Lesson 24 - Chapter 2 Verses 21-24

Lesson 24 - Chapter 2 Verses 21-24

Verse 21

You therefore who teach another is the Greek word “heteros” for another, meaning another of a different category, referring to Gentiles. The self-righteous Jew was religious. He was guilty of teaching the Mosaic Law as a system of salvation by works. But the self-righteous Jew was inconsistent with his own system. He himself could not keep the Law. Like all arrogant and self-righteous people, the Jews emphasized what they could do, while minimizing what they failed to do.

Do you not teach yourself puts the emphasis on the inconsistency of self-righteousness. You who preach that one should not steal is the Greek word “kerusso” for preach, not in the sense of just shouting or a public proclamation. It means a proclamation that communicates a message. The word “preach” simply means that you are speaking to more than one person, and therefore you have to raise your voice in order to be heard by more than one person. In other words, you are not having a conversation (a dialogue) - you are speaking to a group of people. “Kerusso” means one person speaking and everyone else listening. In ancient Greece this was used of a person called a “kerux” who was the herald of the king.

There is nothing wrong with teaching against stealing, but they had taken a self-righteous attitude about not stealing and distorted it into a way of salvation. The self-righteous Judaizers quoted the eighth commandment (thou shall not steal), which deals with something which is a violation of human freedom, as well as a sin. They not only quoted it but they added their own interpretation. The legalist said that if you steal you are going to Hell. You don’t go to Hell because you steal and you don’t go to Heaven because you don’t steal.

An example of how legalism distorts truth is found in Matthew 15:1-14. Speaking of traditions, Matthew said that “the tradition,” which is the oral law handed down and later placed in the Mishna, a Jewish book of oral traditions, in written form, was being taught as God’s Law. While the Old Testament did not command the washing of hand before meals, it was a good idea because it was sanitary. But the rabbis took something, which was good and sanitary, like washing your hands before meals and made it a sign of spirituality. Therefore, they distorted it. Good sanitation does not mean salvation or spirituality. Verse three says, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” Legalism substitutes religion for doctrine. It distorts doctrine into a false system of legalism, self-righteousness and hypocrisy.

Verse 22

You who say is from the Greek verb “lego,” a very common verb for communication of thought, meaning to say or to speak. The self-righteous kept on communicating their legalism in order to build up their own self-righteousness. The self-righteous legalistic Jew produced the action of the verb, i.e. he constantly built up his own self-righteousness through teaching people not to do certain things, yet he was guilty of doing the same things.

That one should not commit adultery dost thou commit adultery is the Greek word “moicheuo” for adultery, which means to have sex outside of marriage. The purpose of the Law was not to approve of someone’s self-righteousness because they teach some portion of it, but to condemn everyone’s unrighteousness and/or sinfulness. The purpose of the Law was to demonstrate that all are sinners, not to prove that anyone was self-righteous or had any right to any category of righteousness, except that which is given by God - His absolute righteousness.

The answer to this question was “yes,” everyone is guilty before the Law. The ones who were very pious about their lack of adultery nevertheless had committed it. Jesus is quoted dealing with this subject. (Matthew 5:27-28) The Judaizers were all guilty of mental adultery. To illustrate their condemnation we turn to John 8:3-11, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” This drew attention to the fact that all are guilty under the Law. Also: “Neither do I condemn you.” She was a believer; she called Jesus, Lord [Greek: Kurios]. When she believed in the Lord all of her sins as an unbeliever were blotted out. (Isaiah 43:25; 44:22) The woman had just believed in Christ, her sins were blotted out, but Jesus added one more thing. Literally from the Greek: “Depart and no longer sin.” This does not imply, as appears on the surface, sinless perfection.

You who abhor idols is the Greek word “bdelussomai” for abhor, which means to be disgusted by a foul odor. It finally came to mean to detest or to abhor anything, not just a foul odor. Plus we have the Greek word “eidolon” for idols, which means an image or likeness.

