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Romans 2:7 meaning

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, beginning with the assertion that to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, will be given the reward of eternal life (v 7).

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 in v 7 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 strive for doing 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 (v 7) since we typically associate those characteristics with 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 (Hebrews 4:12).

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 instead of other people.

We as humans constantly seek glory, honor, and immortality from people in this life. Paul urges us to instead seek it from God. This requires faith. Specifically, this requires faith to believe that God's rewards will be worth it (Hebrews 11:6). We can see and feel the way we are approved of or rejected by people, which provides a powerful motivation to be shaped by the acceptance and/or approval of others. But Paul urges that we believe daily that our acceptance from God is unconditionally assured by Jesus. Further, that "God will make it worthwhile" for us to walk in His ways. This faith is what will propel us to follow His ways regardless of the cost, for this will result in eternal life.

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