The Meaning of Romans 1:22 Explained

Romans 1:22

KJV: Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

YLT: professing to be wise, they were made fools,

Darby: professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

ASV: Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

What does Romans 1:22 Mean?

Context Summary

Romans 1:13-23 - The Only Power Of Salvation
We owe everything to our Lord, but since we can make Him no direct return, He has made men His residuary legatees. We are to think of others as having a claim upon us for His dear sake. In helping them, we repay Him. But note the Apostle's humility-as much as in me is, Romans 1:15. Paul was not indifferent to the claims of intellectual culture. He had been thoroughly trained in Hebrew and Greek literature. The high culture of the Roman world was appreciated by the student of Gamaliel for what it was worth; but he was not ashamed to preach the gospel in its capital because it carried with it the divine dynamic. It was power unto salvation. The Stoic, for instance, had a high ethical code, but it was ineffective for want of the driving power of Pentecost. The one condition is faith-to everyone that believeth, Romans 1:16.
Every man born into the world has an opportunity of knowing right and wrong from the inner witness of conscience, and of learning something of God from His works. Men will be judged by their attitude toward these two luminaries. Notice, however, that sad, strong word! Too many hold down the truth, Romans 1:18, r.v. They deliberately endeavor to throttle it. [source]

Chapter Summary: Romans 1

1  Paul commends his calling to the Romans;
9  and his desire to come to them
16  What his gospel is
18  God is angry with sin
21  What were the sins of mankind

Greek Commentary for Romans 1:22

Professing themselves to be wise [πασκοντες ειναι σοποι]
Σοποι — Sophoi is predicate nominative with ειναι — einai in indirect discourse agreeing with πασκοντες — phaskontes (old verb, from πημι — phēmi to say, rare in N.T.) in case and number according to regular Greek idiom (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1038). [source]
Became vain [εματαιωτησαν]
Ingressive first aorist passive indicative of ματαιοω — mataioō from ματαιος — mataios (empty). Empty reasonings as often today. Became fools (εμωραντησαν — emōranthēsan). Ingressive first aorist passive of μωραινω — mōrainō to be a fool, old word from μωρος — mōros a fool. An oxymoron or sharp saying, true and one that cuts to the bone. For the likeness of an image Both words, “a likeness which consists in an image or copy” (Lightfoot). See note on Philemon 2:7 for “likeness of men” and Colossians 1:15 for “image of God.” Paul shows indignant contempt for these grotesque efforts to present pictures of a deity that had been lost (Denney). Why is it that heathen images of gods in the form of men and beasts are so horrible to look upon? [source]
Became fools [εμωραντησαν]
Ingressive first aorist passive of μωραινω — mōrainō to be a fool, old word from μωρος — mōros a fool. An oxymoron or sharp saying, true and one that cuts to the bone. [source]
For the likeness of an image [εν ομοιωματι εικονος]
Both words, “a likeness which consists in an image or copy” (Lightfoot). See note on Philemon 2:7 for “likeness of men” and Colossians 1:15 for “image of God.” Paul shows indignant contempt for these grotesque efforts to present pictures of a deity that had been lost (Denney). Why is it that heathen images of gods in the form of men and beasts are so horrible to look upon? [source]
Professing [φάσκοντες]
The verb is used of unfounded assertion, Acts 24:9; Acts 25:19; Revelation 2:2. [source]
Wise, they became fools []
Another oxymoron; see on Romans 1:20. Compare Horace, insaniens sapientia raving wisdom. Plato uses the phrase μάταιον δοξοσοφίαν vain-gloryingof wisdom (“Sophist,” 231). [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Romans 1:22

