Romans 1:20-21 Commentary

 

 

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Romans 1:20-21 Commentary
Updated 12/26/13

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)

Greek: ta gar aorata autou apo ktiseos kosmou tois poiemasin nooumena (PPPNPN) kathoratai, (3SPPI) e te aidios autou dunamis kai theiotes, eis to einai (PAN) autous anapologetous
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;

REFERENCES ROMANS
Updated 12/26/13

Henry Alford
Paul Apple
Jack Arnold
Wayne Barber
William Barclay
Albert Barnes
Brian Bell
Johann Bengel
Joseph Beet
Joseph Benson
Biblical Illustrator
Brian Bill
Brian Bill
John Calvin
Cambridge Greek
Alan Carr
B H Carroll
Rich Cathers
Rich Cathers
Adam Clarke
Century Bible
Steven Cole
Steven Cole
Steven Cole
Thomas Constable
W A Criswell
W A Criswell
W A Criswell
Bob Deffinbaugh
J Ligon Duncan
J Ligon Duncan
John Dummelow
Easy English
Expositor's Bible
Expositor's Greek
Explore the Bible
A C Gaebelein
E H Gifford
John Gill
Frederic Godet
Frederic Godet
Frederic Godet
Bruce Goettsche
Bruce Goettsche
Gospel Coalition
L M Grant
Scott Grant
James Gray
Dave Guzik
Robert Haldane
James Hastings
Robert Hawker
Greg Herrick
Greg Herrick
Daniel Hill
Charles Hodge
F B Hole
David Holwick
Barry Horner
H A Ironside
Jamieson, F, B
S Lewis Johnson
S Lewis Johnson
Keith Krell
Steve Kreloff
Paul Kretzmann
John MacArthur 
John MacArthur
John MacArthur 
John MacArthur
John MacArthur 
John MacArthur
Henry Mahan
J Vernon McGee
F B Meyer
Heinrich Meyer
Middletown Bible
G Campbell Morgan
Robert Morgan
Robert Morgan
H C G Moule
H C G Moule
H C G Moule
Robert Neighbour
Net Bible Notes
Phil Newton
Phil Newton
William Newell   
James Nisbet  
Peter Pett
John Piper
John Piper
Matthew Poole
Preacher's Homiletical
Preacher's Homiletical
Ray Pritchard
Ray Pritchard
Ray Pritchard
Ray Pritchard
Pulpit Commentary
Pulpit Commentary
A T Robertson
Don Robinson
Allen Ross
Rob Salvato
Rob Salvato
Sanday & Headlam
William Sanday
Phillip Schaff
Charles Simeon
Sermon Bible
C H Spurgeon
C H Spurgeon
C H Spurgeon
Claude Stauffer
Ray Stedman
Ray Stedman|
Ray Stedman
John Stevenson
Joseph Sutcliffe
Ron Teed
Geoff Thomas
John Trapp
Robert Utley
Marvin Vincent
Daniel Whedon
Drew Worthen
Steve Zeisler
Precept Ministry

Romans 1 Commentary
Romans Notes in Outline Form - 64 page Pdf
Romans Commentary - 396 page pdf
Romans 1:19-32 Man's Desperation
Romans 1 Commentary - Daily Study Bible
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1:18-32
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1:18-20 Do You Have Selective Hearing?
Romans 1:22-31 American Idols
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1:18-23 The Reasons for the Wrath of God
Romans 1:18-2:16 The Universal Necessity of Salvation
Romans 1:18-23; Romans 1:24-32
Romans 1:1-7 (different notes);  Romans 1:8-17; Ro 1:18-23; Ro 1:24-32
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1:18-23: Is God’s Wrath Justified?

Romans 1:24-27: Going Down, Down, Down, Part 1

Romans 1:28-32: Going Down, Down, Down, Part 2
Romans 1 Commentary - Expository Notes
Romans 1:1-29 How God Saves Sinners

Romans 1:17-21 The Abomination that is Humanity

Romans 1:18-32 The Horrors of Hell         

Romans 1:15-32 Present Wrath of God
Romans 1:18-20 We Have No Excuse
Romans 1:21-23 We Know God, But Don't Glorify Him
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Commentary (James Denney)
Romans 1 Commentary Notes
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Commentary (Speaker's Commentary)
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Excursus on the Word "To Justify"
Romans 1-5 The Fundamental Part
Romans 1:18-32 The Wrath of God on Gentiles

Romans 1:18-24 To Those Who "Never Knew"

Romans 1:24-32 When God Gives Up

Romans 1 Sermons - Multiple expositors - most are Mp3

Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1:18-32 World Gone Wrong

Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1:16 Not Ashamed of the Gospel
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans: The Gospel of God’s Righteousness
Romans 1:18-32 Exposition
Romans 1 Commentary Notes
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Sermons - click NT, then Romans for 8 sermons on Romans 1
Romans 1:18-3:20 The Unrighteousness of Man, the Bad News

Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1:8-17 The Gospel That Paul Preached
Romans 1:18-23 All Mankind on Death Row
Romans 1:18-32 The Black Velvet Backdrop
Romans 1 Sermons - Mp3 - Jewish Believer
Romans 1 Commentary

Romans 1:18-32 The Reality of God's Wrath
Romans 1:18-32 When God Abandons a Nation

Romans 1:18-32 What's Wrong with America?
Romans 1:18-32 Assorted Attacks on the Bible
Romans 1:19-20 Reasons for the Wrath of God, Pt. 1
Romans 1:21-22 Reasons for the Wrath of God, Pt. 2
Romans 1 Commentary

Romans 1 Commentary - Thru the Bible 12 Mp3's

Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Notes
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Passionate Thinking, Exuberant Living
Romans 1:17-3::20 Lights Out
Romans 1:18-23 Need for the Gospel: God's Anger and Man's Sin
Romans 1:24-32 Man Given Up to His Own Way: The Heathen
Romans 1:18-32

Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Commentary - More technical
Romans 1:18-20 Without Excuse - Scroll down page
Romans 1:21-23 Futile Worship - Scroll down page
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1:18-21 Displays of God Remove the Excuse for Failed Worship
Romans 1:21-23 The First Dark Exchange: Idolatry
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Commentary - 50 pages - interesting resource
Romans 1 Illustrations to Chapter 1
Romans 1:17-29: Can a Person Be Too Religious?

