17 If you're brought up Jewish, don't assume
that you can lean back in the arms of your religion and take it easy, feeling smug
because you're an insider to God's revelation,
18 a connoisseur of the best things of God,
informed on the latest doctrines!
19 I have a special word of caution for you who are sure that you have it all together yourselves and, because you know God's revealed Word inside and out,
20 feel qualified to guide others through their blind alleys and dark nights and confused emotions to God.
21 While you are guiding others, who is going to guide you?
I'm quite serious.
While preaching "Don't steal!"
are you going to rob people blind?
Who would suspect you?
22 The same with adultery. The same with idolatry.
23 You can get by with almost anything
if you front it with eloquent talk about God and his law.
24 The line from Scripture,
"It's because of you Jews that the outsiders are down on God," shows it's an old problem that isn't going to go away.
25Circumcision, the surgical ritual that marks you as a Jew, is great if you live in accord with God's law. But if you don't, it's worse than not being circumcised.
26 The reverse is also true: The uncircumcised who keep God's ways
are as good as the circumcised -
27 in fact, better. Better to keep God's law uncircumcised than break it circumcised.
28 Don't you see: It's not the cut of a knife that makes a Jew.
29 You become a Jew by who you are. It's the mark of God on your heart, not of a knife on your skin, that makes a Jew.
And recognition comes from God, not legalistic critics.
17On the other hand,
if thou bear the name of Jew
and trust in the Torah
and boast in God
and know [his] will
and discern what is excellent,
being instructed from the Torah,
19 and art confident
of being a guide of the blind,
a light for those in darkness,
20an instructor of the foolish,
a teacher of the immature,
having in the Torah
of knowledge and truth –
21 thou then who teachest another,
doest thou not teach thyself?
Thou who preaches not to steal,
dost thou steal?
22Thou who sayest not to commit adultery,
dost thou commit adultery?
Thou who abhorest idols,
dost thou rob temples?
23Thou, who boastest in the Torah,
against the Torah.
24For “the name of God
because of you
among the Gentiles”,
as the Scripture says
25For circumcision is indeed of value
if thou doest the Torah,
but if thou art a rebel against Torah,
has become uncircumcision.
26 If then an uncircumcised person
were to keep the decrees of the Torah,
would not his uncircumcision
be counted as circumcision?
27And would not one
who is by birth an uncircumcised Gentile
but fulfills the Torah
if despite Scripture
thou art a rebel against Torah?
28For it is not in outward appearance
that a person is a Jew,
nor in outward appearance in the flesh
is circumcision circumcision,
29but inwardly is a person a Jew,
and circumcision of the heart,
spiritual and not only literal,
[is what counts].
[Such a person is a Jew]
whose praise comes
not from human beings
but from God.