Romans 2:28
For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Romans 2:28-29. For he is not a Jew — In the most important sense, that is, one of God’s beloved people; or a true child of Abraham, to whom the promise belongs, and one that God will own for a true member of his church; who is one outwardly — Only; or one of Abraham’s posterity, according to the flesh, and enjoys the outward privileges belonging to that relation. Neither is that circumcision — The chief and true circumcision, acceptable to God; which is outward in the flesh — Consists only in the outward ordinance, and the mark imprinted on the flesh. But he is a Jew — One of Abraham’s spiritual seed; who is one inwardly — Who inwardly possesses the disposition of Abraham, and imitates him in his faith and obedience. In this sense, the pious Gentiles, though uncircumcised, and members of no visible church, were really Jews, or children of Abraham, entitled to the blessings of the covenant which God made with him. It is of such as these that Christ speaks, in his epistle to the church at Smyrna, Revelation 2:9; I know the blasphemy of them who say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. And circumcision is that of the heart — The circumcision which renders men the sons of Abraham, and the people of God, is of the heart, made by cutting off or mortifying its lusts. That this is the true circumcision, or the thing meant by that rite, is evident from the command of Moses to the Jews, Deuteronomy 10:16, Circumcise the foreskin of your hearts, and be no more stiff-necked; and from the promise made to the same people, Deuteronomy 30:6, The Lord thy God will circumcise thy heart, to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. In the spirit — Seated in the inmost soul, renewed by the Spirit of God. Or the expression may mean, according to the spiritual sense of the law; and not in the letter — Not in an external ceremony, performed only according to the letter of it. Whose praise is not of men — Who look only on the outward appearance, and will probably be so far from esteeming, that they will despise and hate such; but of God — Who sees in secret, and approves of what is internally holy and spiritual. It is justly observed by Macknight here, that the apostle, by distinguishing between the spirit and the letter of the law of Moses, intimates that the rites enjoined in that law were typical, and had a spiritual or moral meaning, as Moses also expressly declared to the Jews, Leviticus 26:41, and in the passages of Deuteronomy above quoted. Jeremiah, likewise, Jeremiah 4:4, represents circumcision as emblematical; consequently all the other rites of the law were so likewise. 2:25-29 No forms, ordinances, or notions can profit, without regenerating grace, which will always lead to seeking an interest in the righteousness of God by faith. For he is no more a Christian now, than he was really a Jew of old, who is only one outwardly: neither is that baptism, which is outward in the flesh: but he is the real Christian, who is inwardly a true believer, with an obedient faith. And the true baptism is that of the heart, by the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Ghost; bringing a spiritual frame of mind, and a willing following of truth in its holy ways. Let us pray that we may be made real Christians, not outwardly, but inwardly; in the heart and spirit, not in the letter; baptized, not with water only, but with the Holy Ghost; and let our praise be, not of men, but of God.For he is not a Jew ... - He who is merely descended from Abraham, and is circumcised, and externally conforms to the Law only, does not possess the true character, and manifest the true spirit, contemplated by the separation of the Jewish people. Their separation required much more.

Neither is that circumcision ... - Neither does it meet the full design of the rite of circumcision, that it is externally performed. It contemplated much more; see Romans 2:29.

28. he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, &c.—In other words, the name of "Jew" and the rite of "circumcision" were designed but as outward symbols of a separation from the irreligious and ungodly world unto holy devotedness in heart and life to the God of salvation. Where this is realized, the signs are full of significance; but where it is not, they are worse than useless.

