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"
THEY KNOW THE ORDINANCE OF GOD: hoitines to
dikaioma tou theou epignontes (AAPMPN):
(Ro 1:18,21; 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5,21, 22, 23)
The late Dr. R. H. Graves of
Canton, China, said that a Chinaman who read these verses declared that
Paul could not have written it, but only a modern missionary who had
been to China. It was such a perfect description of Chinamen! (Romans 1)
[Epiginōskō] from epí means upon but is used here to intensify
the force of the following verb +
= to know) (See related noun
epignosis) means to know fully,
to know with certainty, to become thoroughly
acquainted with or to know thoroughly, exactly, fully, or completely. Epiginosko
means to possess more or less definite information about, and can imply
a degree of thoroughness. It speaks of full or added knowledge.
To be fully acquainted in a
discerning, recognizing manner. (e.g., 1Co 13:12 twice uses "fully
known," Lk 1:4; Col 1:6; 2Cor 6:9, et al) To ascertain (find out with
certainty) (Acts 23:28, 24:8). To recognize a thing to be what it
In fairness, it should be noted that a few sources (J. Armitage Robinson
in his commentary on Greek text of Ephesians) see no significant
difference in meaning between epiginosko and ginosko and thus do not
favor the idea of a more thorough or complete knowledge with the
epiginosko/epignosis word group. Friberg (Analytical
Lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Baker Academic)
in fact divides the definitions of epiginosko as follows...
(1) with no emphasis on the
(a) recognize, know (Mt 11.27;
cf. Lk 10.22);
(b) perceive, notice, become aware of (Mk 5.30; cf. Lk 8.46);
(c) learn of, find out (Lk 7.37)
(d) acknowledge, understand (2Co 1.13);
(2) with the preposition (epi)
intensifying the meaning;
(a) know exactly, fully,
completely (Lk 1.4);
(b) especially in relation to higher and spiritual knowledge received
through revelation fully know, perfectly know (Col 1.6)
Wuest explains that
“knowledge gained by
experience,” thus, a personal knowledge. This is the meaning of the
simple verb (ginosko). The prefixed preposition epi is
perfective in meaning, intensifying the already existing idea in the
verb. Thus, the compound verb means, “personal knowledge gained by
experience and which is clear.”
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans
Epiginosko also means to recognize a thing to be what it really
is, to acknowledge, to understand (1Co 14:37, 16:18; 2Co 1:13, 14)
Here in Romans 1:32 epiginosko denotes the clear discernment
which these suppressors of the truth about God in fact had of God's
regulations of "right and wrong".
Robertson writes that
The heathen knows that God
condemns such evil practices
Why did they know "beyond a shadow of
a doubt"? Paul explained...
that which is known about
God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them...so
that they are without excuse...they knew God, they did not honor
Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their
speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (see exposition of
For when Gentiles who do not
have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having
the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the
Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and
their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, (Romans
Epiginosko in Ro 1:32 is in
indicates that they had been effectively made aware of God's ordinance.
These men have
a full experiential knowledge not only that the things they practice are
wrong but also that they themselves are deserving of death. They know
this is God’s verdict, however much they seek to rationalize or even legalize
these sins (cp states sanctioning gay marriage in the United States!). But this
knowledge does not deter them from indulging in these forms
of ungodliness (which speaks to the power of the fallen
flesh!) In fact these
truth rejecters unite with others to promote ungodly behavior and feel
a sense of camaraderie with their partners-in-sin.
(Word Meanings in the New
has several notes on epiginosko...
Arndt and Gingrich feel that in
some cases (e.g., 1Co 13:12) epiginosko means "know completely,"
but that most of the time it is simply equivalent to ginosko. The
same would go for the nouns epignosis and gnosis.
Thayer puts the case more strongly. After noting that "epi
denotes mental direction towards, application to, that which is known,"
he gives as the first definition for epiginosko: "to become
thoroughly acquainted with, to know thoroughly; to know accurately, know
well" (p. 237).
For epignosis he gives: "precise and correct knowledge."
Trench agrees with this
when he writes
Of epignosis, as compared with
gnosis, it will be sufficient to say that epi must be regarded as
intensive, giving to the compound word a greater strength than the
simple possessed (p. 285)
Likewise Cremer says that
clear and exact knowledge, more
intensive than gnosis, because it expresses a more thorough
participation in the object of knowledge on the part of the knowing
subject (p. 159).
Commenting on this passage (Col 1:9 - which uses the noun
The compound epignosis is an
advance upon gnosis, denoting a larger and more thorough knowledge (p.
quotes Delitzsch as saying:
When epignosis is used, there
is the assumption of an actual direction of the spirit to a definite
object and of a real grasping of the same: so that we may speak of a
false gnósis, but not of a false epignosis. And the Writer
(of Hebrews - referring to He 10:26-note)
Wuest commenting on Peter's
use of the noun epignosis in 2 Peter 1:2 writes that
Knowledge” or epignosis is
full, perfect, precise knowledge as opposed to gnósis, imperfect,
partial knowledge. Strachan says: “epígnōsis, ‘involving the
complete appropriation of all truth and the unreserved acquiescence in
God’s will, is the goal and crown of the believer’s course’ (Lightfoot)
… epignosis implies a more intimate and personal relationship
than gnósis. It would be a useful word, seeing that gnósis
had become associated with Gnosticism, then incipient in the Church.…
Grace and peace are multiplied in and through this more intimate heart
knowledge of Jesus Christ, in contrast to a mere barren gnósis. ”
Epiginosko - 44 times in the
NT -- Mt 7:16-note,
Mt 11:27; 14:35; 17:12; Mk 2:8; 5:30; 6:33, 6:54;
Lk 1:4, 22; 5:22; 7:37; 23:7; 24:16, 31; Acts 3:10; 4:13; 9:30; 12:14;
19:34; 22:24, 29; 23:28; 24:8, 11; 25:10; 27:39; 28:1; Ro 1:32-note; 1Co
13:12; 14:37; 16:18; 2Co 1:13, 14; 6:9; 13:5; Col 1:6-note;
1Ti 4:3; 2Pe 2:21-note
In the NAS epiginosko is
translated -- acknowledge(1), ascertain(2), aware(2), find out(1), found
out(2), fully known(1),know(7), know fully(1), known(2), knows(1),
learned(3), perceiving(1), realized(1), recognize(5), recognized(6),
recognizing(1),take note(1), taking note(1), understand(3),
"You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from
thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?
