Power of The Gospel

Romans 1:8-17

I. Paul’s Thanksgiving

(Romans 1:8)

The Book of Romans may be the most influential book ever written. Three stalwarts of the Christian faith were converted through its text: Saint Augustine, Martin Luther, and John Wesley. Romans is still transforming lives today with its doctrinal and theological writings that communicate the fundamentals of humanity’s sin problem and God’s salvation solution. (Vines Expository Bible Notes)

“I thank my God” characteristically opens the “thanksgiving” with which Paul regularly began his letters (see 1 Corinthians 1:4; Ephesians 1:16; Philippians 1:3; Colossians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:3; Philemon 4) following his salutation and greeting.

“Through Jesus Christ” points to the New Testament theology of prayer. Christians must go through Christ not only for requests to God (see John 15:16), but also to give thanks.

“Throughout the whole world” refers to every place where the gospel had been preached. (Zondervan KJV Commentary)

Personally, I think that this is one of the best and supreme compliments that can be attributed to any church, congregation, ministry or assembly ever.

As the Amplified Bible, Classic Edition, exclaims, “(the report of) your faith is made known to all the world and is commended everywhere.”

Would you agree?

Also reflecting on verse 8 — “I thank my God.” In every letter Paul wrote, he expressed his gratitude for those who would receive it (note 1 Corinthians 1:4), except in his letter to the Galatians, whose defection from the true gospel caused him to dispense with any opening commendations (see Galatians 1:6–12).

II. Paul’s Prayer

(Romans 1:9-10)

Here, we should note that the word for “serve” (Greek, latreu; verse 9) has a rich background in sacred and priestly service (see Hebrew 9:9; 10:2). For Paul, such dutiful service was spiritual (“with my spirit”); that is, he carried out his service not in a physical temple, but in his heart, wherever he went.

“The gospel of his Son” is the same as “the gospel of God” (1:1; also Romans 15:16, 19). Paul alluded to God’s watchful eye and His ability to bear witness to Paul’s service on behalf of the Christians in Rome, for whom he interceded through prayer, just as a priest serves before God on behalf of His people. The extension of Paul’s prayerful service was to serve the Roman Christians in person (“to come unto you”; verse 10). (Zondervan)

III. Paul’s Longing and Purpose (Romans 1:11-13)

Paul stated that he wished to visit the church in Rome, “that I may impart ... some spiritual gift” (verse 11); that is, he wished “to share” some of his gifts of the Spirit.

Paul was an apostle, but more important, he saw himself as an instrument of the Holy Spirit. “Spiritual gift” occurs only here in Paul’s letters and was probably used here because he had not yet visited the Romans in person and did not want them to misunderstand the “gift” that he intended to bring them.

In chapter 12, Paul taught about “spiritual gifts.” Here, he states what is fundamental to all of his teaching on the gifts of the Spirit: Their purpose is that “you may be established,” that is, to “strengthen” the church.

“Together” (verse 12) points out that the work of the Spirit and the mutual exercise of the Spirit’s gifts can be anticipated among God’s people even when the gifts have yet to be labeled and taught as such. Paul’s genuine humility is seen in his desire to be ministered to by the believers at Rome, as well as to minister to them. (Zondervan)

IV. Paul’s Indebtedness

(Romans 1:14-15)

“I am a debtor,” Paul had an obligation to God (reference 1 Corinthians 9:16–17) to fulfill His divine mandate to minister to Gentiles (1:5; Acts 9:15).

“Greeks” is a reference to people of many different nationalities who had embraced the Greek language, culture, and education. They were the sophisticated elite of Paul’s day. Because of their deep interest in Greek philosophy, they were considered “wise.” Because of this prevalence of Greek culture, Paul sometimes used this word to describe all Gentiles (note Romans 3:9).

The expression “barbarian” is a derisive term coined by the Greeks for all who had not been trained in Greek language and culture. When someone spoke in another language, it sounded to the Greeks like “bar-bar-bar” or unintelligible chatter. Although, in the narrowest sense, “barbarian” referred to the uncultured, uneducated masses, it was often used to describe all non-Greeks — the unwise of the world. Paul’s point is that God is no respecter of persons — the gospel must reach both the world’s elite and its outcasts (reference John 4:4–42; James 2:1–9).

V. Paul’s Confidence

(Romans 1:16-17)

It is in verses 16 and 17 that we find the theme of the entire book of Romans. (Zondervan KJV Commentary)

Paul was “not ashamed of the gospel” anywhere or at anytime, not even in the capital city of the Roman Empire (see 1:15; for “gospel,” see 1:1 and discussion on Mark 1:1).

Paul knew of a power to deliver that eclipsed that of Rome.

“The power (Greek, dynamis) of God” (see 1 Corinthians 1:18 for the same expression) effects “salvation” for those who believe and reveals “the righteousness of God” (1:17). The Jews come “first” not only in time but also in privilege.

“Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22), and the Messiah was a Jew.

The renown Bible expositor Dr. John MacArthur exclaimed, “These two verses crystallize the thesis of the entire book — the gospel of Jesus Christ — which Paul will unfold and explain in the following chapters.

Christ in the Text: 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. — Romans 1:16

Church Supply Pastor and Christian columnist, Dr. Wayne M. Williams, presently resides in Athens with his wife of 39 years, Lita. For additional study notes, see the Facebook page International Sunday School Lessons.

Church Supply Pastor and Christian columnist, Dr. Wayne M. Williams, presently resides in Athens with his wife of 39 years, Lita. For additional study notes, see the Facebook page International Sunday School Lessons.

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