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Scripture Reading:  Romans 2:12-16


July 2004



1.  Some teach God has a universal moral law that exists today, running parallel with the gospel of Christ, and that this is the law that alien sinners sin against and are under before/until they believe & obey the gospel of Christ.

2.  The Bible teaches that all men today are under the authority of one Lord and one faith, Jesus & His gospel.  Such was not always the case (Heb. 1:1-2).


Were Gentiles under the Patriarchal Law of God until the establishment of the church?



  -(Dispensation:  “the management of a household or of household affairs,” administration.)

  A.  Patriarchal Age:  From creation until the time of Christ. 

    1.  “Patriarchal” – God dealt with heads of families – Gen. 18:19.

    2.  God expected the fathers to hand down “the way of the Lord” to their children!

      a.  Patriarchal does not speak of a law, but of a period of time when God dealt directly with men (Heb. 1:1). 

      b.  Describes how God administered His will among men.

    3.  Yes, Gentiles were under law to God before the church was established, and all men are now under under the same law (gospel of Christ).

  B.  Jewish Age:  Giving of law of Moses at Sinai to law of Christ (Acts 2).

    1.  National law – Only to Israel – Exo. 34:27-28; Deut. 5:2-3 (Rom. 9:4).

    2.  Added to God’s promise – Gal. 3:15-19.

  C.  Christian Age:  From giving of gospel of Christ to end of world – Matt. 28:18-20 (Acts 1:8; 2:1ff).



  A.  Men have always been under Divine Law Rom. 5:12-13; 4:15 (1:18).

    1.  Only men who are under law, sin.

    2.  All men sin (Rom. 3:23; Isa. 24:5).

    3.  Therefore, all men are (have been) under divine law.

  B.  The Law that People were under during the Patriarchal Age was Revealed by God (it was not inherently in them).

    1.  The law Gentiles were under was not innately (naturally, instinctively, inherently, intrinsically) deposited on their heart – it was revealed by God.

    2.  Not in Bible:  “Law on, in, of the heart” or “universal moral law” that was instinctively known.

    3.  Put another wayHow was divine truth (law) given to the Gentiles (mankind):  Revelation, or man's innate nature?

  C.  God Revealed His Moral & Spiritual Laws to People from the Beginning:

    1.  If not revealed, men could not live by faith, since faith comes from hearing word of God (Rom. 10:17).

      a.  Adam Gen. 2:16-17; 3:17 (cf. Hosea 6:7).

      b.  Abel Gen. 4:3-5 (Heb. 11:4; Rom. 10:17).

      c.  Enoch Gen. 5:24 – Walked with God (Heb. 11:5 – Well-pleasing to God).

    2.  If not revealed, men could not be unfaithful by disobeying God’s will:

      a.  Cain1 Jno. 3:11-12 (No brotherly love, murderer, works were evil).

      b.  Men of Noah’s day Gen. 6:5 (Hearts set on evil – A standard of righteousness present that they refused, cf. 6:9).

      c.  Sodom & Gomorrah Jude 7 (Punished for fornication – violated God’s law on marriage & sexual purity, Gen. 2:23-25).

    3.  Man learned God’s will…he was not born with it inside him:

      a.  Abimelech (Gen. 20:1-7):  He would have sinned against God (20:6) had he married another man's wife (20:3)!  Was he born with this understanding of marriage?  Or, did God reveal it?
      b.  Job (
Job 31:1-4, 9-12):  How did Job know it was sin to lust after a woman & to be unfaithful to his wife?

  D.  The Law that Gentiles were under was not a Written Law (like God gave Israel) – Rom. 2:12.

    1.  Nevertheless, God’s law was revealed to man – Rom. 1:18-19, 21, 25, 28.

    2.  Rom. 1:18-32:  God revealed Himself & His will to the Gentiles:

      a.  1:19 – God’s will had been known (common ancestry through Noah) – God made it known.

      b.  1:21 – They knew God, but didn’t serve God (Isa. 24:5).

        1)  1:25, 28 - They rejected God & His truth, refusing to keep Him in their knowledge.

        2)  1:32Knew God’s ordinances against sin (deserved death), yet practiced sin & consented with those who sinned!

      c.  1:21 – The result:  Became vain in reasoning / hearts darkened! (Is this where their “law of the heart” is to be found?  In their vain, dark, ignorant heart?)
1:18 – God’s wrath upon them was just!

  E.   The Spiritual Condition of Gentiles Compared with the Jews (while the Law of Moses was in effect) – Rom. 2:14-16.

    1.  Already seen that Gentiles were are under law to God & judged by it to be sinners (2:12; 1:18).

    2.  Gentiles did not have a written law (the law of Moses) – 2:14.

    3.  When Gentiles naturally practiced what was written in the LOM, the work of the law (of Moses) was written in their hearts – 2:14-15.

    4.  They had knowledge of sin written in their hearts (which is the “work of the law,” 2:14-15); Rom. 3:20.

    5.  Those who lived by this knowledge & kept a good conscience will be excused (saved) in the Day of Judgment; those who did not are accused (condemned) – 2:15-16.

 -Divine law does not come to man through man’s innate nature (
Jer. 10:23; Prov. 14:12; Acts 26:9), but through divine revelation of truth (1 Cor. 2:10-13, 16; Eph. 3:3-5).



  A.  Christ Rules All Men with His Gospel.

    1.  John 17:2 - Authority over all flesh.

    2.  Matt. 28:18-19 – All “right to rule” heaven & earth.

    3.  Mark 16:15 – Preach gospel to the whole creation.  (His authority over all men is made known by the gospel.)

    4.  Hebrews 1:1-3 – The word of His power upholds all things; How God speaks to us today.

    5.  Acts 17:30-31 – By Christ (gospel), God commands all men everywhere to repent.


1.  Before the gospel of Christ, Gentiles were under divine law that God had revealed from creation.

2.  Since Acts 2, all men are under the revealed gospel of Christ.

3.  Only the gospel will save sinners – Rom. 1:16.