Do you rob temples is the Greek word “hierosuleo” for rob, which means to steal from an idol temple. The self-righteous Jews used, as an excuse to steal from heathen banks (heathen temples were also banks), the fact that they were guarded by an idol. These Jews were not above walking into an idol temple in order to steal. They were distorting the second commandment regarding avoiding idols and using it as an excuse for stealing. (Acts 19:37)

Here is the inconsistency of self-righteousness. They were supposedly keeping the second commandment (thou shall not worship idols), yet they were violating the eighth commandment (thou shall not steal). (Exodus 20:4 &15) The example of adultery was used by Paul for the simple reason the religious Jews did not overtly commit adultery, but they all did it mentally. They always came up with an image of their own perfection, their own sinlessness, their own greatness. They assumed that they were great in the eyes of God. The rationalization of legalism is incompatible with divine grace, divine justice and divine righteousness.

Verse 23

You who boast in the Law is the Greek word “kauchaomai” for boast, which means to glory. Here we are dealing specifically with the Judaizers who had misinterpreted the Law and the legalist unbeliever who was using the Law to promote himself. What was the purpose of the Law? The purpose was to show the condemnation of the entire human race and show them the solution in Christ. These Judaizers were using the Law to promote themselves, when its real purpose was to “demote” everyone. We are all demoted; we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. The unbelieving legalistic law-keeper contended that he was adjusted to the justice of God because he had kept the Law perfectly. He produced at the same time a human good which he assumed would compare favourably with divine righteousness.

Through breaking the Law do you dishonor God? is the Greek preposition “dia” plus “parabasis, which mean transgression or violation. Then we have the Greek word for dishonour, which is “atimazo” meaning to insult or to treat shamefully. The present tense is for what habitually occurred when the Jews tried to be saved by keeping the Law. The legalistic, self-righteous Jewish unbeliever produced the action of the verb (the dishonouring).

The legalistic Jewish unbeliever had not only dishonoured the integrity of God by his maladjustment to the justice of God at salvation, but at the same time he had added insult to his maladjustment by blaspheming, by violating or transgressing the very Law he used as an instrument of salvation. Legalistic reversionism rejects salvation by faith in Christ and substitutes, salvation by keeping the Law, which is salvation by works. But the self-righteous Jewish unbeliever failed through his human good, as well as through his sins, to measure up to the very standard he had selected for his salvation – the Mosaic Law. He selected a standard he couldn’t keep, a standard designed to condemn him. He was trying to have life through an instrument of death (spiritual). Furthermore, pride in the letter of the Law was not conformity to the spirit of the Law.

Verse 24

For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you is the Greek word “onoma,” which means name, title, category, person, reputation or fame. The pronoun “you” refers to the Jews who were self-righteous, arrogant, legalistic, maladjusted to the justice of God at salvation. The Greek word for blaspheme is “blasphemeo,” which means to slander or to malign when used of people and to blaspheme when used of God. Gentiles were blaspheming the name of God because of the obvious self-righteous hypocrisy and legalism of the Jews at that time. As individuals, Jews, as members of a priest nation, were responsible for presenting the Gospel to the Gentiles. They were responsible for communicating doctrine and the preservation of God’s Word. Instead of fulfilling these things as a part of the priest nation they were simply using the Word of God, twisting it and distorting it into a system of salvation by works.

There is an additional phrase, as it stands written, which belongs to this verse and indicates that this verse is quoting Isaiah 52:5. As a priest nation, Judea in the time of Paul, was responsible for the custodianship of the written Word of God, both its composition and its preservation, as well as its communication. In addition, the priest nation of Judea was responsible for evangelization, the inculcation of Bible doctrine and providing a haven for Jews during periods of anti-Semitism.

The self-righteous reversionism and legalism of the Judaizers resulted in the distortion of doctrine, therefore the distortion of the integrity of God. If you distort the Word of God, you automatically distort the integrity of God. This distortion was detected by the common sense and discernment of the Gentiles who penetrated the self-righteous facade of Judaism and consequently blamed God for it. The blasphemy of the Gentiles resulted from self-righteous legalism from among religious Jews. Instead of attributing such hypocrisy to the failure of the Jews, who were maladjusted to the justice of God at salvation, the Gentiles maligned and slandered God by ascribing to Him the legalistic evil of the Jews. The failure of the Jews resulted in the administration of the 5th cycle of discipline to Judea twelve years after Paul wrote this epistle. The function of the priest nation of Judea passed to her conquerors, the Romans, and Rome became God’s client nation.