The Wrath of God Revealed
Paul began his argument of Romans by proving that the Gentiles are sinners before God. Although God has revealed His truth to them, they have suppressed it, resulting in the darkness of their inner man and rebellion against God to the point of worshipping animals (1:18-23). As a result God gave them over to do the desires of their heart (1:24, 26): idolatry (1:25) and homosexuality (1:26-27). Seeing that they had no desire to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a depraved mind to do every sort of evil (1:28-31).
The Jews Condemned
Judgement According to Works
Paul also addressed the Jews specifically warning them that if God judged the Gentiles who suppressed the revelation they had received, the Jews should not believe that they would escape the judgement of God simply because they had received the Law of Moses. These Jews were judging others for things that they did themselves, thinking they would escape punishment because they were Jews (2:1-3). Paul warned that they were storing up God's wrath against themselves because they would not repent for their sins (2:4-5). God rewards or punishes individuals based on their works, not on their ethnic background or on their knowledge of the Law (2:6-13). Paul argued that the Gentile's conscience would serve as the basis for their judgement (2:14-16) and the Law would serve as the basis for judgement for the Jew.
Circumcision of the Heart
Paul continued to condemn the Jew for feeling superior to the Gentiles because of their entrustment to the special revelation of the Law, even though the whole time they were being hypocrites by not living by the Law themselves (2:17-22). They were dishonoring God and giving the Gentiles reason to blaspheme God (2:23-24). Some thought that being circumcised justified their actions, but Paul made it clear that the Law only had value to those who lived by it, not to those who simply possessed it (2:25). If the uncircumcised lived by the Law, his actions would make it as though he was circumcised, and he would be able to judge the circumcised who only profess the Law (2:26-27). To be a true Jew is not only a matter of lineage but also a matter of having circumcision of the heart and whose praise comes from God rather than man (2:28-29). Therefore, Paul proved that the Jew was just as much a sinner as the Gentile.
The Jew's Advantage
The Word of God Revealed
Paul expected a reaction from the Jews so he told them what the advantages to being a physical, circumcised Jew (3:1-2). One of the advantages was that they received the Word of God (3:2). This was a special revelation no revealed to any other people, above and beyond the revelation of creation and conscience. Just because the Jews did not believe God's words, God is still true and faithful (3:3-4).
The Righteousness of God
Some believed that since God's righteousness is made evident when people commit unrighteousness, God would not be able to punish people for their sins because their sin showed God's righteousness. Paul argued that if this was so, God could not judge the world (3:5-7). Some went so far as to allege that Paul taught that people should sin to bring about good (3:8).
Righteousness through Faith
The Jews may have had an advantage as far as the special revelation of God's word, but this did not make them any better than the Gentiles, as Paul proved in 3:9. All men are unfaithful to God and spiritually dead (3:10-18). The Law served to demonstrate the Jew's sinfulness to Him, thus putting him in the same place as the Gentiles in regards to their standing before God (3:19-20). God's righteousness comes to an individual apart from the Law to those who believe on Jesus (3:21-23). God does not distinguish between Jew and Gentile because both are sinners (3:23-24), but justifies them both freely through their faith in Jesus Christ. This showed God's righteousness as He passed over the sins committed before...
Cited: Baker, Bruce. Romans, class notes. Fall 2001
King James Study Bible, The. Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1988.
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