“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;”

 And even as they did not like to”
 Literally:  “And even as they did not think fit; did not approve”–It would, perhaps, be more literal to translate this Greek phrase as They did not search to retain God in their  knowledge.”

How men of such powers and learning, as many of the Greek and Roman philosophers and poets really were, could reason so falsely concerning things moral and Divine is truly astonishing.  But here we see the hand of a just and avenging God; men abused their powers, and God deprived them of the right use of these powers.        

          EVEN AS:  (Grk.–kathōs)--Literally:  “just as, in as much as, because, to the degree of.” Paul now presents the correlation between the sin and the punishment.

           DID NOT LIKE:  (Grk.–edokimasan)–From the Greek word dokimazō, which means, “to put on trial.”  The human race had put God on trial, and because it rejected Him after the trial, God gave it a trialess mind.

Denney says, “As they did not think it fit, after trial made to keep God in their knowledge, God gave them up to a mind which cannot stand trial.”  Humanity had pronounced God “disapproved” and would have nothing to do with Him, so He in turn gave them up to a disapproved mind;  a mind which is really no mind and cannot discharge the functions of one; a mind in which the divine distinction of right and wrong are confused and even lost. 

“retain God in their knowledge”
Literally:  “to to have God in {their} knowledge”–This was the true source of their crimes. They did not choose to acknowledge God.  It  was not because they could not, but because they would not retain knowledge of God. So they chose to forsake Him, and to follow their own passions and lusts.     

And even as they rejected Him after trial. They tested God at first and turned aside from Him and cast out knowledge of Him.  The human race put God to the test for the purpose of approving Him if He met the specifications which they laid down; and finding that He did not come up to their specifications, humanity refused to retain any knowledge of Him.

          KNOWLEDGE:  (Grk.–epignōsis)–Literally: “full and precise knowledge.”  A.T. Robertson says, “They had a dim memory that was a caricature.  “God gave them up”–This is the third      time that we find this phrase (vv. 24, 26, here in v. 28).  The holiness of God is  absolute , and He cannot look upon sin in any form.

God even turned away from the Lord Jesus Christ when He was dying on the cross because He had become sin itself; because the sins of the world had been placed on Him. This absolute holiness of God would not allow Him to even look with favor upon His “only begotten Son” when He had become the sin-bearer.  Knowing this, we can see that God had no recourse other than to abandon mankind when it went into hellish ways of frightful sin.  Men abandoned God, so His holiness gave Him no recourse other than to abandon them.         

“God gave them over”           
Literally:  “God gave them up”–This is the third time that we see where God gave men up. See (vv. 19-20) 

By repeating this phrase three times, the Holy Spirit is calling special attention to this action of God.  This time God we are told what God gave them over to.  Here we see that mankind was delivered to itself, and the consequent practice of those things that are shameful; not convenient, forbidden.

“to a reprobate mind”
Literally: “To a disapproving mind.”  They did not examine the evidences before of His being and attributes; therefore God gave them over to a REPROBATE mind; to an
UNSEARCHING, or undiscerning mind; for it is the same word in both places.

        REPROBATE MIND(Grk.–adokimos nous)–A mind that is really no mind at all; to a mind that cannot discharge the functions of one; a mind in which the divine distinctions of   right and wrong are confused and even lost.  The Greek word nous refers to not only reason, but rather to conscience.  When this is perverted, the last step to evil has been reached.

A mind destitute of judgment.  Several expositors have made some unique renderings of this verse.  Alford translates it as, “Because they reprobated the knowledge of God, God gave them over to a reprobate mind.”    And Conybeare translates it, “As they thought fit to cast out the knowledge of God, God gave them over to an outcast mind.”  Simply stated, “To a mind disapproved of God, since they did not approve knowing Him.”  Wuest Word Studies in the N.T. say, “The human race put God on trial and because it reject Him after trial, God gives it a ‘trialess’ mind.” 

It does not mean that they were reprobate by any arbitrary decree; but that, as a consequence of their headstrong passions and their determination to forget Him, God left them to a state of mind which was evil, and which He could never approve. Here we see the hand of a just and avenging God; they abused their powers, and God deprived them of the right use of these powers.

