Thoughts on the Epistle to the Romans (37)

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God … will render to each one according to his deeds: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honour, and immortality.

Romans 2: 6.7.

For whoever has obeyed God’s call and has been led to repentance, believing in Jesus Christ and His work of redemption, a totally new life has begun (cf. ch.1:7;2:4;1:16.17). Previously he was in conflict with God, setting his sights on earthly objectives; now, however, he strives after “glory, honour and immortality”, i.e. after God’s approval and the eternal goal.

Believing Christians seek these things “by patient continuance in doing good”. They not only make a good beginning but persevere. In this way their faith becomes visible to their fellowmen through the fruit they bear (cf. Matthew 7:16-21; James 2:18). The “righteous” may indeed fall into sin, but their life is not characterized by it (cf. Proverbs 24:16; 1 John 2:1.2; 3:7-10).

The apostle Peter, too, was aware of the expectation of “glory and honour” as well as immortality and incorruptibility. For him, too, they were not the reward for righteousness through human activity, but God’s response to faith, genuine faith that proves itself through testing (cf. 1 Peter 1:4-7).

God’s recompense will be “eternal life”. Some portions of God’s Word, especially in the writings of the apostle John, see eternal life more as a gift of God already granted to the believer. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life” (John 3:36). Here and in other passages eternal life is regarded as a sphere into which the Christian enters fully at the end of his path of faith.