21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?
After affirming the privileges of the Jew, Paul now demonstrated their inconsistencies in 2:21-24 by asking five rhetorical questions. He made the formal charge that possession of high privilege was no guarantee that people would practice them.
You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?
Paul asked five questions in rapid-fire manner. These questions do not charge individuals in particular but demonstrate the pattern or consistency of the reality of their experience.
First, Paul stated a general principle of the Jew’s authority in teaching, but then he delineated specific areas of inconsistency with their lives. It is easy to teach something but not live it out.
You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal?
Some Jews preached not to steal, but they were not as scrupulous about their own honest dealings. They wanted to grade degrees of honesty.
You who say,
Here Paul changed from the verb “preach” to the verb “say.” This is a claim by the self-righteous. Those who teach have a greater accountability for how they live (Ja 3:1).
Mt 23: 3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.
“Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery?
Some Jews practiced the very thing they condemned in others.
You who abhor [literally to turn away because of the stench] idols, do you rob temples?
Jews prided themselves in monotheism as a central plank in their religious platform. Worship of idols was outside their realm of devotion, but they engaged with idols by robbing temples. Scripture forbade making personal profit from idols or their temples (Dt 7:25). This practice reeked to those they were trying to teach.
Our orthopraxy often does not match our orthodoxy.
Many do not live what they preach, or practice what they preach. Our lives need to match our doctrine. Christians who sin dishonor God. Christian leaders who are hypocritical and inconsistent dishonor God in a particular way. They stand indicted against their privilege.