Jew and Gentile
Restored to Israel
Slaves to Sin
Slaves to God
Slaves Serving God
Life by Faith
Service by Faith
Modified from Irving
L. Jensen's excellent work "Jensen's
Survey of the NT"
AND JUST AS
THEY DID NOT SEE FIT TO ACKNOWLEDGE GOD ANY LONGER: Kai kathos ouk edokimasan (3PAAI) ton
theon echein (PAN) en epignosei: (Ro
1:18,21; Job 21:14,15; Pr 1:7,22,29; 5:12,13; 17:16; Jer 4:22; 9:6;
Hosea 4:6; Acts 17:23,32; Ro 8:7,8; 1Cor 15:34; 2Cor 4:4, 5, 6; 10:5;
2Th 1:8; 2:10,11, 12; 2Pe 3:5) (Jer 6:30; 2Co 13:5, 6, 7; 2Ti 3:8; Titus
And so, since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or approve of Him
or consider Him worth the knowing (Amplified)
And, according as they did not approve of having God in knowledge (Literal)
And even as after putting God to the
test for the purpose of approving Him should He meet their
specifications, and finding that He did not (Wuest)
Just as (2531)
(kathos) means in accordance with a degree as specified by the
context or in proportion as. Godet explains that this "indicates anew
the exact correlation between this unrighteousness and the punishment
about to be described."
Here for the third and last time
our attention is focused on the correlation between man’s rejection of
God and God’s rejection of man.
Not (3756) (ou,
ouk) indicates absolute
negation of whatever it modifies, in this case the verb
dokimazo. They absolutely did not approve of God after testing Him
to see if He was genuine! How absurd!
from dokimos = tested, proved or approved, tried as metals by fire
and thus purified from dechomai = to accept, receive) (Click
means to assay, to test, to prove, to put to the test, to make a trial
of, to verify, to discern to approve. Dokimazo involves
not only testing but determining the genuineness or value of an event or
object. That which has been tested is demonstrated to be genuine and
Dokimazo was used in
classic Greek to describe the assaying of precious metals (especially
gold or silver coins), usually by fire, to prove the whether they were
authentic and whether they measured up to the stated worth. That which
endures the test was called dokimos and that which fails
There are 20 uses of dokimazo in the NT -- Lk. 12:56; 14:19;
Rom. 1:28; 2:18; 12:2; 14:22; 1 Co. 3:13; 11:28; 16:3; 2 Co. 8:8, 22;
13:5; Gal. 6:4; Eph. 5:10; Phil. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:4; 5:21; 1 Tim. 3:10;
1 Pet. 1:7; 1 Jn. 4:1
Dokimazo was used in
a manuscript of 140AD which contains a plea for the exemption of
physicians, and especially of those who have "passed the
examination (dokimazo)". Dokimazo was thus used as
a technical expression referring to the action of an examining board
putting its approval upon those who had successfully passed the
examinations for the degree of Doctor of Medicine.
Dokimazo was also
used to describe the passing of a candidate as fit for election to
Dokimazo in the
present verse means ungodly men presumptuously put God to the test for
the purpose of approving Him. In so doing they determined that He did
not meet (the absolute negative particle "ou" modifies
dokimazo) the specifications which they laid out for a God Who would
be to their liking. They refused to put their "stamp of approval" upon
Him. They refused to approve Him as God Who should be worshipped and
thus they did not hold Him in their knowledge! Although it sounds absurd
that sinful men would test the holy God, that is exactly what Paul is
saying they did. They tested the infinitely precious God as they
would a mere coin, and chose to turn aside from Him!
Hendriksen explains that...
"Instead of regarding this knowledge
about God which they were deriving from his revelation in nature to be a
precious treasure, they were constantly attempting to suppress it (verse
18) and, as is stated here in verse 28, regarded it as a negligible
entity. They did not deem it to be worthwhile to pay any attention to
God and to his revelation. So they continued on their sinful way,"
W., & Kistemaker, S. J. Vol. 12-13: New Testament commentary: Exposition
of Paul's Epistle to the Romans. Page 79. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House)
Hodge writes that...
