“For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.”

            FOR:  (Grk.–gar)–Again Paul uses this transitional word connecting this discussion with the proposition of vv. 16-17.  He is about to explain what he just said in verse 17. 

         This verse begins Paul’s main argument of the epistle–his argument designed to establish the proposition that he has given in verse 17.  The proposition is that God’s plan of justification is revealed in the Gospel; but in order to show this, it was necessary to show that all other plans had failed, and there was need of some new plan to save men. All men are sinners-“All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23); therefore, all men require this mode of justification, for and therefore exposed to God’s wrath (v. 18).   This alone shows the need for the gospel:  because all men are sinners, and God is angry with sin.
         There is no other way of obtaining life and salvation. Having laid down his proposition in vv. 16-17, Paul now enters upon the proof of it.  His first argument is, the Law condemns all men, as being under sin.  Therefore, no one is justified by the works of the Law (Paul goes into this  in 3:20), therefore, justification must be by faith. 

“the wrath of God”
Literally:  “God’s wrath”–God’s utter abhorrence of sin and aversion to those who live in it. It is a natural result of His perfect purity and holiness.  Not punishment, but the personal emotion of God Himself (see John 3:36)
1.      It is God’s feeling, not His punishment of sin;
2.      It is His holy anger. 
3.      It is a necessary result of His absolute holiness and perfection.
         Actually, if you want to know what salvation really is, you must first know how bad sin is.

         WRATH:  (Grk.–orge) is from orgō which means, “to teem; to swell.”  It is the temper of God towards sin, not rage, but the wrath of reason and law. The revelation of God's righteousness in the gospel was necessary because of the failure of men to attain it without it, for God's wrath justly rested upon all both Gentiles and Jews (1:18-32).

Paul has finished his preface, and now has come to the grand subject of this epistle; namely, to show the absolute need of the Gospel of Christ, because of the universal corruption of mankind; which was so great as to incense the justice of God, and call aloud for the punishment of the world. 
1.      He shows that all the heathen nations were utterly corrupt, and deserved this threatened punishment.
         This is basically the subject of the first chapter, from verse 18 to the end of the chapter.

2.      He shows that the Jews, notwithstanding the greatness of their privileges, were no better than the Gentiles.
         Therefore, the wrath of God was revealed against them also.  This subject he treats in 2:1-29 and 3:1-19. 

         “is revealed”
          Literally:  “Is being revealed” (present perfect tense).

         The fact that this is in the present participle shows that this revealing is still going on.  That is, is being revealed to the Jews by their Law; and to the Gentiles in their reason, and conscience, as Paul proceeds to show. Revealed in the consciences of men, and attested by innumerable outward evidences of a  moral government.    
         This is God’s answer to those who say that the O.T. presents a “God of wrath,” while the N.T. presents a “God of love.”   There is a continuous revelation of the wrath of God in both the Old and New Testaments.  It is revealed in our contemporary society God never changes–“For I am the LORD, I change not…” (Mal. 3:6).  He is merciful, not because He is lenient with the sinner, but because Christ died for them.  The Gospel has NOT changed God’s attitude toward sin;.  on the contrary, it has made it possible for God to accept the sinner. 

“from heaven.”–From the seat of all truth, law and government.  This speaks of the majesty of   Him whose wrath is revealed, His all-seeing eye, and the extent of His wrath: whatever is  under heaven is under the effects of His wrath, believers in Christ excepted. A man must have either the wrath of God or the righteousness of God; it is either-or.  Both are revealed from heaven.

This expression means simply that the Divine displeasure against sin has been, and is being made known by God.  This making known is by an arrangement of events, communications, and arguments which show that they have had their origin in heaven; or are divine,  How this revealing is being done, Paul proceeds to innumerate: in the works of creation, and in the Law which the Hebrews  had.

