Romans 2:17 NASB
“But if you bear the name “Jew” and rely upon the Law and boast in God,”
This new thread of thought from Paul from vs17-29 is aimed at disarming the Jewish readers by stealthily building them up in their already religious attitude and hypocrisy. The Jews were meticulously observant of the Law (even man made, made up ones) but so much so as to not please God but to please themselves. The Pharisees cared more about the Sabbath being upheld completely then a man be healed from a lame hand from Jesus. This was the religious spirit that Jesus and His disciples were leading people away from.
When Paul says, “but if you bear the name ‘Jew’”, he is addressing their heritage and religious adherence of being God’s one and only people. This belief system though right, has caused the Jews to be boastful and prideful with their status with the Law and with God. Paul is going to dismantle their pride (and ours) and help them understand that just because they hold the title “Jew” does not provide them with right standing before God.
Their reliance upon the Law and their boasting in God was a means of justification before God. A false pretense that observance of the Mosaic Law and confession of God’s providence will keep you safe from His judgment is to be self deceived. Translated to our modern time could look like this: You attend church, you read your Bible, you do good things, you follow the commandments of Jesus, you believe that Jesus is the Son of God….yet you have not been reborn, you still have not died with Christ and risen to new life with Him. You do many good things and confess many good things and out of that you presume your right standing before God. But God judges by a different standard. This standard can only be met by the blood of Jesus and newness of life in Him. Paul must force his Jewish readers to understand that their Law abiding and boastful confession of God does not save them.