Romans 1:24-32

Thursday Evening Bible Study

March 20, 2008


Paul has been building a case against mankind, showing that mankind is without excuse when it stands before God because God has made the knowledge of Himself evident to mankind through the creation around us.  But rather than worship the Creator of all things, mankind chose to reject the obvious knowledge of God and the obvious worship of God and exchange it for the worshipping of corruptible creation, worshipping the creation rather than the Creator.

:24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,

gave them upparadidomi – to give into the hands (of another); to deliver up one to custody, to be judged, condemned, tormented, put to death

This is the word often used to describe Judas betraying Jesus.  Judas handed Jesus over to the Jewish authorities.

Here the idea is that God hands men over to their own “uncleanness”, their own lusts.

The tragedy of this passage is that it describes what God gives people up to.

We’re going to see this word used three times (vs. 24, 26, 28), as Paul clarifies what God has given us over to.

lustsepithumia – desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust; It denotes any natural desire or appetite, usually with the implication that it is a depraved desire.

We’re going to see three different Greek words for “lust” used.  The words seem to carry an increasing intensity with them.  This the root of what God is giving men up to.

uncleannessakatharsia – uncleanness; the impurity of lustful, wildly extravagant living

Not too unlike what our nation went through in the sixties – the sexual revolution.  It used to be that divorce was rare.  It used to be that sexual impurity, premarital sex, was the exception to the rule, not what was common.       

dishonoratimazo – to dishonor, insult, treat with contempt; it’s the opposite of the word to “honor” (time) which carries the idea of placing a high value on something.

We might say that when a person gives in to their lusts for the wrong thing that they “cheapen” themselves.

We’ve talked about how word order in Greek helps give emphasis on things.  Here the word “lusts” comes before “uncleanness”, if you would translate the order like this:

“Therefore also God turned them over in the lusts of their hearts to uncleanness to cheapen their bodies among themselves”

God turns them over to uncleanness, but the emphasis is on the “lusts” as the mechanism that gets us to the place of uncleanness.

The specific sins that Paul is going to mention, starting but not ending with homosexuality, are “dishonoring” to our physical bodies.


Immorality cheapens your body.

I’ve heard Dr. Dobson explain it as if a person’s sexual nature was worth a million bucks. Every time you have sex with another person, you are taking half of your treasure and giving it to them. When you are married to that person, the treasure stays within the family. But when you are not married to that person, you’ve just lost a half of your fortune, and the value of your sexual nature is now worth a half a million. When you have sex with another person, it’s now worth a quarter of a million dollars. And when it goes on and on, sex becomes something cheap and filthy, instead of priceless and beautiful.
Virginity is a treasure. Faithfulness to your marriage is priceless.
When Paul is writing to Rome, he’s in Corinth.
In Paul’s time, the great temple of Aphrodite stood on the Acropolis, the hill overlooking Corinth. The priestesses of this temple were prostitutes who came into the city nightly. The Corinthians “worshiped” Aphrodite through sexual rites, and the profit supported their religion.
Paul wrote,
(1 Cor 6:15-20 NKJV)  Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! {16} Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For "the two," He says, "shall become one flesh." {17} But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. {18} Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. {19} Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? {20} For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

God has paid a HUGE price for us.  Jesus died on a cross for us.  God wants us to keep sex pure, honorable, priceless.

:25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

exchangedmetallasso – change; transform.

Sometimes when you bring a new toy home from Toys R Us, the toy is broken.  Try as you might, you can’t fix it.  So you take it back to exchange it.  Exchanging is easy.  You just show the guy your receipt, leave the broken toy with him, and go pick out a new toy that works.

But here, the thing that people have concluded as being “broken” or “defective” is the very truth that God tells us.

Specifically, it’s the obvious truth that there is a Creator, and we are His creation.

What’s the implication of worshipping something other than the True God?

 “A man who has no assured and ever-present belief in the existence of a personal God or of a future existence with retribution or reward, can have for his rule of life, as far as I can see, only to follow those impulses and instincts which are the strongest or which seem to him the best ones.” -- Charles Darwin, cited by Philip Yancey in Books & Culture, Vol. 4, no. 1.

:26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.

gave them upparadidomi – the same word used in verse 24.

passionspathos – whatever befalls one, emotion, passion; in the NT in a bad sense, depraved passion, vile passions

This word seems to be a bit stronger than the last one (epithumia), and has the idea of a passion that is uncontrollable.

vileatimia – dishonor, deep personal humiliation, disgrace; this word is related to “dishonor” in verse 24.