then, you will know them by their fruits.
Matthew 11:27 "All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and
no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the
Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.
Matthew 14:35 And when the men of that place recognized Him, they
sent word into all that surrounding district and brought to Him all who
Matthew 17:12 but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did
not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also
the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands."
Mark 2:8 Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were
reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, "Why are you
reasoning about these things in your hearts?
Marvin Vincent: The
preposition epi gives the force of fully. He was not only
immediately aware of their thought, but clearly and fully aware.
Mark 5:30 Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power
proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said,
"Who touched My garments?"
Mark 6:33 The people saw them going, and many recognized them and
ran there together on foot from all the cities, and got there ahead of
Mark 6:54 When they got out of the boat, immediately the people
Comment: to know fully by
experience, to recognize Jesus, knowing full as nearly all did by now
Luke 1:4 so that you may know the exact truth about the
things you have been taught.
Luke 1:22 But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and they
realized that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he kept
making signs to them, and remained mute.
Luke 5:22 But Jesus, aware of their reasonings, answered and said
to them, "Why are you reasoning in your hearts?
Luke 7:37 And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when
she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee's
house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume,
Luke 23:7 And when he learned (having gained full knowledge) that
He belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who himself
also was in Jerusalem at that time.
Luke 24:16 But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.
Luke 24:31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He
vanished from their sight.
Acts 3:10 and they were taking note of him as being the one who
used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they
were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Acts 4:13 Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and
understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were
amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.
Acts 9:30 But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him
down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus.
Acts 12:14 When she recognized Peter's voice, because of her joy
she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter was
standing in front of the gate.
Acts 19:34 But when they recognized that he was a Jew, a single
outcry arose from them all as they shouted for about two hours, "Great
is Artemis of the Ephesians!"
Acts 22:24 the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks,
stating that he should be examined by scourging so that he might find
out (might know) the reason why they were shouting against him that
Acts 22:29 Therefore those who were about to examine him immediately let
go of him; and the commander also was afraid when he found out that he
was a Roman, and because he had put him in chains.
Acts 23:28 "And wanting to ascertain the charge for which they
were accusing him, I brought him down to their Council;
Acts 24:8 ordering his accusers to come before you. By examining him
yourself concerning all these matters you will be able to ascertain
the things of which we accuse him."...11 since you can take note
of the fact that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to
Acts 25:10 But Paul said, "I am standing before Caesar's tribunal, where
I ought to be tried. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as you also very
Acts 27:39 When day came, they could not recognize the land; but
they did observe a bay with a beach, and they resolved to drive the ship
onto it if they could.
Acts 28:1 When they had been brought safely through, then we found
out that the island was called Malta.
and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who
practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but
also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
Comment: These individuals are
like the false teachers in 2Peter 2:21 who in an intellectual sense
fully knew that way of salvation was by grace through faith and yet they
stubbornly refused to receive that truth as a gift. This is an amazing
realization that there are people who have a full understanding of what
God requires and STILL REFUSE Him. How hard can a heart be! We probably
all know some of these folks and they literally break our hearts. There
is nothing we can do except live the Christ life before them and pray
that God's Spirit might one day penetrate their stony hearts.
1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to
face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just
as I also have been fully known.
1 Corinthians 14:37 If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let
him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord's
1 Corinthians 16:18 For they have refreshed my spirit and yours.
Therefore acknowledge such men.
MacArthur comments: Epiginōskō
(acknowledge) signifies recognition of something for what it really is.
In 14:37 Paul uses the term to tell the Corinthians to “recognize
that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.” Now
he tells them to recognize faithful, godly workers for what they are.
2 Corinthians 1:13 For we write nothing else to you than what you read
(Related verb = anaginosko) and understand (epiginosko), and I
hope you will understand until the end; 14 just as you also
partially did understand us, that we are your reason to be proud
as you also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus.
Comment: There is clearly a
play on words as both verbs have ginosko as their root. Anaginosko
refers to what the Corinthians read in his letters and epiginosko
to what they know through personal contact with him. The Corinthians are
being assured that the two are in complete harmony.
2 Corinthians 6:9 as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold,
we live; as punished yet not put to death,
2 Corinthians 13:5-note
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?
which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly
bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also
since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in
1 Timothy 4:3 men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods
which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe
and know the truth.
2 Peter 2:21-note
For it would be better for them not to have known the way
of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy
commandment handed on to them.
Comment: Peter's use of
epiginosko indicates these false teachers had no excuse but fully knew
and understood the way of righteousness, the path through Jesus that
alone leads to salvation but they refused to receive, believe and be
saved by that full knowledge. Woe! They will be held that much more
accountable at the judgment of unbelievers because they knew the right
Epiginosko - More than 90 uses in the
Septuagint (Lxx)- Gen. 27:23; 31:32; 37:32f; 38:15, 25f; 41:31; 42:7f; Deut.
