False and True Worship in Romans 1:18-25 -- By: Ronald E. Man

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 157:625 (Jan 2000)
Article: False and True Worship in Romans 1:18-25
Author: Ronald E. Man


False and True Worship in Romans 1:18-25

Ronald E. Mana

In Romans 1:18–3:20 Paul described the sinful condition of humans in all its darkness.1 He did this so that by contrast the light of the gospel (in 3:21–5:21) might shine all the more brightly. In 1:18–32 especially, he portrayed the downward spiral into succeeding depths of degradation that inevitably accompanies willful rejection of God. In their blind folly people have “exchanged the truth of God for a lie” (v. 25), “worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (v. 25), and “suppress[ed] the truth in unrighteousness” (v. 18). The first part of this section (vv. 18–25) includes powerful statements about the purpose for which humanity was originally created—the worship of the Creator—and about the potential restoration of that purpose through the grace of God (v. 7) and the gospel, “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (v. 16). As sin’s degradation is universal, so the offer of salvation and restored worship is universal.

The Folly of Humans

The connecting word “for” at the start of Romans 1:18 introduces Paul’s reason for asserting that the gospel is the only hope of salvation for the unregenerate, and that the righteousness of God through faith is the only remedy for unrighteousness (vv. 16–17).2

The “wrath of God” is described as already being revealed (v. 18), which is also true of the “righteousness of God” (v. 17).3 Harrison states that the present revealing of God’s wrath, while not obviating the certainty of ultimate future judgment of sinners, “means that the unfolding of history involves a disclosure of the wrath of God against sin, seen in the terrible corruption and perversion of human life.”4 God’s wrath here speaks of His righteous displeasure with sinful man’s utter ...

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