The heathen did not think it worth
the trouble to retain the knowledge of God. They considered religion to
be useless and supposed they could live without God. (Hodge, C.
Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 1835)
And so fallen mankind rejected God
after testing just as one would reject worthless coins after testing.
They rejected the only One Who is Worthy as ''worthless''! When you are
deceived and depraved you will call 'white, black', good, evil and evil
good. Woe to those whose minds are so depraved.
As Isaiah said
"Woe to those who call evil good,
and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah
Cranfield says that such a mind
“so debilitated and corrupted as to be a quite untrustworthy guide in
acknowledge God - literally "of having God in knowledge"
in depth study of
epignosis) refers to
strengthened form of "gnosis" and conveys the thought of a
more full, larger and thorough knowledge. It also conveys the idea of a
more intimate and personal relationship than the simple term gnosis.
Epignosis then is clear and exact knowledge and is the type of knowledge
which powerfully influences the form of one's religious life. This is
the character of knowledge they refused to "hold" or grasp after testing
God and finding He did not pass their test or meet with their approval.
Vincent remarks that these
did not suffer the rudimentary
revelation of nature to develop into full knowledge—"a
penetrating and living knowledge of God" (Meyer). In Dante's division of
Hell, the section assigned to Incontinence, or want of self-control, is
succeeded by that of Bestiality, or besotted folly, which comprises
infidelity and heresy in all their forms—sin which Dante declares to be
the most stupid, vile, and hurtful of follies. Thus the want of
self-restraint is linked with the failure to have God in knowledge. Self
is truly possessed only in God. The tendency of this is ever downward
toward that demoniac animalism which is incarnated in Lucifer at the
apex of the infernal cone, and which is so powerfully depicted in this
Hodge comments that "the phrase to retain the knowledge is
stronger than simply “to know.” The text means “to retain in accurate or
practical knowledge.” It was the practical recognition of the only true
God, whose eternal power and Godhead are revealed in his works, that men
were constantly unwilling to make." (Commentary
on the Epistle to the Romans - online)
R C Sproul - How excited are you about mastering
theology? The word ‘theology’ is often repugnant to people’s ears. They
say, ‘I am not interested in theology,’ for they associate it with
speculative or purely academic research into the things of God. But, at
its simplest, theology means ‘a knowledge of God’.
Haldane - The heathens are thus said to have
known God, but, knowing Him, they did not wish to retain that knowledge.
This is a crime in the sight of God which subjects men to the most awful
judgments of His justice; for it is on this account that the Apostle
adds, that God also gave them up to a reprobate mind. This
pointedly refers to the word applied to them, as not approving the
retaining of the knowledge of God. It denotes a mind judicially blinded,
so as not to discern the difference between things distinguished even by
the light of nature. Thus the dark eclipse of their understanding
concerning Divine things, which they had despised and rejected, had been
followed by another general eclipse respecting things human, to which
they had applied themselves, and in this consisted the proportion which
God observed in their punishment. They did not act according to right
reason and judgment towards God,—this is their crime; they did not act
according to it among themselves in society,—this was the effect of the
abandonment of God, and became their punishment. This passage clearly
shows that all that remains of moral uprightness among men is from God,
who restrains and sets bounds to the force of their perversity." (Exposition
of the Epistle to the Romans)
The man who turns from the truth will be allowed to have his way, will
fall deeper and deeper into error, and will reap all the evil
consequences of loving darkness rather than light. Those who hate the
truth are "given over" to a reprobate mind. Their reprobate minds
were tested and found wanting and thus
rejected by God.
The basic reason for all evolutionary religion, from atheism and
humanism to ancient Babylonian paganism to modern New Age pantheism is
that men and women did not like to believe in the God of creation. They
are forced then to find some evolutionary explanation for the world with
which they could be more comfortable to explain so wondrous a Creation.
Vine writes that...
