How is he saying that men suppress the truth?:

  • by being unrighteousness?
  • motivated by unrighteousness?
  • by wicked means?

What is the function of ἐν in the sentence?

[Rom 1:18 NLT] (18) But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.[fn]

1:18 Or who, by their wickedness, prevent the truth from being known.

[Rom 1:18 MGNT] (18) ἀποκαλύπτεται γὰρ ὀργὴ θεοῦ ἀπ᾽ οὐρανοῦ ἐπὶ πᾶσαν ἀσέβειαν καὶ ἀδικίαν ἀνθρώπων τῶν τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἐν ἀδικίᾳ κατεχόντων

And do they "hold" or "suppress" the truth?

  • 2
    .19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 3:19–21). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 23:17

2 Answers 2


To understand how man suppresses the truth, you need to understand how the ‘truth’ is being revealed. That is, where this ‘sense’ of Gods wrath is originating. The verse initially says ‘revealed from heaven’, but reading on both answers and explains the ‘source’ of this sense of wrath, and the ‘source’ of this ‘truth’. - although it’s easily missed.

ROMANS 1:19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them [snip]

This wrath’ is revealed ‘in’ man, that is, through mans own unrighteousness. Mans ‘spirit’ is now unrighteous, a result of the fall, and man intuitively knows, or perceives this - and this ‘inner sense’ (unworthiness/guilt) of ‘not being right’ produces the sense of Gods wrath.

Verse 19 goes on to say that it is God who reveals this (‘for God has shown it to them’.), and then the following verses explain how - through creation, and then the following verse go onto explain how that ‘intuitive message’ is suppressed - by ‘reasoning away’ that creation. And, by worshiping the creation itself.

The result of the ‘fall’ was that man became self-righteous, man became the ‘source’ for answers (understanding/wisdom). And via this, rejecting God as a source. And that’s how man suppresses truth.

Man is self-righteous, and through this, is unrighteous, because his own righteousness will always miss the mark. So, that’s how you ‘*suppress the truth in unrighteousness’. Your [self] righteousness will suppress being ‘told’ (intuitively) that it’s not.[righteous].

Paul here proves that every person already has an instinctive knowledge of God’s wrath against their sin. We don’t need to prove God’s wrath; God has already done that.

In Romans 1:19, the Greek word that was translated “manifest” is the Greek word “PHANEROS,” and it means “shining, i.e. apparent”. The Greek word translated “shown” is “PHANEROO,” which means “to render apparent (literally or figuratively)”. These words make it very clear that this instinctive or intuitive knowledge is not so subtle that it can be overlooked. But - God gives every individual the right to choose. That is, to choose to suppress this.

  • So the unrighteousness of men is their self-centeredness that leads them to suppress the sense God gave them? The suppress it from themselves! That makes sense, thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Nov 19, 2020 at 19:23

The Greek word ἔχωm, echo, Strong 2192, means simply 'to have' and is thus translated on six hundred and seven, out of about six hundred and thirty, occasions of its use in the KJV, according to Robert Young.

The Greek word here used, κατέχω, katecho, (kata + echo), Strong 2722, occurs nineteen times in the KJV and is variously translated but always in the sense of 'hold fast', 'possesss' or 'retain'.

I have noticed elsewhere that there is sometimes a tendency to translate the 'kata' element of Greek words somewhat simplistically, as a mere physical downward force, and I suggest that this has been done with this word, giving it a meaning of 'hold down' leading to the idea of 'suppressing' truth or 'hiding' truth, or 'keeping truth to oneself'.

In the context, Paul is speaking of hypocrisy throughout chapters one and two of Romans and I suggest that hypocrisy is the essence of the 'possessive holding' of 'truth', to which the apostle, here, draws attention.

Kata is often used in matters of headship or regarding authority, in relation to that which is under the 'downward force' of the headship or power. Here, also, I would suggest, the emphasis is on a possessive regard to that which is truth. It is the deliberate action of commandeering 'truth' as though it was under one's authority ; as though one had some custodianship of truth itself.

Paul uses the article in 1:18 'the truth' yet he has not mentioned truth before so I would say it is not the anaphoric article (referring back to a previous mention of concept) but the absolute article - 'that which is truth'.

Thus he is not focusing, say, on the gospel as such, nor even on the revelation to Israel, I suggest. It is all truth, it is whatever is true. Truth itself.

Yet to do so, when the righteousness of God is not satisfied (in regard to oneself) is sheer hypocrisy. Paul has mentioned the righteousness of God at the beginning of the epistle and made it clear that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness of men on earth.

He will speak of it again, later in chapter three, but here he brings all humanity to account and here, in 1:18, he deals with those who would lay claim to 'truth' as though it was theirs and as though they had possession of it.

But they do so in unrighteousness. They are not right in God's sight. The righteousness of God is not at rest in regard to them.

'Holding' truth'; 'possessing' truth'; being 'custodians' of truth : is an utterly hypocritical irrelevance, if a man be not just in the sight of God.

Later, in chapter three, Paul will deal with how, exactly, 'man shall be just with God' (as Job says). But here, before one gets to that point, one must examine oneself and determine what is one's relationship to God above, as revealed by one's deeds and words, rather than determined by one's hypocritical possessiveness about what must be, essentially, a sheer theoretical distraction, if one is still an unrighteous person.

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