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I’ve been studying Romans 1:18-32 since I got saved. I’m not an expert in Greek or Hebrew but would love “such an expert” to help me out here. In Romans 1:18-32, we have God’s wrath against sinful mankind & all the various vices they commit. Romans 1:30 on the other hand seems to deny the age of accountability, for it says that those who are disobedient to parents are essentially worthy of death. Paul then finishes in Romans 2:1-2 making it clear that God’s judgment is according to truth against those who practice such things. We are also aware of the 5th commandment, Paul also doesn’t rule that out as void in the New Testament. So transgressing the 5th commandment is still a sinful modern occurrence.

“slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, contrivers of all sorts of evil, disobedient to parents,” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭1:30‬

My question is: Does Romans 1:30 prove that children who disobey their parents are subjected to the eternal wrath of God?.

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  • Does the expression "eternal wrath" occur anywhere in the Bible? ¶ "wrath" means "extreme anger", so by "eternal wrath" do you mean "extreme anger that lasts forever" or "extreme anger from The Eternal One"? ¶ But ignoring the word "eternal", why wouldn't it make sense for God to be angry when someone breaks his laws, regardless of who does it? Nov 22, 2022 at 3:20
  • @RayButterworth Rom 2:5 linked in with Romans 1:18, 30; mentioning God’s wrath, the “day of wrath”, comparing scripture with scripture we also read in Revelation 14:10-11 that “wrath” includes fire and brimstone, even that of an “eternal nature”. Wrath in Rom 1:30 is certainly connected with “eternal wrath”.
    – Cork88
    Nov 22, 2022 at 6:33

4 Answers 4

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Does Romans 1:30 prove that children can be subject to God’s wrath?

The Answer is Yes: Disobedient children usually grow into disobedient adults.

God's wrath on a disobedient group of small children ,for mocking His prophet Elisha. The prophet curses them, two she-bears tore to pieces 42 children.

2 Kings 2:23-24 ESV

23 He went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” 24 And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys.

Conclusion.

Suppose you found a poisonous snake in your yard and you killed it, later you discovered the nest with baby snakes - harmless. What will you do? Let them live or kill them? Paul prophesied that many children will be disrespectful and disobedient to their parents (2 Timothy 3:2). It seems that children today have little respect for anything, and are rebelling against everything, parents, schools, law, and religion. Yes, disobedient children are subject to God's wrath, this happened during Noah's flood, and Sodom and Gomorrah.

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Great passage to study! Very appropriate for the times.

The Greek word “apeithes” might shed a little light on your question since the root “peitho” can convey the meaning “persuadable”. So the negative form “disobedience” might be colored with obstinance or rebellion, most usually associated with younger children and teens.

Does this mean that all children who disobey are worthy of death? As Paul would say, “Certainly not!” All children are disobedient at one time or another (well, let’s just say many times) and they learn by consequences and correction as God intended. From the context, this passage is describing what a society looks like when it has turned its back on the knowledge of God.

29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips,30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful. They invent new forms of evil; they disobey their parents.31They are senseless, faithless, heartless, merciless.

The 5th commandment does not mention obedience but rather honor. The society that does not honor God, does not honor parents, and even children begin to mimic the evil they view in the older generations. Romans teaches clearly that all who habitually practice evil without repentance are under the judgment of God.

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The larger question you're exploring right now is a very difficult and sensitive topic, upon which many readers of the scriptures have built a range of answers over the millennia.

The Cultural Angle

Unfortunately, I do not find this particular text very helpful for exploring it. In the modern Western culture there can be a tendency to shun parental obedience past the age of adulthood, and so we can tend to read this attitude back into history.

Often when Westerners (including myself!) approach concepts like this, it can be easy to think "Oh, obedience to parents - that's obviously just talking about children. Adults don't need to do that, right?"

If you were to travel to Eastern Europe or the Middle East or Asia however, you would more often find cultures where all ages are expected to respect and obey/honour their parents, and similarly for early Jews like Paul this phrase is unlikely to relate to children in any explicit or implied way.

The Biblical Angle

For Paul as a Jewish believer, the strongest influence on his concept of parental obedience would probably be Exodus 20:12:

"Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you." (NIV)

This command is wide-ranging, and is not limited to children alone. The people of Israel were to honour God "in the land" by honouring their parents from generation to generation. The command even comes with a promise - if they honour their parents in the way that they live, they will "live long in the land the Lord [their] God is giving [them]".

Jesus himself highlights this commandment himself when the rich man inquires about obeying the commandments:

"Jesus replied, 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honour your father and mother, and love your neighbour as yourself.'" Matthew 19:18-19 (NIV)

He had also previously critiqued the Pharisees (presumably many years beyond childhood!) for failing to observe this command:

"Jesus replied, 'And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, "Honour your father and mother" and "Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death." But you say...'" Matthew 15:3-5 (NIV)

These demonstrate that the command was taught and understood in adult contexts, or at least in a manner that did not distinguish by age.

Conclusion

No, Romans 1:30 is applicable to people of all ages and stages, and does not highlight children in any particular way. This verse does not tell us anything useful about whether to expect children to be included or excluded from judgement.

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Yes.

Another answer also referenced 2 Kings 2:23-24 where a group of children were killed by the Lord for having mocked the prophet Elisha. Yes, children can be subject to God's wrath.

2 Kings 2:23-24

23 And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. 24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.

In this passage, we see people who are called "little children" getting killed for mocking Elisha the prophet.

Those who disobey their parents as children tend to be lawless as adults. This is not to say that obedience to parents is for a lifetime.

Ephesians 6:1

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

1 Corinthians 13:11

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Proverbs 22:15

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

The reason why children ought to obey their parents, even if they disagree, is because children usually do not know what is best for themselves.

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