Originally posted by Rajk999
It seems to be saying that Gentiles not under the law (commandments of Christ, I presume), can do the works of the law because their conscience is their guide. The passage implies that they will be judged according their law as long as its not in conflict with the commandments of Christ.
I don't think so. Keep in mind that St Paul was a very well educated Jew who, clearly, knew the
Law. When Jews refer to 'The Law,' they mean the Levitical Law -- the 600 some-odd proscriptions
and commandments about what to eat, what to wear, how to behave in circumstances and so forth.
An individual raised in a Jewish family would have learned this Law by attrition from their parents
Keep in mind that St Paul assumed the parousia
was imminent and was committed to an inclusive
idea of salvation (the idea of including 'goyim' amongst the saved). So, in order not to discourage
the Gentiles, he taught that it was unnecessary for Gentiles to learn and subsequently obey all
600+ Laws from Hebrew Scripture. The most obviously divisive one was circumcision (and for
This ties in with St Paul's discussions in Galatians and elsewhere, in which it seems clear that
St Peter and associates were trying to compel newly converted, non-Jewish believers to embrace
the whole of the Law or to exclude them entirely. St Paul believed that it was foolish to do so:
Jesus was coming soon, and it would silly to not build up the kingdom with those who were
not reasonably able to learn and obey all of those laws, especially since Jesus was believed to
be coming back within the lifetime of the Disciples and that the Laws which were meant to
address issues of corporeal purity were going to be moot shortly in any event as the spirit was
whisked away with Jesus.
That's how I understand St Paul's writing in that passage.