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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Romans 1:16



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.

Adam Clarke Commentary

I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ - This text is best illustrated by Isaiah 28:16; Isaiah 49:23, quoted by the apostle, Romans 10:11; : For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him, shall not be ashamed; i.e. they shall neither be confounded, nor disappointed of their hope. The Jews, by not believing on Jesus Christ, by not receiving him as the promised Messiah, but trusting in others, have been disappointed, ashamed, and confounded, from that time to the present day. Their expectation is cut off; and, while rejecting Christ, and expecting another Messiah, they have continued under the displeasure of God, and are ashamed of their confidence. On the other hand, those who have believed on Christ have, in and through him, all the blessings of which the prophets spoke; every promise of God being yea and amen through him. Paul, as a Jew, believed on Christ Jesus; and in believing he had life through his name; through him he enjoyed an abundance of grace; so that, being filled with that happiness which an indwelling Christ produces, he could cheerfully say, I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. And why? Because he felt it to be the power of God to the salvation of his believing soul. This appears to be the true sense of this passage, and this interpretation acquires additional strength from the consideration that St. Paul is here most evidently addressing himself to the Jews.

It is the power of God unto salvation - δυναμις γαρ θεου εστιν· The almighty power of God accompanies this preaching to the souls of them that believe; and the consequence is, they are saved; and what but the power of God can save a fallen, sinful soul?

To the Jew first - Not only the Jews have the first offer of this Gospel, but they have the greatest need of it; being so deeply fallen, and having sinned against such glorious privileges, they are much more culpable than the Gentiles, who never had the light of a Divine revelation.

And also to the Greek - Though the salvation of God has hitherto been apparently confined to the Jewish people, yet it shall be so no longer, for the Gospel of Christ is sent to the Gentiles as well as the Jews; God having put no difference between them; and Jesus Christ having tasted death for Every man.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

For I am not ashamed … - The Jews had cast him off, and regarded him as an apostate; and by the wise among the Gentiles he had been persecuted, and despised, and driven from place to place, and regarded as the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things 1 Corinthians 4:13, but still he was not ashamed of the gospel. He had so firm a conviction of its value and its truth; he had experienced so much of its consolations; and had seen so much of its efficacy; that he was so far from being ashamed of it that he gloried in it as the power of God unto salvation. People should be ashamed of crime and folly. They are ashamed of their own offences, and of the follies of their conduct, when they come to reflect on it. But they are not ashamed of what they feel to be right, and of what they know will contribute to their welfare, and to the benefit of their fellow-men. Such were the views of Paul about the gospel; and it is one of his favorite doctrines that they who believe on Christ shall not be ashamed, Romans 10:11; Romans 5:5; 2 Corinthians 7:14; 2 Timothy 1:12; Philemon 1:20; Romans 9:33; 2 Timothy 1:8; compare Mark 8:38; 1 Peter 4:16; 1 John 2:28.

Of the gospel - This word means the “good news,” or the glad intelligence; see the note at Mark 1:1. It is so called because it contains the glad annunciation that sin may be pardoned, and the soul saved.

Of Christ - The good news respecting the Messiah; or which the Messiah has brought. The expression probably refers to the former, the good news which relates to the Messiah, to his character, advent, preaching, death, resurrection, and ascension. Though this was “to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness,” yet he regarded it as the only hope of salvation, and was ready to preach it even in the rich and splendid capital of the world.

The power of God - This expression means that it is the way in which God exerts his power in the salvation of people. It is the efficacious or mighty plan, by which power goes forth to save, and by which all the obstacles of man‘s redemption are taken away. This expression implies,

(1) That it is God‘s plan, or his appointment. It is not the device of man.

(2) it is adapted to the end. It is suited to overcome the obstacles in the way. It is not merely the instrument by which God exerts his power, but it has an inherent adaptedness to the end, it is suited to accomplish salvation to man so that it may be denominated power.

(3) it is mighty, hence, it is called power, and the power of God. If is not a feeble and ineffectual instrumentality, but it is “mighty to the pulling down of strongholds,” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. It has shown its power as applicable to every degree of sin, to every combination of wickedness. It has gone against the sins of the world, and evinced its power to save sinners of all grades, and to overcome and subdue every mighty form of iniquity, compare Jeremiah 23:29, “Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” 1 Corinthians 1:18, “the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness, but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God.”

Unto salvation - This word means complete deliverance from sin and death, and all the foes and dangers that beset man. It cannot imply anything less than eternal life. If a man should believe and then fall away, he could in no correct sense be said to be saved. And hence, when the apostle declares that it is the power of God unto salvation “to everyone that believeth,” it implies that all who become believers “shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation” (see 1 Peter 1:5), and that none shall ever fall away and be lost. The apostle thus commences his discussion with one of the important doctrines of the Christian religion, the final preservation of the saints. He is not defending the gospel for any temporary object, or with any temporary hope. He looks through the system, and sees in it a plan for the complete and eternal recovery of all those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. When he says it is the power of God unto salvation, he means that it is the power of God for the attainment of salvation. This is the end, or the design of this exertion of power.

To everyone that believeth - Compare Mark 16:16-17. This expresses the condition, or the terms, on which salvation is conferred through the gospel. It is not indiscriminately to all people, whatever may be their character. It is only to those who confide or trust in it; and it is conferred on all who receive it in this manner. If this qualification is possessed, it bestows its blessings freely and fully. All people know what “faith” is. It is exercised when we confide in a parent, a friend, a benefactor. It is such a reception of a promise, a truth, or a threatening, as to suffer it to make its appropriate impression on the mind, and such as to lead us to act under its influence, or to act as we should on the supposition that it is true. Thus, a sinner credits the threatenings of God, and fears. This is faith. He credits his promises, and hopes. This is faith. He feels that he is lost, and relies on Jesus Christ for mercy. This is faith. And, in general, faith is such an impression on the mind made by truth as to lead us to feel and act as if it were true; to have the appropriate feelings, and views, and conduct under the commands, and promises, and threatenings of God; see the note at Mark 16:16.

To the Jew first - First in order of time, Not that the gospel was any more adapted to Jews than to others; but to them had been committed the oracles of God; the Messiah had come through them; they had had the Law, the temple, and the service of God, and it was natural that the gospel should be proclaimed to them before it was to the Gentiles. This was the order in which the gospel was actually preached to the world, first to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles. Compare Matthew 10:6; Luke 24:49; Acts 13:46, “It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you; but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” Compare Matthew 21:43.

And also to the Greek - To all who were nor Jews, that is, to all the world. It was nor confined in its intention or efficacy to any class or nation of people. It was adapted to all, and was designed to be extended to all.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.

The gospel

What grand truths lie concealed in this Scripture, as in a kaleidoscope! The gospel being its focal point, several easy turns bring into clearest view some of the most precious things of our Christian faith.

I. The first turn presents its efficacy: “It is … power.”

II. The second its Divinity: “It is the power of God.”

III. The third its object: “It is the power of God unto salvation.”

IV. The fourth its impartiality: “It is the power of God unto salvation to everyone.”

V. The fifth its conditionality: “It is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.”

VI. The sixth the order in which it was to be preached to and employed by guilty man: “To the Jews first, and also to the Greek.” A man who can define it so comprehensively and grandly, could not well be “ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” In more than the sense of willingness he is “ready to preach” it anywhere. (W. H. Luckenbach.)

The apostle’s estimate of the gospel

I. Paul’s estimate of the gospel.

1. The gospel is a power. This power is manifested--

2. The gospel is the power of God. The Jews said this power was of Beelzebub. The Pagans that it was the power of fanaticism. Paul said it was of God.

3. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation, Nature exhibits His power in creation. The Deluge furnished proof of His destructive power. The gospel reveals His power to save. It saves--

4. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to believers. The Lord has a perfect right to fix the terms of our salvation.

5. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.

II. Paul’s personal feelings concerning the gospel. “I am not ashamed.” Being satisfied of its Divine origin.

1. The poverty of its adherents did not make him ashamed of it. Though our religion had a carpenter for its founder, fishermen for its advocates, and the poor for its supporters, yet Paul was not ashamed.

2. The illiterateness of its adherents did not make him ashamed of it. Paul was a learned man. The vast majority of Jewish rabbis and heathen philosophers despised the gospel. The bulk of Christians were unlearned and ignorant men. Yet Paul was not ashamed.

3. The persecutions of its adherents did not make him ashamed.


1. The apostle was not ashamed to profess the gospel.

2. The apostle was not ashamed to live the gospel.

3. The apostle was not ashamed to preach the gospel.

4. Are you ashamed of the gospel? (W. Sidebottom.)

Not ashamed of the gospel and why

?--The success of Christianity has won for it the respect even of its enemies.

I. The subject which it emphasises--the “gospel.” In the context we have clearest evidence that a knowledge of certain facts and truths associated therewith existed among those to whom the apostle wrote. These facts and truths all clustered around the person, life work, example, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The bare historical record of these, however, was not the gospel any more than mere creeds or systems of Christian truth, however important these may be. The members of the body are the servants of the living soul; so the gospel is the animating spirit which employs as its instruments facts and doctrines, precepts and institutions.

II. The reference which our text implies--Not ashamed of the gospel! Strange language, surely, for Paul to use, is it not? Did he not love the gospel with a most ardent affection? Did he not prize it above all things, and glory in it as an ineffable trust Divinely committed to his charge: How could Paul content himself with declaring that he was “not ashamed of the gospel”? The reference here implied brings us back to the words in which Christ described His mission to the world at its commencement (Luke 4:18), and also, when replying to the messengers sent to Him by John the Baptist, from the prison (Luke 7:22). Christ’s heart glowed with love to all; but most intensely towards the poor, the vast struggling masses of humanity, denied universally the rights of citizens and of manhood. Slavery and class privilege were the cornerstone of that Pagan civilisation, then so powerful, and to these the gospel did not offer any terms of compromise; and so its advocates, as Paul tells us, were “made as the filth of the world, the off-scouring of all things.” Enemies were constantly asserting that this “new religion drew to it the dregs of the population--peasants, mechanics, beggars, and slaves.” Even long after the time of Paul, when Christianity had won many triumphs, we find Celsus, a haughty, heathen philosopher, remarking that “even the Christian teachers were wool workers, cobblers, and fullers--the most illiterate and vulgar of mankind.” We can easily understand that some might waver in the good cause, and that others, though favourable, might shrink from embracing it through fear of being treated as persons who had degraded themselves in the social scale. So the apostle Paul comes down for the moment from his wonted high position of “glorying “in the gospel and adopts a lowlier strain; he “was not ashamed of the gospel:”

III. The argument upon which this declaration rests. (J M. Cruickshank.)

The distinguishing features of Christianity

Whether religion in general has any rational ground or not, it is certain that human society in the long run is quite impossible without religion. You have heard of the ten great religions of the world. Of these only three have been expansive and conquering religions--Buddhism, Mohammedanism, and Christianity. To these three the struggle is narrowed down. And as between the three, whether legitimately or illegitimately, the hard, historic fact is, that Christianity is certainly carrying the day.

I. I name as the first distinctive feature of Christianity, the incarnation of God in Christ. History teaches that human nature cannot endure a bald spiritual theism. We have two thoughts of God equally necessary. We think of Him as an Infinite Spirit, wholly separate from matter and superior to it--wise, just, awful in holiness. Hence the pure monotheism now recognised as lying in the background of all the better mythologies. But human weakness, and, above all, human depravity necessitate another conception of God. The human heart, yearning for sympathy in its weakness, and stricken with terror in its defilement, cries out passionately for an Incarnate God. Call it reason and conscience, or call it finite limitation and guilty fear, this uniform importunate demand for an Incarnate God is answered only by our God in Christ.

II. The second distinctive feature of Christianity is atonement. Both Testaments are full of it.

III. The third distinctive feature of Christianity is regeneration. Confession of sin is not confined to Christendom. Universal sacrifice is universal confession. Christianity begins its curative work by a better diagnosis of the disease. It sets in clear light the original rectitude of man, discloses the tempter, and proclaims the fall. (R. D. Hitchcock, D. D.)

On Christianity

I. The character of its Author recommends Christianity to particular regard.

II. The intrinsic excellence of Christianity marks its superiority to every other religious system.

III. Consider the mode of its establishment. (T. Laurie, D. D.)

The Christian evangel, its contents and results

In these words we have exhibited the true spirit of this ambassador of Christ, and the nature of the message he was commissioned to make known. “The gospel is no feeble utterance, no mere human speculation composed of sentiments light as air. It is charged with Divine energy, and works out the salvation of all who receive it.”

I. Notice that by these words we are assured there is a Divine positive message to man. Paul did not appear before the world as a philosopher, who by the workings of a powerful intellect could solve all the problems of being and knowing which had baffled those who went before him. He did not assume the position of a reformer, whose business was to set in order those things which pertained to the social and political conditions of life. Neither did he maintain the position of an educator who should train minds in the mental products of human genius. Paul was a herald of the King of grace and of glory; he was an ambassador of Christ, a preacher of a positive message of truth and love to all mankind, and which came from the heart of the Eternal. God has looked down from His high and holy abode in tenderest love and righteous mercy, and has made known to us His purposes and desires.

II. Our text teaches us that the burden of this Divine message to man is a person. The gospel is the gospel of Christ--concerning Christ. It came from Him and it is occupied with Him and nothing else.

III. The Christian evangel is charged with Divine power. The magnetism of great men--which is the resultant of their personalities--has more power with those they influence than their wisest counsels. So it is with the gospel. It is powerful, not only because of its truthfulness, or merely because of the love it reveals, but because God in the person of His own Son is in it, and with it, dealing personally with the sinful and the lost. Its efficiency is from Heaven, and the spiritual revolutions it has wrought have been produced, not only by power as power, but by the living spirit of the Lord.

IV. We advance a step further by noticing that the gospel is a saving power. The Roman power was in its outgoings, in very many instances, a power unto destruction. It pulled down, injured, and destroyed; and the more destruction it produced, the greater it was feared, and the more loudly it was applauded. This destroying power is a low, vulgar power. Any person--no matter how weak and wicked--is capable of destroying the finest work of art which ever proceeded from the reason and hand of man. On the other hand, it takes one who is wise, tender, and good inspired by more than human genius--to raise and to save the human soul, and secure the advance and development of the human race. Of all beings who ever appeared in this world, no one has ever been equal to this Herculean task except the Man of Sorrows. He alone can build up the temple of humanity which was pulled down by sin.

V. Finally, it is to be observed that the salvation the gospel works out is to be possessed and enjoyed by faith. Faith is the door by which all spiritual power and upbuilding influences enter the soul. It is receptive in its nature, and takes into the inner man those thoughts, feelings, and persons, which regulate the heart out of which flows the issues of life. He that believeth the testimony of the gospel takes Christ and all that is in Christ into the deepest parts of his spirit. By faith Christ dwells in us the hope of glory and the power of an endless life. (W. Adamson, D. D.)

God’s power unto salvation

If he had been ashamed, could we have so much wondered? Consider the time and the place, and the man and the message. The time was the hideous time of Nero; the place was the city of Rome, in which, as in a sort of moral sewer, all the detestable, and, to us, in many respects, inconceivable wickedness of the world festered. The man was a Jew, one of an ancient and indestructible race, which then, even more than now, the world despised, ill-used, and robbed. The message was this: that a crucified Hebrew had risen from the dead, being the Son of God, with power. And the apostle felt no sort of reluctance with this message. Of this gospel, the apostle tells us these magnificent statements. First, he calls it a gospel, a good news--a good news which could have been discovered only in one way, by revelation from heaven, a good news declared in a life sealed by death, confirmed by resurrection, and written in a book. And this great revelation, which none of the great thinkers of the day had been able to think out, tells us of three great things. It is a revelation of the fatherhood of God, of the redemption of Christ by the power of grace. Then, in the power of this grace, we go on free, reconciled, and strengthened for the duties of life and for the city of God. This is the gospel, there is no other--the free, full, present forgiveness of sin in Christ our Lord. And it is called the gospel of Christ; Christ is the gospel; Christ reveals the Father. “And Christ is our Redeemer. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world.” “The gospel of Christ,” the apostle calls it, and he goes on to tell us that the gospel of Christ is the power of God. How is it the power of God? It is the power of God because God uses it to convert, and to instruct, and to console, and to inspire. This book that brings us to God makes us like God, it makes us thirst for God, it helps us to be filled with God. And once more it inspires ideas of the power that rules the world; and this power, with its lofty ideals, with its moral principles, with its wonderful history, with its life-giving promises, is the one book in all the world which has done more than anything else to break the chains of the captive, to lift up mortal man to the true dignity for which God intended him. It is the power of God; and yet there is another sense in which it is the power of God, because only God can make it powerful. I think it is upon this great truth that we preachers need to rely more than we have ever relied yet. “Not by might, nor by power, but My Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.” The apostle further defines what he means by “power”; he says, “unto salvation.” Salvation from the power of sin; from the dominion of the world; from the yoke of selfishness; from the misery of small, wretched faults which eat and ulcerate the soul like venomous insects; salvation from all that makes life poor and mean; salvation from low idea; salvation from forgetting God. It is the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation, because it tells us whence we came, and to what we go: that we are the sons of God. But there is a limitation to this--“unto everyone that believeth.” God never makes a man good against his will, He never takes from any one of us our awful freedom. He knows that one day we shall stand to be judged for our works before His Son, to whom He hath committed judgment. How could He punish us for the evil we have done, how could He recompense us for the good which, by His grace, we may have done if He did not leave us free? To everyone that believeth is the gospel a power, and to no one else. It was of this gospel of which the apostle was not ashamed first to accept it for himself, and then to proclaim it to others. He knew, if any man ever yet knew, on whom he had believed. With these last three truths I will leave the subject in your hearts. First, St. Paul’s reason for writing to Rome, and afterwards going to Rome, was the sense of his indebtedness. “I am a debtor,” so we are debtors to God, to the world, to the Church, and in a sense to ourselves and to those who come after us; and just so far as we know what we owe to Christ, and what Christ has done for us, shall we feel the blessed duty and obligation of passing on to others what has been given to us. And then when this is the case, when we feel our obligation, and when each takes such share as we may in what Christ gives us to do, we shall feel the reasonableness of faith--the reasonableness of a reasonable faith. (Bp. Thorold.)

Not ashamed of the gospel

I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ--

I. Because of the heroic character of its witnesses.

II. Because of the influence it has had on civilisation.

III. Because of its adaptability to human necessities.

IV. Because of the promise it gives of eternal life.

I. The heroic character of its witnesses. I think it is Thomas Carlyle who says that “the history of a nation is the history of its great men.” On the same principle it may be said that the history of Christianity is the history of its heroes. For it is from them and by them that we have given to us practical illustration of the power and processes of the great God-sent religion. And first we turn to Him who was at once the Founder and Finisher of the faith, Jesus Christ, whose life may be said to epitomise the biography of mankind. But perhaps it may be said, “Time has lent a fascination to their labours; what they did perforce has been transfigured into something done for love.” If it was done “perforce,” it was the force of Christianity--the force of Jesus Christ, and that is the force of devotion and love. I do not know that history and the lapse of time have done anything to magnify their work. The gospel of Jesus Christ prompts men to acts of as great heroism today as it did in the darker times of history.

II. Because of its influence on civilisation. So silently has this power been exercised, that we are very apt to lose sight of its influence upon the morals of men. And yet in its very secrecy has lain its strength. It began by enforcing the truth of universal brotherhood: the duties of each to all, and of all to each. It flung aside the superstitions of the age. Civilisation without religion! It is impossible. It is fire without warmth; it is motion without progress; it is existence, but it is not life. It becomes in time the very apotheosis of immorality. I have said that the influence of religion is spiritual. But all work which is spiritual eventually reveals itself in the natural, the material. So is it especially, I think, with the Christian faith. What has Christianity done for men in the mass? Each phase of its spiritual activity has its equivalent in the natural world, in society.

III. Because of its adaptability to human necessities. Herein lies the beauty and the blessedness of our religion. It is to this that what in the most sacred sense may be called its success is due. To go back to its earliest days, how did it attract men? It gave rest to the weary, and comfort to the sad; it cheered the mourning and raised the dead to life. Today its methods are the same. How are we to account for this power? Simply, I think, because its Founder was “the Man Christ Jesus.” He knew what was in man.

IV. Because of the promise it gives of eternal life. It is not a reward; it is a development. And even if it were only a reward, I am too human to disregard its value as an element in the teaching of Jesus Christ. A religion which provides for this world only is no religion at all. (R. Barclay, M. A.)

The nature and claims of the gospel

I. What are we to understand by the gospel of Christ? Christianity, or the scheme of religion revealed in the New Testament.

1. The things it proposes to our faith. These are of several sorts. Some of them are merely historical; others purely authoritative, and some partly historical and partly authoritative. Of this latter class are the truths relating to the Incarnation of Christ.

2. The things which the gospel commands to be practised.

II. What are the reasons for not being ashamed of this gospel, but, on the contrary, for embracing it, and glorying in it, with all the heart?

1. Its incontrovertible truth.

2. Its incomparable excellence. Compare the system, in its doctrines and duties, with all other systems.

3. Its sovereign efficacy. “It is the power of God unto salvation, to everyone that believeth.” Its objects and sentiments are not merely to fall upon the ear, or to remain before the eye, but to enter into the mind and accomplish its renovation.

III. What are the objections urged by men against this system and by which they attempt to justify their neglect of it? These may be easily shown to be trivial.

1. Do they object that they can arrive at the knowledge of the truth of the New Testament history, only in a secondary way--only from the testimony of others--and that, therefore, they are not so responsible for their unbelief as these other would be? This, however, is felt to be no prejudice to the truth of any other history, and no argument for its disbelief.

2. Do they object to severity of the gospel requirements? The gospel requires us to crucify only our sins; to deny ourselves only what would be injurious to us. The virtues it inculcates it renders easy to us by a new nature, and productive of a present happiness surpassing every other kind of happiness.

3. Do they object the incomprehensibleness of many things which the gospel states to exist? If God has not revealed them, reject them for their incomprehensibleness; if He has, receive them for His veracity’s sake.


1. How awful is their condition who oppose the gospel! What excuse can there be for this? What evil has the gospel done? What attestation does it lack? What good has it not done?

2. How pitiable is their condition by whom the gospel of their salvation is practically disregarded! We are about to be wrecked; the gospel is the only plank left for our escape to the shore; and while we neglect to seize it, our danger increases, and the destructive waves bear us nearer and nearer to our doom.

3. Let them who have received the gospel, and who, in addition to all other evidence, have that of experience in its favour, attach themselves closely to it.

4. The gospel is a subject of triumph to Christians, as through life, so especially at the hour of dissolution. Its grandest objects are those of another world. (J. Leifchild.)

St. Paul’s confidence in the gospel

St. Paul’s enthusiasm for Christ is one of the great problems of history. That such a man should deliberately renounce all his advantages, and embark on a career which involved obloquy and suffering, is a fact that has to be accounted for. His own explanation is clear enough, viz., that the Lord Jesus appeared to him under circumstances which left no room for doubt as to His person and His claims; that the evidences he received of Christ’s love acted on him like an irresistible constraint to yield to those claims; and that to discharge them he had become a preacher of a gospel which he knew to be the power of God unto salvation to a perishing world. The world, therefore, was his creditor until the glad tidings had been everywhere proclaimed. By the time he wrote this letter Paul had been able to wipe off no inconsiderable portion of his debt. But he felt that until he had seen Rome the greatest portion of the debt must remain unpaid, and that at Rome the most favourable opportunities would be afforded for paying it. Once firmly rooted there the gospel would spread its branches everywhere. So he says, “I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are in Rome.” Here the apostle seems to pause to take breathing time, so that he might calculate his resources for an enterprise the like of which he had never yet attempted. “At Rome! Yes, at Rome also, for I am not ashamed of the gospel. I was not ashamed of it at sacred Jerusalem, at philosophical and artistic Athens, at commercial Ephesus and Corinth, any more than among my own friends at Tarsus, or among the unsophisticated heathen at Lystra. And now, although I shall have to confront in combination at Rome all the forces I have elsewhere met singly, I am not ashamed of the gospel.”

I. The apostle’s confidence in the gospel. To fully appreciate this we must--

1. Reflect where the apostle was writing to. If St. Paul could have been ashamed of the gospel it would certainly have been when brought into juxtaposition with Rome. The incredible tenets of some obscure Hindoo or Chinese sect would hardly appear to greater disadvantage in London than would Christianity in that proud capital of the world. For Rome was now in the zenith of her glory. Yet before this wondrous city, where all that constituted what was then thought greatness existed in colossal proportions, the advocate of a creed which was everywhere spoken against, and to whom, as a provincial, the grand metropolis, we may be sure, would lose none of its glamour, says, “I am ready to preach the gospel at Rome; for I am not ashamed of the gospel.”

2. Notice where the apostle was writing from. St. Paul had only recently been prosecuting a vigorous ministry in Ephesus which had been brought to a riotous close. From Ephesus Paul went to Corinth, where he wrote to Rome, and where there was enough to put a far less sensitive mind than his to the blush, and enough for some men to utterly discredit the pretensions of a religion claiming to be heavenly and Divine. And again, he had just learned how the gospel had fared among the Churches of Galatia, and the memorable Epistle to these Churches unfolds one of the most tragic of all the stories of early Christianity. Riot and scandal and failure had been the result of three of the most recent experiments of the gospel, and Paul knew the impression that they would make at Rome. And besides, were these results to be repeated there on a gigantic scale? But such was the apostle’s faith in the gospel that, with Ephesus, Corinth, and Galatia behind him, and Rome, with its unmeasured and complicated problems before him, he nevertheless declares, “I am ready to preach the gospel in Rome,” etc.

3. Consider what that gospel was of which he was not ashamed at Corinth when writing to Rome.

II. The grounds of the apostle’s confidence in the gospel.

1. Paul sounded the apparent power of Rome and found it weakness. As the apostle gazed at Rome he saw a colossal fabric whose foundations were sand. The empire was built up in utter disregard of the forces on which power has ultimately to depend. The mere lust of power was satiated; but with its gratification everything that made it worth the having went to wreck.

2. Paul proved the apparent weakness of the gospel and found it power. He knew that under the seeming weakness of its infancy lay the germs of a mighty manhood, which would soon measure itself with Rome and wrest from its senile grasp the sceptre of the world. This knowledge was born of a personal experience of its power.

(a) It was offered to every man. It began, as it has continued, not by dealing with the mass, but by dealing with individuals.

(b) This universal offer was to be accepted on the condition of faith. The embrace of the heart’s faith was and is necessary to quicken it into a salvation. “The word could not profit “where it was not “mixed with faith in them that heard,” but it worked effectually in them that believed.

(c) This condition was within the compass of every man’s ability. The evils which the gospel proposed to remedy were worldwide. If the remedy therefore were to be equal to the evil, the conditions of its application must be within the reach of all. All the gospel asks is to be embraced, and surely every man can do that. Paul lived long enough to repeat this boast after a ministry at Rome. With what emphasis would he repeat it could he stand where we stand today! And how he would endeavour to make those tongues which, eloquent on every other, are dumb on this great theme aflame with a live coal from off the altar, and the vehicles of this solitary boast, “I am not ashamed of the gospel,” etc. (J. W. Burn.)

Paul’s holy audacity in regard to the gospel

Courage is of two kinds. There is the hardihood which can face danger, and there is the intrepidity which can confront shame. The former can only be where the danger is without dishonour, and the latter where the shame is without desert. The former is an instinctive and animal endowment, while the latter is an acquired virtue and a moral quality possessed only by man. It is physical courage which we admire in the soldier who stands unmoved in front of blazing musketry; in the sailor, lashed to the wheel, and steering his tumbling vessel across the foaming waves, or in the traveller of science scaling untrodden heights: but it is a much higher, rarer, and Diviner quality which we admire in the pious workman who rebukes the ribaldry and oaths of his fellow craftsmen. Rarely does it happen that these two kinds of courage meet in the same individual. You may see the undaunted hero of a battlefield crimson with shame and rage to be twitted for his virtue, or the firm heroine of the household tremble to hear an unusual noise. In Paul, however, the union may be found; and it is this which ranks him among the kingliest of men. Let us ponder a few of the reasons of Paul’s holy audacity. Note--

I. The end proposed: Man’s salvation, an object not only aimed at but achieved.

1. Salvation may be viewed either as an individual benefit or as a social one. On the one hand, it is a blessing for everyone that believeth; on the other hand, it is needed by the race at large, and the gospel proposes to accomplish the salvation of mankind in both these aspects. In saying this we oppose those who speak and act as if the whole aim of the gospel was to pick out themselves, and a few other individuals, from the mass devoted to destruction, and translate them one by one to a better world. And we also oppose the vague dreams of rationalistic philosophers who profess to be engrossed with a noble concern for the good of mankind at large. The peculiarity of the gospel is that it begins with the individual, and so seeks, as its last result, the salvation of the community.

