Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (NASB: Lockman)
NLT: From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: For since the beginning of the world the invisible attributes of God, e.g. his eternal power and divinity, have been plainly discernible through things which he has made and which are commonly seen and known, thus leaving these men without a rag of excuse. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: for the things concerning Him which are invisible since the creation of the universe are clearly seen, being understood by means of the things that are made, namely, His eternal power and divine Being, resulting in their being without a defense. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: for the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world, by the things made being understood, are plainly seen, both His eternal power and Godhead -- to their being inexcusable;
|Romans — 3:21-5:21||Romans — 6:1-8:39||Romans — 9:1-11:36||Romans — 12:1-16:27|
Jew and Gentile
|Demonstration of Salvation|
|Power Given||Promises Fulfilled||Paths Pursued|
Restored to Israel
|Slaves to Sin||Slaves to God||Slaves Serving God|
|Life by Faith||Service by Faith|
Modified from Irving L. Jensen's excellent work "Jensen's Survey of the NT"
FOR SINCE THE CREATION OF THE WORLD HIS INVISIBLE ATTRIBUTES: ta gar aorata autou apo ktiseos kosmou: (John 1:18; Colossians 1:15; 1Ti 1:17; 6:16; Heb 11:27) (Ro 1:19; Deut 4:19; Job 31:26, 27, 28; Ps 8:3; Ps 33:6, 7, 8, 9; Ps 104:5,31; Ps 119:90; Ps 139:13; Ps 148:8, 9, 10, 11, 12; Mt 5:45)
AN ILLUSTRATION OF NOT "SUPPRESSING" (Ro 1:18-note) THE TRUTH OF CREATION: By way of introduction to Paul's inspired discussion in Romans 1 describing God's gracious revelation and man's great rebellion against the Creator and His clear truth of the Creation, it might be enlightening to read what Isaac Newton (1642-1727), one of the greatest minds to ever live, had to say about this subject. The mathematical and scientific discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton are "astronomical" to use a pun! Some of the most notable achievements include the invention of calculus, discovery of the laws of motion and gravitation, and construction of the first reflecting telescope. And to the surprise of many truth suppressing modern scientists (not all of course!), Newton was a man of genuine, devout Christian faith and he spent a great portion of time studying Scripture with a special interest in prophecy. For example, Newton wrote...
This next comment relates especially to Romans 1...
At the time of his death, Sir Isaac Newton left more than a million words of notes on, you guessed it...the Bible! Six years after his death, Observations Upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John was published. Not only was Isaac a great scientist but also a dedicated student of the Bible. Dear Lord, by your Spirit may his tribe increase in these last days for the glory of the King of kings. Amen.
For (1063) (gar) is a subordinating conjunction which Introduces the explanation of how God made a knowledge of Him evident to all mankind (Ro 1:19). Whenever you encounter a term of explanation like "for" (>7000 uses in NT - not all are explanatory but most are, especially at beginning of a passage), ask God to enable you to recognize that small conjunction as an invitation, an opportunity to pause and ponder the passage in the power of the Spirit by asking the 5W/H questions, always asking at least one - "What is the text explaining?" which will "force" you to examine the previous passage(s) (the context). As you prayerfully yield to and depend on your Teacher the Spirit to guide you into all the Truth (1Cor 2:12-16, 1Jn 2:20, 27, Jn 16:13), you will be amazed at the insights and illumination He will reveal to the eyes of your heart! And as you practice this simple discipline of slowing down and "chewing your food" (Mt 4:4, Lk 4:4) instead of speed reading the text, you will begin to experience the blessed fruits of meditation. In other words what you are doing by pausing to ponder the passage is you are musing on the passage, "chewing the cud" (Hebrew idea of meditation) and in effect carrying out a "mini-meditation" so to speak."
Hodge writes that...
Creation (2937) (ktisis) refers to bringing something into existence which has not existed before. The act of causing to exist that which did not exist before, especially God's act of bringing the universe into existence (cp He 11:3-note). It is notable that ktisis always occurs in the New Testament in connection with God’s creative activities (see note below regarding use in 1Pe 2:13).
Ktisis refers to
Ktisis - 19x in the NT - Mk 10:6; 13:19; 16:15; Ro 1:20-note, Ro 1:25-note; Ro 8:19-note, Ro 8:20, 21-note, Ro 8:39-note; 2Co 5:17; Gal. 6:15; Col 1:15-note, 23-note; He 4:13-note; He 9:11-note; 1Pe 2:13-note; 2Pe 3:4-note; Re 3:14-note. The NAS translate ktisis as created thing(1), creation(14), creature(3), institution(1). There are no uses in the non-apocryphal Septuagint.