Romans 1:18-20 What About Those Who Never Hear Gospel?
Romans 1:18-20 Forgotten Doctrine: The Wrath of God 
Romans 1:21-23: Nightmare on Main Street
Romans 1 Commentary (scroll down for numerous homilies)
Romans 1:20 The Revelation of God in Nature
Romans 1: Greek Word Studies
Romans 1:18-21 He is a God Who Speaks
Romans 1:18-3:20 Condemnation or the Universal Need of Righteousness
Romans 1:18-25 No Excuse

Romans 1:18-32 Steps To Depravity

Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Commentary

Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1:20,21 The Lost State of the Gentile World
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Expositional Notes
Romans 1:20-21: Inexcusable Irreverence and Ingratitude

Romans 1:20-21: Knowledge. Worship. Gratitude

Romans 1:18-3:18 The Shameful Sinful State of Humankind

Romans 1:18-32: When Everyone Knows God
Romans 1:18-23 The Tragic Sense Of Life
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1:18-23 What Makes God Angry?
Romans 1 Commentary

Romans 1:16-23 Unlocking the Meaning of the Gospel
Romans 1 Sermons - 11 messages on Romans 1

Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1 Greek Word Studies on entire chapter
Romans 1 Commentary
Romans 1:17-20; Romans 1:21-25

Romans 1:18-32 Cycle of Self Destruction
Romans - Download Lesson 1 of 14

ROMANS ROAD
to RIGHTEOUSNESS
Romans
1
:18-3:20
Romans
3:21-5:21
Romans
6:1-8:39
Romans
9:1-11:36
Romans
12:1-16:27
SIN SALVATION SANCTIFICATION SOVEREIGNTY SERVICE
NEED
FOR
SALVATION
WAY
OF
SALVATION
LIFE
OF
SALVATION
SCOPE
OF
SALVATION
SERVICE
OF
SALVATION
God's Holiness
In
Condemning
Sin
God's Grace
In
Justifying
Sinners
God's Power
In
Sanctifying
Believers
God's Sovereignty
In
Saving
Jew and Gentile
Gods Glory
The
Object of
Service
Deadliness
of Sin
Design
of Grace
Demonstration of Salvation
Power Given Promises Fulfilled Paths Pursued
Righteousness
Needed
Righteousness
Credited
Righteousness
Demonstrated
Righteousness
Restored to Israel
Righteousness
Applied
God's Righteousness
IN LAW
God's Righteousness
IMPUTED
God's Righteousness
OBEYED
God's Righteousness
IN ELECTION
God's Righteousness
DISPLAYED
Slaves to Sin Slaves to God Slaves Serving God
Doctrine Duty
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)

Listen to Mp3s by J Vernon McGee - Romans 1:20   Romans 1:21-23  Romans 1:24-32

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...

I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by men who were inspired. I study the Bible daily.

This next comment relates especially to Romans 1...

Atheism is so senseless. When I look at the solar system. I see the earth at the right distance from the sun to receive the proper amounts of heat and light. This did not happen by chance. (Ed: "Amen!")

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...

This verse is a confirmation and amplification of the preceding, inasmuch as it proves that God does manifest Himself to men, shows how this manifestation is made, and draws the inference that men are, in virtue of this revelation, inexcusable for their impiety. The argument is, God has manifested the knowledge of Himself to men, for the invisible things of Him, that is, his eternal power and Godhead, are, since the creation, clearly seen, being understood by His works; they are therefore without excuse. - Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans - Online

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).

Zodhiates says

Something founded, i.e., of a city, colonization of a habitable place. (Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament)

Ktisis refers to

(1) The act of creating, creation, God's creative action (Ro 1:20)

(2) In the passive sense as the equivalent of the thing created whether animate or not. The result of a creative act or that which is created. Of individual things created  (Ro 1:25, He 4:13, Ro 8:39). The sum total of all that has been created (Mk 10:6, 13:19, Ro 8:22, Col 1:15, Col 1:23, 2Pe 3:4, Rev 3:14). Of every genuine believer who is a new creation (created by the Spirit, Ro 3:3) in Christ (2Co 5:17, Gal 6:15).

(3) An institution, ordinance,  ordering, authority - as that which is established ("created") by God in which authority is entrusted to human beings. A "system of established authority that is the result of some founding action...the act by which an authoritative or governmental body is created." (BDAG).

Comment: John MacArthur comments on ktisis meaning "institution" as used in 1Pe 2:13 - "God has created all the foundations of human society—work, family, and the government. Peter designated society human not as to its origin, but as to its function or sphere of operation. The apostle’s intent was therefore to command submission to every human institution because every one is God ordained. Believers submit to civil authorities, to employers (1Pe 2:18-note; Ep 6:5-note; Col 3:22-note), and in the family (Ep 5:21-6:2). In the latter two areas, the motive is also for the Lord’s sake (Ep 5:22-note; Ep 6:1-note, Eph 6:5, 6-note; Col 3:18-note, 20-note, Col 1:22, 23-note, 24-note).

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.

NIDNTT

ktisis, originally foundation, describes in a broad sense rather the process of becoming and coming into being, resulting from a decision of the will.

Ktisis refers to

to the act of creation or the thing that was created. Another form of the word found in the New Testament is the verb ktizo, which originally meant to build or found. In classical Greek, it also assumed the meaning of colonize, or bring into being. The noun ktisma also denotes the results of creation.

In the Greek papyruses of the New Testament period, all three forms of the term are used. Ktisis (creation) is the regular term for the founding of a city (Moulton and Milligan). The noun ktisma (created thing) does not occur until this period. It is always used in a concrete sense. It is used to refer to the foundation of the world. The verb ktizo is used to refer to the founding of a city, the establishment of friendship, or the creation by God of heaven and earth.