2. It may be regarded as either an inward or outward process. Inward salvation is sanity or soundness; outward salvation is deliverance and safety. Each one of us needs to be both restored to righteousness and rescued from hell.

3. It is negative and positive. There is much sin and suffering from which we are saved by it; but there is also much of holy attainment and heavenly joy to which we are raised by it.

II. The power employed.

1. Its source is Divine; and this in so direct a way that its very nature is Divine. It is the power of--

2. Its extent. The gospel is as strong as God. It can do all that He can do.

Not ashamed of the gospel

We have no reason to be ashamed of--

I. The evidence by which it is supported.

1. Historical. Take the testimony of Paul. He was a contemporary of Christ; he conferred with the apostles; he saw the Lord. In his four undisputed Epistles he embodies all the facts of gospel history. His testimony is unexceptionable, for he was too sane to be imposed upon, too disinterested to be an impostor.

2. Prophetical. The canons of prophecy are that it should be long anterior to the event; that it should be so constructed that the story of its fulfilment could not be manufactured out of the mere study of its terms, and that its fulfilment be undesigned and in full correspondence with it. Apply these to Isaiah 53:3. Moral. How can we account for the difference between the character of Christ and that of His age? The age could produce a Nero, but not a Christ.

II. The intellectual calibre of its chief representatives. Although not exclusively fitted for intellectual giants, but for the least intelligent also, yet in every age it has produced champions able to cope with the most gifted of its opponents.

III. The effects it has produced.

1. Individually. It has made the drunkard sober.

2. Domestically. It has given sanctity to the marriage tie and blessed little children.

3. Socially. It has stood between class and class as the good Samaritan.

4. Politically it has laid the foundation of liberty. (W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

Not ashamed of the gospel

I. The nature of this avowal. “Not ashamed.”

1. Of what is this spoken? Of the gospel’s--

2. By whom? Paul--

3. To whom? Rome--

4. What is implied in it?

II. Its ground.

1. The Divine energy of the gospel.

2. The powerful combination against which it has to contend.

3. Its saving efficacy.

4. Its impartiality.


1. The evil of religious cowardice.

2. The necessity of consistency in religion.

3. Your obligation to make it known.

4. Your duty to expect that your efforts will be successful. (R. Newton, D. D.)

Not ashamed of the gospel

I. What there is in the gospel, to make carnal men ashamed of it.

1. It proceeds upon principles so contrary to the natural man, and so brings down human reasoning and the pride of intellect, that men are shocked at its positions and requirements.

2. It exposes a man’s great idol.

3. It demands absolute submission.

4. The world attributes regard to it to weakness of either the head or heart.

5. It levels men.

II. Why Paul was not ashamed of it. Because he knew it to be--

1. The power of God.

2. The power of God to the greatest end--salvation. (R. Cecil, M. A.)

Not ashamed of the gospel

The solitary grandeur of the imperial city; Paul’s knowledge of Rome’s own and its borrowed glories, as a centre of power; his courage in meeting the contemptuous estimate which ancient society passed upon the truth of God.

I. Some elements of power in the gospel.

1. Great in--

2. These forces Paul had seen exerted on individuals and on communities. They were--

II. Having seen and felt these beneficent influences, Paul gloried in the same. We urge--

1. Paul’s interpretation of the gospel is vital in its power. The doctrines of sin, atonement, the Holy Spirit and eternal retribution, cannot be eliminated and any power remain. A glass crowbar could as well tunnel the Alps.

2. That each of us trust the gospel as heartily as did Paul. Exemplify its power here, and enjoy its fruition in the perfect felicity of heaven. (R. S. Storrs, D. D.)

Not ashamed of the gospel

There were reasons which made it needful for Paul to say this. The gospel was then a “contemptible thing.” Its Author had been despised and executed. Its character was at variance with the traditions of men, and, above all, of the Pharisees. Its followers were looked upon as the scum of the earth. But, amid all this, there was a man of the highest intellect and the noblest powers, who knew the gospel and knew the world, standing forth and declaring in the face of all that he was not ashamed of it. Consider it--

I. Intellectually. As a scheme it is more magnificent than any mind of man could have conceived. No systems of philosophy possess its grandeur or power. The gospel is no puny, drivelling, or paltry imitation. Other systems have been propounded, but all are borrowed more or less from the gospel.

II. Morally. It is the purest system of morality which the world has known. God’s spotless purity is made the model for human conduct. But the gospel is not only a system of morality, it is a means thereto. It teaches men how they may become holy. Its chief object is to purify and to destroy the evil which is in the world.

III. Historically. It affords an outline of history of which but for it we should know nothing. That which it is requisite for us to know--the life of Christ, and the particulars of the way of salvation--are fully developed.

IV. Its purpose. It is the “gospel”--good news, and it is the power of God unto salvation. Salvation is a great word. What can we wish for more than it includes? Its object is to transform human nature. It is to glorify the soul, to exalt the spirit, to give us thrones in the kingdom of heaven, to purge us from the dross of sin. Is this a thing whereof to be ashamed? (D. Thomas, D. D.)

Not ashamed of the gospel of Christ

There are three gradations of artists. The lowest is one who is able to reproduce an exact representation of natural objects as they appear to ordinary eyes. A higher type is where one brings to objects a clearer eye than belongs to most men. There is a third and rare artist power, where the things represented are, as it were, but instruments to represent the effect produced upon the mind of the artist by the scene, or the event, or the thing. Now, upon this scale Paul was the greatest moral artist of the world. All the way through, it was the unconscious endeavour of the apostle to represent truths as they reflected themselves upon the sensitive surface of his glowing soul. Instead of showing what were all the wonderful elements that in his view constituted it, he reflects what the impression was of the whole gospel of Christ upon his sensitive soul. “I am not ashamed.” Well, why should he have been? Every one of us would say it now; but not one of us would have said it in his time, perhaps. In our time, yes. And it is a matter of much interest to imagine what would be Paul’s thought if he were permitted to discern the Christianity of the present age and all its triumphs, its monuments, its power, its wealth, its learning, its refinements.

1. If he had looked out into the world and at the external forms and organisations of the Church, what would he have had occasion to be ashamed of?

2. And if Paul had seen the pomp of their worship, and their worship in the pomp of architecture which had been inspired and created by them, he would not have occasion to express a feeling of shame.

3. Still less could he have been insensitive to the literature and the learning that have been inspired among devout scholars all over the world, and that have sprung from Christianity.

4. And still more would he have been in sympathy with the outpouring of the spirit of manhood, “the enthusiasm of humanity,” that has sprung from the temper of the gospel, and has gradually crept into the laws, and ameliorated the theory of morals, and softened and sweetened the whole intercourse of human life; and that, moreover, has made man helpful to man.

5. More beautiful still to Paul, who had the art of discerning much from little, would have been the exhibitions of the Christ spirit in its humbler workings among Christian men and in Christianity unorganised, or but slightly organised.

6. More yet, to him, would it have been to have seen what a class of men and women had arisen in every household, and become scattered up and down through every village and hamlet of the land. Domestic life, its purification and its exaltation, would have been a glorious sight to his eyes. As one that should go across a prairie and carry a bag filled with the rarest seeds and give them to the north wind that scattered them south, and to the south wind that scattered them north, every whither, might, years afterwards, when he goes over the same ground, rejoice to see, in the midst of many coarse weeds and much choking grass, here and there ledges and beds of flowers; so if Paul should come down to our day, and see the seeds he has sown which are every day springing up in the household, would not he be filled with more than gratitude and wonder--with transcendent transport? Of course he would not be ashamed. Nobody is ashamed of the gospel now except those of whom it is ashamed. (H. W. Beecher.)

Not ashamed of the gospel

We are not ashamed of the gospel because it is--

I. Divine power.

1. The history of Christianity among the nations of the earth has established its claim to power. Its progress has often been in the face of bitterest hostility, without the help of worldly patronage. It proved more than a match for the iron despotism of Rome, and it has never failed for eighteen centuries to make its enemies its footstool.

2. The secret of this amazing power is that God is behind it. Nothing but Divine influence could account for such uniform and unfailing triumphs. Other systems may show the power of man, but the gospel shows the power of God. It brought into the world a force unknown before.

II. Saving power. The power seen in creation and providence is truly Divine, but not necessarily saving. Nor will the power that resides in the gospel result in salvation, unless it is accompanied by the influence of the Spirit. The gospel--

1. Comes with a message of forgiveness to guilty man. Sin is the disease, and in God’s hands alone is the remedy.

2. It is a power for the renewal of man’s nature. “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” This is a task beyond unaided human resources. Man can neither begin the work of grace in his heart nor carry it on after it is begun.

III. Universal power. “To everyone that believeth.” The glory of the gospel consists not only in its Divine origin or saving efficacy, but also in its universal adaptation. It suits the needs of mankind everywhere. It reaches out a helping-hand to all, without respect to nation or social standing. (D. Merson, M. A.)

Not ashamed of the gospel

I. Justify the high claim here made for the gospel. Paul was not ashamed of--

1. Its origin. The advocates of other systems had reason to be ashamed of their origin.

2. Its sentiments--

3. Its practical tendency. It is a system of purest morals springing from the purest motives--gratitude and love. It shows us a temper without a flaw, and a life without a stain; and it says, “We ought to walk as He also walked.”

4. Its efficacy. The efficacy of the ancient systems was nothing. But the gospel is “the power of God to salvation.”

II. Who are guilty of being ashamed of the gospel? One would suppose that none could ever be ashamed of it; but, alas! there is reason to fear that some are.

1. Such are those preachers and writers who know the truth, but conceal it by specious arguments.

2. In the social circle how many are ashamed of the gospel!

3. In private life there is not that attention to religion which there should be. Young Christians are too often ashamed because of the sneers of those around them. (B. Rayson.)

Not ashamed of the gospel

The botanist is not ashamed of the insignificant plant which he prefers before the rose and the jasmine, because of its healing properties and powers. The gardener is not ashamed of the tiny, dusky little seed, because he knows that God has endued it with hidden virtues which He has denied to the diamond and ruby. Thus the apostle was not ashamed of the gospel, because it could accomplish what the law was powerless to do; and because from his own personal experience he knew that it was able to produce a mighty and spiritual change in a man’s whole character and life. (C. Nell, M. A.)

Not ashamed of the gospel of Christ

1. Years ago the subject of the extension of the Church would have suggested questions of one kind only--viz., that it was desirable, and possibly discussions would have turned upon the best means of carrying it out. Now you only raise in certain minds the previous question, whether it is worth the effort.

2. St. Paul is led to use this expression by an association of ideas which is easy to trace. “In Rome also.” Before his imagination there rises the imperial form of the mistress of the world. And this vision for a moment produces a momentary recoil, so that, like a man whose course has been suddenly checked, he falls back to consider the resources at his disposal. There is a moment’s pause and then, “I am not ashamed,” he says.

3. He is not ashamed of the gospel. We are struck at first by the reserved and negative phrase. It seems to fall so far below the requirements of the occasion and the character of the man. Elsewhere the apostle uses very different language from this. He loves to call the gospel, just as the Jews call their law, his boast. The truth is the apostle is not using a rhetorical figure at all. His negative and measured phrase is imposed on him by the thoughts which rise before him. He is resisting the feeling which threatens to overawe him, and it is in protesting against this feeling, and in thus disavowing it, that he cries, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” Why, you may ask, should he be ashamed of it? Note--

I. The apparent insignificance of the gospel relatively to the great world of thought and action represented by and embodied in Rome.

1. The very name was a symbol of magnificence and power. Rome was the seat of empire, the centre of society, the home and the patroness of learning and thought, the great centre of the current religions. She was in ancient civilisation what Paris is to France; everything else was provincial.

2. And the gospel--how did it look when placed in juxtaposition with Rome? Was it not relatively to everything else, as far as the natural sense and judgment of man could pierce, poor and insignificant?

3. True enough Paul had his eye on higher things; but his was too sympathetic a nature not to be alive to what was meant by Rome. Yet the splendours of Rome do not overawe him. He is not enslaved by the apparent at the cost of the real; he knows that a civilisation which bears a proud front to the world, but which is rotten within, is destined to perish. Already, five years before, he has shown in one line in 2 Thessalonians that he forsees the end of all this splendour. In Christian eyes Alaric and his Goths were at the gates of Rome before their time.

4. St. Paul was well aware of the insignificance of the gospel when measured by all ordinary human standards. It was his own observation that not many mighty, not many noble, are “called.” But then, in his estimate of the relative value of the Divine and the human, this did not matter; for “God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty.”

II. The appearance of failure which had clung to the gospel.

1. Remember that he was writing from Corinth, and what was the Church there a short year before in the judgment of the apostle himself. Its discipline forgotten; its unity rent by schisms; fundamental articles of the faith were denied among its members; scandals permitted such as were not even named among the heathen. Of all this the apostle was sufficiently conscious; and yet with Corinth behind him, and Rome with its gigantic and unattempted problems before him, he still exclaims, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.”

2. And the truth is that in this matter St. Paul distinguished between the ideal revealed from above as in his Master’s mind, and the real, embarrassed by the conditions imposed on it by fallen human nature. He “knew that the treasure of the faith was deposited in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the glory might be of God and not of us.” And, therefore, Paul for his part was not surprised. The failure lay not in the gift, but in the recipient. It was still possible to believe that a new power had entered into human nature which was not therefore incapable of raising and saving human nature, because it did not suspend man’s free will and overrule his instincts of resistance and mischief.

III. The substance of the message.

1. Paul was well aware that there were features in the Christian creed which were in the highest degree unwelcome. Less than this he cannot mean by “the offence of the Cross,” or “Christ crucified foolishness to the Greeks.” How was this teaching, familiar enough to our generation but strange beyond all measure to the men who heard it from its first preachers, to compass acceptance and victory? Was it the cogeny of the evidence? No doubt much of the earliest teaching of the apostles was devoted to enforce this. Certainly the resurrection of Christ was sufficiently well attested, and yet its witnesses were not believed. Mere demonstrative evidence, although at first hand, has no effect against a strong and hostile predisposition of the will.

2. And here it is that the apostle may give us his own reason for not being ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for not despairing of its capacity to win a cynical and scornful world. He says that it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth. There is lodged in it a secret impetuosity which pours forth from it into the human soul, with the result of bearing down all opposition and landing it safely on the eternal shore. And by this gospel he means no mere fragment of it, such as Christian morality without Christian doctrine, or as the atonement without the grace and power of the sacraments. For all, all is really included in that free unmerited gift of righteousness which faith receives at the hands of Christ, and which robes the believer in the garments of salvation. St. Paul knew that this had been his own experience. Since that scene on the road to Damascus he had been another man, he had lived a new life. Old things had passed away, and all things had become new. And as with himself, so with others. The gospel had made many a man, whom he knew, utterly unlike his former self. The religion of Jesus Christ is here upon ground peculiarly its own. There are many claimants in our modern world for the throne which it has owned for eighteen hundred years. But whether the eye rests upon the masters who have done so much for mind, or upon the masters who have spent themselves in manipulating matter, what has been achieved by these great and distinguished men that could be described as the power of God unto salvation? No: the deeper aspects of human life, and much more the grave and real significance of death, are quite beyond them.

3. And yet, even here, a lingering feeling might well be experienced, I do not say of shame, but of hesitation. Those to whom the saving power of Christ’s gospel is intimately certain, cannot without difficulty bring themselves to talk about it. We do not any of us readily talk about that which really touches us. Men have no objection to talk politics, because politics address themselves to those common sympathies and judgments which we share with others. But no man will consent to discuss, if he can help it, his near relations or some family interest in public. This motive operates not infrequently in the case of religion. Religion twines itself round the heart like a family affection. The relations of each soul to the Lord of souls are quite unique; and therefore the very best of men are not unfrequently the least able to talk freely on the one subject respecting which they feel most deeply. Doubtless so human and sympathetic a nature as St. Paul’s would have felt this difficulty in its full force, and yet we know how completely he overcame it. If he did not yield to the instinct which would have sealed his lips and stilled his pen, this is so because he knew that the gospel of his Lord and Master was not really, like some family question or interest, a private matter for him. The friend of his soul was the rightful, the much-needed friend of every human being. And therefore no false reserve could permit St. Paul to treat the gospel as a private or personal interest. Conclusion: In their degree the feelings which may have been present to St. Paul’s mind will have been our own. Pagan Rome has perished, and yet that which it represented to the apostle’s eye is still in a modified form before us. And yet to those who can take a sober measure of men and things there are no reasons for being ashamed of Christ’s gospel. The world which confronts us is really not more splendid nor yet more solid than the empire which has long since gone its way. The religious weakness and disorganisation which alarms us in the Church is not greater than that which was familiar to St. Paul. Modern attacks upon the faith are not more formidable than those which he refuted. And the gospel is now what it was then, only to a much greater multitude of souls, the power of God unto salvation.

1. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” Here is a fitting motto, not merely to Christ’s great apostle, but--

Who are ashamed of the gospel

I. The wise, because it calls men to believe and not to argue.

II. The great, because it brings all into one body.

III. The rich, because it is to be had without money and without price.

IV. The gay, because they fear it will destroy all their mirth. (R. M. McCheyne.)

The gospel ashamed of some of its preachers

Dr. Murray was made warden of Manchester by James

I. There was little to do, and Murray had neither the ability nor the inclination to do much. He was expected to preach but seldom, and he did not intend to preach at all. Once, however, he did preach before the king, and his text was, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” “True” said James, “but the gospel may well be ashamed of thee.”

The shame of the gospel of Christ is its glory

I. In its relation to the human intellect. Its mysterious character.

II. In its relation to the moral constituting. Its humiliating character.

III. In its relation to other kinds of religion. Its transcendent character.

IV. In its relation to this life. Its unworldly character. (H. G. Weston, D. D.)

Reasons for glorying in the gospel

There are three things in connection with this avowal which invest it with great significance: the distinguished character of the author--the great apostle; the universally execrated nature of the subject--the religion of the crucified malefactor; and the class of persons to whom it was addressed, the cultured, intrepid inhabitants of the imperial city. For such an avowal there must have been good reasons and here they are specified:--The gospel is--

I. A system of Divine power.

1. There are three manifestations of Divine power.

2. All truth is powerful. But there are three things that make gospel truth peculiarly powerful.

II. A system of Divine power to save. What is salvation? Some persons speak of it as if it were a local change, a transporting of man from one world to another. “But the mind is its own place.” Salvation may be regarded as consisting in the restoration of a--

1. Lost love. We were made to be governed in all things by a supreme affection for God, but nothing is more clear than that man is not so governed now. The gospel comes to restore it.

2. Lost harmony. The soul is all in tumult. This cannot be the normal state.

3. Lost usefulness. Our relations to each other and our social instincts and powers are such as to show that we were intended to be useful to each other. But we are injurious. The gospel makes us useful. This is another reason which made Paul glory in it. If it had been a power to destroy, his generous nature would have been ashamed of it. Any power can destroy.

III. A system of Divine power to save all.

1. “The Jew first,” because--

2. The gospel is, like the air and sun, for humanity. Had it been for a sect, or class, Paul might have been ashamed of it.

IV. A system of Divine power to save all on the most simple condition. “To everyone that believeth.” Man as man--

1. Has this power to believe. It requires no peculiar talent or attainment.

2. Has a strong tendency to believe. He is credulous to a fault. Conclusion:--Who are ashamed of the gospel?

1. Any in heaven? No! They owe their blessedness to its discoveries, and chant the praises of its Author.

2. Any in hell? No! There are thousands there ashamed of themselves for having been ashamed of the gospel.

3. Who on earth? Not the best parents, etc., the greatest sages, poets, patriots and philanthropists. They are to be found in the lower strata of moral life. They are to be found amongst men who ought to be ashamed of themselves. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

Moral courage ready to encounter shame

Let us not pass over the intrepidity of Paul, in the open and public avowal of his Christianity. We call it intrepidity, though he speaks not here of having to encounter violence, but only of having to encounter shame. For, in truth, it is often a higher effort and evidence of intrepidity to front disgrace, than it is to front danger. There is many a man who would march up to the cannon’s mouth for the honour of his country, yet would not face the laugh of his companions for the honour of his Saviour. We doubt not that there are individuals here who, if they were plied with all the devices of eastern cruelty to abjure the name of Christian, whose courage would bear them in triumph, and yet whose courage fails them every day in the softer scenes of their social and domestic history. The man who under the excitements of persecution was brave enough to be a dying witness to Jesus, crouches into all the timidity of silence under the omnipotency of fashion. There is as much of the truly heroic in not being ashamed of the profession of the gospel, as in not being afraid of it. Paul was neither: and yet when we think of what he once was in literature, and how aware he must have been of the loftiness of its contempt for the doctrine of a crucified Saviour; and that in Rome the whole power and bitterness of its derisions were awaiting him, and that the main weapon with which he had to confront it was such an argument as looked to be foolishness to the wisdom of this world--we doubt not that the disdain inflicted by philosophy was naturally as formidable to the mind of this apostle as the death inflicted by the arm of bloody violence. So that even now, and in an age when Christianity has no penalties and no proscriptions to keep her down, still, if all that deserves the name of Christianity be exploded from conversation--if a visible embarrassment run through a company when its piety or its doctrine is introduced among them--if, among beings rapidly moving towards immortality, any serious allusion to the concerns of immortality stamps an oddity on the character of him who brings it forward--if, through a tacit but firm compact which regulates the intercourse of this world, the gospel is as effectually banished from the ordinary converse of society as by the edicts of tyranny the profession of it was banished in the days of Claudius from Rome:--then he who would walk in his Christian integrity among the men of this lukewarm and degenerate age--he who, rising above that meagre and mitigated Christianity which is as remote as Paganism from the real Christianity of the New Testament, would, out of the abundance of his heart, speak of the things which pertain to the kingdom of God--he will find that there are trials still which, to some temperaments, are as fierce and as fiery as any in the days of martyrdom; and that, however in some select and peculiar walk he may find a few to sympathise with him, yet many are the families and many are the circles of companionship where the persecution of contempt calls for determination as strenuous, and for firmness as manly, as ever in the most intolerant ages of our Church did the persecution of direct and personal violence. (T. Chalmers, D. D.)

For it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.

The power of the gospel

I. The power of the gospel.

1. We can quite understand that to a man of such singular force of character as St. Paul, the “power” of the gospel would be its leading idea. To St. John, it might be its sweetness. And we can follow the current of St. Paul’s feelings when he said that he could not be “ashamed” of anything which was so very strong.

2. What we all want is to treat religion more as a thing of “power.” We think and speak of it, and act about it, too softly. It is a thing of beauty, poetry, enjoyment,--but would not it be far better if we held it more as a grand fact for vigorous thought, manly action, and practical effort? The piety of the day is too enervated. Hence its watery literature, its feeble hold on the minds of working men, its pettiness, unreality, and small results. There would be less “shame” if there were more “power.”

3. I need scarcely say that before the gospel can be this “power,” it must be gospel indeed--not a theory, a system of theology, an abstract truth, a diluted joy, something half fear and half hope, but “God’s spell.”

II. Some facts in reference to this power.

1. The Christian religion is the only one which has ever had “power” to set in motion real missionary action. Why? The selfishness and sluggishness of human nature is exclusive, and it requires an immense lever to stir it, and nothing in the world has ever been found equal to do it, except the love of such a God as we have in Christ. That, and that only, can “thrust out labourers into the vineyard.” We have something to say worth making a mission for--we have a motive which can send us forth to say it.

2. See what the gospel of God does in all lands wherever it is planted--what softening of savagery, what civilisation it carries along with it. True, it may be hindered by the inconsistencies of Christians. But in itself the gospel always grows into an improvement in everything.

3. Look over this world at this moment. There are about two hundred millions of Christians upon the earth--once there were twelve. The increase without war--the great engine of Mahometanism--with very little to please and attract flesh and blood into it, rather with the greatest opposition to all which is natural to us, what “power” lies in that single historical fact!

4. Or let me tell you the experience of every Christian minister. It is when he preaches the full simple gospel that he gets all his success. If he preach morality, or an abstract divinity, or a gospel which is half gospel, he has no results whatever. But Christ carries everything.

5. Or listen to the witness of your own heart.

III. Ways in which you may use this “power.”

1. Perhaps you are a weak character. You long for more strength of mind, and will, and purpose, and for capacity and power to persevere. Now nothing will give what you want but real personal religion--union with Christ, the gospel of Christ in you, and that gospel is “power.”

2. Or you may have a habit, and you want to conquer it. Bring Christ to bear upon that habit, have motive enough, make the effort for Christ’s sake, because He has loved you, do it to please Him, and show that you love Him. That principle will command all victory.

3. Or, perhaps, there is someone you very much wish to influence, but you cannot move him. Lead him to your object through the peace you bring into his own soul, and Christ will be stronger than the strong one.

4. Or, you are conscious of a want of moral courage in speaking of religious subjects; there is only one remedy, Christ must be more to you, and then you will be able to say, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,” etc. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

The gospel’s power: it is great

I. In the revelation it embodies. It is the power of God, because it not only emanates from God, but God is in it. The Father has centred all His thoughts in the words of His gospel, and these words retain their power because they are the only satisfying portion of the human heart.

II. In the deliverance it effects. It was with a mighty hand that Israel was delivered from Egyptian bondage. No less wonderful is the power demonstrated in the deliverance of man from under the thraldom of sin.

III. Is the transformation it produces.

IV. In the motives it inspires. Men are actuated by a desire to gain wealth, fame, learning; and what unflagging energy this inspires! The gospel inspires us with a hope of being kings and priests unto God. But love to God and our fellow men is to be the great motive for our actions. This is to be the ruling power of our lives, and this will render us godlike.

V. In the universality of its application. “To everyone that believeth.” It is the gospel for mankind, and among all nations it has gained its trophies. Its power has not waned. Conclusion:--Its hindrances are in the individual soul. Sin makes the barrier. But the gospel brought home by the Spirit can overcome all. There is nothing in it of which we should be ashamed. (A. Huelston, Ph. D.)

The power of the gospel contrasted with other theories

Suppose that two persons start upon a philanthropic mission. One shall be a preacher determined to preach the old-fashioned gospel; and the other shall be a nineteenth century lecturer, whose great article of faith is, “I believe in the nineteenth century,” Each of us addresses congregations, and at the end of one of my sermons I say, “Now then, if there are any of you who feel yourselves tied and bound with the chain of your sins, while you are longing to lead a better life, stay behind and I will endeavour to make the way as plain as I can.” Well, suppose also that the lecturer has delivered his oration, the place is crowded, and a great amount of enthusiasm is kindled by the wonderful oratory of the man. At the end, suppose again that he too says something of the same kind: “Now then, I have been speaking of the progress of civilisation, and the development of humanity, and what we may expect as years roll away and as man rises to a higher level. But I wish to be practical, and to endeavour to benefit any now present who feel they need some help. Should any of you tonight feel as if you are failing to benefit by this general advance that is being made, just remain behind and I will offer you a few words of advice.” Suppose that in both cases the invitation is accepted by some. I come down, and there approaches me a miserable-looking specimen of humanity. I have only to look in his face to see the marks of sin there. A few minutes’ conversation discloses the fact that there is scarcely a sin which that man has not committed; tears stand in his eyes as he says to me, “I wish you could tell me, sir, what I must do to be saved.” To such a one I should have no difficulty in making answer--“My dear brother, you are just the person I have to preach to. My Master came to seek and to save the lost. Tell me, are you altogether out of conceit, nay, out of heart, with yourself?” I can imagine the melancholy reply. “What hope have I left in myself? Unless a higher power than mine do something for me, there is nothing before me but despair.” If such be the response, I can hail that self-despair as the harbinger of true hope. I am able to lead the forlorn and hopeless wretch out of self and into Christ; show him the provision that has been made to meet the case of the helpless, and guide him step by step, till at length he claims Christ as his all-sufficient Saviour who is able to save to the uttermost. Well, in such a case, the man will become a changed person. The intervention of the Creator will have made him a new creature, and he who before delighted in sin, will suddenly find himself hating sin and loving purity and holiness, blow let us turn to the other scene. The lecture is just closing, and the lecturer gives such an invitation as I have suggested. One man comes up and addresses himself to the lecturer: “I am a very bad man, and have lived a very bad life, and I want to know if you can give me any advice that shall make me better.” “Well, my friend, reasoning on utilitarian grounds, I assume that you have found your evil course not much to your advantage.” “Advantage! Why, I have stripped my house of every comfort, and turned it into a wild beast’s den rather than a human home; I have lost my situations; and it is all through that cursed drink.” “Then your case is very clear, my friend. You can see without any lecture on utilitarianism that drunkenness is unprofitable to you.” “Well, I know that; but the point is how I am to overcome this craving.” “Well, first reflect seriously that you are injuring yourself.” “But I am convinced of that already.” “Well, then act in accordance with that conviction; sign the pledge.” “I have signed the pledge, over and over again, but I cannot keep it.” “Why not? Have you been really in earnest?” “Yes, sir; but I could never keep it for any length of time.” “Well, but you had better sign it again.” “I have signed it a dozen times, sir.” “Well, I don’t know what to advise; struggle more earnestly.” “But I have struggled my very utmost.” “Then can you keep out of the way of bad company?” “I may try, sir; but the bad company won’t keep out of my way.” What is the lecturer to say next? My own impression is that there is nothing left for the apostle of the new creed but to admit his failure, unless he has the assurance to say to him, “Very well, then, your only chance is to believe in the nineteenth century!” But where is there one who would dare to say this? No! the individual must perish, while the lecturer comforts himself with the hope that the species will improve. You ask me to lay aside the gospel, and take in place of it one which leaves me in such a position that I am morally helpless and incapable of grappling with the infirmities of human nature, or of holding out a helping hand to those around me who are sinking down to perdition. We are asked to accept the dictates of science, or the theories of philosophers, or what are supposed to be exhibitions of supernatural power, or some enthusiastic visionary who sets himself up as a religious reformer, and bids us accommodate our convictions to his dreams. But we go back to that question, “Where is the power?” As I look around on all the various substitutes for the gospel, I seek an answer, and I seek in vain. Where is the man who is ready to tell me how a bad man is to become good, how a weak man is to become strong? From all these I turn to the cross of Emmanuel. The power of God in redemption is felt, and from the cross I see men going forth, new creatures in Christ Jesus, possessed of new desires and new affections, and animated by a new power. (W. Hay Aitken, M. A.)