Ktisis refers to
Our response to God's natural (general) revelation can be one of two ways, one being desirable and the other being detrimental to the well being of our soul. We can be drawn to worship the Creator or we can be drawn to worship the creation itself. In short, man was made to worship something. If we refuse to worship God, the only alternative is that which is "no god", i.e., idols which come in many varieties. Moses warned...
World (2889) (kosmos) describes an orderly arrangement and here refers to the order of the universe. The Greeks used kosmos to refer to the universe from the fact of its perfect arrangement. It was used in this case as opposed to the Greek word chaos which was used by the Greeks of the first state of existence, the rude, unformed mass out of which the universe was made. Thus the Greeks believed that the original state of the universe was one of chaos which is in line with the theory of evolution and the so-called "big bang" theory, which has been "exploded" by Creationists and believing scientists, even though this theory is still held to tenaciously by the majority of the scientific world.
Hodge explains that...
Here are the five NT uses of aoratos -- Ro 1:20; Col. 1:15, 16; 1Ti 1:17; Heb 11:27. There are 2 uses in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Ge 1:2; Is 45:3.
ISBE article on Invisible...
In (Psalm 19:1-6) David writes that...
Note the repeated emphasis in Psalm 19 - "telling", "declaring", "pours forth speech", "reveals knowledge", "utterances". And the extent of this clear proclamation - "all the earth", "end of the world". Observe that in the opening verse of Psalm 19, David writes that "The heavens are telling (LXX translates the Hebrew word for "telling" with the verb anagello in the present tense = the heavens are continuously announcing in detail) of the glory of God"
In short anyone who has ever looked into the glittering night sky or at a radiant red-orange sunset has no excuse to not believe in God! But humanity today prefers Hollywood or computer video games to seeing the "things" of the glorious God in the heavens. Beloved, when was the last time you walked outside and gazed at the moon and stars made by our Creator?
Newell quips that...
Did you observe the paradox in Romans 1:20? invisible things which are visible! This state of things has been true since the creation of the universe. The eternal power and Godhead of the Creator have been since that time and are now understood by the things that have been made, namely, the material creation. Man, reasoning upon the basis of the law of cause and effect, which law requires an adequate cause for every effect, is forced to the conclusion that such a tremendous effect as the universe, demands a Being of eternal power and of divine attributes.
Charles Hodge wrote that God...
ALL CREATION IS
HIS ETERNAL POWER: e te aidios autou dunamis: (Ro 16:26; Ge 21:33; Deut 33:27; Ps 90:2; Isaiah 9:6; 26:4; 40:26; 1Ti 1:17; Heb 9:14)
See related resource: God's Attribute - Eternal
Eternal in this context speaks of God's power which has no beginning and no end, even as God Himself is without beginning or end! Although aidios is not used in the following verse, the idea is the same...
Aidos is used elsewhere in the New Testament only in Jude 1:6 (twice in the apocrypha - 4 Ma 10:15; Wis. 7:26).
Both the unchangeableness and omnipotence of God (see discussion of His omnipotence) are here in view, as exhibited in creation. The Creator, who made all that we see around us and constantly sustains it, must be a being of awesome power.
ISBE article on Eternal...
Power (1411) (dunamis [word study] - words derived from the stem duna— all have the basic meaning of “being able,” of “capacity” in virtue of an ability) refers to inherent ability, the power or ability to carry out some function, the potential for functioning in some way, the power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature. It conveys the idea of effective, productive energy, rather than that which is raw and unbridled. God's dunamis has always existed.
From a paper by B B Warfield in Jan,1889 on Darwin's arguments against Christianity:
For an interesting article on whether Darwin's had a so called deathbed conversion (click here)
AND DIVINE NATURE: kai theiotes: (Acts 17:29; Colossians 2:9)
Divine nature (2305) (theiotes from theos = God) usually refers to performance that one might properly associate with a divinity. Theiotes emphasizes the divine nature and properties or the whole of that which goes to make up our idea of God. In a sense theiotes is a good summary term for the attributes which constitute deity, signifying the sum-total of the divine attributes.
Theiotes describes the quality of theos and corresponds more to Latin divinitas from divus, divine. It refers to the quality or characteristics pertaining to deity and thus refers to divinity, divine nature or divineness.
