14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,
“For” connects this verse with the preceding argument. Gentiles (non-Jews) have enough culpability to be judged by God.
when [whenever] Gentiles, who do not have the law,
Gentiles did not have the extant revelation of God’s law.
by nature do the things in the law,
It is possible to know God “by nature.” We can find revelation of God in our conscience, by our innate sense of what is right. The word “nature” refers to natural birth or natural disposition. It is our personal constitution by which we operate.
these, although not having the law,
Although Gentiles did not possess revelation of Scripture, their natural instinct carried some form of information about God. There was a guiding principle found within themselves.
are a law to themselves,
This phrase does not mean that law was irrelevant to Gentiles and that they can do whatever they want to do, but that they found something that revealed God in themselves. God revealed Himself to them in nature (Ro 1:19-20) and put a capacity within them to identify truth. Gentiles know something about the God who prescribes truth.
Hearing the law, such as a Jew listening in a synagogue or a Gentile having a standard found in the conscience, will not commend people to God, however; God’s principles predetermine how God will judge men.
God will judge man by a predetermined set of standards.
God’s judgment will accord with truth, His truth. There is no manipulation of truth, of facts. God will respect no person in this judgment. He judges according to the standard of who He is; it will be according to His righteousness. Therefore, God’s judgment will accord to a process of His own standards. This will shut the mouths of the self-righteous. Man’s standards are not the basis of God’s judgment. God will judge man according to a proper standard.