Romans 2:23
Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?
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(23) Dishonourest thou God?—This verse has been regarded, not as a question, but as a summary answer to the previous questions, “You, who make all this boast in the Law, by breaking the Law, dishonour God.” There is a certain force in this view, but the structure of the clause is so similar to those that have gone before that it seems best, perhaps, upon the whole, to take it in the ordinary way.

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.Makest thy boast ... - To boast in the Law implied their conviction of its excellence and obligation, as a man does not boast of what he esteems to be of no value.

Dishonourest thou God - By boasting of the Law, they proclaimed their conviction that it was from God. By breaking it, they denied it. And as actions are a true test of man's real opinions, their breaking the Law did it more dishonor than their boasting of it did it honor. This is always the case. It matters little what a man's speculative opinions may be; his practice may do far more to disgrace religion than his profession does to honor it. It is the life and conduct, and not merely the profession of the lips, that does real honor to the true religion. Alas, with what pertinency and force may this question be put to many who call themselves Christians!

22. thou that abhorrest idols—as the Jews did ever after their captivity, though bent on them before.

dost thou commit sacrilege?—not, as some excellent interpreters, "dost thou rob idol temples?" but more generally, as we take it, "dost thou profane holy things?" (as in Mt 21:12, 13, and in other ways).

Dost thou bring a reproach upon religion, and give occasion to the Gentiles to blaspheme his name? So it follows in the next words. See Romans 2:24.

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.

Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?
Romans 2:23 gives to the four questions of reproachful astonishment the decisive categorical answer. See above on Romans 2:17-24.

διὰ τῆς παραβ. τ. νόμου] To this category belonged especially the ἱεροσυλεῖν; for in Deuteronomy 7:25 f. the destruction of heathen statues is enjoined, but the robbery of their gold and silver is repudiated.

τὸν θεὸν ἀτιμάζεις] How? is shown in Romans 2:24.

τὸν θεὸν] who has given the law.

Romans 2:23. Here again the construction is changed, and probably the use of the relative instead of the participle suggests that the sentence is to be read, not as interrogative, but as declaratory. “Thou who makest it thy boast that thou possessest a law, by the transgressing of that law dishonourest God: that is the sum of the whole matter, and thy sole distinction in contrast with the heathen.”

23. dishonourest] disgracest. The crimes of Jews made their Lord’s “name to be blasphemed among the Gentiles;” as, alas, the name of Christ is, for exactly similar reasons, often blasphemed among the heathen now.

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. Romans 2:23Transgression (παραβάσεως)

Trench remarks upon "the mournfully numerous group of words" which express the different aspects of sin. It is ἁμαρτια the missing of a mark; παράβασις the overpassing of a line; παρακοή the disobedience to a voice; παράπτωμα a falling when one should have stood; ἀγνόημα ignorance of what one should know; ἥττημα a diminishing of what should be rendered in full measure; ἀνομία or παρανομία non-observance of law; πλημμέλεια discord.

The primary sense of the preposition παρά is beside or by, with reference to a line or extended surface. Hence it indicates that which is not on its true line but beside it, either in the way of falling short or of going beyond. Thus, in the sense of going beyond, Romans 12:3, to think more highly than he ought (παρ' ὃ δεῖ), where the sense of beyond is fixed by ὑπερφρονεῖν to think beyond or over." So Luke 13:2. In the sense of falling short, Thucydides, 3, 49: "Mitylene came near such peril" (παρὰ τοσοῦτο κινδύνου), as if parallel to the danger but not touching it. Hence παραβάσις differs from the Homeric ὑπερβασία transgression, in that the latter carries only the idea of going beyond or over. A mark or line as a standard is thus implied. Transgression implies something to transgress. With the law came in the possibility off transgressing the law. "Where there is no law there is no transgression" (Romans 4:15). Hence Adam's sin is called a transgression (Romans 5:14), because it was the violation of a definite command. Paul habitually uses the word and its kindred παραβάτης transgressor, of the transgression of a commandment distinctly given (Galatians 3:19; 1 Timothy 2:14, Romans 2:25, Romans 2:27). Hence it is peculiarly appropriate here of one who boasts in the law. It thus differs from ἁμαρτία sin (see on sins, Matthew 1:21), in that one may sin without being under express law. See Romans 5. Sin (ἁμαρτία) was in the world until the law; i.e. during the period prior to the law. Death reigned from Adam to Moses over those who had not sinned (ἁμαρτήσαντας) after the similitude of Adam's transgression (παραβάσεως). The sin is implicit, the transgression explicit.

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