From: B.J. Williamson (hellen_ic@hotmail.com)
Date: Tue Jun 13 2000 - 09:34:56 EDT

<x-flowed>Passage: Romans 1:18 - 21

1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed (APOKALUPTETAI) from heaven against
all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress (KATECONTWN) the
truth by their unrighteousness (EN ADIKIAi),
1:19 because (DIOTI) what can be known about God is plain to them (FANERON
ESTIN EN AUTOIS); because God has made it plain to them.
1:20 For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes—his
eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen (NOOUMENA KAQORATAI),
because they are understood through what has been made. So people are
without excuse (ANAPOLOGHTOUS).
1:21 For although they knew God (GNONTES TON QEON), they did not glorify him
as God or give him thanks


Question: Does the context support Suppress? or Retain?

Most translate this word “suppress.” Which would mean to put an end to
forcibly, or to prohibit the activities of.

Understanding KATECONTWN this way yields: their unrighteous acts have a
consequence, namely, that of suppressing the truth they once knew. Here, if
“suppress” is to be understood, it would appear the thought is that these
individuals once were cognitively aware of God’s existence and truth;
however, by repeated unrighteous acts, this cognitive awareness was
subsequently prohibited from reaching their perceptive capacity, as it once
did. (Alternately, one might say the these individuals first “suppressed”
truth, and then committed unrighteous acts.)

Some suggest KATECONTWN is to be translated: retain. Which would seem to
mean, for all practical purposes, the opposite of “suppress.” That is, it
would mean: to keep in one’s possession.

Here, if “retain” is to be understood, it would appear the thought is that
these individuals were cognitively aware of God’s existence and truth; and
even with repeated unrighteous acts, this awareness could NOT be

In exploring the validity of this option (Retain), I wonder if I might
get some feedback concerning the validity of this option in the overall
I am specifically interested in the flexibility allowed in this section as
grammar and semantics.

I think “retain” would then imply the following:

APOKALUPTETAI is Present tense to indicate that God's wrath will continue to
be revealed on those committing unrighteous acts.

DIOTI would retain (no pun intended) its CAUSAL force, giving the reason why
those who behave in such an unrighteous manner will keep on receiving God’s
wrath (being without excuse).

FANERON ESTIN EN AUTOIS uses the Present tense to indicate that what can be
known of God REMAINS in them; it will continue to be revealed.

NOOUMENA KAQORATAI, where NOOUMENA has the idea of “attaining knowledge
through the rational processes.” Despite their unrighteous behavior, they
will still retain knowledge of God, since they will remain rational beings.

GNONTES TON QEON Paul here uses an “intimate” knowledge idea, one that is
not likely to be suppressed.

Later in this section, two other observations should be made:

1:28 would be translated something on the order of:

“they did not like to have God in their knowledge” That is, they kept this
knowledge of God in their hearts, but did not approve of it. They unapproved
of this knowledge and acted accordingly.

Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such
things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who
practice them. (NET)

This again seems to suggest that this knowledge was anything but

I would be very much interested in the TRANSLATION DECISIONS needed to
support this position
RATHER THAN the “theological implications” of it.


B. J. Williamson

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