Theiotes could be translated divine majesty and is seen supremely in Jesus Who uniquely bears the divine image (cf. 2Cor. 4:4; see Heb 1:3-note). He is God’s full revelation in human form (see Col 1:19-note; Col 2:9-note). The wonderful truth of the gospel is that fallen mankind, through faith in Christ, will share Christlikeness (cf. Heb 12:10-note; 1Jn 3:2). The image of God in humanity (cf. Ge 1:26,27) has been restored!
Theotes is the Divine Personality and theiotes the Divine Nature and properties
Wuest writes that...
Vine notes that theiotes is
HAVE BEEN CLEARLY SEEN: kathoratai (3SPPI):
Newell explains that...
Clearly seen (2529) (kathorao from katá = down or an intensifier + horáo = see and perceiving) literally means to look down, see from above, view from on high. The meaning is then generally to view or to consider. The idea is to acquire definite information with focus upon process of perception but associated with an intellectual apprehension. It means to behold fully, distinctly apprehend clearly see and discern clearly. This is the only NT use.
Here are the other uses of Kathorao in the LXX-- Ex 10:5; Nu 24:2; Deut 26:15; Job 10:4; 39:26.
The present tense indicates they are continually on display to be (passive voice) perceived --continuously beheld fully, distinctly apprehended. It is not as if God gives rebellious, truth rejecting mankind one brief peak as His glorious handiwork!
TWO TYPES OF
(1) General revelation = God's self-disclosure through the created world as in Ps 19:1 (cp Ro 1:20-note)
Vincent observes that...
Theologians refer to this revelation as natural or general in contrast to the Scriptures which are classified as "special revelation" God’s natural revelation of Himself is not obscure or selective, observable only by a few perceptive souls who are specially gifted. His revelation of Himself through creation can be clearly seen by everyone.
The upshot is that no one has an excuse to say I see no evidence for a Creator, for a God. It takes a deliberate act of one's will to observe the design we see in creation and not acknowledge a Designer. Conscience and Creation is enough evidence to condemn every man. The people who should be shouting the loudest are scientists and doctors who look into the telescopes and microscopes. They see the design and order and plan. When you go to the art gallery and a beautiful painting, you may not necessarily know the name of the artist who painted it but you are certain from the beauty and form and design that the artist was clearly a master.
Adrian Rogers tells of a man who owns a trucking company in the south where part of the hiring process is a lie detector test on which one of the questions is “Do you believe in God?". They have observed that even avowed atheists who answer this question "no" are shown to be liars by the lie detector!
The stars in their courses proclaim the great Creator's power
Napoleon, on a warship in the Mediterranean on a star-lit night, passed a group of his officers who were mocking at the idea of a God. He stopped, and sweeping his hand toward the stars, said,
George Washington Carver (1864-1903) chemist and educator wrote that...
BEING UNDERSTOOD THROUGH WHAT HAS BEEN MADE: tois poiemasin nooumena (PPPNPN):
Spurgeon writes that...
Noeo then comes to denote a clear perception, a full understanding, and careful consideration. It means to grasp or comprehend something on the basis of careful thought and thus to perceive, apprehend, understand or gain an insight into.
It means to perceive with reflective intelligence and is distinguished from the mere act of seeing because it represents perception of the mind consequent upon seeing. It means to think over a matter with care and so to think about carefully and to consider well.
The present tense indicates that this understanding is continuous and so continuously available to all who have eyes to see and ears to hear. The grandeur and wonder of nature give ample, eloquent testimony to the eternal power of God. The creation delivers a clear, unmistakable message about God’s person which everyone can understand. Paul's point is they saw and they knew!
Noeo is used 14 times in the NT...
Noeo is used 23 times in the Septuagint (LXX)(1Sa 4:20; 2Sa 12:19; 20:15; Job 33:3, 23; Pr. 1:2f, 6; 8:5; 16:23; 19:25; 20:24; 23:1; 28:5; 29:19; 30:18; Is 32:6; 44:18; 47:7; Jer. 2:10; 10:21; 20:11; 23:20)
What has been made (4161) (poiema from poieo = to do or make) means what is made and refers to the product or workmanship, a work, or a work piece, workmanship. Poiema is used figuratively in its only other use in Ephesians 2:10-note. It denotes the result of work, what is produced as contrasted to poíēsis which is the act of making, the doing itself and not that which is made. He who does the making is poietes, the doer or poet (think of God as the poet and Creation and Men as His masterpieces!)
