By Andrew E. Courtis
Paul introduced his letter by announcing the good news of the gospel (1:1-17), but now he begins the first major section of his letter (1:18-3:20). In this section he unmasks the sinfulness of all humanity (Jew and Gentile), revealing humanity’s need for the righteousness of God. Romans 1:18-32 exposes the sinfulness of Gentiles, 2:1-3:8 the guilt of the Jews, and 3:9-20 provides the summary that all have sinned.
Study Summary: In this passage Paul discusses the reality of God’s wrath being revealed. He does this by showing the reasons for it and the results of it.
The wrath of God refers to that attribute in which He has a holy hatred and anger against sin. It is “revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (1:18). When it comes to knowing God’s existence, mankind is without excuse for He has made Himself known in creation (1:19-20 cf. Psalm 19:1).
1. THE REASONS FOR GOD’S REVEALED WRATH (1:21-23)
Why is God’s wrath revealed against unbelieving Gentiles? They ignored what He revealed about Himself in creation and committed treason against their Creator. This is demonstrated by their refusal to honour Him (1:21). Instead, they rejected the truth and chased after their sinful desires and replaced the worshiping of God with the worshipping of idols (1:22-23).
2. THE RESULTS OF GOD’S REVEALED WRATH (1:24-32)
What is the outcome of this horrible rejection of their Creator? Three times in the following verses Paul writes that “God gave them up” (1:24, 26, 28). This refers to an act of judgment in which God allows the individual to reap the consequences of their sin. This judgment goes from bad to worse as the individuals continue to replace worshipping God with worshipping of idols. The sin of homosexuality (“dishonourable passions” 1:26) and all the other sins listed in this passage (1:29-30) are the consequences of people who have rejected their Creator and chosen to pursue their own selfish desires.
This passage provides us with clear insight into the devastating outcome of those who reject God’s revelation and refuse to worship Him, and live according to their selfish desires. God’s wrath will be unleashed.
- What do the following verses teach us about God’s wrath? Psalm 7:11; Naham 1:2; John 3:36; Rom. 1:18; Rev. 19:15
- Who is Paul talking about in 1:18-32?
- What does creation teach us about God? See 1:18-20 and Psalm 19:1
- Discuss the reasons for God’s revealed wrath in 1:21-23
- How is the sin of homosexuality an example of humanity distorting God’s created order? See 1:24-31