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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Romans 1:19

 

 

because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

Adam Clarke Commentary

That which may be known of God - Dr. Taylor paraphrases this and the following verse thus: "Although the Gentiles had no written revelation, yet what may be known of God is every where manifest among them, God having made a clear discovery of himself to them. For his being and perfections, invisible to our bodily eyes, have been, ever since the creation of the world, evidently to be seen, if attentively considered, in the visible beauty, order, and operations observable in the constitution and parts of the universe; especially his eternal power and universal dominion and providence: so that they cannot plead ignorance in excuse of their idolatry and wickedness."


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/romans-1.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Because - The apostle proceeds to show how it was that the pagan hindered the truth by their iniquity. This he does by showing that the truth might be known by the works of creation; and that nothing but their iniquity prevented it.

That which may be known of God - That which is “knowable” concerning God. The expression implies that there may be many things concerning God which cannot be known. But there are also many things which may be ascertained. Such are his existence, and many of his attributes, his power, and wisdom, and justice, etc. The object of the apostle was not to say that every thing pertaining to God could be known by them, or that they could have as clear a view of him as if they had possessed a revelation. We must interpret the expression according to the object which he had in view. That was to show that so much might be known of God as to prove that they had no excuse for their crimes; or that God would be just in punishing them for their deeds. For this, it was needful only that his existence and his justice, or his determination to punish sin, should be known; and this, the apostle affirms, was known among them, and had been from the creation of the world. This expression. therefore, is not to be pressed as implying that they knew all that could be known about God, or that they knew as much as they who had a revelation; but that they knew enough to prove that they had no excuse for their sins.

Is manifest - Is known; is understood.

In them - “Among” them. So the preposition “in” is often used. It means that they had this knowledge; or it had been communicated to them. The great mass of the pagan world was indeed ignorant of the true God; but their leaders, or their philosophers, had this knowledge; see the note at Romans 1:21. But this was not true of the mass, or body of the people. Still it was true that this knowledge was in the possession of man, or was “among” the pagan world. and would have spread, had it not been for the love of sin.

God hath showed it to them - Compare John 1:9. He had endowed them with reason and conscience Romans 2:14-15; he had made them capable of seeing and investigating his works; he had spread before them the proofs of his wisdom, and goodness, and power, and had thus given them the means of learning his perfections and will.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/romans-1.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Because that which is known of God is manifest in them, for God manifested it to them.

The argument of this verse is simply that those wicked Gentiles were sinners against the light, not being, in any absolute sense, ignorant of God. To be sure, they were not as privileged as the Jews, nor did they possess the type of revelation afterwards to be revealed in Christ; but they knew God. The Father himself had seen to that, for it is categorically stated here that God had "manifested it to them." The true meaning might actually be much stronger than this version indicates. Whiteside noted that:

The pronoun "it" is not in the Greek; and it would be more in harmony with Paul's argument to translate the last clause, "For God manifested himself to them."[37]

The information thus revealed in this verse is of the first magnitude of importance, because there are still people in the world who imagine that they have reason to be critical of God for his neglect of the pagan nations prior to the Christian era. From this verse, it is certainly known that the Gentile nations were not devoid of light and that there was a manifestation of himself on God's park to those very nations. It should be kept in mind that Paul is here speaking of "the righteousness of God" in his dealings, not merely with the Jews, but with all mankind. We shall give this significant theme a little further attention.

GOD'S REVELATION TO THE GENTILE NATIONS

In the person of Adam and his descendants for over a thousand years, all the world knew the Lord, received commands as to how he should have been worshipped, and through the patriarchs were in direct communication with the Almighty. "Lamech, Noah's father, was born before Adam died."[38] This means that no generation of history had any better knowledge of God than those generations from Adam to the deluge. Once again, in the family of Noah, the human race descended in a new beginning from a single source; and again the entire world knew the one true God; and, once more, through patriarchal communication with God, there was every opportunity for the Gentiles to have known the heavenly Father. From Noah to Abraham, the pure knowledge of God was kept alive in the world, and the true worship was carried forward by such faithful priests as Melchizedek.

The Jewish nation never existed prior to Abraham; and, therefore, until the times of that illustrious patriarch, all people of every description shared and shared alike in the available knowledge of God. Prior to Abraham, monotheism was known and honored, as attested by the ministry of Melchizedek, Priest of God Most High, and King of Salem, who received tithes from the progenitor of the Hebrew race, as recorded in Genesis 14:18-20; and which event shows that the knowledge of the one true God was widely prevalent in the pre-Abrahamic world. By the times of Abraham, idolatry was again rampant and increasing, but vestiges of the original monotheism remained, and possibly upon a rather extensive scale.