The gospel a power unto salvation

(Text and Matthew 6:13; Acts 1:8). The first of these verses declares that power belongs to God, and, by implication, that we have power only as we borrow it from God; the second, how this power is, in the moral and spiritual realm, to be bestowed upon men; the third, through what instrumentality this power shall be bestowed--“the gospel.”

I. The religion of the Bible is, then, characteristically a power-bestowing religion. It is this which distinguishes it from all other religions.

1. All the significance of the miracles of the Old Testament and the New Testament lies in this, that they are witnesses to a help that lies beyond humanity, but which is extended to humanity. The entire Old Testament is the history of a power not belonging to humanity, and yet working for the benefit of Israel. It is by the power of God that the Israelites are summoned from their bondage, that the waves of the Red Sea part for them, and that one after another victory crowns their campaigning in Palestine. The history is not the history of what the Jews did or Jewish great men did, but of what a power not themselves was doing for them. As this is the Old Testament history, so this is the Old Testament experience of the individual. It reappears in David, in Isaiah, in every prophet.

2. The old doctrine that power belongeth unto God, and that God bestows this power upon His children, reappears in the New Testament, but in a new form. It is now the spiritual helpfulness of God that comes to the front. We speak as though a man’s power had greatly increased our power during the past few centuries; but all the power of civilisation is a power that is not our own. We have increased a little our individual muscular power, but the increase is very little, while it is stored in nature, and we lay hold upon it and use it. And I will not go to an orthodox authority, but I will ask Herbert Spencer what this power is in that famous definition: “Amid the mysteries which become the more mysterious the more they are thought about, there will remain the absolute certainty that we are ever in the presence of an Infinite and Eternal Energy from whom all things proceed.” What is this but the old Hebrew Psalmist’s “Power belongeth unto God?” And what is the result of all modern science but this: a skill to lay hold on this power that is not our own, and to make it our own by obedience to its laws?

3. Now, the New Testament, as a spiritual appendix to the Old, confirmed by modern science, adds the declaration that there are powers not our own that make for human helpfulness and lift us up in the spiritual realm. The power that is of God is a power unto spiritual salvation. As there is a power to help man in the material and physical world, so there is a power to help him in the realm of virtue and truth. A hopeful man can inspire hope; a weak-willed man can be made stronger in will by leaning upon a man whose will is stronger than his own; there is power in a great heart to fill vacant hearts full of noble, Divine love.

4. And as the individual imparts to the individual, parents to their children, the teacher to his pupils, the pastor to his congregation, so generations impart to other generations. It is not all a fiction, this Roman Catholic idea of works of supererogation stored up, on which men may draw. The world has accumulated a great reservoir of virtue, and we draw on it every day. You are stronger men and women today for your Puritan ancestry, for your Anglo-Saxon blood.

II. Salvation is not something you are to get in heaven by and by, on condition that you do believe, think, or experience something here on earth now. That man will be saved from future punishment through faith in Christ is true, but it is not the burden of the Bible declaration. The great good news of the Bible is this: men are saved from the burdens of their present life; from the darkness of their scepticism; from the bondage of their superstition; from inhumanity, weakness of will, and sin, here and now. This universe is stored with great spiritual powers. Do not fight your battle alone; lay hold on those powers and ask their help in the conflict. “There is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” What is that? A narrow declaration? Not at all. I find a man trying to lift a great stone, which is too heavy for his strength; and I say to him, Get out your tackle and pulleys, and then you can lift it. Is that narrow? No man can take the fruits of civilisation unless he lays hold on powers other than his own; and no man can take the fruit of Divine culture unless he reaches out and lays hold of powers that are not his own, that make for righteousness.

III. Faith is not belief. It is not belief in a long or a short creed. Faith does in the spiritual realm that which reason does in the material realm. It is simply reaching out a heart of sympathy and laying hold on the heart of God, and receiving strength that God pours into the children whose souls are open to receive His help. What virtue is there in the mere declaration of an opinion? This is not faith. Faith in Christ is an appreciation of the quality that is in Christ, a sense of His worth, a desire to be like Him, a resolute purpose to follow after Him. (Lyman Abbott, D. D.)

The power of the gospel to save

The gospel manifests the power of God.

I. In the revelation it makes of what God has done for us in the work of His Son.

1. As transgressors the law held us in bondage, and bound us over to endure the wages of sin in everlasting death. But in the obedience which Christ has rendered to the law, and the satisfaction He has made to its demands, He has opened a new and certain way of life for the guilty. Satan also held us captive, but Christ has overcome him who had the power of death.

2. The influence of this work is displayed--

II. In the exhibition of the work which God accomplishes within us by His Spirit. Take a view of this as given--

1. In the past history of the Church. Reflect on the progress of the gospel, and the multitudes who have been actually rescued.

2. In the experience of the individual.

III. In the proper ground for hope which it thus affords.

1. If you look upon yourselves you find yourselves utterly weak and unworthy; but there is offered to you in the gospel a sufficient and abiding hope.

2. Let the Christ have all the praise for this work of salvation. (S. H. Tyng, D. D.)

The gospel the power of God

There are two reasons for which we may be ashamed of anything--

1. If it be base in itself, or shameful in its aim.

2. Though good in itself, and honourable in its aim, if it be weak and powerless to achieve the good it aims at. For example: we are ashamed of a traitor who sells his country for gold; and of a general who, though loyally fighting for his country, ruins its cause through ignorance or incapacity. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel because--

I. It was not base in itself, nor shameful in its aims. Its facts were true, its morals pure, its doctrine ennobling. Its aim is “salvation.” You have seen at a railway station carriages labelled “London,” “Edinburgh,” etc., signifying that the company engaged to carry the passengers to these places. So the gospel is labelled as intended to carry passengers “unto salvation.” Anything short of that would be to fail in its promise. But what is this “salvation”? The common idea is, that when a man dies he shall be saved from hell and have a place in heaven. But salvation implies more than this--deliverance from the corruption of sin as well as from its condemnation; from its power as well as from its punishment--in short, deliverance from sin itself.

II. It was not feeble and unable to achieve its aim. Its power is as great as its purpose is good. This is what most of all we need? We know the doctrines of the gospel, the sins it forbids, the duties it requires, the hopes it teaches. But somehow we feel that these things do not influence us as they ought. What we need is power to convince us, to subdue us, to rule over us, to sustain us, power to resist the devil, to overcome the world. In some things the gospel has come to us in power. For example, we believe in the forgiveness of sins through Christ’s blood. And that belief has brought us peace from the fear of punishment. But oh I how we long that the words, “Go and sin no more,” would “come in power.” Behold, then, gospel promises do not speak more truly of pardon than they speak of power for present duty by Christ’s living grace.

3. Its offer is not limited to any one nation or class, but is free and sure “to everyone that believeth.” “To as many as received Him, to them gave He power,” etc. Everyone who believes on Jesus receives of the Holy Spirit. They receive this power, but they must use it. The power of God is laid up for them in Christ; but out of His fulness they must go on to draw grace for grace. (W. Grant.)

The gospel the power of God

1. The apostle here gives his reason for the statement that he was willing to preach the gospel in Rome. In characterising the gospel as “the power of God,” he showed his usual tact. It was his object to present the gospel to his readers in such an aspect as would commend it to their peculiar disposition as admirers of power. At Athens, on the other band, he was amongst a people who spent their time in telling or hearing some new thing. The apostle, therefore, observing an altar to “the unknown God,” presents himself as one who had the key to this mystery. The effect upon men of such an inquisitive turn of mind may be easily conceived. The Corinthians, again, made great pretensions to wisdom; to them, therefore, the apostle represents the gospel as the highest wisdom--the wisdom of God. Whilst, however, representing the gospel as “power,” to the Romans the apostle is careful to say that it was the “power of God,” not that military and political power so much desiderated by them.

2. In the text we have three terms, salvation, gospel, and power. The gospel effects the salvation, and the power is the reason why.

I. The product of Divine power. The transactions it records testify to the power of God in the same way that every author’s power is revealed by his works. Power has three qualities, Moral, which indicates the motive, and has regard to the end in view; intellectual, which contrives, and has regard to the means; physical, which executes, i.e., applies the means devised to the end contemplated. Thus, power manifests itself in force, contrivance, and purpose. The Divine operations ever display these qualities. These qualities, however, in the gospel show different degrees of combination from those which obtain in creation--e.g., all physical objects are distinguished by some one particular colour, although all the other hues of light are there. In the light falling upon objects which appear blue, all the hues of light are present, but by the operation of a certain law, the blue alone presents itself to the eye. So in creation physical power prevails, at least to our senses. The multiplicity of its worlds and their vast magnitude divert the mind from the equally glorious, but less obtrusive, manifestations of intellect and beneficence. Now the gospel is a marvellous manifestation of power in its several phases. As the product of God’s moral power it is defined as “the exceeding riches of His grace” (Ephesians 2:5). As an exhibition of His intellectual power it is represented as “making known the manifold wisdom of God” (Ephesians 3:10; 1 Peter 1:10). Its manifestations of physical power, instanced in the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus, are described as the working of His mighty power (Ephesians 1:19). But its moral power is its crown and glory. One characteristic will suffice to show this. Its pith and marrow is its provision for the forgiveness of sin, and this is the grandest exercise of moral power possible. “Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity?” So far was the idea of forgiveness from the hearts of men that when they came to create gods they never imagined gods possessed of the power to pardon sin. Does not this prove that the religion which presents this fact to us must be, as regards its conception, absolutely Divine?

II. An instrument of Divine power. “The power of God unto salvation.” The transactions it embodies were characterised by superlative condescension and self-sacrifice. As such they were replete with power in the two senses of legal merit and spiritual influence--the one frowning the ground of men’s reconciliation with God, the other forming the instrumentality for weaning them from sin, for changing their disposition, subduing their passions, and kindling in their hearts the love of Christ. But this is not all. The gospel possesses instrumental fitness for securing justification and sanctification, but in order that these may become experimental realities men must, believingly, accept, as the ground and instrument of their salvation, the transactions it records. Hence powerful influences are necessary to overcome men’s indifference and stubbornness. The gospel is the power of God to this end. The transactions it embodies are presented as messages of love. This message is instinct with the moral and Divine power of the transactions which form its theme. No wonder the gospel is called the “word of salvation”--the word which both reveals salvation and opens the heart, by conviction, to its reception. (A. J. Parry.)

The gospel the power of God

The gospel is the power of God--

I. In its most paradoxical and yet highest form.

1. Of course, the message was power only as being the record of power; the real energy lay in the Incarnate Word. And Paul’s thought is, that high above all other manifestations of the Divine energy, rises that strange paradox, the omnipotence of God declared in weakness. Sinai is impotent, compared with the tremendous forces which stream from the little hillock, where stand three black crosses, and a dying Christ on the midmost.

2. There is the power of God; for material force is not power; nor majesty, which being deprived of its externals becomes a jest; nor the rule over men’s wills by iron constraint; nor is the rule of ideas the highest power; but the Divinest force in God is tenderness, and the true signature of omnipotence is love.

II. In its mightiest operation. Rome gathered its forces for destruction. And Paul is thinking of the contrast between the devilish use of human strength which generally attends it, and the Divine use of Divine power which dedicates it all for salvation. Salvation is negatively the deliverance from everything that is evil; positively it is the endowment with every good.

1. Think of the strange audacity of Christianity in calmly proposing to itself such an end as this. People tell us that the gospel idea of men is dark and depressing. Why? but because the gospel can afford to look facts in the face, inasmuch as it knows itself able to overcome all that is evil, and to reverse and supplant it by perfect good. And there is nothing in the New Testament that is more of the nature of a demonstration of its Divine energy than the unruffled composure with which it declares, looking on the ruins that lie round about it, “I have come to set all that right, and I know that I can do it.” And it has done it. I do not know any other religion that would not be laughed out of court if it strode forward and said, “I have come here to abolish all evil, and to make every soul of man like God.” “Well, then; do it!” would be the simple answer; “and if with your philosopher’s stone you can turn the smallest grain of a baser metal into gold, we will admit the claim and believe that the transmutation of the rest is a question of time.” Well, Christianity has done it, and there are millions of people in this world today who will say, “One thing I know, there are a great many things I do not know, but one thing I do: whereas I was blind now I see. Look at my eyes if you doubt it.”

2. This transforming and saving power is clearly beyond man’s ability. It will take God to change a man’s relations to the Divine government, and to hold back the consequences which, if there were no God, by the law of cause and effect, would certainly follow every transgression and disobedience. And it needs no less than God to renew the spirit into a loftier life. And the world knows it, and instead of salvation it talks about reformation, restraint, culture, etc.; all very good in their way, but not going deep enough down into the facts of man’s condition, not being able to lift him high enough up towards the destined good, to be accepted as a substitute for the Divine idea of salvation. There tower the great white summits of the Himalayas; down at their feet stand palaces, temples, porches for philosophers. Measure the height of the one by the other, and you get an approximation to the difference between human efforts upon human society and the Divine design for every soul of man upon earth.

3. This restoring work of salvation is not only exclusively a Divine work, but is the most energetic exercise of the Divine power. Creation is great and Divine. The new creation, which is restoration to more than primeval blessedness and beauty, is greater, inasmuch as it is accomplished not by a word but by toil, sacrifice, and death, and inasmuch as the result is man more truly and gloriously the image of God than was he over whose appearance angels shouted for joy, and God said, “It is good.” It is great to “preserve the stars from wrong,” and to keep the most ancient heavens “fresh and strong,” but the conception of the Divine power that is gathered from those majestic regions where His finger works is low compared with that which flows from the redeeming work of Christ. God never has done, and never will do a mightier thing than when He sends His Son with power to save a world.

III. In its widest sweep.

1. Rome wielded an empire which approached to universality, so far as the world then knew. But Paul has a vision of an empire that overlaps it, as some great sea might a little pond, and sees the Dove of Christ outflying the Roman eagle, and the raven, sin. For to him his Christ is everybody’s Christ; and that which changed him from persecutor to apostle can never have a more obstinate block to hew into beauty.

2. The text may seem to narrow the universality which the apostle proclaims, but not really, For to believe is nothing more than to take the power which the gospel brings. Faith is the belt by which we fasten our else still and silent wheels to the great engine, and the power then begins to drive. You would not say that a universal medicine was less universal because it did not cure people that did not take it.

3. Nay! rather the intention and power of the gospel to save everybody can only be preserved by faith being the condition of its operation. For the condition is one that everybody can exercise, and just because men do not get saved by things that belong to classes it comes about that “not many wise, not many noble, not many mighty after the flesh” are saved. The wise man wants a religion that will give culture its proper high seat in the synagogue. The noble does not like to have his robes crumpled by a crowd of greasy jackets going in at the one common door. And so they turn away because they would like to have a little private postern of their own, where a ticket of a special colour would let them and their friends in. Conclusion: Are you exercising this faith, and therefore saved? You can separate yourselves from the power, notwithstanding the Divine purpose and adaptation of the gospel to everybody. And although God wants all of us to come to His heart, you can, if you will, stand apart. You do not need to do much. Putting your hands behind your back, or letting them hang languidly at your sides, is enough. Not to accept is to reject. You can waterproof your souls, as it were, and so lie there as dry as a bone, whilst all around you the dew of His blessing is refreshing others. Christ’s power received is life; Christ’s power not received is not negatived, but reversed, and becomes death. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The gospel the power of God unto salvation

By affirming this the apostle lays down the fundamental doctrine which he intends to establish against the legalistic pretensions of the Jews. Here are no less than five cardinal terms, keywords, which suggest a five-fold antithesis between Christianity and Judaism. The gospel is--

I. “The power of God”--a hint as to the weakness of the law in reference to salvation. This contrast is brought out fully and clearly in chap. 8:2-4, God Himself is powerless to save anyone righteously except through the gracious provisions of the gospel of His Son, whom He accordingly “set forth to be a propitiation,” etc. (Romans 3:25).

II. “The power of God.” He who wins souls in the presentation of the gospel is wielding a power not human, but Divine; and the resulting justification before God is based, not on the righteousness of man, but “the righteousness of God.” Here we have another antithesis of the apostle’s great theme, which is fully presented in Romans 10:3 and Philippians 3:7-9. The Jews, “being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” It is only on the ground of merit that law can justify. If, then, a man could merit his acceptance with God, his justification would not be due to the gracious “power of God,” but would rest upon his own inherent goodness.

III. The “power of God unto salvation.” This the law could not accomplish in that it was weak through the flesh, But as regards the very opposite result, condemnation and death, it has, indeed, tremendous power (Romans 7:9-10; 2 Corinthians 3:6-7). Thus the only hope for man is to pass from under a legal system, which can only justify the sinless, to a dispensation of grace which is clothed with Divine power to “justify the ungodly.”

IV. “The power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.” But the Jew, supposing that he had kept the law sufficiently to stand before God in the strength of his own righteousness, very naturally limited the favour of God to legalistic worshippers, and looked upon all others as inevitably doomed to death without mercy. Now the argument of the Epistle, in dispelling this double delusion, enables us to discern the broad contrast between the universality of grace and the exclusiveness of legalism (Romans 3:21-23). We are again and again reminded that this blessedness cometh not upon the circumcision only, but upon the uncircumcision also; that “the same God over all is rich unto all who call upon Him,” and that, consequently, “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

V. “The power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.” The contrast between the gospel and the law is the significant antithesis of faith and works so extensively developed in this Epistle. The dictum of the law is, “Do this and thou shalt live.” The maxim of the gospel is, “The just shall live by faith.” Doing is the ground of legal justification. Believing is the condition of gracious justification. The radical opposition between these, together with the inapplicability of the former to man as a sinful being, undergoes thorough discussion, especially in chaps. 3 and 4. (Prof. I. B. Grubbs.)

To the Jew first and also to the Greek.--

Our duty to Israel

The gospel should be preached first to the Jews, because--

I. Judgment will begin with them (Romans 2:6-10). Why is this? Because they have had more light than any other people. God chose them out of the world to be His witnesses. Every prophet, evangelist, and apostle was sent first to them. Christ said, “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The Word of God is still addressed to them. Yet they have sinned against all this light and love. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” etc. Their cup of wrath is fuller than that of other men. Is not this a reason, then, why the gospel should first be preached to the Jew? They are ready to perish--to perish more dreadfully than other men. In an hospital the physician runs first to the worst case. When the sailors have left the shore to save the sinking crew they first help those that are readiest to perish. And shall we not do the same for Israel? The billows of God’s anger are ready to dash first over them--shall we not seek to bring them first to the Rock that is higher than they? Yes, and some of you are in a situation very similar to that of Israel--you who have the Word of God in your hands and yet are unbelieving and unsaved, Think how like your wrath will be to that of the unbelieving Jew.

II. It is like God. It is the chief glory and joy of a soul to be like God. Too many rest in the joy of being forgiven. We should be like God in understanding, in will, in holiness, and also in His peculiar affections; and the whole Bible shows that God has a peculiar affection for Israel (Deuteronomy 7:7; Lamentations 4:2; Jeremiah 12:7). Shall we be ashamed to cherish the same affection as our heavenly Father?

III. There is peculiar access to the Jews.

IV. They will give life to the dead world. A reflective traveller, passing through the countries of this world, and observing the race of Israel in every land, might be led to guess, merely from the light of his natural reason, that that singular people are preserved for some great purpose in the world. There is a singular fitness in the Jew to be the missionary of the world. They have not that peculiar attachment to home and country which we have. They are also inured to every clime; they are to be found amid the snows of Russia and beneath the burning sun of Hindostan. They are also in some measure acquainted with all the languages of the world, and yet have one common language--the holy tongue--in which to communicate with one another. But what says the Word of God? (Read Zechariah 8:13; Zec_8:23; Micah 5:7) (R. M. McCheyne.)

To the Jew first

The preaching of the gospel to the Jews first, served various important ends. It fulfilled Old Testament prophecies, as Isaiah 2:3. It manifested the compassion of the Lord Jesus for those who shed His blood, to whom, after His resurrection, He commanded His gospel to be first proclaimed. It showed that it was to be preached to the chief of sinners, and proved the sovereign efficacy of His atonement in expiating the guilt even of His murderers. It was fit, too, that the gospel should be begun to be preached where the great transactions took place on which it was founded and established; and this furnished an example of the way in which it is the will of the Lord that His gospel should be propagated by His disciples, beginning in their own houses and their own country. (R. Haldane.)

The usefulness of converted Jews

A Jewish convert says: “It is a well-known fact that men celebrated as theologians, as lawyers, as teachers of the young, as professors at the various universities of Europe, have been or are converts from Judaism. The late Mr. Fould, the great French finance minister, was a Jewish convert. The late Dr. Neander, the author of one of the most erudite works on the Church of Christ, and professor of theology at the University of Berlin, was a converted Jew. Dr. Crippadorn of Holland, physician to his Majesty the King of Holland, is a converted Jew. The late Dr. Dufosty, one of the greatest poets which Holland has ever produced, and the author of ‘Israel and the Gentiles,’ ‘A Harmony of the Gospels,’ and several other works, was a Jewish convert. Prof. Leone Levi, of King’s College, is a Jewish convert. The late Dr. Alexander, the first bishop of Jerusalem, was a converted Jew; while not less than a hundred and thirty clergymen of the Church of England are converted Jews.” He states further that, in London, there are between two and three thousand Jewish converts, whose conduct, whether as heads of families, as citizens, or as men, is an honour and credit to the churches with which they are connected.

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Romans 1:16". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

With reference to any possible slander to the effect that he was ashamed to preach in the sophisticated capital of the empire, Paul challenged and refuted it with the smashing declaration here. A lesser man than Paul might indeed have quailed before the arrogant sophistication of Rome, but Paul was a man absolutely beyond the reach of snobbish intimidation. Brunner analyzed the situation thus:

What Rome meant then is almost beyond our comprehension. We must imagine as one all of the capital cities of our own day, from New York and London to Tokyo. He, the itinerant Jewish preacher, is to conquer Rome for Christ. By what means? By the message of a Galilean who was executed as a criminal! In face of the wisdom and might of Rome, to set up "the foolishness of the Cross," this glorification of the powerless one! But the apostle's thought barely touches upon what might have been so natural, namely, the failing of his courage when confronted by this contrast. There are no inferiority complexes here and no false humility, but an unbroken consciousness of power. "I am not ashamed; for it is the power of God." The gospel is not only an epoch-making power for salvation; its effect reaches into eternity, just as itself derives from eternity.[23]

Ashamed ... Paul's mention of not being ashamed of the gospel is appropriate, because in the city of Rome were all the trappings of human glory, pride, selfishness, power, and cruelty, also every extravagance of intemperance, vice, and idolatry. Raw, naked force was enthroned there. Those fierce Romans had controlled the world for centuries; and, in their lustful exploitation of power, they had shamelessly held all human honor and virtue expendable. Ruthless, unprincipled, power-politics sat naked and unmasked upon the throne of the Caesars; and, if there had been a place on earth where the gentle teachings of the Son of God were despised, the great harlot on the Tiber was that city. Jesus had warned his disciples that God himself would be ashamed of any who were ashamed of Jesus and his word (Mark 8.:38); and in this epistolary war-cry, Paul hurled the challenge of his faith in Christ like a steel gauntlet into the face of proud and arrogant Rome. How could he do it? The answer is in the next clause.

It is the power of God unto salvation ... Ah, yes. Here is the power to save people from sin, from the inevitable fate of the wicked, and from eternal death. This gospel is power unlimited, eternal, and irresistible within the framework of God's eternal purpose, and fully sufficient to achieve all that God intended. This tremendous power is primarily the power to save from sin and death, being fully efficacious unto redemption, the nature of which is revealed in the terms of the gospel itself. It is salvation from the wrath of God and eternal death of the soul, a salvation of such a nature that only God could provide it or make it available to people. No human scheme or device could ever be effectual for such a purpose as salvation from sin and death and the endowment of mortals with the glory of eternal life.

The gospel ... And, pray tell, what is the gospel? In a word, the gospel is the good news of salvation from the wrath of God due to man's sin, a salvation made possible through the death of Christ, and therefore pertaining (as Paul himself summarized it) to the death of Christ according to the scriptures, his burial, and his resurrection on the third day, according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). By extension, this gospel of Christ is the sum total of divine revelation in the sacred scriptures, that is, the Bible, and is composed of: (1) facts to be believed; (2) commandments to be obeyed; and (3) promises to be accepted. It is a gospel which must be received as the word of God (Acts 17:11), a gospel which must be believed (as stated in this verse); and it is a gospel that must be obeyed (2 Thessalonians 1:8). These plainly documented characteristics of the gospel should be kept in mind at all times, especially in the study of Romans; because advocates of human error have been very diligent to make Paul's letter to the Romans a charter of salvation by "faith only." If the gospel means that people may be saved by faith only, why did Paul write the Thessalonians that the Lord Jesus would execute vengeance upon them that "obey not the gospel"?

Lard named the three things that must be overcome in salvation as,

The world, the flesh, and Satan. These powers must be overcome in salvation; nothing short of God's power can do this; but the gospel does it, hence the propriety of calling it God's power for salvation. It is his power because it proceeds from him; it is for salvation, because it is ordained to effect it.[24]

The salvation under consideration, which is promised in the gospel, is no mere alleviation of social unrest, nor any such thing as the psychological easement of human tensions, nor an infusion of tranquillity for troubled minds. Such results indeed may come as collateral and tangential benefits, but the gospel is designed for something utterly beyond things like that. It is to save people from everlasting destruction from the presence of God and the glory of his power (2 Thessalonians 1:9). Men should therefore reject a commentator's mild compliment of Romans, which held that it is:

A relevant message, for it describes with great accuracy the deep tensions and anxieties of life and holds forth the promise of peace.[25]

The gospel is not a message of peace for the disobedient, but a message doom, and has the dual character, mentioned by Paul himself, of being either "unto life" or "unto death," as it may be received or rejected (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).

The power of God ... The word "the" is inserted by the translators but does not add anything to the meaning. Whatever power is needed to convert sinful people, all of that power is available in the gospel; and there is no need for any special illumination of the heart, nor for any fiat on the part of the Holy Spirit, nor for any special act of God to strike the sinner down and convert him. The gospel itself is that illumination that can save him, the fiat of the Holy Spirit making salvation available to him, and the special act of God calling him to be saved. Let the gospel be preached; and, as Jesus himself said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16).

To every one that believeth ... is a synecdoche, that is, one of a group of related things being mentioned in place of and standing for all of them, and was absolutely not intended to announce faith as the sole condition of eternal life, in the manner declared by Lenski:

"Believing" excludes everything except the confidence wrought in the soul by the divine power of the gospel and by this alone.[26]

This expositor is absolutely certain that nothing Paul ever wrote was intended to exclude obedience as a precondition of salvation; and, although perfect obedience must surely be reckoned beyond the power of human achievement, the sincere intent to obey and some semblance of compliance with God's commandments appears to be absolutely required by such statements as those of 2 Thessalonians 1:8,9, etc. Upon what grounds do scholars like Lenski, and others, declare that "believeth," as used here, "excludes" everything else? If that is what Paul meant, could he not have said so? Was Paul ignorant of such words as "alone" and "only" which come so readily to the lips and pens of scholars today, but which he pointedly omitted using; or, on the other hand, is it that people are guilty of importing their own theories into Paul's words? And, if it be inquired what are the group of related things represented by "believeth" in this passage, let it be answered that repentance (Luke 13:3-5), the new birth (John 3:5), holiness (Hebrews 12:14), and obedience (Hebrews 5:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:8) are all, according to the scriptures, absolutely required of all who hope to be saved. When the Pauline theology, as "discovered" by some commentators, is thought to offer salvation without the new birth, without holiness, without repentance, and without obedience, somebody has simply got to be mistaken.

