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Romans 2:24 For "THE
BECAUSE OF YOU,"
just as it is
to gar onoma tou theou di humas (di humas = because of you) blasphemeitai
(3SPPI) en tois ethnesin, kathos gegraptai (3SRPI):
For, as it is written, The name of God is maligned and blasphemed
among the Gentiles because of you! [The words to this effect are from
your own Scriptures.] [Isa. 52:5; Ezek. 36:20.]
Bible - Lockman)
No wonder the Scriptures say, "The world blasphemes the name of God
because of you." (NLT
- Tyndale House)
Don't you know that: 'the very name of God is cursed among the
Gentiles because of the behaviour of Jews?' There is, you know, a
verse of scripture to that effect. (Phillips:
For the Name of God because of you is reviled among the Gentiles, even
as it stands written (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: for
the name of God because of you is evil spoken of among the nations,
according as it hath been written.
Jew and Gentile
Restored to Israel
Slaves to Sin
Slaves to God
Slaves Serving God
Life by Faith
Service by Faith
Modified from Irving
L. Jensen's excellent work "Jensen's
Survey of the NT"
FOR THE NAME
OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF
YOU JUST AS IT IS WRITTEN: to gar onoma tou theou di humas blasphemeitai (3SPPI) en tois
ethnesin kathos gegraptai (3SRPI):
(Isa 52:5; La 2:15,16; Ezek 36:20, 21, 22, 23; Mt 18:7; 1Ti
5:14; 6:1; Titus 2:5,8) (Smith on Blasphemy)
Ezekiel speaks of the
blaspheming of God's name writing...
20 "When they came to the nations
where they went, they profaned My holy name, because it was said of
them, 'These are the people of the LORD; yet they have come out of His
21 "But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had
profaned among the nations where they went.
22 "Therefore, say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "It
is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for
My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.
23 "And I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been
profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then
the nations will know that I am the LORD," declares the Lord GOD, "when
I prove Myself holy among you in their sight. (Ezek 36:20-23)
God will show Himself faithful to His
covenant and will restore Israel to the land for His "holy name's sake"
not because of any merit in them
We must remember
that God's people are His only representatives that many people see and
so when we sin, we profane His name before the pagans. God acts to
defend His holy name. He wants all people to know the awesome holiness
which separates Him from all other gods.
The Name of God - God's Name is tantamount to His very
being, to the essence of Who He is (see study of the
Name of the LORD),
and so to blaspheme His Holy Name is to blaspheme the very essence of
His being. Paul introduces a bitter irony here, because this Name is the
very word which none of the religious Jews would ever dare speak because
they considered it so holy! And so while not doing so with their lips,
they did in fact blaspheme God's Name with their lives. Our lives often
speak much louder than our lips, which is a powerful reminder for all
who name the Name of Jesus as their Lord. Unbelievers are always
The Name of God
is blasphemed - It is spoken of with reproach. God's Name is reviled
by contemptuous speech that intentionally comes short of the reverence
due to that holy (set apart) Name.
In a similar way
Nathan confronted David with his sin against Uriah and his wife
'Why have you despised the word of
the LORD by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the
Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have
killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon. 10 'Now therefore, the
sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised
Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.' 11
"Thus says the LORD, 'Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your
own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes, and give
them to your companion, and he shall lie with your wives in broad
daylight. 12 'Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing
before all Israel, and under the sun.'" 13 Then David said to Nathan, "I
have sinned against the LORD." And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also
has taken away your sin; you shall not die.14 "However, because by this
deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme,
the child also that is born to you shall surely die."
Keep in mind that
David was probably in his mid-to-late 40's at the time of this sin. Note
also that the sin reflected David (a man after God's own heart) contempt
of the Holy Word and of the Holy God, two incredible statements that we
otherwise would never have attributed to King David who wrote the
majority of the psalms. The result was that it gave occasion to the
enemies of Jehovah to blaspheme His Holy Name, and for this David was
suffered severe consequences, even though God spared his life upon his
Abraham experienced essentially the same thing
when he told Pharaoh that Sarah was his sister and Pharaoh took her into
his harem. After the discovery Abraham and Sarah went away, and Abraham
had no more testimony for God before the Egyptians.
