Recently someone asked me if I could do an outline of Romans 1 that might be easy to follow. They said that they had read about God giving people up in Romans 1 [in three places] but that didn’t sound right to them. They said the passage also seemed to have some relevance to the same-sex debate that is taking place in Australia at the moment and so a better understanding of the passage would be helpful. Though I have written a lot on different parts of the passage in previous articles, I thought I would have a go at covering the passage from Romans 1:18-32 in one article.
What I have tried to do is to set out the material in 3 columns.
In the first column on the left I have put what God has done as recorded in the text of Romans 1:18-32.
In the middle column, I put the response of people to what He has done and the results of their response, again using the text of the passage.
In the right-hand column, I have made some comments on the passage. I have also commented on what the effects of people’s responses has had and continues to have in the world today.
So moving from left to right in each row, please follow me on this journey through Romans 1:18-32.
|WHAT GOD DID||HOW HUMANS RESPONDED AND THE RESULTS||EFFECTS IN THE WORLD THEN AND TODAY|
|Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,||who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.||The truth about God is not obvious to humans. In fact it is held down or suppressed by ungodly and unrighteous behaviour.|
|Rom 1:19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.||There is a revelation of God in His world today. The Creation bears witness to a Creator for those who have eyes to see.|
|Rom 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.||So they are without excuse.||The creation bears witness to the power of God and in some measure, to His character as the One who is sovereign over His creation. He us seen as a God of order, purpose and design.|
|Rom 1:21 For although they knew God,||· they did not honour him as God or
· give thanks to him,
· but they became futile in their thinking,
· and their foolish hearts were darkened.
|· No honour is being paid to God the Creator by many people today
· He is not being thanked by many for the privilege of being part of His creation. Nor is He thanked for providing “our daily bread” and our breath.
· Futile thinking. Thinking without consideration of God and ignoring His purpose in creation, is futility.
· Darkened hearts. When people turn away from the light of God they live in darkness. Many people love darkness more than light. “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19.
|Rom 1:22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,||· People really do believe themselves to be wise.
· Actually they are fools in God’s eyes. [As Psalm 53:1 puts it, “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”]
|Rom 1:23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.||· They are focused on creation rather than being focussed on the Creator Himself.
· Exchanging God for parts of creation is Idolatry!
|Rom 1:24 Therefore God gave them up||· in the lusts of their hearts to impurity,
· to the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves,
|· Their desires lead to moral impurity.
· Dishonouring their God-given bodies through which they were meant to glorify God.
|· Rom 1:25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie
· and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
|· Humans do an exchange by replacing God with a lie.
· Humans worship aspects of creation rather than the Creator Himself
· They serve the creation rather than the Creator.
|Rom 1:26 For this reason God gave them up||· to dishonourable passions.
· For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;
|· Many do not honour God through their God-given bodies. They follow their own passions and desires.
· Female homosexual practice is one result of this exchange of natural [phusikós, φυσικός] for the unnatural, [para phusin, παρα φυσιν meaning beside or against nature]. Perhaps a parallel sexuality contrary to what God intended in His creation.
|· Rom 1:27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another,
· men committing shameless acts with men and
· receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
|· Male homosexual practice is also a result of this exchange of unnatural in place of His natural.
· Shameless acts [in the sight of God]
· We are not told what the due penalty is. “Due” can mean inevitable, so there was and is an inevitable result.
· “error” means that men were wrong to do what they did in behaving shamefully with other men.
|Rom 1:28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God||Many today do not acknowledge the existence of God, nor do they observe His commandments.|
|1:28 (continued) God gave them up||· to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.||· “Debased” means unworthy or unacceptable to God.
· Their debased minds led to behaviour which was unacceptable to God.
|· Rom 1:29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice.
· They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness.
· They are gossips,
|A debased mind has characteristics. Paul uses “filled with” and “full of” to describe the enormity of debased mind characteristics. Many of these sins are breaches of the 10 Commandments.|
|· Rom 1:30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,||· Haters of God and disobedient to parents are also breaches of the 10 commandments.
· “Inventors of evil” in finding new ways to commit sin.
|· Rom 1:31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.||Here is an “A” list not to be proud of! Some alliteration in the Greek text. Putting an “a” or an “an” in front of many Greek words changes a word to the opposite meaning. These words begin with “a” or an “an”.
· Foolish is asúnetos, ἀσύνετος. Opposite of being wise.
· Faithless. asúnthetos,
ἀσύνθετος. Opposite of being faithful.
· Heartless. astorgos, ἄστοργος. Opposite of having [family] love.
· Ruthless. aneleḗmōn, ἀνελεήμων Opposite of being merciful.
Instead of being what God wanted them to be, they were and are even today, the opposite.
|· Rom 1:32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.||Privilege always carries responsibility. People have the responsibility as creatures of God to live responsibly before Him as their Creator. Their guilt is seen in two ways.
· They do the wrong things listed above which are deserving of God’s judgment.
· On top of that, they actually involve others and encourage them to do the same wrong things they are doing.
We note that the phrase “God gave them up” doesn’t mean that God gave up on them and wanted nothing more to do with them. Rather it means that He gave them over or handed them over to do what they wanted to do. They misused the free-will He had given them even as people do today.
In fact, you could say that Romans 1 is a good description of the world today in its rebellion against God. The behaviours we read about in Romans 1 are still in the world today and many of them are on the increase. It’s what happens in any generation when people turn from their Creator to do their own thing. It helps us understand why the world is as it is, and why it is getting worse as the creatures God has made [as male and female] refuse to submit to their Creator and to His plan for humans and to His purpose for the whole universe.
Blog No.242. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Thursday 21 September 2017