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For I am not ashamed of the gospel
Romans 1:16 It is still the goal of Christianity to share the gospel with everyone.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
Romans 1:16 NASB1995
As promised in my last post on Saturday, October 7, today I’m looking at Romans 1:16. It’s the companion verse to Romans 1:17 (For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”) which you can learn more about here.
In Chapter 1 of this epistle, Paul is writing to the church in Rome, promising to visit them when he is able. In the previous devotional, I pointed out that “the theme of the epistle is this: the righteousness of God, as revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Together, Romans 1:16 and 1:17 are the heart of the epistle — Australian Bible scholar Leon Morris said “These two verses have an importance out of all proportion to their length.”
It may seem that Paul’s opening statement in this verse — “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” — is a bit odd… Paul is opening his heart to the recipients of the epistle, noting that the sophisticated Romans might be embarrassed about a gospel that has been enthusiastically received by the lower classes and focuses on a Jewish savior who was crucified. Paul, however, is not ashamed at all of the gospel of Christ.
He explains why in the next group of words. Paul knows that the gospel has a built-in, God-given power. As followers of Christ, we don’t give the gospel power, but by presenting the Good News to others effectively, we stop impeding its power. Morris goes on to say:
“The gospel is not advice to people, suggesting that they lift themselves. It is power. It lifts them up. Paul does not say that the gospel brings power, but that it is power, and God’s power at that.”1
The Romans would listen to Paul’s words about power, as power was what the city personified at the time — the power of a huge empire. However, even with all of that political, military, and imperial power, no Roman citizen could hope to make himself or herself righteous before God!
What can God provide the Romans? Salvation. Many of the philosophers of the time knew that their society was sick and needed spiritual healing in the form of salvation. Caesar couldn’t provide that peace, only God.
And to whom was God providing salvation? Everyone who believes. By making belief in the risen Christ the only requirement for salvation, God will not hold back salvation from any believer.
The last words of this verse essentially open the gospel to everyone. Paul is saying that the gospel was to be presented first to the ethnic and cultural Jews who already knew of and worshipped God. It would then be presented to the cultural Greeks — not someone who was a native of Greece, but anyone from the region who knew the culture and philosophy of Greece.
This was demonstrated by Jesus during His ministry, as well as during the early ministry of the disciples. It is still the goal of Christianity to share the gospel with everyone. As Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20 (also known as The Great Commission),
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.””
Do not be ashamed of the gospel. Instead, share it with everyone you can!
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I pray that I may be like Paul, boldly proclaiming the gospel of Christ to all I meet. Only in Christ is there hope, love, life and light. The gospel of Christ is the power of God bringing salvation to all who believe in He who died on the cross and rose from the dead. Let me praise and glorify my Savior forever, AMEN.
Morris, Leon "The Epistle to the Romans" (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1988)