In the gathering darkness of that long night of idolatry which was about to descend upon the Gentile world, God called Abraham and initiated the device of a chosen people, who would be the custodians of the promise of a Messiah, who would keep alive the true teachings of God, and who were designed to recognize, at last, the Messiah, when he should appear, and present him to the entire world. This was a service laid upon Abraham, not merely for benefit of the Jews, but looking to the salvation of all people. God said, upon the occasion of the call of Abraham, that "In thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 12:3). God even deigned to give his reasons for the choice of Abraham, that being the ABILITY of that patriarch to command his children after him, an ability which was conspicuously lacking in the Gentiles, and is lacking yet! (Genesis 18:19). All people, Jews and Gentiles alike, should thank God for the ability of Abraham, without whose abilities the title deeds of redemption might have been lost.

Following the call of Abraham, the Jewish nation itself became a continual witness to the entire Gentile world of the one true God and his truth. A mere catalogue of examples how that witness blazed in the long pre-Christian darkness is astonishing.

First, through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their families, many of the greatest men in the world, many cities, and vast populations of the Gentiles knew the one true god: (1) Abraham testified of "the most high God" to the king of Sodom (Genesis 14:22), and a similar testimony was available for the entire group of eleven kings mentioned in Genesis 14. (2) All the posterity of Abraham through Hagar and Keturah had knowledge of God, these being none other than the whole Arabic nation. (3) Through Lot, Abraham's nephew, the whole nations of the Moabites and the Ammonites knew God. (4) Through the judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah and the disaster to Lot's wife, the overthrow of those cities was demonstrated as a moral judgment of God upon wickedness. (5) The salvation of Lot and his daughters, coupled with the prior prophecy of the doom of the cities of the plain, were facts known throughout the East. (6) Because of Abraham's wife, Sarah, "God came to Abimelech (King of Gerar) in a dream by night" (Genesis 20:3). (7) Through Jacob, all of Israel; and through Esau, all of the Edomites had knowledge of the true God. (8) Through Jacob's son, Joseph, all of the Egyptians, from the throne downward, knew the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Nor did such glowing witness disappear with the fading of the patriarchal names into history. A great leader of the Jews, Moses, appeared; and through him, God visited the entire Egyptian nation with a whole series of the most astounding miracles of pre-Christian history, the one invariable element in all of those miracles being the circulation of knowledge of the one true God. All of the plagues were directed squarely against the popular idol gods of the Egyptians. God even gave through Moses a personal message to Pharaoh, as follows:

And in very deed, for this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee my power; and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth (Exodus 9:16).

Let it be remembered that Pharaoh was the most powerful monarch of antiquity, and it will be clear that God in no sense neglected to provide the Gentiles with all the light they needed, and with far more than they were willing to receive. That God's method of causing his name to be declared throughout all the earth was successful is proved by the events centering around the name of Rahab the harlot of Jericho, who, some forty years after the Exodus, said:

I know that the Lord hath given you the land ... for we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt. ... For the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath (Joshua 2:9-11).

The first of the Old Testament prophets was Jonah who carried the message of the one God to Nineveh, the largest city of those times, whose king, nobles, and all of the people repented and turned to God, the fact of which is attested by none other than Christ (Matthew 12:41). Therefore, at the time of Nineveh's conversion, concurrent with the contemporary apostasy in Israel, the knowledge of God, at that particular time, probably centered in Nineveh, the great Gentile city, and not in Jerusalem.

Then, there is the testimony to the Gentiles by means of the captivities, first of Israel, later of Judah. Everywhere the Jews went, they took the knowledge of God with them; and there were doubtless many of the Gentiles who learned the truth through this means. Thus, Nebuchadnezzar learned the truth from the Hebrews in the fiery furnace; thus the Medes and Persians learned it from Daniel, when, in God's providence, he became the third ruler in the kingdom (Daniel 5:29). It is extremely significant that a great ruler, Cyrus, commissioned the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem after the captivity, out of respect to his knowledge of God and the words of his prophets (2 Chronicles 36:22,23).

Throughout the days of the Judges, in an earlier era, there were repeated demonstrations of the power and righteousness of God who not only punished the sins of the heathen world, but those of his own people as well. Throughout the whole period of the theocracy, every nation was given many powerful examples of God's power and righteousness, practically all of the wondrous deeds recorded in the book of Judges having to do with the preeminence of Jehovah and his superiority over the pagan deities, as, for example, in the destruction of Dagon's temple by Samson (Judges 16:29), and in the case of the destruction of Baal by Gideon (Judges 6:28).

The years of the monarchy continued the witness, the knowledge of God being so widespread in that era that the kings of the earth either came in person or sent their envoys repeatedly to Israel, and to the prophets, as for example, in the case of Naaman and his lord, the king of Assyria (2 Kings 5:5), and that of the king of Syria (2 Kings 6:13), and in the instance of the queen of Sheba (Matthew 12:42).