 “to do those things which are not convenient”
  Literally:  “To do the things not being right, fitting.”  To do the things which are not fit or proper; that is, things that ar
e disgraceful and shameful; not decent or honorable.

                        CONVENIENT:  (Grk.–kathēkō)–Literally:  “it is becoming; it is fitting.” 

Robertson says, “Like an old abandoned building, the home of bats and snakes, left ‘to do those things which are not fitting’ like the night clubs of modern cities, the dives and dens of the underworld, without God and in the darkness of unrestrained animal impulses.  This was a technical term with Stoics.”  Paul begins to enumerate those things in the remainder OF this chapter. Even the vilest of acts, like those named in verses 29-31.

In these verses are seen three things:
1.      Nine phases or developments of human sin (v. 29).
2.      The kind of people it makes (vv. 29-31).
3.      The fearful human conspiracy or disagreement of wickedness of man against God (v. 32).

“Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers”

“Being filled”
Literally: “Having been filled.”–This is a Greek perfect participle, meaning an action completed in the past but having present results.  The characteristics of those given over to a reprobate mind are here on to be described.

The things which Paul specifies were common, or even abounded among them. This is a strong phrase, denoting that these things were so often practiced as that it might be said they were full of them.

unrighteousness(Grk.–adikiai)–This is a word denoting injustice, or iniquity in general; that is, every vice contrary to justice and righteousness. The particular specifications of the iniquity follow.         

“fornication” (Grk.–porneiai)–This word here denotes all commerce between the sexes   out of the bounds of lawful marriage; all illicit sexual intercourse. This was a common and     almost universal sin among the ancients as it is among the moderns.

The word denotes ALL illicit intercourse. That this was a common crime among the ancient heathen it would be easy to show. As is in America today, so it was in that Greco-Roman culture that marriage and marriage vows meant nothing. 

“wickedness(Grk.–ponēriai)–This word denotes a desire of injuring others; or, as we   would express it, malice; malignity, that which is oppressive to its possessor and to its object.  It is that depravity and twistedness of mind which strives to produce injury on others.

“covetousness” (Grk.–pleonexiai)–Avarice, or simply, greed; the desire of obtaining that which belongs to others.  Paul uses this word in Eph. 6:12 for the followers of Satan in the  spiritual realm.

This vice is probably the most common in the world; but it would be particularly so where the other vices enumerated here abounded, and men were desirous of luxury, and the gratification of their senses. 

“maliciousness(Grk.–kakiai)–This Greek word means evil in itself; malice or ill-will; what is radically and essentially vicious.  It denotes evil in general; the evil desire rather than the      actual act of doing wrong which was expressed before by the word wickedness

            “full of envy”–pain felt and malignity conceived at the sight of excellence or happiness in another.

                      FULL:  (Grk.–mestos)–Literally:  “stuffed.”

           ENVY:   (Grk.–phthonos)–Literally:  “spite; jealousy; envy.”  Meaning, “to wither, decay, consume, pines away, etc.”    Envy is the hate that arises in the heart toward one who is    above us, who is what we are not, or possesses that which we cannot have, or do not choose the path to attain.

“Pain, uneasiness, mortification or discontent, excited by another's prosperity, accompanied with some degree of hatred or malignity, and often with a desire or an effort to depreciate the person, and with pleasure in seeing him depressed,” Webster. This passion is so common now, that it is not necessary to attempt to prove that it was common among the ancients.  It seems to be natural to the human heart, it is one of the most common manifestations of wickedness, and shows clearly the deep depravity of man. Benevolence rejoices at the happiness of others, and seeks to promote it;  but envy exists almost everywhere, and in almost every human bosom. “All human virtue, to its latest breath, finds envy never conquered but by death." Pope.

“murder” (Grk.–phonos)–The taking of human life, with premeditated malice, by a person of a sane mind.”  Taking away the life of another by any means; mortal hatred; for he that hates his brother in his heart is a murderer.  

