Romans 2:25–3:8 (NKJV)
25 For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? 27 And 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? 28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but 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.Romans 2:25-29
One of the Jews’ sign of their covenant with God was circumcision, which marked them as the people of Yahweh when Abraham walked with God. This became a badge or form of identification for the Jews to separate them from Gentiles and perhaps make some feel superior to those who were not circumcised. Paul here explains that circumcision is not salvific in nature. It does not guarantee one’s right standing with God. Instead, it had a purpose, but not one that excused sin and observance of the law. Therefore, Paul surmised that obedience to God was the true measure of salvation, not circumcision. This probably sounded blasphemous, or at the least heretical, to the Jews, but Paul cared not. Paul then explained that circumcision of the heart and inward obedience to God are the true measures of being one of the people of God.
1 What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? 2 Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. 3 For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? 4 Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written:
“That You may be justified in Your words,
And may overcome when You are judged.”
5 But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.) 6 Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world?Romans 3:1-8
7 For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner? 8 And why not say, “Let us do evil that good may come”?—as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just.
Paul examines circumcision (being a Jew) even further. He says that it does have some value, because the Jews received the word of God initially. The word convicts men of sin. Their unbelief does not negate the truth of God’s word, and even the Jews’ unbelief in Jesus Christ, the key to these oracles or word of God, does not negate Jesus as the Messiah, the answer to the sin problem of the world. God did give His word, His oracles, to the Jews only for a time, but He has brought His greater revelation to the world through Jesus Christ, and He is the Word, the Oracle of God. So, therefore, anyone who rejects Christ and lives by their own code of conduct is worthy of and subject to the discipline of God. Paul is laying down the gauntlet by saying that he has been wrongly accused of perverting the word of God by preaching Jesus, and that their condemnation is just because they spoke ill of Christ.
In today’s world, Christians are opposed more so than in previous years. In the 20th century, Christianity was in vogue in the USA, respected and heard. Today, Christianity is marginalized and considered antiquated and unenlightened. If there has ever been a time to stand up for truth and declare it everywhere, it is now. Paul was not ashamed to be counted with Christ, and it cost him dearly. He was imprisoned and eventually executed for his faith. His circumcision did not save him. His faith saved him in an eternal sense. Be an ambassador for Christ, even if you are required to stand for Him at your own peril. He will stand with you!