THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS CHAPTER 1, VERSES 18-32
1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
1:23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
1:30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
1:31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
SECTION 2: ROMANS1:18-1:32
GOD’S WRATH AGAINST MEN AS THEIR CREATOR
STRUCTURE OF SECTION 2
2 (a) 1:18-20 The revelation of God through creation.
2 (b) 1:21-23 The rejection of the God of creation.
2 (c) 1:24-32 The recompense from the God of creation.
SUBJECT OF SECTION 2
The apostle now shows that the righteousness which is available through believing the gospel of Christ is desperately needed, since the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truths He has revealed to them through creation, and disregard the principles He has instituted for the regulation of their lives on the earth. Because they flout His laws, God ordains that they see the consequences in their lives even now.
2 (a) THE REVELATION OF GOD THROUGH CREATION
1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven- there is a great need for the righteousness of God to be revealed in the gospel, since God is angry with sin and sinners, a fact which He has plainly shown in history. At the flood of Noah’s time, the confusion of tongues because of the tower of Babel, the overthrow of Sodom, and the sending of Israel into captivity, God clearly demonstrated His hot displeasure against the sins of men. Against all ungodliness- every example of a lack of reverence for God’s glory. And unrighteousness of men- every evidence of disregard of God’s laws. Who hold the truth in unrighteousness- hold=hold down, suppress. Truths concerning God as Creator are known by men as the next verses show, but they choose to suppress them, and thereby incur God’s wrath.
1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them- by His works of creation God has revealed truths as to His greatness and power. Sadly that truth is suppressed because to recognise a Creator involves accountability to Him. A well-known evolutionist said that his generation was eager to accept the theory of evolution because men wanted to be rid of the moral restraints of religion.
1:20 For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead- best considered as a parenthesis, so verse 21 follows the argument of verses 18 and 19. From God’s creative act of making the world His invisible attributes of eternal power and Godhood are clearly seen.
His power, Psalm 147:4,5; Hebrews 1:3.
His greatness, honour, majesty, and wisdom, Psalm 104:1,24.
His gift of life, breath and all things, Acts 17:25.
His providential care, Psalm 104:10-23; Acts 14:17.
His impartiality, Matthew 5:45.
By Godhood means those attributes of God that are manifest through creation. The fullest possible revelation of God is in Jesus Christ, “For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, Colossians 2:9. Godhead is God in the totality of His being, essence and attributes. God’s power is eternal power, for He is not Himself the product of a superior force, but is the great Originating Cause of all effects.
So that they are without excuse- the conclusion the apostle draws from the revelation God has given of Himself as Creator, as verse 19 explains. There is no real reason why men should not know that there is a Creator-God, “He left not Himself without witness”, Acts 14:17.
2 (b) REJECTION OF THE GOD OF CREATION
1:21 Because that, when they knew God- not a saving knowledge, but the knowledge of Him as Creator. They glorified Him not as God- the glory that men should have given Him was withheld. Neither were thankful- the benefits they received from Him were taken for granted, and men thought they were the fruits of their own efforts, and not God’s provision. This is still true today, with good crops being attributed to man’s cleverness, and bad crops blamed on God. But became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened- their reasonings were empty of truth and reality, and so their hearts became taken up with things of no account, and darkened as to further light from God.
1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools- thinking themselves to be self-sufficient as to the true nature of things, (wisdom is “insight into the true nature of things”), they in fact sank deeper into folly and ignorance. See Isaiah 44:9-25.
1:23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God- whatever men might do or say, God is not corruptible, for He is not affected by the changing views about Him which men adopt. They may change His glory in their own imaginations, but not in reality. “I am the Lord: that is My name: And My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images”, Isaiah 42:8. Into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things- by degenerating into idolatry man shows himself to be the corruptible one. For examples of these various forms of idolatry see Daniel 3:1; Isaiah 44:13; Ezekiel 8; Exodus 32:4.