“against all ungodliness”
Literally:  “on all ungodliness”– This is direct disregard of God; which the
Jews would never consider themselves to be guilty of, since they had the Law

        UNGODLINESS: (Grk.–asebeia)–Literally:  “lack of reverence, impiety, atheism, polytheism, idolatry”–sins directly against God Himself.  This Greek word does not occur anywhere else in the N.T.   Ungodliness is the sin which denies the character of God; as in the sacrilege of today!  There are multitudes today who disregard, or deny, the very existence of God.

         This is an old word for irreligion.  Ungodliness is failure to honor the true God, and paying to idols the homage which is due only to Him. That is, lack of reverence toward God; or their living without any conscious reference to God, and proper feelings towards Him—sins directly against God.  The guilt of men and women’s ignorance of God is emphasized here; it is a deliberate ignorance.  They had the knowledge of God available to them, but, “did not like to retain God in {their} knowledge…” (v. 28).  The truth of God was available to them, but they suppressed it and embraced the “lie” in preference to it.
         Multitudes in every age refuse to honor Him, and willfully neglect His worship, though they may not even be idolaters. Many men suppose that if they do not neglect their duty to their fellow-men, if they are honest and upright in their dealings, they are not guilty, even though they are not righteous, or do not do their duty to God.  They seem to think it was lesser crime to dishonor God than man; as though it was innocence to neglect and disobey our Maker and Redeemer. 
         Paul here shows that the wrath of God is as much revealed against the neglect of God as it is against willful iniquity against Him; and that this is an offence so abhorrent to God as to be placed first, and as deserving the Divine indignation more than the neglect of our duties towards men.

“unrighteousness of men”Lack of right conduct against fellow men; injustice (9:14; Luke 18:6). This natural follows as a result of irreverence. The basis of ethical conduct rests on the  nature of God and our attitude toward him, otherwise the law of the junglei.e., “might makes right.

    UNRIGHTEOUSNESS:  (Grk.–adikia)–This is sin against  man , while ungodliness is sin against God.  It is the denial of the rule of God; the action of the soul; this un-righteousness has reference to wickedness of conduct, in itself and toward other men. 

         Unrighteousness includes immorality, homosexuality, drunkenness, debauchery, etc. The man who gets drunk, goes out on the highway, breaks the traffic laws, and kills someone—that man is unrighteous.  He is sinning against man.  Another example is the man who is dishonest in his business dealings.    
         God hates man’s unrighteousness.  He will JUDGE it.  He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world, including all its inhabitants. That is as much a part of the gospel as is the promise of Heaven for the believer.  The Bible is full of the anguished cries of godly men to God pleading to know when He will put down sinful men–“Have respect unto the covenant:  for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty” (Psalm 74).

“who hold the truth”
Literally:  “Holding down; repressing the truth.”  A.T. Robertson remarked that the truth is out in the open, but wicked men, so to speak, have put it in a box and sit on the lid and “hold it down in unrighteousness.”

Their evil deeds conceal the open truth of God from men.  They hold it back; by their very wickedness they hinder the Gospel from taking effect.  Their yielding was the cause why the truth had had so little progress among then, and had exerted so little influence.  This was done by their yielding to corrupt passions and desires, and by their being unwilling to retain the knowledge of a pure and holy God Who is opposed to such deeds, and Who will punish them.  As they were determined to practice iniquity, they chose to exclude the knowledge of a pure God, and to worship impure idols by which they might give sanctions to their lusts.

         HOLD:  (Grk.–katechontn)–This is a compound word sometimes meaning, “to hold fast; to hold down; to hinder; to repress; to suppress.” Holding down the truth.”–The same things are substantially true now.  Their evil deeds conceal the open truth of God from men. Men hold back or restrain the truth of the gospel by their sins in the following ways:
1.      Men of influence and wealth employ both in directly opposing the gospel.
2.      Men directly resist the doctrines of Christianity, since they know they could not hold to these doctrines without abandoning their sins.
3.      Men who resolve to live in sin resist the gospel and endeavor to prevent its influence.
4       Pride, and vanity, and the love of the world also resist the gospel and oppose its advances.
5.     Unlawful business—businesses that being in evil and progresses and ends in evil—has this tendency to hold back the gospel. 
        Such is the effect of the traffic in drugs, ardent spirits, in the slave trade, etc.

