On the other hand, if an uncircumcised Gentile, who was outside of the covenant, kept the law of God insofar as it was revealed to him, his uncircumcision would not keep him from being pleasing to God.  Though the Lord gave signs and ceremonies for certain purposes, His primary aim was always at heart obedience.  An uncircumcised Gentile, who believed and obeyed God, such as Naaman the Syrian, was more acceptable than a circumcised Jew, like Saul, who professed to love God, but in works denied him.  All in all, however, I think this contrast must be interpreted as being hypothetical.  Clearly, Paul is aiming to prove that neither Jew nor Gentile can satisfy God by their own goodness.  What he wishes to drive across to his Jewish brethren is the fact that their advantages are not nearly so great as they suppose, since an uncircumcised Gentile who sought to honor and obey God according to the light he had, was more acceptable to God than a circumcised Jew who had the mark of the covenant in his flesh, but lived a dissolute life of rebellion against the law.

He apparently also means to humble the Jews by showing them that in some cases they themselves are put to shame by the piety of certain Gentiles.  This we can gather from the 27th verse, where Paul says that the natural uncircumcised man, if he keeps God’s law, will judge the Jew, who has the letter of the law and circumcision, and yet transgresses the law.  Again, this is most likely a hypothetical scenario, but it should not escape our notice that throughout the history of God’s people there were occasions when ignorant Gentiles showed greater piety than the favored Jews.  Christ Himself instanced this to His fellow Nazarenes in Luke 4, when he pointed them to the examples of the widow of Sarepta and Naaman the Syrian.  In such cases, even the Gentile put the Jew to shame, and showed him how pitifully short of true meritorious obedience even the Jews fell.  God is always looking at the hearts, and examining without respect of persons.  A Gentile who is righteous in the heart is more acceptable with Him than a circumcised Jew who is wicked and unclean.

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