Summary: Paul went into this question and answer section to debunk the wrong thoughts of the Jews, affirming the value of the covenant, God's faithfulness to His promises, and His righteous judgment for all people.
The truth of the Gospel is that all men have sinned and come under the wrath of God.
• Everyone will be judged by the same measure, for God does not show favouritism (2:11). Both the Jews and the Greeks will be judged for their sin.
• Paul took extra efforts to draw attention to the Jews because of their background.
The Jews considered themselves as the descendants of Abraham, God’s chosen people, because God made a covenant with Abraham.
• The sign or seal of the covenant, as prescribed by God then in Genesis 17, was circumcision. Hence all Jewish males were circumcised.
• They were the covenantal people of God, sealed with the sign of circumcision.
• In addition, God gave them His commandments through Moses, the Mosaic Law, which the Jews have been keeping it judiciously.
So we can see now where their confidence lies. They have the covenant, the sign of circumcision, and the commandments of God.
• Needless to say, these 3 C’s that makes them feel special. They are the favoured ones in the eyes of God, as many of them might have thought.
• To debunk that belief, Paul set forth the truth of the Gospel and the need for them to believe in the Messiah for salvation, just like the Greeks.
God judges all men equally and that includes the Jews. 1:18 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…”
• 2:11 “For God does not show favouritism.” Whether you are a Jew under the covenant, circumcised and keeping the commandments, or a Greek without the Law and circumcision, everyone will be judged the same way.
• What way? The Gospel way. 2:16 “This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my Gospel declares.”
• All will be judge according to their faith response to Jesus Christ, the only Saviour.
If the Jews put their confidence in the covenant (lineage), the circumcision (rituals) or their knowledge of the Law (commandments), then they greatly mistaken.
• None of these can provide them immunity from God’s judgment or special status in the eyes of God.
• Faith in Jesus Christ is the only true security they have. And that means their repentance and obedience to God.
With that said, so what is the use of being a Jew? What is the advantage of being God’s chosen nation? Does the Gospel nullify the covenant and the Law, making them useless?
These are the questions Paul would address next in this section – Rom 3:1-8.
• It is like a Q & A time after a lecture when the audience can ask questions and clarify what was said.
• Here of course, we have no live audience; Paul anticipates the questions to what he has just said and answers them.
• They could be real questions that he has been asked during his travelling ministry.
Rom 3:1-2 1Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? 2 Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.
If all men are judged by God and being a circumcised Jew makes no difference, then what good is it to be a Jew.
• “There is no advantage or value in that at all, since the covenant, circumcision and the commandments cannot immune us from the wrath of God.”
Paul surprises them with “much in every way”!
• “To begin with” meaning first of all (NIV), among the many blessings they have received, the chief privilege they have is to be entrusted with the oracles of God.
• Paul mentions in Rom 9:4-5 the many benefits: “4They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants [Abraham, Moses, David], the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.”
Here he says that the chief blessing among them is that we are entrusted with the oracles (logos) of God! NIV: “the very words of God”, the revelation of God to man.
• It refers to the message of salvation that was made known to them, through the Law and the prophets, the OT Scriptures.
• God has spoken and the record of what He has said has been entrusted to Israel, and Israel only. That’s the awesome privilege they have.
The modern-day version of this will be like those who are born in a Christian family or grew up in a church (as Michael mentioned).
• If growing up in a Christian family does not guarantee my salvation, then what good is that? If attending church from young does not mean I am saved, then what’s the use?