There are three questions that are raised in this chapter: 1) What is the significance of ritual circumcision? 2) What is a true Jew? 3) What is a false Jew?
If therefore the uncircumcision is the Greek word “akrobustia,” for uncircumcision referring here to the Gentiles who did not have the ritual of circumcision, did not have the benefit of the Mosaic Law to evangelize him and to teach him.
Keeps the requirements of the Law is the Greek verb “phulasso” for keep, which means to defend, to guard or to protect. Used with the Greek word for law, “nomos,” it means to observe the Law. In every generation there are certain people who have never heard of circumcision, who have never heard of or seen the Mosaic Law, and yet these people have already produced the righteousness of the Law. These people are constantly used by Paul to make this particular point. The Gentiles minus the ritual of circumcision, minus the spiritual heritage of the Mosaic Law, produced the action. Plus we have the Greek word “dikaioma” for requirements, which means the regulations pertaining to the Law. Originally it meant a legal claim but here is means a righteous requirement.
Will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision begins with the strong Greek negative “ouk” in a question, implying that the answer to the question is “yes.” Plus the Greek word, “akrobustia” for uncircumcised Gentiles. The Greek verb for regarded is “logizomai,” which means to reckon, to calculate, to credit, to be considered or to be evaluated. The subject, the uncircumcised Gentiles, received the action of the verb. Then we have the Greek word “peritome” for circumcision.
And will not he who is physically uncircumcised is the Greek word “akrobustia” for uncircumcision, plus the Greek word “phusis” for physically, which means by nature. This is a reference to the Gentiles who were outside of the priest nation Israel, without the ritual of circumcision and without the doctrine of the Mosaic Law.
If he keeps the Law the Greek word “teleo” for keeps, which means to fulfil, to accomplish or to finish. Gentiles, minus circumcision, fulfil the Law by accomplishing its purpose in adjusting to the justice of God (faith in Christ).
Will he not judge you is the Greek verb “krino” for judge, meaning to conclude or to determine. Gentiles, who have believed in Christ, did so without benefit of the ritual and the perfect spiritual heritage of the Law. On the other hand, Jews who were depending upon the ritual of circumcision and keeping the Law for salvation were rejected by God.
Who through the letter and circumcision is the Greek word “gramma” for letter, which means that which is written, a character or a letter in the alphabet. The Mosaic Law is a lot of letters in the Hebrew alphabet put together to have meaning, but to the person who rejected Christ as Saviour (the Jew who has the Law) the Law is nothing more than a lot of letters in the alphabet put together in words he doesn’t understand. In other words, you can never understand God until you make that first adjustment by believing in Christ and possess the righteousness of God.
Are a transgressor of the Law is the Greek word “parabates” for transgressor, which means to violate or transgress.
Instead of the legalistic Jews judging the Gentiles, the grace-oriented Gentiles will judge the legalistic Jews. The integrity of God reverses the procedure. The Jews keeping the law are looking down their nose at the Gentiles, but in reality the Gentiles will judge those Jews. Because of self-righteousness the legalistic Jew who has no right to judge, judges the Gentile for not being circumcised and not keeping the Law. But the Gentiles who were not circumcised, who did not have the Law, but who had adjusted to the justice of God at salvation will, in turn, do the judging. Therefore, it is the mature Gentile believers who have the right to judge the arrogant, self-righteous, maladjusted Jews.
For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly. The categories described here are 1) Jewish by race and 2) Jewish by nationality, but not Jewish in the true sense of the word. The racial Jew produced the action of the verb by not being a true Jew. Then we have the Greek word “faneros” for outwardly, which means visible, clear, evident or overt manifestation. Many of the Jews of Paul’s time had assumed that they had a relationship with God on the basis of their own spiritual heritage. The “false Jew” is keeping the Law for salvation and he is observing the ritual of circumcision for salvation. Neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh is the Greek word “sarx” for flesh meaning overt manifestation. Keeping the Law, the overt manifestation, is the issue with the false Jew. Paul gave a new meaning to what it meant to be a “true Jew.”
