Home Bible Study- Lutz, Florida
Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4
Romans by the Book
For those who are new to this Home Bible study, please know that the information you find here is based on many years of my own personal Bible study and relevant research. Not one word of it is my opinion.
I’ve informed all my classes over the years that I don’t teach opinion.
I’ve been a Bible teacher for seventeen years. This is my role in the Body of Christ (see I Corinthians 12: 27-31) and I take the responsibilities seriously. Why - because God judges teachers sternly.
1: Let not many of you become (what) teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.
In James’ day, people desired to become “teachers,’ but they were not qualified.
This is what James is saying.
Consider the Pharisees for example who were the Jewish religious leaders.
They had taken the Laws of God and twisted them all out of proportion.
Furthermore, they had turned the Temple of God into a money making enterprise.
Does that resemble the religious system of today?
Therefore, while teaching rarely will I offer an opinion.
I’m concerned someone will assume I’m teaching it as fact.
If I offer an opinion in a teaching series, I will preface my statement with this remark.
Otherwise, the material you are reading is truthful and comes straight from Scripture.
Please turn now to Romans chapter 2, at verse 17.
In social circles it is often understood there are two subjects one never discusses while making “small talk.” These subjects are politics, and religion.
Discussing either of these topics tend to get people emotional or upset.
Instead of a starting a conversation, you may start an argument.
The Apostle Paul had been labeled “a raging bull” in his persecution of the Messianic Jews. After he was saved, by grace, his personality and character remained the same but for a different reason. Now Paul had no misgivings about approaching people in large groups and speaking to them about the “Good News” of Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and His resurrection; and that included his brethren, the Jews.
The Jew Is Condemned by the Law
The Jews were the toughest group Paul had to deal with because they were so deeply devoted to their RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS.
As I’ve mentioned before, the Jews “expected” to be treated by their God on Judgment Day with special favor because, after all, weren’t they “God’s chosen people?”
No nation but Israel had been blessed with the oracles of God, and the Temple worship.
Only the nation of Israel could claim a unique relationship existed between them and Jehovah based on the covenants. But they missed the most essential point.
It wasn’t that the nation of Israel possessed the Law, the temple sacrifices, etc.
God was interested in their “heart” (see 1 Samuel 16:7).
This is Paul’s argument to his brethren, the Jews, as we close out chapter 2.
The thing is – the Jews believed they were right and Paul, this blasphemer, was wrong!
(Blasphemer = to insult religion, to treat God or sacred things disrespectfully through words or action.)
Paul offers flattery, to gain their attention, but it also emphasizes the truth. From their childhood onward the Jews were instructed in the Law of Moses (see Deuteronomy 6:7-9).
In addition, the Jews boasted of their unique position over the gentiles whenever the opportunity arose. The Jews referred to the gentiles as heathens, pagans, and dogs.
Dogs in the days of Jesus were unclean animals and considered for the most part to be scavengers, often living in packs. They were seldom kept as household pets as they are today.
The Jews of Jesus day considered the Gentiles to be "dogs,” little more than scavengers and wild beasts.” Even Jesus implied a gentile (Canaanite) woman was a “dog” (see Matthew 15:24-26).
17: But if you bear the name “Jew” and rely upon the Law and (do what) boast (this speaks of pride and stubbornness on the part of the Israelites) in God,
18: and know (this is the critical part) His will and approve the things that are essential being instructed out of the Law,
19: and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness (this speaks of anyone who is not tuned into the knowledge that Israel possesses about God’s will; the Mosaic Law. We’re talking about the Gentiles),
20: a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth,
Paul lists four things the Jews claimed to be:
a) a guide to the blind,
b) a light to those who are in darkness,
c) a corrector of the foolish,
d) and a teacher of the immature (infants).
But here’s the thing. All of these labors are “outward” gestures.
These actions don’t necessarily “affect” the heart of the individual.
And that is the heart of the matter according to Paul – even though these are good works the ATTITUDE behind the ACTION can be FAKED.
Now the conversation shifts with this last statement; the flattery ends.
21: you (Jews), therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal?
22: You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?
23: You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?
The Apostle Paul fires several salvos at these Jewish men in these verses above.
What’s Paul actually saying?
Religious people are good at telling other people how to live they’re lives.
Unfortunately, religious people don’t often practice what they preach.
They often get caught up in doing the very things they condemn in others.
That was the Jewish disadvantage.
What do you call people who say one thing and do another - HYPOCRITES.
Paul sums up his argument in verse 24.
24: For “THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU,” just as it is written (see Isaiah 52:5).
You could shorten that verse with this: “People believe what they see.”
Few people trust only in words nowadays. People believe what they see.
If the two match up, well then o.k.; but if they don’t …well isn’t that SOP.
Once upon a time, before contracts, lawyers, and boardrooms agreements between parties were made and agreed upon with a word and a handshake. A man’s word was his bond. For a man to break his word was unthinkable! Gone are the days…
Now people say, “Show me!”
The Jews boasted of having God on their side, but they forgot the greatest commandment.
36: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?
37: And He (Jesus) said to him, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOU GOD WITH ALL YOUR (what’s the next work people) HEART, AND WITH YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.”
38: “This is the great and foremost commandment.”
The LORD God intended to have a “relationship” with His chosen people and this is a heart related matter. But for many of the Jews, it never was a matter of the heart.
It really became a matter of money in many ways; among other things.
11: Her (Jewish) leaders pronounce judgment for a bribe, Her priests instruct for a price And her prophets divine for money. Yet they lean on the LORD saying, “Is not the LORD in our midst? Calamity will not come upon us.”
What did Jesus find in the temple during the Passover?
Moneychangers cheating people… that are why Jesus became angry and overturned tables and chased all the disruptive people out of there… right?
What were Jesus’ words – “It is written, ‘AND MY HOUSE SHALL BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER,’ but you have made it a ROBBER’S DEN.” Luke 20:46
And who received a “kickback” from all the sales in the temple?
Did you say the Chief Priests? You’d be correct. (See Mark 11:15-18).
Point of Truth: people believe what they see.
The Jews talked a good game but their actions did not back it up.
This is what Paul is saying in verse 24.
Now Paul fires another salvo at the Jews to highlight the point he just made.
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 uncircumcision.
26: So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?
God gave circumcision to Abraham and to his descendants as a sign and a seal of the sacred relationship that existed between God and the Jewish people.
Note the word relationship.
Circumcision was never meant to be an end unto itself. The physical mark was meant to be accompanied by a deep spiritual commitment to God.
But circumcision soon degenerated into RITUALISM. By the first century many rabbis spoke of circumcision as if it were an automatic ticket to heaven.
One writer said, “Circumcision saves from hell.”
Another said, “All the circumcised have part in the world to come.”
So the Jews had it “wrong” in Paul’s day concerning the ceremony of circumcision and as time passed it worsen until it no longer resembled God’s original program.
In verses 26-27, Paul addresses this wrongful understanding of circumcision.
26: So if the uncircumcised man (a gentile) keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?
27: And he who is physically uncircumcised (a gentile), if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you (the Jews) who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law?
Paul is saying, circumcision is useful if accompanied by a changed life.
It is better to be uncircumcised and truly obey God than to be circumcised and continue to break God’s law.
A relationship with God, is a matter of the heart (see Romans 28-29).
(To be continued)
© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved