Romans 1:31 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Romans 1:31, NIV: "they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy."

Romans 1:31, ESV: "foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless."

Romans 1:31, KJV: "Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:"

Romans 1:31, NASB: "without understanding, untrustworthy, unfeeling, and unmerciful;"

Romans 1:31, NLT: "They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy."

Romans 1:31, CSB: "senseless, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful."

What does Romans 1:31 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul's long "vice list" concludes with this verse. He has compiled examples of the sins indulged in by those who reject God with their minds and then with their words and actions. Contained within some of the sins on this list are the naturally painful consequences that come with a life spent apart from and in rebellion against God (Romans 1:29–31). These are the end result of ignoring God's obvious presence in creation (Romans 1:18–20), and testing our minds to reject the truth (Romans 1:21–24).

Paul wraps up the list with four items that begin with the letter "a" in the Greek, bringing his point home with a flourish of alliteration. In Greek, the letter a is a negation, much like the English prefix "non-" or the suffix "-less." Paul describes the human soul that rejects God as asynetous, asynthetous, astorgus, aneló „“eēmonas. One could paraphrase this as "senseless, faithless, loveless, merciless."

First, persons who reject God become debased in their minds (Romans 1:28) and so live in foolishness or without understanding. They have no hope of coming to the right conclusions about life because they have rejected God as the source of life and the giver of wisdom.

Second, we godless humans are faithless. The Greek word asyunthetous refers to someone who will not abide by a treaty, who won't keep his or her word: literally, a "covenant–breaker."

Third, mankind devoid of God's presence is heartless or without affection. We lose the ability to love each other even at the most basic level when we refuse to acknowledge or love God.

Finally, we are ruthless or without mercy. Without God's example to follow, we become unmoved by the suffering of others, even those to whom we ourselves are bringing pain.