Study of Romans 2:12-29

God’s Judgement and the Law

Rom 2:12  For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; 
Rom 2:13  for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. 
Rom 2:14  For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 
Rom 2:15  in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, 
Rom 2:16  on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. 
Rom 2:17  But if you bear the name “Jew” and rely upon the Law and boast in God, 
Rom 2:18  and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, 
Rom 2:19  and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 
Rom 2:20  a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, 
Rom 2:21  you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? 
Rom 2:22  You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 
Rom 2:23  You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? 
Rom 2:24  For “THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU,” just as it is written. 
Rom 2:25  For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 
Rom 2:26  So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 
Rom 2:27  And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law? 
Rom 2:28  For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. 
Rom 2:29  But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. 

v12-13 – Back in the first century, the leadership believed that to hear the law was adequate to meet the requirements of God. The apostle is no doubt meeting a known objection the leadership would bring up. That objection being that they had the law, manifested extreme deference to it, when it was read, they listened intently and professed a willingness to yield to it. Paul is saying that hearing the law is not enough, but it is those who actually do what the law states. Paul is saying that a true believer will follow the law, not just know it, profess it, or give attention to it. To be justified (declared righteous by God) via the law demanded perfect obedience.

v14-16 – He is speaking of those Gentiles, who are without the law, by their very nature do what the law says. Why is this so? Look at Rom 1:18-20, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” And Psa 19:1, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” Every man has a conscience. Even those without the law. And when the Gentiles who are not Christians do the things of the law, it is because of their conscience and this is the law they follow. They will be judged by this law, just as the Jews who are not Christians will be judged by their law.

v17-23 – Paul now lays out a strong case. He says, if you are a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God. If you know His will, plus do and teach the essential things of the law regarding the rites of worship and other important traditions, and consider yourself a teacher to those who do not understand, someone who teaches the immature the truth of the law, do you practice what you preach? If you teach against stealing? In whatever you teach is wrong, do you do those things? He uses, along with stealing, committing adultery, robbing the temple and idol worship. Then he wraps up this argument with “If you boast in breaking the law, do you seriously honor God? This is a very hard question, but one that was needed to open their eyes, if they were capable of being opened.

v24 – And the Gentiles see these things and doubt the reality of the true God. They no doubt looked at the Jewish leadership and probably think if they are not following the law and the commands of their God, why should I. This is why it is important for us to live what we believe, and live what we preach. It is the only to be a true light in the darkness. And because they, through their actions, showed the Gentiles that God was not real, this was a serious blasphemous activity.

v25 – Circumcision does have value, but only if you keep the law. It is a good thing to be circumcised because it is an outward sign of the Abrahamic covenant, but only if the terms of the covenant are kept. If they are not, then it is of no value. Besides, we know that our salvation is not dependent on circumcision or keeping the law. It is based on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. There is no issue in the law and being circumcised, however, it has no bearing on our acceptance by God. I believe that because of their years and years of living it, they considered it a good thing and Paul was not going to counter it.

v26-27 – If a man is uncircumcised and keeps the law, he will be considered circumcised, and therefore, if a circumcised man does not keep the law, he will be considered uncircumcised. And one step further, if someone who is physically uncircumcised and he keeps the law, then he, by is obedience, will judge by his actions the circumcised who do not keep it.

v28-29 – Now, Paul closes his argument by stating the obvious based on what he has written previously in the chapter. A Jew is not a Jew is he is only one outwardly. And a man who has been outwardly circumcised is truly not circumcised if he does not keep the terms of the covenant. Being a Jew is not based on who your family is or in keeping the Jewish law. He is truly a Jew if he is one inwardly. One who desires to keep the covenant which circumcision shows he accepted. Later in Romans, he will show that Christianity is seen the same way.

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