Wrath Revealed- Romans 1:18-20
In the first chapter of Romans, Paul tells us of God’s dealings with those who do not believe in and accept Him. He begins here, in verse 18, by telling us that the “wrath of God is being revealed”. The Greek translated is being revealed is the present participle of apokalypto, and what is of interest here is the use of the present tense, that God’s wrath here is not some future judgment in hell, but is being experienced here and now. Wrath here is orge, anger, and refers to the normal response of God toward sin, sin brings God’s wrath. That wrath here is poured out on “all godlessness and wickedness”. The use of “all” here shows that no sin goes unpunished, none escapes His wrath. That wrath is against godlessness and wickedness, with godlessness here expressing action and wickedness expressing attitude, believing and living as if God does not exist or does not matter. They live in godlessness and wickedness because they “suppress the truth”. The Greek word translated suppress here is katecho, literally to “hold down”, and can be defined here as “to take firm and secure possession of”. It is also a present participle, and its usage here expresses continual action, continual suppression of the truth. They live in godlessness and wickedness because they take firm and secure possession of the truth, they determine for themselves what is true or false, what is right or wrong, rather than accepting what God says is true or false, right or wrong. This wrong attitude then produces wrong actions, the suppression of the truth here being done “in wickedness”, the attitude of believing God does not exist or does not matter resulting in behaving as though God does not exist or does not matter. Since, in verse 19, is dioti- because, and it lets us know here that God’s wrath is justified, since their are things which “may be known about God” which are “plain to them”. God has made the facts that He exists and that He matters plain for all to see, and He has done so through creation and conscience. Through the created order He has revealed His existence, anyone who objectively looks at the majesty, complexity and intricacy of the physical creation would be able to readily realize and accept the fact that there is a creator. Through the existence of conscience, through the fact that every human being instinctively knows that certain things are right and others are wrong, He has also revealed the fact of His existence and the fact that He does matter. Through these two avenues, creation and conscience, God has made plain to all humanity the reality of His existence, and that someone outside themselves determines what is true or false, right or wrong. Paul then continues his exposition of wrath revealed in verse 20 through the use of the word “for”, following it with the Greek word apo, translated in NIV as “since”, but more properly translated as “from”, with the knowledge of God being revealed not since the creation of the world (since they were not there to see it), but from the creation of the world, the creation being the source of God’s making it plain to them. What God reveals through the creation is His invisible qualities, for we cannot “see” God physically but can “see” Him through the creation, and what we can see is His “eternal power and divine nature”, we can see His omnipotence through the existence of the creation and His “Godness” through the fact that there are such things as right and wrong and they are universally recognized. We then are informed as to what kind of seeing Paul refers to here through his use of the Greek kathorao- to perceive or comprehend. We can perceive the fact of God’s existence and His prerogative to determine what is right or wrong through creation and conscience, and because of all of this men are “without excuse”. Because of this, God’s wrath being revealed and poured out is both right and just, for all are able to perceive that “He is and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6) and pours out His wrath on those who do not.