Monday, August 5, 2013 4:37 AM

Stripped of Any Defense

Monday, August 5, 2013 4:37 AM
Monday, August 5, 2013 4:37 AM

This verse in Romans1:19–20 tells of the state of the unbeliever at judgment. The one picture of an unbeliever that stands out is the description of the phrase “without excuse”. To better understand this phrase from a legal standpoint it helps to know that this phrase describes someone in a court room standing before God. They have been cross-examined and this examination has clearly shown that they knew God and willfully denied God…therefore their guilt is plain to see, even to them.

 R.H. Mounce states that verses 19 and 20 tell why the wrath of God is being revealed. God, in his creation, has provided sufficient evidence of himself to hold accountable all who reject that revelation… What can be known of God is perfectly clear. God himself made it plain. There is no doubt, however, that creation is the work of a Creator. To demand some sort of absolute proof of God’s existence is simply an indication of the recalcitrant nature of fallen humanity.

 Verse 20 explains that certain invisible attributes of God have been clearly perceived since the world began, specifically, his “eternal power and divine nature.” They are understood from what has been made. The NEB says they are “visible … to the eye of reason.” God has revealed himself in nature in such a way as to hold all people responsible. They are “without excuse.” Seeing the beauty and complexity of creation carries with it the responsibility of acknowledging the Creator both as powerful and as living above the natural order. Disbelief requires an act of rebellion against common sense. It displays fallen humanity’s fatal bias against God. Although the created order cannot force a person to believe, it does leave the recipient responsible for not believing.

 The text says that people are without a defense for their unwillingness to believe. The Greek word translated “without excuse” (anapolog?tous) suggests that from a legal standpoint people had been stripped of any defense. The age-old question about the salvation of the “heathen” is clearly answered in this verse. Nature holds people responsible to believe in a God of eternal power. The question of what may or may not constitute the minimum requirements for salvation is not dealt with here. To rebel against God’s self-revelation in nature is to incur the results of that rebellion. Things visible call for a power that is invisible. The idea that matter has always existed is an impossible premise for the logical mind. The view that behind the visible world there must exist an invisible Being is far more reasonable. So those who do not believe are without excuse.[1]

[1] Mounce, R. H. (2001). Vol. 27: Romans (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (77–79). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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