Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Romans 2:8

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

But unto them, etc. -

2. He will manifest his indignation, and inflict wrath - punishment, on all who are contentious - who obstinately dispute against the truth, and obey unrighteousness - who act under the influence of the principle of sin, and not under the influence of the Spirit of God.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Who are contentious - This expression usually denotes those who are of a quarrelsome or litigious disposition; and generally has reference to controversies among people. But here it evidently denotes a disposition toward God, and is of the same signification as rebellious, or as opposing God. They who contend with the Almighty; who resist his claims, who rebel against his laws, and refuse to submit to his requirements, however made known. The Septuagint use the verb to translate the Hebrew word מרה maarahin Deuteronomy 21:20. One striking characteristic of the sinner is, that he contends with God, that is, that he opposes and resists his claims. This is the case with all sinners; and it was particularly so with the Jews, and hence, the apostle used the expression here to characterize them particularly. His argument he intended to apply to the Jews, and hence he used such an expression as would exactly describe them. This character of being a rebellious people was one which was often charged on the Jewish nation, Deuteronomy 9:7, Deuteronomy 9:24; Deuteronomy 31:27; Isaiah 1:2; Isaiah 30:9; Isaiah 65:2; Jeremiah 5:23; Ezekiel 2:8, Ezekiel 2:5.

Do not obey the truth - Compare Romans 1:18. The truth here denotes the divine will, which is alone the light of truth (Calvin). It means true doctrine in opposition to false opinions; and to refuse to obey it is to regard it as false, and to resist its influence. The truth here means all the correct representations which had been made of God, and his perfections, and law, and claims, whether by the light of nature or by revelation. The description thus included Gentiles and Jews, but particularly the latter, as they had been more signally favored with the light of truth. It had been an eminent characteristic of the Jews that they had refused to obey the commands of the true God, Joshua 5:6; Judges 2:2; Judges 6:10; 2 Kings 18:12; Jeremiah 3:13, Jeremiah 3:25; Jeremiah 42:21; Jeremiah 43:4, Jeremiah 43:7; Jeremiah 9:13.

But obey unrighteousness - The expression means that they yielded themselves to iniquity, and thus became the servants of sin, Romans 6:13, Romans 6:16-17, Romans 6:19. Iniquity thus may be said to reign over people, as they follow the dictates of evil, make no resistance to it, and implicitly obey all its hard requirements.

Indignation and wrath - That is, these shall be rendered to those who are contentious, etc. The difference between indignation and wrath, says Ammonius, is that the former is of short duration, but the latter is a long continued remembrance of evil. The one is temporary, the other denotes continued expressions of hatred of evil. Eustathius says that the word “indignation” denotes the internal emotion, but wrath the external manifestation of indignation. (Tholuck.) Both words refer to the opposition which God will cherish and express against sin in the world of punishment.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The Jews thought themselves a holy people, entitled to their privileges by right, while they were unthankful, rebellious, and unrighteous. But all who act thus, of every nation, age, and description, must be reminded that the judgment of God will be according to their real character. The case is so plain, that we may appeal to the sinner's own thoughts. In every wilful sin, there is contempt of the goodness of God. And though the branches of man's disobedience are very various, all spring from the same root. But in true repentance, there must be hatred of former sinfulness, from a change wrought in the state of the mind, which disposes it to choose the good and to refuse the evil. It shows also a sense of inward wretchedness. Such is the great change wrought in repentance, it is conversion, and is needed by every human being. The ruin of sinners is their walking after a hard and impenitent heart. Their sinful doings are expressed by the strong words, "treasuring up wrath." In the description of the just man, notice the full demand of the law. It demands that the motives shall be pure, and rejects all actions from earthly ambition or ends. In the description of the unrighteous, contention is held forth as the principle of all evil. The human will is in a state of enmity against God. Even Gentiles, who had not the written law, had that within, which directed them what to do by the light of nature. Conscience is a witness, and first or last will bear witness. As they nature. Conscience is a witness, and first or last will bear witness. As they kept or broke these natural laws and dictates, their consciences either acquitted or condemned them. Nothing speaks more terror to sinners, and more comfort to saints, than that Christ shall be the Judge. Secret services shall be rewarded, secret sins shall be then punished, and brought to light.
Ellen G. White
Lift Him Up, 139.6

We cannot overestimate the value of simple faith and unquestioning obedience. It is by following in the path of obedience in simple faith that the character obtains perfection. Adam was required to render strict obedience to God's commandments, and no lower standard is presented to those who desire salvation [today].... [Christ] says, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it. If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive” (John 14:13-17).... The world is leagued against the truth, because it does not desire to obey the truth. Shall I who perceive the truth close my eyes and heart to its saving power because the world chooses darkness rather than light? (Letter 119, 1895). LHU 139.6

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Ellen G. White
The Upward Look, 209.4

Says the apostle Paul, “Who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” (Galatians 3:1). The truth was to the apostle so great, so clear, so important, because eternal interests were involved, that he could only ascribe to the bewitching power of Satan the continued impiety and neglect of this great salvation. Now are there not many who are so bewitched with Satan's wiles that they do not obey the truth? that they do not see the advantages of obedience? Who is thus unwise? It is those who have not sought the Lord for help that they may cease to longer transgress His law. UL 209.4

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Ellen G. White
The Upward Look, 318.6

Often the professed followers of Christ are found with hearts hardened and eyes blinded, because they do not obey the truth. Selfish motives and purposes take possession of the mind. In their self-confidence they suppose that their way is the way of wisdom. They are not particular to follow the path that God has marked out. They declare that circumstances alter cases, and when Satan tempts them to follow worldly principles, they yield, and making crooked paths for their feet, they lead others astray. The inexperienced follow where they go, supposing that the judgment of Christians so experienced must be wise.—Manuscript 135, October 31, 1902, “Instruction to the Church.” UL 318.6

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