Romans 1:18
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
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(18) As a preliminary stage to this revelation of justification and of faith, there is another, which is its opposite—a revelation and disclosure of divine wrath. The proof is seen in the present condition both of the Gentile and Jewish world. And first of the Gentile world, Romans 1:18-32.

Revealed.—The revelation of righteousness is, while the Apostle writes, being made in the Person of Christ and in the salvation offered by Him. The revelation of wrath is to be inferred from the actual condition—the degradation doubly degraded—in which sin leaves its votaries.

From heaven.—The wrath of God is revealed “from heaven,” inasmuch as the state of things in which it is exhibited is the divinely-inflicted penalty for previous guilt. Against that guilt, shown in outrage against all religion and all morality, it is directed.

Ungodliness and unrighteousness.—These two words stand respectively for offences against religion and offences against morality.

Who hold the truth in unrighteousness.—Rather, who suppress and thwart the truth—the light of conscience that is in them—by unrighteousness. Conscience tells them what is right, but the will, actuated by wicked motives, prevents them from obeying its dictates. “The truth” is their knowledge of right, from whatever source derived, which finds expression in conscience. “Hold” is the word which we find translated “hinder” in 2Thessalonians 2:6-7—having the force of to hold down, or suppress.

Romans 1:18. For, &c. — There is no other way of obtaining righteousness, life, and salvation. Having laid down this proposition, the apostle now enters upon the proof it. His first argument is, the law, whether of nature or of supernatural revelation, condemns all men as having violated it, and as being under sin. No one, therefore, is justified by the works of the law. This is treated of to Romans 3:20. And hence he infers, therefore, justification is by faith. The wrath of God is revealed — Here and in the preceding verse mention is made of a two-fold revelation, of wrath and of righteousness: the former, little known to nature, is revealed by the law; the latter, wholly unknown to nature, by the gospel. The wrath of God, due to the sins of men, is also revealed by frequent and signal interpositions of divine providence; in all parts of the Sacred Oracles; by God’s inspired messengers, whether under the Jewish or Christian dispensations; and by the consciences of sinners, clearly teaching that God will severely punish all sin, whether committed against God or man; from heaven — This speaks the majesty of Him whose wrath is revealed, his all-seeing eye, his strict and impartial justice, and the extent of his wrath: whatever is under heaven, is under the effects of his wrath, believers in Christ excepted; against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men — He speaks chiefly of the heathen; and the term ungodliness seems especially to refer to their atheism, polytheism, and idolatry, comprehending, however, every kind and degree of impiety and profaneness; and unrighteousness includes their other miscarriages and vices, their offences against truth, justice, mercy, charity toward one another, with their various acts of intemperance and lewdness. According to which sense of the words, they are distinctly treated of by the apostle in the following verses. Who hold the truth in unrighteousness — Which word here includes ungodliness also; that is, who, in some measure at least, know the truth, but do not obey it, acting in opposition to their knowledge, and the conviction of their own consciences. Or, as the word κατεχοντων properly signifies, who detain, or imprison, as it were, the truth in unrighteousness. He thus expresses himself, because the truth made known, in some degree, struggles against men’s wickedness, reproves them for it, dissuades them from it, and warns them of punishment impending over it. All mankind, even the heathen, have been and are acquainted with many truths concerning moral duties, due to God, their fellow-creatures, and themselves. But, not hearkening to the voice of these truths, but resisting their influence, and disregarding their warnings, they have been and still are more or less involved in guilt, and exposed to condemnation and wrath. Dr. Macknight, who translates this clause, who confine the truth by unrighteousness, thinks the apostle speaks chiefly with a reference to the philosophers, legislators, and magistrates among the Greeks and Romans, who concealed the truth concerning God from the vulgar, by their unrighteous institutions. “The meaning,” says he, “is, that the knowledge of the one true God, the Maker and Governor of the universe, which the persons here spoken of had attained by contemplating the works of creation, they did not discover to the rest of mankind; but confined it in their own breasts as in a prison, by the most flagrant unrighteousness. For they presented, as objects of worship, beings which are not by their nature God; nay, beings of the most immoral characters; and by so doing, as well as by the infamous rites with which they appointed these false gods to be worshipped, they led mankind into the grossest errors, concerning the nature and attributes of the proper object of their worship. This corrupt form of religion, though extremely acceptable to the common people, was not contrived and established by them. In all countries they were grossly ignorant of God, and of the worship which he required. — They therefore could not be charged with the crime of concealing the truth concerning God. The persons guilty of that crime were the legislators, who first formed mankind into cities and states, and who, as the apostle observes, Romans 1:21, though they knew God, did not glorify him as God, by making him the object of the people’s worship, but unrighteously established polytheism and idolatry as the public religion. Of the same crime the magistrates and philosophers were likewise guilty, who, in after times, by their precepts and examples, upheld the established religion. Of this number were Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato, whom, therefore, we may suppose the apostle had here in his eye. For although these men had attained [in some degree] the knowledge of the true God, none of them worshipped him publicly, neither did they declare him to the people, that they might worship him. Plato himself held that the knowledge of the one God was not to be divulged. See Euseb., Præpar. Evang., lib. 10. cap. 9. And in his Timæus, he says expressly, ‘It is neither easy to find the Parent of the universe, nor safe to discover him to the vulgar, when found.’ The same conduct was observed by Seneca, as Augustine hath proved from his writings, De Civit. Dei., lib. 6. cap. 10. The same Augustine, in his book, De Vera Relig., cap. 5, blames the philosophers in general, because they practised the most abominable idolatries with the vulgar, although, in their schools, they delivered doctrines concerning the nature of the gods, inconsistent with the established worship.”

