18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
1901 ASV Translation:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness;
There are no textual variations between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26.
I. The revelation of the wrath is against both kinds of evil: ungodliness and unrighteousness.
A. Ungodliness has its focus upon how men relate/do not relate to God.
B. Unrighteousness has its focus upon how men treat other men.
II. The characterization of those involved in both of these forms of evil is that they are "holding/hindering" the "truth in unrighteousness".
A. What does Paul mean?
B. The "in" probably ought to be translated "by" as an expression of means. In other words, the Truth is being "held/hindered" by means of the unrighteous behavior of men. Without question, the unrighteous actions of men make Truth hard to grasp. The actions sow confusion and difficulty in clarity.
C. The word translated "hold/hinder" is a word that indicates that a matter is in the power of someone -- for good or ill. A thing can be "held" with the intention of using it to obtain a good result, or a thing can be "held" with the intention of not permitting it to accomplish a good result. The key issue is that some one or thing is "exercising effective power over" another person or thing.
1. This means that Paul saw the evil that men do as exercising an effective power over Truth in that it restrained that Truth from having a good impact upon men/mankind.
2. This does not mean that evil is more powerful than Truth; all it means is that, for the present time, Truth is not backed by omnipotence at all times. Sometimes the Truth is permitted to be curtailed in its power by the evil of men for reasons that are greater than those which argue for the revelation of the Truth. "What if God, willing to make His vengeance and power known, endured with much longsuffering...?"...i.e. what if God curtails the absolute enforcement of the Truth of wrath because He has the manifestation of some other aspect of Truth in mind?