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.


“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.

The Power of Confession

What do you think of when someone brings up the word confession? Do you begin to feel convicted? Do you start to experience shame or guilt for anything? Do you feel like hiding or running away? Or perhaps the mention of confession brings you joy. Joy? Yes, joy. Confession is not something that we should shy away from, it is something that we should run towards, and I believe that it is our duty as Christians to create an atmosphere in our church body that welcomes, facilitates, and makes habit of confession. So, let’s talk about it.

What is confession?

Confession is the acknowledgement and admittance of sin. Confession is the practice of making oneself transparent and vulnerable. Thus, it is also the active practice of humility. However, humility is not something that comes natural to us, therefore confession is also a skill, and it requires practice.

I acknowledged my sin to you,
    and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
    and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. 

Psalm 32:5

Why should I make a confession?

Since confession is the active practice of humility, confession can also be referred to as the anecdote for pride. It is the remedy to a sickness that we’re all afflicted with – pride. We open our hearts to pride when we refuse to confess our sins. Thus, we must confess so that pride cannot abound, and we must pray to the Lord to soften our hearts. Confession is so powerful because when we confess, we admit our flaws, we acknowledge that we are not perfect, and we expose even more so our dire need for Christ.

There is no greater stronghold than the one that proposes that we are not so bad after all. It is the stronghold of self-righteousness and self-sufficiency, and each stone in that stronghold is being held together by pride. Confession is the outpouring of humility, and by it we destroy the stronghold of self-righteousness. By admitting our abundant weaknesses and imperfections, we render pride incapable of strengthening our ego or our performer.  

Therefore, confess your sins to one another
and pray for one another,
that you may be healed.

James 5:16

How do I confess? I want to, but I just can’t!

It is of great significance to mention that so many of us are not even able to confess a sin to ourselves. This usually arises from one of two reasons: either we are unaware of the sin due to our ignorance of God’s word, or we have learned to rationalize the sin over time. For these two reasons it is important to both submerge ourselves in God’s word and make practice of prayer. Submerge yourself in God’s word so that you may know His will for you, and pray that the Lord will search your heart and expose your iniquities.

Despite how much we desire to confess of our sins, at times it can seem impossible. Our mouth simply will not open! This is one reason (of many) that I am an advocate of the discipline of journaling. Journaling provides us the privilege of first writing out our confession, if we’re not yet ready to share. By writing it down on paper, we are able to lay our sin down in front of our eyes and begin to expose and analyze it. Since confession doesn’t come naturally, but is instead a skill that must be learned, pray to the Lord that He would grant you the courage and conviction to share your confession with someone. If you are unwilling to expose your transgressions on paper, how can you ever expect to expose them verbally or socially?

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalm 139:23-4

The Power of Confession

When I say that there is power in confession, I am actually alluding to the power of humility, since confession is the active practice of humility. We must therefore confess so that we can unleash this power. Humility is the power that strengthened Christ to endure and resist the 40-day temptation with Satan himself. Humility is the power that enabled Christ, “who though was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” (Phil. 2:6). Humility is the power that allowed Christ to become “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8). Humility is the power that led Christ to be crucified by mere mortals, even while holding the authority to at once call upon 12 legions of angels. Unleash the power of humility through confession, and through it, you will find freedom.

Sin opens the door to more sin, whereas confession and repentance close the door to sin. He who refuses to confess becomes a slave to sin. Therefore, confess your sin so that you may experience the inexplicable freedom that follows. When we attempt to resolve our sin issue alone, we are discounting the readily available power of humility (and fellowship). Make the active decision to confess. Choose humility, admit that you are imperfect, die to yourself, and accept Christ as your Savior and allow him to liberate you. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves,
and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins,
he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar,
and his is word is not in us.

1 John 1:8-10

Some additional thoughts

Jesus loves it when we confess. In fact, He rejoices! That being said, a confession should never be followed by condemnation, but always commendation. Confession is something that is to be rejoiced over! We ought to rejoice in the freedom that follows.

Ultimately, only a contrite heart will find power in confession. Also, confession ought to lead to repentance. A confession that is not followed by repentance is fruitless. It is important to stay accountable after a confession, so that we can truly repent. Repentance stems from the Greek metanoia, meaning “changing one’s mind.” It implies an active decision to turn away, and to face and walk in a new direction.

A true confession leads to true accountability, true accountability leads to true repentance, and true repentance leads to freedom.

It is of more than passing significance to note the numerous other times that confession is mentioned in God’s word (Ezra 10:1; Neh. 1:6; 9:2-3; Dan. 9:4, 20).

Confession keeps us vulnerable.
Confession keeps us walking in the light.
Confession keeps our walk with the Lord genuine.

Are We Here by Accident?

How many times do you think you would have to accidentally spill paint on a canvas in order to create the Mona Lisa?

We of course know it was no mere accident. But how many times do you think that would have to occur before, by pure accident, this famous masterpiece was created? A hundred-thousand? A million? A hundred-million? A billion? A trillion? Who really knows?

We would never even suppose that it were an accident. We look at that painting and we presume that it was created by a clearly talented painter.

Then why is it that when we perceive a two-dimensional object comprised of paint and canvas, it’s easy to assume intelligent design? But yet when we look at the infinite expanse of the cosmos and the infinitesimal infinite; atoms, quarks, neutrinos, etc., and all that’s in between: the vast diversity of plant and animal life, mankind, and how it all fits together – like a pocket watch, with all of its interdependent, coexisting parts working properly – we assume an accident?

And not to mention, in regards to the creation of the Mona Lisa, you would still have to explain how the paint and canvas got there, and who painted it.

If I haven’t yet made it clear, the answer is yes. I undoubtedly believe that the universe was created by a Creator. I do not believe that the universe and all of its concomitants are just the by-product of some sort of accidental, cosmic explosion. When I cast my presuppositions aside, I find that it is impossible to escape the fact that the creation was created with intelligent, precise design and purpose. The universe was, without a doubt, created through intent. But who created it?

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Genesis 1:1