What is Romans 2:24 talking about?

WHAT IS ROMANS 2:24 TALKING ABOUT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Romans 2:24 says: “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.” What is this talking about?

Always remember that Romans chapters 1-3 document God building His case against sinful man (leading up, of course, to the Good News of Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for our sins). Chapter 1 condemns the heathen (Gentiles, or non-Jews) as being totally depraved, falling short of God’s glory, utterly destitute of His righteousness, worthy of His wrath. Chapter 2 addresses the self-righteous (religious) man, the one who points to the heathen of chapter 1 and says, “I am not as bad as he is!” Verse 17 identifies this religious individual: “Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,….” The Jew was self-righteous, conceited, believing himself to be “less sinful” than the nations around him. He had great pride in his national and religious status. God condemned him as well, lumping all Jews and Gentiles together as sinners (see chapter 2 into chapter 3).

It is these self-righteous Jewish people that the Holy Spirit is trying to convert through the Apostle Paul’s ministry during the latter half of the Book of Acts. Romans 10:1-3 speaks of them: “[1] Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. [2] For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. [3] For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” They needed to realize that despite all of their religious “goodness,” they were just as doomed to eternal hellfire as the Gentiles who had no written laws of God—they were just as guilty of sinning against God as the pagan heathens in chapter 1!

Romans 2:24 was inserted so as to force unbelieving Israel to see her dire spiritual need and her complete inability to keep the Law of Moses. She could not look down her nose at the Gentiles around her, for she was a poor reflection of the one true God! The Creator God had a special relationship with her, one that He did not have with the other nations of the world. Yet, that did not change the fact that the Jews shared one common ancestor with the Gentiles—Adam, the father of the human race and the origin of its sin nature. What made Israel so disgraceful was that she, unlike the Gentiles, should have known better! When the Holy Spirit included Romans 2:24, He was pointing back to some “Old Testament” events: “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.”

Second Samuel 12:14 is one individual example: “Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.” As most Bible readers know, King David had an affair with Bathsheba, a married woman whom he impregnated, he had her husband Uriah killed in battle, and then he took her to wife after Uriah’s death. God sent the Prophet Nathan to inform David that, although He had forgiven him (verse 13), the baby would die. More importantly, that forgiveness did not change the fact that the news of David’s sins had spread throughout the neighboring Gentile nations! The mighty ruler of God’s chief nation had committed adultery with a woman and then murdered her husband to cover it up! As we can imagine, it severely damaged Israel’s testimony before the world. “If that is the nation of the one true God, count me out! At least our king does not do what that David of Israel did!”

We find two other “Old Testament” cross-references—albeit national—to Romans 2:24. One is Isaiah 52:5: “Now therefore, what have I here, saith the LORD, that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the LORD; and my name continually every day is blasphemed.” The other is Ezekiel 36:22: “Therefore say unto the house of Israel, thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.” When JEHOVAH God evicted rebellious Israel from her land and sent her off into foreign lands—namely, the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities—the Jews lived in those nations and continued their sins. Even suffering under God’s judgment, the fifth course of chastisement (punishment), they did not live like JEHOVAH’S people. They lived like Satan’s people. (And, of course, the heathen saw it and laughed and mocked constantly!)

Read Deuteronomy 4:1-10: “[1] Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you. [2] Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. [3] Your eyes have seen what the LORD did because of Baalpeor: for all the men that followed Baalpeor, the LORD thy God hath destroyed them from among you. [4] But ye that did cleave unto the LORD your God are alive every one of you this day.

“[5] Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. [6] Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. [7] For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? [8] And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?

“[9] Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons; [10] Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.”

See, Israel was to follow the Law of Moses in order to have a visibly separate testimony. The nations would see them walking in the ways of JEHOVAH God and say, “Look at how the people of the one true God live! Let us go over and learn the truth from them. That nation has something our religion does not give us. God is so close to them and He is so far from us.” Of course, Israel failed (God warned them to be careful!—Deuteronomy 4:9-10). They blended in with everyone else. They assimilated, adopting the ways of the world, and became a poor example. Paul pointed out in Romans 2:24 that the Jews had no reason to be haughty or conceited. They, as individuals and as a nation, were just as sinful and worthy of God’s wrath as the idol-worshipping Gentiles they had criticized.

Friends, what can we learn from this? Is it just “dead history,” with no application to us? Why, dear friends, there is great wisdom in these passages if we have an eye to see, an ear to hear, and a heart to believe. It would do us well to remember to guard our testimony as close as possible. We Christians need to always be conducting our lives in such a way that we do not bring reproach to the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Whatever behavior or course of life we pursue, people will associate that with the God of the Bible. We living in sin while claiming to be “Christians” is a contradiction to the people watching us. They will seize on that ammunition and say, “Look at those hypocrites in the Christian church! I want nothing to do with that Jesus Christ! I can live a much better life without Him!”

In the “Old Testament” economy—which is what Romans 2:24 describes—there was no such thing as the Church the Body of Christ. During “time past,” Ephesians 2:11-12 says God’s people were the nation Israel as opposed to the Gentiles (non-Jews). Whatever Israel’s Gentile neighbors saw in her lifestyle, they equated that with JEHOVAH God. Israel was to be a holy, or set apart, nation. They were not to think or act like the pagan idolaters around them. Yet they did just that. Today, Romans chapters 9-11 say that Israel is temporarily set aside, nationally blinded. God’s people today, in this the Dispensation of Grace, in the “but now” (Ephesians 2:13-22), are the Church the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ needs to be very careful in not repeating Israel’s mistakes. We must remain separate from the world—not only in doctrine and thought, but also in behavior and lifestyle.

Also see:
» Why do some Christians persistently behave like lost people?
» Why did Israel have to keep so many strange laws?
» Is a Christian a “poor testimony” for taking medication?

One response to “What is Romans 2:24 talking about?

  1. Pingback: Confidence – 333 Words of Grace

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