Romans 1:24
Why God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves:
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(24-32) Hence they fell into a still lower depth; for, in anger at their perversion of the truth, God refrained from checking their downward course. He left them to follow their own evil bent. Their idolatry developed into shameless immorality and unnatural crimes. At last the extreme limit was reached. As they voluntarily forsook God, so He forsook them. They ran through the whole catalogue of sins, and the cup of their iniquity was full.

In the passage taken as a whole, three steps or stages are indicated: (1) Romans 1:18-23, idolatry; (2) Romans 1:24-27, unnatural sins allowed by God as the punishment for this idolatry; (3) Romans 1:28-32, a still more complete and radical depravity also regarded as penally inflicted. The first step is taken by the free choice of man, but as the breach gradually widens, the wrath of God is more and more revealed. He interferes less and less to save a sinful world from its fate. It is to be noted that the Apostle speaks in general terms, and the precise proportions of human depravity and of divine judicial impulse are not to be clearly determined.

Romans 1:24-25. Wherefore God gave them up — As a punishment of this most unreasonable and scandalous idolatry, God withdrew his restraining grace from them as he did from the antediluvians, Genesis 6:3; the consequence of which was, that their lusts excited them to commit every sort of uncleanness. The truth is, a contempt of religion is the source of all wickedness. And ungodliness and uncleanness particularly are frequently united, 1 Thessalonians 4:5, as are the knowledge of God and purity. Observe, reader, one punishment of sin is from the very nature of it, as Romans 1:27; another, as here, is from vindictive justice. Who changed the truth of God — Those true conceptions which they had of him by nature; into a lie — False opinions of him, and the worship of idols. And they represented his true essence, his incorruptible and immortal nature, by images of men and brute creatures, which are fitly called a lie, as being most false representations of the Deity, who does not resemble them in any respect whatever. Hence idols are called lying vanities, Psalm 31:6. And every image of an idol is termed a teacher of lies, Habakkuk 2:18. And worshipped and served the creature — And not only God’s creatures, but their own creatures, the images which their own hands had made. The former expression, εσεβασθησαν, signifies inward veneration, reverence, esteem, and such like qualities felt in the mind. The latter word, εγατρευσαν, denotes the paying outward worship and service to beings thought to be gods. The heathen gave both to their idols, reverencing and respecting them inwardly, and performing various acts of outward worship to them, in token thereof. More than the Creator, who is blessed for ever — Who is eternally glorious, and to whom alone all honour and praise everlastingly belong. Amen — It is an undoubted truth, and to him let it be ascribed accordingly. 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.Wherefore - That is, because they were unwilling to retain him in their knowledge, and chose to worship idols. Here is traced the practical tendency of paganism; not as an innocent and harmless system, but as resulting in the most gross and shameless acts of depravity.

God gave them up - He abandoned them, or he ceased to restrain them, and suffered them to act out their sentiments, and to manifest them in their life. This does not imply, that he exerted any positive influence in inducing them to sin, any more than it would if we should seek, by argument and entreaty, to restrain a headstrong youth, and when neither would prevail, should leave him to act out his propensities. and to go as he chose to ruin. It is implied in this,

(1) That the tendency of man was to these sins;

(2) That the tendency of idolatry was to promote them; and,

(3) That all that was needful, in order that people should commit them, was for God to leave him to follow the devices and desires of his own heart; compare Psalm 81:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:10, 2 Thessalonians 2:12.

To uncleanness - To impurity, or moral defilement; particularly to those impurities which he proceeds to specify, Romans 1:26, etc.

Through the lusts of their own hearts - Or, in consequence of their own evil and depraved passions and desires. He left them to act out, or manifest, their depraved affections and inclinations.

To dishonour - To disgrace; Romans 1:26-27.

Between themselves - Among themselves; or mutually. They did it by unlawful and impure connections with one another.

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].

Wherefore; their impiety was the cause of what followed: this is repeated again, that it may be the better observed. The contempt of God and of religion is the cause of all wickedness.

