Original Research

The chiastic inversion in the argument of Romans 2:1−3:9 and the identity of the interlocutor in Romans 2:17−29

Sang-Hoon Kim, Kyu S. Kim
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 39, No 1 | a1782 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v39i1.1782 | © 2018 Kyu Seop Kim, Sang-Hoon Kim | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 July 2017 | Published: 09 October 2018

About the author(s)

Sang-Hoon Kim, Department of Theology, Chongshin University, Korea, Republic of
Kyu S. Kim, Department of Theology, Asia United Theological University, Korea, Republic of

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This article intends to understand the identity of the interlocutor in Romans 2:17–29 by analysing Paul’s argument design of Romans 2:1–3:9. Specifically, this work will focus on the identity of the interlocutor in Romans 2:17–29. This study detects Paul’s elaborate chiastic structure in Romans 2:1–3:9, and we argue that the identity of the interlocutor should be considered in this structural context. Through our structural analysis, we will more clearly understand the intention of the author regarding the interlocutor. Contrary to the view of Thorsteinsson and Thiessen, it can be inferred that the identity of the interlocutor is not the Jewish proselytes but the Jews on the basis of our structural analysis. In Romans 2:17–29, the identity of the people of God is redefined in terms of the transformation of mind (i.e. the circumcision of the heart), and the discussions on the historical context of the transformation of the mind.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This work challenges the previous understanding of the structural design of the Pauline texts, adding fresh insights on the identity of the interlocutor in Romans 2:17–29. It is expected that studies on the authorial design and its semantic implications are further developed through this work.


Romans; chiasm; parallelism; interlocutor; transformation of the mind; Paul’s critique on the Jews; Paul’s structure and style


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