Jesus Creed

Paul has words for fellow Jews — and strong words they are. Romans 2:17-29 is hard-hitting moral indictment against Jews who (1) have the Torah, (2) know the privilege of having that Torah, but (3) who do not live the Torah as God intended. Paul indicts those Jews who appeal to their election but who cannot appeal to their obedience.
It won’t do, Paul is saying, for Torah-people to sit in judgment on the paganism and immorality of the Gentiles if they don’t answer back with a righteous life. So, Paul probes and probes by asking questions: do you follow your teaching? do you steal? do you commit adultery? etc etc
Now why does Paul ask this: because he reacts to the superior status some are claiming over against the Gentiles. As Tom Wright puts it, Israel who is called to live the Torah has failed to live the Torah and therefore has become part of the problem itself. Israel should have been part of the solution but they have become part of the problem.
If you are reading this, you may not notice that this is a variant view, or what I would call an augmentation, of the older view: which was more simply only that Paul is pressing home the Law deeply enough to convince the Torah-people that they, too, are sinful — just like the Gentiles. Wright does not deny this; he sees more than this though. He sees a critique of Israel’s role in history: they’ve failed to be the light to the nations.

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