It was the near-universal knowledge of the true Jehovah which made it possible for the great Gentile philosophers and writers to mention the Lord in their writings. As Macknight said:

The writings of Plato, Xenophon, Cicero, and other philosophers, which still remain, together with the quotations made by Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria from those which are lost, prove that the learned heathens, though ignorant of the way of salvation, were acquainted with the unity and spirituality of God, and had just notions of his perfection, of the creation and government of the world, and of the duties which men owe to God and to one another.[39]SIZE>

In addition to that great wealth of revealed knowledge which existed throughout the Gentile world, there was always, of course, everywhere, such witnesses of the glory and power of God as provided by natural creation and the moral law within human beings themselves. Paul mentioned the latter type of witness in his address at Lystra,

Ye should turn from these vain things unto the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that in them is: who in the generations gone by suffered all the nations to walk in their own ways. And yet he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness (Acts 14:15-17).

The good earth itself is thus named as a witness of God's existence and his goodness toward people. The order and symmetry of the universe, the marvelous balance in nature, the incredible complexity and efficiency of the natural world, and the heavens which declare the glory of God, are all witness of the glory of God; and yet it must be noted that none of these things tell men anything of God's love, or of the way of life.

The pre-Christian Gentiles also had access to the moral government which is built into man in the form of a conscience, a device so marvelous and amazing that Denny said:

There is that within man that so catches the meaning of all that is without, as to issue in an instinctive knowledge of God.[40]

It was that same phenomenon that challenged and awed Emmanuel Kant, who wrote:

Two things fill me with awe: the starry heavens, and the sense of moral responsibility in man.[41]

This somewhat extended review of the question of just what revelations the Gentiles had received has been given for the reason that they are not generally known, and from the further fact that a knowledge of these things is essential to the vindication of God's righteousness in all of his dealings with the pre-Christian world. In view of the facts, as revealed in the sacred scriptures, Paul was fully justified in writing to the citizens of ancient Rome that God had indeed manifested himself to the Gentiles.

[37] R. L. Whiteside, op. cit., p. 36.

[38] R. C. Bell, Studies in Romans (Austin, Texas: Firm Foundation Publishing House, 1957), p. 12.

[39] James Macknight, op. cit., p. 58.

[40] As quoted by Griffith Thomas, op. cit., p. 68.

[41] From Bartlett's Quotations (Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1939), p. 542.


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/romans-1.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Because that which may be known of God,.... There are some things which could not be known of God by the light of nature; as a trinity of persons in the Godhead; the knowledge of God in Christ as Mediator; the God-man and Mediator Jesus Christ; his incarnation, sufferings, death, and resurrection; the will of God to save sinners by a crucified Jesus; the several peculiar doctrines of the Gospel, particularly the resurrection of the dead, and the manner of worshipping of God with acceptance: but then there are some things which may be known of God, without a revelation. Adam had a perfect knowledge of him; and his sons, though fallen, even the very Heathens have some notion of him, as that there is a God; and by the light of nature it might be known that there is but one God, who is glorious, full of majesty, and possessed of all perfections, as that he is all powerful, wise, good and righteous: and this

is manifest in them, or "to them"; by the light that is given them: it is light by which that which may be known of God is manifest; and this is the light of nature, which every man has that comes into the world; and this is internal, it is in him, in his mind and conscience, and is communicated to him by God, and that by infusion or inspiration; see Job 32:8;

for God hath showed it unto them; what may be known of him by that light; and which is assisted and may be improved by a consideration of the works of creation and Providence.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/romans-1.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

9 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in c them; for God hath shewed [it] unto them.

(9) By their ungodliness he proves that although all men have a most clear and evident mirror in which to behold the everlasting and almighty nature of God, even in his creatures, yet they have fallen away from those principles to most foolish and stupid ideas of their own brains, in their worship of God and of what God requires of them.

(c) In their hearts.


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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/romans-1.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Because that which may be — rather, “which is.”

known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them — The sense of this pregnant statement the apostle proceeds to unfold in Romans 1:20.


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/romans-1.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Because (διοτιdioti). Gives the reason (δια οτιdiaτο γνωστον του τεουhoti like our “for that”) for the revelation of God‘s wrath.

That which may be known of God (γινωσκωto gnōston tou theou). Verbal adjective from η γνωσιςginōskō either “the known” as elsewhere in N.T. (Acts 1:19; Acts 15:18, etc.) or “the knowable” as usual in ancient Greek, that is “the knowledge” (χρηστονhē gnōsis) of God. See Philemon 3:8. Cf. same use of the verbal αμετατετονchrēston in Romans 2:4, πανερον εν αυτοιςametatheton in Hebrews 6:17.

