Romans 2:12-3:20 can be outlined as follows:
Romans 2:12-3:20 The Law: How God judges mankind
1. 2:12-16 How the Lord will judge the Gentiles
2. 2:17-29 How the Jews will be judged
3. 3:1-18 Paul answers questions relating to Jew/Gentile comparisons
4. 3:19-20 The purpose of the law – Paul’s summary statement
At issue in these verses is the idea that God doesn’t judge us all the same. We are all judged according to our circumstances, according to the desires of our hearts and our intentions. Many young people can identify with this as they grow up and learn by experience that their parents do not always handle each disciplinary situation in the home with the same response. We can all remember times when we received more leniency due to lack of information or our intentions.
Paul teaches that the Gentiles who do not know the gospel, have not had access to the Old Testament prophets, will not be judged the same as the Jews who had access to Jesus during his ministry. Having the truth is a great blessing, and with great blessings comes great responsibility!
Two verses in the Doctrine and Covenants come to mind:
“For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation” (D&C 82:3).
“Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying: All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God; Also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom; For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts. And I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven” (D&C 137:7-10).