Romans 2:17 – 3:8
- Religious Knowledge (of the Law) Cannot Shelter the Jew (2:17-24)
- Religious Ceremony (Circumcision) Cannot Shelter the Jew (2:25-29)
- Religious Argument (Theology) Cannot Shelter the Jew (3:1-8)
Religious Knowledge (of the Law) Cannot Shelter the Jew (2:17-24)
Five Distinct Privileges of the Jew (vv.17-20)
¶ 17 But if (1) *thou* art named a Jew, and (2) restest in the law, and (3) makest thy boast in God, 18 and (4) knowest the will, and discerningly approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; 19 and (5) hast confidence that thou thyself art a leader of the blind, a light of those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and of truth in the law: vv.17-20 Here we have five things given by God that the Jews falsely rested in, but that also made them extremely responsible:
- A special name. The name is the shortened form of Judah, connected with the promised Messiah.
- A moral law. God never gave the law for man to “rest” in. He gave it for man to feel his guilt (Rom. 5:21, Gal. 3:19). Nevertheless it was a privilege because it showed man his need of a Savior outside of himself.
- A covenant relationship. They alone had a relationship with God, not personally like Christians, but they had an external relationship through the law.
- A Knowledge of God’s will. The knew the moral will of God in the issues of life. The conscience of man is like a pair of calipers; it measures my behavior from my moral standard. The law was a “more excellent” standard than what the Gentiles had.
- A place of responsibility among the nations. This was a place intended for them by God which they had fallen far short of (Matt. 15:14). It was God’s mind that the Jews would be His instrument to instruct the Gentiles in things pertaining to the kingdom of God. the Jews were much more responsible than the Gentiles, because those who teach the Word of God must practice the things that they teach. The Jews had utterly failed to practice what they preached, a fact proven by their captivity, etc. Yet one day this privilege will be restored to the Jews again (Rom. 11:25-26). They had “the form”. It is good to have “a form” an outline of the truth (2 Tim. 1:13) but this was an empty form. God will approve of a right spirit without the form, but not the form without a right spirit.
Five Rhetorical Questions to Show the Jews’ Inconsistency (vv.21-24)
- With regard to reality. The application of truth in their practical life was wanting. When teaching is truly received it eventually is practiced (good or bad). The question with the Jews was, were they even receiving the truth?
- With regard to social behavior. The Jews’ ability to come out of a business deal on top was well known.
- With regard to morality. See Matt. 19:9. The Pharisees were putting away their wives for younger models, but keeping a good face through the “divorce clause” in the law; but it was really adultery.
- With regard to idolatry. Sacrilege is trafficking in idols. The Jews at this time were making or selling idols (see Acts 19:37, robbers of idol’s temples) while having no interest in them themselves. They really had no concern for God’s view on idolatry, but they kept up a clean facade.
- With regard to testimony. The spirit of the religious man brings shame down on God. They liked telling the Gentiles about their relationship with God (Matt. 23:17), but their open disobedience to the law showed the true disposition of their hearts.
Religious Ceremony (Circumcision) Cannot Shelter the Jew (2:25-29)
- Nationally. The Jews as opposed to the Gentiles who are the uncircumcision (vv.26-27; Gal. 2:8-9).
- Medically. A literal procedure to cut off physical flesh (v.28; Gen. 17:1).
- Spiritually. A life of faith that is separated to God from the desires of “the flesh” (v.29; Phil. 3:3).
Religious Argument (Theology) Cannot Shelter the Jew (3:1-8)
vv.1-8 The Jewish mind objected to Paul’s teaching that they were under God’s judgment along with the Gentiles. This is why they continually persecuted him. Naturally, they would raise arguments to prove Paul wrong and to discredit his gospel. Paul knew what these objections were and the Spirit of God uses him to answer them. These questions are the Jew’s attempt to twist the gospel into being a truth that finds fault with God and charges Him with unrighteousness. Paul writes to show that the Gospel actually reveals His righteousness (Rom. 1:17). The Jew also objected to the Mystery because it states that Gentiles brought into the Church are equally blessed in Christ.