What is Paul really saying in Romans 2?

Romans 2In this chapter, Paul is trying to level the spiritual playing field by showing what the proper approach to Torah, and hence a right relationship with YHVH, should be. It should be a non-hypocritical and humble-heart approach, which is neither dependent upon one’s race (i.e., Jew or Gentile) nor upon the factitiousness with which one keeps the various prescription of Torah.

Being a Jew or not being one is not the point with YHVH. Rather, what is one’s heart attitude vis-à-vis Torah-obedience. This is lifting Torah-obedience to its proper intent and highest level.

This is the true message of this chapter as summed up in verse 29: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. The word Jew is the Hebrew word Y’hudi which is related to hodayah which means “praise.” Therefore, a true Jew is a literally a “Yah-praiser,” and Paul is using a wordplay hear to make this point. Why does one want to be a Jew, or why does one want to keep Torah? To please men, or to please YHVH? To keep Torah to be a man-pleaser negates the true intent of Torah and of being a Jew which is to help one to be a hodayah; i.e., a Yah-praiser.