World Wide Study Bible


a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
20Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse;

Select a resource above

20. Since his invisible things, 4646     There is a passage quoted by Wolfius from Aristotle in his book De Mundo, which remarkably coincides with a part of this verse — “πάσὟ θνητὣ φύσει γενομενος ἀθεώρητος ἀπ αὐτῶν τῶν ἔργων θεορεῖται ὁ θεός — God, unseen by any mortal nature, is to be seen by the works themselves.” — Ed. etc. God is in himself invisible; but as his majesty shines forth in his works and in his creatures everywhere, men ought in these to acknowledge him, for they clearly set forth their Maker: and for this reason the Apostle in his Epistle to the Hebrews says, that this world is a mirror, or the representation of invisible things. He does not mention all the particulars which may be thought to belong to God; but he states, that we can arrive at the knowledge of his eternal power and divinity; 4747     Divinitas, θείοτης, here only, and not θεότης as in Colossians 1:9 Elsner and others make a difference between these two words and say, that the former means the divinity or majesty of God, and the latter his nature or being. There seems to be the idea of goodness conveyed in the word, θείοτης: for in the following verse there are two things laid to the charge of the Gentiles which bear a reference to the two things said here — they did not glorify him as God, and they were not thankful. He made himself known by power as God, and by the beneficent exercise of that power, he had laid a claim to the gratitude of his creatures. See Acts 14:15; and Acts 17:25, 27
   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 — τὸ ἀγαθὸν, was the expression by which the Supreme Being was distinguished. And it appears evident from the context that the Apostle included this idea especially in the word θείοτης. — Ed
for he who is the framer of all things, must necessarily be without beginning and from himself. When we arrive at this point, the divinity becomes known to us, which cannot exist except accompanied with all the attributes of a God, since they are all included under that idea.

So that they are inexcusable. It hence clearly appears what the consequence is of having this evidence — that men cannot allege any thing before God’s tribunal for the purpose of showing that they are not justly condemned. Yet let this difference be remembered, that the manifestation of God, by which he makes his glory known in his creation, is, with regard to the light itself, sufficiently clear; but that on account of our blindness, it is not found to be sufficient. We are not however so blind, that we can plead our ignorance as an excuse for our perverseness. We conceive that there is a Deity; and then we conclude, that whoever he may be, he ought to be worshipped: but our reason here fails, because it cannot ascertain who or what sort of being God is. Hence the Apostle in Hebrews 11:3, ascribes to faith the light by which man can gain real knowledge from the work of creation, and not without reason; for we are prevented by our blindness, so that we reach not to the end in view; we yet see so far, that we cannot pretend any excuse. Both these things are strikingly set forth by Paul in Acts 14:16-17, when he says, that the Lord in past times left the nations in their ignorance, and yet that he left them not without witness (amarturon,) since he gave them rain and fertility from heaven. But this knowledge of God, which avails only to take away excuse, differs greatly from that which brings salvation, which Christ mentions in John 17:3, and in which we are to glory, as Jeremiah teaches us, Jeremiah 9:24