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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Romans 1:20

 

 

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

Adam Clarke Commentary

The invisible things of him - His invisible perfections are manifested by his visible works, and may be apprehended by what he has made; their immensity showing his omnipotence, their vast variety and contrivance, his omniscience; and their adaptation to the most beneficent purposes, his infinite goodness and philanthropy.

His eternal power - αιδιος αυτου δυναμις, That all-powerful energy that ever was, and ever will exist; so that, ever since there was a creation to be surveyed, there have been intelligent beings to make that survey.

And Godhead - θειοτης, His acting as God in the government and support of the universe. His works prove his being; the government and support of these works prove it equally. Creation and providence form a twofold demonstration of God,

1st. in the perfections of his nature; and,

2ndly. in the exercise of those perfections.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/romans-1.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

For the invisible things of him - The expression “his invisible things” refers to those things which cannot be perceived by the senses. It does not imply that there are any things pertaining to the divine character which may be seen by the eye; but that there are things which may be known of him, though not discoverable by the eye. We judge of the objects around us by the senses, the sight, the touch, the ear, etc. Paul affirms, that though we cannot judge thus of God, yet there is a way by which we may come to the knowledge of him. What he means by the invisible things of God he specifies at the close of the verse, “his eternal power and Godhead.” The affirmation extends only to that; and the argument implies that that was enough to leave them without any excuse for their sins.

From the creation of the world - The word “creation” may either mean the “act” of creating, or more commonly it means “the thing created,” the world, the universe. In this sense it is commonly used in the New Testament; compare Mark 10:6; Mark 13:19; Mark 16:5; Romans 1:25; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Colossians 1:15, Colossians 1:23; Hebrews 4:13; Hebrews 9:11; 1 Peter 2:13; 2 Peter 3:4; Revelation 3:14. The word “from” may mean “since,” or it may denote “by means of.” And the expression here may denote that, as an historical fact, God “has been” “known” since the act of creation; or it may denote that he is known “by means of” the material universe which he has formed. The latter is doubtless the true meaning. For,

(1)This is the common meaning of the word “creation;” and,

(2)This accords with the design of the argument.

It is not to state an historical fact, but to show that they had the means of knowing their duty within their reach, and were without excuse. Those means were in the wisdom, power, and glory of the universe, by which they were surrounded.

Are clearly seen - Are made manifest; or may be perceived. The word used here does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament.

Being understood - His perfections may be investigated, and comprehended by means of his works. They are the evidences submitted to our intellects, by which we may arrive at the true knowledge of God.

Things that are made - By his works; compare Hebrews 11:3. This means, not by the original “act” of creation, but by the continual operations of God in his Providence, by his doings, ποιήμασιν poiēmasinby what he is continually producing and accomplishing in the displays of his power and goodness in the heavens and the earth. What they were capable of understanding, he immediately adds, and shows that he did not intend to affirm that everything could be known of God by his works; but so much as to free them from excuse for their sins.

His eternal power - Here are two things implied.

(1)that the universe contains an exhibition of his power, or a display of that attribute which we call “omnipotence;” and,

(2)That this power has existed from eternity, and of course implies an eternal existence in God.

It does not mean that this power has been exerted or put forth from eternity, for the very idea of creation supposes that it had not, but that there is proof, in the works of creation, of power which must have existed from eternity, or have belonged to an eternal being. The proof of this was clear, even to the pagan, with their imperfect views of creation and of astronomy; compare Psalm 19:1-14. The majesty and grandeur of the heavens would strike their eye, and be full demonstration that they were the work of an infinitely great and glorious God. But to us, under the full blaze of modern science, with our knowledge of the magnitude, and distances, and revolutions of the heavenly bodies, the proof of this power is much more grand and impressive. We may apply the remark of the apostle to the present state of the science, and his language will cover all the ground, and the proof to human view is continually rising of the amazing power of God, by every new discovery in science, and especially in astronomy. Those who wish to see this object presented in a most impressive view, may find it done in Chalmer‘s Astronomical Discourses, and in Dick‘s Christian Philosopher. Equally clear is the proof that this power must have been eternal. If it had not always existed, it could in no way have been produced. But it is not to be supposed that it was always exerted, any more than it is that God now puts forth all the power that he can, or than that we constantly put forth all the power which we possess. God‘s power was called forth at the creation. He showed his omnipotence; and gave, by that one great act, eternal demonstration that he was almighty; and we may survey the proof of that, as clearly as if we had seen the operation of his hand there. The proof is not weakened because we do not see the process of creation constantly going on. It is rather augmented by the fact that he sustains all things, and controls continually the vast masses of matter in the material worlds.

Godhead - His deity; divinity; divine nature, or essence. The word is not used elsewhere in the New Testament. Its meaning cannot therefore be fixed by any parallel passages. It proves the truth that the supremacy, or supreme divinity of God, was exhibited in the works of creation, or that he was exalted above all creatures and things. It would not be proper, however, to press this word as implying that all that we know of God by revelation was known to the pagan; but that so much was known as to show his supremacy; his right to their homage; and of course the folly and wickedness of idolatry. This is all that the argument of the apostle demands, and, of course, on this principle the expression is to be interpreted.

So that they are without excuse - God has given them so clear evidence of his existence and claims, that they have no excuse for their idolatry, and for hindering the truth by their iniquity. It is implied here that in order that people should be responsible, they should have the means of knowledge; and that he does not judge them when their ignorance is involuntary, and the means of knowing the truth have not been communicated. But where people have these means within their reach, and will not avail themselves of them, all excuse is taken away. This was the case with the Gentile world. They had the means of knowing so much of God, as to show the folly of worshipping dumb idols; compare Isaiah 44:8-10. They had also traditions respecting his perfections; and they could not plead for their crimes and folly that they had no means of knowing him. If this was true of the pagan world then, how much more is it true of the world now?

And especially how true and fearful is this, respecting that great multitude in Christian lands who have the Bible, and who never read it; who are within the reach of the sanctuary, and never enter it; who are admonished by friends, and by the providences of God, and who regard it not; and who look upon the heavens, and even yet see no proof of the eternal power and Godhead of him who made them all! Nay, there are those who are apprized of the discoveries of modern astronomy, and who yet do not seem to reflect that all these glories are proof of the existence of an eternal God; and who live in ignorance of religion as really as the pagan, and in crimes as decided and malignant as disgraced the darkest ages of the world. For such there is no excuse, or shadow of excuse, to be offered in the day of doom. And there is no fact more melancholy in our history, and no one thing that more proves the stupidity of people, than this sad forgetfulness of Him that made the heavens, even amid all the wonders and glories that have come fresh from the hand of God, and that everywhere speak his praise.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/romans-1.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse.

The invisible things of him ... is a reference to God's everlasting power and divinity; and Paul's argument is that invisible things may be "seen" by the mind. The things that are made, namely, all created objects, are the things which enable the mind to comprehend what no natural eye can see, that is, the power and divinity of God. This becomes, therefore, an impressive reference to the teleological demonstration of God's existence. The very fact of something's having been made is certain proof of there having been a maker. It has grown fashionable in some quarters to ridicule the teleological argument for the existence of God, but the inspired authors did not hesitate to use it. "For every house is builded by someone; but he that built all things is God" (Hebrews 3:4), is an example of it; and Paul's appeal to this argument in this context indicated his utmost confidence in it. The passing centuries have confirmed its logical appeal. One of the great scientific minds of the current century, Dr. Andrew Conway Ivy, wrote:

I have never found a person who when urged could not give a reason why he or she believed in God. The reason has always been to the effect that `Someone had to make the world and the laws that run it," or "There cannot be a machine without a maker." That basic truth is understood by every normal child and adult.[42]

Dr. Ivy developed his thoughts along this line at length and concluded that faith in God could never be destroyed from the earth as long as children are being born into it; for, he continued:

The basic principles of unsophisticated and rational thought and belief will always rise again with the birth of every child. ... So compelling is the natural law of the relation of cause and effect that the developing mind of the three to five-year-old child realizes that there must be a Creator.[43]

That they may be without excuse ... There is no doubt that Paul held the wicked ancient Gentiles to be inexcusable on any grounds whatsoever, and particularly he refuted in this passage any possible allegation that they might have been excused on grounds of ignorance. The thrust of these words suggests that there might have been in Rome, when Paul wrote, some of the same type of apologists for gross sinners who, in every age, like to blame economic conditions, or politics, or society, for any crime, no matter how revolting, but never blame the perpetrator.