Keeping the Law in terms of legalism for adjustment to the justice of God, which is the practice of Judaism, is not the true reason or purpose for the Jewish race. By placing a distorted emphasis on circumcision as a ritual, and keeping the Law for salvation, the racial Jew lost the true meaning and purpose for Israel as custodians of doctrine and as a priest nation designed to make the adjustments to the justice of God in time. Therefore, there emerges, historically, a false Jew. Physically he has the genes of Abraham, but spiritually he does not follow the adjustments to the justice of God made by Abraham. The false Jew is both racially and nationally a Jew, but spiritually he is maladjusted to the justice of God through the falsehoods of Judaism.
Ritual does not save and does not provide salvation adjustment to the justice of God. Ritual always portrays some aspect of the integrity of God, but no one has ever been saved by any ritual. Therefore, circumcision was a ritual but doctrine resident in Abraham’s soul was the reality. The issue is doctrine in the soul, not the ritual of circumcision. No one can be a true Jew spiritually without the reality of adjustment to the justice of God.
The false Jew had no relation to the integrity of God and there was no greater demonstration of this than that which occurred on Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday occurred exactly one week before the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the first Palm Sunday was the greatest tragedy in history; it led to the downfall of the nation of Israel. The Jews on that Palm Sunday took the attitude that the whole purpose of everything was to get political reform. They wanted political reform and they knew that Jesus could provide it. He could provide the reform necessary to break the yoke of Rome, which was really protecting them and made it possible for them to use their authority for tyranny. In the name of political reform, the politicians who were the members of the Sanhedrin and the people of the land were now turning to Jesus because they wanted Him to reform the nation. But what they failed to realize was that political reform minus the integrity of God is useless, meaningless, and merely accelerates disaster. That was the great issue in the first Palm Sunday. When the integrity of God is not involved there is no such thing as permanent political reform.
But he is a Jew who is one inwardly is the Greek word “kruptos” for inwardly, which means secret or hidden. It is a reference to something that takes place internally, secretly when a person (Jew or Gentile) believes in Jesus Christ as Saviour. Regeneration (the hidden or secret birth) is the point of salvation adjustment to the justice of God. Regeneration converts a false Jew into a true Jew.
Salvation adjustment to the justice of God demands non-meritorious faith in Jesus Christ, not keeping the Law and/or producing self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is no substitute for God’s righteousness. God’s righteousness is only imputed through faith in Christ and not by keeping the Law. To understand this statement you have to comprehend divine integrity or holiness composed of God’s righteousness and justice. One must further understand that man’s relationship with God is based on justice, not on His love. Adjustment to the justice of God is the hidden birth which occurs at the point of faith in Christ.
And circumcision is that which is of the heart means maximum doctrine resident in the soul. The only way the believer can have blessing and total relationship in glorifying God is by maximum doctrine in the soul. Circumcision of the heart is simply maximum adjustment to the justice of God. Circumcision is a ritual and all ritual represents some doctrine. If the ritual is the Lord’s Table, it represents the Person and work of Christ on the Cross. If the ritual is circumcision, it represents maximum adjustment to the justice of God, first for salvation and then for the execution of the spiritual life.
By the Spirit is the Greek word “pneuma” for Spirit, which is a reference to the Holy Spirit Who regenerates those who make instant adjustment to the justice of God - those who believe in Christ. So this refers to the first adjustment to the justice of God (salvation).
Not by the letter is the Greek word “gramma” for letter, which refers to the letter on the written page, i.e. the Mosaic Law. God the Holy Spirit is the agent of regeneration, not the letter (the Law). The Mosaic Law is not an instrument of salvation; the Holy Spirit is the instrument of salvation. The Holy Spirit regenerates those who make instant adjustment to the justice of God by faith in Jesus Christ, not those who try to manufacture a system of human good. Regeneration is the difference between the true and the false Jew.
And his praise is not from men, but of God is the Greek word “epainos” for praise, which means approval, commendation or recognition. Therefore, when we praise God we are saying that we approve or commend God for all the wonderful things that He has provided for us through His Son, Jesus Christ. The word began to have a connotation in the Greek language of man being free from a judgment. Praise, therefore, is a technical word for adjustment to the justice of God. We do bring praise to God when we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. We do bring praise to God when we execute the Christian way of life (our spiritual life). We will bring praise to God when we receive our glorified bodies in eternity. Praise of His glory means that we are praising God’s attributes, His ways, Who He is and His character exhibited through Jesus Christ to each believer. (Ephesians 1:11-14; Philippians 1:11)