New Defender's Study Bible Notes
1:20 from the creation. That is, from the very time of creation, men should have seen the evidence of God’s existence and His work in the marvelous universe He had created, for “God hath shewed it unto them” (Romans 1:19). “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth His handywork” (Psalm 19:1). Since these things should have been seen and understood by men from the very time of the creation of the world, it is clear that the latter did not take place billions of years before men appeared on earth, as evolutionists and progressive creationists have alleged. Men and women have been in the world ever since its very beginning, and all should have recognized the reality of God, even before God gave His written revelation. Those who apply uniformitarian reasoning and natural processes to deduce a multi-billion year age for the world are merely seeking a means to avoid the overwhelming evidence of the special creation of all things in the beginning, and are “without excuse.”
1:20 things that are made. The phrase “things that are made” is one word, poiema, in the Greek, a word used elsewhere only in Ephesians 2:10: “For we are His workmanship.” God has written two poetic masterpieces, as it were, one in the physical creation, one in the lives of men and women redeemed and saved by His grace (Ephesians 1:7; 2:8). Both give eloquent testimony to the eternal power and Godhead of the Creator/Redeemer.
1:20 eternal power. It is God’s eternal power which is evidenced in the cosmos, the power which created it, not just the power which sustains it once it has been created. The remarkable significance of this fact is illuminated by the modern discovery of the two most basic and universal laws of science, known technically as the first and second laws of thermodynamics. More popularly, they can be understood, respectively, as the law of conservation in the quantity of all things God created, and the law of deterioration in the quality (or organized complexity) of all things God created. The first law reflects the completion of creation in the past (Genesis 2:1-3), so that nothing is now being either created or annihilated; creation is being conserved. The second law reflects the subsequent curse on creation because of sin (Genesis 3:17-19; Romans 8:20-22), so that everything now has a strong tendency to die—that is, to disintegrate back to the “dust” (the basic elements) which God had created in the beginning and from which He had made all the complex systems in the cosmos. Thus, the completed and sustained, yet deteriorating, cosmos testifies powerfully to God’s eternal power. Since nothing is now being created, the universe could not have created itself by the “natural” processes which now function in it. Yet, since it is now disintegrating and dying, it must have been created at some finite time in the past; otherwise, if it were infinitely old, it would already be dead and completely disintegrated. If it must have been created, yet could not have been created by the temporal power contained in its existing processes, it must have been created by the eternal power of a transcendent Creator. The creation, therefore, eloquently testifies to the eternal power of its Creator. The only adequate Cause (by the scientific law of cause-and-effect) to produce an infinite, unending, power-filled, intelligible universe containing living creatures must be an infinite, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, living, personal God.
1:20 Godhead. The “Godhead” has always been understood by Christian theologians to refer to the divine Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God manifest in three Persons. The word itself does not mean “trinity,” but simply “Godhood”—that is, the nature of God, God as He has revealed Himself. But that is the point; He has revealed Himself as a triune God. He is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; James 2:19), yet not as the ineffable, unapproachable unitary God of the Muslims but as invisible, omnipresent Father and as visible, approachable Son, and also as indwelling, guiding Spirit. This remarkable structure of God, like His eternal power, is clearly reflected in His physical creation, which could almost be said to be a model of the Godhead. That is, the created universe is actually a tri-universe of space, matter and time, with each permeating and representing the whole.
However, the universe is not partly composed of space, partly of matter, partly of time (like, for example, the three sides of a triangle). A trinity is not a trio or a triad, but a tri-unity, with each part comprising the whole, yet all three required to make the whole. Thus the universe is all space, all time, and all matter (including energy as a form of matter); in fact, scientists speak of it as a space-matter-time continuum. Furthermore, note the parallels between the tri-universe and the divine Trinity in terms of the logical order of the three components. Space (like the Father) is the invisible, omnipresent background of everything. Matter (like the Son) reveals the universe (like the Godhead) in visible, understandable form. Time (like the Spirit) is the entity by which the universe (like the Godhead) becomes applicable and understandable in events and experience. But that is not all. Space is a tri-unity comprised of three dimensions, with each dimension permeating all space. The reality of any portion of space is obtained by multiplying the three dimensions together (the “mathematics of the Trinity” is not 1 + 1 + 1 = 1, but rather 1 x 1 x 1 = 1). Further, space is identified in one dimension, seen in the second dimension, experienced in the third dimension. Similarly, time is future, present and past. The future is the unseen source of time, manifest moment-by-moment in the present, experienced and understood in the past. Finally, matter is unseen, omnipresent energy, manifesting itself in various forms of measurable motion, then experienced in corresponding phenomena. For example, light energy generates light waves which are experienced in the seeing of light. Sound energy generates sound waves which we experience when we hear sound.
Thus the physical universe is a great “Trinity of trinities,” with the inner relationships of each element beautifully modeling the relationships of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All of this does not prove that God is a Trinity, but it certainly is a remarkable fact. It is an amazing effect that can be explained on the assumption that God is a triune God, and has made His creation to reflect Himself, but it is very hard to explain any other way. Two other references to the “Godhead” occur in Acts 17:29 and Colossians 2:9 (see notes).
1:20 without excuse. The phrase “without excuse” is, literally, without an apologetic” or “without a defense.” I Peter 3:15 instructs Christians to “be ready always to give an answer,” where the word “answer” is practically the same (i.e., Greek apologia). In other words, Christians do have an apologetic and ought to be ready to give it whenever someone attacks or questions their faith. Those who do not see the eternal power and nature of God in the creation, on the other hand, have no apologetic. They are “without excuse” (anapologetos) if they do not believe in our Creator God. The evidence is all around them!
1:21 when they knew God. Romans 1:21-28 describes the awful descent of the ancient world from their ancestral knowledge of the true God, as received from Father Noah, down into evolutionary pantheism and its accompanying polytheism (Romans 1:21-25) and then into the gross immorality and wickedness that inevitably eventually follows such apostasy.