(blasphemeo derived from bláx
= sluggish, slow, stupid + phéme = rumor, fame) OR MORE
LIKELY (derived from blápto = to hurt, injure, harm +
phéme from phemí = to speak) means literally
to speak to harm and in general therefore means to bring into ill
repute and so to slander, to defame (to harm the reputation of by
libel or slander), speak evil of, to rail at (revile or scold in
harsh, insolent, or abusive language and rail stresses an unrestrained
berating), to speak calumny (noun form = a misrepresentation
intended to blacken another’s reputation = the act of uttering false
charges or misrepresentations maliciously calculated to damage another’s
reputation), to calumniate (verb form = to utter maliciously
false statements, charges, or imputations about - calumniate
imputes malice to the speaker and falsity to the assertions) (Click for detailed word study of
Here are the 34 NT
uses of blasphemeo - Mt. 9:3; 26:65; 27:39; Mk. 2:7; 3:28f;
15:29; Lk. 12:10; 22:65; 23:39; Jn. 10:36; Acts 13:45; 18:6; 19:37;
26:11; Ro 2:24; 3:8; 14:16; 1 Co. 10:30; 1 Tim. 1:20; 6:1; Titus 2:5;
3:2; Jas. 2:7; 1 Pet. 4:4; 2Pet. 2:2, 10, 12; Jude 1:8, 10; Re 13:6;
16:9, 11, 21
This combination of high talk and low
walk caused the Gentiles to blaspheme the name of God. They judged the
Lord, as men always do,
by those who professed to be His followers. It was true in Isaiah’s day
(Isa 52:5) and it is still true today. Each of us should ask:
If of Jesus Christ
their only view
May be what they see of Him in you,
(Insert your name), what do they see?
from root graph- = primarily
means to scratch on or engrave as on an ornament, reports, letters, etc;
English = graph, graphic, etc) means to engrave or inscribe with
a pen or stylus characters or letters on a surface which can be wood,
wax, metal, leather, stone, parchment, dirt (John ), paper, etc
and then to write.
to review all 191 uses of grapho in the NAS)
Grapho is in
which signifies that this truth was written down in the past (in this case by the prophet Isaiah) and
it remains written and in effect. The perfect tense thus speaks of the permanence
of the written word of God.
It is written occurs 76
times in the (Click
for these uses). When we were children and our parents told us to do
something and we questioned "Why?", the answer was usually "Because I
said so!". Why are we commanded to be holy? Because God said so! A
popular saying is
God said it, I believe
it, that settles it.
This sounds good but isn't
accurate because God's Word is true, irregardless of whether we believe
it or not. A more accurate "saying" would be
God said it, that settles it!
It is written should put
a stop to every complaint or excuse. Paul is saying don't judge but
remember you will appear before Me to give an account (as the next verse
clarifies). This sobering thought should motivate us to obey this
Paul is quoting in part from the
Paul reminds his Jewish reader that God had stated in the Old Testament
that the failure of the Jew to obey the law was the cause of His holy
Name being continually blasphemed by the Gentiles!
Paul appeals to the testimony of the very Law they boast in as that
which in fact condemns them. As alluded to above, the Jews were so zealous for the Name
of God that they would not pronounce the Tetragrammaton (YHWH or
"Yahweh" when one adds vowels - see study of
and yet the tragic irony was that they acted in such a way that the
Gentiles blasphemed the very Name the Jews claimed to revere!
The Old Testament prophets like Isaiah and Ezekiel and now
declare that God's character and honor are at stake and that the opinion
of Him on the part of the pagans is based at least in part on the
conduct of those who claimed His Name. The captivity of Israel and
Judah, because of continual national unfaithfulness to Jehovah resulted
in the Gentile nations scoffing at the God of the Jews. In other words
His name was blasphemed because of them.
claim the Name of Jesus as your Lord, what is the opinion your family
members, co-workers, neighbors, etc have of your God because of what
they know of your character and conduct?
A Modern day illustration of how God's Name is Blasphemed by those
who claim to know Him: Stuart Briscoe tells about having to deal with a fellow employee who had
embezzled a large sum of money from the bank for which they both worked.
The reason the man embezzled was that he had two wives and families to
support. When he was apprehended and fired, he stunned everyone by
“I am very sorry for what I have done, and I need to know
whether I should fulfill my preaching commitments on Sunday in our local
Briscoe says that in the following weeks he spent a great part
of his time mending the damage done by that man’s blatant inconsistency.
To his chagrin, he found that his fellow workers not only despised the
man, but “… were quick to dismiss the church he belonged to as a ‘bunch
of hypocrites,’ the gospel he professed to believe as a ‘lot of
hogwash,’ and the God he claimed to serve as ‘nonexistent.’”
Right In Our
Front Yard - Grass or weeds? Bluegrass or quack grass? Thick or thin? Browning out or
greening up? These are the things I look for when I drive by the front
yard of a nearby office building. To the credit of its keepers, the lawn
has been green and weed-free for some time now. Even in the middle of
summer that grass looks first-class.
There's a good reason I'm always checking out this lawn. It graces the
corporate offices of a highly competitive and well-known lawn-care firm.
I suppose they would have a good excuse if their turf was not
picture-perfect. They could claim they're so busy servicing the lawns of
others that they don't have time for their own. On the other hand, who's
going to respect a business that doesn't use its own product?
Throughout history, the people of God have been in a similar position.
They have always been on display, representing the true and living God.
Unfortunately, as the apostle Paul pointed out, many professing
believers have been a poor testimony for the Lord (Ro 2:24).
