Romans 1:28
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;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(28) Even as.—Rightly translated in the Authorised version: “as” is not here equivalent to “because,” but means rather, just in like proportion as. The degree of God’s punishment corresponded exactly to the degree of man’s deflection from God.

Did not like.—There is a play upon words here with “reprobate” in the clause following which cannot be retained in English. “As they reprobated the knowledge of God, so He gave them up to a reprobate mind.” As they would have nothing to do with Him, so He would have nothing to do with them. “Reprobate” means, properly, tried and found wanting, and therefore cast away as worthless.

To retain God in their knowledge.—The word for knowledge here means “exact,” “advanced,” “thorough knowledge.” They refused to hold the true idea of God so as to grow and increase in the knowledge of it.

Those things which are not convenient.—That which is unbecoming, disgraceful.

Fornication.—This word is wanting in the best MSS. and should be omitted, as also the word “implacable” in Romans 1:31.

Wickedness, . . . maliciousness.—These two words appear to be related together, so that the latter expresses rather the vicious disposition—vicious in the special sense, the disposition to do hurt to others—the former rather the active exercise of it. Similar catalogues of sins are given in other of St. Paul’s Epistles, as, for example, 2 Cor. 12:30; Galatians 5:19 et seq.; Ephesians 5:3-4; 1Timothy 1:9-10; 2Timothy 3:2 et seq.

Murder, debate.—By “full of murder” the Apostle means “full of murderous thoughts.” “Debate” is the spirit of strife and contention generally; not as the English would seem to imply, specially verbal contention.

Romans 1:28-31. And as they did not like ουκ εδοκιμασαν, they did not approve, to retain God in their knowledge — Or rather, as εχειν εν επιγνωσει more properly signifies, to retain him with acknowledgment. For it is proved above that they were not wholly without the knowledge of God in the world: but they did not acknowledge him as they ought; did not use or improve the knowledge they had of him to the purposes for which it had been vouch-safed. Or, as Dr. Macknight interprets it, They “did not approve of holding God as the object of the people’s acknowledgment and worship, but approved of the worship of false gods and of images, as more proper for the vulgar; and on that account substituted idolatry in place of the pure, spiritual worship of the one true God, and established it by law.” Therefore God gave them over to a reprobate mind αδοκιμον νουν, an undiscerning, or injudicious mind; a mind not perceiving or approving what is good, either in principle or practice; a mind void of all proper knowledge and relish of what is excellent, treated of Romans 1:32. Men of this stamp are said, Ephesians 4:19, to be απηλγηκοτες, without feeling. To do things not convenient — Even the vilest abominations, treated of Romans 1:29-31. Being filled with all unrighteousness — Or injustice. This stands in the first place, unmercifulness in the last. Fornication includes here every species of uncleanness; wickedness πονηρια, a word which implies a disposition to injure others by craft. Hence the devil is called ο πονηρος, the wicked one, by way of eminence; covetousness Πλεονεξια, an inordinate desire to have more than God sees proper for us, which, the apostle says, is idolatry, Colossians 3:5; maliciousnessκακια, a disposition to injure others from ill-will to them, or which delights in hurting another, even without any advantage to one’s self; full of envy — Grieving at another’s welfare, or rejoicing at his hurt; debate —

Εριδος, strife, contention, quarrelling; deceit — Or guile, fraud; malignityΚακοηθειας, a bad disposition, or evil habit; a disposition, according to Aristotle, to take every thing in the worst sense; but, according to Estius, the word denotes asperity of manners, rudeness; whisperers

