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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Romans 1:18



For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

Adam Clarke Commentary

For the wrath of God is revealed - The apostle has now finished his preface, and comes to the grand subject of the epistle; namely, to show the absolute need of the Gospel of Christ, because of the universal corruption of mankind; which was so great as to incense the justice of God, and call aloud for the punishment of the world

  1. He shows that all the heathen nations were utterly corrupt, and deserved this threatened punishment. And this is the subject of the first chapter, from Romans 1:18; to the end ( Romans 1:18-32;).
  • He shows that the Jews, notwithstanding the greatness of their privileges, were no better than the Gentiles; and therefore the wrath of God was revealed against them also. This subject he treats in Romans 2:1-29 and Romans 3:1-19.
  • He returns, as it were, on both, Romans 3:20-31, and proves that, as the Jews and Gentiles were equally corrupt, they could not be saved by the deeds of any law; that they stood equally in need of that salvation which God had provided; that both were equally entitled to that salvation, for God was the God of the Gentiles as well as of the Jews.
  • By οργη θεου, the wrath of God, we are not to understand any uneasy passion in the Divine Being; but the displeasure of his righteousness, which is expressed by the punishments inflicted on the ungodly, those who retain not God in their knowledge; and the unrighteous, those whose lives are profligate.

    As, in the Gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed for the salvation of the ungodly, so is the wrath of God revealed against the workers of iniquity. Those who refuse to be saved in the way revealed by his mercy must be consumed in the way revealed by his justice.

    Ungodliness - ασεβειαν, from α , negative, and σεβω or σεβομαι, I worship, probably intended here to express atheism, polytheism, and idolatry of every kind.

    Unrighteousness - αδικιαν from α, negative, and δικη, justice; every thing contrary to strict morality; all viciousness and profligacy of conduct.

    Who hold the truth in unrighteousness - In what sense could it be said that the heathen held the truth in unrighteousness, when they really had not that truth? Some think this refers to the conduct of their best philosophers, such as Socrates, Plato, Seneca, etc., who knew much more of the Divine nature than they thought safe or prudent to discover; and who acted in many things contrary to the light which they enjoyed. Others think this to be spoken of the Gentiles in general, who either did know, or might have known, much of God from the works of creation, as the apostle intimates in the following verses. But Rosenmuller and some others contend that the word κατεχειν here does not signify to hold, but to hinder; and that the place should be translated, who through maliciousness hinder the truth; i.e. prevent it from taking hold of their hearts, and from governing their conduct. This is certainly a very usual acceptation of the verb κατεχειν, which Hesychius interprets κρατειν, κωλυειν, συνεχειν, to retain, hinder, etc.; these men hindering, by their vicious conduct, the truth of God from being propagated in the earth.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

    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 TheouThe 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 asebeianIt 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; Jude 1:15, Jude 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.) Philemon 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.

    (3) people who resolve to live in sin, of course, resist the gospel, and endeavor to prevent its influence.

    (4) pride, and vanity, and the love of the world also resist the gospel, and oppose its advances.

    (5) Unlawful business - business that begins in evil, and progresses, and ends in evil - has this tendency to hold back the gospel. Such is the effect of the traffic in ardent spirits, in the slave-trade, etc. They begin in the love of money, the root of all evil 1 Timothy 6:10; they progress in the tears and sorrows of the widow, the orphan, the wife, the sister, or the child; and they end in the deep damnation of multitudes in the world to come. Perhaps there has been nothing that has so much held back the influence of truth, and of the gospel, as indulgence in the vice of intemperance, and traffic in liquid fire.

    (6) Indulgence in vice, or wickedness of any kind, holds back the truth of God. People who are resolved to indulge their passions will not yield themselves to this truth. And hence, all the wicked, the proud, and vain, and worldly are responsible, not only for their own sins directly, but for hindering, by their example and their crimes, the effect of religion on others. They are answerable for standing in the way of God and his truth; and for opposing him in the benevolent design of doing good to all people. There is nothing that prevents the universal spread and influence of truth but sin. And people of wickedness are answerable for all the ignorance and wo which are spread over the community, and which have extended themselves over the world.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

    The Biblical Illustrator

    Romans 1:18

    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness.

    The wrath of God

    I. Its objects.

    1. Unrighteousness.

    2. Impenitence.

    II. Its revelation.

    1. In the conscience.

    2. In the Word of God.

    3. In Divine providence.

    III. Its consummation.

    1. Certain.

    2. Terrible. (J. Lyth, D. D.)

    The wrath of God

    I. Of a holy God, whose hatred of sin is infinite.

    II. Of a just God, who cannot but punish sin according to its true desert.

    III. Of an omniscient God, whose eye there is no eluding, who is “greater than our hearts and knoweth all things.”

    IV. Of an almighty God, whose ability to punish no created power can resist.

    V. Of an unchangeable God, whose nature must continue eternally opposed to sin, whose knowledge no forgetfulness can ever impair, and whose power eternity cannot weaken! “Who knoweth the power of His anger?” (R. Wardlaw, D. D.)

    Wrath in God and wrath in man

    I. The difference of wrath as it is in God and as it is in man.

    1. In man it is an exciting passion. It shakes him to the very centre of his being. It is seen in his countenance; sometimes in a ghastly pallor, and sometimes in scarlet fire. Not so in God; it wakes no ripple on the infinite rivers of His being. He is ever of one mind.

    2. In man it is a malignant passion. It burns with a desire to make its object miserable. But there is no malevolence in the heart of God. “Fury is not in Me.” “God is love”; and all His other attributes are but so many forms of His love. All His threatenings are but love raising its warning voice to prevent His creatures from falling into rum.

    3. In man it is a painful passion. The man who treasures anger inflicts a greater injury on himself than he can on the object of his hate. But nothing can disturb the peace of the “ever blessed God.”

    4. In man it is a selfish passion. Man’s wrath is excited because something has occurred which he supposes injuriously affects him in some way or other. There is nothing of this kind in the wrath of God. No creature can injure Him.

    II. The agreement of wrath as it is in God and as it is in man.

    1. Repugnance. Wrath in man raises his whole nature against the offence, or the offender, or both. There is at once a recoil, and an antagonism. Is there nothing answering to this in the wrath of God, in relation to sin? There must. Wickedness is repugnant--

    2. Retribution. There is in the wrath of man an avenging instinct. There is this retributiveness in the wrath of God. Not as a passion, but as an eternal and unalterable principle. The principle of retribution runs through the whole universe, so that the wrong never fails to meet with punishment. Thus the wicked now and here are “going away into everlasting punishment.” Every sin is a step adown. Every sinful feeling is a nest where the furies hatch their swarming brood.

    Conclusion: This subject--

    1. Corrects a theological error. The error is that Christ’s death was an appeasement of Divine vengeance. Christ’s mission was the effect, not the cause, of God’s love.

    2. Supplies a terrible warning to sinners. “Be sure your sins will find you out.”

    3. Urges the necessity of regeneration. The only way to avoid wrath is to avoid sin, the only way to avoid sin is by repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

    On ungodliness and unrighteousness

    I. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and impiety of men. This description of sinners use the name of God irreverently, in vain, and for criminal purposes. It is a consequence of such impious representations, to arraign the dispensation of Divine mercy by a Mediator, and to become incapable of salvation, by an unrighteous rejection of the best means Infinite Wisdom has appointed for its attainment.

    II. The wrath of God is also revealed from heaven against every species of injustice and crime. Under injustice I comprehend every injury done to character and to fidelity, as it respects promises and engagements; and it may be extended to every mean and insidious art by which another is overreached and circumvented.

    III. In what manner the judgments of God are made known and executed. Man, by the moral constitution of his nature, is susceptible of various and intense punishment; and his corporeal frame subjects him to another species of it. The constitution of things is adapted to the nature of man, and is either adverse or friendly in proportion to his obedience or disobedience to the laws of his Maker. (A. Stifling, LL. D.)

    God’s wrath against wickedness

    I. The world’s abounding wickedness.

    1. Its exhibition.

    (a) The most reckless profligacy of manners.

    (b) Abandonment to every selfish and malignant passion.

    2. Its guiltiness. It was wilful. Men had the truth, but stifled it in their unrighteousness; and therefore they were “without excuse.” The race began with a sufficiency of Divine knowledge; but it interfered with their bad passions and propensities, and so they resolved to adapt their theology to their base practices. This disposition, started at an early period, was maintained by every succeeding generation. In each age the light diminished; but still in each enough remained to convict the human conscience of wrong. “God left not Himself without witness.” Ever since the creation of the world His “eternal power and Divine supremacy” have been displayed in the material universe. Besides which, other means of religious instruction have always been accessible. Once in Judaism, and since in Christianity, God has maintained a testimony for Himself. Hence the wickedness of the world brings with it an infinite culpability.

    II. God’s anger revealed against it.

    1. Its mode. This is various. It was declared of old by the prophets. It was displayed in the great crises of the world’s history, as the Deluge, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the overthrow of the Egyptians in the Red Sea, and the downfall of Babylon, etc. Besides, there were the acknowledged miseries of life bewailed by philosophers and poets; could these be pondered by the thoughtful without the conviction that God was “angry with the wicked every day”? Above all there was death. Was it not in His wrath that the Almighty consumed the nations? All these evidences of God’s anger, backed by the internal monitions of every man’s conscience, were patent to all long before the time of Paul, but they had all been cast into the shade by a still mightier and more convincing demonstration furnished by the gospel of Christ.

    2. Its burden. The thing revealed is that He hates sin, and is resolved severely to punish those who practise it. Each individual who persists in his iniquity will die, and after death be judged, condemned, and banished into “the outer darkness,” etc. So also there is a day of wrath appointed for the world at large. Conclusion: Let the subject--

    1. Convince you of sin.

    2. Inspire you with salutary fear.

    3. Turn you to the gospel of Christ. (T. G. Horton.)

    The revelation of the wrath of God

    I. The wrath of God.

    1. Its nature. It is no easy thing to speak of wrath in connection with God. Among us it is known to be a passion, and seldom a righteous passion. But it is not a passion in God: “Fury is not in Me”; in Him it is principle, the love of order, a determination to maintain equity, a resolution to punish sin. It results, therefore, from the perfection of His nature. The legislator is not angry when he promulgates his laws, nor the judge when he pronounces sentence. But the case is that society cannot be maintained without laws, and laws are nothing without penalties and sanctions. In all well-ordered countries crime is punished; and can it escape in the empire of a Being who is “righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works”? And this we contend to be essential to the very character of God. We could not esteem nor love Him if we supposed that He viewed equally truth and lies, honesty and injustice, cruelty and benevolence.

    2. Its dreadfulness. If “the wrath of a king” be, as Solomon says, as “the roaring of a lion,” what must the wrath of God be? “Who knoweth the power of His anger? Even according to Thy fear so is Thy wrath.” In many cases the evil is far less than the fear; and when the reality comes it is found to be nothing compared with the apprehension. But here the reality will equal, will surpass all imagination.

    II. The revelation of this wrath to our very senses.

    1. To our faith. This is done by the Scriptures. There hell is naked before it, and destruction has no covering; there faith beholds the outer darkness where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    2. To the conscience. Thus it is revealed in those uneasinesses and apprehensions which attend the commission of sin. When Joseph’s brethren were in the hold, they said one to another, “We are verily guilty,” etc. What was there here to remind them of Joseph? Oh, there was enough. Inhumanity deserves and demands punishment, and conscience knows it. And when Belshazzar saw the handwriting his face gathered terror, the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another. Why? How does he know but that it is an eulogium upon his character, or an announcement of the raising of the siege, or a prediction of the extension of his reign? There was something within him that foreboded of evil; and the interpreter, therefore, only came in to confirm the exposition of his own feelings. So was it with Herod, who, when he heard of the fame of Jesus, said, “It is John the Baptist.”

