In 2:1-3:8 Paul shows how Jews dishonor God breaking the Law and trusting in the religious rite of circumcision. He first details that the principles of God’s judgment are the same regardless of the individual, including Jews (2:1-16). Paul then proves how Jews are guilty before God in that they have not kept all the Law (2:17-29).
Paul is not teaching in verses 5-10 that God saves based on one’s works; that contradicts the clear message of the Bible (Eph 2:8-10). Here Paul is giving the basis of judgment, which is works, not the basis of salvation from judgment, which is grace.
The “law” that everyone has (v. 14) refers to the conscience, a God-given aspect of humanity that evaluates one’s life according to its provided authority.
Last, Paul’s point in verses 28-29 focuses on “what is a true Jew.” The essential evidences and marks of a true Jew were not only having Abraham as one’s physical ancestor and receiving the rite of circumcision, but particularly genuine faith in the Lord, being born again, and the Spirit indwelling and controlling one’s life.
Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On
- Sometimes the most difficult person to share the gospel with is a religious person because they think they’re right with God. Use this Scripture to bring them face to face with what their real position before God is; to understand that God judges by works, and none have perfect works; to grasp that God won’t turn a blind eye or grade on the curve; to recognize that the only thing they deserve from God is his wrath (v. 5).
- Everyone has a conscience. Your conscience functions according to its authority. If you are not born-again sin controls your conscience. You will still have some sense of right and wrong because you’re made in God’s image, but your sin will suppress that (1:18). If you are a Christian it is so important to be grounded in and obey Scripture, for that will help you live a life that pleases Christ by having a good conscience!