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Romans 1:20  (King James Version)
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<< Romans 1:19   Romans 1:21 >>


Romans 1:18-20

Our knowledge of God is certainly partial at best, but we cannot plead complete ignorance. Paul says His creation reveals enough of Him to make a major difference in our lives. Failure to keep the first commandment is the major reason why this world is in its current condition. Had mankind kept it, the natural, spiritual progression would have led him to keep the rest because he would then, at the very least, have had the correct Source of law and morality. Without keeping this commandment, the best that man can do in establishing standards is by his own experience, and that leads him directly to Satan!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The First Commandment (1997)



Romans 1:18-20

Godhead indicates divinity or nature, and a modern translation will translate it that way, usually as "nature"—the nature of God. The word itself in the Greek means "that which is divine," and divine in English means "relating to God," or in this context, His nature.

In this passage, Paul is saying that the creation of God is a constant and natural revelation, and therefore it is available to all. If people will just stop to think about it, they can learn a great deal about God. However, it is not enough of a revelation for God to hold mankind responsible in terms of salvation, for that takes a special, personal calling and revelation from Him. However, it is enough for God to hold them responsible for their conduct, which is what the remainder of Romans 1 explains.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 3)



Romans 1:20

Even without the Spirit of God, without God having fully revealed Himself to a person, it is still possible for him to recognize that a creation demands the existence of a Creator. He can see that an intelligent Designer is necessary rather than the natural world coming into existence by sheer chance. Thus, God says that they are without excuse because they can understand the things that can be known about Him, if they choose to accept it.

David C. Grabbe
What Evolution Really Means



Romans 1:18-21

Paul is describing the perversity of human nature. That a Creator God exists is evident. Every normally intelligent person, converted or unconverted, has enough capacity to be aware of God. The natural outgrowth of this knowledge should be to glorify Him through praise and thanksgiving. The perversity appears when mankind largely ignores or resists what should be a natural inclination.

However, not everyone suppresses this tendency. Those who follow the natural inclination to praise and thank the Creator and Provider usually give their thanks to something that is not really God, but an idol. Thus, while sincere, the inclination is wrongly applied, frequently resulting in a harvest festival, as history shows.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Thanksgiving or Self-Indulgence?



Romans 1:20

Even with such an overwhelming testimony, some hapless fools, having immersed themselves in evil behavior, have deluded themselves into rejecting this general revelation, refusing to see God (Psalm 14:1). Even the public or general revelation cannot penetrate the darkened minds of those whom, because of their addiction to sin, God has given over to a reprobate mind (Romans 1:21).

David F. Maas
Why Does God Keep Secrets?



Romans 1:19-20

God can be understood—even the unconverted can comprehend some things about Him. Despite these verses in Romans 1, the opinions of learned men say that God is incomprehensible, yet Paul is saying that there is a clear testimony. It is a constant and natural revelation of God's power and nature, and that revelation is sufficient for God to hold these people responsible for their conduct.

This natural revelation, however, is not sufficient for salvation because God shows in other places that salvation requires a specific and personal revelation of His word. "No one," Jesus says in John 6:44, "can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day."

But this revelation through what God has created is clear enough for Him to hold people responsible for their conduct. Thus, if His invisible attributes, eternal power, and divine nature are clearly understood by the visible things that God has made in this world, then all we need to do is to use a little common sense in connection with plain statements from Scripture to find out what God really looks like. So, if God says that His attributes can be clearly understood by the unconverted, and if He is seen in the visible creation in this world, what visible things on earth give us a picture of the invisible God?

The very thing that God Himself says in Genesis 1:26. We—mankind—look like Him.

Is that so difficult? Just understanding this principle, it is no wonder that the Greek gods of mythology reflected mankind in all of our foibles, weaknesses, and passions. The Greeks simply turned the principle around. They turned the image around, reflecting in their gods the things of man.

Other portions of Scripture, like I Corinthians 2:6-16, explain the special, personal revelation of God that helps us to know the things of God, so that we can have the mind of Christ and put on His image. However, we know from other passages that the created human being is but a pale reflection of the reality of God, and that God's creative power is still at work reproducing His image in men. That is, we are a work in progress and still unfinished.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 2)



Romans 1:18-32

In this passage, Paul gives a brief but appalling overview of the effect of people turning their backs on the Creator God. Mankind has worshipped the creation more than the Creator, and thus, God gave mankind over to vile affections and to a mind devoid of true judgment—his own natural mind. Since man's experiences shaped his judgment regarding conduct, his ability to judge truth became vague and led to the horrible perversions Paul lists. Today, the world groans with the weight of bearing the fruit of this idolatry.

