Gentiles without the law (Rom 2:14)

“When the gentiles,

Who do not

Possess the law,

Do instinctively

What the law requires,

These,

Although not having the law,

Are a law

To themselves.”

ὅταν γὰρ ἔθνη τὰ μὴ νόμον ἔχοντα φύσει τὰ τοῦ νόμου ποιῶσιν, οὗτοι νόμον μὴ ἔχοντες ἑαυτοῖς εἰσιν νόμος·

Paul said that when the gentiles (ὅταν γὰρ ἔθνη) or non-Jewish people, who do not possess the law (τὰ μὴ νόμον ἔχοντα), do (ποιῶσιν) instinctively or by nature (φύσει) what the law requires (τὰ τοῦ νόμου), these, although not having the law (οὗτοι νόμον μὴ ἔχοντες), are a law to themselves (ἑαυτοῖς εἰσιν νόμος).  In other words, gentiles could be morally sensitive to the law without knowing the explicit Mosaic law.  This was sometimes called the natural law or the instinctive law of the conscience.  They must follow the law of their hearts.  The gentiles are not free to do anything they please.  They must be morally correct according to the natural law of their heartfelt conscience.  Do you follow your conscience?

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