For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.” Romans 1:18-19

In our last study in Romans we looked at the history of God’s wrath revealed from Heaven.

In this study we will look at the history of the ungodly and unrighteous suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.

The words “ungodliness” and “unrighteousness” are important to understand. The Greek word for “ungodliness” is ἀσέβεια and the word for “unrighteousness” is ἀδικίαν. The word ἀσέβεια was used in Ancient Greek writing for discord with God (irreverence) and ἀδικίαν for discord with other people (immorality). The way Paul wrote the text – πᾶσαν ἀσέβειαν καὶ ἀδικίαν – demonstrates that the discords were to be seen as being demonstrated together by the same people.  “… all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” is the full disobedience of the Ten Commandments and the Law of Christ (Mark 12:28-34) by humans.

As we will see in our study of Romans, Paul addressed the sinfulness of both Jews and Gentiles and we should view God’s wrath being revealed against both. Paul’s use of both words in the same sentence strengthens the force of the expressions and demonstrates God’s rightful position in revealing His wrath against all of them.

Truth Suppressed

As we read through the history of humanity in the record of the Bible we see how ungodly and unrighteous people suppressed the truth in unrighteousness generation after generation. Let’s begin by defining “suppressed.”

The Greek word used in Romans 1:18 is katechó (κατέχω). It translates as “hold down, hold back, bind, restrain, detain, hinder, arrest.”

The literal reads –

“is revealed indeed wrath of God from heaven upon all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, the truth by unrighteousness suppressing”

The logical progression of suppressing truth is –

truth revealed —> truth received (known) —> truth rejected —> truth suppressed by unrighteousness

The stated mechanism by which the receiver of truth rejects and suppresses that truth is “by unrighteousness.”

ἐν ἀδικίᾳ κατεχόντων – by unrighteousness suppressing

The suppression of truth is accomplished by “unrighteousness.” ἀδικίᾳ translates as “injustice, opposite of justice, hurt” and comes from ἄδικος which means “without justice, wicked.” Ancient Jewish Greek writings also use the word ἀδικίᾳ as a term for violence that comes from wickedness. That will be important to remember as we continue our study.

Let’s look at some of the earliest examples of suppressing truth by unrighteousness –

Example 1

God created angels and revealed truth to them —> some angels received God’s truth —> some angels rejected God’s truth —> those angels suppressed God’s truth

How do we know this to be true? Here is the logical flow of information —

God created angels —>

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” John 1:1-2

“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” Colossians 1:16

God revealed truth to them —>

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Job 38:4-7

Some angels received God’s truth —>

“The Lord has established His throne in heaven, And His kingdom rules over all. Bless the Lord, you His angels, Who excel in strength, who do His word, Heeding the voice of His word. Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.” Psalm 103:19-21

Some angels rejected God’s truth —>

“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Luke 10:18

And the devil said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.’ But Jesus answered him, saying, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’” Luke 4:3-4

The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.” Matthew 13:38-39

The sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.” Mark 4:14-15

“I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God.” Acts 26:17-18

“And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.” Romans 16:20

Those angels suppressed God’s truth —>

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die … Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?’ … Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1, 4-5

Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.” John 8:43-45

“For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” 2 Corinthians 11:14

Example 2

God revealed truth to Cain about the power of sin —> Cain heard God’s truth —> Cain rejected God’s truth —>

God revealed truth to Cain about the power of sin —>

So the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” Genesis 4:6-7

Cain heard God’s truth and rejected it —>

“Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’ And He said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.’ And Cain said to the Lord, ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear! Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.’ And the Lord said to him, “Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.’ And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.” Genesis 4:8-15

Example 3

God revealed truth to Cain —> Cain’s family heard God’s truth —> Cain’s descendants rejected God’s truth—>

“Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son—Enoch. To Enoch was born Irad; and Irad begot Mehujael, and Mehujael begot Methushael, and Methushael begot Lamech. Then Lamech took for himself two wives: the name of one was Adah, and the name of the second was Zillah. And Adah bore Jabal. He was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal. He was the father of all those who play the harp and flute. And as for Zillah, she also bore Tubal-Cain, an instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron. And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah.  Then Lamech said to his wives: ‘Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; Wives of Lamech, listen to my speech! For I have killed a man for wounding me, Even a young man for hurting me. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.” Genesis 4:16-24

Example 4

God revealed truth to Seth and Enosh —> Seth and Enosh heard God’s truth —> Seth and Enosh’s descendants rejected God’s truth —>

And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, ‘For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.’ And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the Lord … Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose … Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” ” Genesis 4:25-26; 6:1-2, 5-7

Example 5

God revealed truth to Noah and his sons —> Noah and his sons heard God’s truth —> The descendants of Noah and his sons rejected God’s truth —>

God revealed truth to Noah and his sons —>

So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. Genesis 9:1-2

Noah and his sons heard God’s truth —>

Now the sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And Ham was the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated.” Genesis 9:18-19

The descendants of Noah and his sons rejected God’s truth —>

Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.’ But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, ‘Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.” Genesis 11:1-9

This “suppression of truth” continued throughout the history of God’s people. In just about every major story we read in Scripture we see people suppressing God’s truth – holding it down, holding it back, binding it, restraining it, detaining it, hindering it, arresting it. How did they suppress God’s truth? By (in) “unrighteousness.”

That is the sad history of the human race, summed up in Paul’s statement –

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”

“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”