The verb ktizo is used sixty-six times in the Greek Old Testament. Of these, sixteen times it is used to translate the Hebrew barah (to create out of nothing). It is also used to express a variety of related terms. Its basic meaning is to express the "basic act of will behind the bringing into being, foundation or institution of something.""

In the New Testament ktizo and its cognate words occur thirty-eight times. The vast majority of these uses refer to the creation of the world as an act of God (Mk 13:19; Re 10:6-
note) or of things that are part of that creation, such as meats (1Ti 4:3). Several passages, however, speak of the new creation, which is brought about through faith in Christ. Because of sin, people must be restored in order to fellowship with the creation. Even the inanimate creation "groans and travails" waiting for the restoration (Ro 8:22-note, author's translation). The past, with the old person, is canceled out by the cross, and the new person is put on, like a clean garment. The nature of the new person is described in Colossians 3:10-note. It is "renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him."

The purpose of this new creation is also described. Eph 2:10-
note says, "We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto [for the purpose of] good works." (author's translation). God's purpose is fulfilled in this kind of obedient life. Our lives are to be an offering of thanksgiving, holy unto God. James said that God has begotten us "with the word of truth, so that we might be [infinitive of purpose] a kind of firstfruits of his creatures" (ktisma, Jas 1:18-note).

Individually the believer is a "new creation," but not only that, he is part of a larger creation brought about by the cross. Christ has "abolished in His flesh the enmity" in order to make (ktizo) in Himself one new man out of two. The new man spoken of here is, of course, the church, which is created by bringing both Jew and Gentile together in Christ to make one new body (Ep 2:15-note).

Finally, Paul made it clear that human works and ceremonies are powerless to save. He said, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation" (ktisis, Gal 6:15). There is no renewal without being "in Christ" (2Co 5:17).

Reformation of the old person is inadequate to save. The old person must be destroyed and a new one created. Human beings may make things, but only God can create. It is He who reforms the believers and makes them anew in the image of Christ (Col 3:10-
note). Faith, repentance, conversion, and regeneration would not be possible without the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of persons. On the other hand, when individuals have received Christ and the Spirit of God has recreated them, it is just as impossible that the effects of that change never issue forth in good works. (Salvation Word Studies by Gerald Cowen)

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...

And beware, lest you lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them (Ed: Don't miss it - Worship first, then service! Corollary, you will serve what you worship so be careful what you worship!), those which the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven. (Deut 4:19 )

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.

Invisible (517) (aoratos from a = without + horáo = see) is that which cannot be seen with physical eyes. That which cannot be seen or is imperceptible by the sight.

Hodge explains that...

By the invisible things of God Theodoret says we are to understand creation, providence, and the divine judgments; Theophylact understands them to refer to his goodness, wisdom, power, and majesty. Between these interpretations the moderns are divided. The great majority prefer the latter, which is obviously the better suited to the context, because the works of God are expressed afterwards by poiemata and because the invisible things are those which are manifested by his works, and are explained by the terms “power and Godhead.”  (Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans)

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...

This term is used as an attribute of God in every biblical occurrence except Col. 1:16, where it refers to ranks of unseen angels and other spiritual powers. That no one had seen God at Sinai is stated in the OT (Ex 34:20; Deut. 4:12), and, in spite of God’s special self-disclosure to Moses (Ex. 33:18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23; Nu. 14:14), it became axiomatic in Judaism that no one had seen or could see God in this present age (SB, II, 362f; cf. Mt. 5:8). The influence of this concept is reflected in the Johannine writings, with their emphasis that “no one has seen God” (Jn 1:18; 5:37; 6:46; 14:9; 1Jn. 4:12), and in the Pauline tradition as well (Rom. 1:20; Col. 1:15, 16; 1Ti 1:17; 3:16). The use of aóratos in the context of a doxology (1Ti 1:17) and in an adjectival clause with the pronoun “who” (“who is invisible”; Heb 11:27) shows that “invisible” was one of the ascriptions to God used in early Christian liturgy  (Bromiley, G. W. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised. Wm. B. Eerdmans)

Visible Nature
speaks of
nature's invisible God.

In (Psalm 19:1-6) David writes that...

1 The heavens are telling (LXX = set out in detail) of the glory of God;
   And their expanse is declaring (
LXX = proclaiming openly) the work of His hands.
2 Day to day pours forth speech,
   And night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words;
   Their voice is not heard.
4 Their line has gone out through all the earth,
   And their utterances to the end of the world.
   In them He has placed a tent for the sun,
5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
   It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.
6 Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
   And its circuit to the other end of them;
   And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

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...

“The heavens declare the glory of God.” But humanity today prefers Hollywood’s “sound-pictures” to seeing the “things” of the glorious God in the heavens,—beholding His works, and hearing their speech. How long since you have gone out and gazed at moon and stars, made by the blessed God, travelling in such quiet glory, beauty, power, and order? Men know, if they care to know, that an infinite Majesty made and controls this. (Romans Verse-by-Verse)

God's Attributes
in Romans

Eternality Romans 1:20
Power (omnipotence) Romans 1:20
Divinity Romans 1:20
Righteousness Romans 1:17; 18 
Wisdom & knowledge (omniscience) Romans 8:33ff
Impartiality Romans 2:11, etc
Mercy Romans 9-11
Romans 12:1
Romans 15:9
Love Romans 5:8
Romans 8:3
Immutability Romans 11:29
Sovereignty Romans 8:31
Romans 9-11

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...

...has never left himself without a witness. His existence and perfections have ever been so manifested that His rational creatures are bound to acknowledge and worship Him as the true and only God” (Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans)

ALL CREATION IS
AN OUTSTRETCHED FINGER
POINTING TO GOD!


The Heavens reveal the power of God
To everyone living on earth;
But then the good news of the gospel must come
From those who've experienced new birth.
- Sper

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)

Eternal (126) (aidios from aeí = ever, always) means everlasting, having infinite duration, lasting or enduring forever,  existing or continuing without end.

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...

Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms (cp "eternal power"); and He drove out the enemy from before you, and said, 'Destroy!' (cp Is 9:6 Eternal or Everlasting Father)

Aidos is used elsewhere in the New Testament only in Jude 1:6 (twice in the apocrypha - 4 Ma 10:15; Wis. 7:26).

Jude 1:6 And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day.

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...

ETERNAL - e-tur'-nal (`olam; aionios, from aion): The word "eternal" is of very varying import, both in the Scriptures and out of them.

1. `Olam:

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word `olam is used for "eternity," sometimes in the sense of unlimited duration, sometimes in the sense of a cycle or an age, and sometimes, in later Hebrew, in the signification of world. The Hebrew `olam has, for its proper New Testament equivalent, aion, as signifying either time of particular duration, or the unending duration of time in general. Only, the Hebrew term primarily signified unlimited time, and only in a secondary sense represented a definite or specific period. Both the Hebrew and the Greek terms signify the world itself, as it moves in time.

2. Aion, Aionios:

In the New Testament, aion and aionios are often used with the meaning "eternal," in the predominant sense of futurity. The word aion primarily signifies time, in the sense of age or generation; it also comes to denote all that exists under time-conditions; and, finally, superimposed upon the temporal is an ethical use, relative to the world's course. Thus aion may be said to mean the subtle informing spirit of the world or cosmos--the totality of things. By Plato, in his Timaeus, aion was used of the eternal Being, whose counterpart, in the sense-world, is Time. To Aristotle, in speaking of the world, aion is the ultimate principle which, in itself, sums up all existence.. In the New Testament, aion is found combined with prepositions in nearly three score and ten instances, where the idea of unlimited duration appears to be meant. This is the usual method of expressing eternity in the Septuagint also. The aionios of 2 Cor 4:18 must be eternal, in a temporal use or reference, else the antithesis would be gone.

3. Aidios:

In Ro 1:20 the word aidios is used of Divine action and rendered in the King James Version "eternal" (the Revised Version (British and American) "everlasting"), the only other place in the New Testament where the word occurs being Jude 1:6, where the rendering is "everlasting," which accords with classical usage. But the presence of the idea of eternal in these passages does not impair the fact that aion and aionios are, in their natural and obvious connotation, the usual New Testament words for expressing the idea of eternal, and this holds strikingly true of the Septuagint usage also. For, from the idea of aeonian life, there is no reason to suppose the notion of duration excluded. The word aionios is sometimes used in the futurist signification, but often also, in the New Testament, it is concerned rather with the quality, than with the quantity or duration, of life. By the continual attachment of aionios to life, in this conception of the spiritual or Divine life in man, the aeonian conception was saved from becoming sterile.

4. Enlargement of Idea:

In the use of aion and aionios there is evidenced a certain enlarging or advancing import till they come so to express the high and complex fact of the Divine life in man. In Greek, aiones signifies ages, or periods or dispensations. The aiones of Heb 1:2, and Heb 11:3, is, however, to be taken as used in the concrete sense of "the worlds," and not "the ages," the world so taken meaning the totality of things in their course or flow.

5. Eternal Life:

Our Lord decisively set the element of time in abeyance, and took His stand upon the fact and quality of life--life endless by its own nature. Of that eternal life He is Himself the guarantee--"Because I live, ye shall live also" (Jn 14:19). Therefore said Augustine, "Join thyself to the eternal God, and thou wilt be eternal." (Phrase "eternal life" in NAS - Mt 19:16, 29; 25:46; Mark. 10:17, 30; Lk 10:25; 18:18, 30; Jn 3:15, 16, 36; 4:14; 5:24, 39; 6:27, 40, 47, 54, 68; 10:28; 12:50; 17:2, 3; Ac 13:46, 48; Ro 2:7; 5:21; 6:22, 23; Gal. 6:8; 1Ti 1:16; 6:12; Titus 1:2; 3:7; 1Jn. 1:2; 2:25; 3:15; 5:11, 13, 20; Jude 1:21)

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:

The history of the drift by which Mr. Darwin was separated from faith in a divine order in the world, divides itself into two well-marked periods. The first of these, which was completed at about the time when he reached his fortieth year, ends with the loss of his Christianity. During the second, which extended over the remainder of his life, he struggled, with varying fortunes, but ever more and more hopelessly, to retain his standing at least as a theist. At the end of the first he no longer believed that God had ever spoken to men in his Word; at the end of the second he more than doubted whether the faintest whisper of his voice could be distinguished in his works. He was never prepared dogmatically to deny His existence; but search as he might he could not find Him, and he could only say that if He existed He was, verily, a God that hides Himself.

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...

The Greek word translated “Godhead” needs some study. It is theiotēs. We will compare it to theotēs (also translated “Godhead” a.v.) in order to bring out its meaning more clearly. Theotēs is used by Paul in Colossians 2:9 (see note) where he speaks of the fact that in our Lord “there is permanently at home all the fulness of absolute deity bodily” (in His incarnate state).

Trench comments,

St. Paul is declaring that in the Son there dwells all the fulness of absolute Godhead; they were no mere rays of divine glory which gilded Him, lighting up His Person for a season and with a splendor not His own; but He was, and is, absolute and perfect God.”

Commenting on the use of theiotēs in Romans 1:20, he says,

St. Paul is declaring how much of God may be known from the revelation of Himself which He has made in nature, from those vestiges of Himself which men may everywhere trace in the world around them. Yet it is not the personal God whom any man may learn to know by these aids: He can be known only by the revelation of Himself in His Son; but only His divine attributes, His majesty and glory … it is not to be doubted that St. Paul uses this vaguer, more abstract, and personal word, just because he would affirm that men may know God’s power and majesty, His divine power (2Peter 1:3) from His works; but would not imply that they may know Himself from these, or anything short of the revelation of His eternal Word. Motives not dissimilar induce him to use to theion rather than ho theos in addressing the Athenians on Mars Hill (Acts 17:29).”

