Romans 2:28 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Romans 2:28, NIV: "A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical."

Romans 2:28, ESV: "For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical."

Romans 2:28, KJV: "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:"

Romans 2:28, NASB: "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh."

Romans 2:28, NLT: "For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision."

Romans 2:28, CSB: "For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh."

What does Romans 2:28 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul adds another shocking statement to those in the previous verses. He has said, in essence, that when it comes to being judged by God, Jewishness doesn't even matter. Specifically, the ritual of circumcision, which identifies someone as part of the Jewish community, is meaningless when not accompanied by obedience. Only those who keep the law will be declared righteous. Later, Paul will write that no one is able to keep the law (Romans 3:10), so all must be saved through Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone (Romans 3:22–25).

Now Paul redefines what it even means to be a Jew and to be circumcised. Paul insists it's not about being born Jewish or even being physically circumcised. True Jewishness, Paul will insist in the following verse, is about the state of a person's heart before God. Specifically, Paul's words here involve Judaism and are directed to people of Israel. However, the broader point is meant to apply to everyone. Religious sacraments, labels, and other forms of good works are not what save us. We must be perfect in order to avoid judgment; since nobody can be perfect, grace becomes our only hope of redemption.