What does Romans 2:25 mean?
ESV: For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.
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.
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.
CSB: Circumcision benefits you if you observe the law, but if you are a lawbreaker, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.
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.
KJV: For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.
NKJV: For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.
Verse Commentary:
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.
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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