“To them, who, by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life:”–Paul is not teaching salvation by works here, but he is emphasizing God’s impartiality between Jews and Gentiles.

“To them”
Literally:  “To the {ones}”– To them that seek for glory. First, Paul speaks of the reward that shall be given to those that live holy lives. The substance of these verses is that the final judgment will be about character alone.

         “who, by patient continuance”
           Literally:  “Truly by patience work good.”–Who by perseverance in well doing, or in a  good work. 

          PATIENT CONTINUANCE: (Grk.-hypomonē)–Literally: “steadfastness, or constancy.”  The basic idea is that of remaining under some discipline, subjecting one’s self to something which demands the consent and compliance of the will to something against that which he would naturally rebel.               

         They who so continue or persevere in good works so as to give evidence that they are true believers. It does not mean those who perform one single act, but those who consistently live as to show that this is their character to obey God. No other conduct gives evidence of being a Christian, but that which continues in the ways of righteousness.
         No one can please God who only lives a holy life at times. The Christian life is not spasmodic; that is, not on-again-and-off-again.  Rather, is a life of consistent holy living.  There must be constant effort, patient perseverance, a constant seeking. Luke 8:15, in the Parable of the Sower, says the good ground represents those “who have the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.”

“seek for”Literally:  “Seeking.”  This word denotes the act of earnestly striving to find anything that is lost, (Matt. 18:12; Luke 2:48-49).  But it also denotes the act when one desires or earnestly strives to obtain anything; when he puts forth his efforts to accomplish it.

Here it denotes an earnest and intense desire to obtain eternal life. It does not mean simply the desire of a sinner to be happy, or the efforts of those who are not willing to forsake their sins and yield to God, but the intense effort of those who are willing to forsake all their crimes, and submit to God and obey his laws.

“Glory and honor and immortality.
Literally:  “Glory and honor and seeking incorruptibility.”  The three words used here denote the happiness of the heavenly world. They vary somewhat in their meaning, and are each descriptive of something in heaven, that renders it an object of
intense desire. The  expressions are cumulative, or they are designed to express the happiness of heaven in the  highest possible degree.

Glory and honor vary somewhat in their meaning, but each are descriptive of something in heaven that renders it an object of intense desire.  These expressions are cumulative; that is, they are designed to express the happiness of heaven in the highest possible degree. Future salvation is thus described as an object of pursuit. It is “glory,” because of a glorious life; “honor,” because it is a reward; denoting the enduring and progressive character of the new life.

         GLORY:  (Grk.–doxa)–This word denotes praise or anything distinguished for beauty, ornament, majesty, splendor, as of the sun, etc.  It is used to denote the highest happiness or contentment, as expressing everything that shall be splendid, rich, and grand. It denotes that there will be an absence of everything mean, groveling, obscure.

        HONOR:  (Grk.–timē)-This word implies the idea of reward, or just retribution, i.e., the honor and reward which shall be conferred in heaven on the friends of God. It stands opposed to contempt, poverty, and want among men.  Here they are despised by men; there they shall be honored by God.

                 IMMORTALITY: (Grk.–aphtharsia)–Literally: “incorruption.” That which is not corruptible, or subject to decay.

It is applied to heaven as a state where there shall be decay or death, in strong contrast with our present condition, where all things are corruptible, and soon vanish away. These expressions are undoubtedly descriptive of a state of things beyond the grave. They are never applied in the Scriptures to any condition of things on the earth. This consideration proves, therefore, that the expressions in the next verse; indignation, etc., apply to the punishment of the wicked beyond the grave.

“eternal life”
Literally:  “Life of (the) ages.”  That is, God will “render”
eternal life to those who seek it in this manner. This is a great principle; and this shows that Paul means by “their deeds,” (2:6,) not merely their external conduct, but their inward thoughts, and efforts displayed by their seeking for glory, etc.

Keep in mind that under this principle, a way of life is not the subject here.  Rather, a way of life is the basis of judgment.  The “do-gooder” will be judged according to his works.  John said, “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Rev. 20:12).  The man who wants to work for eternal life may do so; and he will be judged according to his deeds, but he is warned that they will avail nothing.  “And whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire” (Rev. 20:15).  Trusting Christ as Savior puts your name in the Book of Life.  Eternal life is not a reward for effort; rather, it is a gift to those who trust Christ.

“But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness; indignation and wrath.

“who are contentious”
Literally:  “But to the {ones} even disobeying the truth”– They,

1.      Who contend with God; 
2.      Who resist His claims,
3.      Who rebel against His laws, and refuse to submit to His requirements.

           CONTENTIOUS:   (Grk.–eris)–Literally:  “factious, selfish rivalry, quarreling.”
Those who contend against the truth, rebel against God, and do what they know to be wrong

         This expression usually denotes those who are of a quarrelsome or litigious disposition.  It generally has reference to controversies among men. But here it evidently denotes a disposition towards God, and is of the same significance of rebellious, or as opposing God. One striking characteristic of the sinner is that he contends with God; that is, that he opposes and resists His claims.
         This is the case with all sinners; and it was particularly so with the Jews; and so, Paul used the expression here to particularly characterize them.  This character of being a rebellious people was one which was often charged on the Jewish nation.  