The subject of the effects of rejecting the divine
revelation is further developed. The refusal (adokimazo, literally,
signifies “not to approve of a thing”) was not through indifference, but
was a self-willed choice after a definite consideration of the
circumstances. Men preferred sin to the knowledge of God held out to
them by means of both the physical universe and their own natural
GOD GAVE THEM
OVER: paredoken (3SAAI) autous o theos:
(Ge 6:3, Jdg 2:14, 13:1)
(paradidomi from para = beside + didomi = to give so
literally to give beside) is a very strong Greek verb meaning to hand
someone over to the power and authority of another. It is that act of
God whereby He hands over the entire human race for judgment because of
God gave them over is the
third of three occurrences of
in Romans 1. The restraint of God that might have kept people living in pure
relationships with each other was removed. This phrase "God gave them
over" should put the fear of the Lord into the heart and mind of every
thinking person. We may even be so deceived that we think we are in
control but sin deceives and when we think we are not in the grips or
power of sin we are completely deceived.
William Barclay - There is
hardly any passage which so clearly shows what happens to a man when he
leaves God out of the reckoning. It is not so much that God sends a
judgment on a man, as that a man brings a judgment on himself when he
gives no place to God in his scheme of things. When a man banishes God
from his life he becomes a certain kind of man, and in this passage is
one of the most terrible descriptions in literature of the kind of man
he becomes. Let us took at the catalogue of dreadful things which enter
into the godless life. Such men do things which are not fitting for any
man to do. The Stoics had a phrase. They talked of ta
kathekonta, by which they meant the things it befits a man to do.
Certain things are essentially and inherently part of manhood, and
certain things are not. As Shakespeare has it in Macbeth: "I dare do
all that may become a man;Who dares do more is none." The man who
banishes God not only loses godliness; he loses manhood too. Then comes
the long list of terrible things. Let us take them one by one. (Romans
1 - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible - Commentaries)
Frederick Godet explains it
"To retain God as an object of
distinct knowledge (the literal sense of Paul's words), is to keep alive
within the mind the view of that holy Being, so that His will shall give
law to our whole conduct. This is what the Gentiles refused to do.
Ceasing to contemplate God and His will, they were given over to all
unrighteousness." (Godet, F: The Epistle of St Paul to the Romans)
William Newell observes
Here we have for the third time the
judicial utterance, God gave them over. This time it is to a
settled state, a reprobate mind. There is such a solemn irony
in the manner of speech in the Greek, that it should be brought out as
well as the English will allow.
Alford translates it:
"Because they reprobated the
knowledge of God, God gave them over to a reprobate mind."
Conybeare renders it:
"As they thought fit to cast out the
knowledge of God, God gave them over to an outcast mind."
We might render it:
To a mind disapproved of God, since
they did not approve knowing God.
And given over to do what? To live
lives, think thoughts, be such creatures, as are not befitting the
universe of the blessed God; and most particularly not befitting man,
who was created in God's image. (Newell. Romans Verse by Verse).
God's response to this worldwide
"disloyalty and treason" is not, first, to send us to hell, but to see
that we sink into the swamp of our own making.
Here we have the third divine "delivery" -- "God gave them over" or "God
gave them up". In the Greek there is actually a word play (pun) which in
English might be brought out as follows: "They reprobated the knowledge
of God, so God gave them over to a reprobate mind" or "They cast out the
knowledge of God, so God gave them up to a cast-out mind!" They
abandoned the knowledge of God and so God abandoned them. This is a
terrible judgment: to give men up so that they follow the impulses of
their own corrupt minds, and so that they follow the desires of their
own depraved hearts! "So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and
they walked in their own counsels" (Psalm 81:12). (Middletown
John Piper notes that...
Paul's teaching about why a society degenerates into
unrestrained, debauched, destructive evil is unlike any analysis you
would read today.