1:17; 16:19; 21:17; 33:9; Jdg. 18:3; Ruth 2:10, 19; 3:14, 18; 1 Sam.
26:17; 2 Sam. 19:7; 1 Ki. 20:41; Ezr. 3:13; Neh. 6:12; 13:24; Esther
1:1; 3:5; 4:1; Job 2:12; 4:16; 6:17; 7:10; 24:13, 16f; 34:27; Ps.
103:16; 142:4; Prov. 14:8; 24:23; 27:23; 30:18; Is 61:9; 63:16; Jer.
4:22; 5:5; 24:5; Lam. 4:8; Ezek. 5:13; 6:7, 10, 14; 7:4, 9; 11:10, 12;
12:20; 13:14, 21; 14:8, 23; 15:7; 16:62; 17:21; 20:38, 42, 44, 48; 21:5;
22:22; 24:24, 27; 25:5, 7, 11, 14, 17; Dan. 2:3; 4:31; 6:10; 11:39; Hos.
2:20; 5:4; 7:9; 14:9; Joel 2:27; 3:17; Jon. 1:7; Hab. 3:2; Hag. 2:19;
Zech. 2:11; 4:9; 6:10, 14; Malachi 2:4
John Piper notes that...
This is an astonishing
affirmation about human nature. Everybody has knowledge of God and the
moral law of God, whether they have seen a Bible or not, or whether they
live in America or in an undiscovered people group of Irian Jaya...The
second observation is that this knowledge means people are without
excuse before God not only because of the way they treat God, but also
because of the way they treat each other. (Romans
Doing and Endorsing Evil)
Haldane writes that...
This the heathens knew, from the
work of the law written in their hearts. Although they had almost
entirely stifled in themselves the dictates of conscience, it did not
cease, in some measure, to remonstrate against the unworthiness of their
conduct, and to threaten the wrath of God, which their sins deserved.
They recognized it by some remains they had of right notions of the
Godhead (Editorial note: One example is the worldwide existence of the
remnants of covenant - see H Clay Trumbull's fascinating work "The Blood
Covenant" the second edition published in 1885) and by which they still
understood that God was judge of the world; and this was confirmed to
them by examples of Divine vengeance which sometimes passed before their
eyes. They knew it even by the false ideas of the superstition in which
they were plunged, which required them to seek for expiations. That they
knew it in a measure is evident by their laws, which awarded punishments
to some of those vices of which they were guilty. (Haldane, R. An
Exposition of Romans.)
Albert Barnes writing about their knowledge of God's ordinance
says that this is substantiated by the secular writings...
Livy says of the age of
Augustus, in some respects the brightest period of the Roman history,
"Rome has increased by her virtues until now, when we can neither bear
our vices nor their remedy." (Preface to his History.) Seneca, one of
the purest moralists of Rome, who died A. D. 65, says of his own time,
"All is full of criminality and vice; indeed much more of these
is committed than can be remedied by force. A monstrous contest of
abandoned wickedness is carried on. The lust of sin increases daily; and
shame is daily more and more extinguished. Discarding respect for all
that is good and sacred, lust rushes on wherever it will. Vice no longer
hides itself. It stalks forth before all eyes. So public has abandoned
wickedness become, and so openly does it flame up in the minds of all,
that innocence is no longer seldom, but has wholly ceased to exist,"
Seneca de Ira, ii. 8. Further authorities of this kind could be easily
given, but these will show that the apostle Paul did not speak at random
when he charged them with these enormous crimes. (Romans
(dikaioma from dikaióo = to justify <> díkaios =
just, righteous <> dike = right) refers to what God has declared to be right
and here referring to His decree of
retribution which has the force of law.
Dikaioma is used elsewhere in this Epistle
with its other meaning of
“righteousness” (see table below). Strictly speaking
dikaioma is what God establishes as just.
Friberg's summary of dikaioma
(see also table below) - (1) of God's requirements ordinance,
regulation, commandment (Lk 1:6); (2) of fulfillment of a legal
requirement righteous deed, act of justice, by Christ (Ro 5:18) by God
(Rev 15:4), by saints (Rev 19:8); (3) as an act of justification
equivalent to dikaiosis removal of guilt, acquittal (Ro 5:16)
In simple terms, as used here by Paul
dikaioma is God’s declaration about what is right and just.
Kenneth Wuest - Primarily that which is deemed right,
so as to have the force of law; hence an ordinance.
Word Studies from the Greek New Testament)
Paul's point in this verse is that
these men with depraved minds were aware of God's regulations for right
living and had an innate knowledge that the things they were doing
were wrong and deserving of His retribution. Simply put they knew they
were doing wrong and justly deserving of punishment but they simply
Dikaioma - 10 times in the NT
translated as - act of righteousness, 1; justification, 1; ordinance, 1;
regulations, 2; requirement, 1; requirements, 2; righteous acts, 2
Luke 1:6 They were both righteous in
the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and
requirements of the Lord.
Romans 1:32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who
practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but
also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
Romans 2:26 So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the
Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?
Romans 5:16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who
sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression
resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose
from many transgressions resulting in justification.
Romans 5:18 So then as through one transgression there resulted
condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there
resulted justification of life to all men.
Romans 8:4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us,
who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Hebrews 9:1 Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine
worship and the earthly sanctuary.
Hebrews 9:10 since they relate only to food and drink and various
washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.
Revelation 15:4 "Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For
You alone are holy; For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE
YOU, FOR YOUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED."
