Summary: Circumcision of no avail
Romans 2:25, “ 25For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.”
This goes back to Genesis 17:11, “And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.” Circumcision is the cutting away of the male foreskin was not entirely new in this period of history, but the special religious and theocratic significance then applies to it was entirely new, thus identifying the circumcised as belonging to the physical and ethnical lineage of Abraham (Acts 7:8; Romans 4:11). Without divine revelation, the rite would not have had this distinctive significance, thus it remained a theocratic distinctive of Israel (Gen 17:13). There was a health benefit, since disease could be kept in the folds of the foreskin, so that removing it prevented that. Historically, Jewish women have had the lowest rate of cervical cancer. The symbolism had to do with the need to cute away sin and be cleansed. It was the male organ which most clearly demonstrated the depth of depravity because it carried the seed that produced depraved sinners. Thus, circumcision symbolized the need for a profoundly deep cleansing to reverse the effects of depravity.
Profitable: As an act of obedience and as a reminder of their covenant relationship to God (Gen 17:10-14). Uncircumsion: A Jew who continually transgressed God’s law had no more of a saving relationship to God than an uncircumcised Gentile. The outward symbol was nothing without the inner reality.
Romans 2:26, “26Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?”
Counted as circumsion: God will reward the believing Gentile as favorably as a circumcised, believing Jew.
Romans 2:27, “27And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law?”
A Gentile’s humble obedience to the Law should serve as a stern rebuke to a Jew who, in spite of his great advantages, lives in disobedience. These self righteous Jews believed that they would escape judgment. According to them, God’s judgment was reserved for the Gentiles. Yet, Paul confronted their hypocrisy. A gentile who kept the law would be able to judge a Jew who broke it.
Romans 2:28-29, “28For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.”
Outwardly refers to the physical descendants of Abraham who have been properly circumcised (9:6); Matt. 3:9). He is a Jew: A true child of God; the true spiritual seed of Abraham (4:16; Gal 3:29). Circumcision is that of the heart: The outward rite is of value only when it reflects the inner reality of a heart separated from sin unto God (Deut 10:16; 30:6). Spirit.. letter; Salvation results form the work of God’s Spirit in the heart, not mere external efforts to conform to the Law.
Paul pronounced that circumsion is of no value (vv.25-27. Circumcision that is only outward Is of no avail before God because God wants the outward demonstration to be the sign of an inward reality. Paul’s teaching is consistent with the Law and the Ot prophets, for both proclaimed the need for internal circumcision (Deut 10:!6; Jer 4:4). The change in our heart that Paul describes with the image of internal circumcision s the work of the Holy Spirit, not the result of external obedience to the Law. In fact, God condemns external observance if it is not the product of a righteous heart (Is 1:10-18).
Circumcision refers to the sign of God’s special covenant with his people. Submitting to this rite was required for all Jewish males (Genesis 17:9-14). According to Paul, being a circumcised Jew meant nothing if the person didn’t obey God’s laws. On the other hand, the uncircumcised Gentile would receive God’s love and approval if they kept God’s law. Paul goes on to explain that a true Jew (one who pleases God) is not someone who has been circumcised but someone whose heart is right with God and obeys Him.
To be a Jew meant you were in God’s family, an heir to all his promises. Yet Paul made it clear that membership in God’s family is based on internal, not external, qualities. All whose hearts are right with God are real Jews—that is, part of God’s family (Galatians 3:7). Attending church, being baptized, confirmed, or accepted membership in a congregation is not the point just as in the same way submitting to circumcision was not enough for the Jews. God desires our heart felt devotion and obedience (Deut 10:16; Jer 4:4)
Pastor David Jenkins