The Jew and Condemning Questions

Romans 2:17-3:8

The Jews confidence:

Romans 2:17-20

Vs 17 The Jew who relays on the law and proudly they “boast in your relationship to God”( rather than about your relationship with God).  The Jew thought that he knew God. He thought the law was the single mark of God’s favour to the nation.  They had religion they were self-sufficient. They had this deep pride, he knew God he thought no one else knew.

Vs 18 They had at least 10 advantages over the Gentiles listed in these verses 1) They had the name Jew, 2) They relied (rested) upon the law, 3) bragged about their relationship with God, 4)  knew the will of God (not know about it but actually knows it), 5) approve what is superior or things that are more excellent.

Vs 19-20; 6) You are convinced you are a guide to the blind (have a more excellent knowledge of right and wrong), 7) a light of them that are in darkness, (they were to be a light unto the Gentiles and believed they still were but in reality they were in captivity they were far off from God 8) an instructor or corrector of the thoughtless or immature or foolish, 9) a teacher of infants or proselytes; 10) having  in the law an outward form of knowledge and truth. The Jew believed themselves to be superior to everyone else and all others are blind yet were unaware they were blind to the presence of the Messiah in their midst. “Blindness in part has come to Israel.”

A danger to watch

The Synagogue was both a school, a place of learning and a place of worship. There as a danger in learning all about God, all about theology, he letter of the Law but not knowing Him, not worshiping him proper. They got instruction but did not worship Him with their hearts.  The church could become lecture hall or a music hall. The Scriptures should draw us to worship. Today some churches are lecture halls people go to get educated in the Bible but do not worship God. Then there are some that are just worship centres and they learn nothing about God but live on experiences. There are dangers in both areas. It must be Spirit and truth.

More privileges

Paul give a list of privileges in Romans 9:4-5, “Theirs is the adoption to son-ship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. “Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.” It’s the same today many say they believe in God, we have our protestant or Roman Catholic heritage but they don’t have a relationship with him. They are proud they are religious or good Protestants or Roman Catholics or Jews or Mormons, or Jehovah’s witnesses, or Muslims. These Jews traditionally believed that God was going to blast the heathen out of existence because of their sin, as in the case of Jonah, He would wipe out the Nineveh’s of the world, unless they repented. But he also believed that no Jew would ever experience that kind of condemnation with the pagans. They believed that because they were Jewish born into the line of Abraham, because they were circumcised and because they kept the trappings of the Jewish religion that they were exempt from any judgement.

The Jews believed they were exempt from judgement. They did not believe they would be condemned with the world, condemned with the pagans because they were self-righteous and they were attached to the nation of Israel. They forgot or ignored the fact that God is the Judge of the Jew as well as the Gentile (Hos. 12:2; Amos 3:2).

They believed in a salvation by works. They believed in their traditions, they had a form of  legalism. They thought that because they were the chosen nation and because they kept the traditions and because of their physical identification and their religious identification together they were exempt. They were in the chosen people. They expected to be regarded and treated not as individuals but they expected only to be dealt with as far as the whole nation was concerned and they thought God was obligated to the whole nation, so they as a part of it were exempt from judgement. So there was no consequence to their personal sin at all because they were under a sort of a national salvation.

Heart Searching Questions That Applied to Them and Could Apply To Believers

The Jews failure

Vs 21-24 Paul mentions 3 common sins that were widely practised everywhere in the ancient world and seen as normal, everybody does it would have been a common expression it sis the same today but sadly it has crept into Christian circles. 1) Immorality or adultery; 2) sensuality; 3) idolatry, the Jews practised monotheism, the worship of one God, they would not worship idols but they would profit from idols “rob temples.” Some were taking idols and making a business out of them selling them to the Gentiles. They were promoting idolatry. It could also mean they were robbing God of His due (tithe) or worshipping other thins rather than God. He dealt with these three questions in chapter one. He starts out by acknowledging they have a true position because God gave them the Law His revelation, they were privileged. “you, then who teach the nations…” But goes on to ask does the teacher teach himself to do what he tells others to do. Vs 21. Do you steal? Do you commit adultery? Do you rob temples or are given over to idolatry? Do you break Gods law? Do you blaspheme? It is one thing to have the Law but quite another thing to keep it. They were making a mockery of what they believed. Some Christians make a mockery of Christ. They say they are Christians but live like the unsaved, one questions if they truly trusted Christ in the first place. Some people raise their hands at a meeting or sign a slip of paper and are told they are saved. They never repented and had faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. Some evangelist used them to boast of the numbers who were saved. There follows a graveyard of so called backsliders and the world looks on with unbelief. Can you blame them? What kind of Christian life are we living? Do preachers do what they tell others to do? Do pastors get lost in the depth of the “message” but fail to live it  out themselves? Do they leave themselves a way out and say don’t do what I do but do what I say?