Today, because we call ourselves Christians, we turn the heads of
curious passersby. As if by reflex, people naturally watch us. They want
to see if what we claim to have is really working--right in our own
front yard. --M R De Haan II (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
I do not ask for mighty words
To leave the crowd impressed;
Lord, grant my life may ring so true
My neighbor may be blessed. --Anon.
What we practice proves what we profess.
with -Matthew 10:25; Luke 22:64,65; 1 Peter 4:14
Charged upon Christ -Matthew 9:2,3; 26:64,65; John 10:33,36
Charged upon saints -Acts 6:11,13
Proceeds from the heart -Matthew 15:19
Forbidden -Exodus 20:7; Colossians 3:8
The wicked addicted to -Psalms 74:18; Isaiah 52:5; 2 Timothy 3:2;
Idolatry counted as -Isaiah 65:7; Ezekiel 20:27,28
Hypocrisy counted as -Revelation 2:9
Saints grieved to hear -Psalms 44:15,16; 74:10,18,22
Gives no occasion for -2 Samuel 12:14; 1 Timothy 6:1
Against the Holy Spirit, unpardonable -Matthew 12:31,32
Connected with folly and pride -2 Kings 19:22; Psalms 74:18
Punishment of -Leviticus 24:16; Isaiah 65:7; Ezekiel 20:27-33; 35:11,12
The Danite -Leviticus 24:11
Sennacherib -2 Kings 19:4,10,22
The Jews -Luke 22:65
Hymenaeus -1 Timothy 1:20
Romans 2:25 For
circumcision is of
transgressor of the
men gar ophelei (3SPAI) ean nomon prasses (2SPAS): ean de parabates
nomou es (2SPAS) e peritome sou akrobustia gegonen (3SRAI):
Circumcision does indeed profit if you keep the Law; but if you
habitually transgress the Law, your circumcision is made
Bible - Lockman)
The Jewish ceremony of circumcision is worth something only if you
obey God's law. But if you don't obey God's law, you are no better off
than an uncircumcised Gentile. (NLT
- Tyndale House)
Phillips: That most intimate sign of belonging to God that we
call circumcision does indeed mean something if you keep the Law. But
if you flout the Law you are to all intents and purposes
uncircumcising yourself! (Phillips:
For, indeed, circumcision is profitable if you are making a practice
of law, but if, on the other hand, you are a transgressor of law, your
circumcision has become uncircumcision. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: For
circumcision, indeed, doth profit, if law thou mayest practise, but if
a transgressor of law thou mayest be, thy circumcision hath become
CIRCUMCISION IS OF VALUE IF YOU PRACTICE THE LAW: Peritome men gar ophelei (3SPAI) ean nomon prasses
(2SPAS): (Ro 2:28,29; 3:1,2; 4:11,12; Dt 30:6; Jer 4:4; Gal
5:3, 4, 5, 6; 6:15; Ep 2:11,12) (Circumcision
in Bible Dictionaries - Easton,
Paul here pursues the Jew into his
last retreat, in which he imagined himself most secure. He presses him
on the subject of circumcision, which the Jews viewed as their
stronghold—that rite even more ancient than Moses, and by which they
were distinguished from the other nations. The sum of this, and the
following verses to the end of the chapter, is, that the Jews being such
as the Apostle had represented them, all their advantages, including
circumcision, could only enhance their condemnation before the tribunal
of God, and that, on the contrary, if the Gentiles, who have not
received the law, observed its precepts, they would be justified without
circumcision. Two things are here to be observed, namely, what is
asserted of the Jews and Gentiles, and the proof that follows. The
assertions are, that circumcision serves only as a ground of
condemnation to transgressors of the law; and, on the other hand, that
the want of it would be no detriment to those who fulfilled the law. The
proof is, that before God the true Jew and the true circumcision consist
not in external qualities, but in internal and real holiness. The reason
why circumcision was not included in the enumeration before given of the
advantages of the Jews is, that in itself it is not an advantage, but
only a sign of other advantages; and it is mentioned here,
because, in the character of a sign, it includes them: to name
circumcision then, is to refer to them all. In this verse the Apostle
does not speak of circumcision according to its real and most important
signification as he does in the two concluding verses, but in that view
in which the Jews themselves considered it, as the initiatory and
distinctive rite of their religion, without the observance of which they
believed they could not be saved. (Haldane, R. An Exposition of Romans)
As MacDonald explains...
Here Paul links circumcision with the
Law of Moses and points out that it was only valid as a sign when it was
combined with a life of obedience. God is not a mere ritualist; He is
not satisfied with external ceremonies unless they are accompanied by
inward holiness. So a circumcised Jew who transgresses the law might
just as well be uncircumcised.
