|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:17-24 The apostle directs his discourse to the Jews, and shows of what sins they were guilty, notwithstanding their profession and vain pretensions. A believing, humble, thankful glorying in God, is the root and sum of all religion. But proud, vain-glorious boasting in God, and in the outward profession of his name, is the root and sum of all hypocrisy. Spiritual pride is the most dangerous of all kinds of pride. A great evil of the sins professors is, the dishonour done to God and religion, by their not living according to their profession. Many despise their more ignorant neighbours who rest in a dead form of godliness; yet themselves trust in a form of knowledge, equally void of life and power, while some glory in the gospel, whose unholy lives dishonour God, and cause his name to be blasphemed.
Verses 23, 24. - Thou that makest thy boast in law, through thy transgression of the Law dishonourest thou God? (or, thou dishonourest God). For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you, as it is written. The reference is to Isaiah 52:5, where the LXX. has Δἰ ὑμᾶς διαπαντὸς τὸ ὄνομά μου βλασφημεῖται ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσι. The passage is not quoted as a prophecy now fulfilled, or as in its original reference exactly applicable, but only as serving to express well how the character of the Jews had brought their very religion into disrepute (el. Tacitus, 'Hist..' 5:4, etc.). The remainder of the chapter is devoted to a clear and final exposition of the principle, involved throughout all the previous verses, that Jewish privileges were of no profit in themselves, or without their meaning and purpose being understood and acted on. The thought now passes exclusively to circumcision, as being the original token of the covenant, and the Jew's rite of initiation into his whole privileged position (Genesis 17.). When Jew had come to be the peculiar designation of the children of the covenant, persons were said to become Jews by circumcision. Thus Esther 8:17, "And many of the people of the land became Jews," where the LXX. has, Καὶ πολλοὶ τῶν ἐθνῶν περιετέμνοντο καὶ Ἰουδάιζον. It may be here observed that the known fact of other races as well as the Jews having practised, and still practising, circumcision is not subversive of the scriptural view of its being a peculiarly Jewish rite. For to the Jew alone it had a peculiar significance.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Thou that makest thy boast of the law,.... Of their having it, which other nations had not; of their knowledge of it, which many of their own people were without, or had but a small share of; and of their keeping of it even to perfection:
through breaking of the law dishonourest thou God? sin sometimes is expressed by a word which signifies a "fall"; sometimes by another, which signifies missing of the mark, or straying from it; sometimes by another, which signifies a "contrariety to the law" of God; and here, by one which signifies a "passing over it", and the bounds which it has set, as the rule of man's obedience; and hereby God, the lawgiver, is dishonoured: for as God is glorified by good works, when rightly performed, he is dishonoured by evil ones; for his authority, as a lawgiver, is trampled upon and despised. Now persons guilty of such iniquities as here mentioned, could not be justified before God, or accepted by him on account of any works of righteousness done by them.
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