[42] Dr. Andrew Conway Ivy, in The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe (New York: G. P. Putnam and Sons, 1958), p. 229.

[43] Ibid., p. 231.


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 1:20". "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

For the invisible things of him,.... Not the angels, the invisible inhabitants of heaven: nor the unseen glories of another world; nor the decrees of God; nor the persons in the Godhead; but the perfections of God, or his "properties", as the Arabic version reads it; and which are explained by "his eternal power and Godhead": these,

from the creation of the world are clearly seen; this is no new discovery, but what men have had, and might, by the light of nature, have enjoyed ever since the world was created; these

being understood, in an intellectual way, by the discursive faculty of the understanding,

by the things that are made; the various works of creation; all which proclaim the being, unity, and perfections of God their Creator,

so that they are without excuse; the very Heathens, who have only the light of nature, and are destitute of a revelation, have no colour or pretext for their idolatrous practices, and vicious lives; nor have they, nor will they have anything to object to God's righteous judgment against them, or why they should not be condemned.


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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.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/romans-1.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being d understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

(d) You do not see God, and yet you acknowledge him as God by his works; Cicero.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/romans-1.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

For the invisible things of him from — or “since”

the creation of the world are clearly seen — the mind brightly beholding what the eye cannot discern.

being understood by the things that are made — Thus, the outward creation is not the parent but the interpreter of our faith in God. That faith has its primary sources within our own breast (Romans 1:19); but it becomes an intelligible and articulate conviction only through what we observe around us (“by the things which are made,” Romans 1:20). And thus are the inner and the outer revelation of God the complement of each other, making up between them one universal and immovable conviction that God is. (With this striking apostolic statement agree the latest conclusions of the most profound speculative students of Theism).

even his eternal power and Godhead — both that there is an Eternal Power, and that this is not a mere blind force, or pantheistic “spirit of nature,” but the power of a living Godhead.

so that they are without excuse — all their degeneracy being a voluntary departure from truth thus brightly revealed to the unsophisticated spirit.


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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 1:20". "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

The invisible things of him (τα αορατα αυτουta aorata autou). Another verbal adjective (αa privative and οραωhoraō to see), old word, either unseen or invisible as here and elsewhere in N.T. (Colossians 1:15., etc.). The attributes of God‘s nature defined here as “his everlasting power and divinity” (η τε αιδιος αυτου δυναμις και τειοτηςhē te aidios autou dunamis kai theiotēs). ΑιδιοςAidios is for αειδιοςaeidios from αειaei (always), old word, in N.T. only here and Judges 1:6, common in Philo (ζωη αιδιοςzōē aidios), elsewhere αιωνιοςaiōnios ΤειοτηςTheiotēs is from τειοςtheios (from τεοςtheos) quality of τεοςtheos and corresponds more to Latin divinitas from divus, divine. In Colossians 2:9 Paul uses τεοτηςtheotēs (Latin deitas from deus) deity, both old words and nowhere else in the N.T. ΤεοτηςTheotēs is Divine Personality, τειοτηςtheiotēs Divine Nature and properties (Sanday and Headlam).

Since the creation of the world (απο κτισεως κοσμουapo ktiseōs kosmou). He means by God and unto God as antecedent to and superior to the world (cf. Colossians 1:15. about Christ).

Are clearly seen (κατοραταιkathoratai). Present passive indicative of κατοραωkathoraō (perfective use of καταkatȧ), old word, only here in N.T., with direct reference to αοραταaorata

Being perceived (νοουμεναnooumena). Present passive participle of νοεωnoeō to use the νουςnous (intellect).

That they may be without excuse (εις το ειναι αυτους αναπολογητουςeis to einai autous anapologētous). More likely, “so that they are without excuse.” The use of εις τοeis to and the infinitive (with accusative of general reference) for result like ωστεhōste is reasonably clear in the N.T. (Moulton, Prolegomena, p. 219; Robertson, Grammar, p. 1003). ΑναπολογητουςAnapologētous is another verbal with ανan from απολογεομαιapologeomai Old word, in N.T. only here and Romans 2:1 (“inexcusable” here).


Copyright Statement
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 1:20". "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

The invisible things of Him

The attributes which constitute God's nature, afterward defined as “His eternal power and divinity.”

From the creation ( ἀπό )

From the time of. Rev., since.

Are clearly seen ( καθορᾶται )

We have here an oxymoron, literally a pointedly foolish saying; a saying which is impressive or witty through sheer contradiction or paradox. Invisible things are clearly visible. See on Acts 5:41. Illustrations are sometimes furnished by single words, as γλυκύπικρος bittersweet θρασύδειλος abold coward. In English compare Shakespeare:

“Dove-feathered raven, fiend angelical;

Beautiful tyrant, wolfish-ravening lamb.”

Spenser:

“Glad of such luck, the luckless lucky maid.”

Godhead ( θειότης )

Rev., better, divinity. Godhead expresses deity ( θεότης ). θειότης is godhood, not godhead. It signifies the sum-total of the divine attributes.

So that they are ( εἰς τὸ εἶναι )

The A.V. expresses result; but the sense is rather purpose. The revelation of God's power and divinity is given, so that, if, after being enlightened, they fall into sin, they may be without defense.

Without excuse ( ἀναπολογήτους )

See on answer, 1 Peter 3:15. Only here and Romans 2:1.


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The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". "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

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

For those things of him which are invisible, are seen — By the eye of the mind.

Being understood — They are seen by them, and them only, who use their understanding


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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 1:20". "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

20.Since his invisible things, (46) etc. God is in himself invisible; but as his majesty shines forth in his works and in his creatures everywhere, men ought in these to acknowledge him, for they clearly set forth their Maker: and for this reason the Apostle in his Epistle to the Hebrews says, that this world is a mirror, or the representation of invisible things. He does not mention all the particulars which may be thought to belong to God; but he states, that we can arrive at the knowledge of his eternal power and divinity; (47) for he who is the framer of all things, must necessarily be without beginning and from himself. When we arrive at this point, the divinity becomes known to us, which cannot exist except accompanied with all the attributes of a God, since they are all included under that idea.

So that they are inexcusable. It hence clearly appears what the consequence is of having this evidence — that men cannot allege any thing before God’s tribunal for the purpose of showing that they are not justly condemned. Yet let this difference be remembered, that the manifestation of God, by which he makes his glory known in his creation, is, with regard to the light itself, sufficiently clear; but that on account of our blindness, it is not found to be sufficient. We are not however so blind, that we can plead our ignorance as an excuse for our perverseness. We conceive that there is a Deity; and then we conclude, that whoever he may be, he ought to be worshipped: but our reason here fails, because it cannot ascertain who or what sort of being God is. Hence the Apostle in Hebrews 11:3, ascribes to faith the light by which man can gain real knowledge from the work of creation, and not without reason; for we are prevented by our blindness, so that we reach not to the end in view; we yet see so far, that we cannot pretend any excuse. Both these things are strikingly set forth by Paul in Acts 14:16, when he says, that the Lord in past times left the nations in their ignorance, and yet that he left them not without witness (amarturon ,) since he gave them rain and fertility from heaven. But this knowledge of God, which avails only to take away excuse, differs greatly from that which brings salvation, which Christ mentions in John 17:3, and in which we are to glory, as Jeremiah teaches us, Jeremiah 9:24

[Venema ], in his note on this passage, shows, that goodness was regarded by many of the heathens as the primary attribute of Deity. Among the Greeks, goodness — τὸ ἀγαθὸν, was the expression by which the Supreme Being was distinguished. And it appears evident from the context that the Apostle included this idea especially in the word θείοτης. Ed


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/romans-1.html. 1840-57.