See Related Discussion: Poiema in Ephesians 2:10
Poiema as you might imagine gives us our English word poem. God has written two poetic masterpieces so to speak, the first being the creation and the second being the re-creation of redeemed men as
Poiema is used 27 times in the Septuagint (LXX) (Judges 13:12; 1Sa 8:8; 19:4; Ezra 9:13; Neh 6:14; Ps 64:9; 92:4; 143:5; Ecclesiastes 1:14; 2:4, 11, 17; 3:11, 17, 22; 4:3, 4; 5:6; 7:13; 8:9, 14, 17; 9:7, 10; 11:5; 12:14; Is 29:16)
The psalmist writes...
Here are a few other uses in the Septuagint...
Harry Ironside (Ephesians Commentary) writes that...
This is God's greatest poem: the epic of redemption
The two wondrous poems of creation and redemption are celebrated in Revelation 4 and Revelation 5. In chapter 4 the enthroned and crowned saints worship Christ as Creator. In chapter 5 they adore Him as Redeemer.
The very stars in the heaven are,
Forever singing as they shine
John Piper writes that...
SO THAT THEY ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE: eis to einai (PAN) autous anapologetous: (Ro 2:1,15; Jn 15:22) (Acts 22:1)
So that (eis) -- Vincent writes that the...
To make an excuse is to try to remove blame from one's self or to make an apology for some "miscue". Often the one making excuse makes special effort to mention the "extenuating" circumstances that led to the "miscue", but no such exceptions will be allowed by God in the day of Judgment of unrepentant men and women (Ro 2:1, Rev 20:11, 12, 13, 14 - see notes)
Man in continually holding down the truth about God (Ro 1:18) renders himself without a defense for his action. God holds all men responsible for their refusal to acknowledge what He has shown them of Himself in His creation. There is only One Advocate, the Lord Jesus Christ (1Jn 2:1, Jn 14:6), Who Alone can step in to defend such blatant disregard for truth which is so easily seen by all.
Mark it down as a fact - Even those who have never had an opportunity to hear the gospel have received a clear witness about the existence and character of God—and yet they have suppressed it. If a person will respond to the revelation he has, even if it is only the revelation of God in nature ("natural revelation"), God will provide some means for that person to hear the gospel.
John MacArthur explains how no man can say that God did not give them opportunity to receive Christ writing that...
Years ago the Trans World Radio dropped transistor radios into the jungle. It wasn't until several years later that missionaries finally reached these isolated tribes only to find that some of these pagans had become believers thru the message broadcast on the transistor radio! God wants none to perish but for all to come to repentance (2Pe 3:9-note). If a man or woman does not suppress God's truth but in fact seeks Him, it is God's responsibility to provide a witness either in His Word or through a missionary sent to that person to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. This truth addresses and refutes the argument of so many as to "what about those who have never heard".
Newell adds that...
John Calvin said
John Gill wrote that...
Reasons Why I Never Wash - People who don’t attend church often give some rather interesting reasons for not doing so. To show the weaknesses of those excuses, someone has compiled a humorous list called “Ten Reasons Why I Never Wash.”
The application is obvious. Most excuses for not going to church are weak. So too are the reasons people offer for not giving thought to spiritual issues and for not accepting Christ as their Savior. Despite the self-evident reality of a Creator (Rom. 1:19-20) and the “many infallible proofs” that Christ is all He claimed to be (Acts 1:3), people often use ridiculous, self-serving excuses as reasons to avoid a relationship with the Lord. The apostle Paul warned, “They are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).
When it comes to something as serious as your spiritual condition, don’t be caught making excuses.— by Joanie Yoder
Making excuses will never suffice
To cover the stain of our sin;
Jesus provided the washing we need
To cleanse us without and within. —Hess
There is no good excuse for ignoring God.
No Excuses Accepted - Derek was a drug abuser who came to Bill and Joanie Yoder for help. After they had spent hours answering his questions from the Bible, Derek said, “It seems to me that it would be pretty cheap to come to God after all I’ve done and say to Him, ‘Well, God, how about forgiving me?’ It would be different if I could say that I hadn’t known any better when I did the things I did. But I knew that the things I did were wrong, not just after I did them, but as I was doing them.”
Derek had hit on an important truth: We do not have a valid excuse for our sin. God holds us responsible because through conscience He has revealed His moral laws to everyone in the world. While creation declares God’s power and majesty (Ro 1:20), conscience echoes His law loudly enough so that no one can plead ignorance (Ro 2:15).
Bill and Joanie explained to Derek that our only hope for release from the guilt that our responsibility carries with it is this: God offers forgiveness as a free gift through faith in Jesus Christ, who died in our place on the cross. Late one evening, Derek accepted God’s forgiveness.