    3. To our senses. All nature abounds throughout with tokens of God’s displeasure against sin. And before we dismiss this part of the subject we will observe that, while the existence of this wrath shows us the holiness and justice of God, the revelation of it displays His mercy and His grace too. He would not take you sinners by surprise. He has revealed the wrath before that you may escape it.

    III. The objects against which this wrath is revealed.

    1. Ungodliness. Ungodliness comprehends all the sins against the first table of the law. The ungodly do not fear God, do not love Him, worship Him, confide in Him. God is not in all their thoughts; they practically say unto Him, “Depart from us; we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways.”

    2. Unrighteousness. Unrighteousness comprehends all the sins against the second table of the law. Unrighteousness is injustice in your regards and in your dealings with your fellow creatures.

    3. All ungodliness, and all unrighteousness--the concealed and the open, the refined and the gross. You do not worship a graven image, but then you take the name of your God in vain.

    IV. The class of victims peculiarly obnoxious to it. “Who hold the truth in righteousness.”

    1. The heathen themselves never lived up to the light they possessed. This is the charge directly brought home against them by the apostle in this chapter.

    2. It was not otherwise also with the Jews, they never practised what they knew. This is the charge the apostle brings against them in the next chapter.

    3. There is not a man that lives up to his own principles; he does many things which he knows to be wrong, and he omits many things which he knows to be right. The plea of ignorance therefore can only be admitted in the case of idiots. The original is, “who imprison the truth in unrighteousness”; that is, the truth would speak in them, and struggles to be heard; but it is confined, imprisoned. Fashion, the god of this world, the love of fame, the love of money, the love of pleasure, these are the jailers that confine the truth in prison. Saul knew it belonged not to him to offer sacrifice; his conscience told him, therefore, that it was a sin; he struggled hard, but yielded. “I forced myself.” Herod knew John and revered him, yet for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he sent and beheaded John. It was the same with Pilate.


    1. What then shall we say to the state of many born in a land of light, who have from children known the Holy Scriptures? With what accusing and condemning consciences you have forced yourselves on, you and God only know. I have read of a captain who, when he found his men begin to waver, threw himself on the ground, and exclaimed, “Well, if you will flee, you shall tread me under foot.” Conscience has done the very same with regard to some of you.

    2. Let me beseech you to practise what you know. Do you believe that covetousness is a sin? Let the conviction go free; be ready to distribute. If you believe it your duty to make a profession of religion, and to join the Church of God, why, then, go immediately and give up yourselves, not only “to the Lord,” but “to His people,” and be concerned to walk in all the ordinances of the Lord blameless.

    3. Is there nothing else revealed from heaven but the wrath of God? We deserve nothing else; but is there no way of escape from it? We have a revelation of mercy and of grace too. Jesus delivers us from the wrath to come. (W. Jay.)

    The revelation of wrath

    I. It is here assumed, the position being presently fully established, that all men are both unrighteous and ungodly.

    1. They are ungodly. For, being the creatures of God, they owe to Him perpetual allegiance and service. Those who withhold this violate their moral obligations, and rob God of His due.

    2. They are unrighteous. Indeed, it is hardly to be supposed that it could be otherwise. The more completely men are cut off from the fear of God the less regard do they have for the rights and happiness of their fellows. Besides, the claims of God being first and supreme, there can be no true righteousness where those claims are denied.

    II. This being so, what aspect does the administration of the God of nature assume towards ungodliness and unrighteousness. Is it one of complacency? or of indifference? or not rather of active and resolute antagonism? Paul is not here writing of a revelation of righteous wrath which is to be made at the close of human history, but of one which is present and preparatory. It is made openly and incontestably “from heaven.” Not that it comes glistering down from on high as the shaft of livid lightning. When M. Arnold affirms that “there is an eternal Power, not ourselves, which makes for righteousness”; and when the Psalmist exclaims that “the face of the Lord is against them that do evil,” they but set forth, in varied form, the truth that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven.” For heaven is the throne of God; and that throne is but the symbol of His supreme legislative and executive dominion. From that heaven--that throne--the wrath of God is being perpetually revealed--

    1. In the human conscience. What but the manifested power of conscience, as an actual revealer of the wrath of God from heaven, gave occasion to the Proverbs, that “the wicked trembleth at the shaking of a leaf,” and “fleeth when no man pursueth”? Why fled our first parents, but that conscience had already revealed a coming wrath? Why that whispering, pallid terror in those ten bronzed Bedouins in the Egyptian treasure city? (Genesis 42:21; Gen_42:12). Why does that agitated man in the temple treasury so vehemently press those officials to take from him his thirty pieces of silver? And why, when he finds that it cannot be recalled, does he hasten away to hang himself? Who knows not that conscience has compelled many a man to reveal secrets of iniquity, from whom no rack or torture could have extorted the disclosure? And though many a guilty conscience becomes so accustomed to its load as to be little incommoded thereby, it requires but that startling touch which Providence may, at any moment, give to cause it to awaken from its slumbers.

    2. In the general moral sentiments of mankind--those sentiments as they are exercised in reference to those who invade human rights. It is quite true that, as human nature now is, it is not safe to leave the administration of justice in private hands. Therefore society has combined for the purpose of maintaining private rights by public power. This power for the administration of justice is ordained of God (Romans 13:1-7). And hence the penal laws and all the instruments of punishment are but so many mediums, through which the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.

    3. In the general course of providence, or of God’s own administration of the universe in reference to men.

    4. In the Scriptures. In the Pentateuch the principles of the Divine government, including the revelation of wrath against sin, are clearly set forth. In the prophets those principles are so expounded and enforced as to warn against misapprehension and perversion; while in the historical books, the principles not only receive abundant illustration from God’s actual treatment both of Gentiles and Jews, but the additional information is given, on God’s own authority, that such and such calamities which had overtaken particular men and nations were revelations of His wrath from heaven against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of the sufferers. By these Scriptures the general truth is established beyond all contradiction, that “verily there is a God who judgeth in the earth”; and that, “though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished.”

    Conclusion: But--

    1. It should ever be remembered that this revelation of wrath is but preparatory and predictive. It is neither perfect nor universal. Many criminals remain undetected, and, in this respect, unpunished, and sometimes the innocent are wrongfully convicted and punished. The whole effect, therefore, of the present revelation of the wrath of God from heaven is to remind us that we are under moral government; and that all are hastening onwards towards that day in which “every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”

    2. And in prospect of that final retribution, this present revelation of the wrath of God from heaven may prove to us what ample and tremendous powers of punishment are provided for the unrighteous and ungodly. (W. Tyson.)

    Who hold the truth in unrighteousness.--

    Holding the truth in unrighteousness

    The word “hold” signifies “to restrain or hold back.” Under the influence of “unrighteousness” they restrained or held back the truth from exerting its proper power. They laid it, as it were, under arrest, because its imperative dictates were such as opposed the inclinations of their depraved hearts. It is not merely that they kept the truth to themselves--holding it in concealment and captivity, and instead of disclosing to others what they knew, criminally leaving them in error and delusion, which some of the philosophers have justly been charged with doing in regard to the unity and other attributes of the Divine Being; but more generally that both philosophers and others refused to frame their lives even according to such knowledge of truth as they actually possessed, or had the ready means of attaining. They acted towards the truth, in voluntarily resisting its control, and shackling its freedom, as a foolish and unprincipled king does towards his best and wisest counsellor, whom he throws into prison to have him out of the way, resenting his past fidelity, and determined to be no longer troubled with his salutary but unpalatable admonitions. (R. Wardlaw, D. D.)

    Holding down the truth

    The heathen world would not allow the truth to exercise its proper and legitimate influence upon them. They failed to educate their minds to perceive it, or their hearts to love it. The eye can be trained to discover beauty in the landscape and in works of art; or it may have its very powers of vision impaired and destroyed by gazing at the sun or on the snow. So man, by a holy walk and conversation, may fit and prepare his soul to discern and value the truth concerning the eternal power and character of God; or by unrighteousness he may injure his spiritual faculties and be unable to read the revelation of God, though plainly written in the book of nature. The following are some of the steps by which men keep back the truth:--

    1. They are prejudiced against it.

    2. They positively hate it.

    3. They neglect or misrepresent it.

    4. They deny and dethrone it in order to enthrone and exalt falsehood.

    5. They revile it. (C. Nell, M. A.)

    Repression of God’s truth

    Two interpretations: One, that a man may be of unrighteous life and yet have a knowledge of the truth; he holds the truth, but is unrighteous in spite of it. The other, that men keep down the truth by their unrighteousness. Compare 2 Thessalonians 2:6, where the word here translated “hold” is translated “withhold.” We take the latter. Man’s unrighteousness “withholds,” “keeps back,” “represses God’s truth.” This is evidently the view of the revisers of the Authorised Version, for they translate: “Who hold down the truth in unrighteousness.”

    I. All things demand for their proper development suitable conditions and surroundings. Truth no exception to this rule. We observe that it requires--

    1. An appreciative spirit--love for truth.

    2. A receptive spirit--openness to truth,

    3. An earnest spirit--zeal for truth. Such, and such alone, attain truth; into such minds only will truth enter or come to anything. This with respect to truth generally. Religious truth requires something more.

    4. An obedient spirit (John 7:17; Joh_8:31-32).

    II. Trust involves a moral element because it does not concern the intellect alone, but regulates the life. The text declares that unrighteousness--sin--represses the truth. This appears from the following considerations: Sin--

    1. Destroys the love of truth.

    2. Sensitiveness to truth.

    3. Zeal for truth.

    4. Obedience to truth.

    Hence it destroys the conditions necessary to the development and progress of God’s truth.

    III. It follows from all this.

    1. That a sinner is disqualified for pronouncing upon Divine truth.

    2. That our doubts--all scepticism--are finally referable to a sinful nature in ourselves rather than to any inherent difficulties in the truth itself.

    3. That the progress of Christ’s religion is hindered not only by outward sin, but by the imperfections and inconsistencies of those who profess it. (H M. Jackson.)

    The truth held prisoner

    I. What is that truth which men hold prisoner? Religious and practical truth which tends to the right ruling of the heart and life in obedience to the will of God. The truth is two fold.

    1. The truth of natural religion, or the dictates of a natural conscience, agreeable to those common notices of good and evil left in man since the Hall.

    2. The truth of revealed religion, which comprehends the whole truths of the law and of the gospel also.

    II. How men hold truth prisoner.

    1. In others.

    2. In themselves. This is what the text mainly aims at. It is kept prisoner--

    (a) When it is restrained by undue silence. If the Lord call men to bring it forth, silence in that case is a bond laid on truth. “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and of My words,” etc. When is truth held prisoner by undue silence?

    (i) Negatively, not when one has no sufficient call to bring it forth. “There is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” And in discerning these times there is much spiritual wisdom. Truth kept in silence, during the proper time of silence, is not kept prisoner, but entertained in its lodging suitable to its character. “A fool uttereth all his mind, but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.” Truth is too sacred a thing to bring forth just to make a show of, and far more to prostitute to men’s lusts and humours. There is an unseasonable venting of truth, by which truth and holiness gain nothing, but lose much (1 Samuel 22:10). Our Lord forbids it. “Neither cast ye your pearls before swine.”

    (ii) Positively, when the honour of Goal requires the bringing it forth (Mark 8:38). When the Lord’s honour is at stake, truth is like a fire that will seek a vent, and get it in a tender soul. Thus speaks Jeremiah, “His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.” And it exposes men to the wrath of God, to hold in truth in that case, for that is to sacrifice God’s glory to men’s own interests. Again, to hold it in when the good of our neighbour requires it to come forth, is to hold it prisoner, “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.” Where there is any probable appearance of sin’s being prevented in others, by means of the coming forth of truth, it is not to be held in, nor can it be so, without the guilt of imprisoning it.