One of the reasons for this is that when a society is
sinking into moral decay, one of the traits of that decay is the
inability to see what is happening. The social mind becomes so defective
in the moral decadence that it doesn't have the categories or the
framework to recognize evil for what it really is. We do live in such a
day. The inability to render sound moral judgments is evident almost
wherever you look. Which makes this passage of Scripture one of the most
relevant and needed texts in all the Bible for our day - precisely
because it seems so foreign. Today, if something doesn't seem
spiritually or morally foreign, it is probably part of the blind and
decadent atmosphere we breathe, and therefore of no real use to us, no
matter how good it makes us feel. What we need is a word from outside
our defective world and our depraved thinking. We need a word from God.
And we may certainly expect such a word to be very strange, because we
have become strangers to the reality of God in a very self-absorbed age.
Paul is saying that the root problem is that we don't like having God in
our knowledge...That is the
fundamental problem in the world. That is the essence of the human
condition. We don't want God. We want self determination and
self-exaltation. That was the first sin in the Garden. And that is the
root of all evil today. We do not want to know God or to have Him in our
The second step of God's analysis is that God, in an act of
judgment (recall the revealing of "wrath" in v18) withdraws His common
restraints on our rebellion and gives us over to sink in the swamp we
have chosen. This is what you will not hear in any social analysis
So what's the point of listing all these sins? The point, I
think, is to give us enough examples to show that virtually every form
of evil has to do with God and comes from failing to know Him and
approve Him and love Him above all things. In other words, he gives us a
sweeping array of evils to waken us to the fact that the ruin of any
area of life is owing to the abandonment of God.
(In Romans 1:28) they did not want
God in their knowledge, therefore...and then he gives his list of
In other words: the point of the list is to connect God with every sin
in the world. And we've seen that the connection is twofold: every sin
is rooted in our preferring something else to God; and every sin gets
worse as God takes away his restraints and gives us up to sink in the
swamp we have chosen.
If America has the highest murder rate in the western world, it has to
do with God. If our executives are greedy, it has to do with God. If our
politicians are deceitful, it has to do with God. If we gossip about
each other behind the back, it has to do with God. If our talk show
hosts are insolent and boastful, it has to do with God. If our children
are disobedient to parents, it has to do with God. If we are
untrustworthy and don't keep our marriage vows, it has to do with God.
If we are blind to obvious wrongs and are unloving and unmerciful, it
has to do with God. That's the point of this list.
Wherever we are sinking in sin, it is
because we have jumped off the rock of the glory of God. The key verse
for the reversal of God's wrath against us is Ro1:17. The key verse for
the reversal of God's handing us over to a depraved mind is Ro6:17.
"Thanks be to God that, though you
were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of
teaching to which you were handed over [same word as Ro1:28]."
This is the exact reversal of the
hand-over in Ro 1:28. Here it is to a form of teaching that is true and
holy, not false and dirty. And notice that it is God who does it.
"Thanks be to God," Paul says, that you became obedient to this
teaching. God gives us over to truth and righteousness as much as he
once gave us over to sin. the key verse for reversing the defectiveness
of our minds is Ro 12:2.
"Do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove
what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."
note Ro 12:2)
When God has given us his
righteousness by faith in Jesus, and when he has handed us over to a new
teaching of truth and begun to make us obedient to it, then little by
little we are transformed in the renewing of our minds and the long list
of sins in Ro 1:29, 30, 31 becomes shorter and weaker to the glory of God.
In an illustration
from Our Daily Bread of someone who did not not acknowledge God any
longer, we read the story of...
Aaron Burr, the third Vice President
of the United States, was reared in a godly home and admonished to
accept Christ by his grandfather Jonathan Edwards. But he refused to
listen. Instead, he declared that he wanted nothing to do with God and
said he wished the Lord would leave him alone. He did achieve a measure
of political success in spite of repeated disappointments. But he was
also involved in continuous strife, and when he was 48 years old, he
killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. He lived for 32 more years, but
through all this time he was unhappy and unproductive. It was during
this sad chapter in his life that he declared to a group of friends;
“Sixty years ago I told God that if
He would let me alone, I would let Him alone, and God has not bothered
about me since.”
