In one of my previous questions, Dave (Oct 23 at 20:51) wrote a comment which I liked and got me thinking,

Except that there was no Law (commandments.) for Job and Noah.

In Romans 2:14-15,

For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

From this passage, we know that God's law is written in man's heart.

From Dave's comment, I'm lead to take that the reality of sin depends on the establishment of the Mosaic law. This would mean that during the period Adam-Moses sin wouldn't be taken into account.

In light of Romans 2:14-15, even though let's say Noah did not sin by transgressing an express command, was his sin (and from others) taken into account?

3 Answers 3


You need to be clear in your understanding of ‘transgression’. Transgression requires a Law. So, to ‘judge’ someone, you first need Law, and then to prove that there has been a transgression.

So ‘sin’ has always been, since Adam.

ROMANS 5:13 For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

But, without [a written] Law, you can not transgress.

Romans 4:15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

Now let’s examine the rest of your question. Since the ‘fall’, ‘Man’ has a conscience - so he can decide ‘right’ from ‘wrong’. (Consequence of eating from that tree.). But the source for that decision (what is right/wrong) is now/was from then dependant on his [mans] own knowledge - hence the need for a written Law. (A ‘source’ of knowledge of what was ‘right’, as from the coming of the Law, there were now going to be consequences for the Israelites.). Man needed to be ‘right’, but now he himself now needed to decide what was right. (In his own eyes, or ‘against’ an accepted standard).

So, let’s talk about the ‘Law’ written on ‘hearts’. Your spirit, a believer’s spirit now provides another ‘source’ for knowing what is ‘right’, his spirit. But, what you end up ‘doing’, what you end up using as a source for your ‘wisdom’, is still your choice.

But, an important point to realise is that pre-Christ(death of Jesus), Man’s Spirit was not, could not ‘be’ a source (of knowing the Law). At that time, Man only had his conscience. And even today, man needs to be [spiritually] reborn to have the ‘law’ written on his heart, else only has his conscience.

  • Right. The key is to be written or else there's no transgression and that before there was no Holy Spirit. Yesterday night was listening through Romans 5 again and hit me how much that verse answers this question. Then came back and realize you referenced it too. Had to raise a bounty to award this answer because it's very clear and touches all the concerns. Great work! Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 10:39
  • Romans 5:14 also supports this idea that sin is present, but is not judged. Commented Nov 22, 2020 at 20:52

Let us be very clear here - Paul in Rom 2:14-15 is discussing the "Law", namely the Torah given to the Jews more than 3000 years earlier. It is obvious that non-Jews were (generally speaking) ignorant of stipulations of the Torah containing the Israelite covenant.

The passage in Rom 2:14, 15 is significant for other reasons - it says that non-Jews are given the law in an instinctive way and thus "are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. So they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts either accusing or defending them".

Thus, it appears that the Holy Spirit is active on the hearts or consciences of all people, even those that do not have the Torah. This is not surprising as the Israelite covenant was not the first to be given to mankind - there were earlier covenant laws given as well such as:

Edenic Covenant: Gen 1:26, 28-30, 2:16, 17.

This covenant is not as explicit as those which follow because the word “covenant” is not used. However, following the general principle that laws are never given without a being in the context of a covenant, there appears to be a clear implication of one. This covenant consists of:

  • God blessed mankind, Gen 1:28
  • God gives the gift of all seed-bearing plants as food, including fruit trees and green plants, Gen 1:28, 2:16
  • Instruction to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth”, Gen 1:28
  • Instruction to “subdue the earth”, Gen 1:28
  • Instruction to “rule over the all creatures”, Gen 1:26, 28
  • Instruction to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil else they would die, Gen 2:17. This was fulfilled in Gen 3.

Noahide Covenant: Gen 8:20 – 9:17.

The Noahide Covenant is actually a covenant with all living creatures and all mankind. It consisted of:

  • This covenant was initiated in order to ensure continuity of seasons without interruption, Gen 8:21, 22.
  • God promises never to curse the ground again, Gen 8:21.
  • God promises never to destroy humans and animals by flood again, Gen 8:21, 9:11.
  • God promises that seasons would never be stopped again, Gen 8:22.
  • God commands humans to multiply and increase on the earth, Gen 9:2, 7.
  • God commands humans to take charge of the earth and maintain it responsibly, Gen 9:2, 3; see also Gen 1:28, 29.
  • God commands humans not to eat blood, Gen 9:4.
  • God commands humans not to commit murder else an accounting will be required. Murder destroys the image of God in mankind, Gen 9:5, 6.
  • The rainbow is given as a token/sign (Heb: “oth”, Gen 9:12, 13, 17) of God’s promise to save mankind.
  • The covenant was initiated and solemnized by animal sacrifice, Gen 8:20.

Note that in this statement of God’s covenant of grace, it is universal and applying to all mankind and all animals (Gen 9:8-10, 16, 17), despite the recognition that mankind is evil (Gen 8:21). Further, the prohibition against murder and eating blood are specifically prohibited to prevent God’s image in mankind being marred. One of the unusual aspects of this covenant is the animals – God promises something to animals!

Thus, even without the moral framework provided by the Torah, there were other moral requirements for all mankind given before Sinai.


When there is not yet an establishment of streetlights and rules on the city streets, the traffic being not regulated by red-yellow-green lights, you cross street and are stricken by a passing car and get injured. In this instance your injury and pain will not be exacerbated by anything else. However, when streetlights and rules are introduced and you violate them, crossing a street at a red light and are stricken by a passing car, you will not only be injured, but also will have an injured conscience for knowing that there was a rule not to violate.

Similarly, Paul does not say that pagans who have not Law are not liable to the influence of sin, but when this influence is augmented also by a clear knowledge through a written Law that it is a sin to be avoided, then the same sin becomes sinful even more, to the utmost (cf. Romans 7:13: "that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful”).

For example, a non-Jew, having no Law, committing a murder is damaging his own soul to be sure, (cf. crossing a street heedlessly in a dangerous place when there are no rules and laws in the city), but a Jew committing a murder while having Law, is damaging his soul even more, because the clarity of knowledge of the divine Law (cf. crossing a street while seeing a warning of a red light) pinches his conscience even more painfully with a feeling of guilt, than does a natural knowledge of good and evil, which all humans share. In both cases there is sin and damage made to soul, and pagans are also liable to judgment of Christ (Romans 2:14-16), but "to whom more is given, more will be asked also, and who misbehaved knowingly, will be beaten more, and who unknowingly, will be beaten less" (Luke 12:48), and Jews are given a more clear knowledge of what is sin through the written Law, and thus they "will be beaten more", that is to say, more pinched by the conscience of the committed sin.

  • I really enjoy reading your answers Levan Gigineishvili! Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 19:38

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