God’s Reason in Being Patient (2:1-5)
After telling us in the second half of chapter one the depth of sin and its potential expression, Paul lets us know that because of this sinful inclination God’s judgment “rightly fall” [v.2] on us. The hypocrisy that we at times perform is only a small demonstration of our depravity. This hypocritical tendency should serve as a reminder of why God should and ultimately will judge the sinner. But Paul is not simply concerned with God’s judgment of sin.
Sometimes reading Paul can be difficult and we miss the little nuggets that are hidden in the letters. Here, even in the midst of laying the foundation of the Gospel, the grace of God is revealed. The Gospel at every turn and in every instance sheds the light of God’s grace in the midst of the darkness of our shortcomings. That is what is saying here. Paul says that “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” [v. 4]. This is unbelievable.
God does not hit the reset button and unleashes his angelic hosts because He desires for sinners to repent! The sad reality that Paul throws back at the reader is that the reason some do not head the Gospel summons is because of their “hard and impenitent” [v. 5] hearts. And it is this persistent condition that is “storing up wrath” [v. 5] for us when God finally returns.
God’s Demonstration of Integrity (2:6-11)
The major thrust of this entire section is that God shows no favoritism to the sinner or the believer in His dispensation of justice. All are sinners and are worthy and even deserving of eternal punishment, but God has overshadowed the sins of those that have believed and confessed in Christ. God will reckon what is rightfully due to each one “according to his works” [v. 6].
The irony in this statement is that those that believe in Christ have no work by which we are to be judged! The work of Salvation is the work of God in us. So the reward that we receive at the time of judgment rightfully belongs to God! We are the beneficiaries of God’s love and grace in spite of our sins. Look at what Paul says in Ephesians 2:4-10.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. [ESV, Emphasis Added]
Paul outlines how God will deal with all humanity. To those who live rightly and obey God’s commands and does good there will be reward and “glory and honor and peace” [v. 10]. But to those that chose their own way and chose “unrighteousness” [v. 8] and “does evil” there will be “tribulation and distress” [v. 9].
There is no partiality with God because he will not be swayed by sentimentality devoid of reason. God sees clearly and will dispense the just reward or penalty to all who will stand and kneel before His throne.