Romans 2:25 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Romans 2:25, NIV: "Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised."

Romans 2:25, ESV: "For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision."

Romans 2:25, KJV: "For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision."

Romans 2:25, NASB: "For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a violator of the Law, your circumcision has turned into uncircumcision."

Romans 2:25, NLT: "The Jewish ceremony of circumcision has value only if you obey God's law. But if you don't obey God's law, you are no better off than an uncircumcised Gentile."

Romans 2:25, CSB: "Circumcision benefits you if you observe the law, but if you are a lawbreaker, your circumcision has become uncircumcision."

What does Romans 2:25 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul has spent the past few verses insisting that having knowledge of God's law is not enough to keep any person from being judged by God for their sin. Specifically, he is referring to devout Jews of his day, but the principle is meant to apply to anyone. Instead of merely claiming to be someone who has been "given" the law, those under the law must keep it. They must obey it—perfectly—in order to truly be saved from God's wrath.

Now Paul answers the next logical objection, coming from a Jewish mindset: What about circumcision? Being circumcised, in obedience to God's command to Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 17:9–10), ensured that Israelites would be identified as God's people, the Jews. Apparently, many Jewish people believed that those who were circumcised were, by definition, saved. They would not be judged by God even if they broke His law. The ritual, for them, was enough to establish their salvation.

Paul disputes that idea, but he does not discard circumcision itself. He acknowledges that circumcision matters for the Israelites; it is an act of obedience in and of itself. However, the whole point of circumcision is lost if a Jewish person under the law breaks God's law. Literally, Paul writes that their circumcision becomes "foreskin." In other words, such a person is no better off than if they had not been circumcised, at all.

These words would have come as a shock to religious Jews who believed they were saved through circumcision and belonging to God's chosen people. They should challenge the attitude of anyone who thinks that religious rituals, ceremonies, or other sacraments can overcome the stain of sin.