“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. 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’: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.” Romans 2:1-11
We are looking at how Paul continued his strong claims from Romans chapter one about God’s wrath “revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” Paul made it clear to his Jewish readers that they were “inexcusable” and had actually “condemned” themselves in judging Gentiles for their sins because they (Jews) had practiced “the same things.”
In our last study we saw this from Paul –
“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?” Romans 2:3-4
We move now to the next two verses which help bolster Paul’s logic –
“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 2:5-6
κατα δε την σκληροτητα σου και αμετανοητον καρδιαν θησαυριζεις σεαυτω οργην εν ημερα οργης και αποκαλυψεως δικαιοκρισιας του θεου ος αποδωσει εκαστω κατα τα εργα αυτου
σκληροτητα (sklérotéta) is from σκληρός (skléros) which means “hard from being dry, violent, harsh.) The idea of sklérotéta is a hardness of heart. It’s a person who is continually obstinate (stubborn). The Jews who knew their Bibles well would have recognized that term because being stubborn was part of their history.
In Psalm 78, King David wrote that Jews were a “stubborn” people – “And may not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not set its heart aright, And whose spirit was not faithful to God.”
The prophet Hosea wrote that “Israel is stubborn Like a stubborn calf …” (Hosea 4:16)
God called Jews, who were His people, stubborn –
“And He said to me: ‘Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. For they are impudent and stubborn children. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse—for they are a rebellious house—yet they will know that a prophet has been among them.” Ezekiel 2:3-5
Stubbornness is related to rebellion, as we see in Ezekiel and other Old Testament references. What is the answer to a rebellious attitude? The Bible is quite clear about that. The answer is repentance. However, Paul points out in Romans that some Jews were unrepentant.
αμετανοητον (ametanoéton) is the negative of μετανοέω (metanoeó), “repent, change mind.” The word ametanoéton means “unrepentant, impenitent.”
καρδιαν (kardian) was a word the ancient Greeks used for their “inner self.” It was the seat of their emotions and will (intention).
Paul accused the Jews of having minds, emotions and will that were hardened against God and unrepentant toward Him. Strong words indeed.
Paul wasn’t finished. He accused them of actually storing up for themselves the judgment of God in the same way they would store up treasure!
θησαυριζεις (thésaurizeis) means “store up, treasure up” something for future use. The delay of God’s judgment actually gave the Jews more time to store up for themselves (in the same way someone would store up a treasure for themselves) the terrible wrath of God.
σεαυτω (seauto’) is a pronoun that means “yourself.”
οργην (orgén) means “anger, wrath.” In the context of Paul’s writing, this refers back to God’s wrath.
Do you see the power of this statement? Paul told the Jews that their hardened, unrepentant hearts were storing up God’s wrath for a future time – a time Paul referred to as “the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”
εν ημερα οργης (en hémera orgés), “the day of wrath” was a well-known theme to Jews –
“For the wicked are reserved for the day of doom; They shall be brought out on the day of wrath.” Job 21:30
“The Lord is at Your right hand; He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath.” Psalm 110:5
“Behold, the day of the Lord comes, Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, To lay the land desolate; And He will destroy its sinners from it.” Isaiah 13:9
“Therefore I will shake the heavens, And the earth will move out of her place, In the wrath of the Lord of hosts And in the day of His fierce anger.” Isaiah 13:13
“They will throw their silver into the streets, And their gold will be like refuse; Their silver and their gold will not be able to deliver them In the day of the wrath of the Lord; They will not satisfy their souls, Nor fill their stomachs, Because it became their stumbling block of iniquity.” Ezekiel 7:19
“The great day of the Lord is near; It is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the Lord is bitter; There the mighty men shall cry out. That day is a day of wrath, A day of trouble and distress, A day of devastation and desolation, A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of trumpet and alarm Against the fortified cities And against the high towers. ‘I will bring distress upon men, And they shall walk like blind men, Because they have sinned against the Lord; Their blood shall be poured out like dust, And their flesh like refuse.’ Neither their silver nor their gold Shall be able to deliver them In the day of the Lord’s wrath; But the whole land shall be devoured By the fire of His jealousy, For He will make speedy riddance Of all those who dwell in the land.” Zephaniah 1:14-18
The thought that the wrath of Yaweh would be stored up against obstinate and unrepentant Jews would be terrifying to some of the Jews who read Paul’s words. They thought of themselves as God’s people, but Paul was saying they needed to seriously reconsider their relationship with the Almighty.
αποκαλυψεως (apokalupseōs) means “unveiling, uncovering” and is a noun often translated “revelation.”
δικαιοκρισιας (dikaiokrisias) comes from the combination of díkaios (righteous) and krísis (judgment) and means “righteous judgment, just judgment.”
του θεου (tou Theou) means “of God.”
Paul was saying clearly that a day of judgment was coming for the unrepentant Jews. God would reveal (unveil) His wrath against them in righteous judgment.
It’s interesting to compare the wrath of God in Romans 1:18 with the wrath of God in Romans 2:5.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” Romans 1:18
This is a “present” wrath – “is revealed from heaven.” Gentiles are still dealing with that present wrath today. God gives them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, “to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.”
That’s the current way God is dealing with Gentiles. However, there is an even more terrible wrath that will be revealed in the future for Gentiles and Jews –
“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.” Romans 2:5
This is a “future” wrath – “you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation.” Even as the Gentiles brought God’s judgment upon themselves by suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, the Jews brought God’s judgment upon themselves through hearts that were hardened and unrepentant.
Paul continues in verse 6 – “who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds.”
ος αποδωσει εκαστω κατα τα εργα αυτου
ος αποδωσει (hos apodōsei) means “who will restore, give back, render as due.”
εκαστω κατα (hekastō kata) means “to everyone according to.”
τα εργα αυτου (ta erga autou) means “the work, labor, actions, deeds of them.”
God will render to every person what is due them according to (based on) their works, their actions, their deeds. Like other prophecies in the Bible, it will happen. That is a frightening thought.
Here’s another way to look at it – if God rendered to every person what they deserved according to their works, who could stand? God’s judgment will be righteous (just, fair, based on the facts), so the prospect of facing that with a hardened and unrepentant heart is terrifying. The Jews stubbornly resisted God’s goodness and they would pay for that resistance when God judges in the future.
“The Jews thought themselves a holy people, entitled to their privileges by right, while they were unthankful, rebellious, and unrighteous. But all who act thus, of every nation, age, and description, must be reminded that the judgment of God will be according to their real character. The case is so plain, that we may appeal to the sinner’s own thoughts.” Matthew Henry
In the next part of our study, we will see what is ahead for people as they face the righteous judgment of God.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.