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.For - This word denotes that the apostle is about to give a reason for what he had just said. This verse commences the argument of the Epistle. an argument designed to establish the proposition advanced in Romans 1:17. The proposition is, that God's plan of justification is revealed in the gospel. To show this, it was necessary to show that all other plans had failed; and that there was need of some new plan or scheme to save people. To this he devotes this and the two following chapters. The design of this argument is, to show that people were sinners. And in order to make this out, it was necessary to show that they were under law. This was clear in regard to the Jews. They had the Scriptures; and the apostle in this chapter shows that it was equally clear in regard to the Gentiles, and then proceeds to show that both had failed of obeying the Law. To see this clearly it is necessary to add only, that there can be but two ways of justification conceived of; one by obedience to law, and the other by grace. The former was the one by which Jews and Gentiles had sought to be justified; and if it could be shown that in this they had failed, the way was clear to show that there was need of some other plan.

The wrath of God - ὀργὴ Θεοῦ orgē Theou. The word rendered "wrath" properly denotes that earnest appetite or desire by which we seek anything, or an intense effort to obtain it. And it is particularly applied to the desire which a man has to take vengeance who is injured, and who is enraged. It is thus synonymous with revenge. Ephesians 4:31, "let all bitterness, and wrath, etc.; Colossians 3:8, "anger, wrath, malice," etc.; 1 Timothy 2:8; James 1:19. But it is also often applied to God; and it is clear that when we think of the word as applicable to him, it must be divested of everything like human passion, and especially of the passion of revenge. As he cannot be injured by the sins of people Job 25:6, he has no motive for vengeance properly so called, and it is one of the most obvious rules of interpretation that we are not to apply to God passions and feelings which, among us, have their origin in evil.

In making a revelation, it was indispensable to use words which people used; but it does not follow that when applied to God they mean precisely what they do when applied to man. When the Saviour is said Mark 3:5 to have looked on his disciples with anger (Greek, "wrath," the same word is here), it is not to be supposed that he had the feelings of an implacable man seeking vengeance. The nature of the feeling is to be judged of by the character of the person. So, in this place, the word denotes the "divine displeasure" or "indignation" against sin; the divine purpose to "inflict punishment. It is the opposition of the divine character against sin;" and the determination of the divine mind to express that opposition in a proper way, by excluding the offender from the favors which he bestows on the righteous. It is not an unamiable, or arbitrary principle of conduct. We all admire the character of a father who is opposed to disorder, and vice, and disobedience in his family, and who expresses his opposition in a proper way.

We admire the character of a ruler who is opposed to all crime in the community, and who expresses those feelings in the laws. And the more he is opposed to vice and crime, the more we admire his character and his laws; and why shall we be not equally pleased with God, who is opposed to all crime in all parts of the universe, and who determines to express it in the proper way for the sake of preserving order and promoting peace? The phrase "divine displeasure" or "indignation," therefore, expresses the meaning of this phrase; see Matthew 3:7; Luke 3:7; Luke 21:23; John 3:36; Romans 2:5, Romans 2:8; Romans 3:5; Romans 4:15; Romans 5:9; Romans 9:22; Romans 12:19; Romans 13:4-5; Ephesians 2:3; Ephesians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:16, etc. The word occurs 35 times in the New Testament.

Is revealed - That is, revealed to the Jews by their Law; and to the Gentiles in their reason, and conscience, as the apostle proceeds to show.

From heaven - This expression I take to mean simply that the divine displeasure against sin is made known by a divine appointment; by an arrangement of events, communications, and arguments, which evince that they have had their origin in heaven; or are divine. How this is, Paul proceeds to state, in the works of creation, and in the Law which the Hebrews had. A variety of meanings have been given to this expression, but this seems the most satisfactory. It does not mean that the wrath will be sent from heaven; or that the heavens declare his wrath; or that the heavenly bodies are proofs of his wrath against sin; or that Christ, the executioner of wrath, will be manifest from heaven (Origen, Cyril, Beza, etc.); or that it is from God who is in heaven; but that it is by an arrangement which shows that it had its origin in heaven. or has proofs that it is divine.

Against all ungodliness - This word properly means "impiety" toward God, or neglect of the worship and honor due to him. ἀσέβειαν asebeian. It refers to the fact that people had failed to honor the true God, and had paid to idols the homage which was due to him. Multitudes also in every age refuse to honor him, and neglect his worship, though they are not idolaters. Many people 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; as though it were a less crime to dishonor God than man; and as though it were innocence to neglect and disobey our Maker and Redeemer. The apostle here shows that the wrath of God is as really revealed against the neglect of God as it is against positive iniquity; and that this is an offence of so much consequence as to be placed "first," and as deserving the divine indignation more than the neglect of our duties toward people; compare Romans 11:26; 2 Timothy 2:16; Titus 2:12; Jde 1:15, Jde 1:18. The word does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament.

Unrighteousness of men - Unrighteousness, or iniquity toward people. All offences against our neighbor, our parents. our country, etc. The word "ungodliness" includes all crimes against God; this, all crimes against our fellow-men. The two words express what comprehends the violation of all the commands of God; "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, etc. and thy neighbor as thyself," Matthew 22:37-40. The wrath of God is thus revealed against all human wickedness.

