7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;
Verses 7 through 10 set forth two kinds of outlooks and their corresponding outcomes. The first group (vv. 7 and 10) directs their lives toward eternal things. They are positive in their volition toward God. The second group (vv. 8 and 9) directs their lives toward self-centeredness. They are negative in volition toward eternal things. These two perspectives are mutually exclusive; it is either one or the other.
Verses 7-10 explain verse 6 in more detail. Paul amplified the principle of verse 6 here. Verses 6, 7, and 10 describe the true believer. Verses 8 and 9 refer to the unbeliever.
eternal life to those who by [according to the standard of] patient continuance in doing good [well-doing]
The first outlook is that of a person with positive volition. His motivation and orientation is right toward God. The intention of his life shows the reality of his attitude toward God. This person will demonstrate the reality of his openness to God.
The words “doing good” should be translated well-doing. Paul expressed an over-arching truth here of a person oriented to God’s will. The standard by which the person in this verse operates is an openness to God’s will.
“Doing good” here is doing what is right, that is, what is the positive gravitational pull of people toward knowing God. God rewards eternal life to those who look beyond their own “doing good.” Good works is not an end in itself. Works are an indication of someone claiming the reality of God, not human achievement. These people trust in God’s establishment of principles in creation, not in good works. This is the source of glory, honor, and incorruption.
The issue here is frame of reference. These are people who have the attitude of seeking certain qualities about God. Their trust is in God’s principles for creation. Their frame of reference is oriented properly—toward qualities of eternity as seen in creation. Their orientation and positive volition is toward God and His will.
seek [keep on seeking] for glory, honor, and immortality;
This person does not seek from personal motives but from a value that believes nothing can compare to properties obtained by God’s grace. These are people with positive volition toward God and His plan. They live with eternal values in view.
Three ultimate aspirations compel this person: “glory,” “honor,” and “immortality.” “Glory” is the transformation of the person with positive volition toward God; this is the glory of God reflected on the person. “Honor” is God’s approval of the person open to God; it is not honor for himself. “Immortality” is eternal salvation ahead for the person seeking God in creation. They seek something that is free from corruption. In the eternal state there will be no disease or death. These are expectations of the person who is positive toward God.
People who want to find God can find Him if they are open to see Him in creation.
Those with positive volition can come to know God, have God’s glory in view, and have an honor that derives from setting God as their goal. They can find a life that has immortality or incorruption at its essence. These people have the heart of what eternal life is all about. They did not merit eternal life by having a heart for eternal things, but the onus is now on God to give them the knowledge that they can be justified by the work of Christ as seen throughout the book of Romans.
God does not save people by doing good; that is a “different” gospel (Ga 1:6-7). Paul did not contradict everything else he said in this epistle by implying that good works can save us.