To the Jew first, and also to the Greek ... means "to the whole world." The preference for the Jew, in that he should receive the message first, was just and derived from the Jew's position among the chosen people. Throughout Paul's apostleship, he was diligent to observe that priority; and only after the Jew rejected the message did he turn to the Gentiles. Even upon his final arrival in the city of Rome, Paul observed the same order of procedure.

[23] Emil Brunner, op. cit., p. 15.

[24] Moses E. Lard, op. cit., p. 38.

[25] Richard A. Batey, op. cit., p. 23.

[26] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1963), p. 76.

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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ,.... The reason why he was so ready and willing to preach it, even where he ran the greatest risk of his character and life, was, because it was "the Gospel of Christ" he preached, and he was not ashamed of it. This supposes that some were, though the apostle was not, ashamed of the Gospel; as all such are who hide and conceal it, who have abilities to preach it, and do not: or who preach, but not the Gospel; or who preach the Gospel only in part, who own that in private, they will not preach in public, and use ambiguous words, of doubtful signification, to cover themselves; who blend the Gospel with their own inventions, seek to please men, and live upon popular applause, regard their own interest, and not Christ's, and cannot bear the reproach of his Gospel. It expresses, that the apostle was not ashamed of it; that is, to preach it, which he did fully and faithfully, plainly and consistently, openly and publicly, and boldly, in the face of all opposition: and it designs more than is expressed, as that he had the utmost value for it, and esteemed it his highest honour that he was employed in preaching it: his reasons for this were, because it was "the Gospel of Christ"; which Christ himself preached, which he had learnt by revelation from him, and of which he was the sum and substance: and because

it is the power of God; not essentially, but declaratively; as the power of God is seen in making men ministers of it, in the doctrines held forth in it, in the manner in which it was spread in the world, in the opposition it met with, in the continuance and increase of it notwithstanding the power and cunning of men, and in the shortness of time, in which so much good was done by it in the several parts of the world: it is the power of God organically or instrumentally; as it is a means made use of by God in quickening dead sinners, enlightening blind eyes, unstopping deaf ears, softening hard hearts, and making of enemies friends; to which add, the manner in which all this is done, suddenly, secretly, effectually, and by love, and not force: the extent of this power is,

unto salvation; the Gospel is a declaration and revelation of salvation by Christ, and is a means of directing and encouraging souls to lay hold upon it. The persons to whom it is so, are in general,

everyone that believeth: this does not suppose that faith gives the Gospel its virtue and efficacy; but is only descriptive of the persons to whom the Gospel, attended with the power and grace of God, is eventually efficacious: and particularly it was so,

to the Jew first; who as they had formerly the advantage of the Gentiles, much every way, through the peculiar privileges which were conferred on them; so the Gospel was first preached to them by Christ and his disciples; and even when it was ordered to be carried into the Gentile world, it was to begin with them, and became effectual for the salvation of many of them:

and also to the Greek; to the Gentile; for after the Jews had rejected it, as many being called by it as Jehovah thought fit, at that time, it was preached to the Gentiles with great success; which was the mystery hid from ages and generations past, but now made manifest.

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Gill, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: 5 for it is the x power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the y Greek.

(5) This is the second part of the epistle, until the beginning of chapter nine. Now the whole end and purpose of the discussion is this: that is to say, to show that there is but one way to attain unto salvation (which is displayed to us by God in the gospel, and that equally to every nation), and this way is Jesus Christ apprehended by faith.

(x) God's mighty and effectual instrument to save men by.

(y) When this word "Greek" is contrasted with the word "Jew", then it signifies a Gentile.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

For I am not ashamed of the gospel — (The words, “of Christ,” which follow here, are not found in the oldest and best manuscripts). This language implies that it required some courage to bring to “the mistress of the world” what “to the Jews was a stumbling-block and to the Greeks foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:23). But its inherent glory, as God‘s life-giving message to a dying world, so filled his soul, that, like his blessed Master, he “despised the shame.”

for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth — Here and in Romans 1:17 the apostle announces the great theme of his ensuing argument; SALVATION, the one overwhelming necessity of perishing men; this revealed IN THE GOSPEL MESSAGE; and that message so owned and honored of God as to carry, in the proclamation of it, GOD‘S OWN POWER TO SAVE EVERY SOUL THAT EMBRACES IT, Greek and Barbarian, wise and unwise alike.

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

It is the power of God (δυναμις τεου εστινdunamis theou estin). This Paul knew by much experience. He had seen the dynamite of God at work.

To the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Ιουδαιωι τε πρωτον και ελληνιIoudaiōi te prōton kai Hellēni). Jesus had taught this (John 4:22; John 10:16; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8). The Jew is first in privilege and in penalty (Romans 2:9.). It is not certain that πρωτονprōton is genuine, but it is in Romans 2:9.

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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

For ( γὰρ )

Marking the transition from the introduction to the treatise. “I am ready to preach at Rome, for, though I might seem to be deterred by the contempt in which the Gospel is held, and by the prospect of my own humiliation as its preacher, I am not ashamed of it.” The transition occupies Romans 1:16, Romans 1:17.

The Gospel

Omit of Christ.

Power ( δύναμις )

Not merely a powerful means in God's hands, but in itself a divine energy.


Not principally, nor in preference to the Greek; but first in point of time. Compare John 4:22; Romans 3:1; Romans 9:1; Matthew 15:24.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel — To the world, indeed, it is folly and weakness, 1 Corinthians 1:18; therefore, in the judgment of the world, he ought to be ashamed of it; especially at Rome, the head and theatre of the world. But Paul is not ashamed, knowing it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth - The great and gloriously powerful means of saving all who accept salvation in God's own way. As St. Paul comprises the sum of the gospel in this epistle, so he does the sum of the epistle in this and the following verse.

Both to the Jew, and to the gentile — There is a noble frankness, as well as a comprehensive sense, in these words, by which he, on the one hand, shows the Jews their absolute need of the gospel; and, on the other, tells the politest and greatest nation in the world both that their salvation depended on receiving it, and that the first offers of it were in every place to be made to the despised Jews.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

To the Jew first, and also to the Greek; a mode of expression strikingly adapted to the state of feeling among those addressed, rendering, as it does, to the Jew the honor of respectful mention as the special object of divine regard, but yet placing the Gentile on an equal footing, in fact, as a partaker of the benefits of the gospel. It Is the language of truth and of conciliation combined; salvation to all that believe,--to the Jew first,--that is, specially, prominently,--but also to the Greek. While it distinctly extends to the one class all the blessings and privileges of the gospel, it does so by a form of expression which treats with respect the long-cherished feelings and prepossessions of the other.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

16.I am not indeed ashamed, etc. This is an anticipation of an objection; for he declares beforehand, that he cared not for the taunts of the ungodly; and he thus provides a way for himself, by which he proceeds to pronounce an eulogy on the value of the gospel, that it might not appear contemptible to the Romans. He indeed intimates that it was contemptible in the eyes of the world; and he does this by saying, that he was not ashamed of it. And thus he prepares them for bearing the reproach of the cross of Christ, lest they should esteem the gospel of less value by finding it exposed to the scoffs and reproaches of the ungodly; and, on the other hand, he shows how valuable it was to the faithful. If, in the first place, the power of God ought to be extolled by us, that power shines forth in the gospel; if, again, the goodness of God deserves to be sought and loved by us, the gospel is a display of his goodness. It ought then to be reverenced and honored, since veneration is due to God’s power; and as it avails to our salvation, it ought to be loved by us.

But observe how much Paul ascribes to the ministry of the word, when he testifies that God thereby puts forth his power to save; for he speaks not here of any secret revelation, but of vocal preaching. It hence follows, that those as it were willfully despise the power of God, and drive away from them his delivering hand, who withdraw themselves from the hearing of the word.

At the same time, as he works not effectually in all, but only where the Spirit, the inward Teacher, illuminates the heart, he subjoins, To every one who believeth. The gospel is indeed offered to all for their salvation, but the power of it appears not everywhere: and that it is the savor of death to the ungodly, does not proceed from what it is, but from their own wickedness. By setting forth but one Salvation he cuts off every other trust. When men withdraw themselves from this one salvation, they find in the gospel a sure proof of their own ruin. Since then the gospel invites all to partake of salvation without any difference, it is rightly called the doctrine of salvation: for Christ is there offered, whose peculiar office is to save that which was lost; and those who refuse to be saved by him, shall find him a Judge. But everywhere in Scripture the word salvation is simply set in opposition to the word destruction: and hence we must observe, when it is mentioned, what the subject of the discourse is. Since then the gospel delivers from ruin and the curse of endless death, its salvation is eternal life. (38)

First to the Jew and then to the Greek. Under the word Greek, he includes all the Gentiles, as it is evident from the comparison that is made; for the two clauses comprehend all mankind. And it is probable that he chose especially this nation to designate other nations, because, in the first place, it was admitted, next to the Jews, into a participation of the gospel covenant; and, secondly, because the Greeks, on account of their vicinity, and the celebrity of their language, were more known to the Jews. It is then a mode of speaking, a part being taken for the whole, by which he connects the Gentiles universally with the Jews, as participators of the gospel: nor does he thrust the Jews from their own eminence and dignity, since they were the first partakers of God’s promise and calling. He then reserves for them their prerogative; but he immediately joins the Gentiles, though in the second place, as being partakers with them.

“The gospel is a divine act, which continues to operate through all ages of the world, and that not in the first place outwardly, but inwardly, in the depths of the soul, and for eternal purposes.” — [Dr. Olshausen ]

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

THE TREATISE. 1:16-15:13.

Third Passage (1:16 , 17). The Statement of the Subject.

Ver. 16. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel:for it is a power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."

The long delays which had prevented the apostle"s visit to Rome did not arise, as might have been thought, from some secret anxiety or fear that he might not be able to sustain honorably the part of preacher of the word on this stage. In the very contents of the gospel there are a grandeur and a power which lift the man who is charged with it above feelings of this kind. He may indeed be filled with fear and trembling when he is delivering such a message; 1 Corinthians 2:3; but the very nature of the message restores him, and gives him entire boldness wherever he presents himself. In what follows the apostle seems to say: "And I now proceed to prove this to you by expounding in writing that gospel which I would have wished to proclaim with the living voice in the midst of you." When he says: I am not ashamed, Paul does not seem to have in view the opprobrium attached to the preaching of the Crucified One; he would have brought out this particular more distinctly. Comp. 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 1:23. The complement τοῦ χριστοῦ, of Christ, which is found in the T. R. along with the Byz. MSS., is certainly unauthentic; for it is wanting in the documents of the other two families, in the ancient Latin and Syriac Vss., and even in a larger number of Mnn. The word gospel denotes here, as in Romans 1:1; Romans 1:9, not the matter, but the act of preaching; Calvin himself says: De vocali praedicatione hic loquitur. And why is the apostle not ashamed of such a proclamation? Because it is the mighty arm of God rescuing the world from perdition, and bringing it salvation. Mankind are, as it were, at the bottom of an abyss; the preaching of the gospel is the power from above which raises out of it. No one need blush at being the instrument of such a force. The omission of the article before the word δύναμις, power, serves to bring out the character of the action rather than the action itself.

Hofmann says: "Power, for the gospel can do something; power of God, for it can do all it promises." The word σωτηρία, salvation, contains two ideas: on the one side, deliverance from an evil, perdition; on the other, communication of a blessing, eternal life in communion with God. The possession of these two privileges is man"s health ( σωτηρία, from the adjective σῶς, safe and sound). The life of God in the soul of man, such is the normal state of the latter. The preposition εἰς, to, or in (salvation), denotes not only the purpose of the divine work, but its immediate and certain result, wherever the human condition is fulfilled. This condition is faith, to every one that believeth. The word every one expresses the universal efficacy of the remedy, and the word believeth, its entire freeness. Such are the two fundamental characteristics of the Christian salvation, especially as preached by Paul; and they are so closely connected that, strictly speaking, they form only one. Salvation would not be for all, if it demanded from man anything else than faith. To make work or merit a condition in the least degree, would be to exclude certain individuals. Its universal destination thus rests on its entire freeness at the time when man is called to enter into it. The apostle adds to the word believing the article τῷ, the, which cannot be rendered in French by the tout (all); the word means each individual, provided he believes. As the offer is universal, so the act of faith by which man accepts is individual; comp. John 3:16. The faith of which the apostle speaks is nothing else than the simple acceptance of the salvation offered in preaching. It is premature to put in this moral act all that will afterwards flow from it when faith shall be in possession of its object. This is what is done by Reuss and Sabatier, when they define it respectively: "A personal, inward, mystical union between man and Christ the Savious" (Ep. paulin. II. p. 43); and: "the destruction of sin in us, the inward creation of the divine life" (L"ap. Paul, p. 265). This is to make the effect the cause. Faith, in Paul"s sense, is something extremely simple, such that it does not in the least impair the freeness of salvation. God says: I give thee; the heart answers: I accept; such is faith. The act is thus a receptivity, but an active receptivity. It brings nothing, but it takes what God gives; as was admirably said by a poor Bechuana: "It is the hand of the heart." In this act the entire human personality takes part: the understanding discerning the blessing offered in the divine promise, the will aspiring after it, and the confidence of the heart giving itself up to the promise, and so securing the promised blessing.

The preaching of free salvation is the act by which God lays hold of man, faith is the act by which man lets himself be laid hold of. Thus, instead of God"s ancient people who were recruited by birth and Abrahamic descent, Paul sees a new people arising, formed of all the individuals who perform the personal act of faith, whatever the nation to which they belong. To give pointed expression to this last feature, he recalls the ancient distinction which had till then divided mankind into two rival religious societies, Jews and Gentiles, and declares this distinction abolished. He says: to the Jew first, and to the Greek. In this context the word Greek has a wider sense than in Romans 1:14; for there it was opposed to Barbarian. It therefore designated only a part of Gentile humanity. Here, where it is used in opposition to Jew, it includes the whole Gentile world. Greeks were indeed the élite of the Gentiles, and might be regarded as representing the Gentiles in general; comp. 1 Corinthians 1:22-24. This difference in the extension of the name Greeks arises from the fact that in Romans 1:14 the only matter in question was Paul"s ministry, the domain of which was subdivided into civilized Gentiles (Greeks) and barbarian Gentiles; while here the matter in question is the gospel"s sphere of action in general, a sphere to which the whole of mankind belong (Jews and Gentiles). The word πρῶτον, first, should not be interpreted, as some think, in the sense of principally. It would be false to say that salvation is intended for the Jews in preference to the Greeks. Paul has in view the right of priority in time which belonged to Israel as the result of its whole history. As to this right, God had recognized it by making Jesus to be born in the midst of this people; Jesus had respected it by confining Himself during His earthly life to gathering together the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and by commanding his apostles to begin the evangelization of the world with Jerusalem and Judea, Acts 1:8; Peter and the Twelve remained strictly faithful to it, as is proved by the first part of the Acts, Acts 2-12; and Paul himself had uniformly done homage to it by beginning the preaching of the gospel, in every Gentile city to which he came as an apostle, in the synagogue. And, indeed, this right of priority rested on the destination of Israel to become itself the apostle of the Gentiles in the midst of whom they lived.

It was for Jewish believers to convert the world. For this end they must needs be the first to be evangelized. The word πρῶτον (first) is wanting in the Vat. and the Boerner. Cod. (Greek and Latin). We know from Tertullian that it was wanting also in Marcion. The omission of the word in the latter is easily explained; he rejected it simply because it overturned his system. Its rejection in the two MSS. B and G is more difficult to explain. Volkmar holds that Paul might ascribe a priority to the Jews in relation to judgment, as he does Romans 2:9, but not in connection with salvation; the πρῶτον of Romans 2:10 he therefore holds to be an interpolation from Romans 2:9, and that of our Romans 1:16, a second interpolation from Romans 2:10. An ingenious combination, intended to make the apostle the relentless enemy of Judaism, agreeably to Baur"s system, but belied by the missionary practice of Paul, which is perfectly in keeping with our first and with that of Romans 2:10. The omission must be due to the carelessness of the copyist, the simple form: to the Jew and to the Greek (without the word first), naturally suggesting itself. While paying homage to the historical right of the Jewish people, Paul did not, however, intend to restore particularism. By the τε καί, as well as, he forcibly maintains the radical religious equality already proclaimed in the words: to every one that believeth.

It concerns the apostle now to explain how the gospel can really be the salvation of the world offered to all believers. Such is the object of Romans 1:17. The gospel is salvation, because it offers the righteousness of God.

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Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books".

Scofield's Reference Notes


The Heb. and (Greek - ἀλεκτοροφωνία, safety, preservation, healing, and soundness). Salvation is the great inclusive word of the Gospel, gathering into itself all the redemptive acts and processes: as justification, redemption, grace, propitiation, imputation, forgiveness, sanctification, and glorification. Salvation is in three tenses:

(1) The believer has been saved from the guilt and penalty of sin Luke 7:50; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 2:15; Ephesians 2:5; Ephesians 2:8; 2 Timothy 1:9 and is safe.

(2) the believer is being saved from the habit and dominion of sin Romans 6:14; Philippians 1:19; Philippians 2:12; Philippians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Romans 8:2; Galatians 2:19; Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 3:18.

(3) The believer is to be saved in the sense of entire conformity to Christ. Romans 13:11; Hebrews 10:36; 1 Peter 1:5; 1 John 3:2. Salvation is by grace through faith, is a free gift, and wholly without works; Romans 3:27; Romans 3:28; Romans 4:1-8; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8. The divine order is: first salvation, then works; Ephesians 2:9; Ephesians 2:10; Titus 3:5-8.

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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Romans 1:16". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". 1917.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary


‘To the Jew first, and also to the Greek.’

Romans 1:16

The Jew and the Greek were respectively the loftiest and the noblest exponents of the races and religions of the East and the West. St. Paul shows the fitness of the gospel to meet and to satisfy the needs and requirements of nationalities so widely different as these.

I. The gospel finds a centre of union between them, and that centre is Christ, for it welds all the nations and peoples of the earth together in one great Church. To reconcile such opposing forces might appear to transcend human thought, and its supreme difficulty to banish it to the region of ideas and ideals which can never be realised. But the gospel of Christ aims at nothing less. St. Paul was, perhaps, the first to be convinced that such a reconciliation was possible, and that it was being brought about. It was contained in our Saviour’s words, ‘I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me.’ And experience had already proved that the gospel of the Crucified was the magnet which drew men nearer to each other as it drew them alike to ‘Him Who died for all.’

II. Consider the attitude of the Jew and of the Greek towards the gospel, as the Apostle describes it in his first Epistle to the Corinthians. ‘Christ crucified,’ he says, ‘is to the Jews a stumblingblock, and to the Greeks foolishness.’ But the gospel availed to overcome these radical antagonisms, and it is an encouragement now when we meet with the same spirit of opposition to know that it can also be surmounted. These types of mind may hinder men from receiving the gospel altogether, or they may mar their reception of it in its fullness and simplicity.

(a) There is the character of which the Jew is a type, the self-righteous, the Pharisaic. Such as have it possess a high standard of right and duty, in accordance with which they strive to live, but the measure of their attainment they ascribe chiefly to their own efforts. They have no strong feeling that they need the grace of God, which, therefore, they do not seek by earnest prayer. To them, as to the Jew, Christ crucified is the stumbling-block.

(b) The Greek, i.e. the representative of that great and gifted people, regarded the preaching of the Cross as ‘foolishness.’ How, he would say, can men bring themselves to worship a crucified Jew? The entire Christian economy seemed to him preposterous. He treated it with scorn and ridicule. It ran counter to all his ideals; it set forth strange doctrines concerning human nature. Atonement by sacrifice seemed to him a discredited and obsolete superstition. He regarded such as held it with a mixture of pity and contempt. To the Christian of that age it was no small trial to be regarded in this way by the wise and learned of this world. If he did not quail before their scorn, he was in danger of keeping too much in the background those doctrines of the Christian revelation which were most likely to excite opposition. We must not forget that there are still persons to whom the preaching of the Cross is foolishness. They cannot reconcile it with views which they have formed respecting the character of God, and of any revelation which professes to come from Him.

III. We must not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, however narrow-minded and fanatical we may seem when we declare that there is no salvation in any other. When men oppose us herein, we should seek in meekness to instruct them, if peradventure God may give them repentance unto the knowledge of the truth.

—Rev. F. K. Aglionby.

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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.

Ver. 16. For I am not ashamed] As men are apt to be; whence that fatherly charge, 2 Timothy 1:8. Do ye think (said John Frith, martyr, to the archbishop’s men that would have let him go) that I am afraid to declare mine opinion unto the bishops of England in a manifest truth? If you should both leave me here, and go tell the bishops that you had lost Frith, I would surely follow as fast after as I might, and bring them news that I had found and brought Frith again.

For it is the power, &c.] Eternal life is potentially in the word preached, as the harvest is potentially in the seed.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Romans 1:16

I. St. Paul rests the glory and the power of the gospel on its influence on every one who believeth: that is, on its persuasion of and acceptance by the heart and mind of each individual man. You see what great results such an admission brings in its train. At once the individual responsibility of man assumes a sacred and inviolable character. If it be so, all attempts to coerce and subjugate men's consciences in the matter of religious belief are not only as we know futile and vain, but are sins against that liberty of reception of His gospel which God has made our common inheritance. The acceptance of the gospel, and of all that belongs to the gospel, must be free and unforced, the resignation of the heart, with its desires and affections, to God.

II. Let us remember that not St. Paul only, nor every Christian minister only, but every Christian man and woman among us, is set for the declaration and promulgation of the gospel. Some are called upon to preach its truths; all to proclaim their power by the example of a holy life. The gospel of Christ is still the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. This is the reason why we are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: not ashamed, though the track of the Church has been marked out not with peace but with the sword; not ashamed, though two-thirds of this fair world still lie in outer darkness; because we find that in the midst of all this the gospel has not lost one atom of its life-giving power, that wherever a soul lays hold on the Redeemer by faith, whether in the corrupt Church of Rome, or in the Reformed Church of England, or in any of the endless varieties of religious opinion and communion, or apart from all visible companies of Christians, there enters a new life unto God, a change into the Lord's image, a glorious progress in holiness here, tending to perfection hereafter.

H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. ii., p. 176.


I. Some grounds for sympathising with the Apostle's statement. (1) We are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, because it vindicates the abandonment of our crucified Lord by God. The death of Jesus is seen to be at once a sublime satisfaction and an illustrious vindication of the justice of God. (2) We are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, because it reveals the love of God. (3) We are not ashamed of the doctrines of the gospel, for they vindicate the justice and they glorify the love of God. We are not ashamed of them, because they bear the stamp and have the ring of heavenly wisdom.

II. Experience has vindicated the Apostle's reason. "It is the power of God unto salvation." The testimony of individuals in this matter is endorsed and sustained by the general testimony of history.

W. J. Woods, Christian World Pulpit, vol. x., p. 211.

I. In Paul's day the world was grown very weary of words which had in them no power at all, or, if power, at least not power to save. Weary of words which promised life, but had no power to give it; brain-spun speculations about God and man which made nothing clear, which had no influence whatever over the bad passions of the individual, which brought no hope to the poor or the slave; in these Greek theories there was no gospel of power unto salvation. Weary too of words which had behind them the terrific and sometimes brutal strength of Roman legions, but used it not to elevate subject races, but only to bind the yoke firmer on the degenerate peoples.

II. In the midst of all this St. Paul carried what he knew to be a Divine message of help—God's own miraculous word, charged with a loftier wisdom than that of Greece, backed by a mightier authority than that of Rome, and instinct with spiritual life and everlasting salvation for men of every land. It was the revelation of God's righteousness in His Son, and of God's life by His Spirit.

III. The power which resides in a word, or which operates through a word, requires one, and no more than one, condition for its operation—it must be believed. Faith is no exceptional demand on the gospel's part. It is the condition of all power which comes by word, whether it be a word that teaches or a word that commands. Salvation must come by faith, because faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. It is therefore to him only who believes its message, but to every one who does believe it, that the gospel proves to be God's power unto salvation. Faith on the part of the hearer is that which must liberate the Divine might, which resides in the word ready to operate. Before you call the gospel weak, ask how you have received it. The faith which has to be exercised about any word varies with the nature of the word. This word from God is spiritual, and it asks not an intellectual but a spiritual faith, a moral submission, a religious surrender of the whole being to the influence of the truth told and the authority of the Person speaking. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation—only you must do it the justice to believe it.

J. Oswald Dykes, The Gospel according to St. Paul, p. 1.

The Power of God in the Gospel.

I. The first element of the power of the gospel which we meet with in the most complete treatise which inspired men have delivered to us on the subject is the gospel doctrine of sin. The sense of sin is among the most real and deep of human experiences. Men were groaning in spirit over the question, when the gospel offered its solution and cast a flood of light upon the nature and the genesis of sin. The Bible declares what man's heart has ever felt to be a truth, that sin is the independent self-originated act of the free will of the creature in opposition to the known mind and will of God. It declares also what man feels in his heart to be true, and has struggled in vain to realise, that sin does not fully belong to man, though it is in him and is his own work. Through the gospel sin was felt and known in its dread reality as it had never been known before; but men learned, too, that it was as essentially weaker than righteousness, as flesh is weaker than spirit, as Satan is weaker than Christ. They learnt that it might be conquered, that it ought to be conquered, and they believed that it would be conquered.

II. The second element of the power of the gospel lies in the atonement offered for the sins of the world, which it proclaims. Man seeks to know God as He is; and man only rests and hopes when he sees that not a promise only, but the nature, the name of God is on his side. The name of God was manifest in Christ and wrought redemption. All the attributes of the Divine character are here seen in their essence—the radiant colours blended in one white beam of love. And this is the glory of the gospel, this is the power of that salvation which is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

III. The third element of the power of the gospel is the doctrine of the incarnation. The world whose air the incarnate God had breathed, whose paths He had trodden, whose load He had borne, whose form He had put on and carried up with Him visibly to celestial zones, could not be a dying world, could not be a devil's world; it must live to be a Divine world and a kingdom of heaven.

IV. The gospel was a power unto salvation, because it opened heaven to man's spirit, and brought down the power of the world to come to govern his will and purify his heart.

J. Baldwin Brown, The Divine Life in Man, p. 92.

References: Romans 1:16.—Sermons for Boys and Girls, p. 86; Homilist, new series, vol. i., p. 529; Church of England Pulpit, vol. xviii., p. 61; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iii., p. 159; T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. ii., p. 54; H. P. Liddon, Church of England Pulpit, vol. iii., p. 297; S. W. Winter, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 200; T. Gasquoine, Ibid., vol. iv., p. 364; H. W. Beecher, Ibid., vol. viii., p. 267; W. Woods, Ibid., vol. i., p. 211; R. W. Dale, Ibid., vol. xxix., p. 305; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 96; H. P. Liddon, University Sermons, 2nd series, p. 242; J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 10th series, p. 272; Bishop Simpson, Sermons, p. 97; Saturday Evening, pp. 22-43.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Romans 1:16. For I am not ashamed, &c.— The Apostle here enters upon his subject, by affirming the excellency of the Gospel, as a scheme of goodness calculated for the salvation of mankind, Romans 1:16-17 and then shews what need the Gentile world had of the mercy of God, as they stood obnoxious to his wrath for their idolatry, and abominable wickedness, which are described at large, Romans 1:18-32. This was proper to convince and awaken the Gentile, and to engage his attention; for this was proof enough, even to the wisest philosopher, how defective and erroneous he was in the knowledge of divine things, and how ineffectual any thing that he had framed was to reform himself or the rest of mankind. But the Apostle has his eye too upon the Jew, and it is his design to point this black description at his conscience. Nothing would enter more readily into the thoughts of the Jew than the corruption of the Gentile world, which he would immediately and strongly condemn, and so would be duly prepared for the application in the next chapter: for what if his nation was not a whit better in their morals than the heathens? How could they, with any conscience or modesty, arrogate all the divine mercy to themselves, or pretend that other men were unworthy of it, when they had done as much or more to forfeit it than others. See on chap. Romans 2:1. St. Paul calls the Gospel the power of God. The original word Δυναμις signifies frequently a moral power; either, first, objectively, as the power of evidence and motives to effect and influence the mind, Mark 9:1. Acts 4:33. 1 Corinthians 1:18. Secondly, subjectively it signifies capacity, virtue or good dispositions in the subject acting, Matthew 25:15. Luke 1:17. Acts 1:8. Hence we may conclude, that the Gospel is the power of God to salvation, either as it is the effect of his great love and goodness. [his divine POWER hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness, 2 Peter 1:3.], or as it is admirably adapted to enlighten our minds and sanctify our hearts, or both. There is a noble frankness, as well as a very comprehensive sense, in the last words of this verse; to the Jew first, &c. by which St. Paul, on the one hand, strongly insinuates to the Jews their absolute need of the Gospel in order to salvation; and on the other, while he declares to them that it was also to be preached to the Gentiles, he teaches the politest and greatest of these nations, to whom he might come as an ambassador of Christ, both that their salvation also depended upon receiving it, and that the first offers of it were every where to be made to the despised Jews. See Doddridge.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Observe here, 1. The glorious description which the apostle gives of the gospel; It is the power of God unto salvation. That is, the preaching of it is attended by, and accompanied with, an almighty power, which renders it effectual to salvation, if we do not bolt our ears and hearts against it.

