1 So, whoever you are, you people do not have any excuse for judging people [Note: At this point Paul begins addressing the Jews. See verse 17]. For in a matter where you judge someone else [to be wrong] you [actually] condemn yourselves, because you are practicing the same things [you condemn them for doing]. 2 Now we [Jews] know that God's judgment against people who practice such things [i.e., the Gentiles] is according to truth. [Note: Some use "You say," at the beginning of the sentence, making it an assertion of the Jews which Paul sets about to answer]. 3 But consider this, you people who judge others for practicing the same things you [yourselves] practice; do you think you will escape God's judgment [for this]? 4 Or, do you despise the abundance of God's kindness and tolerance and patience [toward you], not realizing that His kindness is intended to cause you to repent? [i.e., to change your hearts and lives]. 5 But your stubbornness and refusal to repent are storing up wrath [i.e., punishment] for yourselves, [to be experienced] on the Day of Wrath [i.e., the day of judgment] when God's just judgment will be revealed. 6 He will repay every person for what he has done. [See Psa. 62:12]. 7 To the ones who continue doing what is good and who look for glory, honor and immortal life [God will give] never ending life. 8 But to the ones who have selfish ambition [Note: Some translate these words "are contentious"] and refuse to obey the truth, but [instead] obey what is wrong, [God will bring] wrath, fury, 9 anguish and distress. He will bring these upon every human being who does wrong, upon the Jews first, then also upon the Greeks [i.e., Gentiles]. 10 But [He will bring] glory, honor and peace upon every person who does what is good; upon the Jews first, then also upon the Greeks, 11 for there is no favoritism with God.
12 For all those people [i.e., Gentiles] who have sinned without [knowing] the law of Moses will also be lost without [knowing] that law. And all those people [i.e., Jews] who have sinned under [the authority] of the law of Moses will be judged by [the requirements of] that law. 13 For [it is] not those who hear the law of Moses who are right with God, but [it is] those who obey [the requirements of] that law [perfectly] who will be considered right with God. 14 (For when the [unconverted] Gentiles, who do not have the law of Moses, instinctively practice [some of] its requirements, they become their own lawmakers, even though they do not have the law of Moses. 15 In doing this [i.e., practicing some of the requirements of the law of Moses], they demonstrate that these requirements are written in their hearts. Their conscience tells them this, and their thoughts alternately accuse them [of wrongdoing], or else endorse them [for doing right]). 16 This will be done on the day when God judges the secrets of men's [hearts] through Christ Jesus, according to [the teaching of] my Gospel.
17 But if you call yourselves "Jews," and [claim to] rely on the law of Moses, and brag about [belonging to] God; 18 if you know His will and have been taught by the law of Moses to [evaluate and] give approval to what is best; 19 if you are confident that you can give [spiritual] guidance to blind people and enlightenment to those who are in [spiritual] darkness; 20 if you are instructors of the ignorant, and teachers of babies [i.e., immature people] and possess in the law of Moses the [correct] form of knowledge and truth --- 21 since you teach other people [all of this], why do you not teach yourselves [these things]? You preach that a person should not steal, [but] do you steal? 22 You say that a person should not commit adultery [i.e., sexual unfaithfulness to their mate], [but] do you commit adultery? You [claim to] hate idols, [but] do you rob [their] temples? [Note: It is difficult to determine how the Jews were doing this. Perhaps they were guilty of the "spirit" of idolatry by devoting their efforts and affections to material things instead of to God]. 23 You boast about having the law of Moses, [but] do you dishonor God by breaking that law? 24 For God's name is being spoken against among the Gentiles because of your behavior, just as it is written. [See Isa. 52:5].
25 Now the practice of circumcision [i.e., the Jewish rite of identity, signifying the responsibility to observe the law of Moses] is worthwhile, providing you obey [the rest of] the law of Moses. But if you disobey the law, you might as well have never been circumcised. 26 So, if an uncircumcised person [i.e., a Gentile] obeys [the rest of] the requirements of the law, will not the fact that he is not circumcised be considered [by God] as though he were? 27 So, will not those physically uncircumcised people [i.e., the Gentiles], who obey the law, condemn you [Jews] for breaking the law, even though you have the written code and [practice] circumcision? 28 For that person is not a Jew who is one [merely] on the outside. And circumcision is not [merely] an outward physical ordinance. 29 But the [true] Jew is the person who is one on the inside, and [his] circumcision is a heart condition, [produced] by the Holy Spirit and not by the written law of Moses. [Note: Some translate "Spirit" here as "spirit" and make it simply an amplification of "heart"]. This person receives his praise from God and not [merely] from people.