Vincent says,

Godhead expresses deity (theotēs). Theiotēs is godhood, not godhead. It signifies the sum-total of the divine attributes.

Thus, through the light of the created universe, unsaved man recognizes the fact that there is a supreme Being who created it, who has eternal power and divine attributes, a Being to whom worship and obedience are due. This is the truth which unsaved man is repressing. Herein lies the just condemnation of the entire race, since it has not lived up to the light which it has. This, Paul says, renders man without excuse. (Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans )

Vine notes that theiotes is

used here only in the New Testament, is associated in meaning with theotes, Godhead, which is used only in Colossians 2:9 (see note). There is, however, a certain distinction in meaning and accordingly the former is here translated “divinity” and the latter “godhead.” The difference in the words is appropriate to the respective passages. Here Paul is speaking of the revelation which God has given in nature of His divine attributes. Man can thereby know certain facts about Him, such as His divinity, but cannot know God personally. Such knowledge can come only through the Son of God (cp. Jn 17:25 with Jn 1:18). In Colossians 2:9 (see note) Paul is speaking of the absolute Godhead of Christ, the fullness of which dwells in Him, and not of an external revelation of His divine attributes. Hence the suitability of theotes, deity, in that verse. (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson )

HAVE BEEN CLEARLY SEEN: kathoratai (3SPPI):

Newell explains that...

Paul connects the observing of the mighty and beautiful things of the universe with the consciousness of a personal God. Human science, through its telescope, observes the vast courses of the stars, moving with amazing accuracy in their orbits, but often counts it a mark of wisdom to doubt whether an intelligent Being exists at all! But, “the undevout astronomer is mad,” as said the great Kepler. No really great scientist today supports the Darwinian theory; and many,—and some of the most prominent scientific men are saying, There must be a God, a Creator.  (Romans Verse-by-Verse)

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
REVELATION OF GOD
GENERAL & SPECIAL

(1) General revelation = God's self-disclosure through the created world as in Ps 19:1 (cp Ro 1:20-note)

(2) Special revelation = God's disclosure of Himself by an act of direct revelation, specifically in His written Word as in Ps 19:7 (cp Heb 1:1,2-note, 2Pe 1:20, 21-note)

An Illustration - Bill Bruster, former pastor of the First Baptist Church in Abilene, tells of a young student from Nigeria named John who attended his church. Bruster asked him how he became a Christian. John answered, "When I was a little boy, running around in the bush country of Nigeria, I knew there was a God. I would stand among the trees and look up at the skies at night and know that someone made this world. I knew there was a God, but I didn't know what to call him. One day Josephine Skaggs, a Southern Baptist missionary, came to our village to teach us children how to read. She taught us how to read the Bible. There I discovered the name of the God who had revealed himself to me through the trees and the stars." We can know of God through this general revelation. However, to know God required special revelation, God's revelation in history and specifically God's revelation in Jesus Christ. (Quoted by Brian Harbour)

Related Resources:

What is general revelation and special revelation?
Watch a 2' 20" video by John Piper

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (scroll down for discussion)
The Bible - The Written Word of God - J. Hampton Keathley, III
Bibliology  - Greg Herrick (simple synopsis - revelation, inspiration, inerrancy, etc)

Vincent observes that...

We have here an oxymoron, literally a pointedly foolish saying; a saying which is impressive or witty through sheer contradiction or paradox. Invisible things are clearly visible.

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

Forever singing as they shine,
The Hand that made us is divine. (Joseph Addison)

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,

Gentlemen, you must get rid of those first!

George Washington Carver (1864-1903) chemist and educator wrote that...

Nature is an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we only will tune in.

BEING UNDERSTOOD THROUGH WHAT HAS BEEN MADE: tois poiemasin nooumena (PPPNPN):

Spurgeon writes that...

Men who never heard the gospel can see God in His works if they open their eyes. There is written upon the face of nature enough to condemn men if they do not turn to God. There is a gospel of the sea, and of the heavens, of the stars, and of the sun; and if men will not read it, they are guilty, for they are wilfully ignorant of what they might know, and ought to know.  (Ed: Of course, they still need to hear the verbal Gospel proclaimed.)

Understood (3539) (noeo from noús = the mind, reflective intelligence, the organ of mental perception and apprehension) has the with a basic meaning direct one's mind (nous) to a subject.

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...

Matthew 15:17 "Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated?

Matthew 16:9 "Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets you took up?

Matthew 16:11 "How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

Matthew 24:15 "Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),

Mark 7:18 And He said to them, "Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him;

Mark 8:17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart?

Mark 13:14 "But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

John 12:40 "He has blinded their eyes, and He hardened their heart; lest they see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, and be converted, and I heal them."

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.

Ephesians 3:4 (note) And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,

Ephesians 3:20 (note) Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, (Comment: In this use the idea is to form an idea about something, think, imagine)

1 Timothy 1:7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.

2 Timothy 2:7 (note) Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Hebrews 11:3 (note) By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

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

TDNT...

In myths poiéō denotes the creative activity of deity. Zeus creates all things, including heaven and the gods.

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

His workmanship (poiema), created in Christ Jesus for good works. (Eph 2:10-note).

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...

Psalm 143:5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Thy doings; I muse on the work (LXX = poiema) of Thy hands.

Here are a few other uses in the Septuagint...

Ecclesiastes 1:14 I have seen all the works (LXX = poiema - referring to man's works) which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything (LXX = poiema - "all the things which He has made are beautiful") appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

Ecclesiastes 7:13 Consider the work (LXX = poiema)  of God, For who is able to straighten what He has bent?

Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God will bring every act (LXX = poiema) to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

Isaiah 29:16 (note this is the English translation of the Greek Septuagint and not the NAS translation as in the verses above) Shall ye not be counted as clay of the potter? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Thou didst not form me? or the work (LXX = poiema) to the maker, Thou hast not made me wisely?

Harry Ironside (Ephesians Commentary) writes that...

This is God's greatest poem: the epic of redemption

 

'Twas great to call a world from naught;
'Twas greater to redeem.

 

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
The hand that made us is divine.”