Revelation 19:8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen,
bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the
Dikaioma - 137x in the
non-apocryphal Septuagint - Ge 26:5; Ex 15:25f; 21:1, 9, 31; 24:3; Lev
25:18; Num 15:16; 27:11; 30:16; 31:21; 35:29; 36:13; Deut 4:1, 5f, 8,
14, 40, 45; 5:1, 31; 6:1f, 4, 17, 20, 24; 7:11f; 8:11; 10:13; 11:1;
17:19; 26:16f; 27:10; 28:45; 30:10, 16; 33:10; Ruth 4:7; 1 Sam 2:13;
8:3, 9, 11; 10:25; 27:11; 30:25; 2 Sam 19:28; 22:23; 1 Kgs 2:3; 3:28;
8:45, 59; 2 Kgs 17:8, 13, 19, 34, 37; 23:3; 2 Chr 6:35; 19:10; Job
34:27; Ps 18:22; 19:8; 50:16; 89:31; 105:45; 119:5, 8, 12, 16, 23f, 26f,
33, 48, 54, 56, 64, 68, 71, 80, 83, 93f, 112, 117f, 124, 135, 141, 145,
155, 171; 147:19; Prov 2:8; 8:20; 19:28; Jer 11:20; 18:19; Ezek 5:6f;
11:20; 18:9; 20:11, 13, 16, 18f, 21, 24f; 36:27; 43:11; 44:24; Hos 13:1;
Mic 6:16; Mal 4:4;
Godet writes that because of
God's workings men had ..
moral light...produced in them as
well as religious light (see Ro 1:21). The words following indicate
the contents of that sentence which God had taken care to engrave on
their heart. What appeals to God's justice do we not find in the
writings of Gentile historians and philosophers! What a description in
their poets of the punishment inflicted on malefactors in Tartarus!
(Godet, F: The Epistle of St Paul to the Romans)
Vine writes that dikaioma
what God has declared to be right
(dikaioma), here referring to His decree of retribution. The relative
pronoun “who,” as in verse 25, suggests that what is now to be stated
concerning the sinners mentioned is the cause of the evils just
enumerated. The evils are the effect of the refusal to accept and follow
what they know to be right. Man’s conscience and experience tell him of
the evil character and effects of impurity and cruelty, and their Divine
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson )
Dikaioma has 3 basic meanings
in the NT:
(1) Dikaioma most often refers
to a regulation relating to a just or right action, especially in
reference to God's requirements, ordinances or regulations. In other
words, dikaioma is used to refer to an act which is in accordance
with what God requires. It is an appointment of God having the force of
And they [Zacharias and Elizabeth,
parents of John the Baptist] were both righteous in the sight of God,
walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements
(dikaioma) of the Lord." Luke 1.6
If therefore the uncircumcised man
keeps the requirements (dikaioma) of the Law, will not his
uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Romans 2:16
For what the Law could not do, weak
as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the
likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in
the flesh, 4 in order that the requirement (dikaioma) of the Law
might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but
according to the Spirit. Romans 8:3-4
Now even the first covenant had
regulations (dikaioma) of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary.
since they (Jewish gifts and
sacrifices called for under the Old Covenant) relate only to food and
drink and various washings, regulations (dikaioma) for the body
imposed until a time of reformation.
(2) Dikaioma can refer to the
fulfillment of a legal requirement, a righteous deed or an act of
justice, by Christ (Ro 5.18), by God (Rev 15.4) or by saints (Rev 19.8).
So then as through one transgression
there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of
righteousness (dikaioma - here a reference to the Death of Christ,
an act accomplished and consistent with God's character) there resulted
justification of life to all men." Romans 5:18 Here the a righteous act
is that of our Lord Jesus Christ in satisfying the demands of the law
which mankind broke.
"Who will not fear, O Lord, and
glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy; For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME
AND WORSHIP BEFORE THEE, For Thy righteous acts have been
revealed." Rev 15.4
And it was given to her to clothe
herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the
righteous acts of the saints.
(3) Dikaioma is used once to
signify the clearing of someone of a violation as an act of
justification. In this use it equates with the removal of guilt or
granting of an acquittal.
And the gift is not like that which
came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose
from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand
the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in
justification (dikaioma = here refers to a "declaration of
righteousness"). Romans 5.16
THAT THOSE WHO
PRACTICE SUCH THINGS: hoti oi ta toiauta prassontes (PAPMPN):
Practice...practice - The
first verb is prasso and the second verb is poieo. See
discussion of these verbs under prasso below.
(prasso) means to practice but is distinguished from
poieo which means "to do", because prasso
expresses a course of conduct (even the
of poieo expresses a series of repeated acts -- see note by Vine
The predominant idea conveyed by
prasso in its NT uses is to bring about or accomplish an
objective through some activity (Ro 1:32, 2:3, Ac 5:35, 26:20, 2Co 5:10,
etc). In a few NT uses prasso means to engage in activity or behave in a
certain way (Acts 3:17, 17:7).
Prasso has an rare meaning
of to collect what is due in Lk 3:13, 19:23.
Vine adds that prasso...
practise, though this is not always to be pressed. The Apostle John, in
his Epistles, uses the continuous tenses (present tense
) of poieō, to indicate a practice, the habit of doing something,
e.g., 1Jn 3:4 (cp poieo in 1 Jn 3:8, 9 where the sense of practising is
the meaning). John uses prasso twice in the Gospel, Jn 3:20 and
Jn 5:29. The Apostle Paul uses prasso in the sense of practising,
and the R.V. so renders the word in Ro 1:32; 2:2...
