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The Epistle to the Romans
Inexcusable (Rom. 1: 19, 20)
We sought to draw attention in our last article to the distribution of the word" wrath"
in Romans, and to the related teaching that wrath is directed against culpable wickedness
and apostasy, particularly that Babylonian phase called" the lie," and which finds
expression in false worship. There is no fury, wrath, or anger to be discovered in Gen. 3:,
where the atmosphere is calm though sad, neither is wrath found in Rom. 5: 12-8: 39.
We now turn our attention to the teaching of Rom. 1: 19-32 in order to learn the history of
Gentile failure and Babylonian triumph. Verses 19 and 21 both begin with dioti =
"because." Both verses follow on from the statement in verse 18 that those spoken of
"suppressed the truth." Their culpability in the matter is made evident by the fact that
"they knew God." How they knew, what they knew, the limitations of this knowledge, the
responsibilities of this knowledge, and the departure from it, with all that it implies, must
now be the subject of our enquiry.
The knowledge of God.
In an age of intellectualism, the child of faith is liable to underrate true knowledge.
Yet a moment's reflection will summon from the Scriptures abundant proof that the
knowledge of God is the goal of redemption, and the strength of the pilgrim. Prophecy
looks forward to no higher manifestation of glory than that the knowledge of the Lord
shall one day cover the earth. It would occupy too much space in this article to deal with
this aspect of the Word, but the reader is directed to the series entitled" Studies in the
Prophets" appearing in these pages for its development. Coming therefore to the
revelation of God to mankind at the beginning we find:
" That which may be known of God is manifest in them." Liddon makes the observation
on the phrase to gnoston tou Theou, that" according to the invariable New Testament and
70: use, this phrase means that which is known, not that which may be known about
God (cf. Luke 2: 44; John 18: 15 ;Acts 1: 19, 15: 18, 28: 22)." "And Paul is speaking
of an objective body of knowledge which becomes subjective in the phanerosis" (Winer,
Gr. N.T. p. 295). This knowledge becomes manifested in their consciousness; en autois
does not mean" among them" since nooumena kathoratai point to internal manifestation.
If by "natural religion" we mean that which the unaided understanding of man can
formulate from the visible creation, then we have no right to use the term here, for this
knowledge was as much a revelation from God as is the written Word.
" For God hath made it manifest to them."-" That which is known of God": truly the
written revelation makes God known in a way that can never be accomplished by the
works of His hands, nevertheless the knowledge of God here indicated was very
comprehensive. It was so far a revelation as to deal with" His invisible things," these
things being further defined as " His eternal power and deity." The word translated"
eternal" here is not the familiar aionios which means" age long," but aidios. Some there
are who consider this word as coming from the same word as Hades, and render it "