In this passage, Paul shows Jews that their Judaism does not justify them before God, but rather condemns them. In verse 17, the first thing that condemns them is their reliance upon the Law for peace with God. In verses 18-23, Paul shows the Jews that they are condemned by the Law because they disobey it. In almost every rhetorical question, the assumed answer is “yes.” In other words, although the Jews taught against stealing, adultery, idolatry, and encouraged obedience to the Law, they stole, committed adultery, committed idolatry, and disobeyed the Law. Therefore, in verse 24, Paul says that their hypocrisy in disobeying the Law causes the Gentiles to blaspheme God’s name.

However, Paul states in verse 25, being circumcised is valuable if the circumcised man obeys the Law, but circumcision has no value if the same man disobeys the Law. Furthermore, uncircumcised men who keep the Law judge circumcised men who do not keep the Law. According to verse 28, the reason that this can be possible is because obedience to the Law, and being a Jew, is not a matter of circumcision and outward appearance. Rather, in verse 29, Paul says that being a Jew is a matter of having a heart that has been created by the Holy Spirit, or circumcised, not by the letter, or the Law.

Nevertheless, Paul admits that Jews have an advantage when it comes to salvation. The first one is that the Jews were given God’s oracles, or His Word and His covenants. In verse 3 of chapter 3, Paul states that the unbelief of some of the Jews does not make God unfaithful. Rather, God is always true, even if men do not believe His promises. In fact, according to verse 5, men’s unrighteousness demonstrates God’s righteousness. However, this fact does not mean that His wrath toward them is unrighteous. One proof for this is that, if God was unrighteous, He would not be able to judge the world. According to verse 7, God is judging right now, even though man’s sin reveals God’s sinlessness for His glory. Related to this, Paul had heard that some claimed that Paul told people to do evil to cause good to happen. Rather than explain why this is wrong, he simply says that the condemnation of those people is just because their sin in slandering Paul with such an accusation is ridiculous.