Learn, That the plain and persuasive preaching of the gospel, is the chosen instrument in God's hand, which he uses and honours for the conveyance of spiritual life into the souls of men, though it be despised and ridiculed by the men of the world. The gospel is powerful; it is the power, not of men or angels, but the power of God; not the essential, but instrumental power of God; it works as an instrument, yet not a natural, but as a moral instrument in God's hands; freely, not arbitrarily. The word gives out to us, as God gives in to that; the power of the gospel is not from the preachers of the gospel, therefore do not idolize them; but they are instruments in God's hand, their words are the vehicle, or organ, through which the vital power of the Spririt is conveyed; therefore do not vilify and think meanly of them.

Observe, 2. The solemn protestation and bold profession which the apostle makes of his not being ashamed of the gospel of Christ; I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.

Where note, 1. He doth not say, I am not afraid to preach the gospel; but I am not ashamed, because shame hinders our readiness more than fear; a man may be fit and ready to preach the gospel, and yet be afraid to undertake it; but he that is ashamed of the work, can never be fit for it.

Note, 2. That when the apostle says, he is not ahamed of the gospel, more is intended than expressed: I am so far from being ashamed, that I account it my glory; as if the apostle had said, "Verily I esteem it the highest honour that God can confer upon me, to preach the gospel at Rome, though it should cost me my life."

Oh how exceeding well doth a bold profession of the gospel become all the ministers and members of Jesus Christ! Let all say with the apostle, We are not ashamed of the gospel; none of the ministers of Christ to preach it, none of the members of Chrsit to profess and practise it.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

16.] The οὐ γὰρ ἐπαισχύνομαι seems to be suggested by the position of the Romans in the world. ‘Yea, to you at Rome also: for, though your city is mistress of the world, though your emperors are worshipped as present deities, though you are elated by your pomps and luxuries and victories, yet I am not ashamed of the apparently mean origin of the gospel which I am to preach; for (and here is the transition to his great theme) it is,’ &c. So for the most part, Chrysostom, Hom. iii. p. 444.

δύναμις γὰρ θ. ἐστίν] The gospel, which is the greatest example of the Power of God, he strikingly calls that Power itself. (Not, as Jowett, ‘a divine power,’ nor is δικαιος. θεοῦ below to be thus explained, as he alleges.) So in 1 Corinthians 1:24 he calls Christ, the Power of God. But not only is the gospel the great example of divine Power; it is the field of agency of the power of God, working in it, and interpenetrating it throughout.

The bare substantive δύναμις here (and 1 Corinthians 1:24) carries a superlative sense: the highest and holiest vehicle of the divine Power, the δύναμις κατʼ ἐξοχήν. “It is weighty for the difference between the Gospel and the Law, that the Law is never called God’s power, כֹחַ, but light, or teaching, in which a man must walk, Psalms 36:10; Psalms 119:105; Proverbs 6:23; Isaiah 2:5.” Umbreit. And the direction in which this power acts in the gospel is εἰς σωτηρίαν —it is a healing, saving power: for as Chrysostom reminds us, there is a power of God εἰς κόλασιν, and εἰς ἀπώλειαν, see Matthew 10:28.

But to whom is this gospel the power of God to save? παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι. The universality implied in the παντί, the condition necessitated in the πιστεύοντι, and the δύναμις θεοῦ acting εἰς σωτηρίαν, are the great subjects treated of in the former part of this epistle. All are proved to be under sin, and so needing God’s righteousness (ch. Romans 1:18 to Romans 3:20), and the entrance into this righteousness is shewn to be by faith (ch. Romans 3:21 to Romans 5:11). Then the δύναμις θεοῦ in freeing from the dominion of sin and death, and as issuing in salvation, is set forth (ch. Romans 5:11 to Romans 8:39). So that if the subject of the Epistle is to be stated in few words, these should be chosen: τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, δύναμις θεοῦ εἰς σωτηρίαν παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι. This expresses it better than merely ‘justification by faith,’ which is in fact only a subordinate part of the great theme,—only the condition necessitated by man’s sinfulness for his entering the state of salvation: whereas the argument extends beyond this, to the death unto sin and life unto God and carrying forward of the sanctifying work of the Spirit, from its first fruits even to its completion.

ἰουδ. πρῶτον κ. ἕλλ.] This is the Jewish expression for all mankind, as ἕλλ. κ. βαρβ. Romans 1:14 is the Greek one. ἕλλ. here includes all Gentiles. πρῶτον is not first in order of time, but principally (compare ch. Romans 2:9), spoken of national precedence, in the sense in which the Jews were to our Lord οἱ ἴδιοι, John 1:11. Salvation was ἐκ τῶν ἰουδαίων, John 4:22. See ch. Romans 9:5; Romans 11:24. Not that the Jew has any preference under the gospel; only he inherits, and has a precedence. οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐπεὶ δὴ πρῶτός ἐστι, καὶ πλέον λαμβάνει τῆς χάριτος· ἡ γὰρ αὐτὴ δωρεὰ καὶ τούτῳ κἀκείνῳ δίδοται· ἀλλὰ τάξεώς ἐστι τιμὴ μόνον τὸ πρῶτος. Chrys. Hom. iii. p. 445.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae



Romans 1:16. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.

THE Epistle to the Romans, though first in order, is by no means first in point of time; several having, in fact, been written before it. But in respect of importance, it justly deserves to take the lead of all the others. There is no other that is so full and comprehensive on the great subject of a sinner’s justification before God; no other so orderly in its arrangement, or so argumentative in its statement; and perhaps no other that is, on the whole, so instructive. It was written to the Church at Rome, which, though not planted by St. Paul, had a distinguished place in his regard. He had long wished to visit that Church, but had been prevented, by a variety of circumstances, from carrying his purpose into execution. Now however he announced his intention of going to them the first opportunity, being desirous of “having some fruit among them even as he had had among other Gentiles.” He had reason indeed to expect, that, in that opulent city, the abode of so many great and learned men, his ministrations would excite no small measure of contempt: but “he was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ;” nor did he think he had any occasion to be ashamed of it; since “it was, and would be, the power of God to the salvation of all who received it in faith.” It were well if all who profess to believe the Gospel, were likeminded with him in this particular: but there are multitudes who, notwithstanding they call themselves Christians, are in reality ashamed of the Gospel. That we may assist such persons in discovering their own character, and induce them to walk worthy of their holy profession, we shall shew,

I. When we may be said to be ashamed of the Gospel—

Few perhaps imagine that any such evil is imputable to them: but they, in fact, are guilty of it, who, through fear of that disgrace which attaches to the Gospel, are deterred,

1. From seeking instruction in it—

[Many, from what they have seen and heard of the effects of the Gospel, have a secret conviction that it has an excellence far beyond any they have hitherto discovered: and they would be glad to be better instructed in it: but they dare not go where it is more fully and plainly set forth, because of the odium to which they will expose themselves. They are aware that the very circumstance of attending upon the ministry of one who is stigmatized as evangelical, will tend to fix a stigma on their names also, and to produce an apprehension in the minds of their friends, that they are beginning to favour these obnoxious tenets. If the same doctrines were delivered in a church, where they might attend without suspicion, they would gladly avail themselves of the opportunity to hear them: but, if any sacrifice of character is to be made in order to get instruction, they will rather lose the benefit, than purchase it at such a price. Even a religious book, should it happen to be in their hands when a friend unexpectedly calls in upon them, is put away in haste, lest it should draw down a measure of disgrace upon them. Even the Bible itself they would be afraid to have seen upon their table, if they were supposed to be reading it with a view to the welfare of their souls. I ask then, Whence does all this proceed? and what does it argue, but that they are ashamed of the Gospel of Christ? They have none of these feelings in reference to other places of worship, or to other books, no, not even to plays and novels: it is plain therefore that the Gospel is that which creates the offence; and that the dread of the odium attached to it diverts them from prosecuting the knowledge of it. Such persons may obtain mercy of the Lord, even as did Nicodemus, whose children they are; yea, they may, like him, become distinguished ornaments of the Gospel: but they are in great danger lest God give them over to their unworthy fears, and leave them to “perish for lack of knowledge.”]

2. From making an open profession of it—

[After that men have attained the knowledge of the truth, the same evil principle frequently operates in their hearts, to make them ashamed of confessing it. They see that the followers of Christ are still at this day, no less than in the Apostolic age, “a sect that is everywhere spoken against [Note: Acts 28:22.];” and they cannot bring their minds to participate their reproach. They would partake of the blessings of the Gospel, without “partaking of its affliction:” they would enjoy their Lord’s crown, but not bear his cross. But such cowardice is expressly designated as a being “ashamed of the Gospel [Note: 2 Timothy 1:8.];” and it will assuredly rob them of all the advantages which they desire to possess. If they would be Christ’s disciples indeed, they must “deny themselves, and take up their cross daily, and follow Christ [Note: Matthew 16:24-25.].” Like Moses, they must “choose to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures in Egypt [Note: Hebrews 11:25-26.];” they must not be contented with honouring Christ in secret, but must “follow him without the camp bearing his reproach [Note: Hebrews 13:13.].” Indeed it is not reputation merely that they must be willing to sacrifice, but life also, for Christ’s sake: and, if they stop short of this, they “lose their souls” for ever [Note: Matthew 10:38-39.]. In some respects these are in a worse state than they of whom we have before spoken; because they sin against greater light and knowledge, and are guilty of infinitely greater ingratitude towards their Lord, whose love and mercy they inwardly acknowledge, and from whom they expect all the blessings of grace and glory. To these therefore our Lord speaks in very awful terms, and warns them, that as they are ashamed of him, and deny him, “he will be ashamed of them, and deny them, in the presence of his Father and his holy angels [Note: Matthew 10:32-33 and Mark 8:35; Mark 8:38.].” “The fearful, no less than the unbelieving,” will have their portion in the lake of fire at the last day [Note: Revelation 21:8.]. “If we will not suffer with Christ, we cannot reign with him [Note: 2 Timothy 2:11-12.].” “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; but with the mouth confession is made, and must be made, unto salvation [Note: Romans 10:10.].”]

3. From walking worthy of it—

[Whilst the principles of the Gospel are by the world at large accounted “foolishness [Note: 1 Corinthians 1:18.],” the practice enjoined by it is no less offensive to them, on account of its contrariety to all the desires and habits of the carnal mind. Hence they who profess the Gospel are often led into compliances which are unsuitable to their high calling, and dishonourable to their profession. Under the idea of “becoming all things to all men” they belie their consciences, and betray the cause which they are pledged to serve. They forget that Paul’s compliances were to save others [Note: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. “To gain the more.” Observe how often that is repeated.]; whilst theirs are only to screen themselves. But this is “to put their light under a bushel,” when their duty is “to make it shine before men [Note: Matthew 5:14-16.].” They are “not to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather to reprove them [Note: Ephesians 5:11.],” and, like Noah, to “condemn that world [Note: Hebrews 11:7.]” which sets itself against the Majesty of heaven. Instead of “following a multitude to do evil,” the Christian is to consider himself as set by God to be “a light in the world,” that he may “hold forth to others, in the whole of his spirit and conduct, the word of life [Note: Philippians 2:15-16.].” And all who are kept by fear from thus adorning the Gospel, will be numbered amongst hypocrites and dissemblers with God [Note: Galatians 2:11-13.]. If a den of lions were to be the recompence of our fidelity to God, we are not to be intimidated; we are not to be ashamed [Note: Daniel 6:10.]. The Lord Jesus Christ “endured the cross, and despised the shame” for us [Note: Hebrews 12:2.]; and we must brave contempt and death in their most terrific forms for him.]

Thus all who are deterred from “following the Lord fully,” are, in fact, “ashamed of Christ.” But how unreasonable this conduct is, will appear, whilst we shew,

II. Why we should not be so—

Certainly, if any one might reasonably give way to shame, Paul might, when he contemplated the preaching of the Gospel at Rome. For as Rome was the seat of wealth and science, the preaching of the cross was likely to be peculiarly offensive to them, inasmuch as it poured contempt on all that was valued there, and required that they should place all their hopes for time and eternity on a poor despised Jew, who had suffered the most ignominious of all deaths from the hands of his own countrymen. But Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel; nor had he any real reason to be so: for,

1. It is a revelation of God’s grace to man—

[A wonderful mystery it is; a mystery which all “the angels of heaven desire to look into,” and which, as an expression of God’s good-will to man, brings the highest possible glory to God himself. In it a way of salvation is provided for fallen man; a way exactly suited to man’s necessities, and at the same time displaying in perfect harmony all the perfections of the Godhead. It exhibits the Father sending his only dear Son to take upon him our nature, and to “bear our sins in his own body on the tree.” It represents the co-equal, co-eternal Son of God actually fulfilling that very office, and “reconciling us to God by his own blood.” It sets forth also the Holy Spirit, the third Person in the ever blessed Trinity, undertaking to apply that salvation to the souls of men, and by his almighty power to render them “meet for the inheritance” prepared for them.

Now I would ask, What is here to be ashamed of? Is that, in which all “the wisdom of God, and the power of God,” are concentrated and displayed [Note: 1 Corinthians 1:24.], an object which we should blush to acknowledge and confess? Is that, which is the one theme of adoration and thanksgiving to all the hosts of heaven, fit to be disowned by man on earth, so that the very mention of it shall suffuse his face with shame? Shall sin, in all its varied forms, stalk abroad with unblushing effrontery, and this glorious mystery be veiled for fear of man’s reproach? Abhorred be the thought! Let the man that has ever been ashamed of the Gospel, be ashamed of his own extreme folly and impiety: and let that which is so glorious in the eyes of all the heavenly hosts, be henceforth glorious in our eyes; and let us “count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of it [Note: Philippians 3:8.].”]

2. It is God’s instrument for the salvation of a ruined world—

[Look back, and see what it is that has been the means of saving so many myriads of our fellow-creatures, when of the fallen angels not so much as one has ever been saved? What saved Adam, but the Gospel, which promised that “the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head?” What saved Abraham, but the Gospel, which was preached to him in these words; “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed?” Could you go up to the third heavens, and hear, as Paul did, the songs of the whole heavenly choir, you would hear but one note amongst them all, ascribing “salvation to God and to the Lamb for ever.” Is this then a subject for us to be ashamed of? Shall we be ashamed of that, which alone has put a difference between us and devils? of that, which is “the rod of God’s strength,” whereby he has brought millions, through seas of difficulty, to the full enjoyment of the heavenly Canaan? The brazen serpent that healed the Israelites in the wilderness, though it was only a piece of brass, became an object of idolatrous regard: and shall we make “the glorious Gospel of the blessed God an object of shame and contempt? If we marvel at them for giving God’s honour to a piece of brass, what wonder must it create amongst all the heavenly hosts, that any creature, to whom the Gospel of salvation comes, should treat it but with the profoundest veneration, and the most ardent gratitude!]

3. It is actually effectual for the salvation of every one that believeth—

[Never did it fail in any instance: it is equally effectual for “Jew or Gentile,” and for the vilest, as well as the best, of the human race. It will leave none under the guilt and condemnation of their sins, none under the power and pollution of them. The righteousness which it provides for sinners is so pure and perfect, that, when clothed in it, they stand before God without spot or blemish. The grace treasured up for them in their living Head is so abundant, that the weakest of mankind, even though he be opposed by all the hosts of hell, shall find it sufficient for him. It will not bring him out of six difficulties, and leave him to perish in the seventh [Note: Job 5:19.]; but “will keep him to the end [Note: 1 Corinthians 1:8.],” and suffer “nothing to pluck him out of his Redeemer’s hands [Note: John 10:28.].” Is this then a thing to be ashamed of? and shall they be ashamed of it who profess to expect salvation by it? Methinks, a man must be almost as destitute of reason as of piety, who can account it any ground for blushing, that he loves, and admires, and glories in the cross of Christ; yea, and determines never to his latest hour to glory in any thing else [Note: Galatians 6:14.].]


1. Let not any of you then be ashamed of the Gospel—

[Let not the rich; for it will make you richer than ten thousand worlds: “the riches of Christ are absolutely un-searchable [Note: Ephesians 3:8.].” Let not the poor; for it raises them to an equality with the greatest on earth, and gives them crowns and kingdoms for their inheritance [Note: James 1:9; James 4:5.]. Let not the learned be ashamed of it; for in it is contained “the manifold wisdom of God;” and even angels are made wiser by the revelation of it to the Church [Note: Ephesians 3:10.]. Let not the unlearned; for it will “make them wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Let not any thus dishonour it, till they cease to need its blessings, or have found a substitute worthy to supersede it. God is “not ashamed to be called our God [Note: Hebrews 11:16.]:” O! be not ye ashamed to become, and to be called, his people.]

2. Let not the Gospel be ashamed of you—

[Many, alas! who profess to love the Gospel, are in their conduct a disgrace to it. Their pride, their passion, their worldly-mindedness, perhaps too their want of truth and honesty, together with a variety of other evils predominant in them, cause “the way of truth to be evil spoken of [Note: 2 Peter 2:2.],” and “the very name of God to be blasphemed.” In every age, and in every Church, such instances occur; and lamentable it is to say, that no people are more unconscious of their guilt than they. It is on account of such persons that our Lord says, “Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come: but woe unto him by whom the offence cometh: it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were cast into the depths of the sea [Note: Matthew 18:6-7.].” Look to it then, ye professors of godliness, that this tremendous evil be not imputable to you: and endeavour so to walk, “that the adversary may have no evil thing to say of you,” and “that they may be ashamed, who falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ [Note: Titus 2:8 and 1 Peter 3:16.].”]

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Romans 1:16. γὰρ] Paul confirms negatively his προθυμία.… εὐαγγελίσασθαι, for which he had previously assigned a positive motive.

οὐ γὰρ ἐπαισχ. τ. εὐαγγ.] Written, no doubt, with a recollection of what he had experienced in other highly civilized cities (Athens, Corinth, Ephesus), as well as, generally, in reference to the contents of the Gospel as a preaching of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18).(390) Hence the negative form of the expression, as in contrast with the feeling of shame which that experience might have produced in him, as if the Gospel were something worthless, through which one could gain no honour and could only draw on himself contempt, mockery, etc. Comp 2 Timothy 1:12.

ἐπαισχύνο΄αι (Plat. Soph. p. 247, D 2 Timothy 1:8), and αἰσχύνομαι, with accusative of the object; see Kühner, II. i. p. 255 f.; Bernhardy, p. 113.

δύνα΄ις γὰρ θεοῦ ἐστιν] Ground of the οὐκ ἐπαισχ. τ. εὐαγγ. Power of God (genitive of the subject) is the Gospel, in so far as God works by means of the message of salvation. By awaking repentance, faith, comfort, love, peace, joy, courage in life and death, hope, etc., the Gospel manifests itself as power, as a mighty potency, and that of God, whose revelation and work the Gospel is (hence τὸ εὐαγγ. τοῦ θεοῦ, Romans 15:16; 2 Corinthians 11:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:2). Comp 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 1:24. The expression asserts more than that the Gospel is “a powerful means in the hand of God” (Rückert), and is based on the fact that it is the living self-manifestation and effluence of God, as ῥῆ΄α θεοῦ (Ephesians 6:17). Paul knew how to honour highly the message of salvation which it was his office to convey, and he was not ashamed of it. Here also, as in Romans 1:1; Romans 1:9, τὸ εὐαγγ. is not the work or business of conveying the message (Th. Schott), but the message itself.

εἰς σωτηρίαν] Working of this power of God: unto salvation, consequently with saving power. And what salvation is here meant, was understood by the reader; for σωτηρία and σώζεσθαι are the standing expressions for the eternal salvation in the Messianic kingdom (comp ζήσεται, Romans 1:17), the opposite of ἀπώλεια (Philippians 1:28; comp θάνατος, 2 Corinthians 2:16). Comp generally, James 1:21, τὸν λόγον τὸν δυνά΄ενον σῶσαι τὰς ψυχὰς ὑ΄ῶν. As to how the Gospel works salvation, see Romans 1:17.

παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι] shows to whom the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Faith is the condition on the part of man, without which the Gospel cannot be to him effectually that power; for in the unbeliever the causa apprehendens of its efficacy is wanting. Comp Romans 1:17. Melancthon aptly says: “Non enim ita intelligatur haec efficacia, ut si de calefactione loqueremur: ignis est efficax in stramine, etiamsi stramen nihil agit.”

παντί gives emphatic prominence to the universality, which is subsequently indicated in detail. Comp Romans 3:22.

ἰουδαίῳ τε πρῶτον κ. ἕλληνι] τε.… καὶ denotes the equality of what is added. See Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 99; Baeumlein, Part. p. 225. πρῶτον expresses the priority; but not merely in regard to the divinely appointed order of succession, in accordance with which the preaching of the Messiah was to begin with the Jews and thence extend to the Gentiles, as Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, Grotius, and many others, including Olshausen, van Hengel and Th. Schott, have understood it; but in reference to the first claim on the Messianic salvation in accordance with the promise, which was in fact the ground of that external order of succession in the communication of the Gospel. So Erasmus, Calovius, and others, including Reiche, Tholuck, Rückert, Fritzsche, de Wette, Philippi, Ewald, Hofmann. That this is the Pauline view of the relation is plain from Romans 3:1 f.; Romans 9:1 ff.; Romans 11:16 ff.; Romans 15:9; comp John 4:22; Matthew 15:24; Acts 13:46. The Jews are the υἱοὶ τῆς βασιλ., Matthew 8:12.

ἕλληνι] denotes, in contrast to ἰουδαίῳ, all Non-Jews. Acts 14:1; 1 Corinthians 10:32 al(399)

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Romans 1:16. οὐ γὰρ ἐπαισχύνομαι, for I am not ashamed) He speaks somewhat less forcibly, as in the introduction; afterwards he says, I have whereof I may glory (ch. Romans 15:17). To the world, the Gospel is folly and weakness (1 Corinthians 1:18); wherefore, in the opinion of the world, a man should be ashamed of it, especially at Rome; but Paul is not ashamed (2 Timothy 1:8; 2 Corinthians 4:2). τοῦ χριστο͂ υ, of Christ) Baumgarten gives good reasons, why Paul did not call it in this passage the Gospel of GOD, or of the SON OF GOD but the reasons, which he alleges, are as strong for reading the words τοῦ χριστο͂ υ, as for omitting them. Arguments are easily found out for both sides; but testimony ought to have the chief weight; and in reference to this passage, the testimony for the omission is sufficient.—(See Appendix. Crit., edit. ii., on this verse.(8))— δύναμις θεοῦ, the power of God), great and glorious (2 Corinthians 10:4.)— εἰς σωτηρίαν, unto salvation) As Paul sums up the Gospel in this epistle, so he sums up the epistle in this and the following verse. This then is the proper place for presenting a connected view of the epistles. We have in it—

I. The Introduction, Romans 1:1-15.

II. The Subject stated [Propositio], with a Summary of its Proof.

1. Concerning Faith and Righteousness.

2. Concerning Salvation, or, in other words, Life.

3. Concerning “Every one that believeth,” Jew and Greek, Romans 1:16-17.

To these three divisions, of which the first is discussed from Romans 1:18 to Romans 4:1, the second from 5 to 8 the third from 9 to 11, not only this Discussion itself, but also the Exhortation derived from it, correspond respectively and in the same order.

III. The Discussion.

1. On Justification, which results,

i. Not through works: for alike under sin are

The Gentiles, Romans 1:18.

The Jews, Romans 2:1.

Both together, Romans 2:11; Romans 2:14; Romans 2:17; Romans 3:1; Romans 3:9.

ii. But through faith, Romans 2:21; Romans 2:27; Romans 2:29.

iii. As is evident from the instance of Abraham, and the testimony of David, Romans 4:1; Romans 4:6; Romans 4:9; Romans 4:13; Romans 4:18; Romans 4:22.

2. On Salvation, Romans 5:1; Romans 5:12; Romans 6:1; Romans 7:1; Romans 7:7; Romans 7:14; Romans 8:1; Romans 8:14; Romans 8:24; Romans 8:31.

3. On “Every one that believeth,” Romans 9:1; Romans 9:6; Romans 9:14; Romans 9:24; Romans 9:30; Romans 10:1; Romans 10:11; Romans 11:1; Romans 11:7; Romans 11:11; Romans 11:25; Romans 11:33.

IV. The Exhortation, Romans 12:1-2.

1. Concerning Faith, and (because the law is established through faith, Romans 3:31) concerning love, which faith produces, and concerning righteousness towards men, 3—Romans 13:10. Faith is expressly named, Romans 12:3; Romans 12:6. Love, Romans 12:9, and Romans 13:8. The definition of Righteousness is given, Romans 13:7, at the beginning of the verse.

2. Concerning Salvation, Romans 13:11-14. Salvation is expressly named, Romans 13:11.

3. Concerning the joint union of Jews and Gentiles, Romans 14:1; Romans 14:10; Romans 14:13; Romans 14:19; Romans 15:1; Romans 15:7-13. Express mention of both, Romans 15:8-9.

V. The Conclusion, Romans 15:14; Romans 16:1; Romans 16:3; Romans 16:17; Romans 16:21; Romans 16:25.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Though Rome be the head of the empire, and the Romans bear the name of wise and learned persons; and though the gospel hath the show of simplicity, and is foolishness to the wise men of this world; yet

I am not ashamed to own and publish this gospel of Christ. I do not shrink back, and withdraw myself, as men do from these things whereof they are ashamed. Neither indeed need I, because, how mean soever it seems to be to carnal eyes, yet

it is the power of God unto salvation, & c.; not the essential power of God, but the organical power. See the like, 1 Corinthians 1:18. The meaning is, it is a powerful means ordained of God for this purpose. Touching the efficacy and excellent power of the gospel for the conversion and salvation of the souls of men, see Isaiah 53:1 1 Corinthians 4:15 2 Corinthians 4:7 2 Corinthians 10:4,5 Heb 4:12 James 1:21.

To every one that believed; the gospel is offered unto all, but it profiteth unto salvation only those that believe; as a medicine is only effectual to those who receive or apply it.

To the Jew first, and also to the Greek; the gospel was first to be published to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles, whom he here calls Greeks: see Luke 24:47 Acts 1:8. This order the apostles accordingly kept and observed, Acts 13:46.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Romans 1:16". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture



Romans 1:16.

To preach the Gospel in Rome had long been the goal of Paul’s hopes. He wished to do in the centre of power what he had done in Athens, the home of wisdom; and with superb confidence, not in himself, but in his message, to try conclusions with the strongest thing in the world. He knew its power well, and was not appalled. The danger was an attraction to his chivalrous spirit. He believed in flying at the head when you are fighting with a serpent, and he knew that influence exerted in Rome would thrill through the Empire. If we would understand the magnificent audacity of these words of my text we must try to listen to them with the ears of a Roman. Here was a poor little insignificant Jew, like hundreds of his countrymen down in the Ghetto, one who had his head full of some fantastic nonsense about a young visionary whom the procurator of Syria had very wisely put an end to a while ago in order to quiet down the turbulent province; and he was going into Rome with the notion that his word would shake the throne of the Cæsars. What proud contempt would have curled their lips if they had been told that the travel-stained prisoner, trudging wearily up the Appian Way, had the mightiest thing in the world entrusted to his care! Romans did not believe much in ideas. Their notion of power was sharp swords and iron yokes on the necks of subject peoples. But the history of Christianity, whatever else it has been, has been the history of the supremacy and the revolutionary force of ideas. Thought is mightier than all visible forces. Thought dissolves and reconstructs. Empires and institutions melt before it like the carbon rods in an electric lamp; and the little hillock of Calvary is higher than the Palatine with its regal homes and the Capitoline with its temples: ‘I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation.’

Now, dear friends, I have ventured to take these great words for my text, though I know, better than any of you can tell me, how sure my treatment of them is to enfeeble rather than enforce them, because I, for my poor part, feel that there are few things which we, all of us, people and ministers, need more than to catch some of the infection of this courageous confidence, and to be fired with some spark of Paul’s enthusiasm for, and glorying in, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I ask you, then, to consider three things: {1} what Paul thought was the Gospel? {2} what Paul thought the Gospel was? and {3} what he felt about the Gospel?

