Romans 1:18-21 Commentary

Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
Rom 1:19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
Rom 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
Rom 1:21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

This passage illustrates the interplay of concepts of God’s culpability-based justice, emotional reactions, range of response to human behavior, and God’s frustration with human kind. It is important to understand how these concepts work together to form a holistic picture of God:

1. This illustrates that guilt is based on knowledge/culpability. The people “know” better, yet they reject God. This makes them culpable for punishment.
2. God’s strong emotions are illustrated.
3. God’s strong emotions are linked to culpability. Because the people know better, God becomes angry that they did not respond appropriately.
4. God responds to human actions. There is an if-then-else flow through this passage. The people know better but reject God. This causes God to react in anger. God then “gives them up” (v24). God is not acting unilaterally or without cause, but based on unfolding events.

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