The Letter to the Romans



7. Sin in the law-keeper


Romans 2:17-24

17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God;

18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law;

19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark,

20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth-

21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal?

22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?

23 You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?

24 As it is written: "God's name is blasphemed among the gentiles because of you." (NIV)


Key Words





Dishonor God


Paul now contrasts the Gentiles who have no law except their consciences and the general revelation of God through creation with the Jews who have special revelation from God in the form of the law, the ceremonies, and the prophets. Because of this special revelation, the Jews have reason to know God better than the Gentiles know him. They have, however, let their chosen status make them proud instead of humbly obedient. Paul confronts the Jewish arrogance that has taken the place of obedient submission.

1. What motivated the Jews' arrogance and bragging about their relationship with God? (see Jeremiah 8:8; Micah 3:11; John 5:45; Romans 9:4-5)


2. Verse 18 establishes that the superiority complex Paul is addressing stems from the Jews' pride over having the law. Who, based on this understanding, are the blind, the foolish, those in darkness, and the infants to whom the Jews feel superior?


3. Paul takes the Jews to task for teaching and preaching to others without holding themselves to the same standards, thus sinning against others. Why are teaching and preaching such sensitive issues? (see James 3:1; Luke 20:46-47; Matthew 23:1-33, especially v. 3-4)


4. Paul next asks the Jews if they commit adultery while preaching against it. The sin of sensuality is a sin against oneself. How might they have been guilty of adultery? (see Matthew 5:27-28; Proverbs 6:23-26; 2 Peter 2:13-14)


5. Next Paul addresses the sin of idolatry, or sin against God. His reference to robbing temples stemmed from the fact that pagan temples often housed great stores of wealth. How might the Jews have been idolatrous without actually worshiping idols? (see Acts 19:37; Joshua 7:20-25; 1 Chronicles 2:7; John 2:13-16; Acts 5:1-11; 1 Timothy 6:9-10)


6. In what other ways were the Jews guilty of breaking the law? (see Malachi 3:8-9; Matthew 5:21-22, 27, 32; 6:14-15; 23:23; 28, 29-31; 35-37; Mark 7:9-13)


7. How have God's people blasphemed God among the Gentiles? (see Isaiah 52:5; Ezekiel 36:22; 2 Peter 22; Jude 4)


Application and Commitment

8. In what ways have you experienced the tension of observing the law while simultaneously breaking it?


9. In what ways have you been guilty of immorality (sin against others), sensuality (sin against yourself), and idolatry (sin against God)?


10. Of what hypocrisy or self-indulgence is God convicting you that you need to surrender to him for forgiveness and healing?


Copyright (c) 2003 Graphics Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Posted June 14, 2003.
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