What does Romans 1:32 mean?
ESV: Though they know God 's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
NIV: Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
NASB: and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also approve of those who practice them.
CSB: Although they know God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die —they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.
NLT: They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.
KJV: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
NKJV: who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
Verse Commentary:
Paul is referring to the long list of sins he has compiled in the previous verses. These are sins we participate in when God "steps aside," giving us what we think we want. When we ignore His truth, and twist our own minds, we suffer the natural consequences of those choices (Romans 1:18–28). This leads to sin and all sorts of moral decay (Romans 1:29–31).

Here, Paul circles back to the idea that mankind does not do these things in total ignorance. He declares again that human beings, by nature, know these things are wrong. More than that, Paul insists that even when we directly know that God has announced that those who behave in this way deserve to die, we keep doing these things, anyway! More than that, even, we also applaud other people who practice these sins.

This is Paul's short-hand condemnation of the sinful nature of mankind. However, looking at how Paul continues this discussion in the next verse (Romans 2:1), what he is really saying is "this is us." Paul's readers may have been tempted to think, "this is just about unbelievers, not us." Those religious Jews who followed the law, as Paul had once done himself, often thought of everyone else as belonging in the picture of sinful living that Paul has painted in Romans 1:18–31. In the following chapter, however, Paul will reveal that he has, in fact, been describing all of us—even those who attempt to live under the authority of the law of Moses.

It's not that we all do each of the sins listed by Paul in the previous verses. It's that the same root of sin rules in the hearts of each of us, expressing itself in some of these ways, if not others. Paul intends for us to find ourselves in his list of sinful words, actions, and lifestyles. We are all sinful, and we all deserve death.
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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