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The Hundred-Seventy-Fifth (Romans Part 4)

We're continuing in Romans this week with the second half of chapter two.  After talking about the consequences of our actions, whether good or bad, Paul proceeds to set a baseline for all the things the believers he was writing to thought they knew about righteousness and their place in YHWH's Kingdom.  This goes along with his train of thought on making sure everyone knew their place.

When we read the rest of chapter two (Romans 2:12-29), it gives the feeling that there was a schism among the believers in Rome.  The way he singles out the Jews among them, it seems as though there may have been some "holier than thou" attitudes that he was attempting to put to bed.  He goes through quite a few different ways of telling them not to think they're better than the non-Jews among them by using various aspects of what they see as giving them the right to consider themselves above their brethren.  

He starts out by talking generally about judgment and righteousness.  He states that whether or not you consider yourselves under the law, if you sin, you will die (verse 12).  It does not matter if you are trying to follow the law to be righteous or not, the result of sin is death because that's just a universal truth.  The law is actually just a written account of the way YHWH's creation works naturally.  If we follow it, we live, if we transgress it we receive the consequences that are stated in the law.

Paul then goes on to point out that all those who think they're righteous just by sitting in synagogue and hearing the law better think twice (verse 13).  There's a lot of these same types of Christians around today.  Those that think just because they stop into a building once a week and hear someone talk that they've got their Express Pass into eternal life.  If you're looking at the law for righteousness, Paul says, you have to actually do what it says in order to have righteousness.

To add some salt into the pride wound that Paul gave the Jews of Rome, he brings in those same people that they look down upon.  If you're reading certain versions of scripture, it may be confusing when you transition between verses 9 and 10 and verse 14.  Some translations use the word "Gentiles" for all three of these verses when verse 14 is clearly a different Greek word Paul used in his writing.  When talking about consequences in verses 9 and 10, he uses the word Helleni, which specifically means Greeks, but more generally is used to distinguish a difference of religion and worship.

In verse 14 however, Paul uses the word ethnos, which is just a general term for groups of people, like various races.  In other words, Paul is distinguishing in these verses the difference between believers of certain backgrounds and unbelievers.  He wanted to make sure in verses 9 and 10 that those in Rome understood consequences applied to those believers as far as what they did, good or bad.  He then went on to talk about unbelievers, the Gentiles, or ethnos, and how if they actually ended up demonstrating what the law requires without even knowing of it, it shows that YHWH's law is in their nature and they will receive the same judgment as those who knew of the law and did their best to follow it in order to be righteous.

He provides the dichotomy of these unknowingly-law-following Gentiles with those Jews that look down on them, considering themselves high and mighty because they know YHWH's law and therefore claim to know His will and declare what is right and what is wrong.  We won't belabor it, but Paul cuts deep in these verses (verses 17-24), basically calling them out for being hypocrites.  He finishes by quoting Isaiah, where YHWH was stating that He is blasphemed because of His people (Isaiah 52:5).  

His whole point though was not to be a judgmental jerk, but to make a point.  Can you imagine the believers of Rome reading this for the first time as they get through that portion?  They had to be wondering where he was going with this!  His point was that it's not what you do or how you present yourself on the outside that makes you a Jew, but what's on the inside; it's a matter of your heart.  In other words, they should consider those non-Jews that actually keep the law more Jewish than those that are hypocritical with it.   

In fact, Paul even goes so far as to say that not only are they more Jewish, in the end they will actually judge those who claim to be Jewish but don't follow the law (verse 27).  These people's righteousness comes from their heart, not from what they present on the outside.  They look for praise from YHWH, not from their fellow men that prop them up for how knowledgeable they are in the law (verse 29).

This is another thing we see a lot of in the church today.  People get put on a pedestal and make a name for themselves based on how many verses they've memorized or how "well" they interpret scripture.  Their knowledge of Greek and Hebrew and all the different uses of various words gains them fame and favor among believers, but what is truly in their heart?  You see many big name preachers in hot water because while they had hundreds, even thousands of people listening to their sermons they were transgressing the law in one way or another.  Sometimes it's stealing funds, sometimes it's fornication, but whatever it is, their heart was not in line with what they were presenting on the outside.  

We need to keep in mind that it's not what we do, but what's in our heart that makes us who we are and gets judged by YHWH and Yeshua when it's time.  But if you notice, the focal point through all of this portion of Paul's letter was the law.  Whether it was knowing the law and not following it or not knowing the law but following it because it was written on your heart, the law, according to Paul, is just as important now as it was before Yeshua came to earth and died for our sins.  It's just important for a different reason now than it was then.

Have a great week!  Shabbat shalom and YHWH bless you! 

-Rob and Sara Gene

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