18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
1901 ASV Translation:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness;
There are no textual variations between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26.
I. The "revelation" of the "wrath of God"...
A. The word translated "is revealed" is in the present tense (indicating an on-going reality) and has the sense that an entity that is not discernible because of factors that "hide" it has been subjected to a process of the removal of the "hiding" factors so that those who could not understand it while it was "hidden" can now easily comprehend with clarity.
B. The entity that has been "hidden" to some degree, that is currently "being revealed" is identified as the "wrath of God".
1. The word translated "wrath" is a word which, according to Mark 3:5, is an emotional response to something that the person responding does not value or approve because it is seen to be a destructive factor (see Hebrews 3:11 and 4:3 where the emotive response is in play).
2. In John 3:36 we are told that the "wrath of God" abides (present tense) upon those who do not believe the Son.
3. Romans 2:25 indicates an eschatalogical "day" of wrath when all of the despised actions of men will be subjected to righteous judgment.
4. Romans 3:5 seems to indicate (by the translation "vengeance") that "wrath" is the "repayment" in kind that evil behavior deserves. Romans 12:19 reinforces this connection.
5. Romans 4:15 deliberately makes "wrath" that "legal consequence(s)" of behavior. Romans 13:4 backs this up.
6. Romans 9:22 indicates that "wrath" is often put off by "longsuffering" because of other considerations. This introduces the problem of some level of confusion in that "wrath" is not "revealed" in many situations simply because the "outbreak of justice" is postponed. Since it is postponed, people often think "I have not suffered for this behavior, so I will not suffer for it". Then, they are caught off guard when it comes crashing down upon them.
a. This entire business of "wrath being put off introducing some level of confusion" generates one of the "hiding factors".
b. But, simultaneously, there are all kinds of graphic illustrations of death-producing factors that can be evaluated in light of the "dead" in their professed relationship with God. All one needs to do is ask what that professed relationship was and if it is established as contrary to faith in the Gospel, what happened is a manifest demonstration of the wrath of God. In the same light, if one was "sinning" when the event of death occurred, it is no small jump to the realization that the "wrath of God" has been executed. Jesus once asked [Luke 13:1-5] if those killed by the collapse of a tower made them "worse sinners" than those who were considering it. He denied that conclusion and warned that the same or worse would come upon those to whom He was speaking if they did not repent. But, He did not deny that the collapse was a manifestation of the wrath of God. In other words, though those who deserve wrath do not always get what they deserve when they deserve it, that does not mean that the visitation of wrath was not deserved by those caught by it. The execution of consequences for evil behavior is always the wrath of God.
II. Is this wrath from heaven that is being revealed, or is it being revealed from heaven?
A. Mark 8:11 uses the phrase "from heaven" as it is written here in the statement that they were "seeking a sign from heaven" from Jesus. This may not be something that looks like it is coming directionally from heaven, but may be, rather, a "sign" that is so obviously a production of the power of God that it cannot be denied that the power is God's (i.e. "from heaven").
B. Luke 9:54 uses the same phrase in reference to the disciples' question "should we call fire down from heaven?" and that probably is a directional meaning. Luke 17:29 refers to fire and brimstone from heaven with this same sense.
C. 2 Thessalonians 1:7 uses the same extended phrase "revealed from heaven" in reference to Jesus' coming with the angels.
D. In Hebrews 12:25 we have the concept of Him Who speaks from heaven as a reference to the proclamation of the Gospel...i.e. the message is God's and the proclamation is by God's servants.
E. Since Paul goes on to describe what he calls "the wrath of God" in terms of God's response to men in the following text of Romans, we assume that "for is revealed wrath of God from heaven" means that what is revealed is actually God's wrath -- it is "wrath from heaven" in the same sense that a "sign" can be "from heaven" even if there is no visual connection with "heaven" [fire coming down from heaven has a visual connection with the atmospheric heaven that implies a deeper connection to the third, unseen, heaven, but the cleansing of a leper has no such visual while yet having a deep connection to the power of the God Who resides in the third heaven]. Thus, it is the God of Heaven's wrath that is being revealed as He visits upon men the "recompense that is due". This smacks of Daniel's statements into the polytheism of Babylon: "There is a God in heaven...". Paul, writing to formerly polytheistic Gentiles, would have had no hesitation in making sure that the "wrath" is "from the God of heaven".