Vv. 20. He did so by His works in nature. By the term τὰ ἀόρατα, the invisible things, the apostle designates the essence of God, and the manifold attributes which distinguish it. He sums them up afterwards in these two: eternal power and dwinity. Power is that which immediately arrests man, when the spectacle of nature presents itself to his view. In virtue of the principle of causality innate in his understanding, he forth with sees in this immense effect the revelation of a great cause; and the Almighty is revealed to him. But this power appears to his heart clothed with certain moral characteristics, and in particular, wisdom and goodness. He recognizes in the works of this power, in the infinite series of means and ends which are revealed in them, the undeniable traces of benevolence and intelligence; and in virtue of the principle of finality, or the notion of end, not less essentially inherent in his mind, he invests the supreme cause with the moral attributes which constitute what Paul here calls divinity, θειότης, the sum total of qualities in virtue of which the creative power can have organized such a world.

The epithet ἀΐδιος, eternal (from ἀεί, always), is joined by some with both substantives; but power alone needed to be so defined, in order to contrast it with that host of second causes which are observed in nature. The latter are the result of anterior causes. But the first cause, on which this whole series of causes and effects depends, is eternal, that is to say, self-causing. The adjective is therefore to be joined only with the first of the two substantives; the second required no such qualification. These invisible things, belonging to the essence of God, have been made visible, since by the creation of the universe they have been externally manifested. τοῖς ποιήμασι is the dative of instrument: by the works of God in nature; ἀπό, since, indicates that the time of creation was the point of departure for this revelation which lasts still. The complex phrase νοούμενα καθορᾶται, are spiritually contemplated, contains two intimately connected ideas: on the one hand, a viewing with the outward sense; on the other, an act of intellectual perception, whereby that which presents itself to the eye becomes at the same time a revelation to our consciousness. The animal sees as man does; but it lacks the νοῦς, understanding (whence the verb νοεῖν, νοούμενα), whereby man ascends from the contemplation of the work to that of the worker. These two simultaneous sights, the one sensible, the other rational, constitute in man a single act, admirably characterized by the expression spiritual contemplation, used by the apostle.

We have here a proof of Paul"s breadth of mind and heart. He does not disparage, as the Jews did, and as Christian science has sometimes done, the value of what has been called natural theology. And it is certainly not without reason that Baur (Paulus, II. p. 260) has regarded this passage as laying the first basis of the apostle"s universalism. This same idea of a universal revelation appears again in Paul"s discourses at Lystra and Athens (Acts 14:17; Acts 17:27-28); so also in 1 Corinthians 1:21, and in our own Epistle Romans 3:29 : "Is God not also the God of the Gentiles?" a question which finds its full explanation in the idea of a primordial revelation addressed to all men.

The last words of the verse point out the aim of this universal revelation: that they may be without excuse. The words are startling: Could God have revealed Himself to the Gentiles only to have a reason for the condemnation with which He visits them? This idea has seemed so revolting, that it has been thought necessary to soften the sense of the phrase εἰς τὸ...and to translate so that (Osterv.), or: "they are therefore inexcusable" (Oltram.). It is one great merit of Meyer"s commentaries that he has vigorously withstood this method of explanation, which arbitrarily weakens the meaning of certain prepositions and particles used by Paul. Had he wished to say so that, he had at command the regular expression ὥστε/ εἶναι. And the truth, if his thought is rightly understood, has nothing so very repulsive about it: in order that, he means, if after having been thus enlightened, they should fall into error as to God"s existence and character, they may be without excuse. The first aim of the Creator was to make Himself known to His creature. But if, through his own fault, man came to turn away from this light, he should not be able to accuse God of the darkness into which he had plunged himself. One might translate somewhat coarsely: that in case of going astray, they might not be able to plead ignorance as a pretext. In these circumstances there is nothing to prevent the in order that from preserving its natural meaning.


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Bibliography
Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsc/romans-1.html.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Ver. 20. Are clearly seen] Pervidentur. As in a mirror, or as on a theatre. Ut solem in aquis, sic Deum in operibus contemplamur. God (saith one) is best seen in his works, as the sun in the west. {a}

{a} Saeculum est speculum, quo Deum intueamur.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/romans-1.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Romans 1:20. For the invisible things, &c.— For from the creation of the world those things of him which are invisible, are (being duly attended to) clearly seen by the things which are made; even his eternal power and divinity. Those invisible things of God, of which the Apostle here speaks, lie within the reach and discovery of men's reason and understanding; but yet they must exercise their faculties, and employ their minds about them: they are and can be discovered only if they be attentively considered: and yet the whole must be accompanied by divine light and divine grace (which are offered to all) in order to the production of any genuine good. Bishop Warburton has a peculiar remark upon the last words of this verse, and those in the next, wherein he observes, that the apostle evidently condemns the foolish policy of the Gentile sages, who when they knew God, yet glorified him not as God, by preaching him up to the people, but, carried away in the vanity of their imagination, bya mistaken principle of politics, that a vulgar or general knowledge of him would be injurious to society,—shut up his glory in their MYSTERIES, and gave the people in exchange for an incorruptible God, an image made like corruptible man, &c. wherefore God, in punishment for their sins, thus turning his truth into a lie, suffered even their mysteries, which they erected (though on these wrong principles) for a school of virtue, to degenerate into an odious sink of vice and immorality;—giving them up unto all uncleanness and vile affections. That this was the Apostle's meaning, appears not only from the general tenor of the passage, but from several particular expressions; as Romans 1:23 where he speaks of changing the glory of God to birds, beasts, and creeping things: for this was the peculiar superstition of Egypt, and Egypt was the first inventress of these mysteries. Again, he says, They worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, Romans 1:25. This was strictly true with regard to the MYSTERIES: the CREATOR was there acknowledged by a small and select number of the participants; but the general and solemn worship in these celebrations was to their natural idols. See Div. Leg. b. 2: sect. 4 and Pearson on the Creed, Art. I.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". 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

The apostle here proceeds in acquainting us with that knowledge of God which the Heathens had by the light of nature, which was in their hearts, and augmented and increased by what of God they saw in the book of the creatures; namely, in the works of creation and providence: The invisible things of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen, &c. The sense, I conceive, is this, That the wise and wonderful frame of the world, which cannot reasonably be ascribed to any other cause but God, is a sensible demonstration to all mankind, of an eternal and powerful Being, that was the author and contriver of it. The strokes of the Creator's hand are engraven in all parts of the universe; the heavens, the earth, and the capacious sea, with all things contained in them, are evident testimonies of the excellency of their original cause: And therefore such of the Heathens of old as shut their eyes, and such of the Atheists at this day as wink hard, and will not see the footsteps of a Deity in the works of creation and providence, are, and will be, everlastingly left without excuse.

Learn hence, 1. That much of the being and essential perfections of God may be known by the light of nature, if attended to; and much more may be understood by the book of the creatures, if attentively looked into. The invisible things of God are clearly seen from the creation; that is, the creation of the world is a plain demonstration to men of the being and power of God.

Learn, 2. That all such persons will be left forever without excuse before God, who either extinguish the light of nature, and smother the natural notices which they have of God, or do not improve them by a due consideration of the works of God. Without opening the eye of reasons, the book of creation is of no more use to us than to the brute beasts: They see the creatures as well as we, but many of us consider the creatures, and see God in the creation no more then they: And this will leave us without excuse.

Learn, 3. How endearing are our obligations to almighty God, for the favour and benefit of divine revelation; that, together with the light of nature, we have the superadded light of scripture; the law to convince us of our sin, the gospel to discover a Saviour. The Heathens had only those natural apostles, of sun, moon, and stars, to guide them to the wisdom of the Father, the incarnate Son of God, and his inspired apostles and ministers to lead us into all truth, and his Holy Spirit to excite and quicken us in our obedience to him.

Therefore, eternally magnified be Omnipotent Love, for the light of scripture, for the benefit of divine revelation. For though there be a natural theology, there is not a natural Christology; there is a natural divinity, but not a natural gospel, a knowledge of God by the light of nature, but no knowledge of Jesus the Mediator, without the light of scripture.

All thanks, eternal thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift! Lord, how will all such as contemn it be left without excuse!


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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". 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

20.] For (justifying the clause preceding) His invisible attributes (hence the plur. applying to δύναμις and θειότης which follow), ἀπὸ κτίσεως κόσμ., from the time of the creation, when the manifestation was made by God: not = ἐκ κτίσεως κ. ‘by the creation of the world;’ which would be tautological, τοῖς ποιήμασι νοούμενα following, besides that κτίσις κόσμου cannot = ἡ κτίσις, in the sense of ‘the creation,’ i.e. ‘the creatures.’ Umbreit has here a long and important note on O. T. prophecy in general, which will be found well worth study.

