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had kept the letter of the law (Rom. 2: 27). Now the Apostle gives a description of the
true Jew which was more than just outward conformity to ritual:
"A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward
and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision
of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men,
but from God" (2: 28, 29, N.I.V.).
There was an internal attitude of mind, which was essential if one wished to be
recognized by God as the true seed of Abraham. Circumcision of the heart is an O.T.
doctrine as much as the fleshly rite (Deut. 10: 16; Jer. 4: 4) where it means man's
humble response to God's gracious love and the absence of boasting and indulgence in
some supposed superiority over others. On the other hand one cannot rule out the
physical side altogether, for later on in the Roman epistle the Apostle Paul is going to
state that the true seed came only through Isaac, and not through any other child of
Abraham (Rom. 9: 7, 8)--"In Isaac shall thy seed be called". In other words there is an
internal as well as an external side to the real seed of Abraham and both are essential to
the purpose of God.
3: 1 - 9.
pp. 161 - 165
When we come to chapter 3: of the epistle, the presentation of the Apostle's theme
in the form of an argument still continues. We can imagine someone reading his
conclusion of chapter 2: and saying: "if it is being a Jew inwardly that really matters, is
there any real advantage in belonging to the Jewish nation and being circumcised?"
Paul's reply to the question, "what advantage has the Jew?" (Rom. 3: 1) is definite:
"Much every way; chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of
God" (3: 2).
Among the many privileges bestowed by God upon Israel was the fact that He had
made them the custodians of His written Word. This was an honour indeed, such as no
other nation had received. Later on the Apostle gives an imposing list of Israel's
privileges in Rom. 9::
". . . . . my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the
adoption (sonship), and the glory (the external symbol of God's presence with them), and
the covenants (every covenant in the Bible pertains originally to Israel except the
covenant with Noah), and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
whose are the fathers (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and his twelve sons to whom so many
divine promises were made), and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, Who is
over all, God blessed for ever, Amen" (9: 3-5).
We shall have to consider this list of high privileges in detail when we reach chap. 9:,
but when we take them all together, the answer to the query as to whether there was any