An Overview of General Revelation

The Definition of General Revelation


General revelation is the universal self-disclosure of God by which He makes Himself known to all people everywhere (Ps 19:1-6; Rom 1:18-23; 2:14-15; Acts 14:17).


The Means of General Revelation


1. God’s Creation (Ps 19:1-6; Rom 1:19-21)

  • the heavens (Ps 19:1-4a)
  • the sun (Ps 19:4b-6)
  • the world (Rom 1:20a)
  • “what has been made” (Rom 1:20b)

2. God’s Provision (Acts 14:17)

  • the provision of rain (Acts 14:17a)
  • the provision of fruitful seasons (Acts 14:17b)
  • the provision of food (Acts 14:17c)

3. Man’s Conscience (Rom 2:14-15)

  • “the Law written in their hearts” (Rom 2:15a)
  • “their conscience bearing witness” (Rom 2:15b)


The Audience of General Revelation


1. All Men without Exception

  • “all the earth” (Ps 19:4a)
  • “to the end of the world” (Ps 19:4b)
  • “nothing is hidden from its heat” (Ps 19:6)

2. All Men without Distinction

  • Jew and Gentile (Rom 2:14-15; Acts 14:17)
  • Righteous and Wicked (Acts 14:17; cf. Matt 5:45)


The Content of General Revelation


1. The Existence of God (Rom 1:19-25)

  • “His divine nature” (20)
  • “they knew God” (21)
  • “the truth of God” (25)

2. The Glory of God (Ps 19:1a; Rom 1:19-23)

  • “the glory of God” (Ps 19:1a)
  • “the glory of the incorruptible God” (Rom 1:23)
  • “that which is known about God” (Rom 1:19)
  • “His invisible attributes” (Rom 1:20)

3. The Power of God (Ps 19:1b; Rom 1:20)

  • “the work of His hands” (Ps 19:1b)
  • “His eternal power” (Rom 1:20)

4. The Goodness of God (Acts 14:17)

  • “He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good”

5. The Law of God (Rom 2:14-15)

  • “the things of the Law” (14)
  • “the work of the Law” (15)


The Outcome of General Revelation


1. The Comprehension of Truth (Rom 1:19-21)

  • what “is known about God is evident within them” (19a)
  • “God made it evident to them” (19b)
  • “they knew God” (21)

2. The Suppression of Truth (Rom 1:18-25)

  • “men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (18)
  • “they did not honor Him as God or give thanks” (21)
  • “they became futile in their speculations” (21b)
  • “their foolish heart was darkened” (21c)
  • “they became fools” (22)
  • “exchanged glory of incorruptible God for image” (23)
  • “exchanged the truth of God for a lie” (25)
  • “worshiped/served creature rather than Creator” (25)

3. The Culpability of Unbelievers (Rom 1:18-23)

  • “so that they are without excuse” (20)


The Limitations of General Revelation


1. Not Detailed in its Content (Ps 19; Rom 1-2; Acts 14:17)

  • the existence of God (Rom 1:19-25)
  • the glory of God (Ps 19:1a; Rom 1:19-23)
  • the power of God (Ps 19:1b; Rom 1:20)
  • the goodness of God (Acts 14:17)
  • the law of God (Rom 2:14-15)

2. Not Salvific in its Effect (Rom 1:20; cf. 10:14)

  • fails to save the unbeliever (1:20; cf. 10:14)
  • renders him “without excuse” before God (1:20)

10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Scott Christensen on February 7, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Fantastic! Can I steal this?

  2. It’s all yours.

  3. Well done! I have linked to it at my blog.

  4. Posted by Jeff on February 7, 2009 at 11:31 pm


    You area amazing.


  5. JD,

    And you are hired (as my PR guy!).

    Actually, Jeff, this is from the syllabus I’m working on for the next theology class I’ll be teaching at CBC. So you have the inside scoop.

    Great time at dinner the other night!


  6. Posted by Caleb Kolstad on February 9, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Great outline!

  7. Excellent summary in outline form. Thank you.

  8. Posted by Carlos Montoya on March 18, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Hi Matt,

    Great outline. Just a quickie. Can you recommend any articles, books or such that deal with the notion of Psychology being truth from general revelation?

    From a fellow TMSer class of ’99


  9. Posted by Matt Waymeyer on March 18, 2011 at 10:00 pm


    Here are the two best resources I’m aware of:

    Bookman, Douglas. “The Scriptures and Biblical Counseling.” In Introduction to Biblical Counseling: A Basic Guide to the Principles and Practice of Counseling, eds. John F. MacArthur and Wayne A. Mack, 63-97. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1994.

    Thomas, Robert L. “General Revelation and Biblical Hermeneutics.” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9/1 (1998): 5-23.

    Also, if you do a Google search of “Confident to Counsel Waymeyer”, the first entry will be a PDF of the handout I used for a Shepherds’ Conference seminar I did about 10 years ago. I address the issue of General Revelation on pages 6-9.

    Start with Bookman.

  10. Posted by Carlos Montoya on March 19, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    Thanks Matt. This will be helpful.

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