    (b) When by words or actions, one holding in the truth, leads another into sin. This is to hold truth prisoner with a witness, shutting the prison door with double bars.

    (a) Neglecting, overlooking, and not adverting to it in the management of their hearts and lives. The light shines about them, but they take no notice of it to order their steps by it. This is put the Lord’s candle in them, under a bushel.

    (b) Not obeying truth speaking to them in their consciences.

    (c) Going on in opposition to known truth, knowing the right and doing the wrong. “They are of those that rebel against the light.”

    (d) By overcoming the truth in their war against it. Many a battle there is betwixt truth in the conscience and a man’s lusts, till the man taking part with his lusts against the truth, convictions are murdered, the troublesome light in the soul is put out, and truth is taken and held prisoner, that it can no more disturb the man in the enjoyment of his lusts.

    III. Truth is unjustly thus treated, wrongly held prisoner by sinners. This is clear, for that--

    1. It is God’s messenger to men and His deputy in the soul, over which they have no power and authority. So that one cannot hold it prisoner but in unrighteousness, or in rebellion against the God of truth.

    2. It is never guilty of any crime against men, that it should be so treated. Falsehood and lies are ever contrary to men’s true interest, but the truth is never so.

    3. It cannot be held prisoner but for an unrighteous cause, and in favour of some lust or other.

    4. A just God will clear it, and set it free at the cost of those who hold it prisoner. “They shall know, saith the Lord, whose word shall stand, Mine or theirs.” If truth prevail not to men’s reformation, it will prevail to their destruction.

    IV. To confirm the doctrine. Consider--

    1. A person’s treating truth thus is rebellion against God, who is the God of truth and Lord of light. “If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.”

    2. It exposes men to severe temporal judgments. It was our first parents holding truth prisoner which brought in the flood of miseries on the world (see also 1 Peter 3:19-20).

    3. It exposes to spiritual judgments (Isaiah 6:8-10; Romans 1:21-23).

    4. It exposes to eternal judgments.

    Conclusion: Consider--

    1. The evil of it.

    It is the putting out of the candle which God in compassion to our darkness has lighted unto us. It is like one travelling through a wilderness of pits, rising up against his guide, binding him and casting him into one of them. Like captives conspiring against their deliverers, or sick men against their physicians, to their own ruin.

    2. The greatness of the hazard.

    “It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you.” Remember the doom of the servant who knew his master’s will, but did it not. As the sharpest vinegar comes of the most generous wine, so the most fierce wrath comes from the despising of truth revealed to one in the gospel.

    3. Set truth free, loose its bands that it may reign freely in your hearts and lives. That is--

    (a) It will set you at liberty. “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

    (b) The way of truth is the way of holiness and happiness. (T. Boston, D. D.)

    God’s truth and man’s treatment of it

    I. The thing spoken of here as “the truth.”

    1. Truth in the spheres of science, literature, art, philosophy, is an object worth attaining. But it is not in reference to such truth that Paul writes. Truth, indeed, is one, in whatever you may find it, whether in geological records or in the Bible. It means universally the reality as opposed to that which is not real. Now we want to know what the reality is in everything that comes before our minds. We want the historian to give us the reality as he narrates for us the events of history. So also in the higher matters of religion. The truth about God and His relation to man; truth bearing upon our duties, destiny--this is our supreme want. That which distinguishes us from the brutes is the possession of a religious nature with its moral capacities.

    2. It is only as this religious nature grows that the man himself can be said to truly grow; and this growth can proceed only in connection with religious truth, which is its proper food. Take away light and moisture from the plant, and it dies. So our spiritual being can live and grow only in the light and under the vitalising influence of religious truth. Christ assigns two functions to Divine truth in relation to our fallen humanity.

    II. Man’s conduct in reference to “the truth.” It does not get access to the heart, does not get its rightful power and ascendancy; it is checked, hindered, held back in its design to bless by unrighteousness. In what way? Notice--

    1. That sin extinguishes the love and desire for the truth. It does not do so in regard to secular truth. The astronomer in his observatory, the chemist in his laboratory, the geologist among the rocks--each in his own way seeks the truth and desires it. But it is very different in regard to “the truth” as it comes to us in God’s Word, and sounds in the conscience. Why?

    2. Sin destroys the soul’s sensitiveness to the truth. It weakens the soul’s power of moral perception, beclouds the inner vision. (A. Bell, B. A.)

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    Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Romans 1:18". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

    Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness.

    The wrath of God was upon Jew and Gentile alike, but the Gentiles are that portion of humanity directly under consideration, beginning here and through Romans 2:16. The displeasure of God against the Gentiles resulted not from caprice, or happenstance, but from their unrighteousness and ungodliness, these two words standing for their irreverence and impiety toward God and for their faithless and immoral conduct toward their fellow human creatures. Whiteside noted that,

    Ungodliness is worse than unrighteousness, though not generally so regarded. Our first and primary duty is to God. If we revere God as we should, we will respect his word, his church, and his worship. Those who blaspheme the name of God, or speak lightly of any of his commands, are ungodly. Through passion, or some weakness, a person might do wrong to his fellow man, and then be filled with great penitence toward God for the wrong he had done. Such a one still retained his reverence for God. David did that. He did unrighteous things, but his reverence for God was unfailing and always brought him to repentance. The ungodly are not so; they do not take God into account in anything that they do.[34]

    The wrath of God ... is a phrase that describes the antagonism between the Creator and all sin and unrighteousness. As Barmby stated it,

    "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.[35]

    Revealed ... answers to the same word in the preceding verse, thus making the "righteousness of God" and the "wrath of God" antithetical, and both of them to be attributes of the Father. That wrath of God which is here said to be revealed should not be stripped of its emotional overtones when contemplated by sinful people; for it is obvious that the wrath of God is a personal thing. "It is God's holy revulsion against that which is the contradiction of holiness."[36] This wrath is living, active, dynamic, and constantly operational against all evil. God has a score to settle with sin; and some Day he will settle it. Not one little sin will ever be able to crawl by the eyes of the eternal God without being either: (1) forgiven through the blood of Jesus Christ, or (2) punished with everlasting destruction from God's presence.

    Hinder the truth in unrighteousness ... This is a reference to the fact that the pre-Christian Gentile world had the truth and that they suppressed it and denied it through their sins and wickedness. This is a most interesting verse, for it immediately raises the question of just to what extent those ancient Gentiles had "the truth." Certainly, they did not know the truth to the extent that it has now been revealed in Christ; and yet a little investigation will show that they had far more than sufficient truth to make their shameful conduct absolutely unjustifiable. Paul, in later verses, here speaks of the obvious truth to be gleaned from the observation of nature and the inner promptings of conscience; but those pre-Christian Gentiles also possessed other very pertinent and significant truth concerning God and his will, as the very next verse will indicate.

    [34] R. L. Whiteside, op. cit., p. 34.

    [35] J. Barmby, The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1963), Vol. 18, 3p. 9.

    [36] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 35.

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    Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

    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.

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    Gill, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

    Geneva Study Bible

    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.

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    Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

    Romans 1:18-32. This wrath of God, revealed against all iniquity, overhangs the whole heathen world.

    Why this divinely provided righteousness is needed by all men.

    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).

    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 Matthew 6:22, Matthew 6:23; Ephesians 4:17, Ephesians 4:18).

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    This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

    Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

    For the wrath of God is revealed (αποκαλυπτεται γαρ οργη τεουapokaluptetai gar orgē theou). Note in Romans Paul‘s use of γαρgar now argumentative, now explanatory, now both as here. There is a parallel and antecedent revelation (see Romans 1:17) of God‘s wrath corresponding to the revelation of God‘s righteousness, this an unwritten revelation, but plainly made known. ΟργηOrgē is from οργαωorgaō to teem, to swell. It is the temper of God towards sin, not rage, but the wrath of reason and law (Shedd). The revelation of God‘s righteousness in the gospel was necessary because of the failure of men to attain it without it, for God‘s wrath justly rested upon all both Gentiles (Romans 1:18-32) and Jews (2:1-3:20).

    Ungodliness (ασεβειανasebeian). Irreligion, want of reverence toward God, old word (cf. 2 Timothy 2:16).

    Unrighteousness (αδικιανadikian). Lack (αa privative and δικηdikē) of right conduct toward men, injustice (Romans 9:14; Luke 18:6). This follows naturally from irreverence. The basis of ethical conduct rests on the nature of God and our attitude toward him, otherwise the law of the jungle (cf. Nietzsche, “might makes right”).

    Hold down the truth (την αλητειαν κατεχοντωνtēn alētheian katechontōn). Truth (αλητεια αλητηςalētheiaαalēthēs from λητωa privative and λαντανωlēthō or κατεχωlanthanō to conceal) is out in the open, but wicked men, so to speak, put it in a box and sit on the lid and “hold it down in unrighteousness.” Their evil deeds conceal the open truth of God from men. Cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:6. for this use of katechō to hinder.

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    Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

    Vincent's Word Studies


    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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    Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

    Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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

    For — There is no other way of obtaining life and salvation. Having laid down his proposition, the apostle now enters upon the proof of it. His first argument is, The law condemns all men, as being under sin. None therefore is justified by the works of the law. This is treated of Romans 3:20. And hence he infers, Therefore justification is by faith.

    The wrath of God is revealed — Not only by frequent and signal interpositions of divine providence, but likewise in the sacred oracles, and by us, his messengers.

    From heaven — This speaks the majesty of Him whose wrath is revealed, his all-seeing eye, 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 — These two are treated of, Romans 1:23, etc.

    Of men — He is speaking here of the gentiles, and chiefly the wisest of them.

    Who detain the truth — For it struggles against their wickedness.

    In unrighteousness — The word here includes ungodliness also.

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    Wesley, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

    Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

    The wrath of God; the displeasure of God.--Who hold the truth; that is, hold it back, make it of none effect.

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    Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". 1878.

    Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

    18.For (42) revealed, etc. He reasons now by stating things of a contrary nature, and proves that there is no righteousness except what is conferred, or comes through the gospel; for he shows that without this all men are condemned: by it alone there is salvation to be found. And he brings, as the first proof of condemnation, the fact, — that though the structure of the world, and the most beautiful arrangement of the elements, ought to have induced man to glorify God, yet no one discharged his proper duty: it hence appears that all were guilty of sacrilege, and of wicked and abominable ingratitude.

    To some it seems that this is a main subject, and that Paul forms his discourse for the purpose of enforcing repentance; but I think that the discussion of the subject begins here, and that the principal point is stated in a former proposition; for Paul’s object was to teach us where salvation is to be found. He has already declared that we cannot obtain it except through the gospel: but as the flesh will not willingly humble itself so far as to assign the praise of salvation to the grace of God alone, Paul shows that the whole world is deserving of eternal death. It hence follows, that life is to be recovered in some other way, since we are all lost in ourselves. But the words, being well considered, will help us much to understand the meaning of the passage.

    Some make a difference between impiety and unrighteousness, and think, that by the former word is meant the profanation of God’s worship, and by the latter, injustice towards men; but as the Apostle immediately refers this unrighteousness to the neglect of true religion, we shall explain both as referring to the same thing. (43) And then,all the impiety of men is to be taken, by a figure in language, as meaning “the impiety of all men,” or, the impiety of which all men are guilty. But by these two words one thing is designated, and that is, ingratitude towards God; for we thereby offend in two ways: it is said to be ἀσέβεια, impiety, as it is a dishonoring of God; it is ἀδικία, unrighteousness, because man, by transferring to himself what belongs to God, unjustly deprives God of his glory. The word wrath, according to the usage of Scripture, speaking after the manner of men, means the vengeance of God; for God, in punishing, has, according to our notion, the appearance of one in wrath. It imports, therefore, no such emotion in God, but only has a reference to the perception and feeling of the sinner who is punished. Then he says that it isrevealed from heaven; though the expression,from heaven, is taken by some in the sense of an adjective, as though he had said “the wrath of the celestial God;” yet I think it more emphatical, when taken as having this import, “Wheresoever a man may look around him, he will find no salvation; for the wrath of God is poured out on the whole world, to the full extent of heaven.”

