What does “implacable” mean?


by Shawn Brasseaux

The word appears once in the King James Bible—Romans 1:31 to be exact. What does it mean? And why does it occur in that part of Scripture?

Romans 1:18-32 is the historical record of how the world wound up in the mess we now find it. When the nations assembled around the Tower of Babel in pagan idol worship (Genesis chapter 11), they made a conscious decision to give up the one true God. The trait “implacable” is part of the final installment of that record, the ultimate condemnation, of those nations. However, we have gotten ahead of ourselves. We should start from the beginning.

Romans chapter 1: “[18] For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; [19] Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. [20] For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: [21] Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

“[22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, [23] And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. [24] Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: [25] Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.Did you notice carefully verses 21, 24, and 25? They hold the key to understanding the trait “implacable.”

Romans chapter 1 continues: “[26] For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: [27] And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.”

Now, we read “implacable” with its context: “[28] And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; [29] Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, [30] Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, [31] Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: [32] Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”

Now turning to read from 2 Timothy chapter 3, the closing days of our Dispensation of Grace: “[1] This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. [2] For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, [3] Without natural affection, trucebreakers [same Greek word as “implacable”], false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, [4] Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; [5] Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” Did you notice verses 2 and 4?


What does “implacable” mean? Why are these individuals suffering from “implacability” anyway? The world got into “this mess” because its ancient inhabitants—at the Tower of Babel (Genesis chapter 11)—willfully abandoned the one true God, the God of the Bible, to pursue their own agenda. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful…” (Romans 1:21). They forsook the Creator God. Therefore, He “gave them up… gave them up… gave them over” (verses 24,26,28) to their preferred ideas and behaviors. Consequently, they were left with an internal void… a vacuum that only He can fill. “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen” (verse 25). Self-serving and self-reliant, they are unnatural (against God’s design in creation) and thus miserable.

Second Timothy chapter 3 mentions “lovers of their own selves,… unthankful,… trucebreakers [same as “implacable”],… lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (verses 2,3,4). The Greek word rendered “implacable” and “trucebreakers” is aspondos, “without libation.” In ancient days, such sacrifices accompanied the making of treaties or agreements. However, these individuals cannot be persuaded into a settlement. Constantly fighting and bickering, they are uninterested in peaceful resolutions. Nothing can satisfy them. Why? They did not want God, they hate Him, and what they thought would pacify them (all their anti-God thoughts and behaviors) does not. There is a frantic, manic panic to fill that God-shaped void. Doing anything and everything to entertain themselves, those sinful pleasures are only temporary (Hebrews 11:25).

Using the Scriptures (with Greek and English lexicographical expansions), we see that “implacable” means “unable to be appeased, relentless in hostility, uninterested in a truce.” They gave up God—the most valuable relationship of all—and (unless they come to Him by faith in Christ) their lusts will never be satiated!

Also see:
» Are we all God’s children?
» Why do the wicked prosper?
» Does “once saved, always saved” entitle us to abuse God’s grace?