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adulterers (3:16) and blasphemers (1:6). They refuse to know God in spite of historical and natural phenomena which clearly reveal God's identity and intention (16:16). Such people, when parents, are capable of murdering their own children even while practicing their perverse religion which, of course, sponsors the atrocities (12:5-6). Immoral people like these are ungrateful to the God whose very word preserves those who believe (16:26-29). In comparison with these morally and religiously bankrupt people a barren, yet undefiled, woman or a eunuch are blessed (3:13-14). The destiny of childlessness with virtue is preferred to that of an unrighteous generation (3:19-4:1).

The second understanding of the ungodly is closely related to their moral and religious outrage. They are in active opposition to the righteous.286 Indeed, they oppress them (5:1). These righteous are none other than God's "elect" (eklektoi),287 the Jews, a "hallowed people and

blameless seed."288 In view of this, the ungodly are quite

286 3:1, 10; 4:16; 5:1, 15; 10:6, 20; 11:14; 12:9; 16:17, 23; cf. 2:10-20.

287 3:9; 4:15; cf. also the pepoiqetej in 3:9; 16:24; pistoi in 3:9; 16:26; osioi in 3:9; 4:15; 10:17; 18:1 and agioi in 1:5; 5:5.

288 10:5; also euarestoj qe& genomenoj hgaphqh in 4:10; uioi qeou in 5:5; 16:26; 18:4; laon sou (i.e., qeou) in 16:20; 19:5; taij saij (i.e., qe&) in 19:6 and oi t^ s^ (i.e., qe&) skepazomenoi xeiri in 19:18.

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