Romans 2:4 – A Co-Knowing Mind (Bible study notes)

For the video teaching click here: Romans Bible study – week 4 – Does God’s goodness lead us to repent?

  • Tonight we’re going to look at just one verse – Romans 2:4 and
  • In chapters 1-3 Paul shows us that ALL men need to awaken to God’s righteousness – a righteousness that comes by faith… His faith (believing and resting in what He knows to be true)
  • When Paul says in the Gospel, the revelation of the righteousness of God from faith to faith — he is speaking of a connection where God’s faith overwhelms us with His persuasion about us… where we discover what God believes about us.
    • He is not the sum total of our belief… our faith does not define Him — Rather, His faith defines us… we were made to be image and likeness bearers
    • After the Fall of Adam the knowledge of that identity was lost…. BUT God always knew our true identity and His purpose and plan to restore mankind to that position never wavered and was fulfilled in the finished work of Jesus
    • Before Adam, Before the Garden, Before the foundation of the world you were IN CHRIST! (Eph 1:4)
    • All that was and is left for man to do is awaken to who we really are IN CHRIST.
  • A revelation of our righteousness is not a revelation of right or wrong living – Romans 4:5-8 says we were made righteous apart from works
    • In Greek, the root word for righteousness is “dike” which means two parties finding likeness in each other
    • A revelation of our righteousness is a revelation of my identity IN CHRIST
      • Psalm17:5:  I, in righteousness, I see Thy face; I am satisfied, in awaking, with Thy form (likeness)
      • Paul said in Gal 2:20 – I am crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
        • The terms co crucified and co alive are to define us now — Christ in me and I in Him
      • Colossians 2:9-10 It is in Christ that God finds an accurate and complete expression of Himself, in a human body!  He mirrors our completeness and is the ultimate authority of our true identity.
  • Awakening to the mystery of Christ in us is the point of the Gospel!

Rom 2:4: Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, forbearance, and long suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

  • Paul begins with a question… Do you despise the riches of His kindness, forbearance, and long suffering?
  • He didn’t say haven’t you been taught this about God’s nature?  Weren’t you paying attention at church?
    • He makes it personal… Do you?
  • this is a good question for all of us to ask ourselves
  • do we despise the riches (the abundance) of God’s kindness, forbearance and long suffering?
    • despise is sometimes translated underestimate.. in Greek it is kataphroneo and is from 2 words.. kata meaning down and phroneo meaning to think, or to form an opinion.  So kataprhoneo would mean to think down upon; to think against
    • if we are despising or underestimating the abundance of God’s kindness, forebearance and patience… it’s due to wrong thinking
  • Paul is asking them if they have a wrong thinking about the nature of God… His kindness, forbearance, and patience
  1. kindness – in Greek is chrestos meaning kind and to furnish what is useful;
    • kindness in Hebrew is chesed which describes God’s covenant love that refuses to let go of mankind.; an immovable, unshakable, unchanging love.
    1. forbearance is anoche in Greek meaning suspense or holding back of punishment that is due
    • strictly a holding back; the suspension of wrath; truce with mankind
    1. long suffering is makrothumias, meaning to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others. Literally, passion that goes a long way;
  • This has always been God’s nature in both Old and New Testaments
    • they should’ve known this it shouldn’t be new information to them
    • this same phrase is used to describe His nature in Exodus 34:6-7; Jonah 4; Joel 2:13; Psalm 103:8; Psalm 145:8; Nehemiah 9:17; and Psalm 86:15
  • Then he says are you ignorant of (not knowing – alpha ginosko in Greek)… do you not personally know that it is God’s goodness that leads men to repentance
  • Jonah had this intimate knowledge about God… in fact it’s because He personally knew this about God that he didn’t want to go to Ninevah
    • Jonah 4:2 tells us why Jonah didn’t want to go:  He prayed to the LORD, and said, “Please, LORD, wasn’t this what I said when I was still in my own country? Therefore I hurried to flee to Tarshish, for I knew that you are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness, and you relent of doing harm.
      • he knew — yada – he had intimate knowledge, first hand experience of God’s nature/character
      • He intimately, personally knew that God is gracious (full of Grace), He is chesed (He absolutely refuses to give up or let go of mankind), He is full of forebearance (holding back punishment, slow to anger), and abounding in love!
  • Paul is reminding the Jews (the religious; insiders of the covenant) not to judge the Gentiles (heathens; outsiders of the covenant)
    • Jonah judged the Ninevites as evil, murderous, pagans that deserved punishment — just like these Jews judged the Gentiles
      • The Jews had been passing judgement on the Gentiles and saying we’re not as bad as that!
      • But God alone is judge — and He already judged ALL righteous IN CHRIST — God has no outsiders of His Covenant
    • They thought little of (despised) God’s nature and didn’t have an understanding of His covenant love
  • So… Romans 2:4 says it’s God’s goodness that leads men to repentance
    • leads is a Greek verb in the active voice which means the subject (God’s goodness) is the performer of the action of the verb
      • We are not the performer of the action — our repentance doesn’t lead to God’s goodness…. His goodness leads us to repentance
    • It is in an indicative mood meaning it is a statement of fact — there is no doubt this action (men being led to repentance) will occur because of God’s goodness
    • It is also in the present tense meaning it is a continual action — God’s goodness is continually leading all men to repent