W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or
(peritome from perí =
around + témno = cut off) (Click for more in depth word study of
peritome) refers literally to cutting
and removal of the foreskin. (See related discussion on
Circumcision) As discussed below both the Old and New
Testament also use the concept of circumcision in a figurative or
Here are the 36
uses of peritome in the NT --Jn. 7:22, 23; Acts 7:8; 10:45; 11:2;
Ro 2:25, 26-notes,
Ro 2:27, 28, 29-notes;
Ro 4:9, 10, 11, 12-notes;
1 Co. 7:19; Gal 2:7, 8, 9, 12; 5:6, 11; 6:15; Ep 2:11-note; Php 3:3-note, Php 3:5-note;
Col 4:11-note; Titus 1:10-note
There are only 4
uses in the
- Ge 17:13; Ex 4:25, 26; Je 11:16.
The absence of the article (before
circumcision) suggests that the argument may be extended to
everything of the same character as circumcision. Circumcision
was the seal of the covenant, and as such an assurance given to the
circumcised man that he belonged to the race which was the heir of God’s
promises. That was undeniably an advantage…but if the actual inheriting
of the promises has any moral conditions attached to it (as Paul
proceeds to show that it has), then the advantage of circumcision lapses
unless these are fulfilled. Now, the persons contemplated here (the
Jews) have not fulfilled them. (Expositor's Greek Testament)
Is of value
(opheleo from ophéllo = heap up) means to provide
assistance, with emphasis upon the resulting benefit. It means to be
useful or profitable. Note that Paul is not saying that circumcision
will save a person, for by works no man can be justified before God.
(prasso) means to perform repeatedly or habitually and stresses
the process leading to the accomplishment. The
present tense emphasizes
this is to be one's continual activity.
recognizes that a Jew may protest, and say that his salvation is based
on the fact that he is a descendant of Abraham; but Paul rightly says
that this is irrelevant regarding justification. (Ge 17:11).This was a
sign of God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants, and therefore
another token, besides the Law, of the special privileges which were
granted to the Jew and in which they gloried and perverted the
As illustrated by the Rabbinical quotations below in the next
section, the Jews believed that
circumcision guaranteed their salvation. They might be punished in the world
to come, but they believed that they could never be lost. Paul recognized that a Jew might
protest in this manner and say that his salvation is based on the fact
that he is a descendant of Abraham. And so Paul proceeds to point out
that circumcision is irrelevant regarding justification.
Instituted by God -Genesis 17:9,10
Described -Genesis 17:11; Exodus 4:25
Enforced by the law -Leviticus 12:3; John 7:22
Covenant of circumcision -Acts 7:8
Circumcision in the flesh -Ephesians 2:11
Concision -Philippians 3:2
A painful and bloody rite -Exodus 4:26; Joshua 5:8
Promises to Abraham previous to -Romans 4:9,13
A seal of the covenant -Genesis 17:11; Romans 4:11
Introductory Jewish ordinances -Galatians 5:3
Outward sign of -Romans 2:28
Inward grace -Romans 2:29
Necessary to enjoying the privileges of the Jewish State -Ex 12:48; Ezek
On males home-born and bought -Genesis 17:12,13
On the eighth day -Genesis 17:12; Leviticus 12:3
Even on the sabbath day -John 7:22,23
With knives of flint -Exodus 4:25; Joshua 5:3
By the heads of families -Genesis 17:23; Exodus 4:25
By persons in authority -Joshua 5:3
In the presence of the family, &c -Luke 1:58-61
Accompanied with naming the child -Genesis 21:3,4; Luke 1:59; 2:21
First performed on Abraham and his family -Genesis 17:24-27
Not performed in the wilderness -Joshua 5:5
Performed by Joshua at Gilgal -Joshua 5:2,7
Punishment for neglecting -Genesis 17:14; Exodus 4:24,26
Without faith, vain -Romans 3:30; Galatians 5:6
Without obedience, vain -Romans 2:25; 1 Corinthians 7:19
Denominated by -Acts 10:45; Galatians 2:9
Held it unlawful to intermarry with those not of the -Genesis 34:14;
Held no intercourse with those not of the -Acts 10:28; 11:3; Galatians
Despised as unclean those not of the -1Sa 14:6; 17:26; Mt 15:26,27; Ep
Sometimes performed on slain enemies -1Samuel 18:25-27; 2Samuel 3:14
Abolished by the gospel -Ephesians 2:11,15; Colossians 3:11
Performed on Timothy as a matter or expediency because of the Jews -Acts
Necessity of, denied by Paul -Galatians 2:3-5
Necessity of, asserted by false teachers -Acts 15:24; Galatians 6:12;
Trusting to, a denial of Christ Galatians 3:3,4; 5:3,4
Paul denounced for opposing -Acts 21:21
Saints the true spiritual -Philippians 3:3; Colossians 2:11
Readiness to hear and obey -Jeremiah 6:10
Purity of heart -Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6
Purity of speech -Exodus 6:12
BUT IF YOU ARE
A TRANSGRESSOR OF THE LAW YOUR CIRCUMCISION HAS BECOME UNCIRCUMCISION: ean de parabates nomou es (2SPAS) e peritome sou akrobustia gegonen (3SRAI) e peritome sou akrobustia
gegonen (3SRAI): (Ro 2:23; Jer 9:25,26; Acts 7:51)
But if you flout the Law you are to
all intents and purposes uncircumcising yourself! (Phillips
(parabates from from pará = beyond or contrary to +
baíno = to go; see study on cognate noun -
parabasis) describes one who
steps on one side and thus goes beyond or steps across a line. A
transgressor is a violator of the law, one who goes beyond the law.