    The truth of God means, the true knowledge of God; and to hold in that, is to suppress or to obscure it: hence they are charged as guilty of robbery. — What we renderunjustly, is given literally by Paul, in unrighteousness, which means the same thing in Hebrew: but we have regard to perspicuity. (44)

    This is the view taken by [Turrettin ]; and [Pareus ] says, “There is nothing to prevent us from referring the revelation of wrath, as well as the revelation of righteousness, to the gospel” — Ed.

    “They rushed headlong,” says [Pareus ], “into impiety against God and into injustice against one another, not through ignorance, but knowingly, not through weakness, but willfully and maliciously: and this the Apostle expresses by a striking metaphor, taken from tyrants, who, against right and justice, by open violence, oppress the innocent, bind them in chains, and detain them in prison.”

    The sense given by [Schleusner ] and some others, “Qui cum veri Dei cognitione pravitatem vitæ conjungunt — who connect with a knowledge of the true God a wicked life,” seems not to comport with the context.

    “The truth” means that respecting the being and power of God afterwards specified. — Ed.

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    Calvin, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

    Vv. 18. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth captive unrighteously."

    The transition from Romans 1:17 to Romans 1:18, indicated by for, can only be this: There is a revelation of righteousness by the gospel, because there is a revelation of wrath on the whole world. The former is necessary to save the world (comp. σωτηρία, salvation, Romans 1:16) from the consequences of the latter.

    From the notion of wrath, when it is applied to God, we must of course remove all that pollutes human wrath, personal resentment, the moral perturbation which gives to the manifestations of indignation the character of revenge. In God, who is the living Good, wrath appears as the holy disapprobation of evil, and the firm resolve to destroy it. But it is false to say, as is often done, that this divine emotion applies only to the evil and not to the evil-doer. In measure as the latter ceases to oppose the evil and voluntarily identifies himself with it, he himself becomes the object of wrath and all its consequences. The absence of the article before the word ὀργή, wrath, brings into prominence the category rather than the thing itself: manifestation there is, whose character is that of wrath, not of love.

    This manifestation proceeds from heaven. Heaven here does not denote the atmospheric or stellar heaven; the term is the emblematical expression for the invisible residence of God, the seat of perfect order, whence emanates every manifestation of righteousness on the earth, every victorious struggle of good against evil. The visible heavens, the regularity of the motion of the stars, the life-like and pure lustre of their fires, this whole great spectacle has always been to the consciousness of man the sensible representation of divine order. It is from this feeling that the prodigal son exclaims: "Father, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight." Heaven in this sense is thus the avenger of all sacred feelings that are outraged; it is as such that it is mentioned here.

    By ἀσέβεια, ungodliness, Paul denotes all failures in the religious sphere; and by ἀδικία, unrighteousness, all that belong to the moral domain Volkmar very well defines the two terms: "Every denial either of the essence or of the will of God." We shall again find these two kinds of failures distinguished and developed in the sequel; the first, in the refusal of adoration and thanksgiving, Romans 1:21 et seq.; the second, in the refusal of the knowledge of moral good proceeding from God, Romans 1:28 a.— ᾿επί, upon, against, has here a very hostile sense.

    The apostle does not say: of men, but literally: of men who repress. As Hofmann says: "The notion men is first presented indefinitely, then it is defined by the special characteristic: who repress"...We may already conclude, from this absence of the article τῶν (the) before the substantive, that Paul is not here thinking of all humanity. And, indeed, he could not have charged the Jews with holding captive the truth which had been revealed to them, comp. Romans 2:19-21, while he proceeds to charge this sin directly on the Gentiles. We must therefore regard Romans 1:18 as the theme of chap. 1 only, not that of i. and ii. Besides, the wrath of God was not yet revealed against the Jewish world; it was only accumulating (Romans 2:5).

    Certainly the apostle, in expressing himself as he does, does not overlook the varieties in the conduct of the Gentiles, as will appear in the sequel (Romans 2:14-15). He refers only to the general character of their life.

    The truth held captive is, as Romans 1:19-20 prove, the knowledge of God as communicated to the human conscience. To hold it captive, is to prevent it from diffusing itself in the understanding as a light, and in the conduct as a holy authority and just rule. The verb κατέχειν, to hold back, detain, cannot here have the meaning which some interpreters would give it, to keep, possess, which the word sometimes has; for example, 1 Corinthians 15:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:21. In that case we should require to place the charge brought against the Gentiles not in this verb, but in the qualifying clause ἐν ἀδικίᾳ: "who possess the truth in unrighteousness" (that is, while practising unrighteousness). But the sequel proves, on the contrary, that the Gentiles had not kept the deposit of truth which had been confided to them; and the simple clause: in unrighteousness, would not suffice to characterize the sin charged against them, and which is the reason of the divine wrath. We must therefore take the word κατέχειν, to detain, in the sense in which we find it 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7, and Luke 4:42 : to keep from moving, to repress. Oltramare: "They hindered it from breaking forth."

    Some translate the words ἐν ἀδικίᾳ: by unrighteousness; they paralyze the truth in them by the love and practice of evil. But why in this case not again add the notion of ungodliness to that of unrighteousness? The literal meaning is, not by unrighteousness, but by way of unrighteousness; this clause is therefore taken in the adverbial sense: unrighteously, ill and wickedly. In reality, is there not perversity in paralyzing the influence of the truth on one"s heart and life?

    To what manifestations does the apostle allude when he says that wrath is revealed from heaven? Does he mean simply the judgment of conscience, as Ambrose and others, with Hodge most recently, think? But here there would be no patent fact which could be taken as a parallel to the preaching of the gospel (Romans 1:17). Bellarmine, Grotius, etc., think that Paul means this preaching itself, and that the words from heaven are synonymous with the ἐν αὐτῷ, in it (the gospel), Romans 1:17. But there is, on the contrary, an obvious antithesis between these two clauses, and consequently a contrast between the revelation of righteousness and that of wrath.

    The Greek Fathers, as also Philippi, Ewald, and Ritschl in our own day, regard this manifestation as that which shall take place at the last judgment. This meaning is incompatible with the verb in the present: is revealed; not that a present may not, in certain cases, denote the idea of the action, independently of the time of its realization; so the very verb which Paul here uses is employed by him 1 Corinthians 3:13. But there the future (or ideal) sense of the present is plainly enough shown by all the futures surrounding the verb ( γενήσεται, δηλώσει, δοκιμάσει), and the context makes it sufficiently clear. But in our passage the present is revealed, Romans 1:18, corresponds to the similar present of Romans 1:17, which is incontrovertibly the actual present. It is not possible, in such a context, to apply the present of Romans 1:18 otherwise than to a present fact. Hofmann takes the word is revealed as referring to that whole multitude of ills which constantly oppress sinful humanity; and Pelagius, taking the word from heaven literally, found here a special indication of the storms and tempests which desolate nature. But what is there in the developments which follow fitted to establish this explanation? The word is revealed, placed emphatically at the head of the piece, should propound the theme; and its meaning is therefore determined by the whole explanation which follows.

    We are thus brought to the natural explanation. At Romans 1:24 mention is made of a divine chastisement, that by which men have been given over to the power of their impure lusts. This idea is repeated in Romans 1:26, and a third time in Romans 1:28 : "God gave them over to a reprobate mind." Each time this chastisement, a terrible manifestation of God"s wrath, is explained by a corresponding sin committed by the Gentiles. How can we help seeing here, with Meyer, the explanation, given by Paul himself, of his meaning in our verse? Thereby the purport of the following description and its relation to Romans 1:18 become perfectly clear; the truth is explained in Romans 1:19-20; it is God"s revelation to the conscience of the Gentiles, the notion: to repress the truth, is explained in Romans 1:21-23 (and 25); these are the voluntary errors of paganism; finally, the idea of the revelation of divine wrath is developed in Romans 1:24-27; these are the unnatural enormities to which God has given the Gentiles up, and by which He has avenged His outraged honor. All the notions of Romans 1:18 are thus resumed and developed in their logical order, Romans 1:19-27 : such is the first cycle (the ἀσέβεια, ungodliness). They are resumed and developed a second time in the same order, but under another aspect (the ἀδικία, unrighteousness), Romans 1:28-32. The meaning of the words is revealed from heaven, is not therefore doubtful. It has been objected that the term to reveal always refers to a supernatural manifestation. We do not deny it; and we think that Paul regards the monstrous degradation of pagan populations, which he is about to describe (Romans 1:24-27; Romans 1:29-32), not as a purely natural consequence of their sin, but as a solemn intervention of God"s justice in the history of mankind, an intervention which he designates by the term παραδιδόναι, to give over.

    If Romans 1:18 contains, as we have said, three principal ideas: 1. The Gentiles knew the truth; 2. They repelled it; 3. For this sin the wrath of God is displayed against them,—the first of these ideas is manifestly that which will form the subject of Romans 1:19-20.

    The Wrath of God, according to Ritschl.

    In this work, Die Christliche Lehre von der Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung (II.123-138) (The Christian Doctrine of Justification and Reconciliation), Ritschl ascribes to Pharisaism the invention of the idea of retributive justice, and denies its existence in Holy Scripture. Thus obliged to seek a new meaning for the notion of the wrath of God, he finds the following: In the Old Testament the wrath of God has only one aim: to preserve the divine covenant; the wrath of God therefore only denotes the sudden and violent chastisements with which God smites either the enemies of the covenant, or those of its members who openly violate its fundamental conditions,—in both cases not with the view of punishing, but of maintaining here below His work of grace. In the New Testament the idea is substantially the same, but modified in its application. The wrath of God cannot have any other than an eschatological application; it refers to the last judgment, in which God will cut off the enemies of salvation (not to punish them) but to prevent them from hindering the realization of His kingdom (1 Thessalonians 1:10; Romans 5:9). As to our passage, which seems irreconcilable with this notion, this critic deals with it as follows:

    We must wait till Romans 2:4-5, to find the development of the idea of the wrath of God, enunciated in Romans 1:18. The whole passage, ver. Romans 1:19 to Romans 2:3, is devoted to setting forth the sin of the Gentiles, the fact of their κατέχειν τὴν ἀλήθειαν, holding the truth captive. The description of chastisement (the revelation of wrath) is not developed till after Romans 2:5; now this passage evidently refers to the last judgment. Thus it is that the ingenious theologian succeeds in harmonizing our passage with his system. But I am afraid there is more ability than truth in the mode he follows:

    1. Ritschl will not recognize an inward feeling in the wrath of God, but merely an outward act, a judgment. But why in this case does Paul use the word wrath, to which he even adds, Romans 2:8, the term θυμός, indignation, which denotes the feeling at its deepest?

    2. We have seen that the present is revealed, forming an antithesis to the tense of Romans 1:17, and giving the reason of it ( γάρ, for), can only denote a time actually present.

    3. Is it not obvious at a glance that the phrase thrice repeated: wherefore He gave them over (Romans 1:24; Romans 1:26; Romans 1:28), describes not the sin of the Gentiles, but their chastisement? That appears from the term give over: to give over is the act of the judge; to be given over, the punishment of the culprit. The same follows also from the wherefores; by this word Paul evidently passes each time from the description of the sin to that of the punishment, that is to say, to the revelation of wrath.

    4. As to Romans 2:4-5, these verses do not begin with a wherefore, as would be necessary if the apostle were passing at this part of the text from the description of sin to that of chastisement. These verses, on the contrary, are strictly connected with Romans 1:3, as continuing the refutation of Jewish security in relation to the last judgment, a refutation begun at Romans 1:3 with the words: "Thinkest thou...?" and carried on to Romans 1:4 with these: "Or [indeed] despisest thou...?" How can we regard this as the beginning of a new idea, that of chastisement succeeding that of sin? For the examination of the explanation of Romans 1:32 given by Ritschl, by which he seeks to justify all the violence he does to the text of the apostle, we refer to the verse itself.