Paul Anticipates the Questions Jewish Readers Would Ask

Paul anticipates the questions which his Jewish readers would have raised. At one time he would have asked the same questions. He had probably heard these questions many times as he taught in the synagogues of his day. The questions would reveal their heart of unbelief and rebellion. The questions expose them to their trust in religion and not in a relationship with God.  The false teachers of that day sought to convince believers to practice Judaism.  Some believers were led astray by them. This is what Paul is warning about.

Vs 25-29 Circumcision was the badge of the Mosiac system, and that’s all it was. There is no merit in the rite itself. The badge indicated that the man believed the Mosaic Law. The rabbis attached great value to circumcision. You can cut of as much of the foreskin as you want, it may have brought you into membership of the covenant people but if you break the Law it is of no value. To break the law brought circumcision into disrepute. It’s the same with the Church sacraments they are an outward expression of the work of God in the heart.  But it is a mockery if the person who is baptised gives no evidence of salvation. It is the same for church membership. The inward and the outward must be the same. The Mosaic Law stated that circumcision was of the heart. (Deut. 10:16)

Vs 27 There were and are good Gentiles, just like Cornelius who kept more of the Law than many Jews, he may not have been circumcised but his life style condemned these were circumcised. There are many fine outstanding non christen people and their lives would condemn the lifestyle of some so called Christian today.  This does not  save them but it does expose false Christian living.

Vs 28-29 A true Jew is one circumcised in his heart by the Spirit not by the written code. Its not what is on outward show but inward belief and faith. It is not by keeping the sacraments but by having ones heart changed.

3:1 What advantage then has the Jew? Or what profit is there in circumcision. (Paul had listed some of the things previously). The Jewish man asks, “What good does it do me to be a Jew?” “If circumcision is of no value and a Gentile can be looked upon by God as a ‘Jew in heart,’ why should a Jew feel blessed to be a Jew?” It is a legitimate question. If Jew and Gentile are alike then what is the advantage of the Jew? Are we not more special than the Gentiles? Are we not more privileged? Does the covenant relationship we have from the Lord God for centuries not count?

Circumcision is the outward badge of Gods special covenant. It is like saying today church membership has no advantage for salvation.  God is not asking anyone to join a church or become a member of a denomination or do anything for salvation. Keeping a creed or a constitution does not save you. Being a protestant does not save you any more than being a Roman Catholic does. Baptism does not save you but being baptised and becoming a member of a local Church is a badge to communicate to the world you belong with Gods people. Both questions arise from what Paul has just said in Romans 2:25-29. Circumcision is not an external matter but a matter of the heart. Because of their conduct, the Jews were no better than the Gentiles. Actually their guilt seems greater, because they had the Law and the prophets, Gods revelation to guide them but they were in unbelief.

There are many benefits of being a Jew

Vs 2 Great in every respect, chiefly because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” There are many benefits or privilege of being a Jew of being entrusted with the “oracles of God”. It is important to see that the Jews had an advantage that can never be taken away, they were given Messianic and other promises as well as the law, it shows the reliability of the Old Testament and the faithfulness of God. God had spoken and it was on record. However, it carried along with it responsibility. God gave that nation the Word of God they were the custodians of the Old Testament Scriptures. The revelation of who God reveal the perfections of God’s character and attributes. The way of salvation through blood sacrifice. They reveal God’s unique relationship to the Jews. They contain God’s purposes and promises of His blessing for His people. They define sin and its consequences, as well as righteousness and its rewards. God also gave them promises, not yet fulfilled.  The Old Testament does not predict a church, it foreshadows a kingdom in which the Jews shall be head and not lose national distinction as he does in the church.  The nation of Israel is the main tree, the church is grafted in (Romans 11). So the Jew has advantage and God has a future for him. He will keep his promise.  .

The Faithfulness, the Purposes and Promises of God will be Fulfilled

Vs 3. “What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify Gods faithfulness?” What if some had not responded to the goodness and mercy of God as some did? What if they had not faith had not believed? Paul was concerned with Israel’s unbelief (Romans 9-11). Would their unbelief or lack of faith cancel the promises made by God?  No! Paul said God remained faithful while they were unfaithful.  Their unbelief would not change the faithfulness of God. Because the Jew failed does that mean God failed? God promised to send Israel a redeemer and that was not defeated by their wilful disobedience and rejection.  God has future promises for Israel and heir unfaithfulness would not prevent God from fulfilling His purposes in spite of their unbelief. God is faithful, he can be depended upon to keep his promises.  All men are unfaithful but God is always faithful. He is dependable, He never lies never breaks his promise. It is prophesied in Zechariah concerning the Nation Israel that “He shall pour out upon them the spirit of grace and supplications, and they shall look unto him who they have pierced and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son.” In the future there shall be a national day of repentance for the Nation Israel in the future, at the Second Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ. God will fulfil his promises. The day is coming when he will change their hearts and forgive their sin when they repent. There is no repentance today by the Jewish nation but there is with some individuals. God is faithful and will pardon the repentant guilty person.