God also gave them up; this phrase is thrice used in this context, viz. Romans 1:24,26,28: it seems to be taken out of Psalm 81:12. Some think his giving them up, is only’ his withdrawing his grace from them, and permitting them to sin; but there seems to be more in it than a bare subtraction or permission. He did not only leave them to themselves, but, in a judicial way, he put then, into the hands of Satan, and of their own lusts; as it is said, Psalm 69:27, he added iniquity to their iniquity, making the latter iniquity a punishment of the former.

Between themselves; some read it, in themselves, and some read it, one among another; so the same word is rendered, Ephesians 4:32 Colossians 3:13. The apostle here speaks more generally of all kinds of pollution and uncleanness that was committed by them, whether natural or unnatural. 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.

{10} Wherefore {i} God also {k} gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

(10) The unrighteousness of men he sets forth first in this, that following their lusts, even against nature, they defiled themselves one with another, by the just judgment of God.

(i) The contempt of religion is the source of all evil.

(k) As a just judge.

Romans 1:24. Wherefore (as a penal retribution for their apostasy) God also gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity. καὶ, also, indicates the giving up as a thing corresponding to the guilt. Comp on Php 2:9.

ἐν ταῖς ἐπιθ. τ. κ. αὐτ.] contains that, in which they were involved, i.e. the moral condition in which they were found when they were given up by God to impurity. Comp Romans 1:27; Ephesians 2:3; Bernhardy, p. 209. The instrumental rendering (Erasmus, Er. Schmid, Glöckler and Krehl) is unnecessary, because the immediate literal sense of ἐν is quite sufficient, and the former is less suitable as to sense, since it conveys something which is obvious of itself.

παρέδωκεν] expresses the real active giving up on the part of God. The favourite explanation of it by εἴασε, so often resorted to since Origen and Chrysostom, is nothing but a rationalising gloss at variance with the literal meaning. To the Apostle God is the living God, who does not passively permit the retributive consequences of fidelity or of apostasy—thus, as it were, letting them run their course, as an artificer does with his wheel work—but Himself, everywhere active, pervades and effectively develops the arrangements which He has made. If then God has so arranged that man by apostasy from Him should fall into moral impurity, and that thus sin shall be punished by sin (and this connection of sin with sin is in accordance both with experience and Scripture, Isaiah 6:10; Job 8:4; Psalm 69:28; Psalm 81:13; Mark 4:12), this arrangement can only be carried out in reality through the effective action of its originator; and God Himself must give up the apostates unto impurity, inasmuch as it is by His doing that that moral connection is in point of fact accomplished. Comp Acts 7:42; Romans 9:19; also 2 Thessalonians 2:11 f.; and the rabbinical passages quoted by Schoettgen, especially from Pirke Aboth, c. 4 : “Festina ad praeceptum leve tanquam ad grave, et fuge transgressionem; praeceptum enim trahit praeceptum, et transgressio transgressionem: quia merces praecepti praeceptum est, et transgressionis transgressio.” Consequently, if the understanding of παρέδωκεν in its strictly proper and positive meaning is quite in keeping with the universal agency of God, in His physical and moral government of the world, without, however, making God appear as the author of sin, which, on the contrary, has its root in the ἐπιθυμίαι τ. καρδ., we must reject as insufficient the privative interpretation[487], that became current after Augustine and Oecumenius, which Calovius has adopted in part, and Rückert entirely. Comp Philippi, who thinks of the withdrawal of the Divine Spirit and its results, though in the sense of a positive divine infliction of punishment. This withdrawal, through which man is left in the lurch by God, is the immediate negative precursor of the παρέδωκεν (Sir 4:19). Reiche thinks that Paul here avails himself, with more or less consciousness of its being erroneous, of the general view of the Jews regarding the origin of the peculiar wickedness of the Gentiles (Psalm 81:13; Proverbs 21:8; Sir 4:19; Wis 10:12; Wis 13:1; Acts 7:42); and that this representation of moral depravity as a divine punishment is to be distinguished from the Christian doctrinal system of the Apostle. But how very inconsistent it is with the character of Paul thus consciously to bring forward what is erroneous, and that too with so solemn a repetition (Romans 1:26; Romans 1:28)! And is it not an arrangement accordant with experience, that apostasy from God is punished by an ever deeper fall into immorality? Can this arrangement, made as it is by God “justo judicio” (Calvin), be carried out otherwise than by God? Analogous are even heathen sayings, such as Aesch. Agam. 764 ff., and the heathen idea of the θεοβλάβεια; comp also Ruhnken, a[490] Vellej. ii. 57, 3. But just as man, while his fidelity is rewarded by God through growth in virtue, remains withal free and does not become a virtuous machine; so also he retains his freedom, while God accomplishes the development of His arrangement, in accordance with which sin is born of sin. He gives himself up (Ephesians 4:19), while he is given up by God to that tragic nexus of moral destiny; and he becomes no machine of sin, but possesses at every moment the capacity of μετάνοια, which the very reaction resulting from the feeling of the most terrible misery of sin—punished through sin—is designed to produce. Therefore, on the one hand, man always remains responsible for his deterioration (Romans 1:32; Romans 2:6; Romans 3:5; Romans 7:14); and, on the other, that punishment of sin, in which the teleological law of the development of evil fulfils itself, includes no contradiction of the holiness of God. For this reason the view of Köllner—that the Apostle’s idea is to be separated from its Jewish and temporal form, and that we must assume as the Christian truth in it, that the apostasy of men from God has brought them into deepest misery, as certainly as the latter is self-inflicted—is a superfluous unexegetical evasion, to which Fritzsche also has recourse.