    With the term ὀργή, wrath, before us, applied to the Gentiles first, Romans 1:18, and afterwards to the Jews, Romans 2:5, we are justified in holding to the notion of that divine feeling as explained by us, pp. 164 , 165.

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    Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books".

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

    Ver. 18. Who hold the truth] Hold the light of their conscience (which is as a prophet from God) prisoner. The natural man, that he may sin the more securely, imprisons the truth which he acknowledgeth, and lays hold on all the principles in his head that might any way disturb his course in sin, locking them up in restraint. Hence it appears that no man is righteous in himself, or by his own righteousness, which was the το κρινομενον. Those of the philosophers that knew most, as Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, &c., are belied if they were not vicious in their practice, et de virtute locuti, Clunem agitant. (Juvenal.) Plato had the knowledge of one God; but dared not say so publicly. It is neither easy (saith he) to find out the Creator of all, nor safe to communicate the knowledge of him to the common people. So Seneca wrote a book (now lost) against superstitions; but saith Austin, Libertas affuit scribenti, non viventi: colebat quod reprehendebat, agebat quod arguebat, quod culpabat adorabat: He lived not after his own writings, but worshipped what he reproved; he did what he decried, he bowed before that he blamed; saying (as Domitius Calderinus when he went to mass) Eamus ad eommunem errorem, Let us go to that which we cannot but condemn for a common error. (Bucholcer.)

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    Trapp, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

    Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

    Romans 1:18. For "There is no other way of obtaining life and salvation." Having laid down his proposition, the Apostle now enters upon the proof of it. His first argument is, "The law condemns all men, as being under sin; none therefore are justified by the works of the law." This is treated of to chap. Romans 3:20. And hence he infers, "therefore justification is by faith." The wrath of God signifies the vengeance of God, the destruction and punishment which he will inflict upon sinners. This is revealednot only by the general light of nature, (if I can use the expression, when every thing good is from grace,) and by frequent and signal interpretations of the divine providence, but likewise in the sacred oracles, and particularly by that same Gospel which reveals God's manner of justifying men. See Acts 17:30-31 chap. Romans 2:5. 2 Timothy 1:10. Ungodliness, seems to comprehend the atheism, polytheism, and idolatry of the heathen world; as unrighteousness their other miscarriages and vicious lives; according to which they are distinctly treated of by St. Paul in the following verses. The same appropriation of these words may be observed in other parts of this epistle. Of men, means of men of all nations, all men every where. Before, it was only to the children of Israel that obedience and transgression were by revelation declared and proposed, as terms of life and death. The word rendered hold, signifies to retain or hold fast; and then the Apostle's meaning will be their holding fast, or retaining, or knowing the truth in speculation, though they violate it in their lives. They are not wholly without the truth, but yet do not follow what they have of it; living contrary to what they do know, or neglecting to know what they might. This is evident from the next words, and from the same reason of God's wrath, given chap. Romans 2:8 in these words, who do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness. See Locke, Bengelius, and Hammond.

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    Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

    Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

    Our apostle having asserted and laid down a general proposition, that the justification of a sinner is only to be expected by the righteousness of the Mediator in a way of faith; he now undertakes the proof and demonstration of it thus; distributes the whole world into Gentiles and Jews; the former seeking righteousness by the dim light of nature; or the law written in their hearts; the latter by the works of the law, that is, by their external conformity to what the law of Moses exacted and required of them.

    Now his present business is to prove distinctly and fully, that neither Gentile nor Jew could ever find what they thus sought. He begins here with the Gentiles, and shews that indeed they had inbred notions of a God imprinted in their minds by nature, and also had the book of the creature before their eyes, in which much, very much of God, might be seen: yet these common notices of God, and of good and evil, they did not obey and put in practice but rebelled against the light and dictates of their natural consciences: for which cause, the wrath of God was revealed from heaven against them.

    Here observe, 1. A dreadful manifestation of divine wrath: The wrath of God is revealed from heaven. The wrath of God; that is, the indignation or vengeance of God: This the sinner shall feel who doth not fear it; for the fears of an incensed Deity are no bug-bears, nor the effects of ignorance and superstition, as the Atheists fancy. This wrath is said to be revealed from heaven; that is, discovered and made manifest by the God of heaven, partly by the light of nature, their own consciences giving them notice and warning of it; and partly by the examples of others, in the lashes of a divine severity on the back of sinners, by the hand of an incensed God: Thus the wrath of God was revealed to the Gentiles from heaven.

    Observe, 2. The object or impulsive cause of his revealed and inflicted wrath; namely, All ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. Ungodliness compriseth all sins against God, or neglect of the duties of the first table: Unrighteousness comprehends all sins against our neighbour, or the breaches of the second table.

    Note here, That the abstract is put for the concrete, the sins for the sinners that commit them; the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men; that is, against all ungodly and unrighteous persons; the meaning is, that God will certainly punish these sins upon the persons of the sinners.

    Observe, 3. The special aggravation of these their sins, or that which made them so very provoking to Almighty God; namely, that they held the truth in unrighteousness; that is, their natural convictions were kept down under the dominion and power of their corruptions. Lust in their wills and affections was too hard for the light in their understandings; they entertained the light of truth in their minds, but did not suffer it to have its proper effect and influence upon their hearts and lives; thus making that a prisoner which would have made them free.

    Learn, 1. That it is a very great aggravation of sin, for men to offend against the light of their own minds, and to rebel against the convictions of their own consciences.

    2. That the wrath of God is dreadfully incensed against all those that live in any course of sin, rebelling against the dictates and convictions of their own enlightened consciences.

    Dread it then, as thou dreadest hell itself, to sin against knowledge, to rebel against the light of thy own mind, to slight the whispers, to stifle the voice of thy own conscience; but reverence and obey its dictates as the commands of God.

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    Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. 1700-1703.

    Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

    18.] He first states the general fact, of all mankind; but immediately passes off to the consideration of the majority of mankind, the Gentiles; reserving the Jews for exceptional consideration afterwards.

    ἀποκ. γἀρ] The statement of Romans 1:17 was, that the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God is revealed. The necessary condition of this revelation is, the DESTRUCTION of the righteousness of MAN by the revelation of God’s anger against sin.

    ἀποκαλύπτεται, not in the Gospel (as Grot.): not in men’s consciences (as Tholuck, ed. 1, Reiche): ‘not in the miserable state of the then world (as Köllner): but (as implied indeed by the adjunct ἀπʼ οὐρανοῦ,—that it is a providential, universally-to-be-seen revelation) in the PUNISHMENTS which, Romans 1:24, God has made to follow upon sin, see also ch. Romans 2:2 (so De W., Meyer, Tholuck, ed. 5, &c.). So that ἀποκ. is of an objective reality here, not of an evangelic internal and subjective unfolding.

    ὀργὴ θεοῦ is anthropopathically, but with the deepest truth, put for the righteousness of God in punishment (see ch. Romans 2:8; Romans 5:9; Ephesians 2:3; Matthew 3:7; John 3:36). It is the opposite, in the divine attributes, to Love (De W.).

    ἀπʼ οὐρ. (see above) belongs to ἀποκαλύπτεται, not to θεοῦ, nor to ὀργὴ θεοῦ ( ἡ ἀπʼ οὐρ.).

    ἀσέβειαν, godlessness; ἀδικίαν, iniquity: but neither term is exclusive of the other, nor to be formally pressed to its limits. They overlap and include each other by a large margin: the specific difference being, that ἀσέβ. is more the fountain (but at the same time partially the result) of ἀδικία,—which ἀδικ. is more the result (but at the same time partially the fountain) of ἀσέβεια. ἀδικ. is the state of the thoughts and feelings and habits, induced originally by forgetfulness of God, and in its turn inducing impieties of all kinds. We may notice by the way, that the word ἀσέβεια forms an interesting link to the Pastoral Epistles [where it, and its opposite εὐσέβεια are the ordinary terms for an unholy and a holy life].

    ἀνθρ. τῶν τὴν ἀλ. ἐν ἀδικίᾳ κατεχόντων] of men who hold back the truth in iniquity: who, possessing enough of the germs of religious and moral verity to preserve them from abandonment, have checked the development of this truth in their lives, in the love and practice of sin. That this is the meaning of κατεχόντων here is plain from this circumstance: that wherever κατέχω in the N. T. signifies ‘to hold,’ it is emphatic, ‘to hold fast,’ or ‘to keep to,’ or ‘to take or have complete possession of:’ see for the first, Luke 8:15; 1 Corinthians 11:2; 1 Corinthians 15:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 3:14; Hebrews 10:23; for the second, Luke 14:9 (every other place except the lowest being excluded): for the third, Matthew 21:38; 1 Corinthians 7:30. Now no such emphatic sense will apply here. If the word is to mean ‘holding,’ it must be only in the loosest and least emphatic sense: ‘having a half and indistinct consciousness of,’ which does not at all correspond to the κατά, indicating vehemence of purpose, as in καταφιλέω, &c. But the meaning ‘keeping back,’ ‘hindering the development of,’—while it has a direct example in Paul’s own usage in reff., and in Luke 4:42, and indirect ones in (the spurious John 5:4) Acts 27:40; ch. Romans 7:6; Philemon 1:13,—admirably suits the sense, that men had (see Romans 1:19 ff.) knowledge of God sufficient, if its legitimate work had been allowed, to have kept them from such excesses of enormity as they have committed, but that this ἀλήθεια they κατεῖχον ἐν ἀδικίᾳ, i.e. crushed, quenched, in (as the element, conditional medium in which) their state and practice of unrighteousness. It is plain that to take ἐν ἀδικίᾳ for ἀδίκως (as Theophyl. and Reiche) is to miss the force of the expression altogether—the pregnant ἐν, ‘in and by,’ implying that it is their ἀδικία,—the very absence of δικαιοσύνη for which the argument contends,—which is the status wherein, and the instrument whereby, they hold back the truth lit up in their consciences.

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    Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

    Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

    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 : ἀσέβη΄α, οὐκ ἀδίκη΄α ΄όνον. 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; 1 Maccabees 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 δυνά΄ει 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.

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    Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.

    Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

    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 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,—Psalms 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 ἀνο΄ία, 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.

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    Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    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.

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    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Romans 1:18". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

    Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

    For the wrath of God is revealed; the word "for" connects this verse immediately with the preceding, as much as to say, There is need of such a righteousness as the gospel reveals, for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven, etc. He then proceeds to show, in the remainder of the chapter, how the Gentiles lie under this wrath; and in the following, how it rests on the Jews also; so that all men need to receive from God a righteousness which is not of law, but of faith.

    Ungodliness and unrighteousness; sins against God and men.

    Hold the truth in unrighteousness; prevent, by their wickedness, its proper effect.

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    Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

    Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

    18. γὰρ gives the reason for the revelation just described and for the condition of its effectiveness.

    ἀποκ. ὀργὴ θεοῦ. The revelation here spoken of is the revelation through the actual facts of human life, just as the Gospel revelation is revelation through the actual facts of the divine life seen in the Man Christ Jesus, the Incarnate Son.

    ἀποκαλύπτεται, as above, of a general fact or principle governing the relations between GOD and man.

    ὀργὴ θεοῦ, fundamentally = the relation between GOD as righteous and man as sinner. It is seen under present conditions in the progress of sin and growing alienation. The final issue will be seen in the final judgment. As with σωτηρία, so with ὀργή, we have the double sense of present alterable condition, and future final determination. The eschatological reference is, therefore, always implied, but not exclusive; cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:16, Lightfoot; John 3:36, Westcott, n.; Ephesians 5:6; infra, Romans 3:5, Romans 9:22. It is opposed to σωτηρία (1 Thessalonians 5:9), ζωή (John 3:36), φώς (Ephesians 5:9). The verb is never used with θεός in N.T., though frequently in O.T. (but cf. Matthew 18:34; Luke 14:21).