Aaron Burr got what he wanted. Woe!
People who want nothing to do with God make themselves candidates for
His ultimate judgment. They spend their days alienated from Him, and
will spend eternity banished from God's presence unless they repent
while they still have breathe to do so.
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
TO A DEPRAVED
(an unqualified, worthless,
rejected, failing the test)
MIND: eis adokimon noun, (Jer 6:30; 2Co 13:5, 6, 7; 2Ti 3:8;
in their knowledge, God gave them over to a mind void of discernment'
A depraved mind --
Vincent notes that "There is a play upon the words. As they did not
approve, God gave them up unto a mind disapproved."
(adokimos) refers to that which is rejected after
The basic meaning of adokimos
not standing the test or
failing to meet the test and
hence worthless, base or unqualified. Adokimos was the term
commonly used of metals that were rejected by refiners because of
impurities. The impure metals were discarded, and
adokimos therefore came to include the ideas of worthlessness and
uselessness. Adokimos marks the thing tested
as not being proved to be such as it ought.
Here in Romans 1:28 Paul is saying
that the mind that
finds God worthless becomes worthless itself. The
rejecting mind becomes a rejected mind and thereby becomes spiritually
depraved, worthless and useless!
Adokimos was used to
describe a counterfeit coin that fell below the standard weight, a
cowardly soldier who failed the test in the hour of battle, a candidate
for office who the citizens regarded as useless and finally a stone
rejected by builders because of a flaw which made it unfit for
construction, the rejected stone being clearly marked by a capital "A"
on it's surface. It is as if these men who test God and find He does not
meet with their approval have a giant "A"
stamped on their head and heart. They are tried and rejected by the
Master Architect and of no eternal value to Him in building His kingdom.
This should break our hearts that these men and women in Romans 1:28 are
Here are the 8 NT uses of adokimos:
(Adokimos is used twice in the Septuagint - Prov. 25:4; Is 1:22)
Romans 1:28 And just as they did
not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a
depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,
1 Corinthians 9:27 but I buffet my
body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to
others, I myself should be disqualified. (Click
for discussion of this verse)
2 Corinthians 13:5 Test
yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you
not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--
unless indeed you fail the test? 6 But I trust that you will
realize that we ourselves do not fail the test. 7 Now we pray to
God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but
that you may do what is right, even though we should appear
2 Timothy 3:8 (note) And just as Jannes
and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose (literally set
themselves against) the truth, men of depraved (destroyed, ruined,
corrupted = kataphtheiro) mind, rejected (adokimos) as regards
Titus 1:16 (note) They profess to know
God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient,
and worthless (adokimos - unfit,
of proven inability to do good) for any good deed.
for discussion of
Hebrews 6:8 (note) but if it (a field
that is rained on and yet only) yields thorns and thistles, it is
worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.
For many years John Wesley
professed to be a Christian and yet when he truly examined himself
realized he was not "in the faith" as illustrated by this brief excerpt
from his sermon entitled "The
I did go thus for many years, as many
of this place can testify; using diligence to eschew all evil, and to
have a conscience void of offence; redeeming the time; buying up every
opportunity of doing all good to all men; constantly and carefully using
all the public and all the private means of grace; endeavoring, after a
steady seriousness of behavior, at all times, and in all places: and God
is my record, before whom I stand, doing all this in sincerity; having a
real design to serve God; a hearty desire to do his will in all things;
to please him who had called me to “fight the good fight,” and to “lay
hold on eternal life.” Yet my own conscience bears me witness, in the
Holy Ghost, that all this time I was but almost a Christian.''
These men and women were given over to a mind that God tests
but finds wanting and is thus rejected by Him as worthless because it does
not stand the test. These men had ''tested'' God and did not want
to believe in Him. The ultimate test of life is usefulness, and the man
whose influence is ever towards that which is unclean is of no use to
God or to his fellow-men. Instead of helping God's work in the world, he
hinders it and uselessness always invites disaster.
