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ROMANS 1:18-1:32
Last updated 7/21/00

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 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: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
 

Comments on Romans 1:18-4:25

The Romans letter enters its next phase from verses 1:18 to 4:25. Paul, in true rabbinic-legal style, will first present his case (1:18-3:20) that both Jews and gentiles will be judged by God and that both are saved by faith and not their own works. It should be noted that Paul uses certain literary techniques as well as mystical language, that if not properly understood, can cause the casual reader to come to an improper understanding of the message Paul was conveying. These will be discussed throughout this study.

In 3:21-26, Paul explains that God's righteousness is being revealed now as in the past. If it wasn't revealed in the past (prior to Yeshua and the gospel events) there could not be authentic revelation now in the preaching of the Gospel. Paul makes the additional point in 3:27-31 that boasting is ruled out, drawing out what is inferred in the previous verses. In 4:1-25, Paul confirms what he says about boasting, by giving the supreme example of Abraham, whom he shows also had no right to boast.

Additionally, from 2:17 to 4:25, Paul explains the privelege of the Jew - the Torah. His point in doing this however, is to show that the Torah bears witness to the election of Israel AND God's intention to extend His faithfulness to the nations who place their faith in the God of Israel.

1:18-1:32

This is the first of three consecutive sections within chapters 1 and 2, where Paul "speaks to" a supposed audience. (Not necessarily someone present or in partucular.) Such a literary technique is called an apostrophe. From 1:18 to 1:32, Paul is "speaking to" the gentile world in general - not the gentiles in the congregation - although the message is meant for them to understand. He will follow this up with a second apostrophe from 2:1-2:16, and a third, to the Jewish world, beginning in 2:17.

1:18a  against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men

No one can judge righteously, as the gospel judges all men as idolatrous.

1:18b  who hold the truth in unrighteousness

Paul goes on in the following verses (1:19-32) to show the result of man rejecting the truth of God. Because of this, God will at some point, give up on them and allow the "fullness of their sin" to come to fruition.

The verse is reminiscent of a prophecy made by Paul in one of his other letters:

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12- And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

1:19  is manifest in them

Paul indicated that gentiles have a knowledge of God, without the written Torah through creation. He uses the same thought "in defense of some gentiles," in Romans 2:14-15, where he says, "Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts."

1:19  that which may be known of God ... the invisible things of him
1:20  even his eternal power and Godhead

It seems a contradiction that an invisible God can show Himself to us, or that we can understand and define anything about a God who is infinite and undefineable. Yet Paul indicates that God has somehow revealed aspects of Himself to us within creation. This is a very deep area of study and we deal with this in our advanced-level Revelation course. We will touch on it only lightly in this Romans study.

The term "godhead" appears a total of two other times in the King James version. One of these is from Luke's account of Paul's discussion with the Greeks at Mars Hill:

Acts: 17: 23-31 - For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

The other occasion of the word "Godhead" is also from Paul:

Colossians 2:2-9 - That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

In the account from Acts, Paul is addressing the Greeks who have an altar dedicated to "the unknown god." Paul establishes this as the God who created everything. In creation we see various characteristics of this "unknowable" God, which is away the gentile world can know of Him. These characteristics (or emanations) of the invisible, infinite God, are called "the Godhead" (in the King James and other English language "New Testaments"). The gentile world, rather than seeing these various characteristics as being from the same God, attributed them to different gods (as seen in Greek and Roman culture) - this is often called paganism.

NOTE: Although Yeshua is "Elohim in the flesh," the Hebrew concept of the "godhead" is not the same as the Christian idea of the "Trinity," which evolved long after the time of Paul and Yeshua. This is explained in detail in our Revelation study.

Paul tells the Greeks that God put us on the earth to seek Him, and that He is not far from us, as we are made in His image. Therefore, he states, man should not think that God is some idol made of wood or gold. He goes on to say that God was more "lenient" of this error in times past, but that there is less of an excuse now, (very much since the written Torah was around for 1300 years by this time.) God wishes all men to repent as judgment is coming through Yeshua, whom He resurrected from the dead (as proof).

In the Colossians letter, Paul speaks of God, the Father and the Messiah, as if speaking of three entities. In a sense he is, as here, "God" represents the invisible God, who created everything. Fundamental to Paul's Judaism is the truth that "God is One." The Father and the Messiah are emanations of this One God that we can comprehend and relate to. These emanations are part of "the godhead." The Messiah, Paul writes, contains all the "fullness of the Godhead." The Hebrew mystical writings of the Zohar have a lot to say on this subject. This is an advanced subject covered in our Revelation study.

As mentioned, this is a very complex area of Hebrew Bible study, one that has been lost to followers of the Messiah since the early centuries and is only recently returning thanks to the influx of Torah scholars into the body of Messiah over the past 30 years or so. The point Paul is making in the balance of Romans chapter 1, is that these emanations/characterstics of God are not hidden from the gentile world. They exist in our world as a means given by God, for us to become conformed to His image and grow in an intimate relationship with Him. Yeshua is the perfect example for us as He contains all the characteristics within Him.

1:21-1:32

Paul outlines the process of idolatry that man has followed:

  • He turns away from the truth and imagines something else (1:21). Scripture views such a turning away as vanity (i.e., 2 Kings 17:15)
  • He thinks himself wise, when he has really become a fool (1:22). Fearing God leads to widsom (Proverbs 1:7), but thinking oneself to be wiser than God is foolishness and sin, which leads to greater sin.
  • He falls into some type of idolatry, which is anything that gets between him and God (1:23).
  • Because of this rebellion, God releases him to his own devices (1:24).
    • Psalm 81:11-12 - But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels.
  • The result of which is manifested in outward sin (1:26,27). Homosexuality is shown to be a combination of; a) sin, b) a "sign" of how far someone has strayed from God, and, c) a punishment from God.
  • As he further pushes God away, man falls into all sorts of sin (1:28-31).
  • This results in a state where he blatanly continue to sin, just to "spite God" (1:32).

Sexual sin is especially repugnant to God, as Paul says:

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 - Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

The book of Revelation shows that even knowing that he is face to face with the wrath of God and the final end is in sight, man will not repent. (And this is with an additional 1900+ years of Yeshua and Torah to witness to them):

Revelation 6:15-17 - And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

1:32  are worthy of death

The punishment for such sin will come - if not now, then in the world to come. (i.e. Psalm 37).

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