Generally speaking, in Paul’s Epistles poieō denotes an action
complete in itself, while prassō denotes a habit. The difference
is seen in Ro 1:32.
poieō stresses the accomplishment, e.g., “perform,” in Ro 4:21;
prassō stresses the process leading to the accomplishment, e.g.,
“doer,” in Ro 2:25.
In Ro 2:3 he
who does, poieō, the things mentioned, is warned against
judging those who practise them, prassō.
The distinction in John 3:20, 21 is noticeable: “Every one that does (prassō,
practises) ill … he that does (poieō) the truth,” While we cannot
draw the regular distinction, that prassō speaks of doing evil things,
and poieō of doing good things, yet very often “where the words assume
an ethical tinge, there is a tendency to use the verbs with this
distinction” (Trench, Syn., § xcvi).
W E: Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament
Words. 1996. Nelson)
Prasso in Romans 1:32 is in the
present tense which
emphasizes that this is the habitual practice of these individuals! The old adage "practice makes
perfect" takes on an ironic twist in Ro 1:32. Their practice makes them
perfectly fit for God's righteous judgment!
Friberg writes that
prasso has the following nuances...
transitively (Ed: In grammar, a transitive verb is one which
is or may be followed by an object; a verb expressing an action which
passes from the agent to an object);
pressing through on an action carry out, do, accomplish (Ac 26.20);
predominately with a negative evaluation commit, do (Ac 5.35);
denoting intense preoccupation with something busy oneself with,
practice (Ac 19.19); in regard to law practice, observe (RO 2.25); in
regard to taxes, interest, toll duties collect, demand, exact (Lk
intransitively, (Ed: In grammar, an intransitive verb is one
which expresses an action or state that is limited to the agent, or in
other words, an action that does not pass over to, or operate upon an
object) with a qualifying adverb or phrase;
qualify how someone is acting do (Ac 3.17; perhaps 15.29);
(b) to denote
one’s condition be, be situated, be faring (Ep 6.21; perhaps Ac 15.29)
T., Friberg, B., & Miller, N. F. Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New
Testament. Baker Academic)
Thayer has this entry for
prasso (abbreviated) --
exercise, practise, be busy with, carry on”: Acts 19:19; to
mind one’s own affairs, 1Th 4:11; used of performing the duties of an
office, 1Co 9:17. “to undertake to do,” Acts 19:36.
2. “to accomplish, to perform”: has been accomplished, “has taken
place,” Acts 26:26; 2Cor 5:10; Ro 9:11, Acts 26:20; add, Romans 7:15,19;
Philippians 4:9; to do, i.e. keep the law, Ro 2:25; of unworthy acts,
“to commit, perpetrate” is more common in reference to bad conduct; Acts
26:9; 2Co 12:21; “this (criminal) deed,” 1Co 5:2, Lk 22:23; Ac 3:17;
5:35; Ro 7:19; such nameless iniquities, Ro 1:32; Ro 2:1-3; Galatians
5:21; Jn 3:20; 5:29;, Lk 23:15; Ac 25:11,25; 26:31; Ro 7:19; 13:4; Lk
23:41; to bring evil upon one, Acts 16:28.
3. “to manage public affairs, transact public business”
(Xenophon, Demosthenes, Plutarch); from this use has come a sense met
with from Pindar, Aeschylus, Herodotus down, viz. “to exact” tribute,
revenue, debts: Luke 3:13 (here R.V. “extort”); το αργυριον, Luke 19:23
(so agere in Latin, cf. the commentators on Suetonius, Vesp. 1; (cf.
Winer’s Grammar, sec. 42, 1 a.)).
4. intransitive, “to act”: contrary to a thing, Acts 17:7.
5. from Aeschylus and Herodotus down reflexively, how I do, the
state of my affairs, Ephesians 6:21; Acts 15:29
There are 39 uses of prasso
in the NT - Lk 3:13; 19:23; 22:23; 23:15, 41; Jn 3:20; 5:29; Acts 3:17;
5:35; 15:29; 16:28; 17:7; 19:19, 36; 25:11, 25; 26:9, 20, 26, 31; Ro
1:32; Ro 2:1-note,
1Co 5:2; 9:17; 2Co 5:10; 12:21; Gal 5:21-note;
There are 19 uses of prasso
in the Septuagint - Ge 31:28; Jos. 1:7; Job 5:27; 7:20; 24:20;
27:6; 34:21; 35:6; 36:21, 23; Pr. 10:23; 13:10, 16; 14:17; 21:7; 25:28;
26:19; 30:20; Isa. 57:10; Da 6:3; 11:20
ARE WORTHY OF
DEATH: axioi thanatou eisin (3PPAI):
Regarding the idea of worthy,
Middletown Bible suggests...
(think of weighing scales being
balanced) The penalty must balance the crime, the penalty must weigh as
much as the crime.
THE CRIME = see verses 29-31
THE PENALTY = "worthy of DEATH" (verse 32 and see also Romans 5:12 end
Note: The good news of the
gospel is that Jesus Christ paid this penalty when He died on the cross
-- see Romans 5:6-9. Compare Romans 1:18 with Romans 5:6 as you think
about the word "ungodly". Compare Romans 1:18 with Romans 5:9 as you
think about the word "wrath".
[see word study])
means weighing as much as, of like
value, worth as much. It means having the weight of another thing and so
being of like value or worth as much. In other words axios has
the root meaning of balancing the scales—what is on one side of the
scale should be equal in weight to what is on the other side. In the
present context these depraved men and women are fully aware of the fact
that when their unrighteous deeds are weighed in the balance, they
warrant only one thing...death, not simply the natural termination of
life, but the execution of the divine penalty upon sin.
(thanatos from thnesko = to die) refers to physical or
spiritual death. In either event thanatos in the NT is treated
not as a natural process but always as a destroying power related to sin
and its consequences.
