3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?
4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
1901 ASV Translation:
3 And reckonest thou this, O man, who judgest them that practise such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?
4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
There are no variations between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26.
I. Paul has posted another accusation: You are inexcusable... .
A. The basis of his accusation is that...
1. There are those who agree with him that "others" deliberately do what they know is contrary to the "will" of "God".
2. But, these who agree with him are guilty of artificially making a distinction between themselves and those "others", for the fact is that those who agree with him act the same way as those so-called "others" [i.e., they really are not a different category than those making the judgments].
3. Because the distinction is artificial [those making "judgments" are doing the same thing as those whom they "judge"], the same condemnation due the "others" is also due those in agreement with Paul.
4. And the fact that it is due is no mystery: it is a "matter of clear understanding" that the judgment from God falls upon everyone who does things worthy of judgment.
B. The accusation consists of two parts...
1. He accuses them of being actually guilty of doing evil.
2. He, therefore, accuses them of being "without excuse".
II. Next, Paul moves to a "logical conclusion".
A. With the words, "And thinkest thou this...", Paul calls for a logical conclusion.
B. This "logical conclusion" rests upon two facts...
2. Being able to determine what is evil (i.e., "making judgments of others") has no "escape mechanism" built in. Paul's point is that "knowledge" does not deliver, but, rather, condemns. To escape condemnation, one must go further than knowledge. One must actually act according to the good. Though Paul does not say it here, he denies men that ability. The point of Romans 1:18-32 is that man's original rebellion has infected all of humanity so that the ability to live the Life of God is impossible because man is alienated from it. One must have the Life in order to express it. Having been delivered over to his lusts by God, man is left with the ability to recognize wrong but not the ability to do right.
III. Then, Paul raises an arresting question.
A. The question has to do, not with rational thinking, but with the possibility of an evil internal attitude.
B. The question is: do you despise God's wealth of goodness, forbearance and longsuffering?
C. The question's rationale.
1. It is a part of Paul's fundamental conception of man's condition that he is evil.
2. Thus, it is impossible for Paul to "assume" a good motivation from him.
3. Thus, he raises the spectre of an aggressively evil motive.
a. The aggressively evil motive's focus.
1) It aggressively rejects God's "goodness".
a) The verbal root of this noun is a word that means "to make use of; to implement for the accomplishment of the objective".
b) The associated adjective is a word that means "acceptably pleasant", or "superior in attraction", or "appealingly beneficial".
c) The word itself is used in contexts where...
i. There is a correlation between "usefulness" and "appealing action" so that both of the ideas of "making use of a thing" and doing so in a way that creates an "appeal for cooperation" is involved [Romans 3:12].
ii. There is a contrast between being treated with "severity" and being treated with "acceptably pleasant actions" [Romans 11:22].
iii. There is a presentation of a "non-offensiveness" that is contrasted with something really "objectionable" (not in the "moral" sense, but in the "appreciation" sense -- i.e., sometimes the "moral" thing to do will be "objected to" because it is "unappreciated", like the "severity of God").
2) It aggressively rejects God's "forbearance".
a) The verbal root of this word is acceptably visualized by the picture of the demi-god who is standing on nothing and holding the world in his hands above his head -- i.e., he is supporting the world, bearing up under its massive weight. We have developed a figure of speech that adequately expresses the same idea when we say of someone who is giving the impression of being extremely emotionally stressed that "he is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders".
b) This word in its form as a noun is only used twice in the entire New Testament, though the verb is used in 15 contexts. It is clearly used in respect to two related ideas: on the one hand, there is an illegitimate burden being created by someone less than "spiritual"; and, on the other hand, there is at least a temporary "tolerance" of the burden for the sake of staving off the legitimate consequence due to the one who is generating the offense.
3) It aggressively rejects God's "long-suffering".
a) This noun, as the OnLine Bible implies, focuses upon the prolonging of the time between an "offense" and the "retaliation" of justice.
b) The "built-in" difficulty of the word is that "long" is relative. In the days of Noah, God was long-suffering for 120 years (not to mention all of the years prior to the onset of that 120 year period). In the days of national Israel, God was long-suffering for several centuries before He visited the just due of the nation's evil upon it. But, in the wilderness wanderings, sometimes the "long suffering" was only a matter of a couple of years, or, perhaps, only a matter of days. It is an extremely imprecise word that only encourages a willingness to tolerate evil for a while, though not indefinitely.
b. The aggressively evil motive's true nature.
1) It is expressed by the word translated "despise".
2) It is expressed in terms of giving far too little consideration of a person, or matter, because the person/matter is seen as having such a small ability to possess significance that it is dismissed.
a) Man's attitude is strengthened because God has not cut him off at the knees in his hatefulness.
b) Man's attitude is that his continuing ability to function with an appearance of impunity means that he does not need to worry about God.
c. The aggressively evil motive's roots in ignorance. Man's ignorance rests upon one basic fact: the only reason God has not already cast him into Gehennah is that He seeks to woo man to repentance by treating him kindly. Kindly treatment does not mean Gehennah isn't a real and present danger. Rather, it means that there is a way of escape. There is no point to "kindness" if there is no hope of salvation. There are two reasons the ungodly continue to exist: to give them ample opportunity to repent; and to be a useful instrument in the hands of God to develop the saints as they have to learn how to deal with the grief the wicked generate.