|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:18-25 The apostle begins to show that all mankind need the salvation of the gospel, because none could obtain the favour of God, or escape his wrath by their own works. For no man can plead that he has fulfilled all his obligations to God and to his neighbour; nor can any truly say that he has fully acted up to the light afforded him. The sinfulness of man is described as ungodliness against the laws of the first table, and unrighteousness against those of the second. The cause of that sinfulness is holding the truth in unrighteousness. All, more or less, do what they know to be wrong, and omit what they know to be right, so that the plea of ignorance cannot be allowed from any. Our Creator's invisible power and Godhead are so clearly shown in the works he has made, that even idolaters and wicked Gentiles are left without excuse. They foolishly followed idolatry; and rational creatures changed the worship of the glorious Creator, for that of brutes, reptiles, and senseless images. They wandered from God, till all traces of true religion must have been lost, had not the revelation of the gospel prevented it. For whatever may be pretended, as to the sufficiency of man's reason to discover Divine truth and moral obligation, or to govern the practice aright, facts cannot be denied. And these plainly show that men have dishonoured God by the most absurd idolatries and superstitions; and have degraded themselves by the vilest affections and most abominable deeds.
Verse 24. - Wherefore God (καὶ, here in the Textus Receptus, is ill supported) gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, to dishonour their own bodies between (rather, among) themselves. So τοῦ ἀτιμάζεσθαι, etc., is rendered in the Authorized Version. The verb, however, is probably passive, a middle use of it not being elsewhere found. In either ease the general meaning is the same. The genitive, τοῦ ἀτιμάζεσθαι, seems most naturally taken as denoting what the ἀκαθαρσία consisted in, rather than either the purpose or the results of their being given over to it (cf. ver. 26, where παρέδωκεν εἰς πάθη ἀτιμίας is followed by a description of what these were). Here is noticed a further stage of judicial degradation; the ματιαότης of idolatry, itself judicial, had its further judicial consequence in the ἀκαθαρσία of abominable sensuality. Similarly, in Ephesians 4, the ἐργασία ἀκαθαρσίας πάσης ἐν πλεονεξιᾳ, prevalent among the nations, is traced to their ματαιότης, in that they had become "alienated from the life of God." It is notorious that idolatrous worship was not uncommonly accompanied by debauchery; notably that of the Phoenician Astarte, and of Aphrodite and Dionysus (see Livy, 39:8, for an account of the Dionysus at one time in Rome; and Athen., 13. pp. 574, 579, and 14. p. 659, for the Aphrodisia at Athens and Corinth); cf. Numbers 25, etc., "The people joined themselves unto Baal-peor," and the allusion to it, 1 Corinthians 10:8. On that occasion no more is intimated than promiscuous intercourse between the two sexes, sinking men in that regard to the level of the brutes; but still worse "uncleanness" is in the apostle's view, such as sinks them even below that level; and how common such unnatural vices had become, and how lightly thought of, no one conversant with classical literature needs to be reminded.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness,.... Not by putting any into them, but by leaving them to the pollution of their nature; by withdrawing his providential restraints from them, and by giving them up to judicial hardness:
through the lusts of their own hearts. The heart of man is the source of all wickedness; the lusts that dwell there are many, and these tend to uncleanness of one sort or another: by it here is meant particularly bodily uncleanness, since it is said they were given up
to dishonour their own bodies between themselves; either alone, or with others; so that as they changed the glory of God, and dishonoured him, he left them to dishonour themselves by doing these things which were reproachful and scandalous to human nature.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
24. Wherefore God also—in righteous retribution.
gave them up—This divine abandonment of men is here strikingly traced in three successive stages, at each of which the same word is used (Ro 1:24, 26; and Ro 1:28, where the word is rendered "gave over"). "As they deserted God, God in turn deserted them; not giving them divine (that is, supernatural) laws, and suffering them to corrupt those which were human; not sending them prophets, and allowing the philosophers to run into absurdities. He let them do what they pleased, even what was in the last degree vile, that those who had not honored God, might dishonor themselves" [Grotius].
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