2:28 For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision something that is outward in the flesh, 2:29 but someone is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart 4 by the Spirit 5 and not by the written code. 6 This person’s 7 praise is not from people but from God.
1 sn Circumcision refers to male circumcision as prescribed in the OT, which was given as a covenant to Abraham in Gen 17:10-14. Its importance for Judaism can hardly be overstated: According to J. D. G. Dunn (Romans [WBC], 1:120) it was the “single clearest distinguishing feature of the covenant people.” J. Marcus has suggested that the terms used for circumcision (περιτομή, peritomh) and uncircumcision (ἀκροβυστία, akrobustia) were probably derogatory slogans used by Jews and Gentiles to describe their opponents (“The Circumcision and the Uncircumcision in Rome,” NTS 35 : 77-80).
2 tn This contrast is clearer and stronger in Greek than can be easily expressed in English.
3 tn Grk “if you should be a transgressor of the law.”
5 tn Some have taken the phrase ἐν πνεύματι (en pneumati, “by/in [the] S/spirit”) not as a reference to the Holy Spirit, but referring to circumcision as “spiritual and not literal” (RSV).
6 tn Grk “letter.”
7 tn Grk “whose.” The relative pronoun has been replaced by the phrase “this person’s” and, because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started in the translation.