17. Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,
17. Ecce, tu Iudæus cognominaris, et acquiescis in Lege, et gloriaris in Deo,
18. And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law;
18. Et nosti voluntatem, et probas eximia, institutus ex Lege;
19. And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,
19. Confidisque teipsum esse ducem cæcorum, lumen eorum qui sunt in tenebris,
20. An instructer of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.
20. Eruditorem insipientium, doctorem imperitorum, habentem formam cognitionis ac veritatis in Lege:
21. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?
21. Qui igitur doces alterum, teipsum non doces; qui concionaris, non furandum, furaris;
22. Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?
22. Qui dicis, nom mœchandum, mœcharis; qui detestaris idola, Sacrilegium perpetras;
23. Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law, dishonorest thou God?
23. Qui de Lege gloriaris, Deum per Legis transgressionem dehonestas:
24. For the name of God is blasphremed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. 1
24. Nomen enim Dei propter vos probro afficitur inter gentes, quemadmodum scriptum est.
Having now completed what he meant to say of the Gentiles, he returns to the Jews; and that he might, with greater force, beat down their great vanity, he allows them all those privileges, by which they were beyond measure transported and inflated: and then he shows how insufficient they were for the attainment of true glory, yea, how they turned to their reproach. Under the name
But at what time this name first originated it is uncertain, except that it arose, no doubt, after the dispersion. 3 Josephus, in the eleventh book of his Antiquities, thinks that it gas taken from Judas Maccabæus, under whose auspices the liberty and honor of the people, after having for some time fallen, and been almost buried, revived again. Though I allow this opinion to be probable, yet, if there be some to whom it is not satisfactory, I will offer them a conjecture of my own. It seems, indeed, very likely, that after having been degraded and scattered through so many disasters, they were not able to retain any certain distinction as to their tribes; for a census could not have been made at that time, nor did there exist a regular government, which was necessary to preserve an order of this kind; and they dwelt scattered and in disorder; and having been worn out by adversities, they were no doubt less attentive to the records of their kindred. But though you may not grant these things to me, yet it cannot be denied but that a danger of this kind was connected with such disturbed state of things. Whether, then, they meant to provide for the future, or to remedy an evil already received, they all, I think assumed the name of that tribe, in which the purity of religion remained the longest, and which, by a peculiar privilege, excelled all the rest, as from it the Redeemer was expected to come; for it was their refuge in all extremities, to console themselves with the expectation of the Messiah. However this may be, by the name of Jews they avowed themselves to be the heirs of the covenant which the Lord had made with Abraham and his seed.
20. I take what follows,
Now we are here warned, first, not to flatter ourselves and to despise others, when we have performed only some portions of the law, -- and, secondly, not to glory in having outward idolatry removed, while we care not to drive away and to eradicate the impiety that lieth hid in our hearts.
2 Griesbach has since found a majority of MSS. in favor of this reading, and has adopted it. But the difficulty is to find a corresponding clause. There is none, except what begins in Romans 2:21;
3 This is not quite correct. They were called Jews even before the captivity, and during the captivity, but most commonly and regularly after it. The words Jews, first occurs in 2 Kings 16:6. See Esther 4:3; Jeremiah 38:19; Daniel 3:8; Ezra 4:12; Nehemiah 2:16. -- Ed.
4 There are two expositions of the words,
5 Calvin has passed over here several clauses: they are so plain as to require no remarks, except the two last. "The instructor of the unwise -- insipientium,"
6 The same word occurs only in 2 Timothy 3:5, "
7 This clause, and those which follow, are commonly put in an interrogatory form, that is, as questions: but some, as Theophylact, Erasmus and Luther, have rendered the clauses in the form here adopted. There is no difference in the meaning.
