“Justified” in Rom 2:13

“Justified” in Rom 2:13 November 12, 2003

“Justified” in Rom 2:13 (the first use in Romans) is clearly contrasted with “perish” and “judged by Law.” The structure of vv 12-13 is poetic parallelism:

whoever without law sins without law also perishes
whoever in law sins through law will be judged
not the hearers of law are just before God
but the doers of law shall be justified

Obviously, “justified” is synonymous with “just before God.” But the structure also suggests that being “justified” is the opposite of “perishing” or “being judged by law.” To be justified is to be rescued from wrath, from the tribulation and distress that Paul predicts earlier in the passage. If that tribulation is understood as the historical judgment on Israel and the oikoumene in AD 70, then “justified” means surviving that ordeal and escaping to the other side, passing through the tribulation and receiving “eternal life” as an inheritance.

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