It refers to the the person who steps
beyond a fixed limit into forbidden territory. The point is that the law
draws the line that should not be crossed or "stepped over". Where there
is no law, people do not deliberately disobey God but they disobey in
his discussion of discussing
There must be something to transgress
before there can be a transgression. There was sin between Adam and
Moses, as was attested by the fact that there was death; but those
between the law given in Paradise (Ge 2:16, 17) and the law given from
Sinai, sinning indeed, yet did not sin ‘after the similitude of Adam’s
transgression’ (or offense = parabasis Romans 5:14-note).
With the law came for the first time the possibility of the
transgression of law.
his comments on parabasis adds that...
The primary sense of the preposition
para is beside or by, with reference to a line or extended
surface. Hence it indicates that which is not on its true line but
beside it, either in the way of falling short or of going
beyond...Parabasis differs from the Homeric hyperbasia transgression, in
that the latter carries only the idea of going beyond or over. A mark or
line as a standard is thus implied. Transgression implies something to
transgress. With the law came in the possibility of transgressing the
law. “Where there is no law there is no transgression” (Ro 4:15). Hence
Adam’s sin is called a transgression (Ro 5:14), because it was the
violation of a definite command. Paul habitually uses the word and its
kindred parabates or transgressor, of the transgression of a commandment
distinctly given (Gal 3:19; 1Ti 2:14; Ro 2:25, 27). Hence it is
peculiarly appropriate here of one who boasts in the law. It thus
differs from hamartia or sin in that one may sin without
being under express law. Sin (hamartia) was in the world until
the law; i.e., during the period prior to the law. Death reigned from
Adam to Moses over those who had not sinned (hamartesantas) after the
similitude of Adam’s transgression (parabaseos). The sin is implicit,
the transgression explicit." (Vincent, M. R. Word studies in the New
Testament. Vol. 3, Page 1-31).
The word parabasis when used
of human conduct, indicates a violation of the rights of others, or of
limitations imposed upon one. This word Paul uses (in
Gal 3:19 where Paul writes " Why the
Law then? It was added because of transgressions (parabasis) , having
been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed
should come to whom the promise had been made") to indicate the purpose
of the giving of the law. Before the law was given by Moses to Israel,
the wrong doing of man was recognized as hamartia, sin, a deviation from
the course of right conduct. But when the law was given, sin was seen to
be, not merely the following of evil impulses, but the violation of
explicit law. Thus, the exceeding sinfulness of sin was recognized by
the human race, which otherwise might not have been evident. The law
therefore was not given because of the existence of transgressions, but
to show hamartia (sin) in its true light, an overstepping of what is
right into the realm of what is wrong. This revelation of the true
nature of sin, would cause man to fear God’s wrath, which in turn would
give strength to the weakness of man’s moral sense and thus educate his
conscience and make it more sensitive to sin. The particular phase of
the Mosaic law here as well as throughout all of the Galatian letter is
the purely mandatory statues of “Thou shalt,“ and “Thou shalt not.“ The
law was given therefore to set the stamp of positive transgression upon
already existing sin. It was not to give the knowledge of sin as sin,
but to show that it was a violation of God’s commandments." (Wuest,
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Studies in the
Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans)
In short, parabates describes one who trespasses,
this English verb derived from transpass, from the Latin trans, across
or beyond and passus, a step. Webster's 1828 entry says
that trespass means
Literally, to pass beyond; hence
primarily, to pass over the boundary line of another’s land; to enter
unlawfully upon the land of another. A man may trespass by walking over
the ground of another, and the law gives a remedy for damages sustained.
Here are the 5 uses of parabates
in the NT (no uses in the Lxx) -
Romans 2:25 For indeed
circumcision is of value, if you practice the Law; but if you are a
transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become
Romans 2:27 And will not he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps
the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law
and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law?
Galatians 2:18 "For if I rebuild
what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor.
James 2:9 But if you show
partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as
James 2:11 For He who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not
commit murder." Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder,
you have become a transgressor of the law.
(ginomai) means to come into existence. The
speaks of the permanence of the
resulting condition (uncircumcision). In other words the since you
(Jews) are transgressors of the law, your circumcision has become
uncircumcision and the result is that this state is a settled one.
(akrobustia from ákron = the extreme +
búo = cover) means uncircumcised (the foreskin not cut off) or uncircumcision and thus
referred to the prepuce or foreskin.