Manifest in them (ο τεος επανερωσενphaneron en autois). In their hearts and consciences.

God manifested (πανεροωho theos ephanerōsen). First aorist active indicative of phaneroō Not mere tautology. See Romans 2:14-16.


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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/romans-1.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

That which may be known ( τὸ γνωστὸν )

So A.V. and Rev., as equivalent to that which is knowable. But that which is knowable was not revealed to the heathen. If it was, what need of a revelation? Better, that which is known, the universal sense in the New Testament, signifying the universal objective knowledge of God as the Creator, which is, more or less, in all men.

In them

In their heart and conscience. The emphasis should be on in. Thus the apparent tautology - what is known is manifest - disappears.


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Bibliography
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/romans-1.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

For what is to be known of God — Those great principles which are indispensably necessary to be known.

Is manifest in them; for God hath showed it to them — By the light which enlightens every man that cometh into the world.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/romans-1.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

19.Inasmuch as what may be known of God, etc. He thus designates what it behoves us to know of God; and he means all that appertains to the setting forth of the glory of the Lord, or, which is the same thing, whatever ought to move and excite us to glorify God. And by this expression he intimates, that God in his greatness can by no means be fully comprehended by us, and that there are certain limits within which men ought to confine themselves, inasmuch as God accommodates to our small capacities what he testifies of himself. Insane then are all they who seek to know of themselves what God is: for the Spirit, the teacher of perfect wisdom, does not in vain invite our attention to what may be known, τὸ γνωστὸν; and by what means this is known, he immediately explains. And he said, in them rather than to them, for the sake of greater emphasis: for though the Apostle adopts everywhere Hebrew phrases, and ב, beth, is often redundant in that language, yet he seems here to have intended to indicate a manifestation, by which they might be so closely pressed, that they could not evade; for every one of us undoubtedly finds it to be engraven on his own heart, (45) By saying, that God has made it manifest, he means, that man was created to be a spectator of this formed world, and that eyes were given him, that he might, by looking on so beautiful a picture, be led up to the Author himself.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/romans-1.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

Ver. 19. Because that which may] Heathens might know God the Creator, per species creaturarum (as they speak), either in way of negation, or causality, or eminence: not so God tile Redeemer.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/romans-1.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Romans 1:19. Is manifest in them, &c.— Is manifest among them, for God hath manifested it unto them. See the next verse, and chap. Romans 2:15.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/romans-1.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

That is, much of the nature and properties of God may be known by the light of nature; his infinite power, wisdom and goodness, are manifest in the minds and the consciences of all men; For God hath shewed it unto them, partly by imprinting these notions of himself upon the hearts of all men, and partly by the book of the creatures, in which his glorious attributes are written in large and legible characters.

Learn hence, That all men have a natural knowledge of God, and those great duties which result form the knowledge of him.

2. That the natural knowledge which men have of God, if they live contrary to it, is a sufficient evidence of their holding the truth of God in unrighteousness, and is a God-provoking and wrath-procuring sin.


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Bibliography
Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/romans-1.html. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

19.] διότι, because, may either give the reason why the anger of God is revealed, and thus apply to all that follows as far as Romans 1:32, being taken up again at Romans 1:21; Romans 1:24; Romans 1:26; Romans 1:28 (so Meyer): or may explain τῶν.… κατεχ. (so Thol.): which latter seems most probable: the subauditum being, ‘(this charge I bring against them), because.’ For he proves, first (Romans 1:20) that they had the ἀλήθεια; then (Romans 1:21 ff.) that they held it back.

τὸ γνωστόν, that which is known, the objective knowledge patent and recognized in Creation:—so Chrys., Theodoret, Luther, Reiche, Meyer, De Wette, al.:—not ‘that which may be known’ (as Orig(2), Theophyl., Œc(3), Erasm., Beza, Grot., al. [and E. V.]), which would assert what, as simple matter of fact, was not the case, that all which could be known of God was φανερὸν ἐν αὐτοῖς. He speaks now not of what they might have known of God, but of what they did know. Thus τὸ γνωστ. τ. θεοῦ will mean, that universal objective knowledge of God as the Creator which we find more or less in every nation under heaven, and which, as matter of historical fact, was proved to be in possession of the great Gentile nations of antiquity.

φαν. ἐστ. ἐν αὐτοῖς] is evident in them, i.e. in their hearts: not, to them (as Luth.),—nor, among them (as Erasm., Grot., &c.): for if it had been a thing acknowledged among them, it would not have been κατεχόμενον. Every man has in him this knowledge; his senses convey it to him (see next verse) with the phænomena of nature.

