Romans 3:1


Thursday, 21 February 2013

What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Romans 3:1

The obvious question which arises from Paul’s words in the previous verses is, if all of this is true, then “what advantage has the Jew.” If the Jew has the law and no one is able to fully meet the law thus making their circumcision as uncircumcision (2:25), then “what is the profit of circumcision?” This thinking is similar to several questions asked in Ecclesiastes, such as Ecclesiastes 6:8 –

For what more has the wise man than the fool? What does the poor man have, Who knows how to walk before the living?

If the wise man ends up in the same box six feet under the ground that the fool and the poor man go to, then what good is all the wise man’s wisdom? There must be a reason for being wise beyond our temporary life or it would be better to live foolishly and carelessly. Likewise, there must be some value in being a Jew beyond the law or it would be better to not be a Jew at all.

Paul will give an immediate answer here in verse 3:2 and then he will treat the situation concerning the Jews in detail in chapters 9-11. It’s important to note in today’s question that it confirms the issue raised and answered in the last verses of the previous chapter – “Are those gentiles who are “circumcised in the heart” now Jews? If they were, Paul wouldn’t even ask the question in verse 3:1, nor would he then answer it. The Bible reveals these truths concerning the state of God’s people –

1) Anyone who is a faithful believer is a spiritual descendant of Abraham.
2) Israel comprises those faithful Jews who are obedient sons of Jacob; they are of  his physical descent.
3) The church is anyone who has called on Jesus, whether from Israel or from outside of Israel.
4) The church did not replace Israel, although we are grafted into their spiritual heritage.

Life application: God’s wisdom is displayed in how He is working out His plan of redemption. Our unfaithfulness in no way negates God’s faithfulness and so we should remember the Jewish people in our daily prayers. God selected them for His reasons and He greatness is being demonstrated through them. Therefore, our prayers for them will reflect an understanding of this and a desire for Him to receive the glory He is due.

Lord, help me to clearly understand these often difficult issues and then to act in a way which will bring You honor in them – through prayer, through acknowledgment of Your sovereignty, and through seeking Your glory. Amen.

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