New American Standard Bible
and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
King James Bible
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Darby Bible Translation
who knowing the righteous judgment of God, that they who do such things are worthy of death, not only practise them, but have fellow delight in those who do them.
World English Bible
who, knowing the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also approve of those who practice them.
Young's Literal Translation
who the righteous judgment of God having known -- that those practising such things are worthy of death -- not only do them, but also have delight with those practising them.
Romans 1:32 Parallel
CommentaryBarnes' Notes on the Bible
Who knowing - That the Gentiles had a moral sense, or were capable of knowing the will of God in this case, is clear from Romans 2:14-15. The means which they had of arriving at the knowledge of God were, their own reason, their conscience, and an observation of the effects of depravity.
The judgment of God - The word "judgment" here denotes the declared sentiment of God that such things deserved death. It does not mean his inflictions, or his statutes or precepts; but it means that God thought or judged that they which did such things ought to die. As they were aware of this, it showed their guilt in still persevering in the face of his judgments, and his solemn purpose to inflict punishment.
Were worthy of death - The word "death" in the Scriptures is often used to denote punishment. But it does not mean here that these deserved capital punishment from the civil magistrate, but that they knew they were evil, and offensive to God, and deserving of punishment from his hand; see John 8:51; Romans 5:12-19.
Have pleasure ... - They delight in those who commit sin; and hence, encourage them in it, and excite them to it. This was a grievous aggravation of the offence. It greatly heightens guilt when we excite others to do it, and seduce them from the ways of innocence. That this was the case with the pagan there can be no doubt. People do not commit sin often alone. They need the countenance of others. They "join hand in hand," and become confederate in iniquity. All social sins are of this class; and most of those which the apostle mentioned were sins of this character.
If this revolting and melancholy picture of the pagan world was a true representation, then it was clear that there was need of some other plan of religion. And that it was true has already in part been seen. In the conclusion of this chapter we may make a few additional observations.
1. The charges which the apostle makes here were evidently those which were well known. He does not even appeal to their writings, as he does on some other occasions, for proof; compare Titus 1:12. So well known were they, that there was no need of proof. A writer would not advance charges in this manner unless he was confident that they were well-founded, and could not be denied.
2. They are abundantly sustained by the pagan writers themselves. This we have in part seen In addition we may adduce the testimony of two Roman writers respecting the state of things at Rome in the time of the apostle. Livy says of the age of Augustus, in some respects the brightest period of the Roman history, "Rome has increased by her virtues until now, when we can neither bear our vices nor their remedy." Preface to his History. Seneca, one of the purest moralists of Rome, who died in 65 a.d., says of his own time, "All is full of criminality and vice; indeed much more of these is committed than can be remedied by force. A monstrous contest of abandoned wickedness is carried on. The lust of sin increases daily; and shame is daily more and more extinguished. Discarding respect for all that is good and sacred, lust rushes on wherever it will. Vice no longer hides itself. It stalks forth before all eyes. So public has abandoned wickedness become, and so openly does it flame up in the minds of all, that innocence is no longer seldom, but has wholly ceased to exist." Seneca de Ira, ii. 8. Further authorities of this kind could be easily given, but these will show that the apostle Paul did not speak at random when he charged them with these enormous crimes.
3. If this was the state of things, then it was clear that there was need of another plan of saving people. It will be remembered that, in these charges, the apostle speaks of the most enlightened and refined nations of antiquity; and especially that he speaks of the Romans at the very height of their power, intelligence, and splendor. The experiment whether man could save himself by his own works, had been fairly made. After all that their greatest philosophers could do, this was the result, and it is clear that there was need of some better plan than this. More profound and laborious philosophers than had arisen, the pagan world could not hope to see; more refinement and civilization than then existed, the world could not expect to behold under paganism. At this time, when the experiment had been made for four thousand years, and when the inefficacy of all human means, even under the most favorable circumstances, to reform mankind, had been tried, the gospel was preached to people. It disclosed another plan; and its effects were seen at once throughout the most abandoned states and cities of the ancient world.
4. If this was the state of things in the ancient pagan world, the same may be expected to be the state of paganism still. And it is so. The account given here of ancient pagans would apply substantially still to the pagan world. The same things have been again and again witnessed in China, and Hindostan, and Africa, the Sandwich islands, and in aboriginal America. It would be easy to multiply proofs almost without end of this: and to this day the pagan world is exhibiting substantially the same characteristics that it was in the time of Paul.
5. There was need of some better religion than the pagan. After all that infidels and deists have said of the sufficiency of natural religion, yet here is the sad result. This shows what man can do, and these facts will demonstrate forever that there was need of some other religion than that furnished by the light of nature.
6. The account in this chapter shows the propriety of missionary exertions. So Paul judged; and so we should judge still. If this be the state of the world, and if Christianity, as all Christians believe, contains the remedy for all these evils, then it is wisdom and benevolence to send it to them. And it is not wisdom or benevolence to withhold it from them. Believing as they do, Christians are bound to send the gospel to the pagan world. It is on this principle that modern missions to the pagan are established; and if the toils of the apostles were demanded to spread the gospel, then are the labors of Christians now. If it was right, and wise, and proper for them to go to other lands to proclaim "the unsearchable riches of Christ," then it is equally proper and wise to do it now. If there was danger that the pagan world then would perish without the gospel, there is equal danger that the pagan world will perish now.
7. If it should be said that many of these things are practiced now in nations which are called Christian, and that, therefore, the charge of the apostle that this was the effect of paganism could not be well-founded, we may reply,
(1) That this is true, too true. But this very fact shows the deep and dreadful depravity of human nature. If such things exist in lands that have a revelation, what mush have been the state of those countries that had none of its restraints and influences? But,
(2) These things do not exist where religion exerts its influence. They are not in the bosom of the Christian church. They are not practiced by Christians. And the effect of the Christian religion, so far as it has influence, is to call off people from such vices, and to make them holy and pure in their life. Let religion exert its full influence on any nominally Christian nation, and these things would cease. Let it send its influence into other lands, and the world, the now polluted world, would become pure before God.
LibraryThird Sunday after Easter
Text: First Peter 2, 11-20. 11 Beloved, I beseech you as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12 having your behavior seemly among the Gentiles; that, wherein they speak against you as evil-doers, they may by your good works, which they behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13 Be subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether to the king, as supreme; 14 or unto governors, as sent by him for vengeance on evil-doers and for praise …
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. II
The Gospel the Power of God
The Holy Spirit in the Glorified Christ.
Proposition Though the Necessity and Indispensableness of all the Great and Moral Obligations of Natural Religion,
"When you see a thief, you are pleased with him, And you associate with adulterers.
Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, But those who keep the law strive with them.
With their wickedness they make the king glad, And the princes with their lies.
"So you are witnesses and approve the deeds of your fathers; because it was they who killed them, and you build their tombs.
Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
'And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I also was standing by approving, and watching out for the coats of those who were slaying him.'
Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.
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