Note, (1) It is a sad mark of depravity when all that is designed and fitted to melt only hardens the heart (Ro 2:4, and compare 2Pe 3:9; Ec 8:11). (2) Amidst all the inequalities of religious opportunity measured out to men, and the mysterious bearing of this upon their character and destiny for eternity, the same great principles of judgment, in a form suited to their respective discipline, will be applied to all, and perfect equity will be seen to reign throughout every stage of the divine administration (Ro 2:11-16). (3) "The law written on the heart" (Ro 2:14, 15)—or the Ethics of Natural Theology—may be said to be the one deep foundation on which all revealed religion reposes; and see on [2185]Ro 1:19, 20, where we have what we may call its other foundation—the Physics and Metaphysics of Natural Theology. The testimony of these two passages is to the theologian invaluable, while in the breast of every teachable Christian it wakens such deep echoes as are inexpressibly solemn and precious. (4) High religious professions are a fearful aggravation of the inconsistencies of such as make them (Ro 2:17-24). See 2Sa 12:14. (5) As no external privileges, or badge of discipleship, will shield the unholy from the wrath of God, so neither will the want of them shut out from the kingdom of heaven such as have experienced without them that change of heart which the seals of God's covenant were designed to mark. In the sight of the great Searcher of hearts, the Judge of quick and dead, the renovation of the character in heart and life is all in all. In view of this, have not all baptized, sacramented disciples of the Lord Jesus, who "profess that they know God, but in works deny Him," need to tremble—who, under the guise of friends, are "the enemies of the cross of Christ?"

He is not a Jew; a right or true Jew, who is heir of the promises made to the fathers.

That is one outwardly; the word only is to be understood: see 1 Corinthians 1:17.

Neither is that circumcision; the right and true circumcision, which God principally requires, and is available unto salvation: that circumcision is not much to be accounted of which is only the cutting off an outward skin. For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly,.... The apostle removes the plea in favour of the Jews, taken from their name and privilege, by distinguishing between a Jew and a Jew, and between circumcision and circumcision: "he is not a Jew which is one outwardly"; by mere name, nature, nation, religion, and profession:

neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; which takes away the flesh of the foreskin, but not the carnality of the heart; leaves a mark upon the flesh, but no impression on the mind. This is nothing, is not the true, solid, substantial, spiritual circumcision, which only avails in the sight of God.

For he is not a Jew, which is one {u} outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

(u) By the outward ceremony only.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 2:28-29. Proof of Romans 2:27. For the true Judaism (which is not exposed to that κρινεῖ) resides not in that which is external, but in the hidden world of the internal.

ὁ ἐν τῷ φανερῷ] i.e. ὃς ἐν τῷ φ. ἐστι (see Bornemann, Schol. in Luc. p. 116): for he is not a Jew, who is so openly, i.e. not he who shows himself to be an Ἰουδαῖος in external visible exhibition (in profession, circumcision, dress, ceremonial service, and the like) is a genuine, ἀληθινόςἸουδαῖος answering to the idea. See Matthiae, p. 1533, Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 335 f. The second half of Romans 2:28, in which ἐν σαρκί forms an apposition to ἐν τῷ φανερῷ, more precisely defining it, is to be taken as quite parallel.

Romans 2:29 is usually rendered: But he who is a Jew in secret (scil. is a true Jew), and circumcision of the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter (scil. is true circumcision). But against this view it may be urged that ὁ ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ is so completely parallel to the ὁ ἐν τῷ φανερῷ in Romans 2:28, that a different mode of connection cannot but seem forced. Hence the following construction and exposition result more naturally (comp Luther, Erasmus, and others; also Fritzsche): But he is a Jew (in the true sense) who is so in secret (in the invisible inner life), and (instead of now saying, in parallel with Romans 2:28 : ἡ ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ περιτομή, Paul defines both the ἘΝ Τῷ ΚΡΥΠΤῷ and the true spiritual meaning of ΠΕΡΙΤΟΜΉ more precisely, and says) circumcision of the heart resides (the ἐστί to be supplied) in the spirit, not in the letter.[718] Stripped of figure, περιτομὴ καρδίας is: the separation of all that is immoral from the inner life; for circumcision was accounted even from the earliest times as σύμβολον ἡδονῶν ἐκτομῆς (Philo). See Leviticus 26:41; Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 4:14; Jeremiah 9:26; Ezekiel 44:7; compare Php 3:3; Colossians 2:11; Acts 7:51; Philo, de Sacrif. p. 58: περιτέμνεσθε τὰς σκληροκαρδίας, τόδε ἐστι τὰς περιττὰς φύσεις τοῦ ἡγεμονικοῦ, ἃς αἱ ἄμετροι τῶν παθῶν ἔσπειράν τε καὶ συνηύξησαν ὁρμαὶ καὶ ὁ κακὸς ψυχῆς γεωργὸς ἐφύτευσεν, ἀφροσύνη, μετὰ σπουδῆς ἀποκείρεσθε. See also Schoettgen, Hor. p. 815. The uncircumcised heart is ἀμετανόητος, Romans 2:5.