John 1:5 In the darkness [ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ]
Σκοτία , darkness, is a word peculiar to later Greek, and used in the New Testament almost exclusively by John. It occurs once in Matthew 10:27, and once in Luke 12:3. The more common New Testament word is σκότος , from the same root, which appears in σκιά , shadow, and σκηνή , tent. Another word for darkness, ζόφος , occurs only in Peter and Jude (2 Peter 2:4, 2 Peter 2:17; Judges 1:6, Judges 1:13). See on 2 Peter 2:4. The two words are combined in the phrase blackness of darkness (2 Peter 2:17; Judges 1:13). In classical Greek σκότος , as distinguished from ζόφος , is the stronger term, denoting the condition of darkness as opposed to light in nature. Hence of death, of the condition before birth; of night. Ζόφος , which is mainly a poetical term, signifies gloom, half-darkness, nebulousness. Here the stronger word is used. The darkness of sin is deep. The moral condition which opposes itself to divine light is utterly dark. The very light that is in it is darkness. Its condition is the opposite of that happy state of humanity indicated in John 1:4, when the life was the light of men; it is a condition in which mankind has become the prey of falsehood, folly and sin. Compare 1 John 1:9-10. Romans 1:21, Romans 1:22. [source]
Acts 12:9 Followed [ηκολουτει]
Imperfect active, kept on following as the angel had directed (Acts 12:8). That it was true Indirect assertion and so present tense retained. Note “true” Present middle participle, that which was happening. Thought he saw a vision Imperfect active, kept on thinking, puzzled as he was. λεπειν — Blepein is the infinitive in indirect assertion without the pronoun (he) expressed which could be either nominative in apposition with the subject as in Romans 1:22 or accusative of general reference as in Acts 5:36; Acts 8:9 (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 1036-40). Peter had had a vision in Joppa (Acts 10:10) which Luke describes as an “ecstasy,” but here is objective fact, at least Luke thought so and makes that distinction. Peter will soon know whether he is still in the cell or not as we find out that a dream is only a dream when we wake up. [source]
Acts 12:9 Thought he saw a vision [εδοκει οραμα βλεπειν]
Imperfect active, kept on thinking, puzzled as he was. λεπειν — Blepein is the infinitive in indirect assertion without the pronoun (he) expressed which could be either nominative in apposition with the subject as in Romans 1:22 or accusative of general reference as in Acts 5:36; Acts 8:9 (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 1036-40). Peter had had a vision in Joppa (Acts 10:10) which Luke describes as an “ecstasy,” but here is objective fact, at least Luke thought so and makes that distinction. Peter will soon know whether he is still in the cell or not as we find out that a dream is only a dream when we wake up. [source]
Acts 24:9 Affirming [πασκοντες]
Alleging, with the accusative in indirect assertion as in Acts 25:19; Romans 1:22 (nominative with infinitive, Robertson, Grammar, p. 1038). Were so (ουτως εχειν — houtōs echein), “held thus,” common idiom. [source]
Acts 25:19 Concerning their own religion [περι της ιδιας δεισιδαιμονιας]
See note on Acts 17:22 for discussion of this word. Festus would hardly mean “superstition,” whatever he really thought, because Agrippa was a Jew. And of one Jesus (και περι τινος Ιησου — kai peri tinos Iēsou). This is the climax of supercilious scorn toward both Paul and “one Jesus.” Who was dead Perfect active participle of τνησκω — thnēskō agreeing with Ιησου — Iēsou (genitive). As being dead. Whom Paul affirmed to be alive (ον επασκεν ο Παυλος ζηιν — hon ephasken ho Paulos zēin). Imperfect active of πασκω — phaskō old form of πημι — phēmi to say, in the N.T. only here and Acts 24:9; Romans 1:22. Infinitive ζηιν — zēin in indirect discourse with ον — hon (whom) the accusative of general reference. With all his top-loftical airs Festus has here correctly stated the central point of Paul‘s preaching about Jesus as no longer dead, but living. [source]
Acts 25:19 Who was dead [τετνηκοτος]
Perfect active participle of τνησκω — thnēskō agreeing with Ιησου — Iēsou (genitive). As being dead. Whom Paul affirmed to be alive (ον επασκεν ο Παυλος ζηιν — hon ephasken ho Paulos zēin). Imperfect active of πασκω — phaskō old form of πημι — phēmi to say, in the N.T. only here and Acts 24:9; Romans 1:22. Infinitive ζηιν — zēin in indirect discourse with ον — hon (whom) the accusative of general reference. With all his top-loftical airs Festus has here correctly stated the central point of Paul‘s preaching about Jesus as no longer dead, but living. [source]
Acts 25:19 Whom Paul affirmed to be alive [ον επασκεν ο Παυλος ζηιν]