Such as secretly defame others; backbiters Καταλαλους, revilers, such as openly speak against others in their absence; haters of God — Especially considered as holy and just, as a lawgiver and judge; persons under the power of that carnal mind which is enmity against him; enemies in their minds, says the apostle, by wicked works; deniers of his providence, or accusers of his justice in their adversities; despiteful Υβριστας, violent, or overbearing in their behaviour to each other; or persons who commit injuries with violence, or who oppress others by force; proud — Persons who value themselves above their just worth; or who are elated on account of their fortune, or station, or office, or endowments, natural or acquired; boasters Αλαζονας, persons who assume to themselves the reputation of qualities which they do not possess; inventors of evil things — Of new pleasures, new ways of gain, new arts of hurting, particularly in war; disobedient to parents — Either natural or political, not willingly subject to lawful authority; a sin here ranked with the greatest crimes. Without understanding — Who act like men void of reason; covenant-breakers — False to their promises, oaths, and engagements. It is well known, the Romans, as a nation, from the very beginning of their commonwealth, never made any scruple of vacating altogether the most solemn engagement, if they did not like it, though made by their supreme magistrate, in the name of the whole people. They only gave up the general who had made it, and then supposed themselves to be at full liberty! Without natural affection — The custom of exposing their own new-born children to perish by cold, hunger, or wild beasts, which so generally prevailed in the heathen world, particularly among the Greeks and Romans, was an amazing instance of this; as is also that of killing their aged and helpless parents, now common among the American heathen. Implacable — Persons who, being once offended, will never be reconciled. The original word ασπονδους, from σπονδη, a libation, “is used to signify irreconcilable, because, when the heathen made their solemn covenants, by which they bound themselves to lay aside their enmities, they ratified them by a sacrifice, on which they poured a libation, after drinking a part of it themselves.” Unmerciful — Unfeeling, unforgiving, or pursuing their schemes of cruelty and revenge, whenever they got any new opportunity of doing it.1:26-32 In the horrid depravity of the heathen, the truth of our Lord's words was shown: Light was come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil; for he that doeth evil hateth the light. The truth was not to their taste. And we all know how soon a man will contrive, against the strongest evidence, to reason himself out of the belief of what he dislikes. But a man cannot be brought to greater slavery than to be given up to his own lusts. As the Gentiles did not like to keep God in their knowledge, they committed crimes wholly against reason and their own welfare. The nature of man, whether pagan or Christian, is still the same; and the charges of the apostle apply more or less to the state and character of men at all times, till they are brought to full submission to the faith of Christ, and renewed by Divine power. There never yet was a man, who had not reason to lament his strong corruptions, and his secret dislike to the will of God. Therefore this chapter is a call to self-examination, the end of which should be, a deep conviction of sin, and of the necessity of deliverance from a state of condemnation.And even as they did not like ... - 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 were displeased with God, and chose to forsake him, and follow their own passions and lusts.

To retain God ... - To think of him, or to serve and adore him. This was the first step in their sin. It was not that God compelled them; or that he did not give them knowledge; nor even is it said that he arbitrarily abandoned them as the first step; but they forsook him, and as a consequence he gave them up to a reprobate mind.

To a reprobate mind - A mind destitute of judgment. In the Greek the same word is used here, which, in another form, occurs in the previous part of the verse, and which is translated "like." The apostle meant doubtless to retain a reference to that in this place. "As they did not approve, ἐδοκιμασαν edokimasan, or choose to retain God, etc. he gave them up to a mind disapproved, rejected, reprobate," ἀδοκιμον adokimon, and he means that the state of their minds was such that God could not approve it. It does not mean that they were reprobate by any arbitrary decree; but that as a consequence of their headstrong passions, their determination to forget him, he left them to a state of mind which was evil, and which he could not approve.

Which are not convenient - Which are not fit or proper; which are disgraceful and shameful; to wit, those things which he proceeds to state in the remainder of the chapter.

28-31. gave them over—or "up" (see on [2182]Ro 1:24).

to do those things which are not convenient—in the old sense of that word, that is, "not becoming," "indecorous," "shameful."

To retain God in their knowledge; or, to have God in acknowledgment. The apostle proceeds to show the analogy betwixt their sin and their punishment. The evil he here taxed them with is much the same with that in Romans 1:21; though they had some knowledge of God, yet they did not acknowledge him as God, by glorifying him, and giving thanks to him; it did not seem good to them so to do.

God gave them over to a reprobate mind; or, an injudicious mind, a mind void of judgment. It is just and equal, that he, who in his judgment disapproves of God, should be left either to be of a corrupt judgment, or of none at all. The word may be taken passively, for a mind disapproved of God; or actively, for a mind which disapproves of all good. They were not given up to this reprobate mind all at once, but by degrees. First, they were given up to their own hearts’ lusts, Romans 1:24; then, to vile affections, Romans 1:26; and then, lastly, to a mind void of judgment; to such an evil habit, that they could do nothing but evil. And even as they did not like,.... This accounts for the justness of the divine procedure in leaving them to commit such scandalous iniquities; that since they had some knowledge of God by the light of nature, and yet did not care

to retain God in their knowledge; or to own and acknowledge him as God, to worship and glorify him as such; but took every method to erase this knowledge out of their minds, and keep it from others:

God gave them over to a reprobate mind; a vain empty mind, worthless, good for nothing devoid of all true knowledge and judgment; incapable of approving what is truly good, or of disapproving that which is evil; a mind that has lost all conscience of things, and is disapproved of by God, and all good men:

to do those things which are not convenient; which are neither agreeably to the light of nature, nor convenient to, or becoming the honour of human nature; things which the brutes themselves, who are destitute of reason, do not do.

