Romans 2:7

The Apostle Paul writes to the world-renowned believers in Rome, the center of the world at that time, in order to answer a slanderous charge made to them against Paul and his message. Paul’s detractors claim his emphasis on faith overturns the law. Paul says that ” just living by the law” does not achieve personal justice before God, while “just living by faith” does. Paul then demonstrates what a just life looks like: harmonious living with Jesus as the leader. Paul also makes clear the choice a believer has: to walk in faith and the power of the resurrection and experience resurrection life, or walk in sin and unnecessarily experience the negative consequences.

Paul refutes the slander from competing Jewish “authorities” and makes clear that doing what is right pleases God, whereas simply asserting we are right or judging others for being wrong does not. What matters is faith: trusting and doing what God asks. What does not matter is religious labels or practice (if it varies from God’s way).

God’s rewards in heaven await believers who seek to walk with Him and pursue His will.

Our perfect Father accepts us without condition based on our receipt of the completed work of Jesus on the cross by faith, but He will only approve and reward those behaviors that are beneficial to us and to others. That is on full display in 2:7-11.

The phrase “eternal life” is a translation of the Greek words aionios and zoe. Aionios means as far as we can see, or to the horizon. Zoe is one of the several Greek words rendered “life” in English and refers to the quality of life experience. A translation that better conveys the idea of aionios zoe in scripture might be a phrase like “lasting life fulfillment.”

“Eternal life” is used to refer to a gift we receive by grace through faith (John 3:16) as well as a reward for living the experience of faith in daily living. It is used here to refer to a reward in heaven of extra life fulfillment.

The phrase “no good deed goes unpunished” was coined for good reason. If we do good we will often be taken advantage of, ridiculed, and rejected. So, it takes great patience and perseverance to continually seek to do good. That is why God promises here a special quality of life in the New Earth for those who do this. It is likely this kind of person is the same kind whom the Apostle John refers to in Revelation as an “overcomer” or “victorious one” (Revelation 1-3).

It might be surprising to some to see that the person who seeks to continually do good is also described as one seeking “glory, honor, and immortality” since we typically associate those characteristics with the worldliness and pride. But the key consideration here is that the glory and honor being sought is not that of seeking approval from other people but from our Heavenly Father who judges based on the intentions of our hearts. Our deepest longings for acceptance can be met by receiving by faith the unconditional gift of new birth into God’s family, and likewise, our deepest longings for approval can be found in seeking glory, honor, and immortality from God above that from other people.

We as humans constantly seek glory, honor, and immortality from people in this life. Paul urges us to seek it from God, which requires faith. We can see and feel the way we are approved of or rejected by people, but Paul urges that we put daily belief that “God will make it worthwhile” and follow His ways regardless of the cost.

Biblical Text

7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;

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