What is repentance?

  • Repentance is not asking for forgiveness of sins, it’s not even turning from “sin” — although that will undoubtedly happen
    • Repentance is an old English word borrowed from the Latin, which means penance.
      • penance means to do something worthy of absolution… to do something to release the guilt, obligation or punishment
      • people were led to believe that they needed to purchase favor from an angry god.
      • We are not called to do penance! Jesus did that for us — He released us from ALL guilt, obligation and punishment
      • We do not need to purchase favor from God — He was never angry with us — 2 Cor 5:18: All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation
      • We already have His favor – Romans 5:15 says His grace abounds to us
    • But the good news is that “penance” is not the word Paul used
  • The word Paul used is metanoia which comes from meta meaning together with; and nous meaning mind.  
    • It means together with God’s mind — it is to discover God’s thoughts about us
    • It is a co-knowing with God! It is my mind intertwined with my Maker!
  • This word suggests a radical mind shift;  it is to realize God’s thoughts towards us
  • Jer 29:11 – For I know the thoughts (Hebrew is thoughts not plans) I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace (shalom – wholeness, nothing missing, nothing broken) and not of evil (adversity, calamity, displeasure, distress, harm), to give to you an expected end.
    • That’s so good when you look at it in the Hebrew!
    • thoughts of peace and not evil towards you is not talking about your circumstances — peaceful and not adversity
    • It’s talking about His plan for you IN CHRIST — peace – shalom in Hebrew and sozo in Greek — it is deliverance, healing, restoration, soundness of mind and preservation; wholeness in every area of life
  • His thoughts towards us were always on the finished work of the Cross and what that provided for us — an abundant life IN Him!
    • Was the major proclamation of Jesus and the apostles “Repent! Feel sorry for your sins”? Or was it “Metanoia! Think a new way”!
    • Metanoia is to discover that God’s mind is made up about man!  — He has judged all righteous IN CHRIST.
  • Paul began this verse asking them why their thinking was against who God is… and then He ends the verse with repentance – which is NOT feel sorry for something you’ve done and ask for forgiveness… but rather change your thinking — align your thinking with the finished work of Christ