τοῖς ποιήμ. νοούμ.] being understood (apprehended by the mind, see reff.) by means of His works (of creation and sustenance,—not here of moral government), καθορᾶται, are perceived; not, ‘are plainly seen,’—this is not the sense of κατά in καθοράω, but rather that of looking down on, taking a survey of, and so apprehending or perceiving.

ἥ τε ἀΐδ. αὐτ. δύν.] His eternal Power. To this the evidence of Creation is plainest of all: Eternal, and Almighty, have always been recognized epithets of the Creator.

κ. θειότης] and Divinity (not Godhead, which would be θεότης). The fact that the Creator is divine;—is of a different nature from ourselves, and accompanied by distinct attributes, and those of the highest order,—which we call divine.

εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτ. ἀναπολ.] εἰς τό with an inf. never properly indicates only the result, ‘so that;’ but is often used where the result, and the intention, are bound together in the process of thought. This is done by a very natural habit in speaking and writing, of transferring one’s self to the position of the argument, and regarding that which contributed to a result, as worked purposely for that result. And however true it is, that in the doings of the Allwise, all results are purposed,—to give the sense ‘in order that they might be inexcusable,’ would be manifestly contrary to the whole spirit of the argument, which is bringing out, not at present God’s sovereignty in dealing with man, but man’s inexcusableness in holding back the truth by unrighteousness. εἰς τό, then, in this case, is most nearly expressed by wherefore, or so that. See Winer, edn. 6, § 44. 6. οὐ διὰ τοῦτο ταῦτα πεποίηκεν ὁ θεός, εἰ καὶ τοῦτο ἐξέβη. οὐ γὰρ ἵνα αὐτοὺς ἀπολογίας ἀποστερήσῃ, διδασκαλίαν τοσαύτην εἰς μέσον προύθηκεν, ἀλλʼ ἵνα αὐτὸν ἐπιγνῶσιν· ἀγνωμονήσαντες δὲ πάσης ἑαυτοὺς ἀπεστέρησαν ἀπολογίας. Chrys. Hom. iv. p. 450.


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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". 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 1:20 f. τὰ γὰρ ἀόρατα.… θειότης] Giving a reason for, and explaining, the previous θεὸς γὰρ αὐτοῖς ἐφανέρωσε.

τὰ ἀόρατα αὐτοῦ] His invisible things, the manifold invisible attributes, that constitute His nature. Paul himself explains it afterwards by ἀΐδιος αὐτοῦ δύναμις καὶ θειότης; therefore it is not actiones Dei invisibiles (Fritzsche; comp Theodoret).

νοούμενα καθορᾶται] through the works are seen becoming discerned; νοούμενα defines the manner in which the καθορᾶται takes place, otherwise than through the senses (the νοεῖν, ἀλλʼ οὐκ ὄμμασι θεωρεῖν, Plat. Rep. p. 529 B), in so far as it is effected by means of mental discernment, by the agency of intelligent perception. The καθορᾶται forms with ἀόρατα a striking oxymoron, in which the compound selected for that purpose, but not elsewhere occurring in the N. T., heightens still further the idea conveyed by the simple form. Comp Xen. Cyr. iii. 3, 31.: εἰ γὰρ.… ἡμᾶς οἱ πολέμιοι θεάσονται.… πάλιν καθορῶντες ἡμῶν τὸ πλῆθος. Pind. Pyth. ix. 45.: οἶσθα.… εὖ καθορᾷς. On the oxymoron itself, comp Aristotle, de mundo, 6, p. 399, 21. Bekk: ἀθεώρητος ἀπʼ αὐτῶν τῶν ἔρων θεωρεῖται ( θεός).

τοῖς ποιήμασι] embraces all that God as Creator has produced, but does not at the same time include His governing in the world of history, as Schneckenburger thinks, Beitr. p. 102 f.; for מַעַשֱׂה, with which ποίημα corresponds (LXX. Ecclesiastes 3:11; Ecclesiastes 7:13, al(449)), is the formal expression for God’s works of creation; as also Paul himself, in Ephesians 2:10, describes the renewing of man as analogous to creation. It is only of the works of creation that the Apostle could assert what he here says, especially as he adds ἀπὸ κτίσεως κόσμου. Since, moreover, τοῖς ποιή΄ασι, by means of the works, contains the instrumental definition appended to νοούμενα καθορᾶται,(450) ἀπὸ κτίσ. κόσμου cannot be taken in a causal sense (see Winer, p. 348 [E. T. 463]), as the medium cognoscendi (so Luther and many others, including Calovius, Pearson, Homberg, Wolf, Heumann, Morus and Reithmayr), but only in the sense of temporal beginning: since the creation of the world they are so perceived.

τε ἀΐδιος αὐτοῦ δύν. κ. θειότης] A more precise definition of the previous τὰ ἀόρατα αὐτοῦ. ἀΐδιος, everlasting, belongs to both substantives; but καί annexes the general term, the category, of which the δύνα΄ις is a species. See Fritzsche a(451) Matth. p. 786. Its relation to the preceding τέ consists in its completing the climax and cumulation, for which τέ prepares the way. Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 98. Hofmann is unsupported by linguistic usage in inferring from the position of τέ, that ἀΐδιος is not meant to apply also to θειότης. It is just that position that makes ἀΐδιος the common property of both members (see especially Hartung, l.c(452) p. 116 f.), so that, in order to analyse the form of the conception, we may again supply ἀΐδιος αὐτοῦ after καὶ (Stallbaum, a(453) Plat. Crit. p. 43 B.; Schaefer, Poet. gnom. p. 73; Schoemann, a(454) Is. p. 325 f.; also Winer, p. 520 [E. T. 727]). The θειότης is the totality of that which God is as a Being possessed of divine attributes, as θεῖον, the collective sum of the divine realities.(455) This comprehensive sense must by no means be limited. The eternal power—this aspect of His θειότης which comes into prominence at first and before all others—and the divinity of God in its collective aspect, are rationally perceived and discerned by means of His works. Arbitrary is the view of Reiche, who holds that Paul means especially wisdom and goodness, which latter Schneckenburger conceives to be intended; and also that of Hofmann (comparing Acts 17:29; 2 Peter 1:4), that the spiritual nature of the divine being is denoted. We may add that Rückert holds the strange view, that θειότης, which could not properly be predicated of God, is only used here by Paul for want of another expression. It might be and was necessarily said of God, as being the only adequate comprehensive expression for the conception that was to be denoted thereby. For analogous references to the physico-theological knowledge of God, see Wetstein, and Spiess, Logos spermaticos, 1871, p. 212. The suggestion of Philo as the Apostle’s source (Schneckenburger) is out of the question. Observe further how completely, in our passage, the transcendental relation of God to the world—the negation of all identity of the two—lies at the foundation of the Apostle’s view. It does not exclude the immanence of God in the world, but it excludes all pantheism. See the passages from the O. T. discussed in Umbreit.

εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἀναπολ.] has its logically correct reference to the immediately preceding τὰ γὰρ ἀόρατα.… θειότης, and therefore the parenthesis, in which Griesbach and others have placed τὰ γὰρ ἀόρ.… θειότης, must be expunged. The εἰς cannot be said of the result, as Luther, and many others, including Reiche, Köllner, de Wette, Rückert, Fritzsche, Reithmayr, Philippi, Ewald, following the Vulgate (ita ut sint inexcusabiles), have understood it; for the view, which takes it of the purpose, is not only required by the prevailing usage of εἰς with the infinitive(456) (see on 2 Corinthians 8:6), but is also more appropriate to the connection, because the καθορᾶται is conceived as a result effected through God’s revelation of Himself (Romans 1:19), and consequently the idea of the divine purpose in εἰς τὸ εἶναι κ. τ. λ(457) is not to be arbitrarily dismissed. Comp Erasmus (“ne quid haberent” etc.), Melancthon (“propter quas causas Deus” etc.), Beza, Calvin (“in hoc ut”), Bengel and others. But Chrysostom, even in his time, expressly opposes this view (comp also Oecumenius), and at a later period it became a subject of contention between the Lutherans and the Reformed, See Calovius. The view, which interprets it of the result, hesitates to admit the conception of a divine decree, under which Paul places the inexcusableness of men; and yet not only may this stand to the perception of God from His works which has existed since the beginning in the relation of result, but, in accordance with the thoroughly Scriptural idea of destiny (comp e.g. Romans 5:20), it must stand to it in the relation of that decree. In this connection, which inserts the results in the divine counsel, the inexcusableness of man appears as telically given with the self-manifestation of God. Romans 1:21, as in general even Romans 1:18, contains the perverse conduct of men manifesting itself in the course of human history, on account of which God, who foresaw it, has in His natural self-manifestation made their inexcusableness His aim. Inexcusable they are intended to be; and that indeed on account of the fact, that, although they had known God (namely from that natural revelation), they have not glorified Him as God.

