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Romans 2 English Standard Version (ESV)


17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

25 For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.



  1. In our day, cans and bottles have labels on them to indicate what is inside. “Circumcision” was a label, and implied that the Jew was obedient to God. However, if he was not completely obedient, the label was not only worthless but misleading. The contents of the can are more important than the label. Similarly, if a Gentile was completely obedient to God, the absence of the label of circumcision was not of major consequence. The Jews had put more emphasis on the presence of the label than on the contents of the can! Paul’s point was that disobedience brings condemnation, and perfect obedience theoretically brings salvation, regardless of whether one is a Jew or a Gentile.
  2. In this passage, Paul is pointing his fingers at the hypocritical Jews. His point was that perfect obedience is more important that religious privilege. The Jews bragged about their being in God’s covenant.  They knew God’s will and even approved of it.  But they didn’t do God’s will. They were guilty of failing God inwardly, as were the Gentiles. Actually a God-fearing Gentile was more pleasing to God than a disobedient Jew, because God delights in obedience.
  3. What about you?  When was the last time you said or taught one thing yet acted quite differently? Could Paul also be pointing fingers at you?  How does this realization affect you?