Paul is saying that the physical rite of circumcision without any internal transformation
equates with a foreskin! And so Paul uses akrobustia
figuratively, in a negative sense of lack of relationship with God and
the perfect righteousness His law demands.
was also used as a term of
scorn and derision by Jews, for they equated uncircumcision
with being a pagans, non-Jewish peoples or Gentiles. Can you imagine how a self-righteous Jew
must have felt when he read Paul's argument!
Akrobustia is used
14 times in the
Septuagint (LXX) - Ge 17:11, 14, 23, 24, 25; 34:14, 24; Ex
4:25; Lv 12:3; Jos. 5:3; 1Sa 18:25, 27; 2Sa 3:14; Je 9:25
Akrobustia is used 19 times in
the NT -
Acts 11:3 saying, "You went to
uncircumcised men and ate with them." (Refers to Gentiles)
Romans 2:25 (notes)
For indeed circumcision is of value, if you practice the Law; but if you
are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become
Romans 2:26 (notes)
If therefore the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law,
will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?
Romans 2:27 (notes)
And will not he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law,
will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and
circumcision are a transgressor of the Law?
Romans 3:30 (note) since
indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the
uncircumcised through faith is one.
Romans 4:9 (note) Is
this blessing then upon the circumcised, or upon the uncircumcised
(Refers to the Gentiles) also?
For we say, "Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness."
Romans 4:10 (note) How
then was it reckoned? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not
while circumcised, but while uncircumcised;
Romans 4:11 (note) and
he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the
faith which he had while uncircumcised, that he might be the father of
all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be
reckoned to them,
Romans 4:12 (note) and
the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the
circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our
father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.
1Co 7:18 Was any man called already circumcised? Let him not become
uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? Let him not be
1Co 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but
what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.
Gal 2:7 But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the
gospel to the uncircumcised (the Gentiles) just as Peter had been to the circumcised
Gal 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision
means anything, but faith working through love.
Gal 6:15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a
Ephesians 2:11 (note) Therefore
remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called
"Uncircumcision " by the so-called "Circumcision," which is performed in
the flesh by human hands--
Colossians 2:13 (note)
And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of
your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all
Colossians 3:11 (note)
-- a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew,
circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman,
but Christ is all, and in all.
Why does Paul address circumcision so directly? The Jews had been taught and
had come to believe that physical
circumcision secured eternal salvation. Below are a few quotations from
Jewish sources that express this false belief...
commenting on Book of Moses writes that...
Our Rabbis have said that no circumcised man will see Hell.
Circumcision saves from Hell.
The Midrash (Jewish traditions compiled about 200AD, basic
part of the Talmud) Tillim says,
God swore to Abraham that no one who was circumcised should be
sent to Hell.
The Midrash also taught the absurd notion that...
Abraham sits before the gate of
hell and never allows any circumcised Israelite to enter.
In sum, the rabbis taught a false gospel declaring that...
God will judge the Gentiles with
one measure and the Jews with another. All Israelites will have part in
the world to come
Paul is arguing that physical
circumcision (or physical water baptism or any rite or ritual for
that matter) does not secure salvation for anyone. It is well known for
example, that the Egyptians circumcised their boys and obviously they
were not saved. It is amazing and sad that many, if not most, of God's
chosen people were willing to stake their eternal destiny on a lie.
Things haven't changed much, have they?
AN ILLUSTRATION: Circumcision or baptism or any other
rite practiced in an attempt to gain salvation is analogous to a label
on a can of fruit or vegetables. If the outer label doesn’t match
with the inner product, something is "rotten"!
Romans 2:26 So
requirements of the
Law, will not his
Greek: ean oun e
akrobustia ta dikaiomata tou nomou phulasse (3SPAS), ouch e akrobustia
autou eis peritomen logisthesetai (3SFPI)
So if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the requirements of the Law,
will not his uncircumcision be credited to him as [equivalent to]
Bible - Lockman)
And if the Gentiles obey God's law, won't God give them all the rights
and honors of being his own people?
- Tyndale House)
Conversely, if an uncircumcised man keeps the Law's commandments, does
he not thereby "circumcise" himself? (Phillips:
Therefore, if the uncircumcision habitually guards the righteous
requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be credited to
his account for circumcision? (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: If,
therefore the uncircumcision the righteousness of the law may keep,
shall not his uncircumcision for circumcision be reckoned?
THE UNCIRCUMCISED MAN KEEPS THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE LAW: ean oun e
akrobustia ta dikaiomata tou nomou phulasse (3SPAS): (Isa 56:6,7;
Mt 8:11,12; 15:28; Acts 10:2-4,34,35; 11:3-18; 1Cor 7:18,19; Phil 3:3;
uncircumcised man (see akrobustia in preceding verse) - This is more literally rendered “if
the foreskin”. This was a phrase used by the Jews as a slang expression
describing a Gentile.
The NLT conveys the idea of
And if the Gentiles obey God's law,
won't God give them all the rights and honors of being His own people? (NLT
- Tyndale House)
James Denny explains that...