Covenant Love  – HIs goodness leads men to repentance

  • The word Paul used for goodness is kindness – chrestos in Greek
    • In Hebrew the word is chesed which is covenant love — it’s God’s covenant love that leads us to repentance!!
  • Scholars struggle with how to translate chesed because there is really no equivalent
    • It is an unfailing, unrelenting, unquitting love that never gives up, gives out or gives in… a RESOLUTE REFUSAL to let us go.
    • The heartbeat of chesed is covenant
    • It is a passionate pursuing love — Him seeking us not the other way around; Him moving towards us not waiting on us to move towards Him; Him reconciling us to Himself not us deciding we were ready to be reconciled when we say a “prayer of salvation”
      • Rom 5:6 – while we were weak (without strength); while we were “ungodly”
      • Rom 5:8 – while we were sinners
      • Rom 5:10 – while we were enemies
      • 1 Jn 4:19 – we love Him because He FIRST loved us
      • Psalm 23:6a talks about His covenant love pursuing us…. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…”
        • In the Greek it says…. Only His covenant love pursues me ALL the days of my life
    • Luke 15 has 3 parables of pursuing… the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son — only that which first belongs can be lost
  • Covenant love (chesed) pursued us because we have always been His!
    • Eph 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world
      • chose is eklego in Greek coming from 2 words…ek meaning out of, denoting origin and source and lego meaning to say or speak, which is the root word of logos which means word, reason, or plan – it’s where we get our English word logic.
      • Logos, however, denotes more than just a thought but also denotes the expression of that thought.
        • It includes the motive, the thought, the reasoning or development of that thought and finally, the expression and communication of that thought.
    • the rest of Eph 1:4 and verse 5 says He always knew in His love that he would present us face to face before Him in blameless innocence (5) He is the architect of our design; his heart dream realized our coming of age in Christ.
      • This is what God knows to be true about us — there was never any doubt as to who we were and our awakening to it!
  • Isaiah 45 talks about seeing Jesus when we turn to God
  • Isaiah 45:22 is an invitation to the nations to “turn” to Him… “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other”
    • turn is “panah” – meaning face;  Turn and look into His face; face to face with Him
    • what a beautiful picture… when we look into His face we see all of the love and passion He has for us
  • v. 21 says “I am Yahweh, and there is no other God except the Righteous God and Savior”
    • God says turn to Him face to face and see Yahweh – the Righteous God and Savior
      • Yahweh – yod, hey, vav, hey – behold the hands, behold the nails
    • When we turn to God face to face we see Jesus and the finished work of the Cross… it then says be saved.  
    • Seeing our salvation is the only outcome of turning to God face to face and seeing Jesus and the finished work of the Cross
  • v. 23 gives us God’s guarantee – I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.
    • NET Bible says I solemnly make this oath–what I say is true and reliable: ‘Surely every knee will bow to me, every tongue will solemnly affirm;
    • Every knee bowing and every tongue confessing is not a forced submission both bow and confess have within them in Hebrew the implication of revelation
    • By looking into God’s face you only see Jesus and the finished work of the cross and the result is a revelation of the salvation that was provided for ALL mankind… ALL nations
  • and v. 24 says then ALL men will say – there is righteousness and strength only in Yahweh – in Jesus and the finished work of the Cross
    • That sounds like Romans 2:4… it’s the goodness of God (His covenant love) that leads a man to repentance (change his thinking).
  • David also prophetically sees the triumphant outcome of the finished work of the cross in Psalm 22 which resulted in repentance – returning to Jesus — discovering their identity IN HIM
    • verse 27: All the ends of the earth shall remember and return to the Lord (Yahweh – Jesus); and all the families of the nations shall worship before Him!
  • Paul said in 2 Cor 3:16 that if we turn to the Lord the veil is removed
    • and v. 18 (Mirror) says that when the veil is removed we are able to gaze with wonder at the blueprint of God displayed in human form, and we suddenly realize that we are looking into a mirror, where every feature of His image articulated in Christ is reflected within us!…. we are led from an inferior mind-set to the revealed endorsement of our authentic identity.
    • by turning to God we see Jesus (Isaiah 45) and as we see Jesus we see our true selves (2 Cor 3:18) and we are awakened to righteousness and able to experience the benefits of it — this is repentance!
  • Paul has shown us in Romans 2:4 that we need to ask ourselves if our thinking is despising (thinking against) who God is (His nature) and His covenant love for ALL mankind
    • for us to accurately know the nature of God we need to look no further than Jesus
      • Jn 1:18 “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is Himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father (in the bosom of the Father) has made him known.”
        • “made him known” in the Greek is exegesato – a full and complete disclosure and bringing out into the light the reality of that which had been hidden.
        • The fullness of God’s nature has been completely revealed to us by Jesus. God is no longer a mystery to us. He is no longer hidden behind a veil. Jesus said “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).His character and nature are 100% Christ-like.
    • if that thinking is wrong, we need to change our thinking…we need to co-know with God
  • There is a great quote by author John Lynch in his book The Cure…..

“God has shown all of his cards, revealing breathtaking protection. He says, in essence, “What if I tell them who they now are? What if I take away any element of fear? What if I tell them I will always love them? That I love them right now, as much as I love my only Son? What if I tell them there no logs of past offenses, of how little they pray, or how often they let me down? What if I tell them they are actually righteous, right now? What if I tell them I’m crazy about them? What if I tell them that, if I’m a Savior, they’re going to heaven no matter what – it’s a done deal? What if I tell them they have a new nature, that they are saints, not saved sinners? What if I tell them I actually live in them now, my love, power, and nature at their disposal? What if I tell them they don’t have to put on masks? That they don’t need to pretend we’re close? What if they knew that, when they mess up, I’ll never retaliate? What if they were convinced bad circumstances aren’t my way of evening the score? What if they knew the basis of our friendship isn’t how little they sin, but how much they allow me to love them? What if I tell them they can hurt my heart, but I’ll never hurt theirs? What if I tell them they can open their eyes when they pray and still go to heaven? What if I tell them there is no secret agenda, no trapdoor? What if I tell them it isn’t about their self-effort, but allowing me to live my life through them?”

  • What if you believed what God knows to be true about you?  What would your life look like?


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