Paul starts out introducing himself to the Romans, who had never met him. We, though, are familiar with him and can skip verses 1-17 because they really add nothing to the argument, except verse 17. This is really the theme for the whole book. It states, “The righteous man shall live by faith.” Always keep that in mind as you ponder each chapter. Forget it and you can go astray.
First, we face the question, “What about the people in outer Smerton who have never heard the Gospel? God can’t throw them into hell.” Paul says, “That which is known about God, God has made evident. His invisible attributes, His eternal power, and divine nature have been clearly seen through what is made.” To understand that, let’s look at the stars. Now days, scientists can see more galaxies than they can see individual stars. Every time we turn around, the universe seems greater than ever. Imagine what power it took to make that. Even the ancients could see the vastness of the Milky Way Galaxy and could see that His power was immense. This teaches us that God is omnipotent.
Next, we look at the age of the universe. The ancients talk of the eternal hills. They could calculate that it took 26,000 years for the north pole to spin and come back to the same star. We have now calculated that the earth is some 5 billion years old and that the universe is about 13 billion years in age. This means that God is far older, showing that He is eternal. Furthermore, we make things that last a few years. If we are very fortunate, it is still working after 100 years and needed no repairs in all that time. The ancient people might have thought God made something that kept working for 4,000, 40,000, or 400,000 years without needing repairs. They could see his intelligence. We calculate that the universe has been working for 13 billion years. Truly, an omniscient God. He has been everywhere, making everything, and is everywhere, holding it together. He can be seen to be omnipresent.
So what did the people of lower timbutilla, whose only information is the world, do with the evidence that God is omnipotent, eternal, omniscient and omnipresent? Romans says, “They did not honor God or give thanks.” They started speculating. People like the Sumerians, the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, and finally the Romans each thought themselves wiser than those before, but God says that they just became more foolish. In their worship, they exchanged an omnipotent God for ones that were limited to one type of power, such as the power to fertilize the land in spring. For an eternal God, they substituted God’s of limited duration. The Greeks, as a typical example, tell how the Titans replaced one set of god’s and then the gods under Zeus deposed the Titans. Their gods were not eternal.
Yet again, some gods were limited to one location. Just look at how Jonah was infected with this wrong idea. He jumped on a boat headed for Spain as if God were only powerful in Israel. Others were limited to one power. One might only be the god of disease, the god of thunder, or the god of the sun. They had become darkened in their thinking, making gods in their images that were not omnipresent. Finally, look at the stories that showed the gods could trick each other. They, though far more intelligent than us, didn’t know everything. The Sumerian had a concept that each city’s gods brought certain knowledge to that city. If another town did not have the knowledge, their God could not supply it, they had to steal it from the other city. Truly, they had exchanged an omniscient God for a limited one. In fact, they had made gods in the mage of man, birds, animals, and crawly things.
As a result, God gave them over in three ways. He let them dishonor their bodies, lose control of their emotions, and devise evil mentally. We see some religions that had temple prostitutes. Men broke their marriage covenant and went to the prostitute, who invoked the goddess so their sex would fertilize the land, the wife, or the endeavor. Truly the bodies were dishonored. The Greeks thought differently. They said a woman is for children, but a man is for love. They denigrated the women while burning for young men, and forcing them to be the older man’s lover. This became a set way of life so everyone grew up being taught this would happen to them. Truly, the whole culture was given over. Finally, they lied, cheated, murdered, and bribed the judges to get away with it. Sounds like us today. Though I have given specific examples, everyone was guilty of at least some of these things. Not only did they do these things, but approved the tricky so and so who did it even better. We can now see that the person who never heard is condemned because he can see God’s attributes, but made lesser gods so he could justify doing evil. Now we need to look at those who have had special revelation, the Jews in the second half of the valley.