that He does not actually make you willing. I do not believe that God would neglect anything that He saw to be wise and benevolent, in the great matter of man's salvation. Who can believe that He could give His only-begotten and well-beloved Son to die for sinners, and then neglect any wise and benevolent means for their salvation? No, sinner, if you are a reprobate, it is because God foresaw that you would do just as you are doing; that you would be so wicked as to defeat all the efforts that He could wisely make for your salvation. What a variety of means He has used with you. At one time He has thrown you into the furnace of affliction; and when this has not softened you, He has turned round and loaded you with favors. He has sent you His word, he has striven by His Spirit, He has allured you by the cross; He has tried to melt you by the groanings of Calvary; and tried to drive you back from the way to death, by rolling in your ears the thunders of damnation. At one time clouds and darkness have been round about you; the heavens have thundered over your head; divine vengeance has hung out, all around your horizon, the portentous clouds of coming wrath. At another time mercy has smiled upon you from above like the noonday sun, breaking through an ocean of storms. He urges every motive; He lays heaven, earth and hell, under perpetual contributions for considerations to move your stony heart. But you deafen your ears, and close your eyes, and harden your heart, and say, "Cause the holy one of Israel to cease from before us" (Isaiah 30:11). And what is the inference from all this? How must all this end? "Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the Lord has rejected them" (Jeremiah 6:30).

Isaiah 30:11

11 Get out of the true way, turn aside out of the path, cease holding up before us the Holy One of Israel.

Jeremiah 6:30

30 Men will call them reprobate and rejected silver [only dross, without good metal], because the Lord has rejected them. AMP

When sinners are reprobated.

1. In respect to the act of casting them off, they are cast away only when, and not until, the cup of their iniquity is full.

2. In respect to the purpose of reprobation, they are in the purpose of God reprobated or rejected from eternity. This follows irresistibly from the omniscience and immutability of God. He has certainly and necessarily had from eternity all the knowledge He ever can or will have of the character of all men, and must have designed from all eternity all things respecting them which He ever will design. This follows from His unchangeableness. If He ever does cast off sinners, He must do it designedly or undesignedly. He cannot do it without any design. He must therefore do it designedly. But if He does it designedly, it must be either that He eternally entertained this design, or that He has changed. But change of purpose or design is inconsistent with the moral immutability of God. Therefore, the purpose of reprobation is eternal; or the reprobates were in the fixed purpose of God cast off and rejected from eternity.

Reprobation is just.

Is it not just in God to let men have their own choice, especially when the highest possible motives are held out to them as inducements to choose eternal life? What! Is it not just to reprobate men when they obstinately refuse salvation when every thing has been done that is consistent with infinite wisdom and benevolence to save them? Shall not men be willing to be either saved or lost? What shall God do with you? You are unwilling to be saved; why then should you object to being damned? If reprobation under these circumstances is not just, I challenge you, sinner, to tell what is just.

(C. G. Finney’s Systematic Theology)

Now a word about:

In a real sense the results of God's condemnation on rebellious humanity are nothing more than the natural consequences of suppressing truth, ignoring revelation, and perverting God's glory. However, God did more than simply let nature take its course. God acted to abandon (the thrice-mentioned "gave them over" [vv. 24,26,28] is paredoken, "abandoned") people to expressions of a corrupt lifestyle that deserved God's wrath and the sentence of death (v. 32).

a. Abandoned to fornication (1:24-25)

1:24. One aspect of mankind's corruption (to which God actively let people go) was sexual profligacy. The frequency of live-in lovers, wife-swapping, and group sex parties today only confirms this result of God's abandonment. Sex within marriage is a holy gift from God, but otherwise sex is impurity (lit., "uncleanness") and the degrading of... bodies by using them contrary to God's intent.

1:25. In a sense this verse repeats the truth of verse 23, but it expresses more. The truth of God is not only the truth concerning God but also God's truth concerning all things, including mankind. This truth is that people are creatures of God and can find true fulfillment only in worshiping and obediently serving God the Creator. A lie (lit., "the lie") on the other hand says that the creature - angelic (Isaiah 14:13-14; John 8:44) or human (Genesis 3:4-5) - can exist independent of God, self-sufficient, self-directing, and self-fulfilling. Mankind made himself his god in place of the true God. Because God the Creator is forever praised (in contrast with creatures who are undeserving of worship), Paul added Amen. This word transliterates in both Greek and English the Hebrew word meaning "so let it be." As an affirmation, not a wish, it places approval on what has just been said (cf. comments on 2 Cor. 1:20).

b. Abandoned to sexual perversion (1:26-27)

1:26-27. Also God gave them over to shameful lusts (lit., "passions of disgrace"). This involved, as the text states, both sexes engaging in homosexual instead of heterosexual relationships. Women deliberately exchanged natural relations (with men in marriage) for unnatural ones (with other women). This is the second "exchange" the unregenerate made (cf. v. 25). Men... were inflamed with lust (orexei, "sexual lust," used only here in the NT and differing from the more common word for lust in v. 26).