        “Remember, {and} forget not how thou provokedst the LORD thy God in wrath in the wilderness; from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the LORD” (Deut. 9:7).

        “For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck:  behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?” (Deut. 31:27).

        “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth:  for the LORD hath spoken, ‘I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me” (Isaiah 1:2).

        “That this {is} rebellious people, lying children, children {that} will not hear the Law of the LORD(Isa. 30:9).

        “But this people hath a revolting and rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone” (Jeremiah 5:23).

         God will display His indignation, and inflict wrathpunishment, on ALL who are contentious; that is, those who obstinately dispute against the truth, and obey unrighteousness; who act under the influence of the principle of sin, and not under the influence of the Spirit of God.
         Paul may be referring to such determined resistance to the Gospel as he himself had so painfully witnessed on the part of his own countrymen. (See Acts 13:44-46; 17:5,13; 18:6,12; and compare I Thess. 2:15,16).

“do not obey the truth”
Literally:  “disobeying the truth.”  Comp. 1:18–The truth here refers to the Divine will, which is the light of truth. It means true doctrine in opposition to false opinions; and to refuse to obey it is to regard it as false and to resist its influence.

          DO NOT OBEY:  (Grk.–apeithousi)–By ridiculing it, as Modernists, and liberals are doing today; the  “factious,” those who oppose the Scripture; their notions and arguments, and they continue to “obey unrighteousness.  All about us we see them and their error;   They now fill up the world, but soon they will fill up hell.

In its verb form, the word is apeitheō which means, “not to allow one’s self to be persuaded; to refuse; or withhold belief.”  The noun form  (apeithēs)  means, “obstinancy; un-persuasive.” Here it means resistance to all the correct representations which had been made of God, and His perfections, law and claims, whether by the light of nature or by revelation. The description thus included Gentiles and Jews; but particularly the Jews, as they had been favored with the light of truth. It had been an eminent characteristic of the Jews that they had refused to obey the commands of the true God.       

       TRUTH:   (Grk.–alētheia)–Meaning, “truthfulness, truth, reality, with rightful motives” (Phil. 1:18).  Truth includes righteousness, but truth and unrighteousness are often contrasted in the Bible (I Cor. 13:6; II Thess. 2:10, 12)  Unrighteousness implies  falsehood. 

“but obey unrighteousness”
Literally:  “And obeying unrighteousness.”   That they yielded themselves to iniquity, and thus became the servants (literally: slaves) of sin, (6:13, 16-17, 19).  Iniquity thus may be said to reign over men, as they follow the dictates of evil, make no resistance to it, and      implicitly obey all its demands.

God's law is truth. Sinners fight against God and “obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness.” This verse describes the character of the wicked. Verse 9 declares God's judgment upon those who do this.

         “indignation and wrath”
         Literally: “anger and wrath”–These shall be rendered to those who are contentious, etc.

                 INDIGNATION:   (Grk.–thumos)-Literally:  “rage, fury, intense feeling, anger.” The outbreak of the anger of God at the Great Day of Retribution. 

                 WRATH:  (Grk.–orgē)–Literally:  “wrath, retribution, revenge, punishment.”  The abiding settled mind of God, as in John 3:36 towards them—“condemned already.”

         The difference between indignation and wrath is that indignation is of short duration, i.e., temporary, but the wrath is a long-continued remembrance of evil; denoting continued expressions of hatred of evil.  Indignation denotes the internal emotion, but wrath denotes the external display of indignation. Both words refer to the opposition which God will express against sin in that time of punishment.
         Paul may be alluding to Psalm 78:49: “He cast upon them,” meaning the Egyptians. “The fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble;” and finally intimating that the Jews would in the Day of Vengeance be more severely punished than even the Egyptians were when God made their plagues so terrible.  God will then display His indignation, and inflict wrath—His punishment, on:
1.      All who are contentious;

2.      All who obstinately dispute against the truth, and obey unrighteousness;
3.      All who act under the influence of the principle of sin, and not under the influence of the Spirit of God.

“Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile”

         “Tribulation and anguish”
          Literally:  “trouble and pain.”  \

        TRIBULATION: (Grk.–thlipsis)–commonly denotes affliction, or the situation of being pressed down by a burden, as of trials, calamities, etc.; that is, being pressed down by punishment or pain inflicted for sins. As applied to future punishment, it denotes the pressure of the calamities that will come upon the soul as the just reward of sin.

This word occurs 45 times in the N.T., and is translated as “tribulation” 21 times, “affliction” 18 times, “anguish” (John 16:21), “burdened” (II Cor. 8:13), “persecution” (Acts 11:19) “trouble” 3 times. It means pressure, compression. 

