What does Romans 1:20 mean?
ESV: For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
NIV: For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
NASB: For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, being understood by what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
CSB: For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse.
NLT: For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
KJV: For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
NKJV: For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
Verse Commentary:
According to the previous verses, those who are unrighteous before God do not want to know about Him, so they try to suppress the truth about God. To some extent, this is true of all human beings, since we all sin (Romans 3:23). Paul has shown that God has plainly shown what is knowable about Him to everyone (Romans 1:18–19). How has He done that? This verse answers that it is obvious from what He has made.

Specifically, Paul asserts that human beings can easily know at least some things about God by looking at creation. We should look at what is visible around us in nature, what God has made, and arrive at some obvious conclusions about what is not visible. Adding one and one together, we should understand from nature that God has eternal power and a divine nature. David said something similar in Psalm 19:1–6.

After all, Paul seems to be saying, what kind of power would it take to make the world and all that is in it? Such a feat would require "eternal power," or endless and inexhaustible power. Such a Creator must also be divine and not merely human. He must be God, in other words. Human beings should look at creation and decide there must be a God who made it, a God we must answer to on some level.

Especially in our era, some might argue that reaching such a conclusion by looking at nature is not a given. After all, the prevailing alternative theories about the origins of our universe may lead someone to decide that just the opposite is true: There is no God. God does not accept that argument. This passage is especially important when viewed in context with Jesus' comments in Matthew 7:7–8. God gives every single person enough knowledge that they should seek Him. Those who respond by seeking God will always find Him.

If human beings do not "work out" the basic nature of God from what is seen in creation, and seek Him from there, they are simply "without excuse." They are willfully ignoring the obvious. God insists that He has made it plain to human reasoning and that to decide otherwise is to suppress the truth we know by nature.
Verse Context:
Romans 1:18–32 describes why God rightfully condemns humanity and some of what He has done about it. Humanity's fall is pictured as a downward progression. It starts with rejecting God as creator, refusing to see what can be known about Him by what He has made. We also reject that He is our provider and stop giving Him thanks. We worship His creation instead of Him. Finally, God acts by giving us over to the unchecked expression of our corrupt sexual desires and all other kinds of sin. In part, He expresses His wrath by giving us what we want and condemning us to suffer the painful consequences.
Chapter Summary:
Romans 1 introduces Paul and his purpose in writing this letter to the Christians in Rome. As servant and apostle of Jesus, Paul's mission in life is to preach the gospel of Jesus to all people groups, both Jews and Gentiles. He hopes to do so in Rome soon. Paul is not ashamed of the gospel. It is God's power for the salvation of all people by faith in Christ. We need to be saved because God is angry with us. Because of our sin, humanity has rejected Him as creator and provider. We worship created things, instead. In response, God has given us over to indulge in all kinds of sinful practices that lead to misery now and His angry judgment later.
Chapter Context:
Romans 1 begins with Paul's introduction of himself and his mission to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. After telling the Christians in Rome that he is eager to come see them and preach the gospel there, Paul declares that the gospel is God's power to save everyone who believes in Jesus. We need to be saved, because our sin has earned God's wrath. As a whole, humanity has rejected God as creator and provider. We worship creation instead of Him. In response, He has given us over to the full indulgence of our sinful desires. We are guilty and deserve His judgment.
Book Summary:
The book of Romans is the New Testament's longest, most structured, and most detailed description of Christian theology. Paul lays out the core of the gospel message: salvation by grace alone through faith alone. His intent is to explain the good news of Jesus Christ in accurate and clear terms. As part of this effort, Paul addresses the conflicts between law and grace, between Jews and Gentiles, and between sin and righteousness. As is common in his writing, Paul closes out his letter with a series of practical applications.
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