"it is not implied that in vv. 7 and 10 that people referred to _earn_ eternal
life. The 'good work' is not regarded as constituting a claim upon God, but as
the expression of faith and repentance. ... The insistence on the necessity of
works which we have here, which should be compared with what is to be seen in
such passages as Mt 7.21 and 25:31ff, has nothing at all to do with the idea
that one can be justified on the ground of works, that is, earn one's
justification by one's works."
Several years ago Cranfield wrote an influential article in _The Scottish
Journal of Theology_ on the various meanings of the term NOMOS in Paul's
writings. The term can refer to something akin to "legalism" in one passage,
metonomy for the entire OT on another, and God's requirements for all believers
in another. I felt I had to mention this in order to justify how Cranfield
could write the above paragraph: NOMOS for Cranfield in Romans 2 means NOMOS
correctly understood by Christians -- God's righteous requirements, obeyed out
of a pure heart.
I think the view he is proposing is that Paul is emphasizing that Jews have NO
privileges over Gentiles (on the assumption that some Jewish Christians were
boasting over their Gentile bretheren, and vice-vera). Paul has dealt with the
Gentile non-Christian in chapter 1 and the outcome was totally pessimistic. The
Gentile in chapter 2 is the one who has the law written on his heart (v. 15),
who is circumcised in his heart by the Spirit (v. 29), and is judged through
Jesus Christ (v. 16). God does not justify on the basis of the law, which is
exactly why the Jews are not more favored than the Gentiles. Yet Paul upholds
the law (rightfully understood). The law as the basis for salvation Paul
rejects; obeying the law as a response to God's grace is something Paul upholds
and demands. This section is summarized in 3:27-31.
I don't intend to convince anyone with the above paragraph; my modest goal was
to accurately portray the position. I solicit any corrections/comments.
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org