I’m spending a lot of time in Romans 2 recently as part of some commentary writing. It’s really a case of deja vu, as I’ve been here before (see Saving Righteousness of God, chap. 7), but there is always so much to mull over. Along the way, I was struck by an interesting comment made by Francis Watson (Paul, Judaism, and the Gentiles, 211) that: “A comparison between Cranfield and Kasemann shows the Reformed commentator to be more at home in this passage than the Lutheran one.” So true.
I have to say that Stowers is interesting here, Campbell is on his own, Bassler is half right, and there is a broad and yet strange coalition of agreement about how to handle Rom 2:14-15, 25-29 by Barth, Cranfield, Watson, Gathercole, and Wright, who see it as referring to Christian Gentiles who fulfil the law by their life in the Spirit.
In a nutshell, Paul argues in Romans 2 that there is no superiority for his imaginary Jewish opponent by presiding in judgment (vv. 1-11), by possessing the Torah (vv. 12-16), by a privileged ethnicity (vv. 17-24), or by practicing circumcision (vv. 25-29). God is impartial, each will get their just rewards, and when the rewards are handed out, well, some Gentiles might even be better off than some Jews at the final recompense.