    ἀπ' οὐρανοῦ, used originally literally and now metaphorically of the seat of GOD’s Presence, and so the place of origin of His judgments and commissions now and hereafter, the home indeed of all spiritual matters; so here the judgment on man’s defections is represented as revealed from thence, in contrast with all earthly opinions and judgments; cf. Matthew 16:19; Matthew 21:25; Luke 15:18. Cf. Dalman, p. 219 f., E.T.

    ἀσέβεια, the violation of reverence; ἀδικία, the violation of righteousness: sin is regarded as a contempt of GOD’s claims on man, or as a breach of His will however revealed.

    τῶνκατεχόντων. The participial clause describes the action of man which constitutes him ἀσεβῆ and ἄδικον.

    τὴν ἀλήθειαν. The next clause shows this to be quite general = the truth or true condition of man in his relation to GOD both the truth of man’s nature and destiny, cf. John 8:32; James 1:18; James 5:19, and of GOD, in His revealed character and dealings; cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-13. Cf. Hort on 1 Peter, p. 87.

    ἐν ἀδικίᾳ marks the condition created by man himself under which he holds the truth; it is the combination of the possession of the truth and this selfmade condition which constitutes the act and state of sin. All sin is due to will acting against knowledge.

    κατεχόντων. κατέχειν means either [1] to possess, 1 Corinthians 7:30; 1 Corinthians 11:2, or [2], less frequently, to restrain or keep under restraint, Luke 4:42; 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7. Here the sequence of thought is decisive in favour of the first meaning: it is essential to the argument that the primary condition which makes an act or state sinful, should be set down here; namely, that the sinner knows what he is doing. cf. Origen, Philocal. 73 (ed. Robinson). The compound has the force of real or full possession; cf. Moulton, p. 111 f. Contrast Luke 8:15.

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    "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

    William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament


    18. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men holding down the truth in unrighteousness,

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    Godbey, William. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament".

    Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

    ‘For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness,’

    ‘For --.’ This connecting word immediately lets us know why God has revealed His salvation and His righteousness. It is because of what man had become in his ungodliness and unrighteousness.

    In contrast to those who have ‘experienced the righteousness of God’ by faith, and have thus enjoyed the experience of God-given righteousness, are those who are still languishing in ‘ungodliness and unrighteousness’. They are both religiously and morally bankrupt (even though they may outwardly be highly religious or highly moral). They are both ungodly and disobedient to His truth. They have not become participants in God’s grace. They have not experienced His righteousness. And indeed it can be their own unrighteousness which is for them a hindrance to the truth.

    We should note here that what hinders men receiving the truth is not lack of knowledge, or difficulty of understanding, or the absence of ‘proof’. The hindrance lies in their unrighteousness. For it is a consequence of their unrighteousness that they ‘hold down (keep suppressed, render inoperative) the truth’. They refuse to listen to the voice within. Unrighteousness causes blindness in the hearts of men because it makes them close their eyes. Man does not will to see. As Jesus Himself said, ‘If any man wills to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself’ (John 7:17). And the corollary is that those who are in blindness are those who do not ‘will to do His will’. They may protest that they want to do God’s will. But what they mean is that they want to do their own will which they see as God’s will. And because of this they close their eyes to God. They are not willing to ‘see God’. Against this deliberate unrighteousness ‘the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven’, in other words, He makes a response which is due to His total antipathy to sin. ‘The wrath of God’ is Scriptural terminology for God’s abhorrence of, and antipathy towards, sin, an antipathy which results in Him having to act against it in condemnation and judgment, because it is contrary to His very nature. It does not necessarily indicate what we mean by anger. It is a sense that is unique to a holy God.

    But we may ask, ‘how is the wrath of God revealed from Heaven? It is revealed in a number of different ways:

    · 1). It is firstly revealed in the Scriptures. The Scriptures continually point to the fact of God’s anger against sin and sinners (e.g. Lamentations 2:1; Lamentations 2:3-4; Lamentations 2:6; Lamentations 3:1; Lamentations 4:11; Lamentations 5:22 and often in the prophets).

    · 2). It is revealed in man’s conscience as God illuminates the inner man and fills a man with the fear of God. Conscience makes cowards of us all.

    · 3). It is revealed in everyday living. Those who worship the beasts of the earth will themselves become beastly (Romans 1:23-27). Those who refuse to have God in their knowledge will become more and more unrighteous (Romans 1:28-32). They will become ‘children of wrath’ (Ephesians 2:3). This is evidence of the wrath of God.

    · 4). It will be revealed on the day of Judgment on those who are ‘under wrath’ (Romans 2:5; Romans 5:9; John 3:36; 1 Thessalonians 5:9), when our Lord Jesus Christ is ‘revealed from Heaven’ (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8), ‘taking vengeance on those who do not know God and those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ’.

    So the wrath of God is both present and future. Men live under and experience His wrath now, and they will come under His wrath in the day of judgment.

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    Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

    Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans

    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.

    Here commences the third division of this chapter; where the Apostle enters into the discussion, to prove that all men being under the just condemnation of God, there remains for them no way of justification but that by grace, which the Gospel holds out through Jesus Christ.

    Mr. Stuart understands this verse and the 17th as coordinate, and as supplying — each of them severally — a reason of the statement that Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel; but the subsequent discussion shows the utter inapplicability of verse 18th to the Gospel, inasmuch as the Apostle develops, at great length, the truth that the, wrath of God is declared against those to whom no explicit revelation has been given. It is connected by the particle for with the preceding verse, and constitutes an argument in favor of the statement, that nowhere, except in the Gospel is the righteousness of God revealed for the justification of sinners, and marks the necessity, for this purpose, of that revelation. This argument is evolved at great length, and the exposition of it does not terminate till the 20th verse of the third chapter. In this long section of the Epistle, a foundation is laid for the doctrine of grace in the announcement of the doctrine of wrath: all men are concluded under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe — that it might be shown, beyond question, that if men are to be justified, it cannot be by a righteousness of their own, but by the righteousness provided by God, and revealed in the Gospel The Apostle begins here by proving that the Gentiles were all guilty, and all subjected to the just judgment of God. The wrath of God is revealed. — The declaration of the wrath of God is a fit preparation for the announcement of grace, — not only because wrath necessarily precedes grace in the order of nature, but because, to dispose men to resort to grace, they must be affected with the dread of wrath and a sense of their danger. The wrath of God denotes His vengeance, by ascribing, as is usual in Scripture, the passions of men to God. It implies no emotion in God, but has reference to the judgment and feeling of the sinner who is punished. It is the universal voice of nature, and is also revealed in the consciences of men. It was revealed when the sentence of death was first pronounced, the earth cursed, and man driven out of the earthly paradise, and afterwards by such examples of punishment as those of the deluge, and the destruction of the Cities of the Plain by fire from heaven, but especially by the reign of death throughout the world. It was proclaimed in the curse of the law on every transgression, and was intimated in the institution of sacrifice, and in all the services of the Mosaic dispensation. In the eighth chapter of this Epistle, the Apostle calls the attention of believers to the fact that the whole creation has become subject to vanity, and groaneth and travaileth together in pain. The same creation which declares that there is a God, and publishes His glory, also proves that He is the enemy of sin and the avenger of the crimes of men. So that this revelation of wrath is universal throughout the world, and none can plead ignorance of it. But, above all, the wrath of God was revealed from heaven when the Son of God came down to manifest the Divine character, and when that wrath was displayed in His sufferings and death, in a manner more awful than by all the tokens God had before given of His displeasure against sin. Besides this, the future and eternal punishment of the wicked is now declared in terms more solemn and explicit than formerly. Under the new dispensation, there are two revelations given from heaven, one of wrath, the other of grace. Against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. — Here the Apostle proceeds to describe the awful state of the Gentiles, living under the revelation of nature, but destitute of the knowledge of the grace of God revealed in the Gospel. He begins with accusing the whole heathen world, first of ungodliness, and next of unrighteousness. He proves that, so far from rendering to their Creator the love and obedience of a grateful heart, they trampled on His authority, and strove to rob Him of His glory.

    Failing, then, in their duty towards God, and having plunged into the depths of all ungodliness, it was no wonder that their dealings with their fellowmen were characterized by all unrighteousness. The word all denotes two things: the one is, that the wrath of God extends to the entire mass of ungodliness and unrighteousness, which reigns among men, without excepting the least part; the other is, that ungodliness and unrighteousness had arrived at their height, and reigned among the Gentiles with such undisturbed supremacy, that there remained no soundness among them.

    The first charge brought under the head of ungodliness, is that of holding the truth in unrighteousness. The expression, the truth, when it stands unconnected in the New Testament, generally denotes the Gospel. Here, however, it is evidently limited to the truth concerning God, which, by the works of creation, and the remains of the law of conscience, and partly from tradition, was notified to the heathens. The word ‘hold, ’ in the original, signifies to hold fast a thing supposed to be valuable, as well as to withhold, as it is rendered 2 Thessalonians 2:6, and to restrain or suppress. The latter is the meaning here. The heathens did not hold fast the truth, but they suppressed or restrained what they knew about God.

    The expression signifies they retained it as in a prison, under the weight and oppression of their iniquities.

    But besides this general accusation, the Apostle appears particularly to have had reference to the chief men among the Pagans, whom they called philosophers, and who professed themselves wise. The declaration that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, attacked directly the principle which they universally held to be true, namely, that God could not be angry with any man. Almost all of them believed the truth of the Divine unity, which they communicated to those who were initiated into their mysteries. But all of them, at the same time, held it as a maxim, and enjoined it as a precept on their disciples, that nothing should be changed in the popular worship of their country, to which, without a single exception, they conformed, although it consisted of the most absurd and wicked idolatrous rites, in honor of a multitude of gods of the most odious and abominable character. Thus they not only resisted and constantly acted in opposition to the force of the truth in their own minds, but also suppressed what they knew of it, and prevented it from being told to the people.

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    Haldane, Robert. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans and Hebrews". 1835.

    Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

    18. Wrath—Divine wrath is the intense divine opposition of good against bad, of right against wrong, of holiness against depravity. It exists most intensely in the most holy nature, and therefore most perfectly, and in truth infinitely, in the heart of God. It reveals itself in the form of penalty against those who embody the evil guiltily and responsibly in their own persons, such penalty being in the form of misery or destruction.

    Revealed from heaven—Commentators have indicated various ways in which the apostle could truly say that God’s wrath is revealed from heaven: by Scripture revelation, by the monitions of conscience, by the terrors and convulsions of the elements, by the judgment at the last day. We do not think the apostle had any one mode in view; but by a strong and almost poetic conception he describes what is true to the eye of an awakened conscience, the wrath of God disclosed like lightning from the sky upon the guilty head.

    Ungodliness—All apostasy from God first.

    Unrighteousness—All wickedness against man, second and consequent. Yet God appropriates both as sin against himself, and over both are lowering the revelations of his wrath.

    Hold—Impede, hold back, repress. Truth would destroy wickedness, and so wickedness fights against and forces back truth.

    In unrighteousness—Or by unrighteousness, the meaning would be much the same. The truth designated by the apostle is the truth of the divine nature (Romans 1:19; Romans 1:25; Romans 1:28) and of the death-worthiness of sin, (Romans 1:32.) It is these truths that human wickedness, to secure its own existence, opposes and represses, so that they lose all ascendency and known existence.

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    Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

    Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

    1. The reason for human guilt1:18

    In this verse Paul began to explain why Gentiles need to hear the gospel and experience salvation. Whereas this verse gives one reason, it also serves as a general statement that summarizes human guilt.