I. What Paul thought was the Gospel?

He has given to us in his own rapid way a summary statement, abbreviated to the very bone, and reduced to the barest elements, of what he meant by the Gospel. What was the irreducible minimum? The facts of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, as you will find written in the fifteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians. So, then, to begin with, the Gospel is not a statement of principles, but a record of facts, things that have happened in this world of ours. But the least part of a fact is the visible part of it, and it is of no significance unless it has explanation, and so Paul goes on to bind up with the facts an explanation of them. The mere fact that Jesus, a young Nazarene, was executed is no more a gospel than the other one, that two brigands were crucified beside Him. But the fact that could be seen, plus the explanation which underlies and interprets it, turns the chronicle into a gospel, and the explanation begins with the name of the Sufferer; for if you want to understand His death you must understand who it was that died. His death is a thought pathetic in all aspects, and very precious in many. But when we hear ‘Christ died according to the Scriptures,’ the whole symbolism of the ancient ritual and all the glowing anticipations of the prophets rise up before us, and that death assumes an altogether different aspect. If we stop with ‘Jesus died,’ then that death may be a beautiful example of heroism, a sweet, pathetic instance of innocent suffering, a conspicuous example of the world’s wages to the world’s teachers, but it is little more. If, however, we take Paul’s words upon our lips, ‘Brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached . . . how that Christ died . . . according to the Scriptures,’ the fact flashes up into solid beauty, and becomes the Gospel of our salvation. And the explanation goes on, ‘How that Christ died for our sins.’ Now, I may be very blind, but I venture to say that I, for my part, cannot see in what intelligible sense the Death of Christ can be held to have been for, or on behalf of, our sins-that is, that they may be swept away and we delivered from them-unless you admit the atoning nature of His sacrifice for sins. I cannot stop to enlarge, but I venture to say that any narrower interpretation evacuates Paul’s words of their deepest significance. The explanation goes on, ‘And that He was buried.’ Why that trivial detail? Partly because it guarantees the fact of His Death, partly because of its bearing on the evidences of His Resurrection. ‘And that He rose from the dead according to the Scriptures.’ Great fact, without which Christ is a shattered prop, and ‘ye are yet in your sins.’

But, further, notice that my text is also Paul’s text for this Epistle, and that it differs from the condensed summary of which I have been speaking only as a bud with its petals closed differs from one with them expanded in their beauty. And now, if you will take the words of my text as being the keynote of this letter, and read over its first eight chapters, what is the Apostle talking about when he in them fulfils his purpose and preaches ‘the Gospel’ to them that are at Rome also? Here is, in the briefest possible words, his summary-the universality of sin, the awful burden of guilt, the tremendous outlook of penalty, the impossibility of man rescuing himself or living righteously, the Incarnation, and Life, and Death of Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, the hand of faith grasping the offered blessing, the indwelling in believing souls of the Divine Spirit, and the consequent admission of man into a life of sonship, power, peace, victory, glory, the child’s place in the love of the Father from which nothing can separate. These are the teachings which make the staple of this Epistle. These are the explanations of the weighty phrases of my text. These are at least the essential elements of the Gospel according to Paul.

But he was not alone in this construction of his message. We hear a great deal to-day about Pauline Christianity, with the implication, and sometimes with the assertion, that he was the inventor of what, for the sake of using a brief and easily intelligible term, I may call Evangelical Christianity. Now, it is a very illuminating thought for the reading of the New Testament that there are the three sets of teaching, roughly, the Pauline, Petrine, and Johannine, and you cannot find the distinctions between these three in any difference as to the fundamental contents of the Gospel; for if Paul rings out, ‘God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us,’ Peter declares, ‘Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree,’ and John, from his island solitude, sends across the waters the hymn of praise, ‘Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.’ And so the proud declaration of the Apostle, which he dared not have ventured upon in the face of the acrid criticism he had to front unless he had known he was perfectly sure of his ground, is natural and warranted-’Therefore, whether it were I or they, so we preach.’

We are told that we must go back to the Christ of the Gospels, the historical Christ, and that He spoke nothing concerning all these important points that I have mentioned as being Paul’s conception of the Gospel. Back to the Christ of the Gospels by all means, if you will go to the Christ of all the Gospels and of the whole of each Gospel. And if you do, you will go back to the Christ who said, ‘The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.’ You will go back to the Christ who said, ‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.’ You will go back to the Christ who said, ‘The bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.’ You will go back to the Christ who bade His followers hold in everlasting memory, not the tranquil beauty of His life, not the persuasive sweetness of His gracious words, not the might of His miracles of blessing, but the mysterious agonies of His last hours, by which He would have us learn that there lie the secret of His power, the foundation of our hopes, the stimulus of our service.

Now, brethren, I have ventured to dwell so long upon this matter, because it is no use talking about the Gospel unless we understand what we mean by it, and I, for my part, venture to say that that is what Paul meant by it, and that is what I mean by it. I plead for no narrow interpretation of the phrases of my text. I would not that they should be used to check in the smallest degree the diversities of representation which, according to the differences of individual character, must ever prevail in the conceptions which we form and which we preach of this Gospel of Jesus Christ. I want no parrot-like repetition of a certain set of phrases embodied, however great may be their meanings, in every sermon. And I would that the people to whom those truths are true would make more allowance than they sometimes do for the differences to which I have referred, and would show a great deal more sympathy than they often do to those, especially those young men, who, with their faces toward Christ, have not yet grown to the full acceptance of all that is implied in those gracious words. There is room for a whole world of thought in the Gospel of Christ as Paul conceived it, with all the deep foundations of implication and presupposition on which it rests, and with all the, as yet, undiscovered range of conclusions to which it may lead. Remember that the Cross of Christ is the key to the universe, and sends its influence into every region of human thought.

II. What Paul thought the Gospel was.

‘The power of God unto salvation.’ There was in the background of the Apostle’s mind a kind of tacit reference to the antithetical power that he was going up to meet, the power of Rome, and we may trace that in the words of my text. Rome, as I have said, was the embodiment of physical force, with no great faith in ideas. And over against this carnal might Paul lifts the undissembled weakness of the Cross, and declares that it is stronger than man, ‘the power of God unto salvation.’ Rome is high in force; Athens is higher; the Cross is highest of all, and it comes shrouded in weakness having a poor Man hanging dying there. That is a strange embodiment of divine power. Yes, and because so strange, it is so touching, and so conquering. The power that is draped in weakness is power indeed. Though Rome’s power did make for righteousness sometimes, yet its stream of tendency was on the whole a power to destruction and grasped the nations of the earth as some rude hand might do rich clusters of grapes and squeeze them into a formless mass. The tramp of the legionary meant death, and it was true in many respects of them what was afterwards said of later invaders of Europe, that where their horses’ hoofs had once stamped no grass ever grew. Over against this terrific engine of destruction Paul lifts up the meek forces of love which have for their sole object the salvation of man.

Then we come to another of the keywords about which it is very needful that people should have deeper and wider notions than they often seem to cherish. What is salvation? Negatively, the removal and sweeping away of all evil, physical and moral, as the schools speak. Positively, the inclusion of all good for every part of the composite nature of a man which the man can receive and which God can bestow. And that is the task that the Gospel sets to itself. Now, I need not remind you how, for the execution of such a purpose, it is plain that something else than man’s power is absolutely essential. It is only God who can alter my relation to His government. It is only God who can trammel up the inward consequences of my sins and prevent them from scourging me. It is only God who can bestow upon my death a new life, which shall grow up into righteousness and beauty, caught of, and kindred to, His own. But if this be the aim of the Gospel, then its diagnosis of man’s sickness is a very much graver one than that which finds favour amongst so many of us now. Salvation is a bigger word than any of the little gospels that we hear clamouring round about us are able to utter. It means something a great deal more than either social or intellectual, or still more, material or political betterment of man’s condition. The disease lies so deep, and so great are the destruction and loss partly experienced, and still more awfully impending over every soul of us, that something else than tinkering at the outsides, or dealing, as self-culture does, with man’s understanding or, as social gospels do, with man’s economical and civic condition, should be brought to bear. Dear brethren, especially you Christian ministers, preach a social Christianity by all means, an applied Christianity, for there does lie in the Gospel of Jesus Christ a key to all the problems that afflict our social condition. But be sure first that there is a Christianity before you talk about applying it. And remember that the process of salvation begins in the deep heart of the individual and transforms him first and foremost. The power is ‘to every one that believeth.’ It is power in its most universal sweep. Rome’s Empire was wellnigh ubiquitous, but, blessed be God, the dove of Christ flies farther than the Roman eagle with beak and claw ready for rapine, and wherever there are men here is a Gospel for them. The limitation is no limitation of its universality. It is no limitation of the claim of a medicine to be a panacea that it will only do good to the man who swallows it. And that is the only limitation of which the Gospel is susceptible, for we have all the same deep needs, the same longings; we are fed by the same bread, we are nourished by the same draughts of water, we breathe the same air, we have the same sins, and, thanks be to God, we have the same Saviour. ‘The power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.’

Now before I pass from this part of my subject there is only one thing more that I want to say, and that is, that you cannot apply that glowing language about ‘the power of God unto salvation’ to anything but the Gospel that Paul preached. Forms of Christianity which have lost the significance of the Incarnation and Death of Jesus Christ, and which have struck out or obscured the central facts with which I have been dealing, are not, never were, and, I may presumptuously venture to say, never will be, forces of large account in this world. Here is a clock, beautiful, chased on the back, with a very artistic dial-plate, and works modelled according to the most approved fashion, but, somehow or other, the thing won’t go. Perhaps the mainspring is broken. And so it is only the Gospel, as Paul expounds it and expands it in this Epistle, that is ‘the power of God unto salvation.’ Dear brethren, in the course of a sermon like this, of course, one must lay himself open to the charge of dogmatising. That cannot be helped under the conditions of my space. But let me say as my own solemn conviction-I know that that is not worth much to you, but it is my justification for speaking in such a fashion-let me say as my solemn conviction that you may as well take the keystone out of an arch, with nothing to hold the other stones together or keep them from toppling in hideous ruin on your unfortunate head, as take the doctrine that Paul summed up in that one word out of your conception of Christianity and expect it to work. And be sure of this, that there is only one Name that lords it over the demons of afflicted humanity, and that if a man goes and tries to eject them with any less potent charm than Paul’s Gospel, they will turn upon him with ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?’

III. What Paul felt about this Gospel.

His restrained expression, ‘I am not ashamed,’ is the stronger for its very moderation. It witnesses to the fixed purpose of his heart and attitude of his mind, whilst it suggests that he was well aware of all the temptations in Rome to being ashamed of it there. Think of what was arrayed against him-venerable religion, systematised philosophies, bitter hatred and prejudice, material power and wealth. These were the brazen armour of Goliath, and this little David went cheerily down into the valley with five pebble stones in a leathern wallet, and was quite sure how it was going to end. And it ended as he expected. His Gospel shook the kingdom of the Roman, and cast it in another mould.

And there are temptations, plenty of them, for us, dear friends, to-day, to bate our confidence. The drift of what calls itself influential opinion is anti-supernatural, and we all are conscious of the presence of that element all round about us. It tells with special force upon our younger men, but it affects us all. In this day, when a large portion of the periodical press, which does the thinking for most of us, looks askance at these truths, and when, on the principle that in the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed man is the king, popular novelists become our theological tutors, and when every new publishing season brings out a new conclusive destruction of Christianity, which supersedes last season’s equally complete destruction, it is hard for some of us to keep our flags flying. The ice round about us will either bring down the temperature, or, if it stimulates us to put more fuel on the fire, perhaps the fire may melt it. And so the more we feel ourselves encompassed by these temptations, the louder is the call to Christian men to cast themselves back on the central verities, and to draw at first hand from them the inspiration which shall be their safety. And how is that to be done? Well, there are many ways by which thoughtful, and cultivated, students may do it. But may I venture to deal here rather with ways which all Christian people have open before them? And I am bold to say that the way to be sure of ‘the power of God unto salvation’ is to submit ourselves continually to its cleansing and renewing influence. This certitude, brethren, may be contributed to by books of apologetics, and by other sources of investigation and study which I should be sorry indeed to be supposed in any degree to depreciate. But the true way to get it is, by deep communion with the living God, to realise the personality of Jesus Christ as present with us, our Friend, our Saviour, our Sanctifier by His Holy Spirit. Why, Paul’s Gospel was, I was going to say, altogether-that would be an exaggeration-but it was to a very large extent simply the generalisation of his own experience. That is what all of us will find to be the Gospel that we have to preach. ‘We speak that we do know and testify that we have seen.’ And it was because this man could say so assuredly-because the depths of his own conscience and the witness within him bore testimony to it-’He loved me and gave Himself for me,’ that he could also say, ‘The power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.’ Go down into the depths, brother and friend; cry to Him out of the depths. Then you will feel His strong, gentle grip lifting you to the heights, and that will give power that nothing else will, and you will be able to say, ‘I have heard Him myself, and I know that this is the Christ, the Saviour of the world.’

But there is yet another source of certitude open to us all, and that is the history of the centuries. Our modern sceptics, attacking the truth of Christianity mostly from the physical side, are strangely blind to the worth of history. It is a limitation of faculty that besets them in a good many directions, but it does not work anywhere more fatally than it does in their attitude towards the Gospel. After all, Jesus Christ spoke the ultimate word when He said, ‘By their fruits ye shall know them.’ And it is so, because just as what is morally wrong cannot be politically right, so what is intellectually false cannot be morally good. Truth, goodness, beauty, they are but three names for various aspects of one thing, and if it be that the difference between B.C. and A.D. has come from a Gospel which is not the truth of God, then all I can say is, that the richest vintage that ever the world saw, and the noblest wine of which it ever drank, did grow upon a thorn. I know that the Christian Church has sinfully and tragically failed to present Christ adequately to the world. But for all that, ‘Ye are My witnesses, saith the Lord’; and nobler manners and purer laws have come in the wake of this Gospel of Jesus Christ. And as I look round about upon what Christianity has done in the world, I venture to say, ‘Show us any system of religion or of no religion that has done that or anything the least like it, and then we will discuss with you the other evidences of the Gospel.’

In closing these words, may I venture relying on the melancholy privilege of seniority, to drop for a minute or two into a tone of advice? I would say, do not be frightened out of your confidence either by the premature paean of victory from the opposite camp, or by timid voices in our own ranks. And that you may not be so frightened, be sure to keep clear in your mind the distinction between the things that can be shaken and the kingdom that cannot be moved. It is bad strategy to defend an elongated line. It is cowardice to treat the capture of an outpost as involving the evacuation of the key of the position. It is a mistake, to which many good Christian people are sorely tempted in this day, to assert such a connection between the eternal Gospel and our deductions from the principles of that Gospel as that the refutation of the one must be the overthrow of the other. And if it turns out to be so in any case, a large part of the blame lies upon those good and mistaken people who insist that everything must be held or all must be abandoned. The burning questions of this day about the genuineness of the books of Scripture, inspiration, inerrancy, and the like, are not so associated with this word, ‘God so loved the world . . . that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,’ as that the discovery of errors in the Second Book of Chronicles shakes the foundations of the Christian certitude. In a day like this truth must change its vesture. Who believes that the Dissenting Churches of England are the highest, perfect embodiment of the Kingdom of God? And who believes that any creed of man’s making has in it all and has in it only the everlasting Gospel? So do not be frightened, and do not think that when the things that can be shaken are removed, the things that cannot be shaken are at all less likely to remain. Depend upon it, the Gospel, whose outline I have imperfectly tried to set before you now, will last as long as men on earth know they are sinners and need a Saviour. Did you ever see some mean buildings that have by degrees been gathered round the sides of some majestic cathedral, and do you suppose that the sweeping away of those shanties would touch the solemn majesty of the mediæval glories of the building that rises above them? Take them away if need be, and it, in its proportion, beauty, strength, and heavenward aspiration, will stand more glorious for the sweeping away. Preach positive truth. Do not preach doubts. You remember Mr. Kingsley’s book Yeast. Its title was its condemnation. Yeast is not meant to be drunk; it is meant to be kept in the dark till the process of fermentation goes on and it works itself clear, and then you may bring it out. Do not be always arguing with the enemy. It is a great deal better to preach the truth. Remember what Jesus said: ‘Let them alone, they are blind leaders of the blind, they will fall into the ditch.’ It is not given to every one of us to conduct controversial arguments in the pulpit. There are some much wiser and abler brethren amongst us than you or I who can do it. Let us be contented with, not the humbler but the more glorious, office of telling what we have known, leaving it, as it will do, to prove itself. You remember what the old woman, who had been favoured by her pastor with an elaborate sermon to demonstrate the existence of God, said when he had finished; ‘Well, I believe there is a God, for all the gentleman says.’

As one who sees the lengthening shadows falling over the darkening field, may I say one word to my junior brethren, with all whose struggles and doubts and difficulties I, for one, do most tenderly sympathise? I beseech them-though, alas! the advice condemns the giver of it as he looks back over long years of his ministry-to be faithful to the Gospel how that ‘Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.’ Dear young friends, if you only go where Paul went, and catch the inspiration that he caught there, your path will be clear. It was in contact with Christ, whose passion for soul-winning brought Him from heaven, that Paul learned his passion for soul-winning. And if you and I are touched with the divine enthusiasm, and have that aim clear before us, we shall soon find out that there is only one power, one name given under heaven among men whereby we can accomplish what we desire-the name of ‘Jesus Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, and also maketh intercession for us.’ If our aim is clear before us it will prescribe our methods, and if the inspiration of our ministry is, ‘I determine not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified,’ then, whether men will hear or whether they will forbear, they shall know that there hath been a Prophet among them.

1 Preached before Baptist Union.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

It is the power of God; that through which he exerts his saving power on all who believe and obey it.

Jew first; the gospel was first preached to the Jews, then to the Gentiles. As the gospel is the means by which God exerts on men his saving power, it should be preached to all people; and as neither the power, the love, nor the grace of God will ever save any who reject it, all who hear should without delay believe, that it may be the power of God to their salvation.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

16. ἐπαισχύνομαι. Cf. Mark 8:38; 2 Timothy 1:8. There is no lack of readiness, because there is no need of reserve; the Gospel is its own vindication. The tremendous opposition he had lately experienced, especially at Corinth, seems to be in his mind.

δύναμις γὰρ θεοῦ κ.τ.λ. Cf. 1 Corinthians 1:18 f. The Gospel is not a mere message whose ineffectiveness might shame the preacher: it is GOD’s power for producing salvation. It is in fact GOD’s word sent out into the world with mighty effect; cf. Acts 10:36 : it reveals and provides a power for man to enable him to live the life which GOD means for him. It was a critical matter for S. Paul to show that in sweeping away law, as the condition of salvation, he was not destroying the one source of moral growth, that he was not antinomian, but setting free a new and mightier form of spiritual and moral health than any legal system did or could provide. The whole of this Epistle is directed to show that the Gospel alone provides and is such a power. This thought is developed in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; cf. also 1 Corinthians 2:5; 1 Corinthians 4:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; (Hebrews 7:16).

Tr. ‘GOD’s power for salvation’ closely together = GOD’s effective means for saving men. The insertion of the article in A.V. and R.V. only weakens the force of the expression. There are other manifestations of GOD’s power; cf. Romans 1:20.

σωτηρίαν includes deliverance from the slavery of sin and full spiritual and moral health. See S. H. for the development of meaning. “It covers the whole range of the Messianic deliverance, both in its negative aspect as a rescuing from the Wrath … and in its positive aspect as the imparting of eternal life” (Mark 10:30 |[67]; John 3:15-16, etc.); cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11; ib[68] p. 24. Cf. Psalms 98:2. It is a pity that the two adequate English translations health and wealth are both spoiled by custom, and we have to fall back upon the Latin ‘salvation.’

παντὶ τῷ πιστεὑοντι. For the connexion of. John 1:12. The range of the power is universal, both as proceeding from GOD who is one and also as offered on the single condition of faith, a common human faculty. The condition is stated here in its most absolute form, but the context shows that it means trust in GOD who gives the power through His Son. Acts 2:44; Acts 4:32 et passim show that from the first this trust was the recognised distinction of Christians; from belief of the message its meaning rapidly developed into trust in the Person, who was Himself the message, and in GOD as revealed in the Person. So the aorist of the verb = to become a Christian; cf. Acts 19:2 : οἱ πιστεύοντες and πεπιστευκότες name Christians. It is in fact the response of the heart to the love of GOD, the source of the power. The basis of the Gospel as active in life is thus the personal relation between GOD and man in Christ. See Introd. p. xxxviii f.

Ἰουδαίῳ τε πρῶτον καὶ Ἕλληνι. The πρῶτον marks the historical sequence of revelation, consistently recognised by S. Paul. Cf. Romans 3:1, Romans 9:1 f., Romans 11:16 f., Romans 15:8-9; Acts 13:46; John 4:22; Matthew 15:24; S. H. add Acts 28:24 f. The summing up of all mankind under the two religious divisions is the natural expression for a Jewish writer.

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"Commentary on Romans 1:16". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament


16. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the dynamite of God unto salvation unto every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” How fortunate we are to have a clear, unequivocal, lexical definition of gospel, than which the inspired vocabulary, except the Divine epithets, has no more important word; since on this a world of theological controversy has accumulated with the roll of ages. Here we have every problem solved and controversy circled in a clear and unequivocal definition furnished by the infallible Author of revealed truth. The Greek word here used by the Holy Ghost to define “gospel” is dunamis, i. e., dynamite; a word recently introduced into the English vocabulary by the men of science, who discovered the most wonderful and paradoxical of all the mechanical powers in the scientific and artistic world. Ransacking the Anglican vocabulary of 150,000 words, and finding none adequate to reveal their wonderful discovery, they went to the classic Greek and took the very identical word used by the Holy Spirit to define gospel. Hence it is a simple and indisputable fact that gospel is nothing more nor less than “the dynamite of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” People universally stumble over the sheer simplicity of Bible truth; e. g., wagon-loads of books have been written by learned theologians in an attempt to tell the world what the gospel is. Millions of brains have grown dizzy studying over these controverted exegeses, and wound up utterly puzzled, dumfounded and farther from the truth than when they began. The six thousand sectarian denominations in the world all try to make us believe that the respective creed of each is the Gospel, which is utterly and demonstratively untrue. They are every one wrong. The Gospel is no creed, confession, theology, dogmatism nor ritualized ecclesiasticism. Neither does it consist in scholastic learning, oratorical power, natural gifts nor theoretical magnetism. It is simply the dynamite of God which reaches the heart through faith alone, as you see this is the only condition specified, and blowing all sin and debris out. When the awful convicting truth of the Sinai Gospel is faithfully preached, revealing hell and damnation for impenitent sinners, and this truth is believed by wicked, hell-ward bound people through their faith in this awful revelation of their damnation and doom, God’s dynamite reaches the deep interior of their depraved hearts, blowing them up into a knock-down conviction, bringing them wallowing and roaring at the mourner’s bench. Then when the Gospel of Calvary is faithfully preached to this heart-broken penitent, and he believes the wonderful truth of the vicarious atonement while contemplating the stupendous magnitude of redeeming love, through his humble faith in the converting truth of God, the dynamite of conversion gives him another wonderful blowing up, lifting him out of Satan’s kingdom, giving him a glorious balloon ride with Jesus, and dropping him down in the kingdom of God’s redeeming grace and regenerating love. Again, when the truth is preached of inbred sin in a subjugated state surviving in the heart of God’s children till all the debris of the fall is expurgated through the cleansing blood applied by the Holy Ghost, then through the medium of simple faith in God’s plain and unmistakable word, another conviction takes hold of him bringing him down low at the feet of Jesus, terribly humiliating him while contemplating the disharmony with the Divine administration and disconformity to the image and likeness of God, he goes mourning night and day. Finally when the wonderful Gospel of entire sanctification through the cleansing blood of Jesus and the consuming fires of the Holy Ghost is faithfully preached to him till his faith apprehends and appropriates the glorious promise of God to sanctify his children by way of consecration and faith; then through the medium of his faith in the sanctifying truth of the infallible God, the dynamite of entire sanctification is transmitted into the deep interior of his fallen nature, when a spark from heaven’s altar, through his humble faith, ignites the blast, blowing inbred sin out by the roots and transporting the man far away out of the old, howling wilderness into the ever green fields of Beulah land where the sun and moon both shine night and day, and no one says, “I am sick.” Now do not forget that this dynamite administered through the faith of the recipient is the only definition of Gospel. Hence you see that the dead churches belting the globe, whether Papal or Protestant, are literally heathenized without a scintillation of actual Gospel. They all have more or less truth, which is a valuable auxiliary in salvation, but utterly inefficient in the absence of the Holy Ghost dynamite. If the truth alone could save, the devil would have been lifted from hell long ago, for I trow he knows more truth than any of us, yet not a scintillation of Heavenly dynamite can ever reach him, because he and all the inmates of hell, demoniacal and human, have passed the borne of probation, the former when they fell from the heavenly state (Isaiah 14:12 and Judges 1:7), and the latter when they passed out of time into eternity. An illiterate old Negro, full of the Holy Ghost, has more Gospel in his own soul ready to transmit to others through his great thick dictionary and grammar-butchering lips than a whole car-load of plug-hatted theologians without the dynamite of the Holy Ghost. The reason why the Gospel is butchered and perverted on all sides is, because the people do not use their common sense and utilize the blessed Holy Spirit. God says the way to heaven is so plain that “wayfaring men, though fools, need not err therein” (Isaiah 35). Oh, how egregiously uninspired men with great heads and human learning have complicated it. All this is a trick of the devil to obscure the way to heaven till he can dump the people by millions into hell. You do not need a college to qualify you to preach the gospel. You have only need to “tarry at Jerusalem till you are endued with dynamite from on high.” Then you will preach the gospel soon enough “with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.” Since Satan has manipulated to side- track the churches on the line of human learning (not that we object to per se), God is stirring all the world with the holiness movement, raising up millions of men and women to preach the genuine old-time Pentecostal Gospel with no human power but the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, ministering the dynamite of conviction, regeneration and sanctification through their humble instrumentality. Reader, will not you be one?

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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament".

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.’

That readiness to proclaim the Gospel was in no way diminished by the thought that Rome might mock his Good News, and see him as ridiculous. Indeed he probably saw it as inevitable. For who in Rome would see the crucifixion of an unknown Judean prophet as of any significance? But this in no way made him ashamed of his message, for he knew that his Good News was ‘the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes’. He knew that in the death of that unknown Jewish prophet, and through His resurrection life, lay the hopes of mankind, for He was no mere prophet but the LORD Jesus Christ Himself, the only Son of God (Romans 1:4), Who had within Himself the ‘Spirit of Holiness’ (the truly divine spirit), and he was aware that through His immense power revealed in His resurrection, the very power of God to give life and deliver from death, men could find eternal salvation by truly believing in Him.

‘The gospel -- is the power of God unto salvation.’ What is meant by the Gospel has already been described in Romans 1:2-4. It concerns the One Who was born humanly speaking of the seed of David, but Who was declared to be God’s powerful only Son through ‘the spirit of holiness’ within Him, as revealed in His resurrection from the dead. He had come with all the operative and explosive power (dunamis - dynamite) of God in order, by the exercise of that power, to die and rise again, thereby making it possible for those who unite with Him to also rise, firstly in terms of a newness of life received in this life (Romans 6:3-11), and then in new resurrection bodies, which are holy as He is holy, at the last day (Romans 8:10-11). And this power unto salvation was revealed by preaching concerning the crucified One. ‘It is ‘the word of the cross’ which is the power of God ‘unto salvation’ to those who are being saved (1 Corinthians 1:18).

‘Unto salvation.’ It was the power of God ‘unto salvation’. It is important to recognise that salvation means far more than just being sure that we will ‘go to Heaven’ when we die. It involves divine deliverance and transformation, and in the end glorification (Romans 8:29-30). It involves radical change within. We must not see salvation as something passive, as a ‘thing’ simply accepted and stored up for when it is needed. It is rather speaking ‘of God acting powerfully to save men and women’, of God ‘coming in salvation’. And His purpose is to save men from both the penalty and the power of sin. He comes in order to make men acceptable to Him judicially, and in order to transform their lives. It is a transformation that must begin in this life, when we are made ‘new creations’ by Him (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10; John 3:1-6) and receive newness of life (Romans 6:4) and it will finally result in our being presented perfect before God, ‘holy, unblameable and unreproveable in His sight’ (Colossians 1:22; Ephesians 5:27; Philippians 3:20-21). We should note in this regard Ephesians 5:25-27. ‘Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it in order that He might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present it to Himself --- holy and without blemish’. We should note that the work is Christ’s not ours. Jesus is the physician who has come to heal those who are sick (Mark 2:17), and His salvation through His saving activity results in our being fitted to live together with Him through all eternity (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10).

Brief Note On Salvation.

In the New Testament salvation is a mighty activity of God which does not fail in its purpose in each individual involved. It is true that it saves us from Hell, but that is merely the negative side. Its aim is mainly in order to save us out of the degradation into which sin has brought us. Its purpose is to save us from ourselves so that we might become like He is (Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:2). Thus the New Testament teaches different aspects of 'salvation'.