It speaks of a mind that is so clouded by sin that it is no longer able
to make reliable moral judgments. Here we have gone beyond deliberate
iniquity to something much more frightening. At this stage man has lost
the desire and the ability to think clearly. He has "lost his mind"
(morally or spiritually speaking) and
doesn't even know it.
The NKJV translates adokimos as "Debased" a word that was
used by a blacksmith who, when he’d finished forming a horseshoe, would place it on
his anvil and hit it with his hammer to test whether it was tempered
correctly. If it failed the test it was said to be debased,
i.e. not quite right.
The word debase also conveys the
reduction of the intrinsic value of (a coin) by increasing the
base-metal content and
implies a loss of position, worth, value, or dignity.
the idea in Romans 1:28 is of a mind that isn’t quite
right, that has some flaw in it that affects its ability to make right
judgments. It speaks
of a mind that is so clouded by sin that it is no longer able to make
reliable moral judgments. Here we have gone beyond deliberate iniquity
to something much more frightening. At this stage man has lost the
desire and the ability to think clearly. He has lost his mind and
doesn't even know it. The
result is a world that has left God far behind. It is a society with all
restraints removed, a culture devoid of all sense of right and wrong,
where every man is doing what is "right
in his own
eyes." (Deut 12:8 Jdg 17:6 Jdg
21:25 Pr 12:15 Pr 21:2).
In a parallel passage in the OT,
Jehovah appointed His prophet Jeremiah to assay His people Israel
"I have made you an assayer and a
tester among My people, that you may know and assay their way. All of
them are stubbornly rebellious, going about as a talebearer. They are
bronze and iron. They, all of them, are corrupt. The bellows blow
fiercely. The lead is consumed by the fire. In vain the refining goes
on, but the wicked are not separated." (Jeremiah 6:27-29)
Jehovah concludes that because the
"impurities" cannot be removed from His people, they
will be called
"rejected silver, because the
LORD has rejected them." (Jeremiah 6:30)
This is exactly what God has done to
these ungodly men and women in Romans 1:28.
The hymn writer William Hyde (Creation’s
Lord, We Give Thee Thanks)
catches some of what Paul is saying...
Since what we choose is what we are,
And what we love we yet shall be...
(nous) is the mind as the organ of mental perception and
apprehension. It is the seat of understanding and represents the
thinking faculty. Believers have a new mind "the mind (nous) of Christ"
(1 Cor 2:16) which can be renewed as we believers chose not to be
conformed to this world's way of thinking but to be radically
transformed (see Ro 12:2-note).
The mind (nous) Paul is describing in this verse is what he refers to
elsewhere as the "fleshly mind" or as
phrases it "the intellectual faculty
in its moral aspects as determined by the fleshly, sinful nature" (Click
exposition of Colossians 2:18-note)
Here are the 22 uses of nous
in the NT - Lk. 24:45; Rom. 1:28; 7:23, 25; 11:34; 12:2; 14:5; 1 Co.
1:10; 2:16; 14:14f, 19; Eph. 4:17, 23; Phil. 4:7; Col. 2:18; 2 Thess.
2:2; 1 Tim. 6:5; 2 Tim. 3:8; Titus 1:15; Rev. 13:18; 17:9. The NAS
translates nous as - composure (1), comprehension(1), mind(20),
TO DO THOSE
THINGS WHICH ARE NOT PROPER: poiein (PAN) ta me kathekonta (PAPNPA):
(Ephesians 5:4-note; Philemon 1:8)
Boice terms this "insanity, of
R C Sproul observes that...
Paul moves immediately from ‘he gave
them over to a depraved mind’ to ‘to do what ought not to be done’. He
is stressing that behavior and action follow thought, that practice
follows theory. I can talk about what my theories are, but my life
reveals what my real theories are because I always behave according to
what I really think is right and proper.