διότι] as in Romans 1:19, only to be separated by a comma from what precedes: inexcusable on this account, because.

γνόντες] not: cum agnoscere potuissent (Flatt, Nielsen; also as early as Oecumenius); nor yet: although they knew God, so that it would be contemporaneous with οὐχ.… ἐδόξασαν. So Philippi and van Hengel; also Delitzsch, bibl. Psychol, p. 346. They had attained the knowledge from the revelation of nature (for to this, according to Romans 1:19-20, we must refer it, and not, with Rückert, to the history in Genesis of the original revelation), but only actu directo, so far as that same self-manifestation of God had presented itself objectively to their cognition; the actus reflexus remained absent (comp Delitzsch, p. 347), and with them who keep down the truth ἐν ἀδικίᾳ, Romans 1:18, the issue was not to the praise of God, etc.; so that γνόντες is thus previous to the οὐχ.… ἐδόξασαν. Paul sets forth the historical emergence of that for which they were inexcusable. They had known God, and yet it happened that they did not praise Him, etc.

οὐχ ὡς θεὸν ἐδόξασαν ηὐχαρ.] It would have been becoming for them to have rendered to God as such, agreeably to His known nature, praise and thanks; but they did neither the one nor the other. Regarding ὡς in the sense: according to the measure of His divine quality, comp on John 1:14. The praising and thanksgiving exhaust the notion of the adoration, which they should have offered to God.

ἀλλʼ ἐματ. ἐν τοῖς διαλ. αὐτῶν] but they were frustrated in their thoughts (comp 1 Corinthians 3:20), so that the conceptions, ideas, and reflections, which they formed for themselves regarding the Deity, were wholly devoid of any intrinsic value corresponding with the truth. Comp Ephesians 4:17. The ΄αταιότης is a specific attribute of heathenism. Jeremiah 2:5; 2 Kings 17:5; Psalms 94:11. Comp also Acts 14:15; Judith 6:4.

καὶ ἐσκοτίσθη κ. τ. λ(466)] forms a climax to the foregoing. Comp Ephesians 4:18; Ephesians 1:18. Their heart that had been rendered by the ἐματαιώθησαν unintelligent, incapable of discerning the true and right, became dark, completely deprived of the light of the divine ἀλήθεια that had come to them by the revelation of nature. καρδία, like לֵב, denotes the whole internal seat of life, the power which embraces all the activity of reason and will within the personal consciousness. Comp on Ephesians 1:18; Delitzsch, p. 250. To take ἀσύνετος here in a proleptic sense (see on Matthew 12:13) is quite inappropriate, because it destroys the climax. Comp moreover on ἀσύνετος, Wisdom of Solomon 11:15; as also on the entire delineation of Gentile immorality, Romans 1:20 ff.; Wisdom 13-15. This passage as a whole, and in its details, presents unmistakeable reminiscences of this section of the book of Wisdom. See Nitzsch in the Deutsch. Zeitschr. 1850, p. 387; Bleek in the Stud. u. Krit. 1853, p. 340 f. Without reason Tholuck argues against this view.


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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". 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 1:20. ἀόρατα καθορᾶται, the invisible things are seen) An incomparable oxymoron(13) (a happy union of things opposite, as here invisible, yet seen). The invisible things of God, if ever at any time, would certainly have become visible at the creation; but even then they began to be seen, not otherwise, save by the understanding.— ἀπὸ κτίσεως, from the creation) ἀπὸ here denotes either a proof, as ἀπὸ, in Matthew 24:32, so that the understanding [comp. Romans 1:20, “understood”] of the fathers [respecting God, as He, whose being and attributes are proved] from the creation of the world, may refute the apostasy of the Gentiles; or rather, ἀπό denotes time, so that it corresponds to the Hebrew preposition מ, and means, ever since the foundation of the world, and beyond it, reckoning backward; and thus the ἀΐδιος, eternal, presently after, agrees with it. In the former mode of interpretation, ἀπὸ is connected with καθορᾶται, are seen from; in the second mode, with ἀόρατα, unseen ever since.— ποιή΄ασι) [the things made], the works that have been produced by κτίσιν, creation. There are works; therefore there is a creation; therefore there is a Creator.— νοούμενα) Those alone, who use their understanding, νῷ, καθορῶσι, look closely into a subject.— καθορᾶται, are seen) for the works [which proceed from the invisible attributes of God] are discerned. The antithesis is, ἐσκοτίσθη [Romans 1:21], was darkened.— ἥτεκαὶ) These words stand in apposition with ἀόρατα.— ἀΐδιος κ. τ. λ., eternal, etc.) The highest attribute of God, worthy of God—perfection in being and acting; in one word θειότης, which signifies divinity [not “Godhead,” as Engl. Vers.], as θεότης, Godhead.— δύνα΄ις, power) of all the attributes of God, this is the one, which was first revealed. His works, in a peculiar manner correspond to His several attributes [Isaiah 40:26]— εἰς τὸ) Paul not only speaks of some result ensuing, but directly takes away all excuse; and this clause, εἰς το,—is equivalent to a proposition, in relation to [to be handled more fully in] the following verses. Construe it with φανερόν ἐστιν [Romans 1:19. The fact of their knowing God, is manifest in, or among them].— ἀναπολογήτους, without excuse). So also in regard to the Jews, ch. Romans 2:1.


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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". 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

Because it might be further objected in behalf of the Gentiles, that the notions of God imprinted in their nature are so weak, that they may be well excused; therefore the apostle adds, that the certainty of them is further confirmed by the book of the creatures, which was written before them in capital letters, so that he that runs may read.

The invisible things of him: the apostle tells us afterwards himself what he means by the invisible things of God, viz. his being and his attributes, particularly his eternity and almighty power; to which we might add, his wisdom, goodness, &c. These, though invisible in themselves, yet are discernible by his works, and that ever since the creation of the world. By what they see created, they may easily collect or understand, that there is an eternal and almighty Creator; they may argue from the effects to the cause.

So that they are without excuse: some render it, that they may be without excuse; but it is better rendered in our translation: the meaning is not, that God gave them that knowledge for this end and purpose, that they might be inexcusable, for they might catch even at that for an excuse; but the plain sense is this, that God hath given all men such means of knowledge as sufficeth to leave them without excuse, there can be no pretence of ignorance.


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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Romans 1:20". 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

From the creation; ever since the creation.

His eternal power and Godhead; his divinity, and worthiness of being loved, adored, and obeyed.

Without excuse; having no reason for disobeying him. All to whom God has manifested himself in creation and providence, who do not worship him and are not thankful for the blessings which they receive, are without excuse, and have just reason to fear his awful displeasure.


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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". "Family Bible New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/romans-1.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

20. τὰ γὰρ ἀόραταθειότης are best treated as parenthetic—explanatory of ἐφανέρωσεν—the revelation of GOD through nature and human nature is true as far as it goes, but it is confined to His power both in nature and in morals, and His character as Divine Ruler and Lawgiver. Cf. generally Luke 18:18 f.