         This is necessary to constitute murder now; but the word used here denotes all manslaughter, or taking human life, except that which occurs as the punishment of crime (that is, government executing a  murderer under the God ordained and God commanded death penalty).
            It is scarcely necessary to show that this was common among the Gentiles. It has prevailed in all communities, but it was particularly prevalent in Rome. It is necessary only to refer the reader to the common events in the Roman history of assassinations, deaths by poison, and the destruction of slaves. But in a special manner the charge was properly alleged against them, on account of the inhuman contests of the gladiators in the amphitheaters.
            These were common at Rome, and constituted a favorite amusement with the people. The fondness for this bloody spectacle continued till the reign of Constantine the Great, who abolished this practice about six hundred years after the original institution.

“Several hundred, perhaps several thousand, victims were annually slaughtered in the great cities of the empire,”  Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap. ,xxx.,  As an instance of what might occur in this inhuman spectacle, we may refer to what took place on such an occasion in the reign of Probus, (A.D. 281.) During his triumph, near seven hundred gladiators were reserved to shed each other's blood for the amusement of the Roman people. But “disdaining to shed their blood for the amusement of the populace, they killed their keepers, broke from their place of confinement, and filled the streets of Rome with blood and confusion,” Gibbon's Decline and Fall, chap. xii. With such views and with such spectacles before them, it is not a matter of wonder that murder was regarded as a matter of little consequence, and hence this crime prevailed throughout the world.

            “debate” (Grk.–epidos)–That is, contention, discord, etc. Of this vile passion the Greeks  made a goddess.  

Our English word “debate” does not imply evil as this Greek word does.  Our word just denotes discussion for expounding truth; or for maintaining a proposition, as the debates in Congress, etc.  But   the word in the original meant also “contention, strife, altercation,” and was connected with anger and heated zeal, (see 13:13; I Cor. 1:11; 3:3; II Cor. 12:20; Gal. 5:20. Phil. 1:15; I Tim. 6:4; Titus 3:9). This contention and strife would, of course, follow from malice and covetousness, etc.   

“deceit” (Grk.–dolos)–That is, lying, falsity, prevarication, imposition, etc.; from the Greek verb deleazō, meaning “to take with a bait, to entice, lure, trap.”

            This denotes fraud, falsehood, etc. That this was common is also quite clear. The Cretians are testified by one of the Greek poets to have been always liars. (Titus 1:12.) The Roman writer Juvenal charges the same thing on the Romans. (Sat. iii. 41.) “What, says he, should I do at Rome? I cannot lie.”  Intimating that if he were there, it would follow, of course, that he would be expected to be false.
            The same thing is still true now.  There was once a time here in America when a business transaction could be accomplished with a mere handshake; now no one dares make any sort of contract without first having a gaggle of attorneys checking and rechecking everything about it.

“malignity” (Grk.–kakontheias)–from kakos, meaning “evil,” and ethos meaning “a custom, a practice;”–that is, “bad customs, bad practices;” founded in corrupt sentiment, producing evil habits, supported by general usage.

This is generally interpreted, as a “malignity of mind,” which leads its possessor to put the worst construction on every action; ascribing to the best deeds the worst motives.   This word signifies denotes, not just malignity in general, but that particular species of malignity which consists in misinterpreting the words or actions of others, or putting the worst construction on their conduct. 

“whisperers” (Grk.–psithuristēs)–Literally: “one who bears harmful gossip against       another; a tale-bearer.”  That is, detractors; those who, under pretended secrecy, carry about accusations against their neighbors, whether true or false; destroying the reputations of others by clandestine tittle-tattle. Those who secretly defame others.

This word should be joined to the succeeding verse. Those who secretly, and in a sly manner, by hints and innuendoes, detract from others, or excite suspicion of them.  It does not mean those who openly slander, but that more dangerous class who give hints of evil in others, who affect great knowledge, and communicate the evil report under an injunction of secrecy, knowing that it will be divulged. This class of people abounds everywhere, and there is scarcely any one more dangerous to the peace or happiness of society.  Simply speaking, such are character assassins.

“Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents.”

“backbiters” (Grk.–katalaIas)–Literally:  “slanderers.”  Those who slander, or speak ill of those who are absent.  Whisperers declare secretly, and with great reserve, the supposed faults of others while backbiters proclaim them publicly and avowedly. Such as speak against others behind their back.

