Commentary | Romans 1:18-20

Romans 1:18-20 (NIV): 18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.


Commentary

“The wrath of God” – God’s wrath cannot be accurately compared to the wrath of man (Jas. 1:19-20). God is not shown to be angry in this passage because of his ego. He is angry (righteously indignant) because although His presence can be “clearly seen,” and the way to him has been made, people are still sending themselves to hell because of their wickedness.

“is being revealed” – notice that the passage doesn’t say “will be revealed” but that His wrath “is being revealed” (present tense). This “wrath” is demonstrated later in verses 21-32, particularly verses 24, 26, and 28. God’s wrath is being presented by giving them over to their desires. That is, mankind’s desire to sin.

“against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness”(Jn. 8:32 – “the truth will set you free.”) God’s wrath is against all of the “godlessness and wickedness,” for it is against Him. Those who suppress the truth are held captive by their wickedness, by their own choosing, and thus God hates it because it keeps people from Him. To come to the knowledge of the truth would mean freedom. However, the truth has been made plain to them. God’s wrath is not necessarily against the people, but the senselessness of the people.   

“since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.Key word: ‘Since’ (or because) God’s wrath is justified because He has made his presence known, and His wrath is revealed (unleashed) for the same reason. None are without blame when they come to meet their Maker (except those who have been born again in Christ Jesus). Why? Because God has made Himself known to all. The truth is able to be known by all, but many “suppress” it and choose wickedness.

  • God is the Creator, the Creator of all things – to include all of the pleasures of the world. Our bodies and our minds are His creation, every neuron and nerve ending. Satan’s only power is that he may tempt us to indulge in these pleasures to an extent that is beyond the will of God.
  • “Moral disagreement exists because some people are suppressing the Moral Law in order to justify what they want to do.”[1]

“For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” – God, the Creator of space, time, and matter, exists outside the realm of space, time, and matter – His eternal power and sovereignty. The whole of creation, from the infinitely large expanse of the cosmos, all the way down to the infinitesimal quarks and the rest of the infinitesimally undiscovered are shouting the eternal power of God. Creation shouts the existence of a Creator. God’s divine nature has been revealed through the life and sacrifice of Christ Jesus, and is now being revealed through his saints, hagioi, as well as the Gospel; the testimony of God incarnate.  

            “being understood from what has been made.” – God has made himself known. The vastness of creation, the cosmos, the microscopic, the diversity of animal and plant life, the uniqueness of humanity – being made in His image, Christ’s ministry, sacrifice and resurrection, the manifestation of His glory within His saints, and the Gospel message. All these things and more leave us without excuse. The truth is “clearly seen.” It is our choice to receive or suppress that truth.


Feel free to use the discussion questions below for a group Bible study and if you would like, the commentary above to help facilitate the discussion.


Discussion Questions

  1. Who are the recipients of God’s wrath in this passage?

  1. Why is God shown to be wrathful or angry? Is His anger justified?

  1. What does it mean to “suppress the truth?” By their wickedness?

  1. What are some ways that God has made Himself evident to humanity?

  1. How is it that God’s invisible qualities can be seen?

  1. William Lane Craig, a famous apologist, once said “The greatest apologetic is your life.”  How is our life supposed to propose an argument for the existence of God?Why is it referred to as the greatest apologetic?

[1]  Geisler, Norman and Frank Turek. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2004), 186.

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