Vs 4 “Not at all, let God be true, but every man a liar: as it is written, So that you may be proved I your words and prevail in your judging.” King David wrote these words after he acknowledged his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and confessed it and repented (Psalm 51:4). He also acknowledged God’s righteousness in judging his sins. He did not make any excuses or defend his actions. His sin only served to highlight the righteousness and justice of God. Only He the perfect One could pronounce his verdict of judgment. The faithfulness of God was David’s only hope. He could not work for forgiveness and the Law cold not forgive him for the sin he had committed. He was deserved death. But God was merciful and forgiving because David repented. This gave David cause for hope. He received his discipline  and forgiveness and restoration because God is gracious and merciful and faithful.

God remains the same, he forgives those who truly repent. He gives assurance to those who turn away from sin and turn to Him. It is wonderful news that God forgives repentant sinners. It depends upon His grace, His faithful promise that e forgives those who come unto Him.

How can a righteous God punish men for their sin

Vs 5 But of our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteous more clearly?  That God is unjust in bringing His wrath on us? (I am using a human argument). Paul moves on from David to the rebellious response of the self-righteous Jews to God’s judgement. He asks a question that someone may want to ask, “If I sin (my unrighteousness) will it not glorify God’s grace all the more, so why should He bring wrath on us?” or “How can a righteous God punish men for their sin if He benefits from their unrighteousness?”

Some say our sin, or Israel’s unbelief brings glory to God so He is unjust to visit with wrath by judging such people.  Or sin advances God’s purposes and is unjust to punish it. The real point is God’s justice not unjust but it is the faithfulness and grace of God to keep his promises in spite of their rejection of him.  Because the unbelievers mentioned I chapter one have rejected God’s truth and exchanged it for a lie, the “self-righteous” in chapter two  have received God’s truth and perverted it. God will judge them. If God did not judge men for their sin because He benefited from it, then He could not judge anyone. This perverts and distorts God’s truth and justice. There are consequences to man’s sin. God’s must judge the sin of men. The Lord Jesus Christ took the believers judgement on the cross and now we are not condemned. God uses the wrath and the rebellion of men so that His purposes and promises are fulfilled. These unbelieving Jews along with unbelieving Gentiles will receive the divine wrath of God.

Vs 6 God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?”  It is heresy to think God benefits from man’s sin. It is wrong to say if we go on sinning grace will increase. (Romans 6:1). God must judge us because He is Holy and Just and sin cannot be condoned by Him, He must and will judge and condemn it. Paul argues that God is not unjust, He does not benefit from it, if he did then He could not judge anyone. God’s plans or purposes are not changed by man’s unbelief or behaviour. God never changes His condemnation of sin. There is no favouritism for Jews or any one. We all must give an account. God’s justice must be satisfied or we have no hope. It was satisfied by Christ’s sacrifice. Christ took the believers judgment on the cross of Calvary.

Vs 7 “Someone might argue “If my falsehood enhances Gods truthfulness and so increase glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” Paul contrasts the falsehood of man and the truth of God. God’s word is reliable. The lie here means moral falsehood, that each individual could claim exemption from judgment  of God because his sin had advance the glory of God CF Romans 6:1

Paul’s Conclusion

Vs 8 Paul drives his argument to its illogical conclusion. No human works, no religious merit, no heritage can save a person, it is by grace alone. Paul took their position to a conclusion which they had already rejected, evident by their accusing him of this very teaching. The error of his Jewish opponents would lead them to ask this question, “If a little sin benefits God, why not benefit Him even more with an abundance of sin?” Why not make sin a lifestyle, and why not encourage others to join in? This was precisely where the thinking of Paul’s opponents led.

Paul has only one answer. It was an answer with which his opponent should agree: “The condemnation of those who would advocate this is just indeed.”

If sin magnifies the glory of God then the more we sin the more He is glorified. This is ridiculous and absurd, God must judge sin. Sodom and Gomorrah did not glorify God. The child molester, the murderer, the serial killer, the Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pol Pot and Ida Amin, the religious rejecter of the Biblical God and others get away with it.  The end does not justify the means. God has to pronounce mankind as guilty. Regardless of race, colour, religion, all are guilty.   Paul has brought his Jewish opponents full circle. The Jews were quick and eager to judge the Gentiles and to condemn them as sinners. In so doing, they condemned themselves, because they failed to live according to the standard by which they had judged and condemned others (2:1-29). When it became evident that they too were condemned as sinners, they (unlike David) refused to repent.

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