Who hold the truth - Who "keep back," or "restrain" the truth. The word translated "hold" here, sometimes means to "maintain," to "keep," to "observe" 1 Corinthians 7:30; 2 Corinthians 6:12; but it also means to "hold back, to detain, to hinder." Luke 4:42, "the people sought him (Jesus), and came to him, and stayed him." (Greek, the same as here.) Plm 1:13, "whom I would have "retained" with me," etc.; 2 Thessalonians 2:6, "and now ye know what "withholdeth," etc. In this place it means also that they held back, or restrained the truth, by their wickedness.

The truth - The truth of God, in whatever way made known, and particularly, as the apostle goes on to say, what is made known by the light of nature. The truth pertaining to his perfections, his Law, etc. They hold it back. or restrain its influence.

In unrighteousness - Or rather, by their iniquity. Their wickedness is the cause why the truth had had so little progress among them, and had exerted so little influence. This was done by their yielding to corrupt passions and propensities, and by their being therefore 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 a sanction to their lusts. Their vice and tendency to iniquity was, therefore, the reason why they had so little knowledge of a holy God; and by the love of this, they held back the truth from making progress, and becoming diffused among them.

The same thing is substantially true now. People hold back or resist the truth of the gospel by their sins in the following ways.

(1) people of influence and wealth employ both, in directly opposing the gospel.

(2) people directly resist the doctrines of religion. since they know they could not hold to those doctrines without abandoning their sins.


Ro 1:18. Why This Divinely Provided Righteousness Is Needed by All Men.

18. For the wrath of God—His holy displeasure and righteous vengeance against sin.

is revealed from heaven—in the consciences of men, and attested by innumerable outward evidences of a moral government.

against all ungodliness—that is, their whole irreligiousness, or their living without any conscious reference to God, and proper feelings towards Him.

and unrighteousness of men—that is, all their deviations from moral rectitude in heart, speech, and behavior. (So these terms must be distinguished when used together, though, when standing alone, either of them includes the other).

Ro 1:18-32. This Wrath of God, Revealed against All Iniquity, Overhangs the Whole Heathen World.

18. who hold—rather, "hold down," "hinder," or "keep back."

the truth in unrighteousness—The apostle, though he began this verse with a comprehensive proposition regarding men in general, takes up in the end of it only one of the two great divisions of mankind, to whom he meant to apply it; thus gently sliding into his argument. But before enumerating their actual iniquities, he goes back to the origin of them all, their stifling the light which still remained to them. As darkness overspreads the mind, so impotence takes possession of the heart, when the "still small voice" of conscience is first disregarded, next thwarted, and then systematically deadened. Thus "the truth" which God left with and in men, instead of having free scope and developing itself, as it otherwise would, was obstructed (compare Mt 6:22, 23; Eph 4:17, 18).

He proceeds to prove the principal proposition laid down in the foregoing verse; the causal particle for implies as much. Men must be justified by the righteousness of God, because they have no righteousness of their own to justify them, they themselves are all unrighteous. This he proves both of the Gentiles and Jews. He begins with the Gentiles, and proves it upon them, from this verse to Romans 2:17; and then he proves it upon the Jews also, from thence to the end of the 3rd chapter. {Romans 2:18-3:31}

The wrath of God is revealed; it is revealed in the word of God, or rather, by the judgments which he inflicteth.

From heaven; i.e. from God in heaven. Plagues and judgments spring not out of the dust, proceed not originally from second causes, much less do they come by chance.

Against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men: the abstract is put for the concrete; he means unrighteous and ungodly men; but he chooseth this way of speaking, because God, when he punisheth, aims at the sins of men; and would not punish their persons, but for their sins. By ungodliness, understand sins against the first table, which are mentioned Romans 1:21,23: by unrighteousness, sins against the second, of which there is mention at large, from Romans 1:26 to the end of the chapter.

Who hold the truth in unrighteousness: by truth, understand all that light which is left in man since the fall. There are in all men some common notions of God, his nature and will; some common principles also of equity and charity towards men, which nature itself teacheth, and upon which the consciences of the Gentiles did accuse or excuse them. These natural notions concerning God and their neighbour they did not obey and follow, but wickedly suppressed them. They imprisoned the truth which they acknowledged, that they might sin the more securely. The metaphor is taken from tyrants, who oppress the innocent, and imprison them: so the Gentiles did by the truth which they had by nature, they kept it in and under.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven,.... The apostle having hinted at the doctrine of justification by faith in the righteousness of Christ; and which he designed more largely to insist upon in this epistle, and to prove that there can be no justification of a sinner in the sight of God by the deeds of the law, in order to set this matter in a clear light, from hence, to the end of the chapter, and in the following ones, represents the sad estate and condition of the Gentiles with the law of nature, and of the Jews with the law of Moses; by which it most clearly appears, that neither of them could be justified by their obedience to the respective laws under which they were, but that they both stood in need of the righteousness of God. By "the wrath of God" is meant the displicency and indignation of God at sin and sinners; his punitive justice, and awful vengeance; the judgments which he executes in this world; and that everlasting displeasure of his, and wrath to come in another world, which all through sin are deserving of, some are appointed to, God's elect are delivered from, through Christ's sustaining it, in their room and stead, and which comes and abides on all impenitent and unbelieving persons. This is said to be "revealed", where? not in the Gospel, in which the righteousness of God is revealed; unless the Gospel be taken for the books of the four Evangelists, or for the Gospel dispensation, or for that part of the ministry of a Gospel preacher, which represents the wrath of God as the desert of sin, the dreadfulness of it, and the way to escape it; for the Gospel, strictly taken, is grace, good news, glad tidings, and not wrath and damnation; though indeed in Christ's sufferings for the sins of his people, which the Gospel gives us an account of, there is a great display of the wrath of God, and of his indignation against sin: but this wrath of God is revealed in the law, it is known by the light of nature, and to be perceived in the law of Moses, and may be observed in the Scriptures, where are many instances and examples of divine wrath and displeasure; as in the total destruction of the old world by a world wide flood, the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah, turning Lot's wife into a pillar of salt, the plagues of Egypt, and the several instances mentioned in this chapter. This wrath is said to be God's wrath "from heaven", by the awful blackness which covers the heavens, the storms and tempests raised in them, and by pouring down water or fire in a surprising manner, on the inhabitants of the world; or "from heaven", that is, openly, manifestly, in the sight of all; or from God who is in heaven, and not from second causes; and more especially it will be revealed from heaven, when Christ shall descend from thence at the day of judgment: the subject matter or object of it,

