Summary of passage: Paul says what matters is keeping the law and what’s in your heart, not outward conformity. Circumcision of the heart by the Spirit is what matters.
12a) Circumcision is the cutting of the foreskin from a boy’s penis as an outward sign (sign of the covenant God gave to Abraham) that boy belongs to God. It would show how that person belongs to God and has been chosen out of all the people on the earth for God’s plan. Pride by definition is “the quality or state of being proud as in inordinate self-esteem or conceit.” Pride is excessive. We are all equal in God’s eyes.
b) Going to church, taking communion, volunteering, mission trips, tithing, doing what Jesus would do, praying, etc.
13) Part personal Question. My answer: Circumcision of the heart by the Spirit (the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit within Titus 3:5). It means God cares about what kind of person I am, how I’m following Him, and my intentions behind what I do. I fail. We all do. As long as my intent was out of love and kindness, God forgives.
Conclusions: Love how Paul lays it all out and says it is about the heart and being a hypocrite will get you nowhere with God. Faith in Jesus trumps all. Always. You can walk about and think you’re the best thing on this planet and you won’t get into heaven. Instead, walk around, seeking ways to listen to God, obey God, and open your heart to others.
End Notes: Again, in first century AD Jews believed that circumcision guaranteed salvation. He might be punished in the world to come, but could never be lost.
In Paul’s day, some Rabbis taught that God will measure the Gentiles one way and the Jews another.
Circumcision (or baptism – or any ritual in itself) doesn’t save anyone. In the ancient world the Egyptians also circumcised their boys but it did not make them followers of the true God. Even in Abraham’s day Ishmael (the son of the flesh) was circumcised, but it did not make him a son of the covenant.
Deuteronomy 10:16 says that it’s the heart that matters. Another example of God’s people taking His word and twisting it to fit what they wanted it to fit.
Having the law is not enough. God requires righteousness (acting in accord with divine law), obeying His law.
This answers the question of “what about the Pygmy in Africa who has never heard about Jesus?”. He would be guilty because no one is perfect. He needs forgiveness for sins and only Jesus’s blood grants that.
More importantly, if you’re one of those who is concerned about the Pygmy, ask yourself this:
- What about you who hear the gospel, but reject it? What excuse is there for you?
- What about you, who are commanded to take the gospel to that Pygmy in Africa (Matthew 28:19), but refuse to do it?
What matters is God’s praise, not man’s (John 5:41, 44: 12:43; 1 Cor 4:3-5). Evidence of our salvation and rightness with God is found in our hearts and we see it in the fruit we leave behind.
William Newell summarizes Romans 2 with Seven Great Principles of God’s Judgment:
– God’s judgment is according to truth (Romans 2:2)
– God’s judgment is according to accumulated guilt (Romans 2:5)
– God’s judgment is according to works (Romans 2:6)
– God’s judgment is without partiality (Romans 2:11)
– God’s judgment is according to performance, not knowledge (Romans 2:13)
– God’s judgment reaches the secrets of the heart (Romans 2:16)
– God’s judgment is according to reality, not religious profession (Romans 2:17-29)