Lenski concludes

Men cannot charge God with hiding Himself from them and thus excuse their irreligion and their immorality.

The Universe is
God's Masterpiece

John Piper writes that...

Creation is God's poiema- Work of Art --What does He do to make Himself evident? He made the world. He created - like a potter, or a sculptor or a poet, except He created out of nothing. In verse 20, when it says that God is "understood through what has been made," the words "what has been made" stand for one Greek word (which you will all recognize), the word poiema. It's the word from which we get "poem." The universe and everything in it is God's work of art. What's the point of this word? The point is that in a poem there is manifest design and intention and wisdom and power. The wind might create a letter in the sand, but not a poem. That's the point. God acted. God planned. God designed. God crafted. He created and made. And in doing that, Paul says in v19, God made himself evident to all mankind. The universe is a poem about God. (Reference)

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...

sense is rather purpose. The revelation of God’s power and divinity is given, so that, if, after being enlightened, they fall into sin, they may be without defence.

Without excuse (379) (anapologetos from "a" = without + apologéomai = apologize) means "without apology", with no excuse and with no (legal) defense. (The only other use is in Romans 2:1).

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...

Men are judged and sent to hell not because they do not live up to the light evidenced in the universe but because ultimately that rejection leads them to reject Jesus Christ...if a person lives up to the light of the revelation he has, God will provide for his hearing the gospel by some means or another...Because the Ethiopian eunuch was sincerely seeking God, the Holy Spirit sent Philip to witness to him. Upon hearing the gospel, he believed and was baptized (Acts 8:26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39). Because Cornelius, a Gentile centurion in the Roman army, was “a devout man, and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people, and prayed to God continually,” God sent Peter to him to explain the gospel. “While Peter was still speaking, … the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message,” and they were “baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:2,44,48). Because Lydia was a true worshiper of God, when she heard the gospel, “the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul” (Acts. 16:14). (MacArthur, J: Romans 1-8. Chicago: Moody Press )

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...

Men had the light, and that from God. His eternal power and divinity were, from creation onward, plain to men, from His works. 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, “Gentlemen, you must get rid of those first!” Men secretly believe there is a Power above them, and that their evil deeds deserve the wrath of that Power. In sudden peril, they scream like the guilty wretches they are, “God have mercy!” Knowledge of God, though not acquaintanceship with Him, lay behind Pharaoh’s words, “I have sinned against Jehovah and against you” (Ex 10:16); and behind the words of the Philistines in 1Sa 4:7,8, 5:7, 8, 11; and the proclamation of the King of Nineveh (Jonah 3:7, 8, 9).  (Romans Verse-by-Verse)

John Calvin said

"It is a person’s duty to seek God, Who comes to meet us in such a way that we can have no excuse for our ignorance. Surely nothing is more absurd than that people should be ignorant of their Author, especially people who have been given understanding principally for this use. And we must also note the goodness of God, in that He so familiarly introduces Himself, that even the blind may grope after Him. Because of this fact, the blindness of people, who are touched with no feeling of God’s presence, is even more shameful and intolerable. For God has not darkly shadowed His glory in the creation of the world, but He has everywhere engraved such marks that even the blind may know them. Therefore we see that people are not only blind but blockheaded, when, being helped by such excellent testimonies, they profit nothing." (Romans 1 Commentary)

John Gill wrote that...

the very Heathens, who have only the light of nature, and are destitute of a revelation, have no colour or pretext for their idolatrous practices, and vicious lives; nor have they, nor will they have anything to object to God's righteous judgment against them, or why they should not be condemned. (Gill, John: John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

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.”

I was forced to wash as a child.
People who wash are hypocrites—they think they’re cleaner than others.
There are so many kinds of soap, I could never decide which was right.
I used to wash, but it got boring.
I wash only on Christmas or Easter.
None of my friends wash.
I’ll start washing when I’m older.
I really don’t have time.
The bathroom isn’t warm enough.
People who make soap are only after your money.

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,
It scorns Your holy name;
I will not make excuse for wrong—
Christ’s blood is all I claim. —DJD

If you make an excuse for sin,
your sin will not be excused.

 

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)

Greek: dioti gnontes (AAPMPN) ton theon ouch os theon edoxasan (3PAAI) e huxaristesan, (3PAAI) all' emataiothesan (3PAPI) en tois dialogismois auton kai eskotisthe (3SAPI) e asunetos auton kardia. 
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...

Their experiential knowledge (ginosko) of God is not here a saving knowledge of Him as the context indicates, but a knowledge of Him as the God who has been revealed through the light of nature as Creator. -Volume 1: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament.

A T Robertson adds

They knew more than they did...No people, however degraded, have yet been found without some yearning after a god, a seeking to find the true God and get back to him as Paul said in Athens (Acts 17:27 "that they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us") (Romans 1: Greek Word Studies)

Charles Kingsley writes that...

I think it may be proved from facts that any given people, down to the lowest savages, has at any period of its life known far more than it has done: known quite enough to have enabled it to have got on comfortably, thriven and developed, if it had only done what no man does, all that it knew it ought to do and could do” (Charles Kingsley, “The Roman and the Teuton”).

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
         
                            --Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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)

Spurgeon writes...

I cannot say anything much worse of a man than that he is not thankful to those who have been his benefactors; and when you say that he is not thankful to God, you have said about the worst thing you can say of him. Now look not merely at the people who lived in Paul's day, but at those who are living now. I will soon prove ingratitude on the part of many. There are many counts in the indictment we have to bring against them in God's High Court of Justice. (See Spurgeon's recounting of the charges - Romans 1:20-21 Inexcusable Irreverence and Ingratitude)

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...

We praise Thee, O God, our Redeemer, Creator,
In grateful devotion our tribute we bring;
We lay it before Thee, we kneel and adore Thee,
We bless Thy holy Name, glad praises we sing.

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...