2 (c) RECOMPENSE FROM THE GOD OF CREATION
1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up- men gave God up, and heaped disgrace upon Him, His response was to give them up by allowing them to heap disgrace upon themselves. To uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves- the capacity to sin in the way specified in verses 26,27, is within the human heart through the fall of man in Genesis 3. It is not that God planted the evil there. In response to their ungodliness in turning to idolatry, God gave men up to vile affections, which would mean they would receive recompense for their sin in their own lives even on earth.
1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator- man refused to acknowledge God’s true character as Creator, rebelling against the principles He has set up for the maintenance of His rule in creation, and began to think of that creation as his god, which is a lie. Who is blessed for ever. Amen– in the midst of his exposure of the gross wickedness of men in refusing God, the apostle feels compelled to break off and dissociate himself from them by blessing God.
1:26,27. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature– resuming the theme of verse 24, after the apostle has been overwhelmed by the enormity of their sin, and has personally distanced himself from it in verse 25. God has revealed His anger against homosexuality and lesbianism, not only by condemning it in His Law, Leviticus 18:22-30, 20:13, but also by dramatically destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis 19:4,5,24; 2 Peter 2:6; Jude 7. So the wrath of God against such evils is already revealed, verse 18. The apostle says “even their women”, expressing surprise that those who are normally thought of as gentle and loving, should violently rebel against God in this way. And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman- the proper and natural use of the woman is as the vehicle for the bringing of children into the world. Burned in their lust one toward another- instead of begetting children to love, they rejected child-bearing in lust. It is surely significant that the word Sodom means burning. Those who burned in their depraved lust, now burn in everlasting fire, Jude 7. The apostle does not use the normal word for man and woman in this passage, but rather the words for male and female, which are more fitting for the animal kingdom; those who practice the perversions mentioned here, are little better than the beasts. This is one of the results of the theory of evolution. Receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet- not only does eternal wrath await these sins, but even now the recompense is known if men break through the barriers that God has set up to regulate human conduct and relationships. This is clearly evident in the current Aids epidemic. This giving of men up is in a general sense, and does not prevent individuals, even if they are homosexuals or lesbians, being saved, as is clear from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11- “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God”.
1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge- recognition of God as Creator and therefore Moral Governor of the universe has a restraining effect on the wickedness of men. If they choose to deny He has rights over them, God allows men to work out their wickedness and reap the consequences. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap,” Galatians 6:7. But in wrath God remembers mercy, Habbakkuk 3:2, so He demonstrates to men the folly of their sin before they enter eternity, giving them opportunity to repent. God gave them over to a reprobate mind- God allowed men to express in action what was in their mind, so that they would find out the result of doing their own will. Reprobate mind- a way of thinking which God does not approve of, “that which does not prove itself to be that which it ought”. To do those things which are not convenient- that which is not suitable conduct for those who are under obligation to God.
1:29-31 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness– a list of sinful characteristics. Full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity- sinful tendencies. Whisperers, backbiters, haters of God- sinful malice. Despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents- sinful attitudes. Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful- sinful deficiencies. A catalogue of sins all displaying the result of a mind that is occupied with self, and not God.
1:32 Who knowing the judgement of God- they know what God’s righteous assessment of their conduct is, through the voice of conscience, which they stifle. That they which commit such things are worthy of death- those who commit sin deserve to be removed from the earth in death. See, for instance, 2 Samuel 12:13. It is only through the mercy of God that they are allowed to continue living, and have opportunity to repent. Not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them- these men know that if they were to condemn others, they would condemn themselves, since they practise the same things. To try to avoid this, they condone the sins of others The apostle turns in the next chapter to those who feel they can criticise others without condemning themselves.
SECTION 3: ROMANS 2:1-16
GOD’S WRATH AGAINST MEN AS THEIR MORAL GOVERNOR
THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS CHAPTER 2, VERSES 1-16
2:1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
2:2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
2:3 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?
2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
2:6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
2:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
2:8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
2:9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
2:10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
2:11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
2:12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
2:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
2:16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
STRUCTURE OF SECTION 3
3 (a) 2:1-2 The judgement of God is according to truth
3 (b) 2:3-11 The judgement of God is according to deeds.
3(c) 2:12-15 The judgement of God is according to responsibility.
3 (d) 2:16 The judgement of God is according to the gospel.