τὰ ἀόρατα αὐτοῦ |[72] τὸ γν. τ. θ.; cf. Acts 14:15 f., Acts 17:22 f. The argument from the natural order was the first argument addressed to Gentiles, as the argument from the O.T. order was the first argument addressed to Jews. The invisible things of GOD, His spiritual and moral attributes, are brought within the range of man’s mental vision through a conception gained by reflection upon the things He has made. There is a play on the double meaning of ὁρᾶν as applied to sensual and mental vision, the transition to the second being marked by νοούμενα; cf. Colossians 1:15 f.; Hebrews 11:27.

ἀπὸ κτίσεως κόσμου, temporal: ever since there was a world to be the object of sense and thought, and minds to feel and think. Not, as Giff., = ἀπὸ τοῦ ἐκτισμένου κόσμου; this would require articles and be tautologous; cf. Mark 10:6; Mark 13:19; 2 Peter 3:4.

τοῖς ποιήμασιν, dat. of means. καθορᾶται = are brought within the range of vision.

νοούμενα, being conceived or framed into conceptions, made objects of thought; cf. Isaiah 44:18; qu. John 12:40 : and n. Hebrews 11:3, esp. the connexion of πίστει and νοοῦμεν.

ἥ τε ἀΐδιος α. δύναμις καὶ θειότης explain τὰ ἀόρατα. The primary conceptions of the Maker, formed by reflection upon things, are power and divinity. The fundamental assumption implied is that there must be a Maker—things could not make themselves, and man obviously did not make them. This assumption might well be taken by S. Paul as universally agreed. From that he sees man’s reflection passing to the conception of power, and lasting or spiritual power; the conception of divinity is a further step, logically if not chronologically, first involving hardly more than antithesis to man and nature, but growing more complex with continued reflection; it involves qualitative conceptions of the Maker, not merely quantitative conceptions of His Power. The very abstract term θειότης (only here in N.T.; cf. Acts 17:29 and Wisdom of Solomon 18:9) is used because the conceptions of GOD’s nature vary so widely with time and place. The term covers every conception of a Being, antecedent and superior to creation, which man has formed or can form.

ἀΐδιος. Only here and Judges 1:6 in N.T.; Sept. only Wisdom of Solomon 7:26; frequent in class. Gk for lasting, eternal; e.g. Plato, Timaeus, 40 B, ζῶα θεῖα ὄντα καὶ ἀΐδια.

δύναμις. Esp. used of GOD’S power in creation, old and new. Cf. above, Romans 1:4.

εἰς τὸ may either express ‘purpose’ (Romans 8:29) or simple result (Romans 12:3): here generally taken of ‘purpose,’ in which case it must be connected with ἐφανέρωσεν above. But there is force in Burton’s argument for ‘result’ (M. T. § 411). cf. Moulton, p. 219. N. A.V. and R.V. invert text and margin.

ἀναπολογήτους, Romans 2:1 only. They have no defence as against GOD.


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"Commentary on Romans 1:20". "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

20. “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being known by the things which are made, both His eternal power and divinity, so that they are left without excuse.” God-head in E. V. is wrong, the Greek being theiotees, which means divinity, instead of theotees, which means God-head; the words being so much alike, transcribers and translators mistook the one for the other. The truth of the matter is, while God is revealed to all the heathens by the light of nature, conscience and the universally present Holy Spirit, it is a matter of fact that the different Persons of the Trinity are not thus revealed. Hence, though the heathens can know God and be saved without the revealed Word, in the absence of the latter, they never would be able to recognize three Persons of the Trinity. You see Paul positively affirms the gracious possibility of universal salvation, otherwise they would not all be left “without excuse.” Hence you see from this positive statement that no one in the judgment day can give an apology for his disqualification to meet the Lord and enter heaven. The untutored savage in his primeval wilds sees God in the clouds and hears him in the winds:

“Whose soul proud science never taught to stray, Far as the solar walk, the milky way.”

Captain John Smith, a cultured Episcopalian, during his captivity with the Indians, after the old chief had adopted him as his son and successor, was left in charge of him and his old wife and little grandson, while all the balance went off to war. During a terrible wintry storm, when a great sleet everywhere covered the deep snow, the loud roar of whose breaking beneath the feet entirely disqualified him to get in gunshot of the wild animals on which they were all dependent for their daily food, day after day the young Englishman returns at nightfall from a laborious all-day walk over the ice fields, crushing beneath his feet and letting him down into the deep snow, weary and forlorn, faint with hunger and fatigue. Every evening the venerable chief lying flat on his back on his bear-skin, prostrate with rheumatism, delivers his adopted son a profitable exhortation on the patience and humiliation requisite to qualify a soul at life’s end to ascend above the snow clouds, and dwell in the glorified presence of the Great Spirit forever. Finally John concludes that they are all going to starve to death in a pile. Consequently, with much regret in his own heart to leave those people to die alone, he set out apparently as usual on a hunting excursion, but with his mind made up to escape and make his way back to Jamestown. While thus trudging along, seeing a herd of buffaloes at a great distance, taking position in concealment, he prays God to send them within gun-shot, as he had had nothing to eat for a week but some broth made from the bones of a wild-cat, which the vultures had picked, and they had recovered from beneath the snow. Sure enough, his prayer is answered and the herd comes roaring along near by. He fires away and downs a fat heifer. Running, he cuts out some meat and satisfies his awful hunger by eating it blood-raw. Then supplying himself with some of the food to eat on his journey, his heart turns back with incorrigible sympathy for those poor people he had left to die. Consequently, loading himself with the meat, he wends his way back to the wigwam, arriving at nightfall, and saluted by the venerable chief, lying on his back, “O, my son, I knew you would bring it today. Oeneah (the name of his God) told me so.” Smith wanted to hand him some of it raw to eat at once. “O, no, my son, I am not in a hurry.” “Well,” says Smith, “I will broil you some on the coals.” “O, no, I prefer it stewed. While it is cooking I want you to sit down that I may talk to you about the great spirit, Oeneah, who always takes good care of his children.” Smith felt himself a missionary among them, and had been teaching them the Christian religion the best he could from the Bible. Now he finds, to his surprise, that the old Indian, who had spent his life in savagedom, knew much more about the Lord, and his salvation, than he did. I mention this to demonstrate a case of a heathen who was intelligently saved, walking with God and bearing the fruits of the Spirit. A multitude of Scriptures intelligently corroborates this great truth, that all the people in the world can be saved if they will, having nothing to do but walk in the light which God gives them, as in that case, in the glorious ultimatum, the “blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth them from all sin” (1 John 1:7). This is true of all the people in the world, whether heathen, Moslem, Papist or Protestant (John 1:9 and Titus 2:11). Then why send the heathens the gospel if they can be saved without it?

(a) Because God has commanded us to go and preach the gospel to every creature. We must obey or fall under condemnation.

(b) Because the more light they have, the greater the probability that they will walk in it and be saved. For the same reason we keep on preaching to people in gospel lands, not because they can not be saved without it, but because they will not. In all cases it is a question of will and probability rather than privilege and possibility.


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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/romans-1.html.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things which are made, even his everlasting power and divinity, that they may be without excuse,’

For what makes man totally inexcusable is that ‘the things that are made’ reveal to the open mind the invisible things of God (His goodness, wisdom, power, majesty, creativity, providential care) and have done so from the beginning. For in combination with man’s spiritual nature they make known His eternal power and Godhead. As we look at the wonders of creation, the evidence of ‘design’ in nature, its beauty, its diverse colours, its radiance, the scene from the mountain top, the wonder of men’s inexplicable bodies and minds (made even more inexplicable by the discoveries of micro-biology and the discovery of the human genome), and the wonders of outer space, we can only recognise that it is God Who has done this, a God Who is rational, interested in beauty, powerful, intricate, and yet Who brings comfort to the heart. As the Psalmist said, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork, day unto day utters speech, and the night-time is not silent’ (Psalms 19:1-2). And Jesus added, ‘Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not neither do they spin, and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these’ (Matthew 6:28-29). These ideas of design, magnificence and beauty should therefore fill us with awe and point our hearts towards God, and would in fact do so were we not blinded by sin. But the problem is that men do not want to know God. So instead men philosophise them away.


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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". "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

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.

Invisible things of Him — God is invisible in Himself, for He is a Spirit, elevated beyond the reach of all our senses. Being a Spirit, He is exempted from all composition of parts, so that when the Apostle here ascribes to Him ‘invisible things’ in the plural, it must not be imagined that there is not in God a perfect unity. It is only intended to mark the different attributes of Deity, which, although one in principle, are yet distinguished in their objects, so that we conceive of them as if they were many.