            ANGUISH:  (Grk.–stenochōria)—Literally: “pain, “straightness” and is rendered as “distress”  (8:35; II Cor. 6:4; 12:10, and “ anguish” in the LXX (Isa. 8:22).   This word        is stronger than (thlipsis), as if one were subjected to flailing, pressed into a close place from which he vainly attempts to escape. In II Cor. 4:9 Paul said, “We are troubled (Grk.–thlibomenoi), yet not distressed (Grk.–stenochōroumenoi)”–literally: hemmed in.

            Tribulation and anguish are experienced by the sinner as the infliction of the indictment and wrath of the Divine Majesty. The effect of these in the sinner himself.  God, the Righteous Ruler, is displeased and indignant, and therefore He sends the sore punishment of tribulation and anguish.  Tribulation refers to the external weight of affliction; while anguish refers to the inward sense of that weight.
            Misery of all descriptions, without the possibility of escape, will this righteous Judge inflict upon every impenitent sinner.  The Jew first, as possessing greater privileges, and having abused greater mercies; and also on the Gentile, who, though he had not the same advantages, had what God saw was sufficient for his state; and, having sinned against them, shall have punishment proportioned to his demerit.
             Paul may have had in his mind Psa. 79:49–“He cast upon them the fierceness of His anger, wrath and indignation, and trouble by sending evil angels among them.  He made a way to His anger (wrath) he spared not their soul from death…”

            “upon every soul of man”– Upon every evil doer, whether Jew or Gentile.

             SOUL:  (Grk.–psychē)–In Hebrew, the word soul often denotes the man    himself.  By using this word here Paul may mean to signify that the punishment should not be physical,  but will afflict the soul; that it should be a spiritual punishment, a punishment of the mind.  

            “of the Jew first”        
            Literally:  “of (the) Jew firstly.”  The
Jew stood first in opportunity (1:16); hence is first in responsibility.

Having stated the general principle of the Divine administration, Paul now comes to make the application. To the principle there could be no objection. Paul now shows that it was applicable to the Jew as well as the Greek, and to the Jew pre-eminently. It was applicable first, or in an eminent degree, to the Jew, because:
1.      He had been peculiarly favored with light and knowledge on all these subjects.
2.      These principles were fully stated in his own law, and were in strict accordance with all the teaching of the prophets.

Here we have the first express mention of the Jews in this chapter.  Their having been trained up in the true religion, and having had Christ and His apostles first sent to them, will place them in the foremost rank of the criminals that refused to obey the truth.

“also of the Gentile”
Literally:  “And of Helene (Greek)  That is, meaning all who were not Jews. On what principles God will inflict punishment on them Paul states in vv. 12-16.  It is clear that this    refers to the future punishment of the wicked, for…

1.      It stands in contrast with the eternal life of those who seek for glory, (2:7).
If this description of the effect of sin refers to this life, then the effects spoken of in relation to the righteous refer to this life also. But in  no place in the Scriptures is it said that men experience all the blessings of eternal life in this world; and the very supposition is absurd.
2.      It is not true that there is a just and complete retribution to every man, according to his deeds, in this life.
Many of the wicked are prospered in life, and “there are no bands in their death, but their strength is firm,” (Psa. 73:4); but many of the righteous suffer in poverty and want and affliction, and die in the flames of persecution. Nothing is more clear than that there is not, in this life, a full and equitable distribution of rewards and punishments; and as the proposition of Paul  here is, that God WILL render to every man according to his deeds (v. 6), it follows that this must be accomplished in another world.
3.      The Scriptures uniformly affirm, that for the very things specified here, God will consign men to eternal death;
II Thess. 1:8–“In flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction,” etc. (I Pet. 4:17)– “For the time {is come} that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if {it} first {begin} at us, what shall the end {be} of them that obey not the gospel of God?”
4.      We may remark, also, that there could be no more alarming description of future suffering than is specified in this passage.
It is
indignation; it is wrath; it is tribulation; it is anguish which the sinner is to endure forever.  Truly men exposed to this awful doom should be alarmed, and should give diligence to escape from the woe which is to come!

“But glory, honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.”

“But glory, honor and peace”–While the finally impenitent Jew and Gentile shall experience the fullest effects of the righteous indignation of the Supreme Judge, even man that works good-that lives in a conscientious obedience to the known will of God, whether    he be Jew or Gentile, shall have glory, honor, and peace; i.e. eternal blessedness.

GLORY: (Grk.–doxa)–The opposite of wrath. 

HONOR: (Grk.–timē)—The opposite of indignation, by the divine appointment; and peace now and forever, opposed to tribulation and anguish. 

PEACE: (Grk.–eirēnē)—The opposite of anguish; that is, eternal blessedness;  full content. He whose cup of blessing is full enjoys peace in its fullest sense.  The blessed reward for those who, “work good,” in contrast with him that "worketh evil," is presented in these terms.