Toward a Biblical Apologetic -- By: Charles M. Horne

Journal: Grace Journal
Volume: GJ 02:2 (Spring 1961)
Article: Toward a Biblical Apologetic
Author: Charles M. Horne

Toward a Biblical Apologetic

Charles M. Horne

Instructor in Bible and Theology
Moody Bible Institute

The Pauline apologetic is exhibited in five passages especially: Romans 1:18ff, 2:14–15; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Acts 14:15ff; and Acts 17:22ff. The first three texts present this apologetic in its formal statement; the latter two in its practical outworking. In the present article we shall consider only the first of these passages—Romans 1:18ff. Two primary questions have been before the writer in his exegetical study of this Scripture portion: (1) What is the purpose of general (or natural revelation in a Christian apologetic? (2) What does the natural man know (or what may he know) of God?

Romans 1:18ff.

Even as the righteousness of God is being revealed toward those who are of faith (v. 17), so likewise the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all sinners (v. 18). Let us note then:

1. The Nature of the Wrath. Orge is from orgao, meaning to teem, to swell. This wrath is not a sudden explosive and uncontrolled emotion of God. It is rather a fixed, controlled passionate anger against sin. “Wrath is the holy revulsion of God’s being against that which is the contradiction of his holiness.”1 (Orge should be contrasted with thumos, for the latter term denotes sudden outbursts of anger.) God’s wrath is His “No!” to man in sin; God’s righteousness is His “Yes!” to man in Christ.

It should further be observed that this wrath is presently being revealed. Verses 24ff delineate how it is now being disclosed; namely, in the giving up of sinners to their sins with the accompanying effects. (The present tense controls this entire passage referring to the ever continuous knowledge of God which men through natural revelation have together with their constant disregard of that knowledge. The aorists of this section do not refer therefore to the Fall but are best understood as gnomic).2

2. The Source of the Wrath. “From heaven,” that is, from God.

3. The Extent of the Wrath. “Against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” This fixed, controlled, passionate anger of God against sin i...

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