18. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
18. Revelatur enim ira Dei e cœlo, super omnem impietatem et injustitiam hominum, veritatem Dei injuste continentium;
19. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them: for God hath shewed it unto them.
19. Quia quod cognoscitur de Deo manifestum est in ipsis: Deus enim illis manifestavit.
20. 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:
20. Si quidem invisibilia ipsius, ex creatione mundi operibus intellecta, conspiciuntur, æterna quoque ejus potentia, et divinitas; ut sint inexcusabiles.
21. 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.
21. Quoniam quum Deum cogno vissent, non tanquam Deo gloriam dederunt, aut grati fuerunt; exinaniti sunt in cogitationibus suis, et obtenebratum est stultum coreorum.
22. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
22. Quum se putarent sapientes, stulti facti sunt,
23. And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.
23. Et mutaverunt gloriam incorruptibilis Dei similitudine imaginis corruptibilis hominis, et volucrum, et quadrupedum, et serpentum.
To some it seems that this is a main subject, and that Paul forms his discourse for the purpose of enforcing repentance; but I think that the discussion of the subject begins here, and that the principal point is stated in a former proposition; for Paul's object was to teach us where salvation is to be found. He has already declared that we cannot obtain it except through the gospel: but as the flesh will not willingly humble itself so far as to assign the praise of salvation to the grace of God alone, Paul shows that the whole world is deserving of eternal death. It hence follows, that life is to be recovered in some other way, since we are all lost in ourselves. But the words, being well considered, will help us much to understand the meaning of the passage.
Some make a difference between
The madness then here noticed, is, that all attempted to make for themselves an image of God; which was a certain proof that their notions of God were gross and absurd. And, first, they befouled the majesty of God by forming him in the likeness of
1 The connection here is not deemed very clear. Stuart thinks that this verse is connected, as the former one, with Romans 1:16. and that it includes a reason why the Apostle was not ashamed of the gospel: and Macknight seems to have been of the same opinion, for he renders gar, besides. In this case the revelation of wrath from heaven is that which is made by the gospel. This certainly gives a meaning to the words, "from heaven" which is hardly done by any other views. That the gospel reveals "wrath," as well as righteousness to be obtained by faith, is what is undeniable. Salvation to the believer, and condemnation to the unbeliever, is its sum and substance. The objection made by Haldane is of no force, -- that the Apostle subsequently shows the sins of mankind as committed against the light of nature, and not against the gospel; for he seems to have brought forward the evidence from the light of nature, in order to confirm the evidence from the light of revelation. The expression is, "Revealed is the wrath of God," and not has been. See Acts 17:30, 31.
This is the view taken by Turrettin; and Pareus says, "There is nothing to prevent us from referring the revelation of wrath, as well as the revelation of righteousness, to the gospel" -- Ed.
2 It is true that the immediate subject is the neglect of religion; but then injustice towards men is afterwards introduced, and most critics take it in this sense. -- Ed.
3 This clause,
"Who stifle the truth in unrighteousness," Chalmers; "Who hinder the truth by unrighteousness," Stuart; "Who wickedly oppose the truth," Hodge; "Who confine the truth by unrighteousness," Macknight.
"They rushed headlong," says Pareus, "into impiety against God and into injustice against one another, not through ignorance, but knowingly, not through weakness, but willfully and maliciously: and this the Apostle expresses by a striking metaphor, taken from tyrants, who, against right and justice, by open violence, oppress the innocent, bind them in chains, and detain them in prison."
The sense given by Schleusner and some others, "Qui cum veri Dei cognitione pravitatem vitæ conjungunt -- who connect with a knowledge of the true God a wicked life," seems not to comport with the context.
"The truth" means that respecting the being and power of God afterwards specified. -- Ed.
4 Some take
5 There is a passage quoted by Wolfius from Aristotle in his book De Mundo, which remarkably coincides with a part of this verse -- "
Venema, in his note on this passage, shows, that goodness was regarded by many of the heathens as the primary attribute of Deity. Among the Greeks, goodness --
7 The conjunctive,
8 The original words are,
"Whatever the right reason within," says Pareus, "or the frame of the world without, might have suggested respecting God, they indulged in pleasing speculations, specious reasonings, and in subtle and frivolous conclusions; some denied the existence of a God, as Epicurus and Democritus -- others doubted, as Protagoras and Diagoras -- others affirmed the existence of many gods, and these, as the Platonics, maintained that they are not corporeal, while the Greeks and Romans held them to be so, who worshipped dead men, impious, cruel, impure, and wicked. There were also the Egyptians, who worshipped as gods, brute animals, oxen, geese, birds, crocodiles, yea, what grew in their gardens, garlic's and onions. A very few, such as Plato and Aristotle, acknowledged one Supreme Being; but even these deprived him of his providence. These, and the like, were the monstrous opinions which the Gentiles deduced from their reasonings. They became vain, foolish, senseless."
"And darkened became their foolish heart," --
9 Calvin is peculiar in his exposition of this verse. Most critics agree in thinking that those referred to here were those reputed learned among all nations, as Beza says, "Such as the Druids of the Gauls, the soothsayers of the Tuscans, the philosophers of the Greeks, the priests of the Egyptians, the magi of the Persians, the gymnosophists of the Indians, and the Rabbins of the Jews." He considers that the Apostle refers especially to such as these, though he speaks of all men as appearing to themselves very wise in their insane devices as to the worship of God. The wiser they thought themselves, the more foolish they became. See Jeremiah 8:8, 9; 1 Corinthians 1:19-22.
"This is the greatest unhappiness of man, not only not to feel his malady, but to extract matter of pride from what ought to be his shame. What they deemed to be their wisdom was truly their folly." -- Haldane.
It is a just remark of Hodge, "That the higher the advancement of the nations in refinement and philosophy, the greater, as a general rule, the degradation and folly of their systems of religion." As a proof he mentions the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, as compared with the aborigines of America. -- Ed.