One of the stickiest points in all of this new perspective vs. old perspective discussion is what to make of Romans 2:1-16, and Wright makes it clear that he thinks Paul means exactly what he says (Justification: God’s Plan & Paul’s Vision,). [I posted the text at the bottom of this post.]
First, he says this is no charade — no pretending someone can be justified by works so we can set them up for the hammer in chp. 3.
Second, doers of the Torah will be justified. That’s what Paul says in 2:13. (It’s in your Bible too.) Wright argues that one does the Torah through the Spirit. But this is not the synergism that says “I do part” and “God does part.”
Third, the scene is the great assize — last judgment — and Jesus is the judge. The judgment is based on works — and Paul says that in Romans 2 and 2 Cor 5:10 and it is implicit in Rom 14:10-12. And Wright enters here into a clear set of lines about how important works is in the Pauline sense of judgment.
All this stuff, fourth, about pleasing God is not the logic of merit but the logic of love and relationship.
Fifth, this again makes the Holy Spirit important — more important than in the old perspective.
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else,
for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself,
because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or
do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and
patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward
because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are
storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his
righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”a 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.
12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For
it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but
it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed,
when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by
the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have
the law, 15 since
they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts,
their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now
accusing, now even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.