ὁ θ. γ. ἐφ.] gives the reason why that which is known of God is manifest in them, viz. because God Himself so created the world as to leave impressed on it this testimony to Himself.

Notice, and keep to, the historic aorist, ἐφανέρωσεν, not ‘hath manifested it’ (perf.), but manifested it, viz. at the Creation. This is important for the right understanding of ἀπὸ κτ. κόσμ. Romans 1:20.


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Bibliography
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/romans-1.html. 1863-1878.

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

Romans 1:19. διότι] propterea quod—only to be separated by a comma from the foregoing—specifies more precisely the causal relation, on account of which the wrath of God comes upon such men, etc. (Romans 1:18). They keep down the truth through immorality; if they did so out of ignorance, they would be excusable: but they do not do so out of ignorance, and therefore God’s wrath is manifested against them. This view of the connection is suggested by the literal meaning of διότι itself, and confirmed by εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἀναπολογ. Comp Hofmann. So also Fritzsche, who, however, takes διότι as equivalent to γάρ, as does also Philippi,—a use of it that never occurs, not even in Acts 18:10. This linguistically erroneous interpretation of διότι condemns also the view of Tholuck, Rückert, de Wette, and Reithmayr, who discover here the proof, that the Gentiles keep down the truth by immorality; or (so Th. Schott) that Paul rightly describes them as κατέχοντες κ. τ. λ(438) No; for the very reason that they have the γνωστὸν τοῦ θεοῦ, which renders them inexcusable, does the wrath of God go forth against the κατέχοντες; Romans 1:18.

τὸ γνωστὸν τοῦ θεοῦ] that which is known concerning God, not: that which is knowable concerning God, a signification which, though adopted by Origen, Theophylact, Oecumenius, Erasmus, Beza, Castalio, Calvin, Piscator, Estius, Grotius, Wolf, Koppe, Rückert, Kollner, Baumgarten-Crusius, Maier, Ewald, Umbreit, Mehring, Hofmann, and others, is never conveyed by γνωστός in the N. T. or in the LXX. and Apocrypha, though it frequently occurs in classic authors (see the passages from Plato quoted by Ast, Lex. I. p. 401; Dorvill. a(439) Charit. p. 502; Hermann, a(440) Soph. Oed. T. 361; comp ἄγνωστος, which in Plato invariably means unknowable). In all the places where it occurs in the Scriptures, as also, though less frequently, in the classics (Xen. Cyr. vi. 3, 4; Arrian. Epict. ii. 20, 4; Aesch. Choeph. 702; Beck, Antiatt. p. 87, 25), it means quod notum est (Vulgate), and is therefore equivalent to γνωτός or γνώριμος, also in Acts 4:16; Sirach 21:7. The opposite: ἄγνωστος, Acts 17:23. Comp Luther, 1545: “das (nicht: dass) man weiss, das (nicht: dass) Gott sei.” That which is known of God excludes that which needed a special revelation to make it known, as in particular the contents of the Gospel; the former is derived from the general revelation of nature. If we should take γνωστόν as knowable, the assertion of the Apostle would he incorrect without some limiting qualification; for the positively revealed belonged to that which was knowable, but not to that which was known of God,(443) into which category it was brought only through special revelation, which it would otherwise not have needed.

ἐν αὐτοῖς] i.e. in their consciousness, ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις αὐτῶν, Romans 2:15. Comp Galatians 1:16. The explanation inter ipsos, which Erasmus and Grotius (both referring it arbitrarily to the Gnosis of the philosophers among the Gentiles), Köllner and Baumgarten-Crusius give, is to be rejected for this reason, that αὐτοῖς ἐφανέρωσε, compared with νοούμενα καθορᾶται, points to a manifestation of the γνωστόν τοῦ θεοῦ which is inward, although conveyed through the revelation of nature.

ἐφανέρωσε] God—and this subject is again named with emphasis—has laid it clearly before them, made it lie openly before their view as an object of knowledge. Comp on the matter itself Acts 14:17; Acts 17:26 f.; 1 Corinthians 1:21.


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Bibliography
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/romans-1.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Romans 1:19. τὸ γνωστόν) the fact that God is known: that principle, that God makes Himself known; that is to say, the existence of an acquaintance with, or knowledge of, God [the fact of God being known; the objective knowledge of God], not merely that He can be known. For, at Romans 1:21, he says, γνόντες, of the Gentiles [asserting thus, that they did know God].—Plato b. 5. Polit. uses γνωστόν in the same way; τὸ μὲν παντελῶς ὂν, παντελῶς γνωστόν· μὴ ὂν δὲ μηδαμῆ, πάντη ἄγνωστον, whatsoever indeed has a positive existence, is positively known: but a thing, which has no existence at all, is utterly unknown.— ἐφανέρωσε) Paul used this word with great propriety, as well as ἀποκαλύπτω above.(12)


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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/romans-1.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

That which may be known of God; or, that which is knowable of God, viz. by the light of nature. The apostle, by a prolepis, prevents an objection which some might make in excuse of the Gentiles: how could they sufficate or suppress the truth, seeing they wanted the Scripture, and were without the knowledge of it? To this he answers, that they were not wholly without knowledge, for that which might be known of God was manifest in them, and revealed to them.

