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0207 The World of Judaism

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Encounter Radio Outline #0207                                                                   

Air date: 2/17/02

The World of Judaism

Romans 2:17-3:8

by Dr. Stephen F. Olford



Introduction: Paul has confronted the world of the pagan (1:18-32) and the world of the moralist (2:1-16) with their need for righteousness. Now the faithful apostle turns to another section of humanity and specifically addresses the Jew.

I. The Acknowledged Religiosity of the world of Judaism (vv. 17-20)

The Jews represented the oldest, purest, and strongest form of religion. From its beginnings, Judaism had been virtually synonymous with religion.

A. The Jew was Positionally Religious  (v. 17)

The word “Jew” means “praise.” It derives its origin from the name of Judah, or Jehoudah. We are told that this title “Jew” signifies the three ideas of confession, praise, and thanksgiving. The Jews had taken occasion to study and understand God’s law like no other nation.

B. The Jew was Instructionally Religious  (v. 18)

The term “know” suggests that the Jew had a clear knowledge of God’s will. From infancy Jewish children were instructed in the law, and therefore, were in a position to approve the things that are excellent.

C. The Jew was Vocationally Religious  (vv. 19-20)

The Rabbis called themselves “the light of the world, the lamp of light, the holy lamp, and the lamp of Israel.” From the very beginning, the Jews had a great heritage as well as a great stewardship. Theirs was the responsibility to guide the blind Gentiles out of darkness, to correct the foolish, and to instruct those who were children.

II. The Abandoned Responsibility of the World of Judaism  (vv. 21-29)

No people were more privileged than the Jewish nation. With such privileges, however, there was a responsibility, and according to the law, the Jew had a twofold obligation:

A. The Jew had to be Right Before Man  (vv. 21-24)

To be right before men, the Jew had to face up to the searching examination of being personally (2:21), ethically (2:21), maritally (2:22), and spiritually Right  (2:22).

B. The Jew Had to be Real Before God  (vv. 25-29)

Love to man can only flow out of love to God, and here in these five verses Paul deals with man’s position before a holy God. No one can have anything to do with God without being real, and so the emphasis here is on the reality of the outward (vv. 25-27) and inward (vv. 28-29) life.

III. The Attested Resistibility of the World of Judaism  (vv. 1-8)

When the religiosity and responsibility of a Jew, or any other religious person, are called into question, strong opposition always follows. The Jew objected to the indictments of God’s law on three counts:

A. The Jew Objected on the Issue of His Name  (vv. 1-2)

By means of questions and answers, Paul frankly and fearlessly confronts the resistibility of the religious Jew. He proves that the Jew still had valid reasons for honoring and living out the meaning of His name.

B. The Jew Objected on the Issue of His Faith  (vv. 3-4)

The Jew objected that his unbelief had canceled out God’s promises, but Paul comes back with the answer that God could never be unfaithful to His Word. On the contrary, such unbelief had only served to bring the enlightened Jew into greater condemnation.

C. The Jew Objected on the Issue of His Sin  (vv. 5-8)

The Jew insisted that God was unjust in condemning him since his unfaithfulness had served to throw into deeper relief God’s faithfulness. But Paul replies that such reasoning is beneath contempt and intolerable. Since God is the supreme Judge of all the earth, He would not impute injustice or perpetuate evil.

Conclusion: Paul leaves his objectors with the clear understanding that their religious resistibility in no way exonerated them from their accountability before a righteous God. In common with the paganist and moralist, the religious Jew was under condemnation and in dire need of divine mercy.

Assignment for Home Study

1. Memorize Chapter 2:1-3:8

2. Study carefully Chapter 2:17-29 and 9:1-5. List the special privileges and favors that God lavished      

    upon His ancient people, the Jews.

3. Relate these privileges and favors to the history of Old Testament times, giving references.

Stephen Olford Center for Biblical Preaching
P.O. Box 757800
Memphis, TN 38175-7800
Phone: (901) 757-7977 or (800) 843-2241 Fax: (901) 757-1372

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