Until we are willing to own the sin, we cannot own the forgiveness. God accepts no excuses.— Dennis J. De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
My sin, O Lord, defies Your Word,
Romans 1:21 For even though they knew (AAPMPN) God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations and their foolish heart was darkened (3SAPI). (Click Wayne Barber's Sermon) (NASB: Lockman)
NLT: Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. The result was that their minds became dark and confused. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: They knew all the time that there is a God, yet they refused to acknowledge him as such, or to thank him for what he is or does. Thus they became fatuous in their argumentations, and plunged their silly minds still further into the dark. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Because, knowing God, not as God did they glorify Him, nor were they grateful, but they became futile in their reasonings, and their stupid heart was darkened. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: because, having known God they did not glorify Him as God, nor gave thanks, but were made vain in their reasonings, and their unintelligent heart was darkened,
FOR (because) EVEN THOUGH THEY KNEW GOD: dioti gnontes (AAPMPN) ton theon: (Ro 1:19,28; Jn 3:19)
Listen to Mp3s by J Vernon McGee - Romans 1:21-23
Knew (1097) (ginosko) means to know by personal experience, and in this context refers to a personal knowledge of the existence of God and of His attributes just mentioned. In a sense they had experienced the Creator in His creation regardless of whether or not they chose to honor Him. The point is that man began with knowledge of God’s being and character, not with ignorance of Him. When Adam sinned and all thereafter were tainted with Sin, there transpired a descent from the light into the dark abyss of mental and moral folly.
Wuest explains that...
A T Robertson adds
Charles Kingsley writes that...
Paul is saying that men are conscious of God’s existence, power, and divine nature through His Creation, general revelation (Ro 1:19, 20). Ro 1:21-32 describes the awful descent of the world (especially the Gentiles for the Creation was the only revelation of Him they possessed unlike the Jews who were entrusted with God's oracles) from their knowledge of the true God, ever downward into idolatry (and polytheism) and then into the gross immorality (as God gives them over to what they want to do!) and finally to internal conflict in which as a result of a depraved mind they become filled and with all unrighteousness.
Earth's crammed with heaven,
and every common bush aflame with God.
But only those who see take off their shoes;
the rest sit round it and pluck blackberries
THEY DID NOT HONOR HIM AS GOD: ouch os theon edoxasan (3PAAI): (Click Torrey's Topic "Glory of God") (Ro 15:9; Psalms 50:23; 86:9; Hosea 2:8; Habakkuk 1:15,16; Lk 17:15, 16, 17, 18; 2Ti 3:2; Re 14:7; 15:4)
Honor (1392) (doxazo - see word study on cognate doxa) means to give glory to another and thus the KJV is an excellent translation ("they glorified Him not as God"). They did not enhance the reputation of God, praise Him or magnify Him. They did not place Him into the position of power and great honor that He rightly deserved.
There is 61 uses doxazo in NT - (Mt 5:16; 6:2; 9:8; 15:31; Mark 2:12; Lk 2:20; 4:15; 5:25, 26; 7:16; 13:13; 17:15; 18:43; 23:47; Jn 7:39; 8:54; 11:4; 12:16, 23, 28; 13:31, 32; 14:13; 15:8; 16:14; 17:1, 4, 5, 10; 21:19; Acts 3:13; 4:21; 11:18; 13:48; 21:20; Ro 1:21; 8:30; 11:13; 15:6, 9; 1Co 6:20; 12:26; 2Co 3:10; 9:13; Gal 1:24; 2Th 3:1; Heb 5:5; 1Pe 1:8; 2:12; 4:11, 16; Re 15:4; 18:7)
The verb honor is aorist tense (action at a moment in time) and active voice (subject makes a choice of their will to carry out this action) indicating that mankind made a deliberate choice not (Greek word for "not" indicates absolute negation) to honor Him.
The beautiful hymn We Praise Thee, O God, Our Redeemer, Creator honors God Who Alone is worthy to be honored and adored...
These ungodly men did not express a proper opinion of Who God was based upon the truth revealed about Him in the glorious, marvelous creation. Truth demands a response, and the truth about God demands that we the creatures glorify him as the great Creator. When we don’t, we fail in the great purpose for which we were created.
John MacArthur writes that...
Man’s chief end is to glorify God and Scripture constantly demands it. The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism is...
To glorify Him is to honor Him, to acknowledge His attributes (which they clearly understood), and to praise Him for His perfections. It is to recognize His glory and extol Him for it. Failing to give Him glory is man’s greatest affront to his loving merciful Creator as Herod discovered...
William Newell comments that...
Read the powerful illustration from Our Daily Bread of giving honor and glory to God...