We could translate this phrase, “God gave them up to cheapening passions”.

womenthelus – of the female sex; a woman, a female.  This is not the usual word (gune) for “woman”.  It seems to me that because of the passage, Paul is choosing to use words that have a little more sexual bent to them. (from thelazo – to give the breast, thele, “nipple”)

usechresis – use; from chraomai – to receive a loan; borrow; to take for one’s use.  Paul is talking about sexual intercourse as something you “borrow” from another person, not something you steal from them.

naturephusis – nature; from phuo –to be born; the idea is that what is “natural” is the way you were born.  The implication is that homosexuality is not the way you are born.


Homosexuality is not natural.

I know this is not very politically correct at the moment.  I know that some people are quite offended at this.
All you have to do is look at the design of the human body to see that woman was designed for man and man for woman.
We talked last week about how obvious it is that there is a God – we talked about the concept of “Intelligent Design”, that if you would look at the complexity of the world around us it would become obvious at some point that there is an intelligence behind it, there is a designer.
The idea of this verse is that simply looking at a man and woman’s physical body you see that a man was designed to have sex with a woman and a woman with a man.
The words Paul is using to describe man and woman hint at the sexual design of their bodies.  It’s how we were made.
Yet if you reject God as Creator and Designer, then you don’t look for purpose and function in the design of the body.  Then why shouldn’t you just do what feels good?
Our society has come to the point now where no one dares question when a person claims that they were “born” homosexual.
I am not aware of any conclusive proof that there is some sort of genetic predisposition to homosexuality.
Years ago there was a study based on the autopsies of six homosexual men who had an area of their brain larger than that of heterosexual men.  I’m not sure that proved anything.  Who’s to say that the area got larger because of the way they lived their life?  Other studies have shown that our brains adapt to our activities.  This is why they advocate children taking up certain musical instruments at an early age so the brain will develop in a way to increase their ability later in life.

:27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

menarrhen – a male; again, this is not one of the ordinary words used for “man” (aner, anthropos), but one that might have a bit of a sexual connotation.  (It comes from airo – to raise up, lift up)

leavingaphiemi – to send away; of a husband divorcing his wife; to disregard

burnedekkaio – to set on fire – a great description of what it is to be caught up in lust.

lustorexis – desire, longing, craving for; eager desire; from oregomai – to stretch one’s self out in order to touch or to grasp something; seeking the object of gratification in order to make it one’s own.

This seems to be a bit more extreme lust.

shamefulaschemosune – unseemliness; of one’s nakedness, shame; of a woman’s genitals (strange thing to use in describing male homosexuality, or is it?)

penaltyantimisthia – a reward given in compensation, paying your ticket at the court

errorplane – a wandering, a straying about

was duedei – it is necessary, there is need of, is right and proper

When God hands out penalties for sin, all sin, it is right.


Homosexuality is a sin

(Lev 18:22 NKJV)  'You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.
There are some who say that this is only a cultural thing.  It’s just the Jewish people who had a problem with “homophobia”.
God doesn’t set His standards for us based on our culture around us.  If we based our morals upon our culture, then it was okay for Hitler to kill 6 million Jews, after all, his culture said it was okay.  This is obviously wrong.
God’s standards often go against the grain of our society.

The world in Paul’s time didn’t condemn homosexuality either.  That’s why Paul is writing this.  All Paul is doing is probably looking outside his front door in Corinth to be reminded of these things.

(1 Cor 6:9-11 NKJV)  Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, {10} nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. {11} And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
Don’t be deceived.  Homosexuality is no different from any other sin.  It will send you to hell just like the other sins like adultery, theft, etc.
The good news is that Jesus loves sinners.  Jesus changes sinners.  There were some in Corinth who were homosexual and Jesus saved them just like He does all sinners.


Homosexuality isn’t the end of the line.

There is a progression in this rejection of God.  When men refuse to acknowledge God as their Creator, He gives them over to increasingly wicked sins.
Homosexuality is a part of that progression of wickedness.  But note that it isn’t the end of the line.
I think that sometimes we in the church are indeed guilty of “homophobia” and we make too much of the sin of homosexuality.  We make it to be the most horrible of sins.
Don’t get me wrong.  Homosexuality is wrong.  It is perversion.
But it is just a part of this progression away from God.

:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge,

likedokimazo – to test, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not).

retainecho – to have, to adhere or cling to

knowledgeepignosis – precise and correct knowledge; it’s seems to be knowledge by experience

They put God to the test, and decided they didn’t want a “God file” on their hard drive.