6.      Indulgence in vice, or wickedness of any kind holds back, or hinders, the truth of God.
         Men who have resolved to indulge their passions will not yield themselves to this truth.

        Some expositors think this phrase refers to the conduct of their best philosophers, such as Socrates, Plato, Seneca, etc., who knew much more of the Divine nature than they thought safe or prudent to discover; and who acted in many things contrary to the light which they enjoyed.
         Others think this to be spoken of the Gentiles in general, who either did know, or might have known, much of God from the works of creation, as Paul intimates in the following verses.  Some others contend that the Greek verb katechō here does not signify to hold, but to hinder; and that the phrace should be translated, “who through maliciousness hinder the truth;” i.e., prevent it from taking hold of their hearts, and from governing their conduct.

            TRUTH: (Grk.–alētheian)–The truth of God; moral and religious truth, as in all God’s revelations. Almost all men know more truth than they wish to obey. They may call themselves,“truth seekers,” but would they attend a meeting where Paul was preaching the facts of this first chapter of Romans?


“Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.”–In the previous passages Paul was presenting the relationship with God into which people can enter through the faith which is submission and trust.  In contrast with that he now presents the wrath of God which men and women must incur if they are deliberately blind to God.          

“Because that which may be known of God”
Literally:  “Because the thing known of God”– Because the knowledge of God is opened; displayed among them. 

         That which is knowable concerning God; those great principles which are indispensably necessary to be known; i.e., the character of God as manifested in His works.  There are many things which may be ascertained, such as:  His existence; many of His attributes;  His power, His wisdom; His justice; etc. 
         Although the Gentiles had no written revelation, yet what may be known of God is manifested, or displayed, everywhere among them, God having made a clear discovery of Himself to them.  For His being and perfections, invisible to our bodily eyes, have been, ever since the creation of the world, evidently to be seen, if attentively considered, in the visible beauty, order, and operations observable in the constitution and parts of the universe; especially His eternal power and universal dominion and providence: so that they cannot plead ignorance as an excuse of their idolatry and wickedness.

                 BECAUSE:  (Grk.–dioti)-Literally:  “for that; which is.”  Because of the revelation of God's wrath. 

Paul now proceeds to show how it was that the heathen hindered the truth by their iniquity.  This he does by showing that the truth might be known by the works of creation; and that nothing but their iniquity prevented it. This sustains the assertion of verse 13, that they possessed the truth; they once had the knowledge of God.          

        MANIFESTED:  (Grk.–phaneros)-“Is shown; is understood, apparent; evident, known.”  Paul contends that men cannot plead ignorance of God for it has always been possible to see what He is like from His works; from His world.

“in them”
Literally:  “Among them.”–In their hearts and conscience. They had this knowledge, or it has been communicated to them.  The great mass of the heathen world was ignorant of the true God, but their leaders, or their philosophers, had this knowledge.

“God hath showed it to them”
Literally:  “For God revealed {it} to them.”–By the light which enlightens every man that comes into the world.  God had endowed men with reason and conscience. He had made them capable of seeing and investigating His works.  He had spread before them the proofs of His wisdom, goodness, power and had thus given them the means of learning His perfection and will. The sense of this statement the apostle proceeds to unfold in 1:20. 

        SHOWN:  (Grk.–ephanerōse)–Literally: “has been revealed; displayed.”–Through the light of the created universe God has revealed Himself as Creator and God to the human race.

“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.”

“For the invisible things of Him”
Literally:  “For the unseen things of Him”--How can invisible things be seen? 

