Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.
But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.
And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?
Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”.
Romans 2: 1-5 NKJ
The word ‘knowing’
Thanks to Martin Lloyd Jones’s sermons on Romans (link), I have learned something that I never knew before. In Romans 2:4, “do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” the word ‘knowing’ has meaning that is not well conveyed in English translations.
It means not considering, not acknowledging, and not understanding — but it means more than merely those things. It means a willful contemptuous unconcern. A deliberate, contemptuous, and willful ignorance.
So when Paul is seeking to prick the hearts of unbelievers by talking about how they despise the riches of God’s goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God is meant to lead them to repentance, he is pointing to the fact that they are not considering, not acknowledging and not understanding the goodness of God, and they are doing this willfully, deliberately and contemptuously.
The goodness of God is offered in providence, in common grace, and in the gospel; but some people show contempt for it and go about their lives deliberately ignoring all the evidence from creation, their consciences, and (if they have heard it) the preached Word of God. They willfully scorn the truth that the goodness of God is meant to lead them to repentance. Instead, they take advantage of the patience, goodness and longsuffering of God, to give themselves more time to entrench themselves in sin. And thus they fill up the cup of God’s wrath against them.
May the Lord preserve and protect us all, and guide us into the paths of truth.