In a parallel passage Paul repeats
this thought asking...
Therefore what benefit were you
then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the
outcome of those things is death (Ro 6:21-note)
Godet comments that
denotes death as God only can inflict it, the pains of Hades, which the
Gentiles also recognized, and which Paul, designating things from his
own point of view, calls death. (ibid)
Hodge explains that
"here, as is
frequently the case, means punishment, in the general meaning of that
word. It expresses the penalty of the law and includes all evil
inflicted for the satisfaction of justice. Paul therefore teaches that
the heathen knew they deserved punishment for their crimes, or in other
words, that they were justly exposed to God’s wrath, which was revealed
against all human ungodliness and unrighteousness. In verse 15 of the
following chapter (see exposition of
Romans 2:15) Paul explains the
source of this knowledge. It was a knowledge written in their hearts, as
part of their nature, and it was implied in their being moral agents. As
Paul had already shown that the godlessness of the heathen had no
excuse, since they knew about the true God, so here he shows that their
immorality had no excuse, since they did not sin in ignorance of the
nature or consequences of their sin. This passage also shows that God’s
judicial giving up of mankind does not destroy man’s freedom of choice
or his responsibility. Men give themselves over to do evil, and yet know
that they deserve death for what they do. The stream which carries them
away is not outside but within them. It is their own corrupt nature. It
is themselves." (Commentary
on the Epistle to the Romans -online)
Those who either practice or
approve of these things are worthy of death; they are the worth objects
of the wrath of God. Not simply the natural termination of life, but the
execution of the divine penalty upon sin. This statement is explanatory
of “the ordinance of God.” That ordinance is next stated. It is that
those who do such deeds are worthy of death. The heathen moralists
admitted this. Yet in spite of this knowledge they not only continued in
their vile sins, but took pleasure in them. No deeper degree of
depravity can be found than when men call evil good, and cherish it. The
conclusion, from these facts, is that all such guilty persons are under
THEY NOT ONLY
DO THE SAME: ou monon auta poiousin (3PPAI):
(poieo) expresses action which is continued and not yet completed
as emphasized by the
The same (846)
(monon) means only or alone and with the negative (ou) as in this case
means "not only".
What a description
of this world of sinners, this race alienated from the life of God, —at
enmity with Him, and at strife with one another! But all in a hellish
unity of evil!
Romans 1 gives
ample proof that the heathen are lost. Dan Crawford, British missionary
to Africa, said:
The heathen are sinning against a flood of light.
There is a desperate need for us to carry the Gospel to all men, for
this is the only way they can be saved.
BUT ALSO GIVE
HEARTY APPROVAL TO THOSE WHO PRACTICE THEM: alla kai
suneudokousin (3PPAI) tois prassousin (PAPMPD):
50:18; Hosea 7:3; Mark 14:10,11)
But - Always pause and ponder
term of contrast.
hearty approval (4909)
sun = together with +
eu = good +
dokéo = think) literally means to "think well with", and so to
consent or to give hearty approval to something (cf Lk 11:48).
It means to join in approval, agree with, approve of, consent to or
Suneudokeo is used 6 times
in the NT and is translated -- approve, 1; approving, 1; consents,
2; give hearty approval, 1; hearty agreement, 1 (NAS) as shown in the
"Consequently, you are witnesses and approve the deeds of your
fathers; because it was they who killed them, and you build their tombs.
And Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And
on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem;
and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria,
except the apostles.
'And when the blood of Thy witness Stephen was being shed, I also was
standing by approving, and watching out for the cloaks of those
who were slaying him.'
and, although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice
such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also
give hearty approval to those who practice them.
1 Corinthians 7:12
But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who
is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, let him not
send her away. 13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he
consents to live with her, let her not send her husband away.
The idea is that these men and women continually (present
express a hearty approval of those who continually (present
practice these nefarious deeds and even take pleasure with them! Such is
the mind given over to depravity & self. Not
only is the voice of a reasonable conscience stifled, but the mind has become
absolutely hardened & callous regarding the moral degradation and ruin of others,
and so naturally takes "wicked" pleasure in their sinfulness.
So their sins are not sins of ignorance, but of blatant rebellion. Where does
violence, immorality, cruelty and degradation come from? Men have
abandoned the true knowledge of God, and the state of society is a
reflection of God's judgment upon them for this In summary in this
section we are confronted with three terrible realities: (1) Men have
complete inner knowledge from God that their ways deserve
and must have Divine condemnation and judgment; (2) they persist in
their practices despite the clear witness of their conscience and (3) they are in a
fellowship of evil with other evil-doers! Paul has painted a picture of
man in desperate, dire straits morally speaking and only the gospel of Jesus
Christ can set men free from the ensnaring bonds of such evil.
The premier example of evil men
giving hearty approval is found in the betrayal of Jesus where we
Judas Iscariot, who was one of the
twelve, went off to the chief priests, in order to betray Him to them.
And they were glad when they heard this, and promised to give him
money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time. Mark
The psalmist has a similar
accusation writing that...
"When you see a thief, you are
pleased with him (you join with him, you help him), and you
associate with adulterers." Psalms 50:18
Godet has an interesting
comment writing that...
The "not only", "but even" (NAS =
"but also"), rightly assumes that there is more guilt in approving in
cold blood of the evil committed by others, than in committing it
oneself under the force and blindness of passion. Such a mode of acting
is therefore the last stage in the corruption of the moral sense. (Ibid)
John Piper refers to this
Committing Spiritual Suicide and
Taking Others Along... In other words, the end-point of depravity is not
just the suicidal love affair with sin, but the desire to bring others
with you to destruction. It's not just that people choose death for
themselves in the passion of sin, but that they become Dr. Kevorkians (a
medical doctor who advocated "euthanasia") at the spiritual level, and
assist others in eternal self-destruction by approving their sin."!