ἀκαθαρσίαν] spurcitia, impurity, and that lustful (comp Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 4:19; Colossians 3:5), as is plain from the following context; not generally: “all action and conduct dishonouring the creaturely glory of man” (Hofmann). The τοῦ ἀτιμάζεσθαι may be taken either as the genitive of the purpose: that they might be dishonoured (Rückert, Philippi, van Hengel), or as the genitive of more precise definition depending on ἀκαθαρσ. (impurity of the becoming dishonoured, i.e. which consisted therein; so Fritzsche, Winer, Tholuck and de Wette). The latter (see Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 230 f.) is the more probable, partly because the ἀτιμάζεσθαι κ.τ.λ[492] already constitutes the impurity itself, and does not merely attend it as a result; and partly on account of the parallel in Romans 1:28, where ΠΟΙΕῖΝ Κ.Τ.Λ[493] is likewise epexegetical. ἀτιμάζεσθαι is not however the middle, whereby the αὐτοπαθές would be expressed, for which there is no empirical usage, but the passive: that their bodies were dishonoured among themselves, mutually. This ἐν ἑαυτοῖς refers to the persons (αὐτῶν, not to be written αὑτῶν), not asserting that the ἀτιμάζασθαι takes place on themselves, which is in fact already conveyed by τὰ σώματα αὐτῶν,[494] but rather based on the nature of participation in unchastity, according to which they bring one on the other reciprocally the dishonouring of the body. In this personal reciprocity of those who practise unchastity with each other lies the characteristic abominableness of the dishonouring of the body; and this point is designated by ἐν ἑαυτοῖς more expressly, because in contrast to non-participating third persons, than it would have been by ἐν ἀλλήλοις (Kühner, a[495] Xen. Mem. ii. 6, 20).

The vices of unchastity, which moreover are still here referred to quite generally (it is otherwise in Romans 1:26 f.), and not specially as unnatural, according to their disgraceful nature, in whatever forms they may have been practised, are specifically heathen (in fact, even partially belonging to the heathen cultus), as a consequence of apostasy from the true God (comp 1 Thessalonians 4:5). As they again prevail even among Christians, wherever this apostasy spreads through unbelief, they must verify even in Christendom their heathen nature, and, along with the likewise essentially heathen πλεονεξία, pre-eminently exclude from the salvation of the Messiah (Ephesians 5:5 f.; Colossians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 6:9 f.).

