What does Romans 2:19 mean?
ESV: and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,
NIV: if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark,
NASB: and are confident that you yourself are a guide to people who are blind, a light to those in darkness,
CSB: and if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light to those in darkness,
NLT: You are convinced that you are a guide for the blind and a light for people who are lost in darkness.
KJV: And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,
NKJV: and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,
Verse Commentary:
Paul is addressing a representative Jewish person in this and the previous verses. He is showing all the benefits that person has received because of receiving the law from God. This person knows God's will. By that, they can evaluate everything to see what is "excellent," and what is not.

Now Paul adds that this person can serve as a guide to the blind and a light to those in darkness. In other words, God gave His law only to Israel. Thus, they had the opportunity to show everyone else what was true and who God was. They possessed the light of God's truth that others needed.

Paul, however, is leading all of this buildup to a negative. He is asking that if all these things are true for Jewish people, why don't they live according to the law? This is part of Paul's short-term goal of showing that even God's chosen people (Deuteronomy 7:6) fall short of His standards of perfection. In the longer view, this supports Paul's point that all people need to be saved by grace, through faith, apart from their own works (Romans 3:22–25).
Verse Context:
Romans 2:12–29 describes two groups of people, with an emphasis on how their sin relates to their knowledge of God's written Law for the nation of Israel. Here, ''Gentiles'' are those who sin apart from the law, while ''Jews'' are those who sin under the law. Paul shows how, in both cases, God will judge people based on whether they kept the law and were circumcised in their hearts. Even Gentiles who follow the law out of sincerity would be regarded by God as truly Jewish. Meanwhile, God will discount the Jewishness and circumcision of someone under the law who breaks the law and does not have a sincere heart. Paul will show in the following chapter that, in truth, no one can keep the law.
Chapter Summary:
Romans 2 springs a trap on any religious person who read Paul's lists of sins at the end of Romans 1 and thought it wasn't about them. Paul calls them out for making themselves judges when they are also guilty. He shows that God will judge everyone, including those under the law, based on their works. This prefaces this letter's theme of salvation by grace, through faith, rather than by works. Many benefits come with having the law, but only if those under the law keep it. Jewishness—circumcision—must be an inner state, not just an outer one. Paul will show in the following chapter that none of us really meets those conditions.
Chapter Context:
Having just concluded a list of terrible sins humanity indulges in as a result of rejecting God, Paul turns to religious people and says, ''This applies to you, too.'' Nobody can judge arrogantly, because we are all guilty. Even God's people the Jews will stand before Him in judgment based on their works. Having the law only matters if someone can keep the law. Paul asks his Jewish readers why they don't and shows that they must be Jewish and circumcised in their hearts for it to matter. In the following chapter, he will show that nobody can keep the law.
Book Summary:
The book of Romans is the New Testament's longest, most structured, and most detailed description of Christian theology. Paul lays out the core of the gospel message: salvation by grace alone through faith alone. His intent is to explain the good news of Jesus Christ in accurate and clear terms. As part of this effort, Paul addresses the conflicts between law and grace, between Jews and Gentiles, and between sin and righteousness. As is common in his writing, Paul closes out his letter with a series of practical applications.
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