against, or "upon" which it is revealed, are,

all ungodliness, and unrighteousness of men; that is, all ungodly and unrighteous men; or all men who are guilty of ungodliness, the breach of the first table of the law, which respects the worship of God, and of unrighteousness, the breach of the second table of the law, which regards our neighbours' good: and these persons are further described as such,

who hold the truth in unrighteousness: meaning either such who know the Gospel, which is "the truth", and do not profess it openly, but hold and imprison it in their minds, which is a great piece of unrighteousness; or if they do profess it, do not live up to it in their lives: or rather the Gentile philosophers are designed, who are spoken of in the following verse; See Gill on Romans 1:22; who had some knowledge of the truth of the divine Being, and his perfections, and of the difference between moral good and evil; but did not like to retain it themselves, nor communicate all they knew to others, nor did they live according to that knowledge which they had.

{8} For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against {a} all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the {b} truth in unrighteousness;

(8) Another confirmation of the principal question: all men being considered in themselves, or without Christ, are guilty both of ungodliness and also unrighteousness, and therefore are subject on condemnation: therefore they need to seek righteousness in someone else.

(a) Against all types of ungodliness.

(b) By truth Paul means all the light that is left in man since his fall, not as though they being led by this were able to come into favour with God, but that their own reason might condemn them of wickedness both against God and man.

Romans 1:18. This great fundamental proposition of the Gospel, Romans 1:17, is proved (γὰρ) agreeably to experience, by the fact that, where there is no πίστις, there is also no ἀποκάλυψις of righteousness, but only of the wrath of God. “Horrendum est initium ac fulmen,” Melancthon, 1540.

ἀποκαλύπτεται] Emphatically placed, in harmony with the ἀποκαλ. in Romans 1:17, at the beginning.

ὀργὴ Θεοῦ] The antithesis of δικαιοσ. Θεοῦ, Romans 1:16. The ὀργὴ of God is not to be explained with several of the Fathers (in Suicer), Erasmus, and many later authorities, as poena divina, which is nothing but a rationalizing interchange of ideas, but rather in the proper literal sense: wrath, an affection of the personal God, having a necessary connection with His love. The wrath of God, the reality of which is indisputable as the very presupposition of the work of atonement, is the love of the holy God (who is neither neutral nor one-sided in His affection) for all that is good in its energy as antagonistic to all that is evil.[421] Even Lactantius has aptly remarked, de ira Dei, v. 9 : “Si Deus non irascitur impiis et injustis, nee pios justosque diligit; in rebus enim diversis aut in utramque partem moveri necesse est, aut in neutram.” See on Matthew 3:7; Ephesians 2:3.