To glorify God is to exalt Him, to recognize Him as supremely worthy of honor, and to acknowledge His divine attributes. Since the glory of God is also the sum of all the attributes of His being, of all He has revealed of Himself to man, to give God glory is to acknowledge His glory and extol it. We cannot give Him glory by adding to His perfection, but by praising His perfection. We glorify Him by praising His glory! (MacArthur, J: Romans 1-8. Chicago: Moody Press )

Man’s chief end is to glorify God and Scripture constantly demands it. The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism is...

What is the chief end of man? Man’ s chief end is to glorify God ("Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."1 Cor. 10:31, "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen." Rom. 11:36) and to enjoy him for ever. (Ps. 73:25, 26, 27, 28)

Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples. 1Chronicles 16:24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29

 (A Psalm of David.) Ascribe to the LORD, O sons of the mighty, Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in holy array. (Psalm 29:1,2)

 Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created." (Revelation 4:11-
note)

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...

And the people kept crying out, "The voice of a god and not of a man!" And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died. (Acts 12:22, 23).

William Newell comments that...

Because that, though knowing God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were they thankful-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!   (Romans Verse-by-Verse)

Read the powerful illustration from Our Daily Bread of giving honor and glory to God...

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) was present at the Vienna Music Hall, where his oratorio The Creation was being performed. Weakened by age, the great composer was confined to a wheelchair. As the majestic work moved along, the audience was caught up with tremendous emotion. When the passage “And there was light!” was reached, the chorus and orchestra burst forth in such power that the crowd could no longer restrain its enthusiasm. The vast assembly rose in spontaneous applause. Haydn struggled to stand and motioned for silence. With his hand pointed toward heaven, he said, “No, no, not from me, but from thence comes all!” Having given the glory and praise to the Creator, he fell back into his chair exhausted. (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

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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,
To eyes made blind because they will not see,
To spend—though it be blood—to spend and spare not—
So send I you to taste of Calvary.
—Clarkson(c) 1954 Singspiration, Inc.

In a world full of bad news,
our only hope is the good news of Jesus.

OR GIVE THANKS: e eucharistesan (3PAAI): (See Torrey's Topic "Ingratitude to God")

Give thanks (2168) (eucharisteo [word study] from = 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

Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with Whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow. (James 1:17-note)

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...

in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (1Th 5:18-note).

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...

Will God give man brains to see these things and will man then fail to exercise his will toward that God? The sorrowful answer is that both of these things are true. God will give a man brains to smelt iron and make a hammer head and nails. God will grow a tree and give man strength to cut it down and brains to fashion a hammer handle from its wood. And when man has the hammer and the nails, God will put out His hand and let man drive nails through it and place Him on a cross in the supreme demonstration that men are without excuse.

The creatures response to his Creator is well expressed in the hymn O Give Thanks to Him Who Made

O give thanks to Him Who made
Morning light and evening shade;
Source and Giver of all good,
Nightly sleep and daily food;
Quickener of our wearied powers,
Guard of our unconscious hours.

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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!
By my own hand I'm clothed and kept well-fed";
But Christ our Lord looked up to loftier sights
And gave His Father thanks for daily bread. --Gustafson

Gratitude is a mark of godliness.

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).

2 Kings 17:15 And they rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers, and His warnings with which He warned them. And they followed vanity (idols) and became vain (Lxx = Mataioo), and went after the nations which surrounded them, concerning which the LORD had commanded them not to do like them.

Jeremiah 2:5 Thus says the LORD, "What injustice did your fathers find in Me, That they went far from Me And walked after emptiness (Lxx = mataios) and became empty (Lxx = mataioo)?

Godet writes...

The understanding was reduced to work in vacuo. It rendered itself in a way futile (Romans Commentary online)

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
became man the Philosopher

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...

To reject God is to reject the greatest reality in the universe, the reality which gives the only true meaning, purpose, and understanding to everything else. Refusing to recognize God and to have His truth guide their minds, sinful men are doomed to futile quests for wisdom through various human speculations that lead only to falsehood and therefore to still greater unbelief and wickedness. The term speculation embraces all man’s God-less reasonings. To forsake God is to exchange truth for falsehood, meaning for hopelessness, and satisfaction for emptiness. But an empty mind and soul is like a vacuum. It will not long remain empty but will draw in falsehood and darkness to replace the truth and light it has rejected. The history of fallen mankind is devolutionary, not evolutionary." (MacArthur, J. Romans. Chicago: Moody Press)

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...

A Chinese teacher once told a missionary that the Bible could not be so ancient a book after all, because the first chapter of Romans gave an account of Chinese conduct, such as the missionary could only have written after full acquaintance with the people. The mistake was not an unnatural one, but it is a heathen's testimony to the truth of the Bible." (Ironside, H A: Romans, Loizeaux Brothers).

In Psalm 14:1 (Spurgeon's Note) David writes that (note how what one believes about God directly affects one's behavior and conduct)...

The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they have committed abominable (detestable, abhorrent) deeds;  There is no (absolute negation) one who does good.

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:

"I know there are a lot of problems with evolution but God is not a factor that I consider and without that this is the next best thing I can come up with." Futile thinking!

Vine has an interesting note on use of "became futile" (mataioo) in the Septuagint (LXX) writing that...

mataioo signifies to become useless; the corresponding adjective is mataios, which is used in the (LXX) for the Hebrew word habal rendered “vanity” or “vanities,” and frequently applied to idols! Both verb and adjective occur in 2Ki17:15...

“They rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers and His warnings with which He warned them. And  they followed vanity and became vain, and went after the nations which surrounded them (which went after gross idolatry), concerning which the LORD had commanded them not to do like them.”

In Jeremiah 2:5 note the consequence of futile, empty thinking and conduct...

"Thus says the LORD (addressing faithless Israel), "What injustice did your fathers find in Me, that they went far from Me and walked after emptiness (NIV, NLT = "worthless idols" = habal 1891) and became empty? (Jeremiah 2:5)

Vine sums up God rejecting men's sad state writing that...

"Refusal to recognize God leads to a condition of uselessness, of futility for the purposes for which He created man."

