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The Gospel in Romans

Romans 1:1-6; 16-17

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Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Romans 1:1-6; 16-17 NIV

Gospel Defined

Gospel is a word that has come to mean the teaching or revelation of Christ. It comes from an old English word that means good news. And it translates the Greek word evangel, which has the same meaning.  This is a word that Paul uses 12 times in the letter to the Romans. And half of the uses come in the first 17 verses of the first chapter.  Paul is a proclaimer of the gospel (Romans 15:16, 19, 20). And I believe that this letter to the Roman church is a written form of that gospel he proclaims. So just what is the gospel? His introduction to the Romans gives us some insight concerning it. But you really need to read all of Romans to get the complete picture.

The Gospel Was Foretold

The first thing Paul has to say about the gospel is that it was foretold in the Old Testament by the prophets. They did not clearly see the gospel. But God did use them to prepare the way for the gospel to later be revealed. The early church used those clues provided by the prophets to shape their understanding of what God was doing. Phillip’s use of Isaiah to share Jesus with the Ethiopian in the 9th chapter of Acts is an example of that.

The gospel is not so much about an event as it is a person; Jesus. Jesus is described as a descendant of King David, in fulfillment of the promise made to him. And he was also appointed to be the Son of God by his resurrection. That is an interesting statement that is somewhat troublesome. It seems to say that Jesus became the Son of God at his resurrection. But the rest of Scripture claims that he was God before creation. Douglas Moo, in his commentary on Romans, thinks it best to see this expression as one that is referencing a title rather than referring to Jesus’ nature.  He was the divine and eternal Son of God. But at his resurrection, he began his reign as the savior of mankind. And at that time, was given the title of Son of God.

Not Ashamed of the Gospel

Paul expressed to the church in Rome that he was not ashamed of the gospel. On the surface, that seems like a strange statement to me. Why would he be ashamed of the gospel?  It may well be because the gospel is about a messiah who died a criminal’s death on a cross. This was a shameful death and not something that most people would be proud of. But Paul was not ashamed of the gospel because he recognized God’s power in it.

The gospel is not the story of a crucified messiah, although it does include that. Rather it is the power of God that brings salvation to a lost world, to all who will believe. When a person puts their trust in the crucified and resurrected Jesus, God creates a new life in them. A life that is shared with him.  The gospel has the power to transform a person from a man or woman separated from God and without hope in this world, to a child of God, destined to eternal life with him.

The Righteousness of God

The gospel reveals to us the righteousness of God, a righteousness that Paul says is one that comes by faith. There is some discussion as to just what is meant by the righteousness of God. But it seems best to me to see it as a righteousness that God provides to those who believe. This is in contrast to a personal righteousness that we try to attain on our own. This righteousness of God, if not the predominant theme of Romans, is at least a major one that Paul spends much time on. And it is at the heart of the gospel message.  All of those who believe will experience the righteous life that God provides. And they will escape the destruction they would have faced without the gospel.

So Paul is not ashamed of the gospel. Because he understands what it has done for him. And how it will transform anyone else who believes. The gospel is not just the story of Jesus that we share among ourselves, and occasionally with others. It is God’s power at work in the lives of all who will believe.

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Ed Jarrett

Just an old clay jar that God continues to see fit to use in his kingdom's work. I am retired, married with 2 children, and 4 grandchildren. I have followed Jesus for many years. And I love to share what He has given me from His word.

A Note to Readers

The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.

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