         One example:  the smallest thing that man has ever been able to see is a benzene molecule in an electron microscope.  But scientists had been able to see and photograph the track of atomic particles in cloud chambers, and therefore know they exist, although they are invisible to us. They are able to observe the effects of their movement and to formulate laws regarding atomic particles. What God is, is really invisible to us, but we know about what He is by His works.
        Paul makes this a paradox purposely to impress upon his readers that the “dim light of nature” is a man-made falsehood. His invisible perfections are manifested by His visible works, and may be apprehended by what He has made; their immensity showing His omnipotence, their vast variety and contrivance, His omniscience; and their adaptation to the most beneficent purposes, His infinite goodness and philanthropy.
        The expression, “the invisible things of Him” refers to those things which cannot be perceived by the senses.  It does not imply that there are things pertaining to the divine character which may be seen by the eye; but that there are things which may be known of Him, though not discoverable by the eye.  We judge the objects around us by the senses:  the sight, the touch, the ear, etc.  Paul tell us that though we cannot judge thus of God, yet there is a way by which we may come to the knowledge of Him.

“from the creation of the world”
Literally:  “from {the} creation of{the} world”–This may mean, “since,” or it may denote, “by means of.” 
God has been known as an historical fact; God has been known since the act of creation; God is known by means of the material universe which He has formed.

The universe in which we live tells two things about God:  His Person and His power.  The psalmist said, “When I consider Thy heavens and the works of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou has ordained” (Psalm 8:3); and “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork” (Psalm 19:1).  This has been seen from the time the world was created. 

              CREATION:  (Grk.–kiiseōs)–This may refer either to the act of creating, or it may refer to the thing created:  i.e., the world, the universe.  In this latter sense it is used often in the N.T.

         “are clearly seen”
         Literally:  “Are made manifest; may be perceived.”  It is the mind beholding what the eye cannot discern; seen by the
eye of the mind. 

            CLEARLY SEEN:  (Grk.–kathoratai)–This Greek word may also be rendered as   “clearly perceived.”  This is the only place in the N.T. that this word is used. 

We judge of the objects around us by the senses, the sight, the touch, the ear, etc. Paul affirms, that though we cannot judge God by these, yet there is a way by which we may come to the knowledge of Him. What Paul means by the invisible things of God he specifies at the close of the verse: His eternal power and Godhead. The affirmation extends only to that; and the argument implies that that was enough to leave men without any excuse for their sins.

“being understood”
Literally:  “Being realized.”  God’s perfections may be investigated and comprehended by means of His works.   They are the evidences submitted to our intellects, by which we may     arrive at the true knowledge of God.

 “by the things that are made”
Literally:  “By the things made,”–By means of His
works (compare with Heb. 11:3). 

How long since you have gone out and gazed at the moon and stars, made by our blessed God, existing in such quiet glory, beauty, power and order?  Men know, if they care to know, that an infinite Majesty made and controls this.  Paul is showing that so much might be known of God as to prove that they had no excuse for their crimes.

“by His works” (comp. Heb. 11:3).–This means not by the original act of creation, but by the continual operations of God in His Providence, by His doings; by what He is continually producing and accomplishing in the displays of His power and goodness in the heavens and the earth. 

         His invisible perfections are manifested by His visible works, and may be apprehended by what He has made; their immensity showing His omnipotence, their vast variety and contrivance, His omniscience; and their adaptation to the most beneficent purposes, His infinite goodness and philanthropy.
        What they were capable of understanding Paul immediately adds, and shows that he did not intend to affirm that everything could be known of God by His works; but so much as to free them from excuse for their sins. Understand: the outward creation is not the parent but the interpreter of our faith in God. That faith has its primary sources within our own breast (v. 19); but it becomes an intelligible and articulate conviction only through what we observe around us (“by the things which are made,”).  There are the inner and the outer revelation of God; they complement each other, making up between them one universal and immovable conviction that God is.
        There is a story that Napoleon was on a warship in the Mediterranean on a star-lit night, and he passed a group of his officers who were mocking the idea of a God. Napoleon stopped, and sweeping his hand toward the stars, said, “Gentlemen, you must get rid of those first.”

