Romans 1:13-17 Commentary and application
Romans 1:13-17- Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. 14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. 15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
Paul wants those in Rome to understand that he had a strong desire to come to Rome and preach the gospel to them as he had in other places. He goes on to explain that the gospel is for all people from all walks of life. The gospel is not for one social class, one race, it is not just for the wise, or just for the foolish. God desires that the gospel go out into all the world because He is saving a people for Himself from all nations, languages, social classes, or any other type of division. The true Israel of God is made up of both Jew and Gentile. If we look in the book of Revelation we see this is confirmed in Revelation 5:9-10 it states,
“And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou (Jesus) wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. Rev 5:9-10
God always intended His true Israel to be made up of both believing Jew and believing Gentile. God intended for His salvation to be brought to all different types of peoples. In Christ God has made the seed of Abraham as the sand of the sea because Abraham’s true seed is a spiritual seed, those who believe in Christ (Gal 3:6-9, 13-16, 26-29, Eph 2:11-22). God has broken down the law that divided Jew from Gentile and grafted Gentiles into His nation of Israel (Eph 2:11-22, Rom 11).
You may ask why Paul says “for the Jew first….”. This is because the gospel came to the fleshly Jews first. When Jesus preached He went first to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt 10:5-6, 15:24). Paul usually went to the synagogue first to bring his gospel message to the Jews and when they rejected it he would then turn to the Gentiles in a city. The Jews were the first to receive the gospel, in fulfillment of all that was spoken by the prophets, and then it went out to the Gentiles as well.
Finally Paul mentions that he is not ashamed of the gospel. How can we be ashamed of the gospel? In the gospel God’s power, majesty, mercy, love, righteousness, and all other attributes are revealed. If you are ashamed to speak the gospel to people then you must consider you are ashamed to reveal to them the saving power of God found in Christ. You are ashamed to share the words that can save from Hell and eternal damnation! We cannot let ourselves be made to feel shame in the saving power of God! Paul then supports his claim that the gospel is the saving power of God by quoting scripture,
“4Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: But the just shall live by his faith.” Hab 2:4
We see here that even in the Old Testament God was stating that a man that takes pride in his own work, his own righteousness, his own plans is not upright, but those who trust in God to do what he has promised, they shall live and be counted upright!
1. God has made it clear that the gospel is for all people from all races, regions, social classes, etc. Do we really believe this? When we look at certain people do we really believe that God can or would save them? The gospel leaves no room for racism, social prejudice, or any other type of division. The gospel is also for everyone no matter what kind of life they have lived. It is for the person who is looked at as “morally good” by society as well as the man who is considered the worst society has to offer! Paul was persecuting and killing Christians before God called him, would we believe he could be saved if we saw him back then? Would we share the good news with someone like him? Do you allow divisions to keep you from sharing the gospel?
2. Have we ever been ashamed to share the gospel? Are there times where we have allowed a social setting, work setting, or any other setting intimidate us to share the gospel with others? When we feel this way how do we overcome it? I think Paul points us in the right direction to overcome any fear of sharing the Gospel, remember it is the power of God to save those who are on a path to eternal Hell. If we kept that on the front of our mind instead of being worried about what others think of us would we be more willing at times to share the Gospel? If we thought about how God would think of us for not sharing the Gospel instead of what man might think of us for sharing it we may be encouraged!
3. Do we support our beliefs with scripture? Throughout the writings of Paul we see he is careful to show that what he is stating is not something new but something that is confirmed in God’s word. Paul does not rely on the feelings, thoughts, or philosophies of man to prove his point but on the word of God. God’s word can often have things in it that are hard to understand or contradict what we “feel” to be right but we must always look to scripture to confirm our beliefs, not the way we “feel” about something.