Who Wants Good News? - Do people really want to hear good news? Maybe not, broadcaster Paul Harvey suggests. The bad news about crime and tragedy may seem more interesting, and actually more compatible with their own tastes. As an example, Harvey cited the failure of the Good News Paper in Sacramento, California. It printed nothing but good news—and folded after 36 months.
What, then, about the best news of all, the gospel—the good news of Jesus and His love? It's the good news of full and free forgiveness through faith in Christ and His sacrificial death. Why do many people avert their eyes, close their minds, and refuse to listen when the best of all good news is being communicated to them?
The sad fact is that we all are afflicted with what has been called theophobia—a fearful dislike of God. Although we were created to have a close relationship with God and need His life-fulfilling presence, we actually are God-haters (Romans 1:30) until we are born again.
Let's keep on proclaiming the good news in the confidence that the Holy Spirit will break through the hostile indifference of God-haters, capture their attention, and win their believing response to the saving message of grace. After all, that's what He did with you and me. — Vernon C. Grounds (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
So send I you to hearts made hard by hatred,
OR GIVE THANKS: e eucharistesan (3PAAI): (See Torrey's Topic "Ingratitude to God")
Give thanks (2168) (eucharisteo [word study] from eú = well, + charízomai = to grant, give) means to show oneself grateful, to be thankful or to give thanks. The verb give thanks is aorist tense (action at a moment in time) and active voice (subject makes a choice of their will to carry out this action) indicating that mankind made a deliberate choice not to give thanks to God. Blatant, willful ingratitude!
See all 38 uses of eucharisteo in the NT -- Mt 15:36; 26:27; Mark 8:6; 14:23; Lk. 17:16; 18:11; 22:17, 19; Jn 6:11, 23; 11:41; Acts 27:35; 28:15; Ro 1:8, 21; 14:6; 16:4; 1 Co. 1:4, 14; 10:30; 11:24; 14:17, 18; 2Co. 1:11; Ep 1:16; 5:20; Phil 1:3; Col. 1:3, 12; 3:17; 1Th 1:2; 2:13; 5:18; 2Th 1:3; 2:13; Philemon 1:4; Re 11:17.
They refused to acknowledge that
The natural creation was intended to lead man to glorify God and to express gratitude to Him. Cessation from praise and thanksgiving to God leads to disastrous consequences, which the apostle now enumerates. When we leave off praising and thanking God, we open the way for every form of evil. Thanklessness toward God is a proof of the alienation of man from Him. Thanksgiving is the expression of gratitude toward, and joy in, God, and the acknowledgment of the blessedness of His and so Paul commands believers...
Every human being knows he ought to give his being over to his Creator’s worship and glory, and ought to be continually thankful for life itself, and for its blessings; but men refused both worship and gratitude: they became godless and thankless. But they could not free themselves thus easily from conscience and terrors: so came on idolatry. First they resorted to vain speculations and "reasonings, " to escape the thought of God and duty. Then the judicial result: as Alford well renders, "Their heart (the whole inner man, the seat of knowledge and feeling), became dark (lost the little light it had), and wandered blindly in the mazes of folly." Think of a whole race of created beings knowing, but refusing to recognize, their Creator! of their eating from His hand daily, but refusing even one thanksgiving! Yet such ungodly ones, such unthankful ones, are all about you, now.
Donald Grey Barnhouse in his magnum opus (Romans, Volume 1, page 245, 1953) asked...
The creatures response to his Creator is well expressed in the hymn O Give Thanks to Him Who Made
Thanks - (Read 1Ti 4:1, 2, 3, 4, 5)- A small boy visited his friend's home for dinner. When the youngster sat down at the table, he bowed his head and waited for someone to give thanks for the meal. The others at the table, however, began passing the food. The boy looked up and said, "You guys are just like my dog. You start right in!"
Writing to counter false teachers who prohibited the eating of certain foods, the apostle Paul told Timothy that all food is to be received with appreciation to God (1 Tim. 4:4-5). Food has been given to us for our nourishment and enjoyment. Our expression of thanks acknowledges that what we eat is a gift from God.
When Paul wrote to his friends in Rome, he singled out the sin of ingratitude among the pagans. He said, "Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful" (Rom. 1:21).
What does it say about our society when people sit down to a full table, while pictures of starving masses flicker on their TV screens, and never bow their heads to express appreciation for their food?
A word of thanks is always appropriate for those of us who know that our daily bread comes not only from the grocery store but ultimately from God. — Haddon W. Robinson (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
The world says, "I've earned all these delights!