It is worthy of notice, that the Apostle, after the Hebrew manner, reverses the order as to the points he mentions; he, as it were, retrogrades, and begins to do so at Romans 2:21. The passage may be thus rendered, --
17. Seeing then, thou art named a Jew, And reliest on the law, and gloriest in God,
18. And knowest his will, And decernest things which differ, being taught by the law,
19. And art confident that thou art A leader to the blind, a light to those in darkness,
20. An instructor to the foolish, a teacher to babes, Having the form of knowledge and of truth according to the law:
21. Yet thou, who teachest another, teachest not thyself, Thou, who preachest, "Steal not," stealest,
22. Thou, who sayest, "Commit no adultery," committest adultery, Thou who detestest idols, committest sacrilege,
23. Thou who gloriest in the law, by transgressing the law dishonorest God; For the name of God, as it is written, is through you blasphemed by the Gentiles.
Romans 2:21, and part of the 22nd, refer to what is contained in Romans 19 and the 20th; and the latter part of the 22nd to the 18th verse; and Romans 2:23 to the 17th. The latter part of the 22nd helps us to fix the meaning of the latter part of the 18th; the man who hated idols and committed sacrilege proved that he did not exercise his boasted power of making a proper distinction between right and wrong. Then the man who is said, in Romans 2:17, to rely on the law and glory in God, is charged, in Romans 2:23, with the sin of dishonoring God by transgressing the law -- Ed.
8 "Sacrilege," mentioned here, is by some taken literally as meaning the robbing of God as to the sacrifices he required, and the profanation of sacred rites; "many examples of which," says Turrettin, "are recorded by the Prophets, and also by Josephus, both before and during the last war." But some extend its meaning to acts of hypocrisy and ungodliness, by which God's honor was profaned, and the glory due to him was denied. The highest sacrilege, no doubt, is to deprive God of that sincere service and obedience which he justly requires. "They caused," says Pareus, "the name and honor of God to be in various ways blasphemed by their wicked hypocrisy; and hence they were justly said by the Apostle to he guilty of sacrilege." He then adds, "we must notice, that idolatry is not opposed to sacrilege, but mentioned as a thing closely allied to it. Indeed all idolatry is sacrilegious. How then can the Monks, Priests, and Jesuits clear themselves from the charge of sacrilege? for they not only do not detest idolatry, being in this respect much worse than these hypocrites, but also greedily seek, like them, sacred offerings, and under the pretense of sanctity devour widows' houses, pillage the coffers of kings, and, what is most heinous, sacrilegiously rob God of his due worship and honor and transfer them to saints." Yet the world is so blind as not to see the real character of such men! -- Ed.
9 On this remarkable passage Haldane has these very appropriate, just, and striking observations, --
"The Apostle, in these verses, exhibits the most lively image of hypocrisy. Was there ever a more beautiful veil than that under which the Jew presents himself? He is a man of confession, of praise, of thanksgiving -- a man, whose trust is in the Law, whose boast is of God, who knows his will, who approves of things that are excellent, a man who calls himself a conductor of the blind, a light of those who are in darkness, an instructor of the ignorant, a teacher of babes; a man who directs others, who preaches against theft, against adultery, against idolatry, and to sum up the whole, a man who glories in the commandments of the Lord. Who would not say that this is an angel arrayed in human form -- a star detached from the firmament, and brought nearer to enlighten the earth? But observe what is concealed under this mask. It is a man who is himself untaught; it is a thief, an adulterer, a sacrilegious person; in one word, a wicked man, who continually dishonors God by the transgression of his law. Is it possible to imagine a contrast more monstrous than between these fair appearances and this awful reality?"
No, certainly; but it is a contrast which still exists, with various modifications, in many instances. -- It ought to be observed, that when the author calls the Jew "a man of confession, of praise, of thanksgiving," he alludes to the import of the word, Jew, in Hebrew, which is derived from a verb, which includes these ideas: and it is supposed by some, that there is an allusion in the last words of this chapter, "whose praise," etc., to what the name signifies. -- Ed.