The Power of the Gospel, Rom. 1:16-17
Today’s text is the theme of Romans. Salvation through the gospel of Christ. The gospel is God’s powerful means of saving all who believe in and obey him. The Greek word dunamis, or power, sounds like dynamo, dynamic, and dynamite for a reason. We could not possibly attain righteousness or right-standing with God by ourselves, so God sent his Son to die for us and he sends out the message of Jesus through the gospel. The word “gospel” means good news. The world had lived in darkness and sin since the Fall in the Garden of Eden at the dawn of time. How wonderful to hear good news!
Paul stated in verses 14-15 that he was obligated to preach and eager to preach at Rome. Paul would give his absolute best effort. Presentation of the gospel is not a pastime of hobby. It is a divine calling, and a choice to represent Jesus Christ to the lost world. God had redeemed Paul and Paul belonged to him completely now. Perhaps a more effective preacher never lived. Although Paul had regrets about his past, he had nothing but eagerness regarding the future. There are things that make all of us ashamed from time to time. Paul never forgot that he had persecuted the church. Try as we might, it may be impossible to banish past failures from our memory. But the gospel makes all things new (John 3:3-5; 2 Cor. 5:17).
The apostle Paul was not ashamed of the gospel. Rome was the seat of the world empire and worshipped power and might, power of a worldly sort. But Paul would bring to them the simple, loving, life-changing story of God’s Son. We must never be ashamed of the gospel. It comes from God through the Spirit and has Jesus the Son as its central message. The gospel hurts no one and helps all who obey it. We preach it humbly because it is of God and not of men. It is both a privilege and a sacred duty to declare the good news about Jesus Christ.
The gospel will save all who truly believe. Faith and belief are used in the text as a synecdoche, where a part represents the whole process of gospel obedience. Salvation is not by the Old Law and it is not obtained by human merit. Salvation comes through faith, and saving faith is obedient faith (1:5).
God’s order for presenting the gospel is Jew first and then Gentile. The Jews were not more deserving, but they were better prepared. They believed in God and had the promises and prophecies in hand. They read them and had looked forward to the Messiah. When Jews were converted, beginning at Pentecost, they were the launching point. Early evangelists preached first in the synagogues, then where Gentiles gathered. The gospel is for all.
The righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel. Not merely God’s righteous character, but God’s means of making men righteous, or in right standing with him. Romans declares that salvation begins with faith and is sustained through faith. The quote is from Habakkuk 2:4, where the prophet is told that life, or salvation comes through trust and steadfastness. And thus it is with us. Do you believe? Will you obey? Will you be faithful?
My comments are not an inspired commentary, but rather a few words to draw attention to the background, context, and dynamic situation of the book of Acts. May God bless your reading of His Word. T.C.