ἘΝ ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΙ] is the power, in which the circumcision of the heart finds its causal ground, namely, in the Spirit, i.e. in the Holy Spirit, through whose power it takes place, not in the letter, which effects the outward circumcision by its commandment. In true Judaism also the Holy Ghost is the divine active principle (comp Romans 7:14). So much the less reason is there for making ΠΝΕΎΜΑ in our passage mean the true Jewish public spirit proceeding from God (de Wette, comp Tholuck); or the spirit of the law, in contrast to its outward observance (van Hengel, who wrongly urges the absence of the article); or the new life-principle in man, wrought in him by the Spirit of God (Rückert, comp Luther’s gloss); on the contrary, the ΠΝΕΎΜΑ is to be left as the objective, concrete divine πνεύμα, as the Holy Spirit in the definite sense, and as distinguished from the spiritual conditions and tendencies which He produces. The correct and clear view is held by Grotius, Fritzsche, and Philippi; compare Hofmann. Others, as Theodore of Mopsuestia, Oecumenius (Chrysostom and Theophylact express themselves very indefinitely), Erasmus, Beza, Toletus, Heumann, Morus, Rosenmüller, Reiche, Mehring, take πνεύμα as meaning the spirit of man. But that the circumcision of the heart takes place in the spirit of man, is self-evident; and the similar contrast between πνεύμα and ΓΡΆΜΜΑ, Romans 7:6 and 2 Corinthians 3:6, clearly excludes the reference to the human spirit.

ΟὟ] of which, is neuter, and refers to the entire description of the true Jewish nature in Romans 2:29. The epexegetical relative definition hears to it an argumentative relation: id quod laudem suam habet etc. οὗ γε would be still more emphatic. To interpret it as masculine with reference to Ἰουδαῖος (Augustine, Erasmus, Beza, Bengel, and many others; including Reiche, Rückert, Köllner, de Wette, Olshausen, Tholuck, Fritzsche, Philippi, Ewald, and Hofmann; compare van Hengel), is, especially seeing that Paul has not written ὯΝ, as in Romans 3:8 (Schoem. a[722] Is. p. 243), a very unnecessary violence, which Grotius, who is followed by Th. Schott, makes still worse by twisting the construction as if the ἘΣΤΊΝ of Romans 2:28 stood immediately before ΟὟ (it is not the evident Jew, etc., whose praise, etc.). As is often the case in classic authors, the neuter of the relative belongs to the entire sentence; see especially Richter, de anac. gr. linguae, § 28; Matthiae, II. p. 987 f.

ὁ ἔπαινος] i.e. the due praise (not recompense). See on 1 Corinthians 4:5. Compare, on the matter itself, John 5:44; John 12:43. Oecumenius rightly says: τῆς γὰρ κρυπτῆς καὶ ἐν καρδία περιτομῆς οὐκ ἔσται ἐπαινέτης ἄνθρωπος, ἀλλʼ ὁ ἐτάζων καρδίας καὶ νεφροὺς Θεὸς. Compare the ΔΌΞΑ ΘΕΟῦ Romans 3:23. This praise is the holy satisfaction of God [His being well-pleased], as He has so often declared it to the righteous in the Scriptures.