BUT THEY BECAME FUTILE IN THEIR SPECULATIONS: all emataiothesan (3PAPI) en tois dialogismois auton: (Ge 6:5; 8:21; 2Ki 17:15; Ps 81:12; Eccl 7:29; Is 44:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20; Jer 2:5; 10:3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,14,15; 16:19; Ep 4:17,18; 1Pe 1:18)
Became futile (3154) (mataioo from mataios = empty, vain, mataios being used in the Septuagint (LXX) for the Hebrew word habal (01891) rendered vanity or vanities, and frequently used to describe to idols - see Vine's note below) means to become futile in one's thinking, to be given over to worthlessness, to think about worthless things or to become destitute of real wisdom. Paul's point is that their ideas and conceptions of God had no intrinsic value corresponding with the truth.
This is the only NT use of mataioo but there are 6 uses in the Septuagint (LXX) (1Sa 13:13; 26:21; 2Ki. 17:15; 1Chr. 21:8; Jer. 2:5; 23:16).
Speculations (1261) (dialogismos [word study] from dia = through, suggesting separation + logismos = a reasoning) refers to reasoning, an opinion or a deliberating. It means to think or reason with thoroughness and completeness, to think out carefully, reason thoroughly, consider carefully. It refers to reasoning, with the idea of "purpose" as well as "deliberation".
Dialogismos in most of the NT uses conveys an evil sense, that is that the reasonings are the outcome of self-will and of the natural fallen human mind independent of God. Dialogismos here denotes the false notions about God, entertained in opposition to the facts revealed concerning Him in nature.
Here are the 14 uses of dialogismos in the NT -- Mt. 15:19; Mark. 7:21; Lk. 2:35; 5:22; 6:8; 9:46, 47; 24:38; Ro 1:21; 14:1; 1Co 3:20; Phil 2:14; 1Ti 2:8; James. 2:4. The NAS translates dialogismos as argument(1), disputing(1), dissension(1), doubts(1), motives (1), opinions(1),reasonings(2), speculations(1), thoughts(3), what they were thinking (2).
There are 17 uses in the Septuagint (LXX) -- Ps 40:5; 56:5; 92:5; 94:11; 139:2, 20; 146:4; Is 59:7; Je 4:14; Lam 3:60, 61; Da 2:29, 30; 4:19; 5:6, 10; 7:28;
Man the Worshiper
Man’s search for meaning and purpose will produce only vain, meaningless conclusions. In sum, the result of rejecting the truth about God is an empty mind and a darkened heart. This is tragic. Man the worshiper became man the philosopher, but his empty wisdom only revealed his foolishness. Paul summarized all of Greek history in one dramatic statement: “the times of this ignorance” (Acts 17:30-notes).
John MacArthur remarks that...
Read about man's futile speculations in Paul's discourse to the Corinthians (1Cor 1:18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31).
Harry Ironside writes that...
In Psalm 14:1 (Spurgeon's Note) David writes that (note how what one believes about God directly affects one's behavior and conduct)...
Having held down God’s truth and refusing to acknowledge God’s glory, man was left without a god; and man is so constituted that he must worship something. If he will not worship the true God, he will worship a false god, even if he has to manufacture it himself! This fact about man accounts for his propensity to idolatry. He exchanged glory for shame, incorruption for corruption, truth for lies.
If the first step might be summed up in the word active willful "neglect" of God's truth, the second step might be called empty, vacuous "speculation".
As men become indifferent to revealed truth, they begin to actively grope for alternative explanations. Their ability to look at the world around them and to draw accurate conclusions about it tragically became worthless. Having rejected the real truth, men desperately search for anything to replace it, flitting about from preposterous idea to even more preposterous idea, from inane hypothesis to even more inane hypothesis, from specious theory to even more specious theory, frantically looking for a unifying world view that explains creation's order.
One so-called atheist said:
In Jeremiah 2:5 note the consequence of futile, empty thinking and conduct...
Vine sums up God rejecting men's sad state writing that...
AND THEIR FOOLISH HEART WAS DARKENED: kai eskotisthe (3SAPI) e asunetos auton kardia: (Ro 11:10; Deut 28:29; Is 60:2; Acts 26:18; 1Pe 2:9)
Foolish (801) (asunetos [word study] from a = without + sunetós = sagacious, discerning) means without insight or understanding. unintelligent, dull, foolish. Such a man has an inability to bring together facts and make sense out of them, specifically the inability to conclude from the creation there is a Creator.