Is manifest in them, i.e. in their heart and minds; see Romans 2:15: or, to and among them; as appears by many of their learned writers, who have left behind them many clear discourses, and wise essays and sayings, about this matter, though they themselves did act contrary thereunto.

For God hath showed it unto them; i.e. as before, by the light of nature in their consciences, or by the consideration of the creatures, as it follows in the next verse.


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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Romans 1:19". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/romans-1.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

That which may be known; the character of God as manifested in his works.

God hath showed it; in creation and providence.


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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "Family Bible New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/romans-1.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

19. διότι gives the reason for the wrath. For (Blass, p. 274) they knew GOD (19–21 a, expanding τὴν ἀλ. κατ.), but did not act on this knowledge (21 b–23, expanding ἐν ἀδικίᾳ.). There should be a full stop or colon after κατεχόντων: as Romans 1:18 introduces the whole section.

τὸ γνωστὸν τ. θ. = that element in or aspect of GOD which can be known. GOD can be known by man only in part: but that partial knowledge is true and adequate to man’s capacity and sufficient and indispensable for his life. He is revealed partially in nature, including human nature, with relative completeness in the Son. For the construction cf. Blass, p. 155, Winer-M., p. 295. This is not a case of the neuter adjective standing for an abstract substantive; the genitive is partitive.

φανερόν ἐ. ἐν αὐτοῖς = ‘is clear in them.’ They have a clear knowledge of GOD so far as He can be known to man. Cf. Wisdom of Solomon 13:1 which S. Paul certainly has in mind; but he defines the situation with a much closer grip.

ὁ θεὸς γὰρ κ.τ.λ. explains the fact of the clearness of this knowledge: it was due to a self-revelation of GOD through creation.


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"Commentary on Romans 1:19". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/romans-1.html. 1896.

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

19. “Because the knowledge of God is manifest in them: for God revealed it unto them.” The Holy Spirit, the light of nature and human conscience, are universal regardless of age, race or condition, revealing to every human being light and knowledge sufficient to save them, if they would only walk in it. The trouble is these divine lights are obscured by ten thousand devices, for human damnation manipulated by Satan and his myrmidons.


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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/romans-1.html.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘Because that which is known of God is manifest in them, for God manifested it to them.’

God’s wrath is revealed against such people because they have no real excuse for not seeing the truth. For what is known of God is manifest (made clear) in them, because God has manifested it (made it clear) in them. They have the voice of conscience within, the law written in the heart (Romans 2:15). That makes clear the difference between moral good and bad. They have the testimony of creation around them which God makes clear in their hearts, testifying to His eternal power and Godhead. Note the assumption that what is known of God is made clear within them. God has put His witness within man. Then why do they not accept? It is not because of their intellectual superiority, but because their unrighteousness ‘holds down, suppresses’ the truth. That is why some are aware of it and respond wholly to God, whilst others fail to see it and respond. It is not science properly so called which produces unbelief. Science is neutral with regard to God. It is man’s interpretation of that science, resulting from the unbelief that is the consequence of a sinful heart, that leads him astray.


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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/romans-1.html. 2013.

Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans

Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them.

The Apostle here assigns the reason of what he had just affirmed respecting the Gentiles as suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, namely, that which may be known of God, God hath manifested to them.

They might have said, they did not suppress the truth in unrighteousness, for God had not declared it to them as He had done to the Jews. He had, however, sufficiently displayed, in the works of creation, His almighty power, wisdom, and goodness, and other of His Divine attributes, so as to render them without excuse in their ungodliness and unrighteousness. That which may be known of God, — that is to say, not absolutely, for that surpasses the capacity of the creature. — God is incomprehensible even by angels, and it is by Himself alone that He can be fully and perfectly comprehended; the finite never can comprehend the infinite, Job 11:7. Nor do the words before us mean all that can be known of Him by a supernatural revelation, as the mystery of redemption, that of the Trinity, and various other doctrines; for it is only the Spirit of God who has manifested these things by His word. It is on this account that David says, ‘He showeth His word unto Jacob, His statutes and His judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation; and as for His judgments, they have not known them,’ <19E719> Psalm 147:19. But what may be known of God by the works of creation, He has not concealed from men. Is manifest in them, or rather, to them. — This respects the clearness of the evidence of the object in itself, for it is not an obscure or ambiguous revelation; it is a manifestation which renders the thing certain. It is made to them; for the Apostle is referring here only to the external object, as appears by the following verse, and not to the actual knowledge which men had of it, of which he does not speak till the 21st verse. For God hath showed it unto them. — He has presented it before their eyes. They all see it, though they do not draw the proper conclusion from it. In like manner He has shown Himself to the world in His Son Jesus Christ. ‘He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.’ Yet many saw Him who did not recognize the Father in Him. These words, ‘hath showed it unto them,’ teach us that in the works of creation God has manifested Himself to men to be glorified by them; and that, in preserving the world after sin had entered, He has set before their eyes those great and wonderful works in which He is represented; and they further show that there is no one who can manifest God to man except Himself, and consequently that all we know of Him must be founded on His own revelation, and not on the authority of any creature.