We talked last week about how the evidence of the existence and knowledge of God is obvious, it’s obvious because God has made it obvious to all of us, putting that knowledge inside of us (Rom. 1:19).

But what has happened to mankind is that we haven’t chosen to hold on to the obvious.

Have you ever heard someone say, “I’ve tried Christianity, but it didn’t work for me”?

What happened is that they didn’t try Christianity, they only took a shallow glimpse at the truth, and then rejected it.


Have You Tasted My Jesus????

At the University of Chicago Divinity School each year they have what is called “Baptist Day”. It is a day when all the Baptists in the area are invited to the school because they want the Baptist dollars to keep coming in.  On this day each one is to bring a lunch to be eaten outdoors in a grassy picnic area.  Every “Baptist Day” the school would invite one of the greatest minds to lecture in the theological education center.  One year they invited Dr. Paul Tillich.  Dr. Tillich spoke for two and one-half hours proving that the resurrection of Jesus was false.  He quoted scholar after scholar and book after book. He concluded that since there was no such thing as the historical resurrection the religious tradition of the church was groundless, emotional mumbo-jumbo, because it was based on a relationship with a risen Jesus, who, in fact, never rose from the dead in any literal sense.  He then asked if there were any questions.  After about 30 seconds, an old, dark skinned preacher with a head of short-cropped, woolly white hair stood up in the back of the auditorium. “Docta Tillich, I got one question,” he said as all eyes turned toward him. He reached into his sack lunch and pulled out an apple and began eating it.  “Docta Tillich ...” CRUNCH, MUNCH ... “My question is a simple question, ”CRUNCH, MUNCH ...”Now I ain’t never read them books you read” ... CRUNCH, MUNCH ... “and I can’t recite the Scriptures in the original Greek” ...CRUNCH, MUNCH ... “I don’t know nothin’ about Niebuhr and Heidegger” ...CRUNCH, MUNCH ... He finished the apple. “All I wanna know is: This apple I just ate—was it bitter or sweet?”  Dr. Tillich paused for a moment and answered in exemplary scholarly fashion: “I cannot possibly answer that question, for I haven’t tasted your apple.”  The white-haired preacher dropped the core of his apple into his crumpled paper bag, looked up at Dr. Tillich and said calmly, “Neither have you tasted my Jesus.”  The 1,000 plus in attendance could not contain themselves. The auditorium erupted with applause and cheers. Dr. Tillich thanked his audience and promptly left the platform.

The Bible says,

(Psa 34:8 NKJV)  Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

:28 God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;

With this further rejection of God, God lets go just a little more…

gave them overparadidomi – same word as verse 24, 26

debasedadokimos – not standing the test, unfit for, unproved, reprobate; this is a word based on the opposite of “like” earlier in the verse.

They tested and rejected God, so God allows their mind to stop functioning when it comes to a sense of right and wrong.

When we should be testing things and finding that they are bad and ought to be rejected, we end up accepting them.  When we test things and they ought to be accepted and admired, we reject them.
Does this sound at all close to the society that we live in?

fittingkatheko – to come down; to come to, reach to; it is becoming; it is fit

The word is found in the apocrypha where it describes how the temple was defiled by the Greeks (2Macc 6:4)

4  For the temple was filled with debauchery and reveling by the Gentiles, who dallied with harlots and had intercourse with women within the sacred precincts, and besides brought in things for sacrifice that were unfit. 5  The altar was covered with abominable offerings which were forbidden by the laws.

Here, these people are doing the things that are not “fitting”, not proper.  It would seem that the list that follows is a list of what is not “fitting”.  It’s interesting that they “filled” the temple with all kinds of bad stuff, the same idea is continued by Paul as these people are filled with all kinds of bad stuff.

:29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,

Keep in mind where Paul is writing from – Corinth.