ἀπʼ οὐρανοῦ] is neither to be connected with ὈΡΓῊ ΘΕΟῦ, as Beza, Estius, and many others hold, nor with the bare ΘΕΟῦ (Mehring), but, as the order of the words and the parallel definition ἘΝ ΑὐΤῷ in Romans 1:17 require, belongs to ἈΠΟΚΑΛΎΠΤΕΤΑΙ; so that heaven, the dwelling-place and throne of God (comp on Matthew 6:9), is designated as the place from which the ἈΠΟΚΆΛΥΨΙς of the ὈΡΓῊ ΘΕΟῦ issues. “Majestatem irati Dei significat,” Bengel. The revelation of righteousness takes place ἐν εὐαγγελίῳ, Romans 1:17, as something spiritually brought home to the consciousness through the medium of the Gospel; but that of the divine wrath descends from heaven, manifested as a divine matter of fact; by which description, however, the destructive character of this working of divine power is not expressed (Th. Schott), although it is in fact implied in the entire context. But what revelation of divine wrath is meant? Paul himself supplies the information in Romans 1:24 ff., in which is described what God in His sufficiently well-grounded (Romans 1:19-23) wrath did (παρέδωκεν αὐτούς). God’s wrath therefore is revealed from heaven in this way, that those who are the objects of it are given up by God to terrible retribution in unchastity and all vice. Against this interpretation (comp Mehring), which is adopted also by Tholuck, Weber (vom Zorne Gottes, p. 89), and Th. Schott, it cannot be objected, with Hofmann, that Paul must have written ἀπεκαλύφθη; for he here in fact expresses the general proposition of experience, to which the concrete historical representation subsequently shall correspond; the divine axiom is placed first (present), and then the history of it follows (aorist). Irrelevant is also the objection of Philippi, that ἀποκαλύπτειν always denotes a supernatural revelation. For ἀποκαλύπτειν means to reveal what was previously unknown, what was veiled from our cognition, so that it now becomes manifest; and, in reference to this, it is a matter of indifference whether the revelation takes place in a natural or in a supernatural manner.[424] The mode of revealing is not indicated in the word itself, but in the context; and hence according to the connection it is used also, as here, of a revelation in fact, by which a state of things previously unknown comes to our knowledge (Matthew 10:26; Luke 2:35; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:8). Moreover, even according to our interpretation, a divine revelation is meant, by which there is certainly brought to light a μυστήριον, namely, the connection of the phenomenon with the divine ὈΡΓΉ. According to others, Paul means the inward revelation of the divine wrath, given by means of reason and conscience (Ambrosiaster, Wolf, and others, including Reiche and Glöckler), in support of which view they appeal to Romans 1:19. But, on the contrary, ἀπʼ οὐρανοῦ requires us to understand an ἈΠΟΚΑΛΎΨΙς cognisable by the senses; and Romans 1:19 contains not the mode of the manifestation of wrath, but its moving cause (διότι). Others hold that the ἈΠΟΚΑΛΎΨΙς of the divine wrath has come through the Gospel (“continens minas,” Grotius), and that ἐν αὐτῷ is to be again supplied from Romans 1:17. So Aquinas, Bellarmine, Corn, à Lapide, Estius, Grotius, Heumann, Semler, Morus, Böhme, Benecke, Maier; comp Umbreit, who includes also the Old Testament. It is decisive against this view that ἈΠʼ ΟὐΡΑΝΟῦ, just because it is parallel to ἘΝ ΑὐΤῷ in Romans 1:17, lays down a mode of manifestation quite different from ἘΝ ΑὐΤῷ. Had the latter been again in Paul’s mind here, he would have repeated it with emphasis, as he has repeated the ἈΠΟΚΑΛΎΠΤΕΤΑΙ. Others hold that the manifestation of wrath at the general judgment is meant (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, Oecumenius, Toletus, Limborch, Koppe, Philippi, Reithmayr, and Ewald). The present, considered in itself, might be chosen in order to express a vivid realisation of the future, or might be accounted for by the ἐν αὐτῷ, which, it is alleged, is to be again mentally supplied (Ewald); but the former explanation is to be rejected on account of the preceding purely present ἈΠΟΚΑΛ. in Romans 1:17; and against the latter may be urged the very fact, that ἘΝ ΑὐΤῷ is not repeated. Had this been the meaning, moreover, the further course of the exposition must have borne reference to the general judgment, which it by no means does; and therefore this interpretation is opposed to the connection, as well as unwarranted by Romans 2:5 (where the mention of the revelation of judgment belongs to quite a different connection); and not required by the idea of ἈΠΟΚΑΛΎΠΤΕΙΝ itself, since that idea is adequately met by the divine matter-of-fact revelation of wrath here intended (see above), and besides, the word is repeated intentionally for rhetorical effect. Lastly, while others have contented themselves with leaving the ἈΠΟΚΑΛΎΨΙς here in its entire generality (Olshausen, Tholuck; comp Calovius), and thus relieved themselves from giving any explanation of it, the reference to the religion of the O. T. (Bengel and Flatt) seems entirely arbitrary and groundless, and the interpretations which apply it to evils generally affecting the world as an expression of the divine wrath (Hofmann), or to the external and internal distress of the time (Baumgarten-Crusius), are too general and indefinite, and thereby devoid of any concrete import in keeping with the text.

ἐπὶ πᾶσ. ἀσέβ. κ. ἀδικ. ἀνθρ.] contains the hostile direction (comp Dem. 743, 22) of the ἈΠΟΚΑΛΎΠΤΕΤΑΙ.… ΟὐΡΑΝΟῦ: against every ungodliness and immorality of men, which, etc. Ἀσέβεια and ἈΔΙΚΊΑ (Plat. Prot. p. 323 E; Xen. Cyr. viii. 8, 7; Tittmann, Synon. N. T. p. 48) are distinguished as irreligiousness and immorality, so that both describe the improbitas, but under different aspects, in reference to the fear of God and to the standard of morals; hence the former, as involving the idea of impiety, is the stronger expression. Comp Dem. 548, 11 : ἈΣΈΒΗΜΑ, ΟὐΚ ἈΔΊΚΗΜΑ ΜΌΝΟΝ. That the distinction between them is not to be understood, with Köllner, following Theophylact, Grotius, Calovius, Wolf, and many others, as profanitas in Deum and injuria in proximum, is proved by the following ἐν ἀδικία κατεχ.

