Summary: Unrighteous Gentiles
1:18-30 opens up a new section in Romans. After introducing the righteousness which comes from God (1:17), a theme he develops at length (3:21-5:21), Paul presents the overwhelming evidence of man’s sinfulness, underscoring how desperately he needs this righteousness that only God can provide. He presents God’s case against the irreligious, immoral pagan (1:18-32; The Gentiles) the religious, outwardly moral person (2:1-3:8; the Jews); and concludes by showing that all men alike deserve God’s judgment (3:9-20).
Romans 1:18-19, “18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
Wrath of God is not an impulsive outburst of anger aimed capriciously at people whom God does not like. It is the settled determined response of a righteous God against sin (Psalm 2:5, 12; 45:7; 75:8; 67:6; 67:49-51; 90:7-9; Isa 51:17; Jer 25:15-16; John 3:36; Romans 9:22; Eph 5:6; Col 3:5-6).
Is revealed: This is better translated “is constantly revealed.” This word essentially means to uncover, make visible or make known. God reveals His wrath in two ways: 1) indirectly, through natural consequences of violating His universal moral law, and 2) directly through His personal intervention (the Old Testament record-from the sentence passed upon Adam and Eve to the worldwide flood, from the fire and brimstone that leveled Sodom to the Babylonian captivity-clearly displays this kind of intervention_. The most graphic revelation of God’s holy wrath and hatred against sin was poured out in divine judgment on His Son on the Cross.
God has various kinds of wrath as well: 1) eternal wrath, which is hell; 2) eschatological wrath, which is the final Day of the Lord; 3) cataclysmic wrath like the flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; ) consequential wrath, which is the principle of sowing and reaping; and 5) the wrath of abandonment, which is removing restraint and letting people go to their sins (for examples of this wrath read Psalm 81:11-12; Proverbs 1:23-31; Hosea 4:17). Here it is in the fifth form, God’s abandoning the wicked continually throughout history to pursue their sin and its consequences (vv.24-32).
Ungodliness refers to a lack of reverence for devotion to, and worship of the true God- a defective relationship with Him (Jude 14-15). Unrighteousness refers to the result of ungodliness: a lack of conformality in thought, word and deed to the character and law of God.
Suppress the truth refers to the evidence from conscience (1:19,2:14), creation (1:20), and God’s Word is irrefutable, men choose to resist and oppose God’s truth by holding fast to their sin (Psalm 14:1; John 3:19-20). Manifest in them shows that God has soveringly planted evidence of His existence in the very nature of man by reason and moral law (1:20-21; 28,32; 2:15).
Romans 1:20-23, “20For 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 Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21because, 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. 22Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.”