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God Reveals His Wrath

18 For God in heaven unveils his holy anger[a] breaking forth against every form of sin, both toward ungodliness that lives in hearts and evil actions. For the wickedness of humanity deliberately smothers the truth and keeps people from acknowledging the truth about God. 19 In reality, the truth of God is known instinctively,[b] for God has embedded this knowledge inside every human heart. 20 Opposition to truth cannot be excused on the basis of ignorance,[c] because from the creation of the world, the invisible qualities[d] of God’s nature have been made visible, such as his eternal power and transcendence. He has made his wonderful attributes easily perceived,[e] for seeing the visible makes us understand the invisible.[f] So then, this leaves everyone without excuse.

21 Throughout human history[g] the fingerprints of God were upon them,[h] yet they refused to honor him as God or even be thankful for his kindness. Instead, they entertained corrupt and foolish thoughts about what God was like.[i] This left them with nothing but misguided hearts, steeped in moral darkness. 22 Although claiming to be wise, they were in fact shallow fools.[j] 23 For only a fool would trade the unfading splendor of the immortal God to worship the fading image of other humans, idols made to look like people, animals, birds, and even creeping reptiles!

24 This is why God lifted off his restraining hand and let them have full expression of their sinful and shameful desires. They were given over to moral depravity, dishonoring their bodies by sexual perversion among themselves— 25 all because they traded the truth of God for a lie.[k] They worshiped and served the things God made rather than the God who made all things—glory and praises to him forever and ever! Amen!

26–27 For this reason God gave them over to their own disgraceful and vile passions.[l] Enflamed with lust for one another, men and women ignored the natural order and exchanged normal sexual relations for homosexuality. Women engaged in lesbian conduct, and men committed shameful acts with men,[m] receiving in themselves the due penalty for their deviation.[n]

28 And because they thought it was worthless to embrace the true knowledge of God, God gave them over[o] to a worthless mind-set, to break all rules of proper conduct. 29 Their sinful lives became full of every kind of evil,[p] wicked schemes,[q] greed,[r] and cruelty. Their hearts overflowed with jealous cravings, and with conflict and strife, which drove them into hateful arguments and murder. They are deceitful liars full of hostility. They are gossips 30 who love to spread malicious slander. With inflated egos they hurl hateful insults at God, yet they are nothing more than arrogant boasters. They are rebels against their parents and totally immoral. 31 They are senseless, faithless,[s] ruthless, heartless, and completely merciless.[t] 32 Although they are fully aware of God’s laws and proper order, and knowing that those who do all of these things deserve to die, yet they still go headlong into darkness, encouraging others to do the same and applauding them when they do!

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  1. 1:18 Or “wrath.” God’s wrath is his action in punishing evil, a holy disapproval of all that is seen as wicked in the eyes of his holiness. In this first chapter, both righteousness and wrath are revealed. Righteousness is revealed in the gospel, but wrath is revealed as an activity God takes to uphold his glory.
  2. 1:19 Or “The knowability of God is manifest in them.”
  3. 1:20 Implied by the immediate context and by the use of the conjunction because. This form of ellipsis needs to be supplied for the sake of clarity.
  4. 1:20 The Aramaic can be translated “his holy attributes.”
  5. 1:20 Or “lies plainly before their eyes.” The literal Greek is “being intellectually apprehended by reflection.”
  6. 1:20 That is, what the eye sees becomes revelation to the conscience. See Ps. 19:1–4.
  7. 1:21 This phrase is implied by the use of the Greek aorist verb tense and is important for clarity as Paul continues to describe the brokenness of fallen humanity.
  8. 1:21 Or “They instinctively knew (there was a) God.”
  9. 1:21 Or “they became futile in their reasoning.”
  10. 1:22 The Aramaic can be translated “they became insane.”
  11. 1:25 An obvious metonymy, equating an idol with “a lie.” See 2 Thess. 2:11.
  12. 1:26–27 The Aramaic can be translated “disgraceful diseases.”
  13. 1:26–27 See Lev. 18:22.
  14. 1:26–27 Some see an inference here to sexually transmitted diseases.
  15. 1:28 This is the third time that it states, “God gave them over.” See vv. 24, 26–27, and here in v. 28.
  16. 1:29 There are twenty-two Greek nouns and adjectives used for evil listed in vv. 29–32. Injustice (selfishness), destructiveness, covetousness, malice, envy, murder, strife, guile, hostility, slander (the hissing sound of a snake charmer), gossip, hateful to God, insolent, arrogant, disobedient to parents, without moral understanding, without faith, without natural affections, hostilities, without mercy.
  17. 1:29 The Aramaic and some Greek manuscripts have “immorality.”
  18. 1:29 Or “unrestrained selfishness.”
  19. 1:31 Or “covenant-breakers.”
  20. 1:31 The Aramaic can be translated “They have no stability in themselves, neither love, nor peace, nor compassion.”

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