Imperfect active of πασκω — phaskō old form of πημι — phēmi to say, in the N.T. only here and Acts 24:9; Romans 1:22. Infinitive ζηιν — zēin in indirect discourse with ον — hon (whom) the accusative of general reference. With all his top-loftical airs Festus has here correctly stated the central point of Paul‘s preaching about Jesus as no longer dead, but living. [source]
1 Corinthians 1:20 Made foolish [ἐμώρανεν]
Proved it to be practical folly; stupefied it. Compare Romans 1:22. Possibly with a latent suggestion of the judicial power of God to make it foolish. [source]
1 Corinthians 1:20 Hath not God made foolish? [ουχι εμωρανεν ο τεοσ]
Strong negative form with aorist active indicative difficult of precise translation, “Did not God make foolish?” The old verb μωραινω — mōrainō from μωρος — mōros foolish, was to be foolish, to act foolish, then to prove one foolish as here or to make foolish as in Romans 1:22. In Matthew 5:13; Luke 14:34 it is used of salt that is tasteless. World (κοσμου — kosmou). Synonymous with αιων — aiōn (age), orderly arrangement, then the non-Christian cosmos. [source]
1 Thessalonians 4:11 To be quiet [ἡσυχάζειν]
Note the paradox, strive to be quiet. For similar instances see Romans 1:20, unseen things clearly seen: Romans 1:22, wise, be fooled (comp. Horace, Od. 1,34, 2, insaniens sapientia ): 2 Corinthians 8:2, poverty abounded unto riches: 2 Corinthians 7:10, repentance, not to be repented of. The disturbances rebuked in the second Epistle may have begun to show themselves, so that there is a possible allusion to the idle busybodies of 2 Thessalonians 3:11. [source]
Hebrews 10:34 Ye had compassion on [συνεπατησατε]
First aorist active indicative of συνπατεω — sunpatheō old verb to have a feeling with, to sympathize with. Them that were in bonds Associative instrumental case, “with the prisoners” (the bound ones). Used of Paul (Ephesians 3:1; 2 Timothy 1:8). Took joyfully First aorist middle (indirect) indicative, “ye received to yourselves with joy.” See Romans 13:1, Romans 13:3; Romans 15:7. The spoiling “The seizing,” “the plundering.” Old word from αρπαζω — harpazō See Matthew 23:35. Of your possessions “Of your belongings.” Genitive of the articular present active neuter plural participle of υπαρχω — huparchō used as a substantive (cf. υμων — humōn genitive) as in Matthew 19:21. That ye yourselves have Infinitive (present active of εχω — echō) in indirect discourse after γινωσκοντες — ginōskontes (knowing) with the accusative of general reference The predicate nominative αυτοι — autoi could have been used agreeing with γινωσκοντες — ginōskontes (cf. Romans 1:22). A better possession Common word in the same sense as τα υπαρχοντα — ta huparchonta above, in N.T. only here and Acts 2:45. In place of their plundered property they have treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20). Abiding Present active participle of μενω — menō No oppressors (legal or illegal) can rob them of this (Matthew 6:19.). [source]
Hebrews 11:4 A more excellent sacrifice [πλειονα τυσιαν]
Literally, “more sacrifice” (comparative of πολυς — polus much). For this rather free use of πλειων — pleiōn with the point implied rather than stated see Matthew 6:25; Luke 10:31; Luke 12:23; Hebrews 3:3. Than Cain For this use of παρα — para after comparative see Hebrews 1:4, Hebrews 1:9. For the incident see Genesis 4:4. Through which The sacrifice He had Witness borne to him First aorist passive indicative of μαρτυρεω — martureō as in Hebrews 11:2, “he was witnessed to.” That he was righteous Infinitive in indirect discourse after εμαρτυρητη — emarturēthē personal construction of δικαιος — dikaios (predicate nominative after ειναι — einai) agreeing with the subject of εμαρτυρητη — emarturēthē (cf. Romans 1:22, ειναι σοποι — einai sophoi). God bearing witness Genitive absolute with present active participle of μαρτυρεω — martureō Through it Through his faith (as shown by his sacrifice). Precisely why Abel‘s sacrifice was better than that of Cain apart from his faith is not shown. Being dead Second aorist active participle of αποτνησκω — apothnēskō “having died.” Yet speaketh Cf. Genesis 4:10; Hebrews 12:24. Speaks still through his faith. [source]

What do the individual words in Romans 1:22 mean?

Professing to be wise they became fools
φάσκοντες εἶναι σοφοὶ ἐμωράνθησαν

φάσκοντες  Professing 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Active, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: φάσκω  
Sense: to affirm, allege, portend or profess.
εἶναι  to  be 
Parse: Verb, Present Infinitive Active
Root: εἰμί  
Sense: to be, to exist, to happen, to be present.
σοφοὶ  wise 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: σοφός  
Sense: wise.
ἐμωράνθησαν  they  became  fools 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Passive, 3rd Person Plural
Root: μωραίνω  
Sense: to be foolish, to act foolishly.