To do (4160) (poieo)
means to do, expressing an action as continued or not yet completed and
so what one does repeatedly or habitually. The
present tense amplifies
this meaning as it speaks of continual or habitual action. This is not
just an occasional "slipup" but represents their lifestyle.
Beloved, praying a prayer to "receive Jesus into your heart" is a
"dangerous" thing. If you have (or if you know someone who has) prayed
this prayer and yet exhibits ABSOLUTELY NO CHANGE in their life (no
change of language, places they go, things they watch, no desire for
things holy - Word, Worship, fellowship, etc), then you can be fairly
sure that such a person has not been truly repented and believed and
been regenerated by the Holy Spirit. They are like the person who takes
the flu shot so they won't get the "real disease." Such a state is a
dangerous deception, for Jesus said "that you shall die in your sins;
for unless you believe (see
discussion of genuine, saving belief) that I am He, you shall
die in your sins.” (Jn 8:24). Belief alone saves, but the belief that
saves is never alone, but is accompanied by fruit in keeping with
Hodge notes that...
To do is the exegetical infinitive;
that is, “so that they did.” It expresses the consequence of the
dereliction just spoken of, and the natural fruit of a reprobate mind. (Commentary
on the Epistle to the Romans - online)
Not proper - The negative
particle "me" plus the verb katheko. The
present tense emphasizes
that these things are continually not proper or fitting.
(katheko from katá =
down, according or together with + heko
= to come) literally means to come down and then to be convenient, to be fitting or right.
It means to be appropriate.
In the negative use (as in this
verse) katheko refers to “what is unfitting or improper” and was a technical word
used by the Stoic philosophers. It was used by the philosophers in the
sense of “what is fitting or demanded” as dictated by nature, custom, or
A T Robertson writes
Like an old abandoned building, the
home of bats and snakes, left 'to do those things which are not
fitting,' like the night clubs of modern cities, the dives and dens of
the underworld, without God and in the darkness of unrestrained animal
impulses. This was a technical term with Stoics.
TDNT writes that by using
katheko in this verse...
Paul has in mind what is offensive
even to natural human judgment. The decision against God leads to a
complete loss of moral sensitivity, the unleashing of unnatural vices,
and hence the type of conduct that even healthy pagans regard as
G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the New
Katheko is used 2 times in
the NT, here and in Acts 22:22...
And they listened to him up to this
statement, and then they raised their voices and said, "Away with such a
fellow from the earth, for he should not be allowed to live!"
There are 13 uses in the
non-apocryphal Septuagint - Gen. 19:31; Exod. 5:13, 19; 16:16, 18, 21;
36:1; Lev. 5:10; 9:16; Deut. 21:17; 1 Sam. 2:16; Ezek. 21:27; Hos. 2:5
Katheko is used here of what befits the nature of man as
God’s creature and his responsibility toward his Creator. God lets
men do what they want and if they continually choose to rebel against
His rightful rule over His creation, He let's them have their way, even
if the result is even greater unrighteousness. Why? Because God wants
man to realize that by ourselves we’re totally unable to do the
right thing. There is none righteous and none capable of righteous
behavior (Ro 3:10). Rather our natural fallen, sinful inclination is to do
that which is diametrically opposed to righteousness. Our
natural "Adamic" thinking, in the end, will lead us astray.
Haldane comments on the KJV
rendering of "not proper" as "not convenient" writing
This is a very just and literal
translation, according to the meaning of the word convenient in an early
stage of the history of our language; but it does not, at present, give
the exact idea. The original word signifies what is suitable to the
nature of man as a rational and moral being. To do things not
convenient, is a figurative expression denoting the doing of things
directly contrary and opposite, namely, to the light of reason, the
reflections of prudence, and the dictates of conscience. (Exposition
of the Epistle to the Romans)
Wuest summarizes this section:
human race put God to the test for the purpose of approving Him should
He meet the specifications which it laid down for a God who would be to
its liking, and finding that He did not meet those specifications, it
refused to approve Him as the God to be worshipped, or have Him in its
knowledge." Incredible what our sick hearts are capable of deceived into
imagining (Je17:9-10). Our rebellion against God is not only
displayed in our actions, but in our thinking; we are genuinely
"spiritually insane" in our rebellion against God"
Vine adds that the
Determination to refuse the knowledge of God leads, according to
the righteous principles and decrees of the divine counsels, to the
pursuit and practice of sin. The very influences which would restrain
the ungodly are retributively withdrawn from them. The word katheko “to
be fit,” is here used of what befits the nature of man as God’s creature
and his responsibility toward his Creator.