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Haldane, Robert. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans and Hebrews". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hal/romans-1.html. 1835.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

19. Known—The fact that man by understanding or conscience can know God’s truth, though it elevates his nature in the scale of being, does not diminish but increases the amount of his guilt and actual self-depravation. The very great wrong is that so noble an intrinsic nature, in its created elements, is abased by self-prostitution. The depravity does not lie in the will exclusively, as Tholuck suggests; but in the disordered affections first, and the will’s obeying and then redoubling the depravity of the affections, and spreading it over the whole nature.

Known of God—The knowable things of God include not his substance, nor the fulness and mystery of his infinity, but his power, rectitude, and divine requirements over man.

Manifest in them—Not merely among them collectively, but within each one individually. This does not affirm the existence in man of what is sometimes uncouthly styled the “God-consciousness.” It does not even affirm that man intuitively knows God’s existence. What it does affirm is explained in the next verse.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/romans-1.html. 1874-1909.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Romans 1:19. Because. Here begins the statement why God’s wrath was revealed, which is also a proof that they hold back the truth in unrighteousness. ‘If they did so out of ignorance, they would be excusable: but they do not do so out of ignorance, and therefore God’s wrath is manifested against them’ (Meyer). The Apostle proves first that men had the truth (Romans 1:19-20); then that they hindered it, and perverted it (Romans 1:21-23). Afterwards the result is described.

That which is known of God. The word used has this sense in the New Testament; so that the phrase does not mean the knowledge of God, nor what may be known of God. The former is un-grammatical, the latter illogical in this connection, since it is plainly shown that the heathen did not know all that may be known of God.

In them; not, ‘among them,’ which would refer to a merely external revelation. The Apostle is speaking of a revelation in the heart and conscience.

God manifested it. Through the creation (Romans 1:20); the tense used pointing to one act.


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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/romans-1.html. 1879-90.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

-20


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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/romans-1.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

Romans 1:19 because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them.

"because" -the reason that God"s wrath is revealed against such. They are not IGNORANT!

"is manifest" -"lies plain before their eyes" (NEB); "is EVIDENT" (NASV); "is plain to them" (TCNT)

"in them" -in their conscience and in their hearts. "Is clear to their minds" (Knox)

"Man cannot charge God with hiding himself from them and thus excuse their ir-religion and their immorality."


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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/romans-1.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

known. See Acts 1:19.

manifest. Greek. phaneros. App-106.

hath. Omit.

shewed = manifested. Greek. phaneroo. App-106.


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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/romans-1.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

Because that which may be known of God , [ to (Greek #3588) gnooston (Greek #1110)]. Three senses have been put upon this expression:

(1) the known of God (so the Old Latin and Vulgate, DeWette, etc.);

(2) the knowable of God (so Erasmus, Calvin, Beza, Grotius, Tholuck, Stuart, Conybeare, Mehring, Green); (2) the knowable of God (so Erasmus, Calvin, Beza, Grotius, Tholuck, Stuart, Conybeare, Mehring, Green);

(3) the knowledge of God (as the Syriac, Chrysostom, Luther, Fritzsche).

The first and last of these senses, in the only sense of them which has much to recommend them, almost resolve themselves into the middle one-that of our own version, which we think decidedly the preferable. It is objected to this sense, that though in the classics it is the usual sense, yet the Septuagint and the New Testament use it in the sense, not of what may be, but of what is known. But besides that this as but partially true [see Romans 1:20, anapologeetous (Greek #379), and Romans 2:1, anapologeetos (Greek #379)], as the word is not very common anywhere, and the senses run into each other, we must be guided in each case solely by the context. It is further objected, that all which may be known of God is not "manifest" to the pagan; and therefore the sense cannot be 'that which may be,' but 'that which is known is manifest in them.' But the apostle does not say 'all that may be known,' But only "that which may be known;" and to show that he did not mean 'all,' he expressly specifies in the next verse what of God it was that they did know-namely, "his eternal power and Godhead." This, then, is what is manifest in them [en autois (Greek #846)] - not 'among them' (as Erasmus, Grotius, Fritzsche), meaning what the pagan philosophers attained to by reflection, amidst the brutish ignorance of the mass of the people, but (as all the best interpreters take it) 'within them,' in the sense which the next verse will more fully explain.