{11} And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a {m} reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

(11) He proves the unrighteousness of man by referring to many types of wickedness, from which (if not from all, yet at the least from many of them) no man is altogether free.

(m) To a corrupt and perverse mind, by which it comes to pass that the conscience, having been removed by them, and they having almost no more remorse for sin, run headlong into all types of evil.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Romans 1:28. From the previous exclusive description of the sensual vice of the Gentiles, Paul now proceeds to a summary enumeration of yet other vices to which they had been given up by God in punishment of their apostasy.

καθώς] is not causal, but quemadmodum. The giving them up was something corresponding to their disdainful rejection of the knowledge of God, proportionate as punishment.

οὐκ ἐδοκίμασαν] they deemed God not worth (1 Thessalonians 2:4); οὐ γὰρ ἀγνοίας, ἀλλὰ μελέτης εἶναι φησὶ τὰ τολμήματα, Chrysostom.

ἔχειν ἐν ἐπιγνώσει] Their γνῶναι τὸν Θεόν, derived from the revelation of nature (Romans 1:21), ought to have been brought by cultivation to an ἐπιγνῶναι, that is, to a penetrating and living knowledge of God (see on Ephesians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 13:12); thus they would have attained to the having God ἐν ἐπιγνώσει; but they would not, and so became τὰ ἔθνη τὰ μὴ εἰδότα τὸν Θεόν, 1 Thessalonians 4:5; Galatians 4:8; Ephesians 2:12; Acts 17:30. On ἔχειν ἐν with an abstract noun, which represents the object as appropriated in the action, so that it is possessed in the latter (here in ἐπιγνῶμναι), comp Locella, a[531] Xen. Eph. p. 255. Similar is ἘΝ ὈΡΓῇ ἜΧΕΙΝ, and the like, Krüger on Thucyd. ii. 8, 3.

εἰς ἀδόκ. νοῦν] An ingenious paronomasia with ΟὐΚ ἘΔΟΚΊΜ., to set forth the more prominently the recompense, to which the emphatically repeated ὁ Θεός also contributes: as they did not esteem God worthy, etc., God gave them up to an unworthy, reprobate νοῦς (the collective power of the mind’s action in theoretic and moral cognition[532]). The rendering judicii expers (Beza, Glöckler and others) is opposed to the genius of the language, even as Bengel turns it, and Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 280, defines it. The ἀδόκιμον of the ΝΟῦς is its blameworthiness according to an objective moral standard, but does not express the mode of thinking which they themselves must condemn among one another (Th. Schott; comp Hofmann), which is neither to be taken by anticipation from Romans 1:32, nor extracted from ΜῊ.

ΠΟΙΕῖΝ ΤᾺ ΜῊ ΚΑΘΉΚΟΝΤΑ
] to do what is not becoming, what is not moral. Comp 3Ma 4:16. The Stoical distinction between ΚΑΘῆΚΟΝ and ΚΑΤΌΡΘΩΜΑ Paul has not thought of (as Vitringa conceives). The infinitive is epexegetical: so that they do. The participle with μή indicates the genus of that which is not seemly (Baeumlein, Partik. p. 296); τὰ οὐ καθήκοντα (comp Ephesians 5:4), would be the unseemly. The negative expression is correlate to the ἀδόκιμος νοῦς.