Our own personal experience confirms the validity of these verses. Paul lists the consequences of a purely secular mind, which resulted from leaving the True Source of right standards out of our lives. He shows that when we follow the path described, we not only lose godliness but also true humanity.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Second Commandment (1997)



Romans 1:18-20

It is helpful to understand that God provides two distinct callings for every person on earth. The first is quite general, and everybody rejects it regardless of how religious he might be. Solomon writes in Proverbs 8:1-4:

Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice? She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, beside the way, where the paths meet. She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city, at the entrance of the doors: "To you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men."

Here, the wisdom of God, personified as a woman, claims that the knowledge of God is readily available to mankind. Proverbs 1:20-26 affirms this:

Wisdom calls aloud outside; she raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses, at the openings of the gates in the city she speaks her words: "How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge. Turn at my rebuke: surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, because you disdained all my counsel and would have none of my rebuke, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes."

Again, God's wisdom is personified, and her testimony is that no one paid attention. All of mankind "disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke." With this in mind, recall what Paul writes in Romans 1:18-20:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and [divine nature], so that they are without excuse.

In other words, no man can stand before God and claim that he turned away from Him because God never provided any understanding of, not only His existence, but also many details of His power and works among men. How is this possible? Apart from the reality of creation, one reason is the ready availability of the Bible. Into how many languages and dialects have men translated it? Nearly everyone on earth can read or hear it in his own tongue!

Romans 2:14-15 presents yet another claim of God that blocks mankind's excuses:

. . . for when the Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thought accusing, or else excusing them. . . .

Deep within everyone, regardless of race or location, is a God-given awareness, a consciousness, not only of His existence, but even of some of the basics of what He requires, things written in God's biblical law. Despite all of this evidence, we universally reject Him. So thorough is mankind's rejection of God that, when He came as a man, we killed Him!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Six)



Romans 1:19-21

God Himself declares that at least some knowledge—a basic, foundational understanding—is available to virtually everyone. However, an interesting danger is revealed here. Note how this unfolds: ". . . because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened" (verse 21). These people knew God, just as the people addressed by Isaiah and Amos and in Hebrews had knowledge of God. Yet, they obviously did not honor God by conducting themselves according to what they knew of Him. They failed to put their knowledge into action, and instead, let their imaginations run wild and began worshipping things apart from what God had revealed of Himself. Their imaginings, Paul says, led them straight into idolatry. In other words, they did not hold fast to what God gave them.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Seeking God (Part One): Our Biggest Problem



Romans 1:18-25

Most of this world's holidays are based on fables, myths, and lies, while the Christian is commanded to worship God "in spirit and in truth." A true Christian does not lie and does not associate with lies, but seeks after truth in all aspects of life. If we live with a little lie now, then it is much easier to live with a worse lie later. God is emphatic on this point: A liar will not enter the Kingdom of God (Revelation 21:7-8).

Martin G. Collins
Pagan Holidays



Romans 1:18-20

In Romans 1:18-20, Paul asserts that things involving God's existence, power, and nature are clearly seen, but mankind suppresses the truth. What God wants man to know, man willingly ignores and suppresses through the addition of beliefs, customs, and traditions that cloak the truth. The truth is still there, hidden behind a screen of falsehoods that most never attempt to remove.

Theologians call this process syncretism. According to Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, it is "the combination of different forms of belief or practice." Syncretism could possibly describe other fields, like philosophy, but scholars use it almost exclusively in religious contexts. Syncretize, the verb form of the word, is very revealing. It means "to attempt to unite and harmonize especially without critical examination or logical unity." In other words, those who syncretize will frequently attach one belief or practice to their religion without trying to ascertain whether it is proper to do so.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Christmas, Syncretism, and Presumption



Romans 1:18-20

Paul is not saying that God has revealed spiritual truth or saving truth to these people, but even what He has revealed to them in regard to Himself and His power as Creator has been rejected. How much of mankind believes the theory of evolution? That is an outright rejection of God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 2)




Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Romans 1:20:

Job 11:7
Proverbs :
Proverbs 8:1-4
Amos 7:7-9
Amos 8:11-14
Matthew 13:10-16
Luke 7:10
Luke 12:47-48
Romans :
Romans :
Romans 1:18-20
Romans :
Romans 10:1-3
Romans 11:19-22
Romans 13:10
1 Thessalonians 2:13
2 Thessalonians :
2 Timothy 2:14-17
2 Timothy :
1 John 2:15-17

 

<< Romans 1:19   Romans 1:21 >>
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