From the creation of the world are clearly seen. — By the works of creation, and from those of a general providence, God can be fully recognized as the Creator of heaven and earth, and thence His natural attributes may be inferred. For that which is invisible in itself has, as it were, taken a form or body to render itself visible, and visible in a manner so clear that it is easy to discover it. This visibility of the invisible perfections of God, which began at the creation, has continued ever since, and proves that the Apostle here includes with the works of creation those of providence, in the government of the universe. Both in the one and the other, the Divine perfections very admirably appear. Being understood by the things that are made. — The works of creation and providence are so many signs or marks, which elevate us to the contemplation of the perfections of Him who made them, and that so directly, that in a manner these works, and these perfections of their Author, are as only one and the same thing. Here the Apostle tacitly refutes the opinion of some of the philosophers respecting the eternity of the world; he establishes the fact of its creation, and at the same time teaches, contrary to the Atheists, that, from the sole contemplation of the world, there are sufficient proofs of the existence of God. Finally, by referring to the works of creation, he indicates the idea that ought to be formed of God, contrary to the false and chimerical notions of the wisest heathens respecting Him. Even His eternal power and Godhead. — The Apostle here only specifies God’s eternal power and Godhead, marking His eternal power as the first object which discovers itself in the works of creation, and in the government of the world; and afterwards denoting, by His Godhead, the other attributes essential to Him as Creator. His power is seen to be eternal, because it is such as could neither begin to exist, nor to be communicated. Its present exertion proves its eternal existence. Such power, it is evident, could have neither a beginning nor an end. In the contemplation of the heavens and the earth, every one must be convinced that the power which called them into existence is eternal. Godhead. — This does not refer to all the Divine attributes, for they are not all manifested in the works of creation. It refers to those which manifest God’s deity. The heavens and the earth prove the deity of their Author. In the revelation of the word, the grand truth is the deity of Christ; in the light of nature, the grand truth is the deity of the Creator. By His power may be understood all the attributes called relative, such as those of Creator, Preserver, Judge, Lawgiver, and others that relate to creatures; and by His Godhead, those that are absolute, such as His majesty, His infinity, His immortality. So that they are without excuse . — The words in the original may either refer to the end intended, or to the actual result — either to those circumstances being designed to leave men without excuse, or to the fact that they are without excuse. The latter is the interpretation adopted by our translators, and appears to be the true meaning. It cannot be said that God manifested Himself in His works, in order to leave men without excuse. This was the result, not the grand end. The revelation of God by the light of nature the heathens neglected or misunderstood, and therefore are justly liable to condemnation. Will not then the world, now under the light of the supernatural revelation of grace, be much more inexcusable? If the perverters of the doctrine taught by the works of creation were without excuse, will God sustain the excuses now made for the corrupters of the doctrine of the Bible?

When the heathens had nothing else than the manifestation of the Divine perfections in the works of creation and providence, there was enough to render them inexcusable, since it was their duty to make a good use of them, and the only cause of their not doing so was their perversity. From this, however, it must not be inferred, that since the entrance of sin, the subsistence of the world, and the providence which governs it, sufficiently furnish man, who is a sinner, with the knowledge of God, and the means of glorifying Him in order to salvation. The Apostle here speaks only of the revelation of the natural attributes of God, which make Him indeed the sovereign good to man in innocence, but the sovereign evil to man when guilty. The purpose of God to show mercy is not revealed but by the Spirit of God, who alone searcheth the deep things of God, Corinthians 2:10. In order to this revelation, it was necessary that the Holy Spirit should have animated the Prophets and Apostles. It is therefore to be particularly observed that, while, in the next chapter, where the Apostle proceeds to prove that the Jews are also without excuse, he urges that the forbearance, and long-suffering, and goodness of God, in the revelation of grace, led them to repentance, he says nothing similar respecting the heathens. He does not assert that God, in His revelation to them, called them to repentance, or that He held out to them the hope of salvation, but affirms that revelation renders them inexcusable. This clearly shows that in the whole of the dispensation to the heathen, there was no revelation of mercy, and no accompanying Spirit of grace, as there had been to the Jews. The manifestations made by God of Himself in the works of creation, together with what is declared concerning the conduct of His providence, Acts 14:17; and what is again said in ch. 2 of this Epistle, ver. 14, 15, respecting the law written in the heart, comprise the whole of the revelation made to the heathen, after they had lost sight of the original promise to Adam of a deliverer, and the preaching of the righteousness of God by Noah; but in these ways God had never left Himself without a witness. The works of creation and providence spoke to them from without, and the law written in their heart from within. In conjunction, they declared the being and sovereign authority of God, and man’s accountableness to his Creator. This placed all men under a positive obligation of obedience to God. But His law, thus made known, admits not of forgiveness when transgressed, and could not be the cause of justification, but of condemnation. The whole, therefore, of that revelation of God’s power and Godhead, of which the Apostle speaks in this discourse, he regards as the foundation of the just condemnation of men, in order afterwards to infer from it the necessity of the revelation of grace. It must not be supposed, then, that he regards it as containing in itself a revelation of grace in any manner whatever, for this is an idea opposed to the whole train of his reflections. But how, then, it may be said, are men rendered inexcusable? They are inexcusable, because their natural corruption is thus discovered; for they are convicted of being sinners, and consequently alienated from communion with God, and subjected to condemnation, which is thus shown to be just.


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Haldane, Robert. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". "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

20. Invisible things—God’s attributes, unseen by bodily eyes, are revealed to the understanding by things that are made. That is, from evidences of design and power seen in natural constructions the reason of man is able and is bound to infer God. From the time of the creation of the world, including the primitive ages, until now, those standing evidences of God have left man without excuse for not recognising his eternal power and Godhead. The syllable head in Godhead is the same as hood in manhood, so that the word signifies divinity.

The plain meaning of the apostle is, that the argument from external design (so conclusively stated by Paley) is so clear that men are excuseless from not knowing nature’s God. This is more noteworthy, as some at the present day, even claiming to be Christian philosophers, slight the design evidence as of no value, and rest the whole proof of God’s existence upon an intuitive and direct perception of God himself. That there are intuitions by which God is recognised we need not deny; but holy Scripture largely bases the assurance of the Divine existence upon the proofs derived from “the things that are made.”


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". "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 1:20. For the invisible things of God. Some of His attributes, as explained afterwards.

Since the creation of the world. ‘From,’ while literally correct, may be misunderstood as referring to the means of clearly seeing.

Being perceived, etc. The mode of clearly seeing the invisible attributes of God is the perception of them through the visible things which He has made.

Even his everlasting power and divinity. The word ‘everlasting’ here is not the same as that usually rendered ‘eternal’; it belongs to both nouns. ‘Eternal, and Almighty, have always been recognized epithets of the Creator’ (Alford). Through the ‘power’ men recognize the ‘divinity,’ which here means not the personal Deity, but the sum of the divine attributes. The position Paul takes is opposed to Pantheism.

That they may be without excuse. The designed result is here set forth; ‘so that’ is not literally exact. But man’s inexcusableness, not God’s sovereignty, is under discussion.


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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". "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

===============================

[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

St. John Chrysostom, hom. ii. p. 20. Greek: tes panton armonias salpiggos, lamproteron booses.


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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/romans-1.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, {even} his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse:

"Invisible things of him" -"invisible attributes" (TCNT).

Two are mentioned, "everlasting power and divine nature".

"Since the creation"-mankind, all of them from the beginning have all had access to this same knowledge, yes even the native in darkest Africa, the South-Sea Islander and the American Indian.

"through the things that are made...that they may be without excuse"-this is a telling commentary about the person that can study the physical creation and yet still believe in evolution and or remain a atheist or agnostic. (Psalms 19:1-4; Acts 14:17)

"Without excuse"-the unbeliever doesn"t have a leg to stand on. (Psalms 14:1)


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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/romans-1.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

invisible. Greek. aoratos. Here, Colossians 1:15, Colossians 1:16, 1 Timothy 1:17. Hebrews 11:27.

clearly seen. Greek. katkorao. Only here.

things that are made. Greek. poiema. Only here and Ephesians 2:10.

eternal. Greek. aidios. App-151.