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

[532] Comp. on Romans 7:23, and Kluge in the Jahrb. f. D. Th. 1871, p. 329. The νοῦς is ἀδόκιμος when, not receptive for divine truth, it does not determine the ethical conduct in accordance with it.Romans 1:28 ff. In Romans 1:28-30 we have the third and last παρέδωκεν expanded. As they did not think fit, after trial made (ἐδοκίμασαν), to keep God in their knowledge, God gave them up to a mind which cannot stand trial (ἀδόκιμον). The one thing answers to the other. Virtually, they pronounced the true God ἀδόκιμος, and would have none of Him; and He in turn gave them up to a νοῦς ἀδόκιμος, a mind which is no mind and cannot discharge the functions of one, a mind in which the Divine distinctions of right and wrong are contused and lost, so that God’s condemnation cannot but fall on it at last. νοῦς is not only reason, but conscience; when this is perverted, as in the people of whom Paul speaks, or in the Caananites, who did their abominations unto their Gods, the last deep of evil has been reached. Most of the words which follow describe sins of malignity or inhumanity rather than sensuality, but they cannot be classified. τὰ μὴ καθήκοντα covers all. καθήκοντα is the Stoic word which Cicero renders officia. κακοηθία, the tendency to put the worst construction on everything (Arist. Rh. ii. 13), and κακία are examined in Trench’s Synonyms, § xi., and ὑβριστής, ὕπερήφανος, ἀλάζων in § xxix. θεοστυγεῖς appears to be always passive in the classics, not God hating, but God hated: Deo odibiles, Vulg. The characters are summed up, so to speak, in Romans 1:32 : οἵτινες τὸ δικαίωμα τοῦ θεοῦ ἐπιγνόντες κ.τ.λ.: such persons as, though they know the sentence of God, that those who practise such things are worthy of death, not only do them, but give a whole-hearted complacent assent to those who follow the same practice. τὸ δικαίωμα τοῦ θεοῦ is that which God has pronounced to be the right, and has thereby established as the proper moral order of the world. θάνατος is death, not as a natural period to life, but as a Divine sentence executed on sin: it is not to be defined as physical, or spiritual, or eternal; by an such abstract analysis it is robbed of part of its meaning, which is as wide as that of life or the soul. ἀλλὰ καὶ συνευδοκοῦσιν: to be guilty of such things oneself, under the impulse of passion, is bad; but it is a more malignant badness to give a cordial and disinterested approval to them in others.

It is a mistake to read these verses as if they were a scientific contribution to comparative religion, but equally a mistake to ignore their weight. Paul is face to face with a world in which the vices he enumerates are rampant, and it is his deliberate judgment that these vices have a real connection with the pagan religions. Who will deny that he was both a competent observer and a competent judge? Religion and morality in the great scale hang together, and morality in the long run is determined by religion. Minds which accepted the religious ideas of Phenicia, of Egypt or of Greece (as represented in the popular mythologies) could not be pure. Their morality, or rather their immorality, is conceived as a Divine judgment upon their religion; and as for their religion, nature itself, the Apostle argues, should have saved them from such ignorance of God, and such misconceptions of Him, as deformed every type of heathenism. A converted pagan (as much as Paul) would be filled with horror as he reflected on the way in which he had once thought of God; he would feel in himself that he ought to have known better, and that everything in the world cried shame upon him. Now to recognise this fact is to accept the premises of the Apostle’s argument, and the use to which he puts it. “Once we went after dumb idols; our very worship led us into sin, and sometimes even consecrated it; now we can only see in this our own blindness and guilt, and God’s judgment upon them”—so we can fancy the converted pagan speaking. Such a world, then, as the Apostle describes in this chapter, with this terrible principle of degeneration at work in it, and no power of self-regeneration, is a world which waits for a righteousness of God.

For an interesting attempt to show Paul’s indebtedness for some of the ideas and arguments of Romans 1:18-32 to the book of Wisdom, see S. and H., p. 51 f.28. And even as, &c.] In this and the following verses the developements of sin are followed into less monstrous but more pervading and not less guilty forms.

as they did not like] did not approve. The Gr. is akin to the Gr. of “reprobate” just below. Knowledge of God met with no approbation, and He gave them over to reprobation.

to retain God in their knowledge] Lit. to have God in real (or full) knowledge. There was an antecedent knowledge of God; partly by the universe, partly by the constitution of their nature, partly by primeval revelation.

a reprobate mind] Lit. a mind, or state of thought, rejected after test. The Gr. word, from this literal meaning, comes habitually to mean “refuse, outcast, abandoned.”