Qualities of a debased mind

We might think of a Hannibal Lecter as the best example of a depraved mind.  But look at how Paul describes it…

unrighteousnessadikia – injustice, of a judge; unrighteousness of heart and life

sexual immoralityporneia – illicit sexual intercourse; adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.

wickednessponeria – depravity, iniquity, wickedness

covetousnesspleonexia – greedy desire to have more, covetousness, avarice

NOTE:  The first six words in Greek are alliterated, all but one starting with the letter “p”:

peplhrwmenouv pash adikia porneia ponhria pleonexia

It’s almost like Paul’s “spitting” out the words.

maliciousnesskakia – malignity, ill-will, desire to injure

envyphthonos – envy

murderphonos – murder, slaughter

strifeeris – contention, strife, wrangling

deceitdolos – craft, deceit, guile

evil-mindednesskakoetheia (“evil” + “customs”) – bad character, depravity of heart and life

whispererspsithuristes (one of those words that sounds like it means) – a whisperer, secret slanderer, detractor



Do we realize how deadly gossip is?  We don’t have a problem seeing how bad murder is.  But we often don’t take time to stop from murdering someone’s reputation.
The Gossiper
A woman repeated a bit of gossip about a neighbor. Within a few days the whole community knew the story. The person it concerned was deeply hurt and offended. Later the woman responsible for spreading the rumor learned that it was completely untrue. She was very sorry and went to a wise old sage to find out what she could do to repair the damage. "Go to the marketplace," he said, "and purchase a chicken, and have it killed. Then on your way home, pluck its feathers and drop them one by one along the road." Although surprised by this advice, the woman did what she was told. The next day the wise man said, "Now go and collect all those feathers you dropped yesterday and bring them back to me." The woman followed the same road, but to her dismay, the wind had blown the feathers all away. After searching for hours, she returned with only three in her hand. "You see," said the old sage, "it's easy to drop them, but it's impossible to get them back. So it is with gossip. It doesn't take much to spread a rumor, but once you do, you can never completely undo the wrong."

Author Unknown / Submitted by Helen Hazinski from Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul Copyright 1997 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Kimberly Kirberger

How much of the TV news is simply gossip?  Don’t we love hearing what immoral mess someone is accused of?  What are all those magazines about at Albertson’s checkout stand?

:30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,


Qualities of a debased mind

More depravity…

backbiterskatalalos (“against” + “to speak”) – a defamer, evil speaker

haters of Godtheostuges (“God” + “hateful”) – hateful to God, exceptionally impious and wicked

violenthubristes (“hubris”) – one who, uplifted with pride, either heaps insulting language upon others or does them some shameful act of wrong

proudhuperephanos (“over” + “to shine”) – showing one’s self above others, with an overweening estimate of one’s means or merits, despising others or even treating them with contempt

boastersalazon – an empty pretender, a boaster

inventors of evil thingsepheuretes – an inventor, contriver (of evil)

disobedient to parents – just what it says.

A.T. Robertson: “An ancient and a modern trait.”

:31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;

undiscerningasunetos – unintelligent, without understanding, stupid

untrustworthyasunthetos – covenant breaking, faithless

unlovingastorgos (“not” + “family love”) – without natural affection, unsociable, inhuman

unforgivingaspondos – without a treaty or covenant; that cannot be persuaded to enter into a covenant

unmercifulaneleemon – without mercy

Isn’t it interesting to think about how Jesus encourages us to forgive and be merciful?  Isn’t that quite contrary to our nature?

The last six words starting with “disobedient” in the previous verse are another alliteration, all starting with the letter “a”:

apeiyeiv asunetouv asunyetouv astorgouv aspondouv anelehmonav

Robertson:  “The late Dr. R. H. Graves of Canton, China, said that a Chinaman who got hold of this chapter declared that Paul could not have written it, but only a modern missionary who had been to China.”

:32 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.

approvesuneudokeo – to be pleased together with, to approve together (with others); to be pleased at the same time with, consent, agree to; to applaud


Careful what you smile at.

Whenever I read this I can’t help but think of what the top rated TV shows and movies are at the moment.  To many of these things we’d join with Paul, maybe even shaking our fists at certain sins.  But we’ll sit and smile as we watch it on the TV or movie screen.
Take care.


Abandoned by God

There seems to be a progression here of God letting go of people, giving them over to their own sin.  Follow the places where it says that God “gave them up”…
1.     Impurity
2.     Homosexuality
3.     Depraved mind
How do you think our nation, our society matches up?
Look at what God said about His chosen people, Israel:

(Psa 81:11-16 NKJV)  "But My people would not heed My voice, And Israel would have none of Me. {12} So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, To walk in their own counsels. {13} "Oh, that My people would listen to Me, That Israel would walk in My ways! {14} I would soon subdue their enemies, And turn My hand against their adversaries. {15} The haters of the LORD would pretend submission to Him, But their fate would endure forever. {16} He would have fed them also with the finest of wheat; And with honey from the rock I would have satisfied you."

Oh that WE would listen to God and walk in His ways.  What could that do for our nation?