With ἀτιμάζ. τ. σώμ. compare the opposite, 1 Thessalonians 4:4, where τὸ ἑαυτοῦ σκεῦος must be explained of the body as the vessel of the Ego proper.

[487] It is at bottom identical with the permissive rendering. Therefore Chrysostom not only explains it by εἴασεν, but illustrates the matter by the instance of a general who leaves his soldiers in the battle, and thus deprives them of his aid, and abandons them to the enemy. Theodoret explains it: τῆς οἰκείας προμηθείας ἐγύμνωσε, and employs the comparison of an abandoned vessel. Theophylact illustrates the παρέδωκεν by the example of a physician who gives up a refractory patient (παραδίδωσιν αὐτὸν τῷ ἐπὶ πλέον νοσεῖν).

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

[492] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[493] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[494] Hofmann refers the reading which he follows, ἐν αὐτοῖς, to the σώματα, but explains this: the body of each person in himself; consequently, as if the expression were ἐν αὐτοῖς, and that in the sense in semet ipsis. With the reading ἐν αὐτοῖς we should rather render it simply: in order that among them (i.e. in their common intercourse) their bodies should be dishonoured. Such was to be the course of things among them.

[495] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.24–32. The same subject: heathen sin judicially aggravated

24. Wherefore God also gave them up] The inevitable connexion of idolatry with debased morality is stated here. Nothing but the knowledge of the Holy One, Eternal and Almighty, can ever really teach and enforce human purity; even though conscience (up to its light) always takes the part of purity. Manifold experience shews that mere social civilization and mental culture can never really banish even the grossest lusts. Nothing but the knowledge of God as He is can reveal to man both his fall and his greatness, his sin and his sacred duty.

God also gave them up] So Psalm 81:11-12; Acts 7:42. On the other hand man “gives himself over;” Ephesians 4:19. Experience as well as Revelation says that the most terrible, and just, penalty of sin is the hardening of the sinning heart. It is a “law;” though in using that word we must here specially remember that, as with physical so with moral laws, “their ultimate reason is God.” The “law” of judicial hardening is His personal will, and takes place along with His personal displeasure.

through the lusts] Lit. in the lusts: a pregnant phrase; q. d. “He gave them up to live in vile desires.”

to dishonour] The dignity and sanctity of the body is a main and peculiar truth of Revelation.

between themselves] Another reading gives “among them;” but the evidence is not decisive, and general reasons support the E. V.Romans 1:24. Διό, wherefore) One punishment of sin arises from its physical consequences, Romans 1:27, note, [that recompense of their error, which] was meet; another, moreover, from retributive justice, as in this passage.—ἐν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις, in the lusts) ἐν, not ἐις. Ἁι ἐπιθυμίαι, the lusts, were already present there. The men themselves were such as were the gods that they framed.—ἀκαθαρσίαν, uncleanness) Impiety and impurity are frequently joined together, 1 Thessalonians 4:5; as are also the knowledge of God and purity of mind, Matthew 5:8; 1 John 3:2, etc.—ἀτιμάζεσθαι, to dishonour) Honour is its opposite, 1 Thessalonians 4:4. Man ought not to debase himself, 1 Corinthians 6:13, etc.—ἐν ἑαυτοῖς,[15] among their ownselves), by fornication, effeminacy, and other vices. They themselves furnish the materials of their own punishment, and are at the cost of it. How justly! they, who dishonour God, inflict punishment on their ownselves. Joh. Cluverus.

[15] So, late corrections in D; G Orig. 1, 260, e.—Vulg. and Rec. Text. But ABCΛ and Memph. Version read ἀντοῖς.—ED.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. Gave them up (παρέδωκεν)

Handed them over to the power of sin. See on Matthew 4:12; see on Matthew 11:27; see on Matthew 26:2; see on Mark 4:29; see on Luke 1:2; see on 1 Peter 2:23.

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