    God has revealed His wrath as well as His righteousness ( Romans 1:17) from heaven in the gospel. [Note: Cranfield, 1:109-10. See Ren A. Lpez, "Do Believers Experience the Wrath of God?" Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society15:29 (Autumn2002):45-66.] As Paul would explain, the unfolding of history also reveals God"s hatred toward sin and His judgment of sin. The moral devolution of humanity is not just a natural consequence of man"s sinning but also a result of God"s judgment of sinners. The final judgment of sin will occur in the eschaton (end times), but already God is pouring out His wrath against sin to a lesser degree (cf. Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6). Paul described wrath as revealed from heaven because it comes from God who is in heaven. [Note: G. Dalman, The Words of Jesus, p219. See the excursus on the wrath of God in Romans in Newell, pp40-46.]

    "God"s wrath is his divine displeasure with sin. We call it "wrath" because it shares certain basic characteristics of human wrath. But because it is God"s wrath it can have none of the sinful qualities of its analogical counterpart." [Note: Mounce, pp76-77.]

    "Ungodliness" means lack of reverence for God. Man"s neglect of God and rebellion against God are evidences of ungodliness. "Unrighteousness" or "wickedness" (NIV) means injustice toward other human beings. We see it in any attitude or action that is not loving. Together these two words show humankind"s failure to love God and other people as we should, which are our two greatest responsibilities ( Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:37-39). Romans 1:19-27 demonstrate man"s ungodliness, and Romans 1:28-32 show his wickedness. The "truth" refers to truth that people know about God (cf. Romans 1:25). They suppress this truth by their wickedness.

    ". . . whenever the truth starts to exert itself and makes them feel uneasy in their moral nature, they hold it down, suppress it. Some drown its voice by rushing on into their immoralities; others strangle the disturbing voice by argument and by denial." [Note: Richard C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul"s Epistle to the Romans , pp92-93.]

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    Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

    Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

    Romans 1:18. For. Direct proof of Romans 1:17 : the righteousness from God is revealed by faith, for other revelations are of God’s wrath. (See note above.)

    God’s wrath. (The article is wanting here, as in Romans 1:16-17; but the translation ‘a wrath of God,’ is altogether unnecessary.) This phrase is anthropopathic (i. e, borrowed from human feelings), but it expresses a reality, namely, the punitive justice and holiness of God over against sin. Yet, this wrath of God, so frequently spoken of, must not be confounded with its result, the punishment of sin; it is rather ‘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’ (Meyer).

    Is revealed. The continuous revelation is indicated. It is not necessary to assume that such a revelation is exclusively supernatural, especially here where historical facts exemplify the made of the revelation. Hence the revelation is an outward one, not that accomplished through the gospel.

    From heaven; to be joined with ‘revealed.’ ‘Heaven,’ as the dwelling-place or throne of God, is designated as the place from which this revelation of wrath proceeds.

    Against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. God’s wrath is against every form of irreligiousness and immorality; the two words distinguishing sin with respect to God and the law of right He has established. ‘Ungodliness is more the fountain (but at the same time partially the result) of unrighteousness,—which unrighteousness is more the result (but at the same time partially the fountain) of ungodliness’ (Alford). Hence the terms are not to be applied respectively to sins against God and against men.

    Of men. The reference is not now to all men, but to those ‘who hinder,’ etc. Since the Apostle does not charge the Jews with this in chap. 2, the Gentiles are meant here.

    Hinder, restrain, or hold back, rather than hold (see references); those who hinder the truth from producing its proper results.

    Unrighteousness is that wherein they hold the truth back, hindering it thereby.

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    Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

    The Expositor's Greek Testament

    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 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 Philippians 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.

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    Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

    Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

    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.”

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    Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

    George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

    For the wrath of God is revealed, &c. He begins to speak of the heathens, and of the wicked world, whose sins God punisheth from time to time with visible chastisements of plagues, famines, wars, &c. and that because they detain the truth of God in injustice, or in iniquity, that is, because they have not honoured God, even according to the knowledge which he has given them of him, especially their philosophers. (Witham)

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    Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

    Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible


    Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness;

    "For" -introducing the great need for a way of making people right with God. All unrighteousness faces the wrath of God!

    "Revealed from heaven"-there is another revelation of God in the world besides the Gospel. It is a revelation of God"s wrath. The wrath under consideration may refer to the final judgement (1 Thessalonians 1:10; Romans 5:9). And yet, the wrath of God lingers over the sinner at this very moment (John 3:36). This wrath may also refer to the physical consequences that come upon sin. (Galatians 6:7-8; Romans 1:27)

    "Who hinder" -"Suppress" (NASV)

    Far from being ignorant about God, the Gentiles had sought to stifle the true knowledge of God and His will with ungodly living, "who keep down the truth (which they know) by the wickedness whereby they live." (Con)

    Plenty of people today seek to hinder the "truth" through unrighteousness, i.e. those that deny that the unborn are human, people that claim that homosexuality is normal or inborn, those who argue against the need to be baptized, or the reality of hell, or the inspiration of the Bible, or the miracles in the Bible, etc..

    "It isn"t knowledge he is in need of. It"s integrity he needs."

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    Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". 1999-2014.

    E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

    For. In the gospel not only is God"s salvation revealed, but God"s wrath also, and both are the revelation of God"s righteousness.

    the wrath of God. This expression Occurs only here, John 3:36. Ephesians 5:6. Colossians 3:6. Compare Revelation 19:15. Referred to many times in N.T., e.g. Romans 2:5; Romans 5:9; Romans 9:22. Matthew 3:7. Ephesians 2:3; Ephesians 5:6. Revelation 6:16, Revelation 6:17.

    heaven. Singular. No article. See Matthew 6:10.

    against. Greek. epi, App-104.

    ungodliness. Greek. asebeia. App-128.

    unrighteousness. Greek. adikia. App-128.

    men. Greek. anthropos. App-123.

    hold = hold down, suppress. Compare 2 Thessalonians 2:6.

    the truth. Greek. alethieia, p. 1511. Compare App-175and App-2.

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    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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

    For the wrath of God , [ orgee (Greek #3709) Theou (Greek #2316)] - His holy displeasure and rectoral vengeance against sin. However distasteful such language may be to some ears, it is among the household words of the New Testament as well as of the Old (for example, Matthew 3:7; John 3:36; Romans 2:5; Romans 2:8; Romans 5:1; Romans 9:22; Ephesians 2:3; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:16; Hebrews 3:11; Hebrews 4:3; Revelation 6:16; Revelation 14:10; Revelation 19:10).

    Is revealed from heaven. But where revealed? and how? 'In the Gospel message itself,' say some (as Beza, Grotius, Estius, Stuart, Wordsworth). But besides that this sounds harsh, why, it has been well asked, did not the apostle in that case say, as in the previous verse, "For therein [ en (Greek #1722) autoo (Greek #846)] is the wrath of God revealed"? Others understand here, not any existing manifestations of divine wrath against sin, but what is to burst forth at the day of judgment - "the wrath to come." (So Chrysostom, Jowett, etc.) But this surely is against the natural sense of the words. What the apostle refers to is, in our judgment, 'the whole visible procedure of God in the moral government of the world,' by which He 'reveals,' or palpably displays, His holy displeasure against sin (as Olshausen), and particularly His making sin its own punishment, as described so awfully in the sequel of this chapter (so Fritzsche, and some of the best interpreters). This wrath of God is said to be "revealed from heaven," to signify the lofty jealousy of that Eye, as a flame of fire, that looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth, and the might of that unseen Hand that is upon every form of iniquity under the whole heaven, to take vengeance on it.

    Against all ungodliness , [ asebeian (Greek #763)] - or, 'impiety;' meaning all the irreligiousness of men, or their living (no matter how virtuously, yet) without any conscious reference to God, and without any proper feelings toward Him.

    And unrighteousness of men , [ adikian (Greek #93)] - that is, men's whole deviations from moral rectitude, whether in heart, speech, or behaviour. Either of these terms, standing alone, may and usually does carry the sense of the other; but when both are used together, they must be distinguished, and the distinction can only be what we have given. Now, as no human being can plead guiltless of "all ungodliness" and "all unrighteousness," it follows that every child of Adam in his sins is the object of Heaven's deserved and impending wrath. Thus all-comprehensive is the apostle's statement, embracing Jew and Gentile alike in its dread sweep. But as this was too general to suit his purpose, of shutting up all alike to gratuitous justification in the Lord Jesus, he now proceeds to details, bringing the charge of guilt first against the pagan world, and next against the chosen people. And first, The progressive degeneracy (Romans 1:18-23), the retributive punishment (Romans 1:24-27), and the consummated penal debasement (Romans 1:28-32) of the whole pagan world. The value of the following picture is immensely enhanced by its containing a historical sketch, rather than a mere description, of pagan degeneracy, traced down from its earliest stage after the fall.

    The progressive degeneracy of the pagan world (Romans 1:18-23)

    Who hold the truth in unrighteousness , [ teen (Greek #3588) aleetheian (Greek #225) en (Greek #1722) adikia (Greek #93) katechontoon (Greek #2722)] - literally, 'who hold down' or 'stifle the truth in (or 'by') unrighteousness.' (Compare the use of the same word in Luke 4:40 - "stayed him," or 'held him back'-also in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7, "what withholdeth;" "he who now letteth," or 'hindereth.') So all critics understand the word here, and so all the ancient and nearly all modern versions but our own render it-`detain' the truth-or, as Calvin explains it, 'suppress' or 'obscure' it. But when he and Beza and Reiche render the words "in unrighteousness" by 'unjustly,' with a view (as he says) to perspicuity, they miss an important truth which nearly every other critic justly dwells on-namely, that the "unrighteousness" of the pagan world, or their depraved passions and practices, were the very element in which, and by means of which, the truth which they possessed was stifled-the light they enjoyed darkened. Thus are the pagan represented as having light, or possessing truth, even when left to themselves, without that revelation which the chosen people enjoyed; and yet as holding it down, suppressing or stiffing it, by and in their unrighteousness. Compare Matthew 6:22-23, "The light of the body is the eye: if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" And the action of this principle on the pagan mind is expressed in Ephesians 4:17-18, "That ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness ('hardness') of their heart."

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    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

    The Bible Study New Testament

    God's wrath is revealed. The balance of this chapter shows that God is justified in sending his wrath on the sin and evil of men. Salvation is not "make-believe!" The Law shows the reality of sin. Against the background of the Law, God's ACT in Christ to set men free is clearly seen as a beautiful act of LOVE! Whose evil ways prevent. Evil men inflict blindness upon themselves and others, and so prevent the truth from being known.

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    Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

    Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

    (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 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7—having the force of to hold down, or suppress.

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    Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
    the wrath
    who hold
    19,28,32; 2:3,15-23; Luke 12:46,47; John 3:19-21; Acts 24:24,25; 2 Thessalonians 2:10; 1 Timothy 4:1,2

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    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

    Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians


    The apostle having stated that the only righteousness available in the sight of God is that which is obtained by faith, proceeds to prove that such is the case. This proof required that he should, in the first instance, demonstrate that the righteousness which is of the law, or of works, was insufficient for the justification of a sinner. This he does, first in reference to the Gentiles, Romans 1:18-32; and then in relation to the Jews, Romans 2, 3:1-20. The residue of this chapter then is designed to prove that the Gentiles are justly exposed to condemnation. The apostle thus argues: God is just; his displeasure against sin (which is its punishment) is clearly revealed, Romans 1:18. This principle is assumed by the apostle, as the foundation of his whole argument. If this be granted, it follows that all who are chargeable with either impiety or immorality are exposed to the wrath of God, and cannot claim his favor on the ground of their own character or conduct. That the Gentiles are justly chargeable with both impiety and immorality, he thus proves. They have ever enjoyed such a revelation of the divine character as to render them inexcusable, Romans 1:19, Romans 1:20. Notwithstanding this opportunity of knowing God, they neither worshipped nor served him, but gave themselves up to all forms of idolatry. This is the height of impiety, Romans 1:21-23. In consequence of this desertion of God, he gave them up to the evil of their own hearts, so that they sank into all manner of debasing crimes. The evidences of this corruption of morals were so painfully obvious, that Paul merely appeals to the knowledge which all his readers possessed of the fact, Romans 1:24-31. These various crimes they do not commit ignorantly; they are aware of their ill-desert; and yet they not only commit them themselves, but encourage others in the same course, Romans 1:32.

