Grace to you! I am still pondering my interpretation of verse 17, specifically 'from faithfulness to faithfulness'. I am wondering if instead of this being a reference specifically to God's faithfulness, that it might not be a reference to the Messiah's faithfulness, since immediately following the phrase 'from faithfulness to faithfulness' Paul uses Habakkuk 2:4 to mention the Righteous One and specifically his faithfulness. Still wondering what to do here. Any thoughts?
While you are pondering this, I will continue on with my translation and commentary. Here is the next addition.
18 For God’s wrath is being revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what is known about God is evident among them, because God made it evident to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, that is his eternal power and deity, have been plainly seen from the time of creation of the world in that they were understood through what has been made, for this reason they are without excuse. 21 Because, even though they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or offer thanks, but they became futile in their thinking and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Even though they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of the image of corruptible man and birds and beasts and reptiles.
As God's righteousness is revealed in the gospel, showing God's faithfulness, Paul says that God's wrath is revealed, as well, against specifically all unrighteousness of men. How is it that men are unrighteous before God? Paul's big answer is idolatry. Paul in this section is showing how men have committed the idolatry. How? They have suppressed the truth in unrighteousness. How can Paul say that men have suppressed the truth in unrighteousness? Or to use Paul's words in the form of a question, How is it that all men stand before God 'without excuse'? Paul's answer is that God has revealed himself, specifically his eternal power and deity, through what God had made, and that this revelation has taken place since the creation of the world.
This knowledge of God in creation did not kindle worship and thanksgiving to God, though. Instead man because futile in his thinking, and though he claimed to be wise, he became a fool, and worshiped the thing rather than the creator. In other words, God made himself plain in creation, but man did not see the image pointing to the creator, and instead saw the image as God.
In this section we have the beginnings of an Adamic typology that Paul is going to be working for some time in his letter. Notice the connecting themes of creation, knowing God, seeking wisdom, reptiles, and image and likeness. At the heart of the temptation of Eve was the question regarding whom the man and woman would worship. Would they obey God, in whose image they were made? Or would they obey the voice of a created thing over God. Paul here reminds us of their decision, and in this section beginning in verse 18, Paul will show the ramifications of that exchange of glory.