Tuesday, June 18, 2013

There is no covenant of works in Romans 2

It has at last become clear to me that I was once trading on a very mistaken assumption when working through Romans chapter 2- I was mistaking Jewish categories for the Westminster notion of "Covenant of Works" and "Covenant of Grace." I was reading the chapter as proof that all men are still under an original covenant of perfection, and will be saved if they keep the law rightly, and Paul was here holding out this promise again.
Now I realize how I was mistaken- Paul isn't going on about an original agreement, he's talking to the Jews and throwing their failure to keep the laws of Sinai in their face. He's going back to the law of Moses and reminding them that "those who do these things shall live by them."
He's showing them their lack of perfection. He's telling them that although they were given the law their sins merit only judgment now. The law promised righteousness if one could keep it, but it turns out that was an impossibility. That's the essence of Romans 2. It's a reminder to the Jews about their covenant at Sinai.
I hang my head in shame I didn't realize this earlier.

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