Harry Ironside notes that....
The vile immoralities depicted here
are the natural result of turning from the holy One. The picture of
heathenism in its unspeakable obscenities is not over-drawn, as any one
acquainted with the lives of idolatrous people will testify. The awful
thing is that all this vileness and filthiness is being reproduced in
modern society where men and women repudiate God. If people change the
truth of God into a lie and worship and serve the creature rather than
the Creator, the whole order of nature is violated; for apart from the
fear of God there is no power known that will hold the evil desires of
the natural heart in check. It is part of the very nature of things that
flesh will be manifested in its worst aspects when God gives men up to
follow the bent of their unholy lusts." (Romans
1 - Ironside's Notes)
An Emperor Given Over To
A Depraved Mind
The Roman emperor Nero who was probably in power at the time this letter was
written exemplified the the utter depravity of a man given over to a
depraved mind. Nero's father died
when he was about 3 years old. After Caligula confiscated their family
wealth, he and his mother found themselves quite poor for a time. Things
changed dramatically when Agrippina married her uncle, the emperor
Claudius. That marriage was the means of Nero's rise to power. Agrippina
managed to get Nero adopted not only as a son of Claudius, but the heir
to the throne before Claudius' actual sons. With the line of succession
taken care of, Agrippina took the final step on October 13 54 A.D. by
murdering her husband/uncle with poisoned mushrooms. Nero became the
emperor of the mighty Roman empire at the age of 17. Agrippina was very
influential with the young Nero at first, but as might be expected from
the example that she had set, he gradually became estranged with her. He
had her removed from the palace in 55 A.D., and then ordered his
mother's murder 4 years later. From then on, Nero became increasing
brutal and depraved.
Nero is perhaps most famous for the great fire of
Rome in 64 A.D. It started in the Circus Maximus before raging through
the city for 9 days. It is unlikely that Nero himself started the fire,
as is popularly believed, because he was in Antium at the time. Whether
he ordered it started is another matter - he had long wanted to make
room for a grand new city that he had designed. To divert suspicion away
from himself, Nero blamed the great fire on the Christians, thereby
beginning a persecution of innocent people that has never been
surpassed. Many were killed by wild animals before crowds of spectators
in the arena, while others were tied to posts, covered with flammable
material, and used as human street lamps for Nero's gardens. It is
difficult to imagine a more depraved man.
Haters Of God - Recently, I
listened to an audiobook by a militant advocate for atheism. As the
author himself read his own work with spiteful sarcasm and contempt, it
made me wonder why he was so angry.
The Bible tells us that a rejection of God can actually lead to a more
hateful attitude toward Him: “Even as they did not like to retain God in
their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind . . . [to become]
haters of God” (Ro 1:28-30).
Turning one’s back on God does not lead to secular neutrality. Indeed,
recent militant atheists have shown their desire to remove any reference
to a Creator from culture.
When we hear about atheists trying to remove crosses or the Ten
Commandments from society, it’s easy to respond to their hatred of God
with our own hatred. But we’re exhorted to defend the truth with an
attitude of love, “in humility correcting those who are in opposition,
if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the
truth” (2 Tim. 2:25).
The next time you see the works or hear the words of a hater of God, do
an attitude check. Then ask God for a spirit of humility and pray that
the offender might come to the knowledge of the truth. — by Dennis
Lord, help us not respond in kind
To those who hate and turn from You;
Instead, help us to love and pray
That someday they’ll accept what’s true. —Sper
Defend the truth with love.