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"

well expresses the original; for although the persons so described were not destitute of understanding as to the things of this world, but as to these might be the most intelligent and enlightened, yet, in a moral sense, or as respects the things of God, they were unintelligent and stupid. This agrees with the usual signification of the word, and it perfectly coincides with universal experience. All men are by nature undiscerning as to the things of God, and to this there never was an exception.  (Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans) (Bolding added)

Vine says:

Asunetos is, literally, “unintelligent” or “without understanding” and is so translated in Ro 1:31 and elsewhere in the New Testament (Mt 15:16; Mark 7:18). The heart is frequently spoken of figuratively to indicate the hidden springs of the personal life. Here it is used simply of the understanding (Mt 13:15). (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson )

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...

came to denote man’s entire mental and moral activities, and to stand figuratively for the hidden springs of the personal life, and so here signifies the seat of thought and feeling. (Collected writings of W. E. Vine)

MacArthur commenting on kardia writes that...

While we often relate heart to the emotions (e.g., “He has a broken heart”), the Bible relates it primarily to the intellect (e.g., “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders,” Matt 15:19). That’s why you must “watch over your heart with all diligence” (Proverbs 4:23). In a secondary way, however, heart relates to the will and emotions because they are influenced by the intellect. If you are committed to something, it will affect your will, which in turn will affect your emotions." (Drawing Near. Crossway Books) MacArthur adds that "In most modern cultures, the heart is thought of as the seat of emotions and feelings. But most ancients—Hebrews, Greeks, and many others—considered the heart to be the center of knowledge, understanding, thinking, and wisdom. The New Testament also uses it in that way. The heart was considered to be the seat of the mind and will, and it could be taught what the brain could never know. Emotions and feelings were associated with the intestines, or bowels." (MacArthur, J: Ephesians. 1986. Chicago: Moody Press)

Marvin Vincent has a lengthy comment on kardia writing...

Heart (kardia). The heart is, first, the physical organ, the centre of the circulation of the blood. Hence, the seat and centre of physical life. In the former sense it does not occur in the New Testament. As denoting the vigor and sense of physical life, see Acts 14:17; James 5:5; Luke 21:34. It is used fifty-two times by Paul.

Never used like psuche soul, to denote the individual subject of personal life, so that it can be exchanged with the personal pronoun (Acts 2:42 Acts 3:21; Romans 13:1-note); nor like pneuma spirit, to denote the divinely-given principle of life.

It is the central seat and organ of the personal life (psuche) of man regarded in and by himself, Hence it is commonly accompanied with the possessive pronouns, my, his, thy, etc.

Like our heart it denotes the seat of feeling as contrasted with intelligence. 2Cor 2:4; Romans 9:2 (note); Romans 10:1 (note); 2Cor 6:11; Philippians 1:7 (note). But it is not limited to this. It is also the seat of mental action, feeling, thinking, willing. 

It is used —

1. Of intelligence,  Romans 1:21 (note) 2Cor 3:15; 4:6; Ephesians 1:18 (note).

2. Of moral choice, 1Cor 7:37 2Cor 9:7.

3. As giving impulse and character to action, Romans 6:17 (note); Ephesians 6:5 (note); Colossians 3:22  (note); 1Ti 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:22  (note). The work of the law is written on the heart, Romans 2:15  (note). The Corinthian Church is inscribed as Christ’s epistle on hearts of flesh, 2Cor 1:23.

4. Specially, it is the seat of the divine Spirit, Gal 4:6;  Romans 5:5 (note); 2Cor 1:22. It is the sphere of His various operations, directing, comforting, establishing, etc., Philippians 4:7 (note); Colossians 3:15 (note); 1Thessalonians 3:13  (note); 2Thes 2:17; 3:5. It is the seat of faith, and the organ of spiritual praise, Romans 10:9 (note); Acts 2:42 Ephesians 5:19   (note); Colossians 3:16  (note).

It is equivalent to the inner man, Ephesians 3:16  (note); Eph 3:17  (note). Its characteristic is being hidden,  Romans 2:28; 2:29 (note); Romans 8:27  (note); 1Cor 4:5; 14:25.

It is contrasted with the face, 1Thessalonians 2:17  (note); 2Cor 5:12; and with the mouth,  Romans 10:8 (note).

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:

Skotizomai is used of spiritual darkness again in Ro 11:10 (note) and elsewhere in the New Testament only in Ep 4:18-note. (Ed: this is actually a different verb - skotoo) The light that God had given men in nature became darkness in them. The faculty of reason becomes impaired by its abuse (Mt 6:23-note).

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...

"He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me;
And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God." (
Psalm 50:23).

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:

"I would give worlds, if I had them, that Age of Reason had not been published. 0 Lord, help me! Christ, help me! O God what have I done to suffer so much? But there is no God! But if there should be, what will become of me hereafter? Stay with me, for God's sake! Send even a child to stay with me, for it is hell to be alone. If ever the devil had an agent, I have been that one."

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"

Man makes the same mistakes over and over, even though history repeatedly warns him about the folly of his sins. Paul pinpointed the problem in Romans 1. He said that although man has a limited knowledge of God in creation, he chooses not to glorify Him, nor is he thankful. As a result, he becomes vain in his imaginations and his foolish heart is “darkened.” He no longer discerns right from wrong, but actually begins to think that right is wrong.

The deceitfulness of sin (See Related Discussion: The Deceitfulness of Sin) is vividly seen in the life of the French philosopher Rousseau. He declared,

 “No man can come to the throne of God and say, ‘I’m a better man than Rousseau.’“

When he knew death was close at hand, he boasted,

“Ah, how happy a thing it is to die, when one has no reason for remorse or self-reproach.”

Then he prayed,

“Eternal Being, the soul that I am going to give Thee back is as pure at this moment as it was when it proceeded from Thee; render it a partaker of Thy felicity!”

This is an amazing statement when we realize that Rousseau didn’t profess to be born again. In his writings he advocated adultery and suicide, and for more than 20 years he lived in licentiousness. Most of his children were born out of wedlock and sent to a foundling home. He was mean, treacherous, hypocritical, and blasphemous

 


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