For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
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Just as the righteousness of God is revealed in the one who believes, as I recalled earlier, so ungodliness and unrighteousness are revealed in the one who does not believe. From the very structure of heaven it appears that God is angry with them. For this reason he made the stars so beautiful that from them he might be known as their great and wonderful Creator, and alone be adored. It is written in the eighteenth psalm: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork,” and so the human race is made guilty by the natural law. For men could learn this by the law of nature, with the structure of the world bearing witness that God its author ought alone to be loved, which Moses put down in writing. But they became ungodly, not worshiping the Creator, and so unrighteousness appeared in them, in that seeing they suppressed the truth, not confessing the one God. Commentary on Paul’s Epistles.
Those whom the apostle reproved knew but did not give thanks and, claiming to be wise, actually became fools and fell into idolatry. For when the apostle spoke to the Athenians, he showed plainly that the wise among the Gentiles had discovered the Creator…. He condemned the unbelief of the Gentiles first, in order to show that they could obtain grace if they converted. For it would be unjust for them to suffer a penalty for unbelief but not obtain the reward of faith.
Generally speaking there are two main types of sin—discord with God and discord with one’s neighbor. Paul mentions them both, putting discord with God first because it is the greater sin, and calling it “ungodliness.” He then mentions the second kind of discord, the one with one’s neighbor, calling it “wickedness.” He even states that our entire race has rightly come under judgment, saying that they have suppressed the truth in wickedness. Nor can they claim to be ignorant, for knowing the truth, they perverted it…. And outlining their sins, Paul lists the one against God first, saying that they had clear and plain knowledge about God because God had revealed himself to them. .
For the wrath of God is revealed He begins to speak of the heathens, and of the wicked world, whose sins God punisheth from time to time with visible chastisements of plagues, famines, wars and that because they detain the truth of God in injustice, or in iniquity, that is, because they have not honoured God, even according to the knowledge which he has given them of him, especially their philosophers. (Witham)
And as the wrath of God did then descend upon the unrighteous, here also does the apostle likewise say: "For the wrath of God shall be revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of those men who hold back the truth in unrighteousness."
Observe the discretion of Paul, how after encouraging by the gentler things, he turns his discourse to the more fearful. For after saying that the Gospel is the cause of salvation and of life, that it is the power of God, that it genders salvation and righteousness, he mentions what might well make them fear that were heedless of it. For since in general most men are not drawn so much by the promise of what is good as by the fear of what is painful, he draws them on both sides. For this cause too did God not only promise a kingdom, but also threaten hell. And the Prophets spoke thus with the Jews, ever intermingling the evil with the good. For this cause too Paul thus varies his discourse, yet not any how, but he sets first the good things, and after the evil, to show that the former came of the guiding purpose of God, but the latter of the wickedness of the backsliding. And in this way the prophet puts the good first, saying, If you be willing and will obey me, you shall eat the good ...
Notice Paul’s discretion, that after encouraging the Romans by the gentler things he turns to the more dreadful ones. For after saying that the gospel is the cause of salvation and life, that it is the power of God, and that it brings forth salvation and righteousness, he mentions what might well make them fear, if they were heedless of it. For since in general most men are drawn not as much by the promise of what is good as by the fear of what is painful, Paul draws them on both sides. It was because of this that God not only promised a kingdom; he threatened hell as well. The prophets spoke to the Jews in the same way, always mingling the evil with the good. Paul changes tack for the same reason, but not arbitrarily. Notice how he puts the good things first and after them the bad ones, in order to show that the former came from the guiding purpose of God but the latter from the wickedness of their backsliding. The prophet also puts the good first: “If you are willing and obedient you...
When, again, he declares that "the wrath (of God) is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness".
The wrath, therefore, which is to vindicate truth, can only be revealed from heaven by the God of wrath;