τῶν τ. ἀλήθ. ἐν ἀδικ. κατεχ.] who keep down the truth through immorality, do not let it develop itself into power and influence on their religious knowledge and their moral condition. The article (quippe qui) introduces that characteristic of the ἀνθρώπων, not yet more precisely defined, which excites the divine wrath. Rightly in the Vulgate: eorum qui. See Winer, p. 127 [E. T. 174]. It may be paraphrased: “of those, I mean, who.” Comp Kühner, a[430] Xen. Anab. ii. 7, 13. Bengel, moreover, aptly remarks: “veritas in mente nititur et urget, sed homo eam impedit.” This is the peculiar, deeply unfortunate, constant self-contradiction of the heathen character. Comp Nägelsbach, Homer. Theol. I. p. 11 ff. On κατέχειν, to hinder, comp 2 Thessalonians 2:6; Luke 4:42; 1Ma 6:27; Plat. Phaed. p. 117 C; Soph. El. 754; Pind. Isthm. iii. 2, and Dissen in loc[433] Against the interpretation of Michaelis, Koppe and Baur, who take ΚΑΤΈΧΕΙΝ here as meaning to possess (1 Corinthians 7:30; 2 Corinthians 6:10), “who possess the truth in unrighteousness, who know what God’s will is, and yet sin,” Romans 1:21 is decisive, where the continuous possession of the truth is negatived by ἐματαιώθησαν.… καρδία; wherefore also it cannot he rendered with Melancthon and van Hengel: who hold the truth in the bondage of immorality (Romans 7:6; Genesis 39:20; Genesis 42:19). The ἀλήθεια is correctly interpreted in the sense of divine truth generally; the mode of revelation, in which it is presented to man’s knowledge, is furnished by the context, here, by Romans 1:19 f., as the truth apparent by natural revelation in the works of God; not therefore in the sense of the doctrine of the Gospel, which is hindered in its diffusion by Jews and Gentiles (Ammon, comp Ewald).

ἘΝ ἈΔΙΚΊΑ] instrumental. To make it equivalent to ἀδίκως (Reiche, following Theophylact, Beza, Calvin, Piscator, Raphel, and others; comp ἘΝ ΔΥΝΆΜΕΙ in Romans 1:4) arbitrarily deprives the representation of an element essential to its fulness and precision, and renders it tame; for it is self-evident that the ΚΑΤΈΧΕΙΝ Τ. ἈΛ. is unrighteous or sinful, but not so much so that it takes place through sin.

Finally, it is to be noted that Paul, in ἀνθρώπ. (correlative of ΘΕΟῦ) ΤῶΝ Τ. ἈΛΉΘ. ἘΝ ἈΔΙΚ. ΚΑΤΕΧ., expresses himself quite generally, making apparent by ἀνθρώπ. the audacity of this God-opposing conduct; but he means the Gentiles, as is indicated even by ἐν ἀδικίᾳ (comp 1 Corinthians 6:1), and as is confirmed beyond doubt by the continuation of the discourse in Romans 1:19 ff. Koppe supposed that Paul meant the Jews especially, but included also the Gentiles; Benecke, that he speaks of the whole human race in general, which view Mehring specially defends. But the peculiar character of what is contained in Romans 1:21-32 shows that the Jews are to be entirely excluded from the description which is carried on to the end of the chapter. It is not till ch. Romans 2:1 that the discourse passes over to them, and makes them suddenly see themselves reflected in the Gentile mirror.

[421] The idea of the divine ὀργή is diametrically opposed to every conception of sin as a necessity interwoven with human development.

[424] In this case it cannot make any difference whether God is or is not the revealing subject, as is most plainly seen from Matthew 16:17.

[430] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[433] n loc. refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

Romans 1:18 f. The revelation of the righteousness of God (Romans 1:17) is needed in view of the revelation of His wrath, from which only δικ. θεοῦ (whether it be His justifying sentence or the righteousness which He bestows on man) can deliver. ὀργὴ in the N.T. is usually eschatological, but in 1 Thessalonians 2:16 it refers to some historical judgment, and in John 3:36 it is the condemnation of the sinner by God, with all that it involves, present and to come. The revelation of wrath here probably refers mainly to the final judgment: the primary character of Jesus in Paul’s Gospel being ὁ ῥυόμενος ἡμᾶς ἐκ τῆς ὀργῆς τῆς ἐρχομένης, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, Romans 5:9; but it is not forcing it here to make it include God’s condemnation uttered in conscience, and attested (Romans 1:24) in the judicial abandonment of the world. The revelation of the righteousness of God has to match this situation, and reverse it. ἀσέβεια is “positive and active irreligion”: see Trench, Syn, § lxvi. τῶν τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἐν ἀδικίᾳ κατεχόντων may mean (1) who possess the truth, yet live in unrighteousness; or (2) who suppress the truth by, or in, an unrighteous life. In the N.T. ἀλήθεια is moral rather than speculative; it is truth of a sort which is held only as it is acted on: cf. the Johannine expression ποιεῖν τὴν ἀλήθειαν. Hence the latter sense is to be preferred (see Wendt, Lehre Jesu, II., . 203 Anm.). διότι τὸ γνωστὸν τοῦ θεοῦ κ.τ.λ. There is no indisputable way of deciding whether γνωστὸν here means “known” (the usual N.T. sense) or “knowable” (the usual classic sense). Cremer (who compares Php 3:8 τὸ ὑπερέχον τῆς γνώσεως, Hebrews 6:17 τὸ ἀμετάθετον τῆς βουλῆς, Romans 2:4 τὸ χρηστὸν τοῦ θεοῦ, and makes τοῦ θεοῦ in the passage before us also gen poss.) favours the latter. What is meant in either case is the knowledge of God which is independent of such a special revelation as had been given to the Jews. Under this come (Romans 1:20) His eternal power, and in a word His (eternal) divinity, things inaccessible indeed to sense (ἀόρατα), but clear to intelligence (νοούμενα), ever since creation (ἀπὸ κτίσεως κόσμου: for ἀπὸ thus used, see Winer, 463), by the things that are made. God’s power, and the totality of the Divine attributes constituting the Divine nature, are inevitably impressed on the mind by nature (or, to use the scripture word, by creation). There is that within man which so catches the meaning of all that is without as to issue in an instinctive knowledge of God. (See the magnificent illustration of this in Illingworth’s Divine Immanence, chap. 2, on The religious influence of the material world.) This knowledge involves duties, and men are without excuse because, when in possession of it, they did not perform these duties; that is, did not glorify as God the God whom they thus knew.

