Verse 29. "But he is a Jew" - A true member of the Church of God.
"Which is one inwardly" - Who has his heart purified, according to what God has uniformly prescribed by his prophets; see above: for circumcision is of the heart, in the spirit, en pneumati by the Spirit of God, who is the author of all spiritual affections and holy purposes: or, every thing here is to be understood spiritually, and not literally; for without holiness none can please God, and without holiness none can see him.
"Whose praise is not of men" - It has, with great probability, been conjectured that the apostle may here refer to the signification of the name Jew, or Judah, hdwhy Yehudah, PRAISE, from hdy Yadah, he PRAISED.
Such a one is a true Israelite, who walks in a conformity to the spirit of his religion: his countrymen may praise him because he is a steady professor of the Jewish faith; but GOD praises him, because he has entered into the spirit and design of the covenant made with Abraham, and has got the end of his faith, the salvation of his soul. Sentiments like these, on the same subject, may be found in the ancient Jewish writers. Rabbi Lipman gives the opinion of their most ancient and pure writers in these words:-"A certain Christian mocked us, saying, 'Women, who cannot be circumcised, cannot be reckoned among Jews.' Such persons are ignorant that faith does not consist in circumcision, but in the heart. He who has not genuine faith is not a partaker of the Jewish circumcision; but he who has genuine faith is a Jew, although not circumcised." NIZZACHON, Num. 21, p. 19. It is a curious maxim of the Talmudists, That the Jews sit in the inmost recesses of the heart. NIDDA, fol. 20, 2. This is exactly the sentiment of St. Paul: Circumcision is of the heart, in the spirit. In short, common sense, as well as their law and their prophets, taught every considerate man among them that God could be pleased with their rites and external performances no farther than they led to holiness of heart and righteousness of life.
1. WHAT the apostle says, in the preceding chapter, concerning the Gentiles doing by nature the things contained in the law, if properly considered, would lead certain persons from forming erroneous judgments concerning the Divine dispensations. We are not to suppose that God is not to be found where his written word does not appear; nor that the salvation of the nations yet unblessed with the light of the Gospel is impossible. God has never confined himself to any one particular way of communicating his salvation, any more than he has confined his saving grace to one people. His word is an indescribable blessing; but that word becomes effectual to salvation when accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit. It was that Spirit which gave the word originally; and that same Spirit can speak without this word. It is through his influence alone that the Gentiles do the things contained in his own law; and it is not to be wondered at that the work is the same, both in the law and in the heart, when it has proceeded from the same Spirit.
2. God therefore will judge all nations according to the use and abuse they have made of this word, whether it was written in the heart, or written on tables of stone.
3. As he is no respecter of persons, all nations are equally dear to him; and he has granted and will grant to them such discoveries of himself as have been and will be sufficient for their salvation.
4. His WORD is an infinite blessing; and he has given it to one people that they may be the means of conveying it to another. Europe, and especially Christian Europe, has got the BIBLE; and God requires Europe to send the Bible throughout the earth. If this be not done, through their neglect, the Gentile nations will not be destroyed by a merciful God; yet the Europeans will have a most solemn and awful account to render to their Judge, that they have hidden the heavenly light under their own bushel.
BRITAIN is shaking herself from the dust, and, by means of the BRITISH and FOREIGN BIBLE SOCIETY, is sending the holy Scriptures to every kingdom, and nation, and people, and tongue. The Gentiles are now learning from the written law more fully and savingly what the Spirit of God had before written on their hearts; and it seems as if the kingdom of God were now about to come with all-conquering power.