1). It speaks of those who have been saved once and for all, ‘the ‘having been saved ones’ (aorist tense). This refers to one act of Christ which is complete for ever, embracing salvation from start to finish. And as it signifies that their Saviour Christ has chosen them and called them to Himself, and has made them one with Himself, it means that they are now safe in Him. Their lives are 'hid with Christ in God' (Colossians 3:3). Verses which refer to such an experience of salvation are Titus 3:5; 2 Timothy 1:9, in which the aorist tense is used, indicating something that has happened once for all.

2). It speaks of those who ‘have been saved and are therefore now saved’ (perfect tense). Here there is the twofold thought of what Christ has done in the past (He has saved them) and of what is true now, (they are consequently saved). They are safe in His hands and He will never let them go. Verses which speak of ‘having been saved and therefore now being saved’ include Ephesians 2:5; Ephesians 2:8 (perfect tense, something that has happened in the past the benefit of which continues to the present time). It is a result of being incorporated into Christ by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). This is what is in mind when we say a person ‘is saved’.

3). It speaks of those who ‘are being saved’ (present tense). This is because when Christ reaches out and saves someone it is with the purpose of their being fully saved. Having provided them with overall forgiveness and justification He now carries out the process of making them totally free from sin. This is a lifelong work as they are ‘changed from glory into glory’ (2 Corinthians 3:18) and it is only completed when they are finally presented perfect before Him, not only in status but in reality. Verses which speak of those who "are being saved" include 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 2:15. They are expressed in the present tense describing a process going on.

4). It speaks of those who will be saved (future tense). This is looking forward to that day when they will be presented perfect before Him ‘without spot, or wrinkle or any such thing, holy and without blemish’ (Ephesians 5:25-27). See for example 1 Corinthians 3:15; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:13.

Thus in one sense salvation can be seen as one overall experience commencing from the moment of believing and not ceasing until the person is presented before God holy and without blemish, a process guaranteed from start to finish in those whom the Father has given to His Son (John 6:37; John 6:39; John 6:44; John 10:27-28), and in another sense it can be seen as an experience that is being undergone which will not cease until it is completed. For it should be noted that salvation is God’s work and not ours (Hebrews 13:20-21). And He does not fail in His purpose. See especially John 10:27-29; 1 Corinthians 1:8; Philippians 2:6; Jude 1:24-25.

End of Note.

‘To everyone who believes.’ What is meant by believing is best gathered from John 2:23-25. There we learn that Jesus did not ‘believe Himself unto them’. He was not willing to entrust Himself into their hands. And that is what saving faith involves, an entrusting of ourselves into the hands of our Saviour so that He might carry out His work of forgiveness and restoration. It is handing ourselves over to His Saviourhood and Lordship. We do not ‘do’ anything. The doing is by Him. We are saved by putting our trust in the LORD Jesus Christ and what He has promised to do for us, in expectant faith.

In the New Testament the difference between intellectual assent and true saving faith is often (although not always) depicted by means of a preposition following the verb. Thus pisteuo epi (to believe on) or pisteuo eis (to believe into). And intellectual assent is seen as insufficient to save. We can believe a host of things about Jesus Christ and what He has done, but until there is in some way a personal commitment of ourselves to Him, a commitment to Him in His saving power, it is unavailing. The faith that saves is a faith that produces transformation, and this not because the faith itself transforms, but because it commits itself into the hands of the One Who does the transforming work, the ‘Saviour’.

There is a tendency among some people to speak of Jesus Christ as being ‘my Saviour but not my Lord’. That is a completely untenable position. We come to Jesus as our LORD Jesus Christ. Anything less is impossible. What they mean, of course, is that they have not yet allowed His Lordship to exercise influence over their lives. But that is a dangerous position to be in. If they are truly His then they can be sure that Christ will have begun His work within them, and if He has then they will soon discover its impact and respond to His Lordship, and if He has not done so their position is perilous indeed. They are not ‘being saved’.

‘To the Jew first, and also to the Greek.’ Here the ‘first’ refers to a precedence in time, not in importance. Paul is emphasising here that God’s purpose of salvation extended firstly to the people whom He chose out to be the vehicles of His truth. That it came to them first is apparent from Scripture, for the Old Testament is primarily about God offering ‘salvation’ to the Jews. But because of this the Jews were the natural ones to approach with the saving message of Christ, for they had already been basically prepared and were knowledgeable in the Scriptures. That is why Jesus initially went to ‘the lost sheep of the house of Israel’ (Matthew 10:6; Matthew 15:24). It was not until after His experience with the Syro-phoenician woman that He extended His ministry to Gentiles who must have formed part of the crowds who gathered to hear Him as He operated in what was mainly Gentile territory. The Apostles also initially restricted their ministry to Jews and proselytes. Thus for the first few years the church was wholly Jewish. It was the true Israel being established by the Messiah and arising out of the old. They saw themselves as the true Israel in contrast to the rejected Israel which had become as ‘one of the nations’ (Acts 4:25-27). And this situation continued until Peter’s experience with Cornelius in Acts 10. In the same way Paul went initially to the Jews until he too found himself rejected by them and turned to the Gentiles (Acts 13:14-15; Acts 13:43; Acts 13:46-49).

And the reason for this is clear, it was because Jesus had come to establish a new, renewed Israel. He was establishing in Himself ‘the true vine’ (John 15:1-6) as against the false vine (Isaiah 5:1-7). They were to be His new congregation, replacing the old, founded on His Messiahship (Matthew 16:18). The ‘church’ (ekklesia - ‘congregation’) of ‘called together ones’ was seen as the true Israel, the remnant chosen by God, with those who refused to believe in their Messiah being rejected and ‘cut off’ (Romans 11:17-28). The church were the ‘Israel of God’ where neither circumcision nor uncircumcision meant anything, because what mattered was the new creation (Galatians 6:15-16). (See also Galatians 3:29; Ephesians 2:11-21; 1 Peter 3:9). But as the prophets had forecast, the light was eventually to go out to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6), who would be incorporated into Israel. They also became part of the true Israel. Thus Peter could write to the whole church as ‘the Dispersion’ (a term which normally indicated Israel spread worldwide) and James could speak of them as ‘the twelve tribes’ (1 Peter 1:1; James 1:1). Both letters show quite clearly that they were not written only to Jewish Christians, which indicates that these terms referred to the whole church.

As we go through the letter the emphasis on salvation will continue. Thus:

· a). The letter will reveal that through His offering of Himself on the cross (Romans 3:24-25) as sealed by His resurrection (Romans 4:24) we can receive forgiveness for our sins (Romans 4:7-8) and can be ‘reckoned as righteous’ (justified) in His sight (Romans 3:24; Romans 3:26; Romans 3:28; Romans 4:6; Romans 4:8; Romans 4:24-25).

b). It will reveal that, having received that ‘justification’, from that time on God will be at work on us through life’s experiences and the working of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:1-5), in connection with His risen life (Romans 5:10). And all this will be on the basis of our having been accounted as righteous (justified) in Christ, with the result that we are delivered from His wrath (God’s aversion to sin which brings judgment), and reconciled to Him (Romans 5:9-10).

· c). It will reveal that as in Adam all die as a result of his sin, so in Christ can all be made alive, as a result of His justifying work and His resurrection life (Romans 5:12-21).

· d). It will reveal that as a result of the cross and resurrection of Jesus being applied to our lives we can learn to reign in life through Christ, with the end being eternal life (Romans 6:1-23).

· e). It will reveal the battle taking place in our lives as sin fights against the new life within us, a battle in which we can gain victory by being delivered by the working within us of Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 7:1-25).

· f). It will reveal the working of the powerful Holy Spirit, Who, through what Christ has accomplished on the cross, will set us free from the grip of sin, and bring us through to eternal life because we are now true children of God and are led by His Spirit (Romans 8:1-17).

· g). It will reveal the struggle of creation, including ourselves, a struggle resulting from the effects of sin. And it is a struggle from which we will be delivered, along with the whole of creation, as we look forward to the redemption of our bodies, a hope that yet lies in the future (Romans 8:18-25).

· h). It will reveal the mighty working and even the groaning of the Holy Spirit, as God carries forward His predetermined purposes in His people to their destined end, while at the same time vindicating them because they are held safe in the love of God through the effectiveness of the cross (Romans 8:26-39).

· i). It will reveal how God’s original, destined purpose for His people will be carried through to the end, resulting in the salvation of all His true people of whatever race (9-11).

· j). It will reveal the present consequence of all that He has done, in the calling of us to give ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God and to live in accordance therewith (12-16).

· j). It will reveal that Satan will be will be bruised under our feet shortly by the God of peace (Romans 16:20).

And it will do all this because in it is revealed the effective powerful working of the saving righteousness of God which is experienced by faith, and imputes and applies righteousness, to all who believe (Romans 1:17 a). For it is through faith that those given His righteousness, and taken up into the righteous working of God, will ‘live’ (Romans 1:17 b).

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans

HAVING concluded his prefatory address, the Apostle now announces, in brief but comprehensive terms, the grand subject which occupies the first five chapters of this Epistle, namely, the doctrine of justification by faith.

ForI 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.

I am not ashamed . — Paul here follows up what he had just said of his readiness to preach the Gospel at Rome, by declaring that he was not ashamed of it. This would also convey a caution to those whom he addressed against giving way to a strong temptation to which they were exposed, and which was no doubt a means of deterring many from embracing the Gospel, to whom it was preached. He knew from personal experience the opposition which the Gospel everywhere encountered. By the Pagans it was branded as Atheism; and by the Jews it was abhorred as subverting the law and tending to licentiousness; while both Jews and Gentiles united in denouncing the Christians as disturbers of the public peace, who, in their pride and presumption, separated themselves from the rest of mankind. Besides, a crucified Savior was to the one a stumbling-block, and to the other foolishness. This doctrine was everywhere spoken against; and the Christian fortitude of the Apostle, in acting on the avowal he here makes, was as truly manifested in the calmness with which he viewed the disdain of the philosophers, the contempt of the proud, and the ridicule of the multitude, as in the steadfast resolution with which, for the name of the Lord Jesus, he confronted personal danger, and even death itself. His courage was not more conspicuous when he was ready ‘not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem,’ than when he was enabled to enter Athens or Rome without being moved by the prospect of all that scorn and derision which in these great cities awaited him.

But the grand reason which induced the Apostle to declare at the outset of this Epistle that he was not ashamed of the Gospel, is a reason which applies to every age as well as to that in which Christ was first preached.

His declaration implies that, while in reality there is no just cause to be ashamed of the Gospel, there is in it something which is not acceptable, and that it is generally hated and despised among men. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him. They run counter to his most fondly-cherished notions of independence; they abase in the dust all the pride of his self-reliance, and, stripping him of every ground of boasting, and demanding implicit submission, they awaken all the enmity of the carnal mind. Even they who have tasted of the grace of God, are liable to experience, and often to yield to, the deeply-rooted and sinful feeling of being ashamed of the things of God. So prevalent is this even among Christians the most advanced, that Paul deemed it necessary to warn Timothy respecting it, whose faithfulness he so highly celebrates. ‘Be not that therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.’ In connection with this, he makes the same avowal for himself as in the passage before us, declaring at the same time the strong ground on which he rested, and was enabled to resist this temptation. Whereunto, he says, ‘I am appointed a preacher, and an Apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.’ At ‘the same time he commends Onesiphorus for not being ashamed of his chain, 2 Timothy 1:8,12,16. And He who knew what is in man, solemnly and repeatedly guarded His disciples against this criminal shame, enforcing His admonitions by the most awful sanction. ‘For whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and of my words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of His holy angels.’

That system, in which there is nothing of ‘foolishness’ in the eyes of this world’s wisdom, cannot be the Gospel of which Paul deemed it necessary to affirm that he was not ashamed. No other religion is so offensive to the pride of man; no other system awakens shame in the breasts of its votaries; and yet every false doctrine has in it more or less of what is positively absurd, irrational, and disgraceful. It is also observable that the more the Gospel is corrupted, and the more its peculiar features are obscured by error, the less do we observe of the shame it is calculated to produce. It is, in fact, the fear of opposition and contempt that often leads to the corruption of the Gospel. But this peculiarity affords a strong proof of the truth of the Apostle’s doctrine. Had he not been convinced of its truth, would it not have been madness to invent a forgery in a form which excites the natural prejudices of mankind! Why should he forge a doctrine which he was aware would be hateful to the world? In this declaration Paul may also have had reference to the false mysteries of the Pagans, which they carefully concealed, because they contained many things that were infamous, and of which they were justly ashamed. When the Apostle says he is not ashamed of the Gospel, it further implies that he gloried in it, as he says, Galatians 6:14, ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ;’ and thus he endeavors to enhance, in the eyes of those to whom he wrote, the value and excellence of the Gospel, in order more fully to arrest their attention before he entered on his subject. The Gospel of Christ. — A little before he had called it ‘the Gospel of God;’ he now designates it the Gospel of Christ, who is not only its author, but also its essential subject. The Gospel is therefore called the preaching of Jesus Christ, and of the unsearchable riches of Christ. This Gospel, then, which Paul was ready to preach, and of which he was not ashamed, was the Gospel of God concerning His Son. The term Gospel, which signifies glad tidings, is taken from Isaiah 52:7, and 61:1, where the Messiah is introduced as saying, ‘The Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings.’

For it is the power of God unto salvation. — Here the Apostle gives the reason why he is not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. The Gospel is the great and admirable mystery, which from the beginning of the world had been hid in God, into which the angels desire to look, whereby His manifold wisdom is made known unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places. It is the efficacious means by which God saves men from sin and misery, and bestows on them eternal life, — the instrument by which He triumphs in their hearts, and destroys in them the dominion of Satan. The Gospel, which is the word of God, is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. By it, as the word of truth, men are begotten by the will of God, James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23; and through the faith of the Gospel they are kept by His power unto salvation, Peter 1:5. The exceeding greatness of the power of God exerted in the Gospel toward those who believe, is compared to His mighty power which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand, Ephesians 1:19. Thus, while the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, to those who are saved it is the power of God.

The Gospel is power in the hand of God, as opposed to our natural impotence and utter inability to obtain salvation by anything we can do, Romans 5:6; and also in opposition to the law, which cannot save, being ‘weak through the flesh,’ Romans 8:3. It has been observed that the article the, before power, is not in the original. The article, however, is not necessary. The Apostle does not mean power as an attribute, for the Gospel is no attribute of God. It is power, as it is the means which God employs to accomplish a certain end. When it is said, the Gospel is God’s power unto salvation, all other means of salvation are excluded. To every one that believeth. — This power of God unto salvation is applied through faith, without which God will neither justify nor save any man, because it is the appointed means of His people’s union with Jesus Christ. Faith accepts the promise of God. Faith embraces the satisfaction and merit of Jesus Christ, which are the foundation of salvation; and neither that satisfaction nor that merit would be imputed, were it not rendered ours by faith. Finally, by faith we give ourselves to Jesus Christ, in order that He may possess and conduct us for ever. When God justifies, He gives grace; but it is always in maintaining the rights of His majesty, in making us submit to His law and to the direction of His holiness, that Jesus Christ may reign in our hearts. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one, without any distinction of age, sex, or condition — of birth or of country, — without excepting any one, provided he be a believer in Christ. The expression, ‘every one,’ respects the extent of the call of the Gospel, in opposition to that of the law, which was addressed to the single family of Abraham. To the Jew first, and also to the Greek. — This distinction includes all nations; for the Jews were accustomed to comprehend under the name of Greek all the rest of the world, as opposed to their own nation. The Greeks, from the establishment of the Macedonian empire, were better known to the Jews than any other people, not only on account of their power, but likewise of their knowledge and civilization. Paul frequently avails himself of this distinction. To the Jew first. — From the days of Abraham, their great progenitor, the Jews had been highly distinguished from all the rest of the world by their many and great privileges. It was their high distinction that of them Christ came, ‘who is over all, God blessed for ever.’ They were thus, as His kinsmen, the royal family of the human race, in this respect higher than all others, and they inherited Emmanuel’s land. While, therefore, the evangelical covenant, and consequently justification and salvation, equally regarded all believers, the Jews held the first rank, as the ancient people of God, while the other nations were strangers from the covenants of promise. The preaching of the Gospel was to be addressed to them first, and, at the beginning, to them alone, Matthew 10:6; for, during the abode of Jesus Christ upon earth, He was the minister only of the circumcision, Romans 15:8. ‘I am not sent,’ He says, ‘but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel;’ and He commanded that repentance and remission of Sins should be preached in His name among all nations, ‘beginning at Jerusalem,’ Acts 3:26, 14:26. Thus, while Jews and Gentiles were united in the participation of the Gospel, the Jews were not deprived of their rank, since they were the first called.

The preaching of the Gospel to the Jews first, served various important ends. It fulfilled Old Testament prophecies, as Isaiah 2:3. It manifested the compassion of the Lord Jesus for those who shed His blood, to whom, after His resurrection, He commanded His Gospel to be first proclaimed.

It showed that it was to be preached to the chief of sinners, and proved the sovereign efficacy of His atonement in expatiating the guilt even of His murderers. It was fit, too, that the Gospel should be begun to be preached where the great transactions took place on which it was founded and established; and this furnished an example of the way in which it is the will of the Lord that His Gospel should be propagated by His disciples, beginning in their own houses and their own country.

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Haldane, Robert. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "Haldane's Exposition on the Epistle to the Romans and Hebrews". 1835.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

16. Not ashamed—Though it be the Gospel of the Jesus crucified as a Jewish malefactor, and though it be in the centre of proud and powerful Rome, with the whole Gentile world pouring contempt upon it, yet is he ready to stand up unshamed and hold forth the cross.

Power—The Gospel is as it were a concrete power, yet power to a given result.

Every one— Here is universality without limit.

That believeth—And here is the limit. The salvation is intrinsically universal; the limitation is the rejection by those who might accept.

Jew first—Perfectly uniform was the practice of Paul, as appears by the narratives in Acts, to offer the Gospel in every place first in the synagogues of the Jews. (See note on Acts 27:18.) The grand reason for this was that the mission of Israel was to be a nation of priests and preachers for the conversion of the world to Jesus Messiah, and so long as a remnant of hope remained that the Jews would be true to this offer, so long to them the first offer should be made. The word Jew, contracted from Judean, is derived from the name Judah, and from the name of a tribe became the name of the race. Greek here stands for Gentile, as the Jews had mostly to do with Greek-speaking Gentiles.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Paul"s third basic attitude toward the gospel now comes out. Not only did he feel obligated ( Romans 1:14) and eager ( Romans 1:15) to proclaim it, but he also felt unashamed to do so. This is an example of the figure of speech called litotes in which one sets forth a positive idea ("I am proud of the gospel") by expressing its negative opposite ("I am not ashamed of the gospel") to stress the positive idea. The reason for Paul"s proud confidence was that the gospel message has tremendous power. The Greek word translated "power" is dunamis, from which the word "dynamite" comes. Consequently some interpreters have concluded that Paul was speaking of the explosive, radical way in which the gospel produces change in individual lives and even in history. However the context shows that the apostle was thinking of its intrinsic ability to effect change.

"The late evangelist Dwight L. Moody commented that the gospel is like a lion. All the preacher has to do is to open the door of the cage and get out of the way!" [Note: Mounce, p70.]

God has the power to deliver physically ( Exodus 14:13) and spiritually ( Psalm 51:12; Psalm 51:14). The basic outcome of salvation is soundness or wholeness. Salvation restores people to what they cannot experience because of sin. Salvation is an umbrella term; it covers all aspects of deliverance. The terms justification, redemption, reconciliation, sanctification, and glorification describe different aspects of salvation.

""The inherent glory of the message of the gospel, as God"s life-giving message to a dying world, so filled Paul"s soul, that like his blessed Master, he "despised the shame."" Song of Solomon , pray God, may all of us!" [Note: Newell, p18. He did not identify the source of his quotation.]

The gospel does not announce that everyone is safe because of what Jesus Christ has done, which is universalism. The gospel is only effective in those who believe it. [Note: See J. Ronald Blue, "Untold Billions: Are They Really Lost?" Bibliotheca Sacra138:562 (October-December1981):338-50; and Ramesh P. Richard, "Soteriological Inclusivism and Dispensationalism," Bibliotheca Sacra151:601 (January-March1994):85-108.] Believe what? Believe the good news. What is the good news? It is the news that Jesus is the Christ (i.e, the Messiah whom God promised to send) and that He has done everything necessary to save us (cf. 1 John 2:2; 1 John 5:1). Note that Paul mentioned no other condition besides believing the good news in this crucial verse (cf. Romans 4:5). He said nothing about our having to do anything in addition, such as undergoing baptism, joining a church, pledging commitment, etc. The issue is believing good news and trusting Christ. Either a person does or does not do so. [Note: See Thomas L. Constable, "The Gospel Message," in Walvoord: A Tribute, pp201-17.]

"The only way to a right relationship with God is to take God at His word, and to cast oneself, just as one Isaiah , on the mercy and the love of God. It is the way of faith. It is to know that the important thing Isaiah , not what we can do for God, but what God has done for us. For Paul the centre of the Christian faith was that we can never earn or deserve the favour of God, nor do we need to. The whole matter is a matter of grace, and all that we can do is to accept in wondering love and gratitude and trust what God has done for us. But that does not free us from obligations or entitle us to do as we like; it means that for ever and for ever we must try to be worthy of the love which does so much for us. But there is a change in life. We are no longer trying to fulfil [sic] the demands of stern and austere and condemnatory law; we are not like criminals before a judge any more; we are lovers who have given all life in love to the one who first loved us." [Note: Barclay, p. xxvi.]

The gospel has a special relevance to the Jew. We could translate "first" (NASB, Gr. protos) as "preeminently" (cf. Romans 2:9-10). This preeminence is due to the fact that God chose the Jews to be the people through whom the gospel would reach the Gentiles (cf. Genesis 12:3). As a people, the Jews have a leading place in God"s plans involving salvation for the rest of humanity (cf. chs9-11). Their priority is primarily elective rather than historical or methodological. [Note: See Wayne A. Brindle, ""To the Jew First": Rhetoric, Strategy, History, or Theology?" Bibliotheca Sacra159:634 (April-June2002):221-33.] Because God purposed to use Israel as His primary instrument in bringing blessing to the world ( Exodus 19:5-6), He gave the Jews first opportunity to receive His Son. This was true during Jesus" earthly ministry ( John 1:11) and following His ascension ( Acts 1:8; Acts 3:26). Paul also followed this pattern in his ministry ( Acts 13:45-46; Acts 28:25; Acts 28:28). Furthermore, Israel must repent before the messianic kingdom will begin ( Zechariah 12:10). [Note: See Stanley D. Toussaint and Jay A. Quine, "No, Not Yet: The Contingency of God"s Promised Kingdom," Bibliotheca Sacra164:654 (April-June2007):145-46.] Notwithstanding the Great Commission makes no distinction between Jews and Gentiles in the present age. Jesus Christ has charged Christians with taking the gospel to everyone ( Matthew 28:19-20). He has identified no group as that to which we must give priority in evangelism.

"In view of chapters nine to eleven it is hardly admissible to explain this proton as referring merely to the historical fact that the gospel was preached to the Jews before it was preached to the Gentiles, or, while allowing a reference to the special position of the Jews in the Heilsgeschichte [history of salvation], to cite Galatians 3:28 and Ephesians 2:14 f as proof that this proton Isaiah , in Paul"s view, something now abolished, as Nygren does. [Note: Footnote3: A. Nygren, Commentary on Romans , p3.] Rather must we see it in the light of Paul"s confident statement in1129 that ametameleta ... ta charismata kai he klesis tou theou [the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable]." [Note: Cranfield, 1:91.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Romans 1:16. For I am not ashamed. This gives the reason for his being ready to preach at Rome also (Romans 1:15), and forms an easy transition to the statement which follows. Rome, the metropolis of the heathen world, with all its pride of power, presented a field, where, if anywhere, one might be tempted to be ashamed of the gospel which centred in a Person whom Roman soldiers had crucified. Comp. Galatians 6:14, and chap. Romans 5:2.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Romans 1:16 f. δύναμις γὰρ θεοῦ ἐστιν: for it is a power of God. It does no injustice to render “a Divine power”. The conception of the Gospel as a force pervades the epistles to the Corinthians; its proof, so to speak, is dynamical, not logical. It is demonstrated, not by argument, but by what it does; and, looking to what it can do, Paul is proud to preach it anywhere. εἰς σωτηρίαν: σωτηρία is one of a class of words (to which ζωὴ, δόξα, κληρονομία belong) used by Paul to denote the last result of the acceptance of the Gospel. It is the most negative of them all, and conceives of the Gospel as a means for rescuing men from the ἀπώλεια which awaits sinners at the last judgment. In παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι ἰουδαίῳ τε πρῶτον καὶ ἕλληνι another of the main interests of the writer in this epistle is brought forward; the Gospel is for all, the same Gospel and on the same terms, but without prejudice to the historical prerogative of the Jew. Romans 1:17 shows how the Gospel is a Divine saving power. It is such because there is revealed in it δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ. Plainly, δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ is something without which a sinful man cannot be saved; but what is it? The expression itself is of the utmost generality, and the various definite meanings which have been assigned to it attempt to justify themselves as relevant, or inevitable, by connecting themselves with the context as a whole. There can be no doubt that the fundamental religious problem for the Apostle—that which made a Gospel necessary, that the solution of which could alone be Gospel—was, How shall a sinful man be righteous before God? To Luther, who had instinctive experimental sympathy with the Pauline standpoint, this suggested that δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ meant a righteousness valid before God, of which a man can become possessed through faith; for such a righteousness (as the condition of salvation) is the first and last need of the sinful soul. In support of this view reference has been made to Romans 1:18, where ἀσέβεια and ἀδικία ἀνθρώπων are represented as the actual existing conditions which the δικ. θεοῦ has to replace. No one can deny that a righteousness valid before God is essential to salvation, or that such a righteousness is revealed in the Gospel; but it is another question whether δικ. θεοῦ is a natural expression for it. The general sense of scholars seems to have decided against it; but it seems quite credible to me that Paul used δικ. θεοῦ broadly to mean “a Divine righteousness,” and that the particular shade of meaning which Luther made prominent can be legitimately associated even with these words. Until lately, scholars of the most opposite schools had agreed in finding the key to the expression δικ. θεοῦ in two other Pauline passages, where it is contrasted with something else. Thus in chap. Romans 10:3 δικ. θεοῦ is opposed to man’s ἰδία δικαιοσύνη; and in Philippians 3:9 the opposition is more precisely defined: μὴ ἔχων ἐμὴν δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐκ νόμου, ἀλλὰ τὴν διὰ πίστεως χριστοῦ, τὴν ἐκ θεοῦ δικαιοσύνην ἐπὶ τῇ πίστει. If this contrast were allowed to tell here, the righteousness of which Paul speaks would be one of which God is the source or author; we do not bring it to Him, He reveals it for our acceptance. And this also, of course, answers to the facts: Gospel righteousness is a gift, not an achievement. But then, it is said, there is nothing in the passage to suggest such a contrast; there is not any emphasis whatever on θεοῦ to bring before the mind the idea of a righteousness not due to God, but a work of man’s own. To this it may fairly be answered that the contrast did not need to be specially suggested; if it had not presented itself instinctively to those to whom Paul wrote, they would not only have missed the point of this expression, they would not have understood three lines anywhere. We must assume, upon the whole, in the recipients of Paul’s epistles, a way of conceiving the Gospel answering broadly to his own; the invisible context, which we have to reproduce as best we can, may be more important sometimes than what we have in black and white. The broad sense of “a Divine righteousness” covers this second, which may be called the historical Protestant interpretation, as well as Luther’s; and the fact seems to me an argument for that broader rendering. In view, however, of the undoubted difficulty of the phrase, new light would be welcome, and this has been sought in the O.T. use of δικαιοσύνη ( צְדָקָה), especially in the Psalms and in Isaiah 40-66. See, e.g., Psalms 35:24; Psalms 35:28; Psalms 51:14; Isaiah 56:1; Isaiah 62:1; Psalms 98:2. In the last of these passages we have a striking analogy to the one before us: ἐγνώρισε κύριος τὸ σωτήριον αὐτοῦ, ἐναντίον τῶν ἐθνῶν ἀπεκάλυψε τὴν δικαιοσύνην αὐτοῦ; and in others we cannot but be struck with the parallelism of “righteousness” and “salvation,” sometimes as things which belong to God (Psalms 98:2), sometimes as things which belong to His people. On the strength of facts like these, Theod. Häring, in a stupendous programme entitled δικ. θεοῦ bei Paulus (Tübingen, 1896), argues that δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ means the judicial action of God in which He justifies His people and accomplishes their salvation. This fits into the context well enough. Put as Paul puts it—how shall man be just with God?—the religious problem is a judicial one, and its solution must be judicial. If the Gospel shows how God justifies (for of course it must be God, the only Judge of all, who does it), it shows everything: salvation is included in God’s sentence of justification. Häring himself admits that this interpretation is rather of philological than of religious import; this “rechtfertigendes Walten Gottes” cannot but have as its consequence “the justification of man, a righteousness which proceeds from God and is valid before God” ( δικ. θεοῦ bei Paulus, . 68); that is, this meaning leads by immediate inference to the other two. But it can by no means be carried through (any more than either of the other two) in all places where the phrase occurs; in Romans 3:5, e.g., Häring himself admits this; in Romans 3:25-26, where he insists on the same sense as in Romans 1:17, he does not so much as refer to the clause διὰ τὴν πάρεσιν τῶν προγεγονότων ἁμαρτημάτων ἐν τῇ ἀνοχῇ αὐτοῦ, which, it is not too much to say, necessitates a different shade of meaning for δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ there: see note. The advantage of his rendering is not so much that it simplifies the grammar, as that it revives the sense of a connection (which existed for the Apostle) between the Gospel he preached, and even the language he preached it in, and the anticipations of that Gospel in the O.T., and that it gives prominence to the saving character of God’s justifying action. In substance all these three views are Biblical, Pauline and true to experience, whichever is to be vindicated on philological grounds. But the same cannot be said of another, according to which righteousness is here an attribute, or even the character, of God. That the Gospel is the supreme revelation of the character of God, and that the character of God is the source of the Gospel, no one can question. Certainly Paul would not have questioned it. But whether Paul conceived the righteousness which is an eternal attribute of God (cf. Romans 3:5) as essentially self-communicative—whether he would have said that God justifies ( δικαιοῖ) the ungodly because he is himself δίκαιος—is another matter. The righteousness of God, conceived as a Divine attribute, may have appeared to Paul the great difficulty in the way of the justification of sinful man. God’s righteousness in this sense is the sinner’s condemnation, and no one will succeed in making him find in it the ground of his hope. What is wanted (always in consistency with God’s righteousness as one of His inviolable attributes—the great point elaborated in chap. Romans 3:24-26) is a righteousness which, as man cannot produce it must be from God, and which, once received, shall be valid before God; and this is what the Apostle (on the ground of Christ’s death for sin) announces. But it introduces confusion to identify with this the conception of an eternal and necessarily self-imparting righteousness of God. The Apostle, in chap. 3 and chap. 5, takes our minds along another route. See Barmby in Expositor for August, 1896, and S. and H. ad loc ἀποκαλύπτεται intimates in a new way that the Divine righteousness spoken of is from God: man would never have known or conceived it but for the act of God in revealing it. Till this ἀποκαλύπτειν it was a μυστήριον: cf. Romans 16:25 f. ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν. Precise definitions of this (e.g., Weiss’s: the revelation of the δικ. θεοῦ presupposes faith in the sense of believing acceptance of the Gospel, i.e., it is ἐκ πίστεως: and it leads to faith in the sense of saving reliance on Christ, i.e., it is εἰς πίστιν) strike one as arbitrary. The broad sense seems to be that in the revelation of God’s righteousness for man’s salvation everything is of faith from first to last. Cf. 2 Corinthians 2:16; 2 Corinthians 3:18. This N.T. doctrine the Apostle finds announced before in Habakkuk 2:14. ἐκ πίστεως in the quotation is probably to be construed with ζήσεται. To take it with δίκαιος (he who is righteous by faith) would imply a contrast to another mode of being righteous (viz., by works) which there is nothing in the text to suggest. The righteous who trusted in Jehovah were brought by that trust safe through the impending judgment in Habakkuk’s time; and as the subjective side of religion, the attitude of the soul to God, never varies, it is the same trust which is the condition of salvation still.