18–23. The necessity for the Gospel: Divine wrath; human (especially heathen) sin

18. For the wrath of God, &c.] The “for” marks the connexion as follows: “The Gospel is the secret of salvation, of justification before the eternal Judge; and as such it is a thing of supreme importance; for the Judge has proclaimed the doom of human sin. The question is not of mere theory, but of life or death.”

the wrath of God] A phrase frequent in the N. T. All attempts to explain it away involve violence to the sense of Scripture: it would be as legitimate, in point of language, to explain away the Divine Love. Strong and even vehement accessory language is sometimes used with the word wrath: see Romans 2:8; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 19:15. On the subject generally, see especially John 3:36; Ephesians 2:3; Revelation 6:16.

It must, of course, always be remembered that the “wrath of God” is the wrath of a Judge. In its inmost secret it is the very opposite of an arbitrary outburst, being the eternal repulsion of evil by good.

is revealed] A present tense in the Gr. See on Romans 1:17. This “revelation” is a standing one, for all places and all times, and ever repeated to individual consciences.

from heaven] A pregnant phrase. The wrath is “revealed” as about to be inflicted from heaven; by Him “who sitteth in heaven,” and who “shall descend from heaven” in “the day of wrath and righteous judgment.”

against] Or, upon; i.e. “to descend upon.”

ungodliness and unrighteousness] Sin, in its aspect as offence (1) against God, (2) against man; the awful opposite to the Two Great Commandments. “Unrighteousness,” however, is obviously a wider word than “ungodliness,” including the idea of injustice to God as well as to man; spiritual rebellion.

of men] i.e. mankind; not a class, but the race. This is plain from the sequel, though the Gr. leaves it possible (grammatically) to render “of those men who hold, &c.”

who hold] Lit. who hold down. The verb has several shades of meaning, and frequently = “to hold fast.” So e.g. 1 Corinthians 11:2; (E. V., “keep;”) 1 Thessalonians 5:21. But the context here decides for the meaning “hold down, hold back, suppress.” The verb occurs once again in this Epistle, Romans 7:6 : “wherein we were held,” i.e. “held down as captives.” Here the phrase is pregnant:—“who suppress the truth, living in unrighteousness the while.” “The Truth” (of the awful Majesty of God) is, as it were, buried under sinful acts, though still alive, still needing to be “held down,” if sin is to rule.

Romans 1:18. Ἀποκαλύπτεται, is revealed) See verse 17, note.—γὰρ, for) The particle begins the discussion; the Statement of Subject [Proposition] being now concluded, ch. Romans 6:19; Matthew 1:18; Acts 2:15; 1 Corinthians 15:3. The Latins generally omit it.[11] This is Paul’s first argument: All are under sin; and that the law shows; therefore, no one is justified by the works of the law. The discussion of this point continues to the third chapter, Romans 1:20. From this he draws the inference, therefore [justification must be] by faith, ch. Romans 3:21, etc.—ὀργὴ Θεοῦ, wrath of God) [not as Engl. Vers. “the wrath”] Ὀργή without the article, in this passage [is denounced against all unrighteousness]; but ἡ ὀργὴ is denounced against those [the persons; not as ὀργή, against the sin], who disregard righteousness. Wrath is, as it were, different, when directed against the Gentiles, and when against the Jews. The righteousness and the wrath of God form, in some measure, an antithesis. The righteousness of the world crushes the guilty individual; the righteousness of God crushes beneath it the sin, and restores the sinner. Hence there is frequent mention of wrath, especially in this epistle, ch. Romans 2:5; Romans 2:8, Romans 3:5, Romans 4:15, Romans 5:9, Romans 9:22, and besides, ch. Romans 12:19, Romans 13:4-5.—ἀπʼ οὐρανοῦ, from heaven) This significantly implies the majesty of an angry God, and His all-seeing eye, and the wide extent of His wrath: whatever is under heaven, and yet not under the Gospel, is under this wrath,—Psalm 14:2.—ἐπὶ πᾶσαν, upon all) Paul, in vividly presenting to view the wrath of God, speaks in the abstract, concerning sin: in presenting to view salvation [Romans 1:16, he speaks] in the concrete, concerning believers; he now, therefore, intimates enigmatically [by implication], that grace has been procured for sinners.—ἀσέβειαν καὶ ἀδικίαν, ungodliness and unrighteousness) These two points are discussed at the twenty-third and following verses. [Paul often mentions unrighteousness, Romans 1:29, as directly opposed to righteousness.—V. g.]—ἀνθρώπων τῶν) A periphrasis for the Gentiles.—ΤῊΝ ἈΛΉΘΕΙΑΝ, the truth) to which belongs, whatever of really sound morality the heathen writings possess.—ἐν ἀδικίᾳ, in unrighteousness) The term is taken now in a larger sense, than just before, where it formed an antithesis to ἀσέβειαν, viz., in the sense of ἈΝΟΜΊΑ, ch. Romans 6:19.—ΚΑΤΕΧΌΝΤΩΝ, holding back) [holding, Engl. Vers. less correctly] Truth in the understanding, makes great efforts, and is urgent; but man impedes its effect.