SUBJECT OF SECTION 3
The apostle now deals with the matter of conscience, that faculty God has given to man whereby he is able to decide on moral issues. That man is able to so decide is shown by 1:32, “knowing the judgement of God” -they know that sin deserves punishment. We should bear in mind when thinking of this passage, that the apostle is meeting the moraliser on his own ground, just as the Lord Jesus met the lawyer on his own ground in Luke 10:25,26. Does the man of verse one condemn the works of others? Then he must be examined as to his own works, and judged accordingly.
The passage tells us at least 9 things about the judgement of God.
2:2 Real (because according to truth=earnest, accurate).
2:3 Inescapable (if men remain unrepentant).
2:4 Avoidable (if men turn to God).
2:5 Judicial (not remedial).
2:6 Proportional (according to the degree of guilt).
2:6 Personal (for the individual is accountable to God).
2:6 Universal (“render to every man”).
2:8,9 Fearful (“it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God,” Heb. 10:31).
2:11 Impartial (God is no respecter of persons, in salvation, Acts 10:34, or judgement).
The emphasis in chapter 1 is on the reasons for His wrath, now the reality of His wrath is made known. The word used for judgement in verses 2 and 3, means a sentence or verdict of judgement after a process of investigation. The judgement in view therefore is that before the Great White Throne, Revelation 20:11-15, on “the great day,” Jude 6. Whereas in Revelation 20 we have the account of what will happen, in this chapter we are told the principles behind what will happen.
3 (a) THE JUDGEMENT OF GOD IS ACCORDING TO TRUTH
2:1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things- in 1:32, men agree that sin should be judged, but they condone it in others and practise it themselves. In this verse, however, the apostle speaks to a class of men drawn from Jew and Gentile, (since he shows the danger of judgement for both, verses 9-11) who condemn sin in others, and thereby condemn themselves. The Son of God is the only one charged with the task of judging, John 5:22,23,27-29.
2:2 But we are sure that the judgement of God is according to truth against them which commit such things- i.e. the judgement of God is accurate, unbiased and real, in contrast to the warped ideas of men. Truth may be defined as “that which corresponds to reality.” Men will be judged by the unerring wisdom of God, and not by the fallible opinions of men. The very fact that sinners call for retribution when a hideous crime is committed, shows they have a sense of justice implanted within them by God when He made man in His own image.
3 (b) THE JUDGEMENT OF GOD IS ACCORDING TO DEEDS
2:3 And thinkest thou this O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgement of God?- “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” Hebrews 2:3. Judgement is inescapable as far as unrepentant sinners are concerned. Heaven and earth flee away from His Judgement Throne, Revelation 20:11, so although they may try to hide, there will be nowhere to flee to.
2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering– the goodness of God means God’s kind ways. The forbearance of God is shown when He holds back from judging. His longsuffering is shown by Him waiting long for sinners to repent. Man is entirely responsible for his refusal to turn to God. Not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?- God’s desires are for man’s salvation. God is “longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” 2 Peter 3:9. So judgement is avoidable as far as those who repent are concerned.
2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath- the wrath men accumulate is in direct proportion (“after” means in relation to), to the hardness of their hearts against God, and their refusal to repent. Against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgement of God- the judgement of the great day, Jude 6, when men are judged before the great white throne with impartial judgement, Revelation 20:11-15. The standard will not be the biased view of men, but rather God’s righteous verdict. Compare the riches of God’s goodness which He stores up for those who believe, verse 4, and the treasure of wrath accumulated by men, verse 5.
2:6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds- what is within the heart is expressed in actions, see Mark 7:14-23, Eccles.12:14, and those actions will receive judgement appropriate to each one, see Revelation 20:12,13. Verse 7 does not contradict later truth that justification is by faith alone, and not by works. This passage shows that Paul is in agreement with James that faith without works is dead. If a person patiently continues in well-doing, he does so because he has repented before God and been created anew, see James 1:18-25; 2 Corinthians 5:17,21; 1 John 3:6-10.