Observe how perfectly analogous Romans 2:28 f. in its tenor of thought is to the idea of the invisible church. Compare on Romans 2:25.

[718] Ewald, who likewise follows our construction in the first clause of the verse, takes in the second half of it καρδίας as predicate: and circumcision is that of the heart. But in that case, since περιτομή in itself would he the true circumcision, we should expect the article before it.

[722] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.Romans 2:28 f. The argument of the foregoing verses assumes what is stated here, and what no one will dispute, that what constitutes the Jew in the true sense of the term, and gives the name of Jew its proper content and dignity, is not anything outward and visible, but something inward and spiritual. And the same remark applies to circumcision itself. The most natural way to read the Greek seems to me to be this. “Not he who is so outwardly (ὁ ἐν τῷ φανερῷ) is a Jew (in the true sense), nor is that which is outward, in flesh, the true circumcision; but he who is inwardly a Jew (is the true Jew), and heart circumcision, in spirit, not in letter (is the true circumcision).” Thus in the first pair of clauses there is not anything, strictly speaking, to be supplied; the subject is in each case involved in the article. But in the second pair the predicate has in both cases to be supplied from the first—in the one case, Ἰουδαῖος; in the other, περιτομή. Heart circumcision is an idea already familiar to the O.T. From the Book of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 10:16, for the meaning comp. Deuteronomy 30:6) it passed to the prophetic writings: Jeremiah 4:4. The contrary expression—uncircumcised in heart and in flesh—is also found: Jeremiah 9:26, Ezekiel 44:7. A difficulty is created by the expression ἐν πνεύματι οὐ γράμματι. After Romans 2:28 we rather expect ἐν πνεύματι οὐ σαρκί: the circumcision being conceived as in one and not another part of man’s nature. Practically it is in this sense most commentators take the words: thus Gifford explains them by “a circumcision which does not stop short at outward conformity to the law, but extends to the sphere of the inner life”. But there is no real correspondence here, such as there is in ἐν πνεύματι οὐ σαρκί; and a comparison of 2 Corinthians 3, a chapter pervaded by the contrast of πνεῦμα and γράμμα, suggests a different rendering. πνεῦμα and γράμμα are not the elements in which, but the powers by which, the circumcision is conceived to be effected. “Heart circumcision,” without any qualifying words, expresses completely that contrast to circumcision in the flesh, which is in Paul’s mind; and what he adds in the new words, ἐν πνεύματι οὐ γράμματι is the new idea that heart circumcision, which alone deserves the name of circumcision, is achieved by the Spirit of God, not by the written law. Whether there is such a thing as this heart circumcision, wrought by the Spirit, among the Jews, is not explicitly considered; but it is not a refutation of this interpretation to point out that πνεῦμα in 2 Cor. is characteristically the gift of the New Covenant. For the very conclusion to which Paul wishes to lead is that the New Covenant is as necessary for the Jew as for the Gentile. οὗ ὁ ἔπαινος κ.τ.λ. The οὗ is masculine, and refers to the ideal Jew. The name Ἰουδαῖος (from Judah = praise, Genesis 29:35) probably suggested this remark. οὐκ ἐξ ἀνθρώπων: the love of praise from each other, and religious vanity, are Jewish characteristics strongly commented on by our Lord (John 5:44; John 12:42 f.).28. he is not a Jew] Obviously, in the sense of exclusive privilege. Q. d., “If a Jew means (as the word would mean from Pharisaic lips) a member of a body which is specially entitled to salvation, then a Jew is not made by physical circumcision, for a title to salvation must be sought in things spiritual not physical.” See for similar forcible statements, Galatians 3:7, &c., Romans 6:15-16; Php 3:2-3; Revelation 3:9.Romans 2:28. Ὁ ἐν), a periphrasis for the adjective.—ἐν σαρκί, in the flesh) opposed to [that] of the heart, Romans 2:29.
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