This passage is part of a larger section in Romans where the apostle Paul is discussing the concept of justification by faith. In this passage, Paul is arguing that it is not enough to simply hear the law, but one must also obey it in order to be declared righteous in God's sight.
The phrase "it isn’t the hearers of the law who are righteous before God" refers to the idea that simply having knowledge of the law is not enough to achieve righteousness. One must also put that knowledge into practice by obeying the law. This is a theme that Paul emphasizes throughout his letters, particularly in his discussions of the relationship between faith and works.
The next part of the passage is a discussion of Gentiles and their relationship to the law. Paul argues that even though Gentiles do not have the law, they can still show that they understand the requirements of the law by their actions. This is an important point for Paul, who believed that Gentiles could be included in God's plan of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, regardless of whether or not they were circumcised or followed the Jewish law.
The phrase "they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience testifying with them" suggests that Gentiles are able to understand the basic moral principles of the law even without having knowledge of the specific commandments. This is because these principles are written on their hearts and are reflected in their conscience.
The passage ends with a reminder that God will judge people's secrets through Jesus Christ. This is a warning that even if someone appears to be following the law outwardly, God knows their true intentions and motivations. It is a reminder that true righteousness comes from the heart, not just outward actions.
In many ways, Romans 2:13-16 is a passage that emphasizes the importance of both faith and works. It is not enough to simply have knowledge of the law, but one must also put that knowledge into practice by obeying the law. At the same time, the passage recognizes that there are those who do not have knowledge of the law, but are still able to live in accordance with its basic principles. This is a reminder that God's grace extends beyond the boundaries of any one particular religious tradition.
The passage is also a warning against hypocrisy and the danger of outwardly following the law while inwardly harboring sinful intentions. It is a reminder that true righteousness comes from the heart, and that God knows our true motivations and intentions, even when they are hidden from others.
In summary, Romans 2:13-16 is a passage that emphasizes the importance of both faith and works in achieving righteousness. It recognizes that the requirements of the law are not limited to those who have knowledge of it, but are written on the hearts of all people. It is a warning against hypocrisy and the danger of outwardly following the law while inwardly harboring sinful intentions. It is a reminder that God judges not just outward actions, but also the secrets of our hearts, and that true righteousness comes from a heart that is transformed by faith.
Romans 2:13-16. It isn’t the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be justified (for when Gentiles who don’t have the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience testifying with them, and their thoughts among themselves accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men, according to my Good News, by Jesus Christ.