A Few Thoughts on Romans 2
Paul declares that man’s wisdom has gotten him into a “world of hurt” (chapter 1). In this chapter he turns his attention to the Jews who certainly thought their standing before God was not to be called into question. Paul does call it into question, however. Their standing is called into question because they looked upon themselves as righteous; the word presume (2:4, ESV) is an appropriate word in this light. Their standing in God’s eyes, they thought, was good because of God’s national covenant with Jacob (Israel). Paul said this not the case because they have taken God for granted and have not a circumcised heart (2:28-29). One’s individual righteousness is not, and never has been simply a matter of being in a national covenant with God; it has always been a matter of an individual response to His will (2:6-11). Sin is not peculiar (or exclusive) to those outside of the covenant that God made with Abraham (Isaac, Jacob). In fact, whether one is outside the covenant or inside the covenant, those pleasing to God will have God’s law on the heart. It will be a holy law that teaches and guides one in the way of righteousness (2:12-16). In relation to the Jew, Paul said, physical circumcision has its value, but it is valueless when in comparison with circumcision that is not of the heart (2:17-29).