It would be easy for the Jew to conclude from what Paul said in chapter 2 that there was no value in being a Jew or being circumcised.
Yet Paul makes clear in verses 1 and 2 that there is indeed value in both. He said,
What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God.
In other words, one of the big advantages of being a Jew was that they got direct revelation from God as to who he is and what he’s like. While all the other nations had to settle for the general revelation of God through creation, they had much more.
Of course, as mentioned before, this is a double-edged sword. While this can be a great blessing, it can also be a curse, because the more you know, the more you’re held accountable.
And unfortunately, throughout Israel’s history, though they knew who God was and what he was like, they nevertheless walked away from him to follow after other “gods.”
It would be easy to conclude from that that God has turned his back on Israel. Some Biblical commentators argue this, and say that we who are Christians are the new Israel. To some degree, this is true. As we’ll see later in Romans, we were grafted in with those who are called God’s people.
But to say that God has completely given up on the Jews is going too far, particularly considering what Paul says in verse 3 and 4.
What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.”
In other words, though there were Jews that turned their backs on God, God has not turned his back on the Jewish nation. Their lack of faith did not nullify God’s faithfulness to his people. God is true to his promises, though many people are not. Because of this, no one can ever accuse God of being anything but honest and fair in his judgments.
And also because of this, I do believe there will be a day when all Israel will eventually come to recognize Jesus as Messiah.
But I also believe that this passage is an encouragement for us non-Jews, because so often, we, like the Jews, are lacking in faith and in faithfulness. We fail to trust that God desires our best and sometimes we even fail to trust that God knows what is best. And because of this, we stray from him and his Word. Yet God never gives up on us. He keeps pursuing us and reaching out to us.
Sometimes that means discipline, but it’s a discipline in love that seeks our very best. And we never have to worry that God will simply give up on us because we’ve failed so often.
As Paul said in another place,
If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. (II Timothy 2:13)
So when we fail and when we fall, let us never forget the faithfulness of God. And let us always remember his promise to us.
Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)