“We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles…”
The remainder of the chapter expands the idea of Peter’s inconsistency in reverting to legalism (Gal 2:15-21).
We who are Jews by nature,
Paul includes himself in the word “we.” Paul uses “we” four times in verses 15-17. Paul and Peter were born Jews. That is their condition by nature. The Jews tended to hold themselves above Gentiles in self-righteous arrogance.
“By nature” does not mean that Jews were free from sin. It just means that they are God’s chosen people, God’s people by covenant.
and not sinners of the Gentiles
The Jews viewed Gentiles as “sinners.” The implication is that their religion was superior to that of the Gentiles, as if religion somehow gained God’s approbation. The Jews received the Old Testament by revelation. They were God’s chosen people.
They inferred from this that they were somehow morally superior to the Gentiles because God gave them the law. By siding with the Jews, Peter inferred that religion and not grace are the principle of salvation and the Christian life. But the law is not the way of salvation even in the Old Testament (Genesis 15:6). Paul will develop this in the next chapter.
Christians stand in Christ’s perfect righteousness before God eternally.
The gap between God and people is one of infinite degree. When people go to Heaven, they go there on God’s terms, not their own. Only Jesus could bridge the gap between the absolute and perfect righteousness of God and the relative righteousness of humankind.
People cannot keep the law by human means(Romans 3:20,28; 6:14; Galatians 2:16, 19-21; 3:2,5,10, 21; Philippians 3:9). It is too perfect and too huge. Jesus fulfilled the law in every respect. When we believe in His death on the cross to forgive our sins, we also fulfill the law.
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:2-4).
Christ abrogated our responsibility to live up to the law because he fulfilled it for us.
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).
There is no salvation outside Jesus Christ and His work on the cross.
Overall I like and agree with Grant Richison’s opinions on the Scriptures but was disappointed by his statement in 2:15 that man has a ‘relative righteousness’.
I can see no relative righteousness mentioned in the Bible and witnessed in my own heart, only a complete and ‘total unrighteousness’.
Yours in Christ
Roger, relative righteousness is a theological concept that exists in contrast to the absolute righteousness of God. Man does not and cannot possess absolute righteousness in time in his experience. His righteousness is only relative to man’s on an experiential basis, however, he has an absolute righteousness positionally before God forever at the moment he comes to Christ. The omicron, omega suffix of justify indicates that God causes us to positionally hold His perfect righteousness at the point of salvation. This is the entire argument of Romans.