    The inference from the established sinfulness of the Gentile world, Paul does not draw until he has substantiated the same charge against the Jews. He then says, since all are sinners before God, no flesh can be justified by the works of the law, Romans 3:20.


    ἀποκαλύπτεται γὰρ ὁργὴ θεοῦ ἀπ ̓ ουσρανοῦ. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven. The apostle's object is to prove the doctrine of the preceding verse, viz., that righteousness is by faith. To do this it was necessary to show that men in themselves are exposed to condemnation, or are destitute of any righteousness which can satisfy the demands of God. His argument is, God is just; he is determined to punish sin, and as all men are sinners, all are exposed to punishment. Hence this verse is connected by γάρ to the preceding one. Men must be justified by faith, for the wrath of God is revealed, etc.

    The wrath of God is his punitive justice, his determination to punish sin. The passion which is called anger or wrath, and which is always mixed more or less with malignity in the human breast, is of course infinitely removed from what the word imports when used in reference to God. Yet as anger in man leads to the infliction of evil on its object, the word is, agreeably to a principle which pervades the Scriptures, applied to the calm and undeviating purpose of the Divine mind, which secures the connection between sin and misery, with the same general uniformity that any other law in the physical or moral government of God operates.

    Is revealed. ἀποκαλύπτω is properly to uncover, to bring to light, and hence to make known, whether by direct communication, or in some other way. A thing is said to be revealed, when it becomes known from its effects. It is thus that the thoughts of the heart, the arm of the Lord, and wrath of God are said to be "revealed." It is not necessary therefore to infer from the use of this word, that the apostle meant to intimate that the purpose of God to punish sin was made known by any special revelation. That purpose is manifested in various ways; by the actual punishment of sin, by the inherent tendency of moral evil to produce misery, by the voice of conscience. Nor do the words "from heaven" imply any extraordinary mode of communication. They are added because God dwells in heaven whence all exhibitions of his character and purposes are said to proceed. It is however implied in the whole form of expression, that this revelation is clear and certain. Men know the righteous judgment of God; they know that those who commit sin are worthy of death. As this is an ultimate truth, existing in every man's consciousness, it is properly assumed, and made the basis of the apostle's argument.

    This displeasure of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men; that is, against all impiety towards God ( ἀσέβεια) and injustice towards men ( ἀδικία). This distinction is kept up in the following part of the chapter, in which the apostle proves first the impiety, and then the gross immorality of the heathen. Who hold the truth in unrighteousness. The word ἀλήθεια is used in the Scriptures in a more comprehensive sense than our word truth. It often means what is right, as well as what is true; and is therefore often used in antithesis to ἀδικία, unrighteousness, as in Romans 2:8; see Galatians 3:1; Galatians 5:7. It is used especially of moral and religious truth; see John 3:21; John 8:32; 2 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:12. It is therefore equivalent to true religion, that is, what is true and right, in reference to God and duty. As κατέχειν sometimes means to have in the sense of possessing, as in 1 Corinthians 7:30 this clause may be rendered, ‘Who have the truth, together with unrighteousness;' i.e., although they possess the truth, are unrighteous. Comp. James 2:1, μὴ ἐν προσωπολημψίαις ἔχετε τὴν πίστιν. The sentiment is then the same as in Romans 1:21, where the heathen are said to know God, and yet to act wickedly. But as κατέχειν also means to detain, to repress or hinder, 2 Thessalonians 2:6, 2 Thessalonians 2:7, the passage may be translated, Who hinder or oppose the truth. The great majority of commentators are in favor of this latter interpretation. The words ἐν ἀδικὶᾳ may either express the means of this opposition, and be rendered, through unrighteousness; or they may be taken adverbially, Who unjustly, or wickedly oppose the truth. The former is to be preferred.

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    Hodge, Charles. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians.

    : For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness;

    This verse brings readers to the meat of Romans. Verse18 is a topic sentence for this entire section (Bible Knowledge, p442). In dealing with sin, especially among the Gentiles, Paul referred to the "wrath" (orge) of God. He said this wrath "is revealed" (apokalupto). These two words are from a present tense verb. This verb is used in both verses17,18 , and in each verse it is in the present tense. This information shows that God's righteousness and wrath have been revealed in the past and are still being felt (compare Ephesians 2:3). The word wrath (orge) is also found in John 3:36, a passage which may help explain the information in verse18 ("He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him").

    Part of God's wrath has been directed against the Gentiles. When the Gentiles were without the Mosaic Law, they were still guilty of sin (). In fact, Paul argues in the following verses that these people had some knowledge of God but they chose to neglect this knowledge and even exchange it for something else. Those who live under the New Testament but reject Jesus and the gospel system are also under God's wrath. The information in verses17-18 affirms God is still active in our world.

    At a time in the past, perhaps prior to the New Testament, Gentiles were so wicked they "hindered the truth." The KJV uses the word "hold" (katecho; this word is in the present tense). The thought seems to be that the Gentiles held down, hindered, thwarted, and suppressed the truth. Spicq () defines hold (katecho) as "the chains of unrighteousness." The truth was designed to regulate man's duty to God and his fellowman. However, the Gentiles did not want to follow this truth, so they suppressed their knowledge of God. This suppression brought punishment. Some of the world's greatest events such as the flood can be related to a rejection and/or the suppression of God and His word. When Paul was writing this letter, people still were trying to bottle up the true knowledge of God (compare Acts 19:23-41). The word translated hold in the KJV has a positive sense in other places (be sure to see how it is used in Luke 8:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; Hebrews 3:14; Hebrews 10:23). It is not enough to hold to a belief. It must be the right belief.

    The other sins listed in verse18 are "ungodliness" and unrighteousness." Ungodliness (asebeia) suggests irreligion, impiety, and a lack of reverence for God. The CBL ( Romans , p27) says it "means ungodlike. It connotes licentious living, but it also includes respected people who are ungodlike in heart and life. The basic idea is irreverence, disregard for God's law and disregard for God's person." This word described a "disregard of the existence of God, a refusal to retain Him in knowledge; that habit of mind leads to open rebellion" (Vine, ). Trench's definition (p242) is "positive and active irreligion, and this contemplated as a deliberate withholding from God of his dues of prayer and of service, a standing, so to speak, in battle array against him." Baker's Dictionary of Theology (p536) says this term is "not merely another evil in a catalog of sins but is the root out of which other sins grow."

    The word unrighteousness (adikia) denoted a lack of justice and a lack of right behavior in dealing with one's fellowman. It is the opposite of righteousness. According to Vine (), this word described "a condition of not being right, or straight, with God, judged by the standard of His holiness, or with Prayer of Manasseh , judged by the standard of what man knows to be right, through his conscience." This term is again used in1:29 and is more fully defined there (it is also found in2:8; 3:5; 6:13; and9:14). For now we may say it described "an absence of a right attitude inwardly and right conduct outwardly" (CBL, Romans , p27). In considering these terms, it must be remembered that God's wrath has always been legal instead of emotional (Whiteside, Romans , p21). Only after people violated God's laws has punishment been forthcoming.

    One of the items which made the gospel so attractive was the need for it. When men were under God's judgment and facing punishment, the gospel looked very appealing since it is man's only escape ().

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    Price, Brad "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "Living By Faith: Commentary on Romans".

    Man is without excuse ( Romans 1:18)

    Romans 1:18. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

    Gentile man is without excuse. And, if you ask the question about the heathen, well, that's what Paul is talking about.

    You notice in Romans 1:18 verse that the Gospel is not only a revelation of the righteousness of God as seen in Romans 1:17, but it is also a revelation of the wrath of God; and His wrath is just as real as His love. If a generation rejects His love, His grace, His mercy, then there is nothing else for a righteous God to do but to judge and manifest His wrath.

    Here you have the divine repulsion against sin, and God is bound to judge in righteousness. How else could He judge? That's why in Acts 17:31 He has set apart a day "in which he will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." He is going to judge the world in righteousness.

    He is saving sinners today on the ground of His love and on the ground of His grace which is provided in righteousness.

    But I read here, first, that the wrath of God is revealed against man's ungodliness.

    Now an ungodly man is one who leaves God out. He has no regard at all for God.

    "Well, Mr. Mitchell, there are none like that today."

    My friend, you would be surprised that in your own city there are men and women who have absolutely no regard for God. They are ungodly. They might be moral. They might be wonderful people, but they leave God out of their lives. They go to bed at night, get up in the morning, go to work, come back from work, do a few things they want to do, and go back to bed with no thought, no room, no time for God. They live in a little world all their own, and God is outside of it. That's the ungodly.

    "Then they are atheists," you say.

    No, I'm not saying they are atheists. They just have no regard for God. They go their own way. They live their own lives. The great majority of people live just that way. Sadly, some Christians do, too.

    Second, the wrath of God is revealed against the unrighteousness of men. Now this deals with their acts one to another, their actions against somebody else, or even their actions against you. It deals with wickedness of conduct. Ungodliness means God is out of their lives. Unrighteousness is their conduct.

    And then the third thing about them is they hold down the truth in unrighteousness.

    What do I mean? They suppress the truth. They stifle the truth. Why? Because they want to sin. It is willful opposition to revealed truth. In his wickedness man would suppress the truth.

    You know, I talk to people today; and I have been told to shut up. They are a little more blunt than that, too, by the way, with a few strong words thrown in. They would rather not hear the truth.

    There are men, intellectual men in the teaching profession, who try to keep from our young people the revelation of God in His Word, the revelation of the Son of God as the Saviour. They ridicule it.

    I remember hearing of a professor who said in a freshman class, "If I find those who believe, who are Song of Solomon -called fundamentalists, who believe in God and Jesus Christ, I try to destroy their faith in Christ. If I can't get them the first year, then the second year I make them a butt of ridicule that anybody today with any brains would believe in Jesus Christ or the Word of God."

    I'm quoting him.

    He said, "When they get to be seniors, I get a big bang out of it because some of these have become infidels."

    I don't know how much he was exaggerating, but he was holding down the truth in unrighteousness. And do you think for one moment he is going to escape the wrath of God or the judgment of God?

    My friend, God is going to judge men in righteousness. And He has revealed Himself to man. For the19th verse says, "Because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them."

    Man doesn't have a particle of excuse. What man out of Christ can stand before a holy, righteous God and have any excuse?

    Now, God has revealed Himself to man and in man. Heathen Prayer of Manasseh , civilized man has in himself the capacity to worship and trust the Living God; and, when he does, God gives him more truth. But man has refused it and cast it out. Every Prayer of Manasseh , everywhere, knows what he "ought" to do. God has given him a conscience. Man wants to live in his own little world, his own little circle; and he is the center of that circle. He wants to do what he wants to do.

    May I tell you, my friend, there is only one salvation, one way of deliverance, and that is God's way. God's way is through Jesus Christ, His beloved Son.

    All men need righteousness because they have all gone out of the way. They are unprofitable, they are unrighteous, and none do any good. And I read here in these verses that man has no excuse.

    You see, there is only one righteousness in the universe; and that is God's. And not until we see that we have no righteousness of our own, not until then will we accept the divine provision—the good news from God that He has put away sin and provided righteousness for everyone who will receive Jesus Christ as personal Saviour.

    I don't care what part of the world you go to. Men know this. God revealed Himself to them even before Christ came.

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    Mitchell, John G. D.D. "Commentary on Romans 1:18". "Mitchell's Commentary on Selected New Testament Books".

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