Romans 1:18-32 – A Paraphrase

Romans 1:18-32 – A Paraphrase April 27, 2013

Roman 1:18-32 could be called “Mapping the Crack Shack of the Human Heart. ” Here is my paraphrase, comments welcomed!

The Pagan World in the Grip of Sin (Rom 1:18-32)

In speaking of God’s saving justice, we cannot forget his punitive justice against evil either. For the righteous rage of God is even now being revealed from heaven against all who act without recourse to God and who descend into utterly wicked ways. I’m talking about those people who suppress the truth about God because they cannot handle God, even though he is there as plain as day before them, as evidenced by the beauty of nature and in the design of the created order. Since the dawn of time, people have seen the invisible God by the finger print that he left on his creation. Deep down they know about his everlasting power and his divine nature, as it is written across the book of nature, and yet they choose not to see it, and leave themselves without excuse for their escapist fantasy of pretending that God is not there.

Despite the fact that they had an innate awareness of God’s existence and attributes, they did not render to him the glory that he deserved as their God, nor did they offer any token of thanks for his providential care over them. Instead, they reasoned their way to unreasonable ideas about God and allowed their hearts to turn from the light of God to the darkness of a world without God. They claimed to have religion and philosophy all figured out, yet they became stupefied by their disbelief. These self-appointed experts sold off the truth of God in order to manufacture a convenient lie; a lie that led them to build miniature statues of gods made in their own image, or else, modelled after birds, beasts, and reptiles (as if these were real “gods” or could compete with the one true God of creation).

So God gave them what they wanted. He gave them over to the sordid desires of their hearts. So they could contaminate and humiliate their soul, mind, and body to their twisted heart’s content. People reached the pit of human existence to the point that they traded the truth about God for a convenient lie that fed their appetite for incessant indulgence. They chose to worship and work for creaturely comforts rather than for the Creator who made them and loves them (praise be to him from here to eternity and ten times infinity).

So God gave them over to their debauched desires. Their women turned away from God’s plan for human sexuality and indulged in sexual acts with each other contrary to how men and women were designed to enjoy love-making. In the same way, many men turned away from God’s intended pattern for sexual intimacy meant to be shared with women and instead they got hot and horny for each other – I mean men getting in on with other men like some kind of shameless sex show – and doing these things to themselves has such an negative effect that it proves in the end to be part of the punishment for doing it.

If that were not bad enough, they did not think it proper to give God his due regard, so God gave them over to a debauched way of thinking ruled by a convoluted logic which led them to justify and do the sorts of thing that no-one in their proper mind would ever think to justify or do. And now they are like jugs of sewage filled to the brim with rank injustice, moral rot, insatiable greed, engrossed with envy, plotting murder, engaged in endless wrangling, given to open treachery, a maelstrom of malevolence, loving violence, full of false accusations, haters of anything or anyone to do with religion, resolutely insolent, utterly arrogant, completely full of themselves, architects of evil, parents of perdition. They have become a horde of senseless, untrustworthy, unfeeling, and unmerciful of sub-human creatures that have divested themselves of a true humanity. They are aware, in some closed recess of their mind, of God’s stipulations against such beastly behaviour, and how those who acts like brute beasts should be terminated like a brute beast. The tragedy is that they not only persist in performing such perverse deeds, but they applaud and approve of those people who do them.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • My only real problem with this rendering is that it does not include Romans 2:1.

  • Patrick

    The passage Michael is alluding to seems(to me) to be telling us that a large part of ancient humanity( I personally believe “they” are the Gentiles dispersed at Babel) went into a total spiritual blackout.

    I don’t see a theological problem with agreeing with that.

    Then, in 2:1-16 Paul asserts that the reader also is doing some of the same things or has some of the same basic mental negativity towards God, so who are we to judge those Babel folks?

    God will have the same combination of judgement and mercy on us as He did them all based on our thinking and conduct. Maybe be quicker to judge us inside the church based on other NT texts.

  • Richard

    Paul would approve, I reckon. Well done.

  • Josh

    Some of the later things Paul says are important to understanding Rom 1.18-32.

    Rom 3.9 (ESV) Answers the question ‘Are we Jews any better off?’ in part saying ‘we have already charged’ (Greek: προῃτιασάμεθα Translit: proētiasametha, Which is suggestive to me that more than one person has been involved in the condemnation of sin in Rom 1.18-32 (Gentiles?) and Rom 2.1-29 (Jews).

    Since Paul is in dialogue with an imaginary Jew (Rom 2.17) and Paul in says to this Jew in Rom 2.1 ‘For in passing judgment on another’ I’m thinking Paul is not the one presented as condemning the Gentiles in Rom 1.18-32 in the dialogue he has with this Jew. Rather the imaginary Jewish opponent is and Paul catches him in it. Because from Rom 2.1 onwards, Paul condemns the Jew who passes this judgement on Gentiles, and goes on to defend the Gentile’s there after.

    So some comments on Rom 1.18-32 and your paraphrase;

    The Jew condemning the Gentiles disassociates himself with those he condemns. You seemed to pick up on this by keeping the ‘them’, ‘their’, and ‘they’ language intact. The speaker puts himself above their behaviour. His condemnation is self righteous and Paul’s tone of Rom 2.1-5 takes issue with him because of this. I would want to play up this aspect of his tone in condemning others, but not himself.

    At the end you’ve paraphrased ‘The tragedy is’. As if he is sympathizing with the punishment God is giving them due to their rejection of him. No, I disagree. The person condemning the Gentiles here doesn’t see God’s punishment (the expression of his wrath by giving them over to more sin) as a tragedy. He says, ‘They deserve to die’. Rom 1.18-32 doesn’t express any concern over their welfare, only self-righteous disassociated disgust. He is basically saying, their sinful behaviour is the way we know God is angry with them and is punishing them. They deserve to die.

    Four questions for Rom 1.18-32;
    Rom 2.1-5 implies Rom 1.18-32 is all part of the same dialogue Paul is having with the imaginary Jew. So we need to be looking at Rom 1.18-32 based on later texts…
    Who is speaking?
    Who is being spoken to?
    Who is being spoken about?
    What are the implications of this for a combined group of Jewish and Gentile Christians in the first century?