         “even His eternal power”
         Literally:  “Both His eternal power.” Here are two things implied.

        1.      That the universe contains an exhibition of His power, or a display of that attribute which we call omnipotence;
        2.      That this power has existed from eternity, and of course implies an eternal existence in God. 

        EXTERNAL POWER:   (Grk.–aidos dunamis)–That all-powerful energy that ever was,  and ever will exist; so that, ever since there was a creation to be surveyed, there have     been intelligent beings to make that survey.

The majesty and grandeur of the heavens would strike their eye, and give full demonstration that they were the work of an infinitely great and glorious God.  But to us, under the full blaze of modern science, with our knowledge of the magnitude, and distances, and revolutions of the heavenly bodies, the proof of this power is much more grand and impressive. Equally clear is the proof that this power must have been eternal. If it had not always existed, it could in no way have been produced.   God's power was called forth at the creation.  He showed His omnipotence; and gave, by that one great act, eternal demonstration that He is almighty; and we may survey the proof of that, as clearly as if we had seen the operation of His hand there. The proof is not weakened because we do not see the process of creation constantly going on.  It is rather augmented by the fact that He sustains all things, and controls continually the vast masses of matter in the material worlds.

            GODHEAD:  (Grk.–theiotēs)–His Deity; Divinity; Divine nature, or essence.  This Greek word is not used anywhere else in the N.T. His acting as God in the government and support of the universe.   Its meaning cannot therefore be fixed by any `parallel passages. 

The Greek word (theiotēs) would be better rendered as, “Godhood,” instead of “Godhead.”  It signifies the sum-total of all His divine attributes. His works prove his being; the government and support of these works prove it equally.  Creation and providence form a two-fold demonstration of God,
1.      In the perfections of His nature; and,
2.      In the exercise of those perfections.

“so that they are without excuse”
Literally: “for them to be without excuse.”–This expresses a result—the result of the revelations that have gone before. God  has given them clear evidence of His existence and claims, that they have no excuse for their idolatry, and for hindering the truth by their iniquity.

         It is implied here that in order that men should be held responsible, they should have the means of knowledge; and that He does not judge them when their ignorance is involuntary, and the means of knowing the truth have not been communicated. But where men have these means within their reach, and will not avail themselves of them, all excuse is taken away.
         This was the case with the Gentile world. They had the means of knowing so much of God, as to show the folly of worshipping dumb idols. Comp. Isa. 44:8-20. They had also traditions respecting His perfections; and they could not plead for their crimes and folly that they had no means of knowing him. There is no excuse left for worshiping helpless idols. All their degeneracy being a voluntary departure from truth thus brightly revealed to the unsophisticated spirit.
         If this was true of the pagan world then, how much more is it true of the world now?  And especially how true and fearful is this, respecting that great multitude in Christian lands:
1.      Who have the Bible, and who never read it
2.      Who are within the reach of the sanctuary, and never enter it;
3.      Who are admonished by friends, and by the providences of God,
4.      Who regard it not;
5.      Who look upon the heavens, and even yet see no proof of the eternal power and Godhead of him who made them all!

It is sad truth to say that there are those who are informed of the discoveries of modern astronomy, and who yet do not seem to reflect that all these glories are proof of the existence of an eternal God; and who live in ignorance of Christianity as the heathen do, and in crimes as decided and malignant as disgraced the darkest ages of the world.  For such, there is no excuse, not even the shadow of excuse to be offered the Day of Judgment.  Nor is there is no fact more melancholy in our history, and no one thing that more proves the stupidity of men, than this sad forgetfulness of Him that made the heavens, even amid all the wonders and glories that have come fresh from the hand of God, and that everywhere speak His praise.