Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering?

John Murray’s commentary on Romans is a rare treat.  Murray’s commentary was faithful to the Scottish Reformed tradition in which he was raised.  It was also a continuation of the great works in the Old Princeton tradition of theologians who were master exegetes.  There is much in the work that is valuable on the subject of the free offer but Murray’s comments on Romans 2:4 “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” are particularly pertinent.

Murray observes that this verse teaches that “God suspends the infliction of punishment and restrains the execution of his wrath.  When he exercises forbearance and longsuffering he does not avenge sin in the instant execution of wrath.” 

But what is the point of this suspension of wrath – and is it related to the goodness and love of God?  Yes, “It needs to be noted that the apostle does not think of this restraint as exercised in abstract from the riches of God’s goodness, the riches of his benignity and loving-kindness.  There is a complementation that bespeaks the magnitude of God’s kindness of which the [outward] gifts of covenant privilege are the expression.  It is a metallic conception of God’s forbearance and longsuffering that isolates them from the kindness of disposition and of benefaction which the goodness of God implies.”

Of course included in the outward “gifts of covenant privilege” is the free offer of the gospel and the spirit of Rom 2:4 should animate the free offer.

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