CONTEXT: Chapter 1 of Romans was a great condemnation of man for a variety of sins. Here in Chapter 2, Paul makes clear to the Jewish people that they too, living under the law will be condemned. Matthew Henry breaks it down as follows: The scope of the first two chapters of this epistle may be gathered from ch. 3:9, “We have before proved both Jews and Gentiles that they are all under sin.” This we have proved upon the Gentiles (ch. 1), now in this chapter, he proves it upon the Jews, as appears by v. 17, “thou art called a Jew.” I. He proves in general that Jews and Gentiles stand upon the same level before the justice of God, to v. 11. II. He shows more particularly what sins the Jews were guilty of, notwithstanding their profession and vain pretensions (v. 17 to the end).
There are a few key things I wish to point out in the first few verses before we get to today’s sermon(s);
- Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man – The maximum effective range of an excuse when we all stand before God on judgement day will be zero meters.
- the judgment of God is according to truth – God’s judgement is righteous because He can not lie, therefore we have no complaint in His judgement.
- thinkest thou this,…that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? – All will stand before God in righteous judgement.
- the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? – God’s good ness is on display every moment, worldy unrepentant man is to blind to notice. Note also here that God leads man, He does not herd or drive them to repentance as some naysayers think.
Matthew Henry comments on V.4 as follows:
1. Slighting the goodness of God (Romans 2:4), the riches of his goodness. This is especially applicable to the Jews, who had singular tokens of the divine favour. Means are mercies, and the more light we sin against the more love we sin against. Low and mean thoughts of divine goodness are at the bottom of a great deal of sin. There is in every wilful sin an interpretative contempt of the goodness of God; it is spurning at his bowels, particularly the goodness of his patience, his forbearance and long-suffering, taking occasion thence to be so much the bolder in sin, Ecclesiastes 8:11. Not knowing, that is, not considering, not knowing practically and with the application, that the goodness of God leadeth thee, the design of it is to lead thee, to repentance. It is not enough for us to know that God’s goodness leads to repentance, but we must know that it leads us–thee in particular. See here what method God takes to bring sinners to repentance. He leads them, not drives them like beasts, but leads them like rational creatures, allures them (Hosea 2:14); and it is goodness that leads, bands of love, Hosea 11:4. Compare Jeremiah 31:3. The consideration of the goodness of God, his common goodness to all (the goodness of his providence, of his patience, and of his offers), should be effectual to bring us all to repentance; and the reason why so many continue in impenitency is because they do not know and consider this.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon November 18, 1877
Scripture: Romans 2:4; From Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Volume 49
On Romans 2:4 and the Will of God – BY MARTYN LLOYD-JONES
The Power of His Kindness – The Master’s Seminary Blog