Godhead. App-98.

so that, &c. = to the end (Greek. eis) of their being. Compare Romans 1:11.

without excuse. Greek. anapologetos. Only here and Romans 2:1.


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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". "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

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world , [ apo (Greek #575) ktiseoos (Greek #2937) kosmou (Greek #2889)] - not 'by means of,' but 'since the time of' the world's creation [= apo (Greek #575) katabolees (Greek #2602) kosmou (Greek #2889), Luke 11:50]

Are clearly seen - [ aorata (Greek #517) ... kathoratai (Greek #2529). See Fritzsche's note in defense of the intensive import of kata (Greek #2596) here, denied by Alford], There is here an incomparable oxymoron (says Bengel), or a bold, paradoxical play of words; the unseen things of God are clearly seen, and surely (he adds), if anywhere, it is in creation that these invisibilities of God become visible to human intelligence. Aristotle (de mundo, 6) has a remarkable statement, identical with this-`In every mortal by nature the invisible God becomes by those very works visible'

Being understood by the things that are made - [ nooumena (Greek #3539), 'perceived,' 'apprehended' by the nous (Greek #3563).] The apostle, then, does not say that without reflection even "the things that are made" will discover (God to men. He says exactly the reverse. And thus is to be explained the brutish ignorance of God that reigns among the more debased and unreflecting pagan, the atheistic speculations in modern times of some subtle metaphysicians, and the negation of all Theism on the part of many enthusiastic students of the mere facts and laws of the material universe; while to the calm, unprejudiced exercise of thought upon the mind which is seen to reign in every department of "the things that are made," God is brightly beheld.

Even his eternal power and Godhead , [ theiotees (Greek #2305)]. This word signifies not 'The Godhead' [which is theotees (Greek #2320)], but that property of divineness which belongs to Him who called this creation into being. Two things are thus said to be clearly discovered so the reflecting intelligence by the things which are made-First, That there is an Eternal Power; and, Secondly, That this is neither a blind physical 'Force' nor a pantheistic 'spirit of nature,' but a living, conscious Divine Person, whose outgoing energy is beheld in the external universe. And, what is eminently worthy of notice, the outward creation is here represented, not as the parent, but only as the interpreter, of our faith in God. That faith has its primary sources within our own breast (Romans 1:19); but it becomes an intelligent and articulate conviction only through what we observe around us (Romans 1:20). And thus are the inner and outer revelation of God just the complement of each other, making up between them one universal and immoveable conviction that God is. With this most striking apostolic statement agree the latest conclusions of the most profound speculative students of Theism.

So that they are without excuse , [ eis (Greek #1519) to (Greek #3588) einai (Greek #1511)] - or, 'so that they might be without excuse' (in the event of their failure). Though the latter shade of meaning is more conformable to the words used, the former is what one would more naturally expect; but each presupposes the other.


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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". "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

(20) For, though there were parts of God’s being into which the eye could not penetrate, still they were easily to be inferred from the character of His visible creation, which bore throughout the stamp of Omnipotence and Divinity.

The invisible things of him.—His invisible attributes, afterwards explained as “His eternal power and Godhead.”

Are clearly seen . . . by the things that are made.—There is something of a play upon words here. “The unseen is seen—discerned by the eye of the mind—being inferred or perceived by the help of that which is made,” i.e., as we should say, by the phenomena of external nature.

Even His eternal power and Godhead.—A summary expression for those attributes which, apart from revelation, were embodied in the idea of God. Of these “power” is the most obvious. St. Paul does not go into the questions that have been raised in recent times as to the other qualities which are to be inferred as existing in the Author of nature; but he sums them up under a name that might be used as well by a Pagan philosopher as by a Christian—the attributes included in the one term “Godhead.” Divinity would be, perhaps, a more correct translation of the expression. What is meant is “divine nature,” rather than “divine personality.”

So that they are without excuse.—They could not plead ignorance.


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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/romans-1.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
For the
John 1:18; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17; 6:16; Hebrews 11:27
from the
19; Deuteronomy 4:19; Job 31:26-28; Psalms 8:3; 33:6-9; 104:5,31; 119:90; 139:13; Psalms 148:8-12; Matthew 5:45
even his
16:26; Genesis 21:33; Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalms 90:2; Isaiah 9:6; 26:4; 40:26; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 9:14
Godhead
Acts 17:29; Colossians 2:9
so that they are
or, that they may be.
2:1,15; John 15:22
without
Acts 22:1; *Gr:

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/romans-1.html.

Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians

This verse is a confirmation and amplification of the preceding, inasmuch as it proves that God does manifest himself to men, shows how this manifestation is made, and draws the inference that men are, in virtue of this revelation, inexcusable for their impiety. The argument is, God has manifested the knowledge of himself to men, for the invisible things of him, that is, his eternal power and Godhead, are, since the creation, clear!y seen, being understood by his works; they are therefore without excuse. The invisible things of him. By the invisible things of God, Theodoret says we are to understand creation, providence, and the divine judgments; Theophylact understands them to refer to his goodness, wisdom, power, and majesty. Between these interpretations the moderns are divided. The great majority prefer the latter, which is obviously the better suited to the context, because the works of God are expressed afterwards by ποιήματα and because the invisible things are those which are manifested by his works, and are explained by the terms "power and Godhead." The subsequent clause, ἥ τε ἀΐ́διος αὐτοῦ δύναμις καὶ θειότης, is in apposition with and an explanation of the former one. The particle τέ followed by καί, serves then, as Tholuck remarks, to the partition of ἀόρατα into the two ideas δύναμις and θειότης, and not to annex a distinct idea, as though the meaning were, ‘and also his power and Godhead.' The power of God is more immediately manifested in his works; but not his power alone, but his divine excellence in general, which is expressed by θειότης, from θεῖος. θεότης, from θεός, on the other hand, expresses the being, rather than the excellence of God. The latter is Godhead; the former, divinity, a collective term for all the divine perfections.

This divine revelation has been made ἀπὸ κτίσεως κόσμου, from the creation of the world, not by the creation; for κτίσις here is the act of creation, and not the thing created; and the means by which the revelation is made, is expressed immediately by the words τοῖς ποιήνασι, which would then be redundant. The ποιήματα τοῦ θεοῦ, in this connection, are the things made by God, rather than the things done by him. The apostle says the ἀόρατα καθορᾶται the unseen things are seen, because they are perceived by the mind; νοούμενα being understood by means of the things made. So that they are inexcusable. These words are, by Griesbach, Knapp, and others, made to depend on the last clause of Romans 1:19; and then the interpretation of Beza and the elder Calvinists would be the most natural. God has revealed the knowledge of himself to men, in order that they might be without excuse. But this, to say the least, is unnecessary. The connection with καθορᾶται is perfectly natural. ‘The perfections of God, being understood by his works, are seen, so that men are without excuse.' Paul does not here teach that it is the design of God, in revealing himself to men, to render their opposition inexcusable, but rather, since this revelation has been made, they have in fact no apology for their ignorance and neglect of God. Though the revelation of God in his works is sufficient to render men inexcusable, it does not follow that it is sufficient to lead men, blinded by sin, to a saving knowledge of himself. As Paul says of the law, that it was weak through the flesh, that is, insufficient on account of our corruption, so it may be said of the light of nature, that, although sufficient in itself as a revelation, it is not sufficient, considering the indisposition and inattention of men to divine things. "Sit haec distinctio," says Calvin, "demonstratio Dei, qua gloriam suam in creaturis perspicuam facit, esse, quantum ad lucem suam, satis evidentem; quantum ad nostram caecitatem, non adeo sufficere. Caeterum non ita caeci sumus, ut ignorantiam possimus praetexere, quin perversitatis arguamur."


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Hodge, Charles. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hdg/romans-1.html.

The Bible Study New Testament

Ever since God created the world. "Have been clearly seen" is in the continuous tense. Ever since Creation, enough evidence has been present to prevent anyone from worshiping lifeless images. There is no excuse, then, since no one can claim ignorance.


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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Romans 1:20". "The Bible Study New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/romans-1.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

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