Moreover, in keeping with the context, we must connect this new discourse upon the wrath of God with the final clause of verse 16, where Paul tells us that the Gospel of Christ is the power of God to salvation to every one that believeth, “to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”  Paul has established a division between these two classes of humanity which he will follow throughout this epistle.  The Jews were God’s people, called out and separated from the rest of the world to be His own nation.  To them were committed the oracles of God and the religious services of the tabernacle and temple.  The Gentile nations, on the other hand, were left without the light of divine revelation for many centuries.  The times of their ignorance God had winked at, and only now in the days of Paul did He send the message of repentance towards God and faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ into all the world.

Paul was fully aware of the tendency towards self-righteousness, which afflicted not only the Jews, but all the kindreds of mankind.  Men everywhere like to think that by who they are, or by what they have done, they can make themselves acceptable to the God of heaven.  Paul’s great motive, beginning here in verse 18 and continuing through the 18th verse of the 3rd chapter, will be to demonstrate beyond the shadow of a doubt that both Jew and Gentile alike are guilty before God, and stand in need of His Gospel of grace.  He begins by proving Gentile guilt, and speaks at the outset of the wrath of God which was manifested against the Gentile world when they turned their backs upon Him.  This wrath of God revealed against Gentile pagans will amply serve to confirm that the Gentiles stood in direst need of a message of grace, whereby they could be rescued from the terrible state into which paganism and abandoned concupiscence had left them.

For these reasons, Paul, having stated in briefest terms the proposition of the Gospel, begins to show the need of it.  The wrath of God—the most terrible subject the human mind can contemplate—is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.  Taking just this part of the verse, we may safely apply it not to the Gentiles only, but to all the families of mankind, the favored Jews included.  God in His holy character is utterly set against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, whomsoever they may be.  He is no respecter of persons, which means that He will not overlook the wickedness of a Jew because he is a son of Abraham, nor will He overlook the wickedness of a pagan because he grew up in ignorance.  This God is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look upon iniquity.  The heavens are not clean before Him, and even His angels He charged with folly.  So glorious, so supreme is His essential holiness, that it is the praise of the seraphic beings which surround His throne.  So utterly separated is He from anything and everything that is impure or evil, that He cannot tolerate so much as one spot of imperfection to dwell with Him in His holy dwelling place.  His righteous soul is fully set against evil and wickedness, and must condemn it, even when committed by those creatures who were originally created in His image.