When Paul says, “There is no partiality with God” in Romans 2:11, he is speaking of God’s judgment of all mankind. He will impartially reward both the Jew and the Gentile who do good and will pour out His wrath on both the Jew and the Gentile who do evil.1 The Jew is not saved by the “faith” expressed in his physical circumcision and his knowledge of the Mosaic Law, but rather it is according to his obedience to that Law that he will be judged. Nor is the Gentile condemned because he only has the “natural law” — the law of conscience written on his heart. Rather, he will be justified or condemned according to whether or not he is a “doer of the law.”2
None are prejudged because they never heard about Christ, as the Christian gospel teaches. It is after they have gone through the first death that they will be judged.3 Paul plainly says that “the doers of the law will be justified” and that “God will render to every man according to his deeds.”4 The fact that God will reward with eternal life those who do well in this life, even if they have never heard the good news, is very difficult for Christians to accept. It is just like Peter’s disdain of the Gentiles. Peter’s vision of the unclean animals in Acts 10 and the salvation of the Gentile, Cornelius, reveal how deeply ingrained in the early believers (even the apostles) was the Jewish concept of the Gentiles as being unclean. They considered the Gentiles to be so low — so depraved, as it were — that the Gospel should not even go to them.5
Today, the same kind of blindness prevents Christians from seeing that no man is depraved by nature, even though he is fallen. It prevents them from seeing that God gave man a conscience for a good reason — it was His provision for the “unsaved” who have never heard the Gospel to escape the second death and inherit eternal life by obeying the law written on their heart. Such Gentiles (people without the Bible) will come forth from their graves to a resurrection of life, on the basis of the good deeds they have done. This is the plain and self-evident truth of John 5:28,29. It says that those who have done the good they knew to do and those who have done the evil deeds they knew not to do will each receive their just reward.
They will be rewarded with either a second life or a second death. The people judged in John 5:28,29 are not those who heard the good news in their lifetime as in John 5:24-25, but they are all the rest of humanity who will come forth from the grave at the Last Judgment. The sufferings of the righteous in the grave will be enough to pay for their sins. The sufferings of the wicked, those who practice the kinds of deeds mentioned in Romans 1:29-31 — greed, envy, murder, deceit, gossip, being unloving (not loving their neighbor as themselves), etc. — will never be able to pay for their sins.
Peter’s experience with Cornelius opened his heart up to the revelation of the three eternal destinies of man. He saw the whole category of the righteous when he said, “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him.”6 He surely did not mean Cornelius received the Holy Spirit on the basis of his good works, or that the blood of Messiah could not forgive sinners among the Gentiles. Rather, at that moment he understood what his prejudice had blinded him to before — that there were righteous people in the nations with whom God was pleased. So, both Peter and Paul knew that Jew and Gentile would be impartially rewarded or punished according to how they kept the law they knew.7
Indeed, if the Gentile — the uncircumcised man of the nations — keeps the requirements of the law, he is regarded by God as truly circumcised.8 And if those who have the Bible (Christian, Jew, or disciple) fail to keep the righteous requirements of the Law, that “faith” will be regarded as uncircumcision or as no faith at all.9 The man who cannot keep the righteous requirements of the law is still under its condemnation.10 Indeed, no one who practices the deeds of Romans 1:29-31 will escape condemnation, regardless of whether or not he claims to believe in Jesus. This is what Paul meant when he said, “And do you suppose, O man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself, you will escape the judgment of God?”11
For, as the apostle Paul said, “There is no partiality with God.” It is those who claim to be believers that Paul is addressing in Romans 2:1-6 who condemned others with the Gospel they preached while doing the same things themselves. In fact, the men who live by their conscience will one day judge the “believers” who do these things.12 Instead of transgressing the Law, it should have been written on their hearts.13 Their “faith” will not save them, because their evil deeds prove they are not righteous men who are living their lives by their faithfulness.14 May it never be that believers would continue in sin, for sin is lawlessness.15 It never has been and it never shall be, for God is not partial.