[11] But the Vulg. has it “Revelatur enim.”—ED.

Verse 18 - Romans 2:29. - (1) All mankind liable to God's wrath. Verses 18-32. - (a) The heathen world in general. Verse 18. - For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold back the truth in unrighteousness. Here the argumentation of the Epistle begins, the first position to be established being that all mankind without exception is guilty of sin before God, and therefore unable of itself to put in a plea of righteousness. This being proved, the need of the revelation of God's righteousness, announced in ver. 17, appears. "The wrath of God" is an expression with which we are familiar in the Bible, being one of those in which human emotions are attributed to God in accommodation to the exigencies of human thought. It denotes his essential holiness, his antagonism to sin, to which punishment is due. It expresses an idea as essential to our conception of the Divine righteousness as do the words, "love" and "mercy." Wrath, or indignation, against evil is as necessary to our ideal of a perfect human being as is love of good; and therefore we attribute wrath to the perfect Divine Being, using of necessity human terms for expressing our conception of the Divine attributes. When the Name of the LORD Was proclaimed before Moses (Exodus 34:5, etc.), it was of One not only "merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth," but also "that will by no means clear the guilty." This last attribute is the same as what we mean by the Divine wrath. This "wrath of God" is said in the verse before us to be "revealed from heaven." How so? Is it in the gospel, as is God's righteousness (ver. 18)? Against this view is the change of expression - ἀπ οὐρανοῦ instead of ἐν αὐτῷ ( as well as the fact that the gospel is not in itself a revelation of wrath, but the very opposite. Is it in the Old Testament? Possibly in part; but the marked repetition of ἀποκαλύπτεται in the present tense seems to point to some obvious revelation now; and, further, the first part of the proof, to the end of the second chapter, does not rest on the Old Testament. Is it what the apostle proceeds so forcibly to draw attention to - the existing, and at that time notorious, moral degradation of heathen society, which he regards as evidence of Divine judgment? This may have been before his view; and, as he goes on at once to speak of it, it probably was so prominently. But the revelation of Divine wrath against sin seems to imply more than this as the argument goes on, viz. the evident guilt before God of all mankind alike, and not only of degraded heathenism. It is difficult to decide, among the various explanations that have been offered, on any specific mode of revelation which the writer had in view. Perhaps no particular one exclusively. Commentators may be often unduly anxious to affix an exact sense to pregnant words used by St. Paul, who so often indicates comprehensive ideas by short phrases. He may have had before his mind various concurrent signs of human guilt, and the Divine wrath against it, at that especial time of the world's history; all which, to his mind at least, brought conviction as by a light from heaven. And the gospel itself (though in its essence a revelation of mercy, so that he purposely avoids saying that wrath was in it revealed) still had been the most powerful means of all for bringing home a conviction of the Divine wrath to the consciences of believers. For its first office is to convince of sin and of judgment. Cf. the words of the forerunner, "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" On all such grounds we may conceive that the apostle spoke of the wrath of God against human sin being especially at that time plainly revealed from heaven; and he desires to bring his readers to perceive it as he did. For now was the time of the Divine purpose to bring it home to all (cf. Acts 17:30, "The times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent"). "All ungodliness and unrighteousness' (ἀσέβειαν καὶ ἀδικίαν) comprehends all evil-doing, in whatever aspect viewed, whether as impiety or as wrong. The phrase, τῶν τὴν ἀλήθειαν κατεχόντων, is wrongly translated in the Authorized Version, "who hold the truth." If the verb κατέχειν allowed this rendering here, it would indeed be intelligible in reference to the knowledge of God, even by nature, which all men have or ought to have, though they do not act upon it, and the very potential possession of which renders them guilty. This is the thought of what immediately follows. Thus the sense would be, "They hold, i.e. possess, the truth; but they do unrighteousness." But whenever κατέχειν means "to hold," it denotes a firm hold, not a loose hold, such as would be thus implied. It occurs in this sense in 1 Corinthians 11:2 ("I praise you that ye keep the ordinances"). and 1 Thessalonians 5:21 ("Hold fast that which is good"). We must, therefore, have recourse to a second sense in which the verb is also used - that of "keeping back," or "restraining." Thus Luke 4:42 ("The people stayed him, that he should not depart from them") and 2 Thessalonians 2:6 ("Ye know what withholdeth"). The reference is still to the innate knowledge of God which all men are supposed to have had originally; but the idea expressed is not their having it, but their suppressing it. "Veritas in mente nititur et urget: sed homo eam impedit" (Bengel). Romans 1:18For

All men require this mode of justification, for all men are sinners, and therefore exposed to God's wrath.

The wrath of God (ὀργὴ Θεοῦ)

Not punishment, but the personal emotion. See on John 3:36.

Ungodliness and unrighteousness (ἀσέβειαν καὶ ἀδικίαν).

Irreligiousness and immorality. See on godliness, 2 Peter 1:3; also 2 Peter 2:13.

Hold (κατεχόντων)

Not possess: compare Romans 1:21. Rev., correctly, hold down; i.e., hinder or repress. Compare 2 Thessalonians 2:6, 2 Thessalonians 2:7; Luke 4:42.

The truth

Divine truth generally, as apparent in all God's self-revelations.

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