Here the inference is drawn from the
principle laid down in Ro 2:25. This being so, Paul argues, if the
uncircumcision maintain the just requirements of the law, shall not his
uncircumcision be accounted circumcision, because it has really done
what circumcision pledged the Jew to do?… As he has done what
circumcision bound the Jew to do, he will be treated as if in the Jew’s
position: his uncircumcision will be reckoned as circumcision.
(Expositor's Greek Testament)
means to watch, to carry out the function as a military sentinel (Lk
2:8). Phulasso is used in this case of guarding a law from being broken,
i.e., by observing its provisions.
present tense emphasizes
that they continually keep the requirements of the law. Clearly, Paul
is not teaching salvation by works implying that the Gentiles might be
able to live such good lives that thereby they could earn salvation.
Here are the 31 uses of phulasso
in the NT - Mt 19:20; Mk. 10:20; Lk. 2:8; 8:29; 11:21, 28; 12:15; 18:21;
Jn. 12:25, 47; 17:12; Acts 7:53; 12:4; 16:4; 21:24, 25; 22:20; 23:35;
28:16; Ro 2:26; Gal. 6:13; 2Th 3:3; 1Ti 5:21; 6:20; 2Ti 1:12, 14; 4:15;
2Pe 2:5; 3:17; 1Jn 5:21; Jude 1:24
Wuest writes that in this
verse phulasso means...
to guard the commandments of God with
a solicitous care lest they be broken, doing this by carefully observing
them. The tense and mode are
speaking of habitual action. One is reminded of the Greek philosopher
Socrates, whose ethics were so exalted that he said that he never
did anything in his life which his reason told him was wrong. Knowing
totally depraved nature as we do, one is hesitant to accept this
statement at its full face value, but at least the intent of the pagan
heart of this man was one concerning which our present verse speaks.
Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from
the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
from dikaióo = to justify in turn from
díkaios = just, righteous) in the present verse refers to an
ordinance, to what God has declared to be right, referring to His decree
of retribution or that which is deemed right so as to have the force of
Here are the 10 uses of dikaioma
in the NT - Lk 1:6; Ro 1:32; 2:26; 5:16, 18; 8:4; He 9:1, 10; Re 15:4;
God prophesied that Gentiles would come into His kingdom writing...
Also the foreigners who join
themselves to the LORD, To minister to Him, and to love the name of the
LORD, To be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the
sabbath, And holds fast My covenant; Even those I will bring to My holy
mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt
offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My
house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples. (Isa 56:6,7)
Jesus affirms God's heart for
the Gentiles writing...
And I say to you, that many shall
come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, and
Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven;
12 but the sons of the kingdom shall be cast out into the outer
darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Mt 8:11,12)
Peter echoes the truth about
And opening his mouth, Peter said: "I
most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,
but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is
welcome to Him. (Acts 10:34-35)
This verse is part of God’s answer to the
skeptic who asks
What about the Pygmy in Africa who has never heard the gospel?
God will judge them by what they
have heard, and how they have lived by it - which means that they are
The problem of the "innocent native" is that we can’t find an innocent natives anywhere!
Two questions are actually more important:
What will become
of you who has heard the gospel?
What will become of you if you do not
take the gospel to the native?
John Piper writing on Romans
that God will regard you as a
Jew—that is, will count you, though you be a Gentile, as a member of his
chosen people—if you keep the requirements of the Law, that is, if you
fulfil the Law. I base it mainly on Ro 2:26: “So if the
uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his
uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?” In other words, a Gentile
(that’s what is meant by “the uncircumcised man”) who fulfils the
requirements of the Law will be counted as a true Jew—a true member of
God’s chosen people, Israel. (See Piper's entire sermon for an more
detailed explanation -
Who Is a True Jew? Part One)
John MacArthur explains...
Sincerely keeping the requirement of
the Law because it is God’s will is of great value, whereas circumcision
without obedience is of absolutely no value. If the uncircumcised man,
that is, a Gentile, keeps the requirement of the Law, God will look on
him just as favorably as on a circumcised Jew who keeps His law-counting
the believing Gentile’s uncircumcision as if it were true circumcision.
J: Romans 1-8. Chicago: Moody Press
MacDonald says that what Paul
is saying is that...
if a Gentile adheres to the morality
prescribed by the law, even if he isn’t under the law, his
uncircumcision is more acceptable than the circumcision of a Jewish
transgressor. In such a case the Gentile’s heart is circumcised, and
that is what counts. (Ibid)
Leon Morris explains this
passage as follows...
The law is God’s revealed will; it points to the way in which God would
have people go, and this way is the way of trusting him, as the fuller
revelation in the gospel makes so plain. The Gentile, despite his lack
of the law, may respond to what God has made known to him, and this, for
Paul, is the real circumcision. To respond with love and faith is to
possess all that circumcision means (cf. Col. 2:11-note).
