Romans 2:17 MEANING

Romans 2:17
(17) Behold.--An interesting case of a corrupt reading which has found its way into the Authorised version. For "behold," a decisive consensus of the best MSS. has "but if." The corruption was very obvious and easy. Adopting "but if," the answering clause of the sentence is to be found in the question, "Teachest thou not thyself?" Romans 2:21. The connecting particle "therefore" at the beginning of the same verse is merely resumptive, or, as it is technically called, "epanaleptic."

Turning to the Jew, the Apostle breaks out into indignant and vehement apostrophe, "If you have the name of Jew, and repose upon the Law, and make your boast in God, and do all these other things--why then, while you profess to teach others, do you not teach yourself?" A fine specimen of the natural eloquence which the Apostle derives from intense feeling. The different features of the picture crowd into his mind to point the contrast between what the Jew claimed to be and what he was.

Restest in.--Reposest or reliest upon a law. A passive confidence in something external. "In the Law the Jew saw the Magna Charta which gave him his assurance of salvation" (Meyer).

Makest thy boast of God--i.e., of a peculiar and exclusive claim to His favour. (Comp. Deuteronomy 4:7; Psalm 147:19-20.)

Verse 17. - But if (the true reading being certainly εἰ δὲ, not ἰδὲ, as in the Textus Receptus) thou (σὺ, emphatic) art named a Jew. The Israelites who had remained in Palestine, or who returned to it after the Captivity, seem thenceforth to have been designated Jews (Ἰουδαῖοι, though they included some of other tribes than that of Judah, notably that of Benjamin, of which St. Paul himself was, and of course of Levi. They are so called, whether resident in Palestine or elsewhere, throughout the New Testament, as well as by Roman writers. the term Ἑβραῖοι being applied in the New Testament (usually at least) to distinguish those Jews who adhered to the Hebrew language in public worship, and to national customs and traditions, from those who Hellenized (Ἑλληυισταί). It was the name on which the people prided themselves at that time, as expressing their peculiar privileges. The apostle, having at the beginning of this chapter addressed himself generally to "whosoever thou art that judgest," now summons the Jew exclusively to the bar of judgment, whose claims to exemption from the general condemnation have come to the front in the preceding verses. By the emphatic σὺ, he calls on him now to give an account of himself, and justify his pretensions if he can. The point of the argument is that the Jews were notoriously at that time no better than other nations in moral conduct - nay, their national character was such as to bring their very religion into disrepute among the heathen - and therefore doing, and not either privilege, knowledge, or profession, being according to the very Law on which they rested the test required, their whole ground for national exemption was taken away. And retest on law (νόμῳ, here without the article, so as to emphasize the principle on which the Jew professed to rest for acceptance), and makest thy boast of God. The Jew gloried, as against the heathen, in his knowledge and worship of the one true God.

2:17-24 The apostle directs his discourse to the Jews, and shows of what sins they were guilty, notwithstanding their profession and vain pretensions. A believing, humble, thankful glorying in God, is the root and sum of all religion. But proud, vain-glorious boasting in God, and in the outward profession of his name, is the root and sum of all hypocrisy. Spiritual pride is the most dangerous of all kinds of pride. A great evil of the sins professors is, the dishonour done to God and religion, by their not living according to their profession. Many despise their more ignorant neighbours who rest in a dead form of godliness; yet themselves trust in a form of knowledge, equally void of life and power, while some glory in the gospel, whose unholy lives dishonour God, and cause his name to be blasphemed.Behold, thou art called a Jew,.... From hence to the end of the chapter the Jews are particularly addressed; their several privileges and characters are commemorated, which by an ironical concession are allowed them; several charges are brought against them, even against their principal men; and the plea in favour of them, from their circumcision, is considered; and the apostle's view in the whole, is to show that they could not be justified before God by their obedience to the law of Moses: "behold"; take notice, observe it, this will be granted: "thou art called a Jew"; thou art one by name, by nation, and by religion; but no name, nor outward religion, nor a mere profession, will justify before God:

and restest in the law; which may be understood of their having the law and the knowledge of it, what is to be done and avoided easily, without any fatigue and labour; of their pleasing and applauding themselves with the bare having and hearing of it; of their trust and confidence in it; and of their inactivity and security in it, as persons asleep; and so of their coming short of the knowledge of the Gospel, and of Christ the end of the law for righteousness, their whole confidence being placed in that: so the Targumist in Jeremiah 8:8 paraphrases the words,

"we are wise, "and in the law of the Lord", , do we trust;''

and makest thy boast of God. There is a right boasting of God in opposition to boasting in the creature, when men ascribe all the blessings of nature and grace to the Lord alone, and praise him for all their enjoyments, temporal and spiritual; and when they trust in, and glory, and make their boast of Christ as the Lord their righteousness, in whom alone they are, and can be justified. But the boasting here spoken of, was such that was not right; these men boasted of their bare external knowledge of the one God, when the Gentiles around them were ignorant of him; of their being the covenant people of God, when others were aliens and strangers; and of their having the word and worship of the true God, which other nations were unacquainted with; and, on these external things they depended, which was their fault.

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