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1NOW if you feel inclined to set yourself up as a judge of those who sin, let me assure you, whoever you are, that you are in no position to do so. For at whatever point you condemn others you automatically condemn yourself, since you, the judge, commit the same sins.

2God's judgment, we know, is utterly impartial in its action against such evildoers.

3What makes you think that you, who so readily judge the sins of others, can consider yourself beyond the judgment of God?

4Are you, perhaps, misinterpreting God's generosity and patient mercy towards you as weakness on his part? Don't you realize that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

5Or are you by your obstinate refusal to repent simply storing up for yourself an experience of the wrath of God in the day of his anger when he shows his hand in righteous judgment?

6He will "render to every man according to his works",

7and that means eternal life to those who, in patiently doing good, aim at the unseen glory and honour of the eternal world.

8It also means anger and wrath for those who rebel against God's plan of life, and refuse to obey his rules, and who, in so doing, make themselves the very servants of evil.

9Yes, it means bitter pain and agony for every human soul who works on the side of evil, for the Jew first and then the Greek.

10But there is glory and honour and peace for every worker on the side of good, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

11For there is no preferential treatment with God.

12All who have sinned without knowledge of the Law will die without reference to the Law;

13and all who have sinned knowing the Law shall be judged according to the Law. It is not familiarity with the Law that justifies a man in the sight of God, but obedience to it.

14When the gentiles, who have no knowledge of the Law, act in accordance with it by the light of nature, they show that they have a Law in themselves,

15for they demonstrate the effect of a Law operating in their own hearts. Their own consciences endorse the existence of such a law, for there is something which condemns or excuses their actions.

16We may be sure that all this will be taken into account in the day of true judgment, when God will judge men's secret lives by Christ Jesus, as my gospel plainly states.

17Now you, my reader, who bear the name of Jew, take your stand upon the Law, and are, so to speak, proud of your God.

18You knew his plan, and are able through your knowledge of the Law truly to appreciate moral values.

19You can, therefore, confidently look upon yourself as a guide to those who do not know the way, and as a light to those who are groping in the dark.

20You can instruct those who have no spiritual wisdom: you can teach those who, spiritually speaking, are only just out of the cradle. You have in the Law a certain grasp of the basis of true knowledge.

21But, prepared as you are to instruct others, do you ever teach yourself anything? You preach against stealing, for example, but are you sure of your own honesty?

22You denounce the practice of adultery, but are you sure of your own purity? You loathe idolatry, but how honest are you towards the property of heathen temples?

23Everyone knows how proud you are of the Law, but that means a proportionate dishonour to God when men know that you break it!

24Don't you know that the very name of God is cursed among the gentiles because of the behaviour of Jews? There is a verse of scripture to that effect.

25That most intimate sign of belonging to God that we can circumcision does indeed mean something if you keep the Law. But if you flout the Law you are to all intents and purposes uncircumcising yourself!

26Conversely, if an uncircumcised man keep the Law's command, does he not thereby "circumcise" himself?

27Moreover, is it not plain to you that those who are physically uncircumcised, and yet keep the Law, are a continual judgment upon you who, for all your circumcision and knowledge of the Law, break it?

28I have come to the conclusion that a true Jew is not the man who is merely a Jew outwardly, and real circumcision is not just a matter of the body.

29The true Jew is one who belongs to God in heart, a man whose circumcision is not just an outward physical affair but is a Godmade sign upon the heart and soul, and results not in the approval of man, but in the approval of God.


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