2:7 To them who by patient continuation in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life- the principle that “he that doeth righteousness is righteous” holds good at all times. Only those who have a righteous nature can do righteous works, 1 John 3:7. “every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit”, Matthew 7:17. Eternal life is looked at here in its full expression in eternity. Every believer of every age possesses eternal life, the life of God, or else communion with God would not be possible. The fulness of that life awaits in the future, however, when all the corruptible things that hinder the full appreciation of it are removed at the resurrection. Immortality, as used here, means incorruptibility, the state of things that cannot decay. The true believer’s ultimate goal is to glorify and honour God in a state of eternal incorruption.
2:8,9 But unto them that are contentious- arguing against God, whether by words or deeds. And do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness- instead of responding in obedient faith to the truth of God, they prefer to obey the dictates of their unrighteous hearts. Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil- indignation is God’s attitude toward sin; wrath, the expression of that attitude in judgement; tribulation, what man experiences when God’s wrath is upon him; anguish, the extremity of that suffering because of wrath. “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” Matthew 24:51. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God”, Hebrews 10:31. Of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile- the Jew will be “first” in judgement because of his sin despite great privileges, see Matthew 12:41,42. Note that none are exempt from judgement, for God does not leave Himself without witness, Acts 14:17, and his eternal power and Godhead are clearly seen in creation, so men are without excuse, Romans 1:19,20.
2:10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile- glory and honour were linked with immortality in verse 7, but now with peace. The apostle first describes the turmoil and agitation of the lost in the Lake of Fire, and now contrasts it with the peace that those who know God shall enjoy eternally.
2:11 For there is no respect of persons with God- as Peter said, “of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him”, Acts 10:34,35.
3 (c) THE JUDGEMENT OF GOD IS ACCORDING TO RESPONSIBILITY
2:12 For as many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law- this does not mean men will perish in a lawless, unprincipled way, but rather, that they will perish without being called to account for having broken the written set of laws given to Israel at Sinai. Gentiles will not be judged for breaking a law they did not know about. They will perish, however, for sinning, if they did not repent, for they have the work of the law written in their hearts, verse 15. And as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law- the Jew had the law given to him at Sinai, and that will be the test for him. See John 5:45. This is one of the reasons why the unrepentant Jew will have priority in judgement, verse 9.
The apostle now shows in verses 13-15 the principles upon which Gentiles will be judged. First, they will be judged for what their works were, verse 13. Second, they will be judged according to the fact that they had a knowledge of what the law demands not only because of what they were by nature, as God created them in His image, verses 14 and 15, but also because of what they were since the Fall, with the knowledge of good and evil, verse 15.
2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified- if it were possible to be justified by works, (and it is not, see 3:20), then it would be by actually doing them, not by hearing commands to do them.
2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law- “Do by nature” means by inbuilt moral instinct, implanted in man when he was made in the image and after the likeness of God, Genesis 1:26, and inherited at birth. This instinct still remains, despite the Fall, but is generally stifled in relation to self, but not so much in relation to other’s sins, verse 1. These, having not the law, are a law unto themselves- by the process described in verse 15, where heart and conscience argue the case, and reach a verdict, thus legislating for themselves.
2:15 Which show the work of the law written in their hearts- even Gentiles know instinctively that the law of God is to be translated into action. The law written on their hearts expects a response in good works. Their conscience also bearing witness- conscience is that faculty of mind which is able to distinguish between right and wrong. And their thoughts meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another)- a debate goes on between the heart (which knows what should be done because God’s law is written there), and conscience, (which gives its verdict on what is done), and the result is either self-accusation or self-excuse. So the individual Gentile applies the law unto himself, even though he does not possess a written code, and by so doing is a law to himself. The apostle now resumes his line of thought from verse 12.
3 (d) THE JUDGEMENT OF GOD IS ACCORDING TO THE GOSPEL
2:16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel- the full revelation of how God will judge men is set out in the gospel, forming the dark background against which the announcement of the person and work of Christ is made. Just as Gentiles will not be judged according to a law they were never given, so they will not be judged by a gospel they never heard. Rather, the apostle is saying here that the judgement of God is made known now in the gospel. As we have seen, the Gentiles will be judged by their reaction to the light they had, whether from creation or conscience.