convenient] i.e. becoming. So Philemon 1:8, where the Greek word is nearly the same. The euphemism here is most forcible.Romans 1:28. Ἔχειν to have) [or retain] the antithesis is παρέδωκεν, [God] gave them over: ἔχειν ἐν ἐπιγνώσει, to have [or retain] in knowledge, denotes more than ἐπιγινώσκειν, to know) [to be acquainted with]. Knowledge was not altogether wanting to them; but they did not so far profit in the possession of it, as to have [or retain] God, Romans 1:32.—ἀδόκιμον) As ἀδύνατος, ἄπιστος, and such like, have both an active and passive signification, so also ἀδόκιμος. In this passage, there is denoted [or stigmatized], in an active sense, the mind, which approves of things, which ought by no means to be approved of; to this state of mind they are consigned, who have disapproved of, what was most worthy of approbation. In this sense, the word ἁδοκίμον is treated of at Romans 1:32; συνευδοκοῦσι: and the words ποιε͂ιν τὰ μὴ καθήκοντα, at Romans 1:29-31.—τὰ μὴ καθήκοντα), an example of the figure Meiosis [by which less is said, than the writer wishes to be understood].Verse 28. - And even as they did not like to have God in their knowledge, God gave them over (παρέδυκεν, as before) to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient (i.e. unfitting or unseemly things). It is difficult to render in English οὐκ ἐδοκίμασαν and ἀδόκιμον so as to retain the apparently intended correspondence between the verb and the adjective. The verb δοκιμάζειν is capable of the senses

(1) "to prove" (as in assaying metals), and, generally, "to discern," or "judge;"

(2) "to approve," after supposed proving. Jowett, in his commentary on this Epistle, endeavours to retain in English the correspondence between ἐδοκιμασαν and ἀδόκιμον by translating, "As they did not discern to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up to an undiscerning mind," thus taking the verb in sense (1), and the adjective in the same sense actively. But it is at least doubtful whether ἀδόκιμος can be taken in an active sense, which is not its classical one. In the New Testament it occurs 1 Corinthians 9:27; 2 Corinthians 13:5, 6; 2 Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:16; Hebrews 6:8. In the first of the above passages the word obviously means "rejected" (in the Authorized Version a castaway), with reference to the comparison of a competitor in athletic contests being proved unworthy of the prize - a sense cognate to the common one of the same adjective as applied to spurious metals, rejected or worthless after being tested. In 2 Corinthians 13:5, 6, either sense seems admissible - ἑαυτοὺς δοκιμάζετε... εἰ μήτι ἀδόκιμοί ἐστε. But not so in Hebrews 6:8, where the word is applied to barren land. The passages from 2 Timothy and Titus may in themselves admit the sense of undiscerning, but the passive one is more probable in view of the common usage of the word. On the other hand, ch. 12:2 may be adduced in favour of the active sense; for there the consequence of the renewal of the mind in Christians is said to be that they may prove, or discern (εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς), what is Gods will; and hence it may seem probable that the want of such discernment is denoted here. The same passage also favours the verb δοκιμάζειν being taken here in sense (1) given above, and Jowett's rendering of the whole passage. It is, after all, uncertain; nor does it follow that the Greek paronomasia can be reproduced in English. Even as

Expressing the correlation between the sin and the punishment.

They did not like to have God in their knowledge (οὐκ ἐδοκίμασαν).

Lit., did not approve. Rev., refused. They did not think God worth the knowing. Compare 1 Thessalonians 2:4. Knowledge (ἐπιγνώσει) is, literally, full knowledge. They did not suffer the rudimentary revelation of nature to develop into full knowledge - "a penetrating and living knowledge of God" (Meyer). In Dante's division of Hell, the section assigned to Incontinence, or want of self-control, is succeeded by that of Bestiality, or besotted folly, which comprises infidelity and heresy in all their forms - sin which Dante declares to be the most stupid, vile, and hurtful of follies. Thus the want of self-restraint is linked with the failure to have God in knowledge. Self is truly possessed only in God. The tendency of this is ever downward toward that demoniac animalism which is incarnated in Lucifer at the apex of the infernal cone, and which is so powerfully depicted in this chapter. See "Inferno," ix.

Reprobate mind (ἀδόκιμον νοῦν)

Lit., not standing the test. See on is tried, James 1:12; and see on trial, 1 Peter 1:7. There is a play upon the words. As they did not approve, God gave them up unto a mind disapproved. This form of play upon words of similar sound is perhaps the most frequent of Paul's rhetorical figures, often consisting in the change of preposition in a compound, or in the addition of a preposition to the simple verb. Thus περιτομή circumcision, κατατομή concision, Philippians 3:2, Philippians 3:3. "Our epistle known (γινωσκομένη) and read (ἀναγινωσκομένη)." Compare Romans 2:1; 1 Corinthians 11:29-31; Romans 12:3. The word reprobate is from re-probare, to reject on a second trial, hence, to condemn.

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