Murray follows Godet in seeing a reference to Gentile Christians. This
may be the correct way to understand it, but it seems that Paul’s words
are wide enough to include people like Cornelius (Acts 10:34, 35).
(Morris, L. The Epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leicester,
England: W. B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press. 1988)
Hodge explains that...
In Ro 2:25 it was taught that
everything depends upon obedience to the law. God will judge every man
according to his deeds. If a Jew, though circumcised, breaks the law, he
will be condemned; and if a Gentile, though uncircumcised, keeps the
law, he will be justified. The one proposition flows from the other. For
if circumcision is in itself nothing, its presence cannot protect the
guilty and its absence cannot invalidate the claims of the righteous.
to)...“decrees,” “precepts,” what the law prescribes as right. The
apostle does not mean to suggest that the Gentiles do in any case keep
the righteousness of the law, as this would be contrary to his own
explicit assertion that no one is righteous, not even one (see 3:12). It
is merely a hypothetical statement, designed to show that everything
depends on obedience, and that circumcision cannot be the ground either
of justification or condemnation. Will they not be regarded as though
they were circumcised? Uncircumcision shall be taken for circumcision. (Romans
Commentary online or
WILL NOT HIS
UNCIRCUMCISION BE REGARDED AS CIRCUMCISION: ouch e akrobustia autou eis peritomen logisthesetai (3SFPI):
(akrobustia from ákron = the extreme +
búo = cover) means uncircumcised (the foreskin not cut off) or uncircumcision and thus
referred to the prepuce or foreskin. Paul is
using akrobustia figuratively to refer to the uncircumcision of
that the physical rite of circumcision without any internal transformation
equates with a foreskin! And so Paul uses akrobustia
figuratively, in a negative sense of lack of relationship with God and
the perfect righteousness His law demands.
means to reckon, compute, calculate,
to take into account, to deliberate, weigh and implies a process of
reasoning. Logizomai refers to a settled conclusion by careful
study and reasoning and thus in short a reasoned conclusion. It
refers to a process of reasoning which results in the arriving at a
Logizomai was a bookkeeping term and used to describe the making
of an entry in the account book, as when figuring an entry in a ledger.
The purpose of the entry is to make a permanent record that can be
consulted whenever needed.
Logizomai is used at
(out of a total of 40 NT uses)
in Romans and often is translated reckoned or imputed - Lk 22:37; Jn
11:50; Acts 19:27; Ro 2:3, 26; 3:28; 4:3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 8, 9, 10, 11,
22, 23, 24; 6:11; 8:18, 36; 9:8; 14:14; 1Co 4:1; 13:5, 11; 2Co 3:5;
5:19; 10:2, 7, 11; 11:5; 12:6; Gal 3:6; Php 3:13; 4:8; 2Ti 4:16; He
11:19; Jas 2:23; 1Pe 5:12
regard the believing Gentile as favorably as a circumcised, believing
Jew. This statement for example could potentially encompass men like
Job, Enoch, Noah, etc, men who existed before God called out a people
(Jews) to be His chosen possession.
The evidence of our rightness with God is not contained in outward signs
or works, and it is not assured because of our parentage; the evidence
is found in the work of God in our hearts, which shows itself in fruit.
Jamieson comments that...
Two mistaken interpretations, we
think, are given of these words: First, that the case here supposed is
an impossible one, and put merely for illustration [Haldane, Chalmers,
Hodge]; second that it is the case of the heathen who may and do please
God when they act, as has been and is done, up to the light of nature
[Grotius, Olshausen, &c.]. The first interpretation is, in our judgment,
unnatural; the second, opposed to the apostle’s own teaching. But the
case here put is, we think, such as that of Cornelius (Acts 10:1–48),
who, though outside the external pale of God’s covenant, yet having come
to the knowledge of the truths contained in it, do manifest the grace of
the covenant without the seal of it, and exemplify the character and
walk of Abraham’s children, though not called by the name of Abraham.
Thus, this is but another way of announcing that God was about to show
the insufficiency of the mere badge of the Abrahamic covenant, by
calling from among the Gentiles a seed of Abraham that had never
received the seal of circumcision (see Ga 5:6); and this interpretation
is confirmed by all that follows.
Expositor's Bible Commentary writes that...
Circumcision was to Jewry what
baptism is to those who maintain baptismal regeneration. In dividing men
into two classes, circumcised and uncircumcised, the Jews were in effect
indicating those who were saved and those who were not. But Paul's
contention is that circumcision and observance of the law cannot be
separated. If one has the symbol of Judaism and lacks the substance, of
what value is the symbol? Society has laws that demand that the labeling
of a can or bottle match the contents. How much more should there be
correspondence in the spiritual realm! If a Gentile should manifest
success in observing the law, the lack of circumcision is surely not so
important as to discount his spiritual attainment (cf. the line of
thought in Ro 2:14).
F, Editor: Expositor's Bible Commentary 6-Volume New Testament.
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