Doing and Endorsing Evil)
Pastor Ray Stedman - Knowing that harm is coming from
their wickedness, nevertheless they attempt to spread it more fully.
They invade the field of education; they dominate the media; they seek
legal status for their wickedness and defy all attempts at control. As
you can well recognize, this is what is going on today. (Romans
1:24-32 The Deepening Darkness)
Newell - What a description of this world of
sinners, this race alienated from the life of God, at enmity with Him,
and at strife with one another! But all in a hellish unity of evil! (Romans
DISASTER AND DEGENERACY
GO HAND IN HAND!
Barclay - Paul says one
last thing about these people who have banished God from life. It
usually happens that, even if a man is a sinner, he knows it, and, even
if he allows something in himself, he knows that it is to be condemned
in others. But in those days men had reached such a level that they
sinned themselves and encouraged others to do so. George Bernard Shaw
once said (Ed: albeit still an aberration of truth with "little
g" gods!), "No nation has ever survived the loss of its gods." Here Paul
has given us a terrible picture of what happens when men deliberately
banish God from the reckoning, and, in due time, Rome perished. Disaster
and degeneracy went hand in hand. (Romans
1 - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible - Commentaries)
Haldane explains that their
giving "hearty approval"...
is added to mark the depth of their
corruption. For when men are not entirely abandoned to sin, although
they allow of it in their own circumstances and practice, yet they
condemn it in their general notions, and in the practice of others,
because then it is not connected with their own interest and self–love.
But when human corruption has arrived at its height, men not only
commit sins, but approve of them in those who commit them. While this
was strictly applicable to the whole body of the people, it was
chargeable in the highest degree on the leaders and philosophers, who,
having more light than the others, treated in their schools some of
those things as crimes of which they were not only guilty themselves,
but the commission of which they encouraged by their connivance,
especially in the abominable rites practiced in the worship of their
And so "By these conclusive proofs
Paul substantiates his charge, in Romans 1:18, against the whole
Gentile world, first of ungodliness, and then of
unrighteousness as its consequence, against which the wrath of God
It is impossible to add anything to
the view here given of the reign of corruption among the heathens; even
the most celebrated and civilized, which is fully attested by their own
historians. Nothing can be more horrible than this representation of
their state; and as the picture is drawn by the Spirit of God, who is
acquainted not only with the outward actions, but with the secret
motives of men, no Christian can suppose that it is exaggerated. The
Apostle, then, had good reason to conclude in the sequel, that
justification by works is impossible, and that in no other way can it be
obtained but by grace. From the whole, we see how terrible to his
posterity have been the consequences of the sin of the first man; and,
on the other hand, how glorious in the plan of redemption is the grace
of God by His Son. (Exposition
of the Epistle to the Romans) (Bolding added)
In Romans chapter 1 Paul in fact
has given us a terrible picture of what happens when men deliberately
banish the only true and living God from their reckoning. In due time,
Rome perished. Disaster and degeneracy went hand in hand as they always,
inevitably do when men or women place God far from their minds and
replace Him with so-called "gods" of their own making.
John MacArthur presents an
interesting illustration of man apart from God writing that...
A certain species of ants in Africa
builds its nests in deep subterranean tunnels, where its young and its
queen live. Although they may be great distances from the nest foraging
for food, worker ants of that species are able to sense when the queen
is being molested and they become extremely nervous and uncoordinated.
If she is killed, they become frantic and rush around aimlessly until
they die. What better illustration could there be of fallen man. Even in
his sinful rejection and rebellion, he cannot function properly apart
from God and is destined only for death. (MacArthur, J. Romans. Chicago:
Pastor Ray Pritchard
(see his entire sermon entitled
God Gives Up)
graphically and poignantly summarizes this section of Paul's
introductory statements writing that...
have now reached the bottom, and it is not a nice place to be. The
bottom is where you are when evil becomes good and good becomes evil. (cf
The bottom is where you are when the wrongdoers are publicly praised
while defenders of morality are reviled. The bottom is where you are
when truth is on the scaffold and wrong is on the throne.
Bible has a striking translation of the first part of this verse:
were fully aware of God’s death penalty for these crimes, yet they went
right ahead and did them anyway."
That, my friends, is the
bottom—when evil is celebrated publicly! At this point you have the
total reversal of values in society. I do not think it unfair to say
that we have essentially reached this point in America. The wrongdoers
have nearly taken control of two key areas of modern society—education
and the media. Now they seek legal status for their iniquity. And they
defy all attempts at control. When a major magazine argues that
homosexuality is "normal" and when a public figure is chastised for
speaking out against it, when the churches are ordaining homosexuals and
those who object are mercilessly vilified, when Baptist ministers rally
in support of a boxing champion convicted of rape, when all those things
are true, what you have is the final loss of public morality. No one
knows the difference between right and wrong because the values of
society have been turned upside down." (5 uses of the
phrase "right in his own eyes"! Dt 12:8, Jdg 17:6, Jdg 21:25,
Pr 12:15, Pr 21:2) ...
Let us understand something at this
point. God’s judgment on sin is generally not of the fire and brimstone
variety. That rarely happens. When God wants to judge a community or a
nation, he simply lets sin take its natural course. If we insist on
destroying ourselves, God says,
"OK, go ahead and destroy yourselves.
I won’t stop you."
He simply lets us go our merry way.