The words translated women and men in these verses are the sexual words "females" and "males." Contemporary homosexuals insist that these verses mean that it is perverse for a heterosexual male or female to engage in homosexual relations but it is not perverse for a homosexual male or female to do so since homosexuality is such a person's natural preference. This is strained exegesis unsupported by the Bible. The only natural sexual relationship the Bible recognizes is a heterosexual one (Genesis 2:21-24; Matthew 19:4-6) within marriage. All homosexual relations constitute sexual perversion and are subject to God's judgment. Such lustful and indecent acts have within them the seeds of punishment (due penalty).

c. Abandoned to depraved lifestyle (1:28-32)

1:28. Pagan humanity's rebellion also included the rejection of the knowledge (epignosei, "full knowledge"; cf. v. 32) of God. In a sense they put God out of their minds. God's responding judgment was abandonment (cf. vv. 24,26) to a depraved (adokimon, "disapproved") mind, which expressed itself in attitudes and actions that ought not to be done (lit., "what is unfitting or improper," a technical Stoic word).

1:29-31. The mental vacuum created by dismissing God was filled (the perf. tense implies filled full) with four forms of active sin: wickedness (adikia; cf. v. 18), evil (poneria), greed, and depravity (kakia, "badness or malice"). These four in turn express themselves in 17 more specific types of wickedness. The first two, envy and murder, sound much alike in Greek: phthonou and phonou. Also the four vices in verse 31 each begin with the Greek letter alpha ("a" in Eng.).

1:32. This whole pattern of evil becomes the lifestyle of people who continue to do (pres. tense implies continuing or habitual action) these very things in open defiance of God, a defiance aggravated (a) by fully knowing (epignontes; cf. v. 28) that such things deserve death and (b) by encouraging others in the same lifestyle. Such extremity of human rebellion against God fully warrants God's condemnation.


2:1. In any generalization such as the preceding blanket indictment of pagan humanity (1:18-32) exceptions to the rule always exist. Obviously some pagans had high ethical standards and moral lifestyles and condemned the widespread moral corruption of their contemporaries. In addition the Jews morally stood in sharp contrast with the pagan world around them and freely condemned the Gentiles. Both groups of moralists might conclude that God's condemnation did not apply to them because of their higher planes of living. But Paul insisted that they also stood condemned because they were doing the same things for which they judged others.

Therefore, Paul declared, at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself. Everyone in the entire human race has turned away from God and commits sins even though there are differences of frequency, extent, and degree. In addition the entire human race, especially moral pagans and the Jews, stood condemned before God (and have no excuse [cf. 1:20]) because God's judgment is based on three divine standards - truth (2:2-4), impartiality (vv. 5-11), and Jesus Christ Himself (vv. 12-16) - which are absolute and infinite, condemning every person.

2:2-3. The first divine standard of judgment is truth. Nowhere in Scripture is God identified as "Truth" as He is as "Spirit" (John 4:24), "Light" (1 John 1:5) and "Love" (1 John 4:8,16), though Jesus did call Himself "the Truth" (John 14:6). But God is called "the God of truth" (Psalms 31:5; Isaiah 65:16). Truth - absolute, infinite truth - is unquestionably one of God's essential attributes. As a result when God's judgment of people is declared to be based on (lit. "according to") "truth," no escape from that judgment is possible for anyone. All are without "excuse" (Romans 2:1) and without "escape." One may be moral and he may even judge his contemporaries as totally enmeshed in a depraved lifestyle, but yet he is judged by God because he does the same things (cf. v. 1).

2:4. By not exacting His divine penalty on sinful humanity immediately, God is displaying the riches of His kindness (chrestotetos, "benevolence in action," also used of God in 11:22; Ephesians 2:7; Titus 3:4), tolerance, and patience (cf. Acts 14:16; 17:30; Romans 3:25). God's purpose is to lead people toward repentance - a return to Him - through His kindness. (This word for "kindness" is chrestos, a synonym of chrestotetos, also trans. "kindness," used earlier in the verse.) Both words mean "what is suitable or fitting to a need." Chrestos is used of God in Luke 6:35 and 1 Peter 2:3 and of people in Ephesians 4:32. Not realizing (lit., "being ignorant of") God's purpose, people showed contempt for (kataphroneis, "you thought down on") God's attributes and actions (cf. "suppress the truth," Romans 1:18). People knew of God's Being through natural revelation (1:19-21,28), but did not know the purpose of His kindness.

2. IMPARTIALITY (2:5-11)

2:5-6. Why are people ignorant of God's intention to be kind? (v. 4) And why do they despise it? It is because of their stubbornness (lit., "hardness"; skleroteta, whence the Eng. "sclerosis") and their unrepentant heart(s). So God's wrath against people's sins is being stored up like a great reservoir until the day when it will all be poured forth in His righteous judgment. On that day God will give to each person according to what He has done (quotation of Psalms 62:12 and Proverbs 24:12). God's judging will be based on the standard of truth (Romans 2:2) and it will be impartial (v. 11).

2:7-11. God will bestow eternal life on those who by persistence in doing good seek (pres. tense, "keep on seeking") glory, honor, and immortality. On the other hand wrath and anger will be the portion of the self-seeking... who reject (lit., "keep on disobeying") the truth and follow (pres. tense, "keep on obeying") evil (adikia, "unrighteousness"; cf. 1:18). Each one who does ("keeps on producing") evil will receive trouble and distress, whereas each one who does ("keeps on working") good will have glory, honor (cf. "glory and honor" in 2:7), and peace. This just recompense by God is without regard to ethnic background or any other consideration except what each person has done.