13for it is not the hearers of the Law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the Law who will be justified. 14For when Gentiles who do not have the Law instinctively perform the requirements of the Law, these, though not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience testifying and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,
13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
There are a few people in the Old Testament that were considered righteous but had never heard the gospel. How can this be? In the sermon titled “None Righteous,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains Romans 2:13–15 where Paul is careful to point out that they were not considered justified by the law, since no one can keep the law, but that they were a kind of people who knew the commandments of God and followed ordinances given by God. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that these individuals understood that the ordinances given by God were the only way to approach the Lord and have their sins forgiven. They were not “good” pagans or “noble” philosophers, nor were they like so many who were not only hearers of the word. These Old Testament saints were doers of the word, whose faith was not in the law but in the Giver of the law. Philosophies, knowledge, and good works do nothing in the eyes of Christ if He is not truly known. Paul elaborates this in the second section of the passage by openly expressing how many Jews were guilty of hypocrisy. All are condemned and subject to God’s wrath, even the Jews who were given the law of the Lord. The Jews who relied on their possession of the law for salvation were severely misguided.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.