13:17; Matthew 10:41; Matthew 23:29; Acts 10:22, Acts 10:35; and in the narrower sense of perfectly answering the divine demands, guiltless. So of Christ, Acts 3:14; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 2:1. -DIVIDER-
3. It is found in the classical sense of it is right, Philemon 1:7, or that which is right, Colossians 4:1. This, however, is included within the Christian conception. -DIVIDER-
Δικαιοσύνη righteousnessis therefore that which fulfills the claims of δίκη right“It is the state commanded by God and standing the test of His judgment; the character and acts of a man approved of Him, in virtue of which the man corresponds with Him and His will as His ideal and standard” (Cremer). -DIVIDER-
The medium of this righteousness is faith. Faith is said to be counted or reckoned for righteousness; i.e., righteousness is ascribed to it or recognized in it. Romans 4:3, Romans 4:6, Romans 4:9, Romans 4:22; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23. -DIVIDER-
In this verse the righteousness revealed in the Gospel is described as a righteousness of God. This does not mean righteousness as an attribute of God, as in Romans 3:5; but righteousness as bestowed on man by God. The state of the justified man is due to God. The righteousness which becomes his is that which God declares to be righteousness and ascribes to him. Righteousness thus expresses the relation of being right into which God puts the man who believes. See further, on justified, Romans 2:13.Is revealed ( ἀποκαλύπτεται )Emphasizing the peculiar sense in which “righteousness” is used here. Righteousness as an attribute of God was revealed before the Gospel. Righteousness in this sense is a matter of special revelation through the Gospel. The present tense describes the Gospel in its continuous proclamation: is being revealed.From faith to faith ( ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν )Rev., by faith unto faith. According to the A.V. the idea is that of progress in faith itself; either from Old to New Testament faith, or, in the individual, from a lower to a higher degree of faith; and this idea, I think, must be held here, although it is true that it is introduced secondarily, since Paul is dealing principally with the truth that righteousness is by faith. We may rightly say that the revealed righteousness of God is unto faith, in the sense of with a view to produce faith; but we may also say that faith is a progressive principle; that the aim of God's justifying righteousness is life, and that the just lives by his faith (Galatians 2:20), and enters into “more abundant” life with the development of his faith. Compare 2 Corinthians 2:16; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Romans 6:19; and the phrase, justification of life, Romans 5:18.sa40 [source]

Galatians 5:3 To do the law [ποιῆσαι]
Rare in N.T. See John 7:19; Romans 2:13, Romans 2:25( πράσσῃς ). Τηρεῖν toobserve the law, the tradition, the commandment, Matthew 19:17; Mark 7:9; John 14:15; Acts 15:5James 2:10: πληροῦν tofulfill the law, Romans 13:8; Galatians 5:14; comp. ἀναπληροῦν Galatians 6:2: φυλάσσειν tokeep or guard the law, Acts 7:53; Acts 21:24; Galatians 6:13: also with commandments, word of God or of Christ, ordinances of the law, Matthew 19:20; Mark 10:20; Luke 11:28; John 12:47; Romans 2:26. Τελεῖν tocarry out the law, Romans 2:27; James 2:8. Ποιῆσαι is to perform what the law commands: τηρεῖν toobserve, keep an eye on with the result of performing: φυλάσσειν toguard against violation: τελεῖν tobring to fulfillment in action. [source]
Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honorable in all [τίμιος ὁ γάμος ἐν πᾶσιν]
Γάμος everywhere else in N.T. a wedding or wedding feast, often in the plural, as Matthew 22:2, Matthew 22:3, Matthew 22:4; Luke 12:36. Τίμιος honorableor held in honor. Often in N.T. precious, of gold, stones, etc., as 1 Corinthians 3:12; Revelation 17:4; Revelation 18:12; of life, Acts 20:24; the fruits of the earth, James 5:7; the blood of Christ, 1 Peter 1:19; the divine promises, 2 Peter 1:4. Rend. “let marriage be had in honor.” The statement is hortatory, as suiting the character of the entire context, and especially the γὰρ for“for whoremongers,” etc. Ἑν πᾶσιν in all respects,” as 1 Timothy 3:11; 2 Timothy 4:5; Titus 2:9; Colossians 1:18; Philemon 4:12. If as A.V., the more natural expression would be παρὰ πᾶσιν as Matthew 19:26; Acts 26:8; Romans 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:6; James 1:27. Ἑν πᾶσιν inall things appears in this chapter, Hebrews 13:18. There are many points in which marriage is to be honored besides the avoidance of illicit connections. See on 1 Thessalonians 4:6. [source]
James 1:22 Doers of the word [ποιηται λογου]
Old word for agent Old word for agent again from ακροαμαι — akroamai (to be a hearer), in N.T. only here and Romans 2:13.Deluding yourselves Present middle (direct) participle of παραλογιζομαι — paralogizomai to reckon aside (παρα — para) and so wrong, to cheat, to deceive. Redundant reflexive εαυτους — heautous with the middle. In N.T. only here and Colossians 2:4. Such a man does not delude anyone but himself. [source]
James 1:22 Hearers [ακροαται]
Old word for agent again from ακροαμαι — akroamai (to be a hearer), in N.T. only here and Romans 2:13. [source]

What do the individual words in Romans 2:13 mean?

not for the hearers of [the] law [are] righteous with - God but doers of [the] law will be justified
οὐ γὰρ οἱ ἀκροαταὶ νόμου δίκαιοι παρὰ τῷ Θεῷ ἀλλ’ ποιηταὶ νόμου δικαιωθήσονται

ἀκροαταὶ  hearers 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: ἀκροατής  
Sense: a hearer.
νόμου  of  [the]  law  [are] 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: νόμος  
Sense: anything established, anything received by usage, a custom, a law, a command.
δίκαιοι  righteous 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: δίκαιος  
Sense: righteous, observing divine laws.
τῷ  - 
Parse: Article, Dative Masculine Singular
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
Θεῷ  God 
Parse: Noun, Dative Masculine Singular
Root: θεός  
Sense: a god or goddess, a general name of deities or divinities.
ποιηταὶ  doers 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: ποιητής  
Sense: a maker, a producer, author.
νόμου  of  [the]  law 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: νόμος  
Sense: anything established, anything received by usage, a custom, a law, a command.
δικαιωθήσονται  will  be  justified 
Parse: Verb, Future Indicative Passive, 3rd Person Plural
Root: δικαιόω  
Sense: to render righteous or such he ought to be.