The true judgment on the human race is that man has turned away from God
and does not realize it. What is the judgment of God when men turn away
from him? God "gives them up" to their own devices. He lets them follow
their own desires. He doesn’t try to stop their meteoric descent into
God "abandons" the human race by
letting men reap what they sow. Nothing more terrible could ever be
contemplated. When men "abandon" God in their thinking, God "abandons"
them. Why? Because God is a perfect gentleman. He respects the freedom
of the human will. If a man or a woman decides to live without Him, he
"Fine. You can live without me. In
the end, you’ll be sorry. But if that’s your decision, I’ll respect it."
On the evening news, a
commentator’s brief description of Mardi Gras in New Orleans summed up
the spirit of our age. Quoting one young person he said:
“It is sin and degradation, and we love it!”
Hearty approval even though they
know God's ordinances!
Hughes writes that...
"Man reaches the nadir of depravity when he heartily applauds those
who give themselves to sin. To delight in those who do evil is a sure
way to become even more degraded than the sinners one observes. This, I
think, was one of the supreme horrors of the Roman Coliseum. Those
committing the mayhem were supremely guilty, but those watching and
applauding were perhaps even more wretched."
What a telling application this has on our media-captivated society.
Millions sit in their living rooms watching debauchery, violence, deceit
and many other vices—and applaud what they see! It makes little
difference whether the vices are real or portrayed, the effect is much
the same—an increasingly depraved mind on the part of the viewer.
Approving another’s sin or encouraging another’s sin is a sign that life
has reached its lowest dimension.
We Christians are not exempt from this. Satan knows that if he can get
us to laugh at things we believe we would never do, our defenses will
fall. Maybe someday our unwitting approval will give way to action. We
need to be careful what we watch and applaud
As Thomas Aquinas pointed out, according to Psalm 8 man is made a little
lower than the angels. This suggests that man is in a position somewhere
between the angels above and the beasts below. Angels are spirits
without bodies. (Sometimes they take on bodies, but they are spirit
beings.) Animals are bodies without spirits. Man is in between because
he is body and spirit. This puts man in a mediating position. It has
always been man’s prerogative to move upward toward the spiritual or
downward toward the animal, and we become like that upon which we focus.
This is why we cannot sin “a little bit.” All sin moves us downhill
individually, nationally, and culturally.
As our society has moved downward toward the beast, no one seems able to
say, “This far and no further.” No one can put a limit on sensuality.
Our culture has been unable to
draw the line on pornography. Such are the depths and dimensions of depravity.
Why does God give a civilization over to this kind of thing? He does it
because when darkness prevails, and despair and violence are widespread,
men and women are most ready to come to the light. He gives mankind up
so that in their despair they might give themselves to his grace. Do you
remember Isaiah’s prediction?
The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them. (Isaiah 9:2)
In the first century mankind was sunk in the darkness of despair.
Idolatry had penetrated the whole world. Men had turned from the true
God, whom they could have known. In that hour, in the darkness of the
night, over the skies of Bethlehem the angels broke through, and a great
light of hope shone forth. From that hope all light streams. The angels’
message was the coming of the Lord Jesus, the availability of the gift
of “righteousness from God”. Against the growing darkness of our own
time we need to make this message as clear as we possibly can—by our
testimony, by our lives, by the joy and peace of Heaven in our hearts.
God has found a way to break through human weakness, arrogance, despair,
and sinfulness to give us peace, joy and gladness. Just as Jesus was
born in Bethlehem so long ago, so he can be born in any person’s heart
now. This is the good news of the gospel. In this decaying world in
which we live, we can see again the glory of this truth as it delivers
people from their sins.
“You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people
from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Christ came in the darkest night, and he can meet us even in the
midnight of our souls.
Ray Stedman writes that...
If we were to stop right here, we
would say that God's attitude is one ending in wrath and hatred against
these people. This is why so many people have the idea that God is just
sitting up there as the judge, ready to cut off their heads if they get
near him, because of the follies they have perpetrated. But you have
read only half the letter in this case, because, as we read on, the
amazing revelation in this letter is that these people who have insulted
and offended and blasphemed God by their actions, who have refused his
grace, and, in utter thanklessness, have wasted their lives that he is
giving them -- these very people are the ones whom God loved and whom
Christ came to die for.
I read recently of a young man -- a
modern prodigal son -- who had left home and then came back home after
his father died. He was very kindly received by his mother. The day came
for the reading of the father's will, and the family gathered, and the
lawyer began to read the document. To the surprise of all who were
present, the will told in detail all the wayward career of the prodigal
son. As the boy sat and listened to the account of his evil, he arose in
anger and left the house. Nobody heard from him for about three years.
When, eventually, they found him, he was told that the will, after
telling of his waywardness, had gone on to bequeath him $15,000.
This illustrates the way that men and women read the Bible today. They
read this opening chapter of Romans, they read of this terrible
condemnation, and they know how true it is. They know the guilt in their
own lives -- there isn't one of us who hasn't participated to some
degree in some of these things which Romans mentions -- then they stop
there. Or, in anger, they get up in a huff and slam their Bibles shut,
and say, "I don't want to have anything to do with a God like that!"
But, if they read on, they discover that the whole purpose of this is
simply to show them the love of God set against the dark background of
human rebellion, for it is for this kind of people that Jesus Christ
came. It was for them that he gave his life. It was for them that he
poured himself out in death, that they might have restoration and
harmony and be brought back into fellowship with God. For, of these very
selfsame people that Paul describes here, it is written, "while we were
yet sinners, Christ died for us," (Romans 5:8b KJV). This is the proof
of God's amazing love. (Romans
1:18-32: When Everyone Knows God)