The Gospel of God’s righteousness is necessary, because the human race has no righteousness of its own. This is proved of the whole race (Romans 1:18 to Romans 3:20), but in these verses (Romans 1:18-32) first of the heathen. The emphasis lies throughout on the fact that they have sinned against light.

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Romans 1:16. For — In whatever contempt that sacred dispensation, and they who publish it, may be held on account of the circumstances and death of its Author, the character of its ministers, and the nature and tendency of its doctrines; I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ — But rather glory in it. To the world, indeed, it appeared folly and weakness, 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 1:23. Therefore, in the judgment of the world, he ought to have been ashamed of it; especially at Rome, the head and theatre of the world. But Paul was not ashamed of it, knowing it to be the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth — The great and gloriously powerful means of saving all who accept salvation in God’s own way, namely, the way of faith in Jesus, as the Son of God and Saviour of the world, and in the declarations and promises of God made through him: faith preceded by repentance toward God, accompanied by love to God and all mankind, and productive of all inward and outward holiness. To the Jew first — Who is far from being above the need of it, and to whom, by the special command of the Lord, it is to be first proposed and preached, wherever its ambassadors come; yet it is not to be limited to the Jew, but proclaimed also to the Greek — And the Roman, and Gentiles of every nation under heaven, who are all, with equal freedom, invited to partake of its important benefits. There is a noble frankness, as well as a comprehensive sense, in these words of the apostle; by which, on the one hand, he shows the Jews their absolute need of the gospel, and, on the other, tells the politest and greatest nation of the world, both that their salvation depended on receiving it, and that the first offers of it were in every place to be made to the despised Jews. As the apostle comprises the sum of the gospel in this epistle; so he does the sum of the epistle in this and the following verses. With regard to the names, Jews and Greeks, it maybe proper to observe here, that “after Alexander’s generals had established their empire in Egypt and Asia, the inhabitants of these countries were considered as Greeks, because they generally spake the Greek language; and, as the Jews were little acquainted with the other idolatrous nations, they naturally called all the heathens Greeks. Hence in their language, Jews and Greeks comprehended all mankind.” — Macknight.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one; that is, it brings powerful helps to all, both Gentiles and Jews, in order to their salvation. --- To the Jew first, inasmuch as the gospel is to be first preached to the Jews. (Witham) --- The promises of salvation were first made to the Jews. Jesus Christ preached to the Jews only, and forbad his disciples, during his life-time, to preach to any other nation. And after his resurrection, when they had full powers to preach every where, they did not turn to the Gentiles, till the Jews had refused to hear them. A miracle was necessary to determine St. Peter to communicate the gospel to the uncircumcised; and St. Paul, in every place, first addressed himself to the Jew, and then to the Gentile. The apostle here sweetly endeavours, in an indirect manner, to silence the presumption of the Romans, who seemed to raise themselves above the Jews, and believed they had merited the grace of vocation to the faith. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

"I am not ashamed"-even in the capital city of the Empire, Paul would not back down.

"Many a youth who couldn"t be made afraid was silenced in life by a sneer or a look of disdain."

"Even at Rome; where riches, pomp, and glory are held in admiration, where the heights of genius and learning..the humbling doctrines of a religion that demands severe self-denial would be likely to attract derision.."

In other places, such as Corinth and Athens this message had been ridiculed. (Acts 17:32; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31)

"For"-the reason for his boldness and pride in the gospel.

"the power of God unto salvation"-this much Paul knew by experience. (Acts 18:8) He had seen the dynamite of God at work. "God"s effective means for saving man".

In the whole Roman capital, yea, in the whole empire, no power existed that could save even one lone beggar.

Let the world bring forth it"s religions and philosophies, which cannot save even one soul. The Gospel, is God"s ONE message that can bring about salvation. This infers that all other messages/religions are powerless to save, in fact, they actually condemn!

"To everyone that believeth" -just listening to the gospel doesn"t save anyone.

"Jew first"-first in point of time. (Acts 1:8)

Various truths are to be found in the above verse: (1) Salvation contains conditions "believeth". (2) The faith under consideration is an active faith, that includes repentance-baptism (Mark 16:16; Romans 10:9-10). (3) Man needs to be saved. (4) Man needs to be saved from something-i.e. eternal destruction. (5) The gospel MESSAGE IS ADAPTED TO MAN IS HIS PRESENT LOST CONDITION. That is, sinners can understand it, man is not so depraved that he cannot understand what God requires of him or what to do to be saved. In the great commission (Mark 16:15-16), Jesus gave not one hint that sinners could not obey the gospel. Sinful men can be CONVICTED by this message (Acts 2:37). This verse contradict the "direct operation of the Spirit" theory, i.e. that God must operate miraculously on men prior to them even hearing the gospel, to make them receptive to it.

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

For. This is Figure of speech Aetiologia. App-6.

I am, &c: i.e. I count it my highest honour and glory to proclaim the gospel. Figure of speech Tapeinosis. App-6.

ashamed. Greek. epaischunomai. Here, Romans 6:21. Mark 8:38. Luke 9:26. 2 Timothy 1:8, 2 Timothy 1:12, 2 Timothy 1:16. Hebrews 2:11; Hebrews 11:16.

of Christ. All the texts omit.

believeth. App-150.

first. In point of national precedence and privilege. Compare Romans 2:9, Romans 2:10; Romans 8:1, Romans 8:2.

Greek. See Romans 1:14. Representing all non-Jews.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel [of Christ]. These bracketed words are clearly an addition to the genuine text, as nearly all critics agree. [They are found only in K L D*** (a corrector so late as the 9th or 10th century), several cursives, and some late versions; but missing in 'Aleph (') A B C D* E G, a number of cursives, some of the principal copies of the Old Latin, the Vulgate, and both Syriac versions, and the principal fathers.] The language implies that it required some courage to bring to 'the mistress of the world' what "to the Jews was a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness." But its intrinsic glory, as God's life-giving message to a dying world, so filled his soul, that like his blessed Master he "despised the shame."

FOR IT IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION TO EVERY ONE THAT BELIEVETH to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. [There is no sufficient reason for bracketing prooton (Greek #4412), as Lachmann does; for the evidence of its genuineness is decisive.] Here, and in Romans 1:17, the apostle announces the grand theme of his ensuing argument, the substance of which is, SALVATION (the one overwhelming necessity of perishing men) EMBODIED IN A MESSAGE FROM GOD TO MEN (that every hearer of it may be assured that in it he hears God's message to himself), WHICH WHOSOEVER CREDITS SHALL FIND TO BE THE POWER OF GOD TO HIS OWN SALVATION: the Jew first (to whom, in virtue of his ancient standing, the message is first to be carried), but the Greek as well.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(16) The Apostle will not be ashamed of his mission, even in the metropolis of the world. He cannot be ashamed of a scheme so beneficent and so grand. The gospel that he preaches is that mighty agency which God Himself has set in motion, and the object of which is the salvation of all who put their faith in it, to whatever nation or race they may belong. He has, perhaps, in his mind the reception he had met with in other highly civilised cities. (Comp. Acts 17:32.) He had himself once found a “stumbling-block” in the humiliation of the Cross; now, so far from being ashamed of it, it is just that of which he is most proud. The preaching of the Cross is the cardinal point of the whole gospel.

Of Christ.—These words are wanting in the oldest MSS., and should be omitted.

Power of God.—A powerful agency put forth by God Himself—the lever, as it were, by which He would move the world.

Unto salvation.—The object of this gospel is salvation—to open the blessings of the Messianic kingdom to mankind.

To the Jew first.—Here again we have another exhaustive division of mankind. “Greek” is intended to cover all who are not “Jews.” Before the Apostle was making, what may be called, the secular classification of men, here he makes the religious classification. From his exceptional privileges the Jew was literally placed in a class alone.

It is not quite certain that the word “first” ought not to be omitted. In any case the sense is the same. St. Paul certainly assigns a prerogative position to the Jews. They have an “advantage” (Romans 3:1-2). To them belong the special privileges of the first dispensation (Romans 9:4-5). They are the original stock of the olive tree, in comparison with which the Gentiles are only as wild branches grafted in (Romans 11:17 et seq.). It was only right that the salvation promised to their forefathers should be offered first to them, as it is also said expressly in the Fourth Gospel, that “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).

First.—A difficult question of textual criticism is raised here. The word is not found in the Vatican MS. in a citation by Tertullian (circ. 200 A.D.), and in the Græco-Latin Codex Boernerianus at Dresden. In all other MSS. and versions it appears. The evidence for the omission is thus small in quantity, though good in quality; and though it shows, in any case, a considerable diffusion in Egypt and Africa as far back as the second century, internal considerations do not tell strongly either way, but it seems a degree more probable that the word was accidentally dropped in some early copy. Of recent editions, it is bracketed by Lachmann, and placed in the margin by Tregelles and Vaughan.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
I am
Psalms 40:9,10; 71:15,16; 119:46; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; 1 Corinthians 2:2; 2 Timothy 1:8,12,16; 1 Peter 4:16
the gospel
15:19,29; Luke 2:10,11; 1 Corinthians 9:12,18; 2 Corinthians 2:12; 4:4; *Gr:; 2 Corinthians 9:13; Galatians 1:7; 1 Timothy 1:11
for it is
10:17; Psalms 110:2; Isaiah 53:1; Jeremiah 23:29; 1 Corinthians 1:18-24; 2:4; 14:24,25; 1 Corinthians 15:2; 2 Corinthians 2:14-16; 10:4,5; Colossians 1:5,6; 1 Thessalonians 1:5,6; 2:13; Hebrews 4:12
to every
to the Jew

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians

For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. ‹7› This he assigns as the reason why he was ready to preach even at Rome. To the wise of this world the gospel was foolishness, 1 Corinthians 1:23 yet Paul was not ashamed of it, but was ready among the wise and unwise to preach Christ and him crucified. The reason of this regard for the gospel is stated in the following clause: For it is the power of God unto salvation. By δύναμις θεοῦ, some understand great power; in accordance with an assumed Hebrew idiom, agreeably to which ‘mountains of God' mean great mountains, ‘wind of God' great wind, ‘zeal of God' great zeal, etc. But the existence of such an idiom in the Hebrew is very doubtful, and its application to this passage is unnatural and unnecessary. Others make θεοῦ a mere qualifying genitive, ‘power of God,' meaning ‘divinely powerful.' Beza's explanation is, "Organon Dei vere potens et efficax." The gospel is then declared to be that through which God exercises his power. Most commonly θεοῦ is taken as the genitive of the Author, and power of God is made to mean power derived from God. There are two things then asserted of the gospel, first that it is powerful, and secondly that it is from God. (Comp. 1 Corinthians 1:18, 1 Corinthians 1:24). The main idea, however, is that expressed by Beza, The gospel is that in which God works, which he renders efficacious — εἰς σωτηρίαν, unto salvation. That is, it is efficacious to save. The nature of the salvation here intended is to be learned from the nature of the gospel. It is deliverance from sin and its punishment, and admission into eternal life and blessedness. This is what no means of man's devising, no efforts of human wisdom or human power could effect for any human being. The gospel effects it παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι, for every one that believes. Emphasis must be laid on both the members of this clause. The gospel is thus efficacious to every one, without distinction between Jew and gentile, Greek or barbarian, wise or unwise; and it is efficacious to every one that believes, not to every one who is circumcised, or baptized, or who obeys the law, but to every one who believes, that is, who receives and confides in Jesus Christ as he is offered in the gospel. We have here the two great doctrines set forth in this epistle. First, salvation is by faith; and secondly, it is universally applicable, to the Greek as well as to the Jew. The faith of which the apostle here speaks includes a firm persuasion of the truth, and a reliance or trust on the object of faith. Sometimes the one, sometimes the other of these ideas is expressed by the word, and very often both are united. The meaning of the term is not to be determined so much by philosophical analysis as by scriptural usage. For the question is not what is the abstract nature of the act of believing, philosophically considered, but what act or state of mind is expressed by the words πιστεύειν and πίστις in the various constructions in which they occur. It is rare indeed that the state of mind expressed by any word is so simple as not to admit of being resolved into various elements. The exercise expressed by the world love, for example, includes the perception of agreeable qualities in its object, a judgment of the mind as to their nature, a delight in them, and a desire for their enjoyment. And these differ specifically in their nature, according to the nature of the thing loved. It is not to any one of these elements of the complex affection that the word love is applied, but to the state of mind as a whole. So also with the word faith, the exercise which it expresses includes a perception of its object and its qualities, that is, it includes knowledge; secondly, an assent of the mind to the truth of the thing believed, and very often a reliance or trust on the object of faith. Assent is therefore but one of the elements of saving faith, that is, it is but one of the constituents of that state of mind which, in a multitude of cases, is in the Bible expressed by the word. And as the great object of interest to Christians is not a philosophical definition of a word, but a knowledge of the sense in which it is used in the word of God, we must recur to the usage of the Scriptures themselves to determine what that faith is which is connected with salvation.

There is no doubt that πιστεύειν is often used to express mere assent. It means — to receive as true, to be persuaded of the truth of any thing. Hence πίστις is persuasion of the truth. When πιστεύειν has this simple meaning, it is commonly followed by the accusative, as in 1 Corinthians 11:18; John 11:26; or by the dative, Mark 16:13, οὐδὲ ἐκείνοις ἐπίστευσαν, John 5:46; or by ὃτι, Mark 11:23; Romans 10:9. Yet in these cases the word often expresses confidence or trust, as well as assent; πιστεύειν θεῷ is in many connections, to confide in God; as Acts 27:25, πιστεύω γὰρ τῷ θεῷ ὃτι οὕτως ἔσται.

When πιστεύειν is followed by ἐπί with an accusative, as in Romans 4:5, πιστεύοντι ἐπὶ τὸν δικαιοῦντα, or by ἐπί with a dative, as Romans 9:33, ὁ πιστεύων ἐπ ̓ αὐτω, 1 Timothy 1:16 it commonly means to trust, to believe upon, to confide in. It has the same sense when followed by εἰς, as in John 14:1, πιστεύετε εἰς τὸν θεὸν, καὶ ἐις ἐμὲ πιστεύετε, John 16:9, Romans 10:14; Galatians 2:16; and often elsewhere. The construction with ἐν is less common; see, however, Mark 1:15, μετανοεῖτε, καὶ τιστεύετε ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ; comp. Galatians 5:10, πέποιθα ἐν κυρίῳ, 2 Thessalonians 3:4.

The substantive πίστις also in various constructions signifies reliance, or trust; thus when followed by εἰς, as in Acts 20:21, τίστιν τὴν εἰς τὸν κύριον ἡμῶν, Acts 24:24; Acts 26:18; by ἐπί, with the accusative, Hebrews 6:1; by πρός, as 1 Thessalonians 1:8, πίστις ὑμῶν ης πρὸς τὸν θεόν; by ἐν, Romans 3:25, διὰ χριστῷ, comp. Galatians 3:26; 1 Timothy 3:13, πίστει τῇ ἐν, 2 Timothy 3:15; or by the genitive, as in Romans 3:22, Romans 3:26; Galatians 2:16, Galatians 3:22, and often. That faith, therefore, which is connected with salvation, includes knowledge, that is, a perception of the truth and its qualities; assent, or the persuasion of the truth of the object of faith; and trust, or reliance. The exercise, or state of mind expressed by the word faith, as used in the Scriptures, is not mere assent, or mere trust, it is the intelligent perception, reception, and reliance on the truth, as revealed in the gospel.

To the Jew first, and also to the Greek. To render πρῶτον (first), here especially, would make the apostle teach that the gospel was peculiarly adapted to the Jews, or specially designed for them. But he frequently asserts that this is not the case, Romans 3:9, Romans 3:22, Romans 3:29; Romans 10:12. πρῶτον, therefore, must have reference to time, ‘To the Jew in the first instance, and then to the Greek.' Salvation, as our Savior said to the woman of Samaria, is of the Jews. Of them the Messiah came, to them the gospel was first preached, and by them preached to the Gentiles. The apostle often, as in the present instance, says Jews and Greeks, for Jews and Gentiles, because the Greeks were the Gentiles with whom, at that period, the Jews were most familiar.

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Hodge, Charles. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians.

Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible

Romans 1:16

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ—for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes." Romans 1:16

What is meant by the word "power?" It is a term much used in the New Testament. "The kingdom of God," it is declared, "is not in word, but in power;" and true faith is said to "stand not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." What, then, is power? It is a divine operation that God himself puts forth in the soul. It cannot be described by words, nor explained so as to be understood by our mental capacity. It must be felt to be known; and must be realized in a man"s own soul before he can have any spiritual conception of it. "Your people," we read, "shall be made willing in the day of your power."

And when the gospel does come to the soul by the application of the blessed Spirit, and a divine power accompanies it, though the power itself cannot be described even by the person himself, it is made known by the effects which follow it. For instance, here is a poor wretch condemned by the law, and in his apprehensions lying forever under its fearful curse. He may, perhaps, see there is salvation in Christ, and know in his judgment there is salvation in no other; but he cannot lay hold of Christ, nor get from under the condemnation he feels. Why? Because the gospel is not made the power of God unto salvation to his soul. But how he begs, cries, prays, and supplicates God to have mercy on him. Continually he is endeavoring to seek God, and beseech him to have mercy on his soul. But he cannot get peace to his conscience; he is still in trouble and distress, bowed down with bondage, guilt, and fear. Here is a man longing for "power."

Now, when the Lord is pleased to apply some portion of his blessed word to his soul, or to speak home some particular promise, the power which accompanies this raises up a special faith, whereby that portion of God"s holy word, which speaks of Christ, or that particular promise is laid hold of. Here, then, is "power" communicated with the gospel. The gospel has now come to him, "not in word only," as it might often have done before, leaving him all the while in guilt and fear, but with "power;" and, by the faith thus raised up, he believes in Jesus to the saving of his soul. He could not believe in him before, for his faith, such as it was, being devoid of power, left him where it found him, as forlorn and helpless as the man who fell among thieves. No. He might as well attempt to create a world, as to believe in the Son of God unto deliverance.

But no sooner does he believe what the Holy Spirit applies, than a sweet and sacred power comes into his soul, which takes away his doubts and fears; dispels guilt from his conscience; banishes the mists and fogs that for months have hung over his soul; reveals in him a precious Jesus; makes the promises of the gospel to glitter before his eyes like dew-drops in autumn; and gives him an unspeakable nearness to God, through the Person, blood, and righteousness of Christ, such as he never knew until the gospel came with power, and faith was raised up in his soul.

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Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible.

Paul's message ( Romans 1:16)

Romans 1:16. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to every one who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

He says he is not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. Why? Because it is the power of God unto deliverance. Someone has called it the "dynamite of God" unto deliverance for everyone who believes, whether Jew or Gentile, because it reveals the righteousness of God.

I want to say, my friends, there is more power manifested by God in the Gospel, the good news concerning His Song of Solomon , than there was in the creation of the universe. In Hebrews 11:1-40, we read that "the worlds were prepared by the Word of God (the Word of His power)."

In Genesis 1:1-31, over and over it reads, "God said. . . . God said. . . . God said." God speaks from the heavens. Now where is God displaying His power today? In creation? No, though we do see His powers there. The greatest place where God today reveals His power, the great power dynamite of God, is in the simple presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the only message that meets the need of the human heart. Christ died, He was buried, He was raised again.

I cannot for the life of me understand how church leaders can bring to unsaved people anything but the message of the Gospel of Christ. Let me say very bluntly and very frankly, I am opposed to any insidious ways of trying to reach hearts through psychology, through sad stories, through eloquent language that leaves out the message of the Gospel of Christ. There is only one message that is the power of God to deliverance!

Paul said, "I am not ashamed of the gospel." Let me change the wording. "I am proud of the gospel." I am proud of it because it does its job. It takes sinners and rebels and transforms them into saints. It can take the vilest of the vile and cleanse them from sin, forgive every trespass and transform them into the children of God.

That's why Paul wrote in his first epistle to the Corinthians, "And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of Wisdom of Solomon , proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of Wisdom of Solomon , but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God" ().

This message that reveals the grace of God will also manifest the guilt of man. "I am not ashamed," says Paul of a message that's full of divine power, that can deliver and transform if men will but put their trust in Him.

Notice what he says. This good news from God "is the power of God for salvation." We have it again in 1 Corinthians 1:22 where Paul says, "The Jews ask for signs, and the Greeks search for wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to the Gentiles foolishness; but to those who are the called . . . Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God."

How can a man stand before God? He can't stand by being a moralist. He can't stand by being a religionist. There is only one way, and the Gospel is the answer. The Man of Sorrows of the New Testament has answered the question of the man of sorrows of the Old Testament: "How can a man be just with God?" We come to the answer in Romans 3:1-31 where we find that God is just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? There is no place for it. We conclude that a man is justified by faith without works.

And Job , the Old Testament man of sorrows, had a second question, "If a man die, shall he live again?"

During my many years as a pastor, I have had the privilege and the honor of laying to rest hundreds of God's people; and I have taken hundreds of children in my arms and dedicated them to God. I have married them and buried them. And the cycle goes on. Am I performing just a social service? Never. Man shall live again. The Gospel of God is the only message that guarantees deliverance, that rescues (and that's what the word "salvation" means) us from sin, that rescues us from death and its authority and power and causes us to live forever.

There isn't any such message except the Gospel of God.

Paul was not ashamed of it. Do you know why? He had experienced its saving power and its transforming power. He was so in love with the Saviour that he was ready to go even to Rome with this wonderful message of the Lord Jesus, the message that reveals God's grace and man's guilt.

"I am not ashamed of divine power which can deliver and transform men and women who are children of wrath into the children of God." This is the message.

And let me give you some reasons why Paul was not ashamed.

1. The Gospel is the power of God unto deliverance, unto salvation, to everyone that believes.

2. It is a positive message, not one written for philosophers or the high and mighty.

3. It was written for sinnersjust for sinners. It is in the Gospel that God portrays His power. What for? It was to rescue you and me—anyone— from the bondage and penalty and guilt of sin, from the fear of death, from the powers of hell and to fit us for His presence.

Paul was not ashamed of this message, but I find some Christians who are. They are afraid of letting people know they are Christians. Maybe, sometimes, it's a good thing they don't speak up. Maybe their lives don't measure up to what they claim.

Christ came to put away your sin and my sin. He died your death and my death. Why? That He might set us free. He who knew no sin became the Sin-bearer that you and I might stand before God without sin.

4. It is the only message on earth that guarantees eternal forgiveness.

5. It is the only message on earth that guarantees eternal life.

6. It is the only eternal gift with no strings attached.

7. It is received on only one ground—the ground of faith.

8. It has only one requirement—our trust. We are saved by faith alone.

This is what the early reformers died for. Many people were martyred for just this one thing. Ecclesiastical leaders said, "You've got to do more than just believe on Jesus Christ and be saved, more than just have the blood of Christ cleanse you from all sin." But this is what Martin Luther stood for. This is what Zwingli stood for. It is salvation by faith alone.

This is not assenting to the facts with your mind and leaving out your will. That's not real New Testament believing.

I've met many people who tell me when I present the Gospel, "Why, Mr. Mitchell, I've believed that all my life."

Well, you may have; that Isaiah , you believed the historical facts. But accepting historical facts does not make you a Christian. To believe in the Saviour involves your will.

Could I say something I've said before?

Three things are involved with believing in the Lord Jesus Christ—your mind, your will and your emotions. It takes all three. Some people have what we call "a soulish experience." At some point, somebody preached, maybe told some stories and worked on their emotions. That doesn't make a person a Christian. Salvation involves your mind and will, not just your emotions. Some people have their minds open and may say, "Why, I believe that." With their mind they see the truth, but that doesn't make them a Christian.

With my mind I see the fact that Christ died for me. The Gospel is given to us in words. God speaks to us in words. So He tells us that Jesus Christ died for sinners, died for me. Then He asks me what I will do with the One of whom the facts speak.

I say, "Lord Jesus, of my own volition I accept You as my own personal Saviour. I am putting my trust in You." Now my will is involved; and, when my will is involved, then I accept the definite proposition. With my mind I see the truth; but with my will I accept the truth, and I am brought into a relationship.

Then, often, one's emotions become involved. Some people cry. Some are very happy. No two of us have the same experience. We don't have the same personalities. Some people cry very easily. Some hardly ever cry. Some people keep their emotions under control. Others don't.

Song of Solomon , if you are saved and you have had a certain experience, don't demand that the other person have the same experience.

What I want to know about people who say they have received the Lord Isaiah , have they taken the Lord Jesus Christ as a definite proposition in their lives? Have they repented of their sins and come into a right relationship with the Saviour? Everyone who believes on the Lord Jesus experiences the power that saves. A rest and peace come to his heart.

Now, it is an amazing thing to me how many people spurn the good news. They don't want it. So then there is nothing left except judgment and death. If I spurn the divine provision for my eternal welfare, what is there left but judgment?

And notice that this Gospel is for everybody. It is "to the Jew" in the first12chapters of the Book of Acts "and also to the Gentile." And then, starting in chapter13 , the Christians go out to the Gentiles. I believe at the present time that God is pleading with everyone, Jew and Gentile. There is no difference. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

Now, this leads me to the17th verse, the theme and the key verse of the epistle.

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Mitchell, John G. D.D. "Commentary on Romans 1:16". "Mitchell's Commentary on Selected New Testament Books".

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