For God hath showed it unto them , [ efaneroosen (Greek #5319)] - 'for God showed it unto them,' in the constitution stamped upon man's nature in his creation, in which the conviction of a God is deeply rooted, and through the perception of Him in the works of His hand resulting from this.


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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/romans-1.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(19) The Apostle goes on to show how the Gentiles came to have such a knowledge of right, and how they repressed and contravened it.

They had it, because all the knowledge that mankind generally possessed of God they also possessed. So much as could be known without special revelation they knew.

That which may be known.—Rather, that which is (generally and universally) known—the truths of so-called “natural religion.”

Is manifest in them.—Manifest or imprinted upon their consciences, because God had so imprinted it upon them. The marginal rendering, “to them,” is hardly tenable.


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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/romans-1.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
that which
20; Psalms 19:1-6; Isaiah 40:26; Jeremiah 10:10-13; Acts 14:16; 17:23-30
in them
or, to them. for God.
John 1:9

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/romans-1.html.

Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians

That this opposition is wicked because inexcusable on the plea of ignorance, is proved in this and the following verses. They wickedly oppose the truth, because the knowledge of God is manifest among them. Agreeably to this explanation, this verse is connected with the immediately preceding clause. It may however refer to the general sentiment of Romans 1:18. God will punish the impiety and unrighteousness of men, because he has made himself known to them. The former method is to be preferred as more in accordance with the apostle's manner and more consistent with the context, inasmuch as he goes on to prove that the impiety of the heathen is inexcusable. Since that which may be known of God, is manifest in them. This version is not in accordance with the meaning of γνωστόν which always in the Bible means, what is known, not what may be known. Besides, the English version seems to imply too much; for the apostle does not mean to say that everything that may be known concerning God was revealed to the heathen, but simply that they had such a knowledge of him as rendered their impiety inexcusable. We find γνωστός used the sense of γνωτός, known, Acts 1:19; Acts 2:14; Acts 15:18; γνωστὰ ἀπ ̓ αἰῶνός ἐστι τῷ θεῷ πάντα τὰ ἔργα αὺτοῦ; and often elsewhere. Hence τὸ γνωστόν is = γνῶσις, as in Genesis 2:9, γνωστὸν τοῦ καλοῦ καὶ τοῦ πονηροῦ. The knowledge of God does not mean simply a knowledge that there is a God, but, as appears from what follows, a knowledge of his nature and attributes, his eternal power and Godhead, Romans 1:20, and his justice, Romans 1:32. φανερόν ἐστιν ἐν αὐτοῖς, may be rendered, either is manifest among them, or in them. If the former translation be adopted, it is not to be understood as declaring that certain men, the Pythagoreans, Platonists, and Stoics, as Grotius says, had this knowledge; but that it was a common revelation, accessible, manifest to all. In them, however, here more properly means, in their minds. "In ipsorum animis," says Beza, "quia haec Dei notitia recondita est in intimis mentis penetralibus, ut, velint nolint idololatriae, quoties sese adhibent in consilium, toties a seipsis redarguantur." It is not of a mere external revelation of which the apostle is speaking, but of that evidence of the being and perfections of God which every man has in the constitution of his own nature, and in virtue of which he is competent to apprehend the manifestations of God in his works. For God hath revealed to them, viz., the knowledge of himself. This knowledge is a revelation; it is the manifestation of God in his works, and in the constitution of our nature. "Quod dicit," says Calvin, "Deum manifestasse, sensus est, ideo conditum esse hominem, ut spectator sit fabriae mundi; ideo datos ei oculos, ut intuitu tam pulchrae imaginis, ad auctorem ipsum feratur." God therefore has never left himself without a witness. His existence and perfections have ever been so manifested that his rational creatures are bound to acknowledge and worship him as the true and only God.


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Hodge, Charles. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hdg/romans-1.html.

The Bible Study New Testament

God punishes them. God did not "cut off" the Gentiles and leave them with no knowledge at all of him. Melchizedek and Balaam were both priests of God outside of the Law of Moses. There could have been others, although the scripture is silent. The point is that there was enough about God which could be known that the evil men of Romans 1:18 have no excuse for their action. Compare Acts 17:27.


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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Romans 1:19". "The Bible Study New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/romans-1.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

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