Asunetos is the man who is a fool, who cannot learn the lesson of experience, who will not use the mind and brain that God has given to him. This person is without insight or understanding and is descriptive of unredeemed man's heart. It is the man who is without insight into moral or religious things and thus is so blinded that evil is thought of as good and good as evil.
Asunetos is used 5 times in the NT. Jesus asks His disciples "are you still lacking in understanding?" Mt 15:16; see identical use in Mark 7:18; of men whose "foolish (asunetos) heart was darkened" Ro 1:21 ; of "a nation (gentiles) without understanding" Ro 10:19. There are 4 uses in the non-apocryphal Septuagint -- Deut. 32:21; Job 13:2; Ps. 76:5; 92:6
Haldane adds that "without understanding"
Heart (2588) (kardia [word study]) does not refer to the physical organ but is always used figuratively in Scripture to refer to the seat and center of human life. I like to think of our heart as our "control center" as that part of us which functions much like an "air traffic controller"!
The heart is the center of the personality, and it controls the intellect, emotions, and will. No outward obedience is of the slightest value unless the heart turns to God. While kardia does represent the inner person, the seat of motives and attitudes, the center of personality, in Scripture it represents much more than emotion, feelings. It also includes the thinking process and particularly the will.
When men turn willfully from truth, they will run to the extremes of error. The world (the pagan world) yielded to idle fancies, and were involved in deeper darkness. He who shuts out the light will finally be unable to bear it.
While kardia does represent the inner person, the seat of motives and attitudes, the center of personality, in Scripture it represents much more than emotion, feelings. It also includes the thinking process and particularly the will. For example, in Proverbs we are told, “As (a man) thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Jesus asked a group of scribes, “Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?” (Matthew 9:4). The heart is the control center of mind and will as well as emotion.
Vine writes that kardia...
MacArthur commenting on kardia writes that...
Marvin Vincent has a lengthy comment on kardia writing...
Heart was darkened - They had ready access to the light of natural revelation but when they rejected the light they had, the only thing remaining was darkness!
Was darkened (4654) (skotizo from skia = shadow) means literally to be or become dark or to be unable to give light (Mt 24:29, Mark 13:24, Eccl 12:2). Figuratively skotizo means to manifest a lack of religious and/or moral perception and thus to become inwardly "darkened" in respect to one's understanding.
In the present passage note the aorist tense speaks of an action occurring at a point in time (in context in the past when they rejected the light God provided) and the passive voice speaks of this effect coming from an outside source.
Vine adds this note on was darkened:
Skotizo describes not the enlightenment and freedom God rejecting men like to claim but increasing spiritual darkness and further enslavement to the power of Sin. The person who forsakes God is the ultimate fool for he or she forsakes truth, light, and eternal life, as well as meaning, purpose, and happiness.
There are 5 uses of skotizo in the NT - Mt 24:29, Mark. 13:24 (both these uses referring to the sun which, in times of tribulation, loses its radiance, cp Eccl. 12:2); Ro 1:21; 11:10; Re 8:12 and 5 uses in the Ps. 69:23; 74:20; 139:12; Eccl. 12:2; Is 13:10.
The truth is that God exists. He is eternal and infinitely powerful. He supplies us with all we have. Therefore he is gloriously self-sufficient with no needs that we can meet. The truth is that our reason for existing is to be thankful for all God has given us and to display His glory by the way we think and feel and act. God's promise is that...
When man rejects the truth, the darkness of spiritual falsehood replaces it (cf. Jn 3:19, 20, 2Ti 4:3,4, cp 2Ti 3:13) The light that God had given men in nature became darkness in them.
The fact is, once a man rejects the truth of God in Christ, he will fall for anything foolish, and trust far more ridiculous and fanciful systems then the truth about God that he has rejected. This futility of thinking, darkening of the heart, and folly is one manifestation of the continual revelation of God's righteous wrath against those who have rejected His revelation (Ro 1:18).
The problem is not that man did not know God, but that he did know Him - yet we refused to glorify Him as God, instead transforming our conception (what a ludicrous thought that we could even conceive of One Who alone is infinite, omnipotent, omniscient, etc! This is indeed a deceived, darkened heart!) of God into forms and images more comfortable to our corrupt and darkened hearts
The death of these men who promulgate foolish speculations is horrible as exemplified by this description of Thomas Paine, the renowned American author and infidel, who had exerted considerable influence against belief in God and in the Scriptures. He came to his last hour in 1809, a most disillusioned and unhappy man. During his final moments on earth he said:
Sin by its very nature is deceitful & draws men's hearts further and further into darkness as shown by this story from "Our Daily Bread"