I suppose the Jews face a more direct charge, in that they are being judged by the law – it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.
Is not the big match law vs. legalism? The descriptions in v17b – 20 are all ‘good’ things, and things ordained by God for the Jews to be. 17b – 18 seems to focus on being instructed by the law, whilst 19 – 20 is instructing others in the law. Hence, the charge of v21.
I’m a little confused by the examples given of the law being broken: stealing, adultery, robbing temples. Are they random acts selected by Paul, or were they specific charges against the Roman Jews? The language is very personal, it’s as if Paul knows they know what he’s talking about. In Acts 19.37, Paul is charged with robbing temples in Ephesus, it may have been something Jews were big on. Sure, they would have abhored idols, but would this have led to them actually robbing pagan temples? Or is Paul just bringing the Jews back in line with 1.18-32?
Either way in v24 Paul explains the significance of it, quoting Isaiah 52.5, The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.