Martin Luther excerpt number 3.

Page 23

God has manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him,

from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood

by the things that are made, his eternal power also and divinity:

so that they are inexcusable. (Rom. 1:19, 20.)

With this he gives to understand that also the natural goods are

to be ascribed to God as the giver. The sentence which follows

shows plainly that it is the natural knowledge of God which is

here dealt with: it says how he has manifested himself to them by

the fact that the invisible things of him are clearly seen from the

creation of the world (i.e., are knowable in a natural way from

their effects). This means that, from the creation of the world, it

has always been the case that the “invisible things of him are

clearly seen/’ and this is said in order that nobody may cavil and

say that only in our time it was possible to know God. For it has

been possible to know him from the beginning of the world and

at all times, and it is possible now.

But in order that the apostle may be more clearly understood in

his arguments, I shall try my hand at explaining what I think he

means, in the hope that my readers will either support or criticize


That, as we read here, the knowledge of God was open to all

men, and especially to idolaters, so that they are without excuses

when it is proved to them that they had known the invisible things

of God, namely, his very divinity and eternity and power, can

plainly be demonstrated by the fact that all who made idols for

themselves worshiped them and called them gods or God, believing

that God was immortal (i.e., eternal) and also capable and able

to help, thereby giving clear evidence that they had the knowledge

of God in their hearts. For how could they call a picture or some

other created thing God, or believe that created things resembled

him, if they had no knowledge of God and what pertains to him?

How could they attribute such qualities to a stone or to that which

they thought the stone represented if they did not believe God to

be entitled to them? Now when they held that the divine (which,

to be sure, they divide into many gods) is something invisible and

that he who has divinity is invisible, immortal, powerful, wise, and

gracious to those who call upon him, I say, when they hold this so

definitely that they profess it also by their actions, namely, by the

invocation, worship, and adoration of those in whom they believe

divinity to reside, it follows most certainly that they were endowed

with a knowledge or notion of the divine nature. And without a

doubt, they have it because God gave it to them, as our text says.

Their error was that in their worship they did not take the Godhead

for what it is in itself, but changed it by fitting it to their

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