“haters of God” (Grk.–Theostugēs)–Literally, “God haters.”  There is no charge which can be brought against men more severe than this. 

This is the highest possible crime; a crime against the Person of eternal God Himself; yet it is a charge which the conduct of men will abundantly justify, and the truth of which all those experience who are brought to see their true character. To an awakened sinner there is often nothing more plain and painful than that he is a hater of God. His heart rises up against Him, and His law, and His plan of saving men.  No more striking proof of depravity could be given; and in no creed or confession of faith is there a more painful and humiliating representation given of human wickedness than in this declaration of an inspired apostle, that men are by nature HATERS OF GOD.

“despiteful” (Grk.–hubristēs)–This word denotes those who abuse, or treat with unkindness or disdain; those who are present to treat with injurious insolence; stormy, boisterous; abusing both the characters and persons of those over whom they can have any power; character assassins.  Whisperers and backbiters are both those who tear down those who are absent. 

“proud”  (Grk.–hyperephanos)–Pride is well understood.  It is an inordinate self-esteem; an unreasonable conceit of one's superiority in talents, beauty, wealth, accomplishments, etc.

Of the existence of this everywhere there is abundant proof. And it was particularly striking among the ancients. The sect of the Stoics was distinguished for it, and this was the general character of their philosophers. They are those who are continually exalting themselves and depressing others; magnifying themselves at the expense of their neighbors; and wishing all men to receive their sayings as oracles.

“boasters” (Grk.–alazonas)–from lazomai, meaning, “to assume; self-assuming, vain-   glorious,” and arrogant men.  Empty pretenders, swaggerers, braggarts; self-assuming, vain-glorious, and arrogant men.

That is, those who arrogate to themselves that which they do not possess, and glory in it. This is closely connected with pride. A man who has an inordinate self-conceit, will not be slow to proclaim his own merits to those around him.

“inventors of evil things”
Literally:  “devisers of evil things”–This probably refers to their seeking to find out new ways or plans to practice evil; new devices to gratify their lusts and passions; new forms of luxury and vice, etc.

          In cities of luxury and vice, this has always been done.  Vices change their form, men become satiated, and they are obliged to resort to some new form. The passions cease to be gratified with old forms of indulgence, and consequently men are seem forced to resort to new devices to pamper their appetites, and to rekindle their dying passions to a flame.
         This was eminently true of ancient Rome; a place where all the arts of luxury, all the devices of passion, all the designs of splendid gratification, were called forth to excite and pamper the evil passions of men. Their splendid entertainments, their games, their theatres, their sports–cruel and bloody–were little else than new and ever-varying inventions of evil things to gratify the desires of lust and of pride. The Greeks, especially the Athenians, were noted for their always seeking some new thing.

“disobedient to parents”–This expresses the idea that they did not show to parents that honor, or respect, and attention which was due them.

          This has been a crime of paganism in every age; and as America has become more pagan and anti-Christian, this malady is now sweeping our young people. Among the Romans the duty of honoring parents was enjoined by the laws, yet it is not improbable that the duty was often violated, and that parents were treated with great neglect and even contempt. Paul also lists this as one of the problems and/or harbingers of the Last Days (II Tim. 3:2).

“Disobedience to parents was punished by the Jewish law with death; and with the Hindus it is attended with the loss of the child's inheritance. The ancient Greeks considered the neglect of it to be extremely impious, and attended with the most certain effects of Divine vengeance. Solon ordered all persons who refused to make due provision for their parents to be punished with infamy, and the same penalty was incurred for personal violence towards them.” Kent's Commentaries on American Law, vol. ii. pg. 207.

The feelings of pride and haughtiness would lead to disregard of parents. It might also be felt that to provide for them when aged and infirm was a burden; and hence there would arise disregard for their wants, and probably open opposition to their wishes, as being the demands of petulance and age. It has been one characteristic of heathenism everywhere, that it leaves children to treat their parents with neglect.  Though filial affection was certainly more recommended and cultivated than many other virtues, yet there are many instances on record of the grossest violation of this great branch of the law of nature.