Ecclesiastes Podcast

Romans 1:14-15

The Apostle Paul writes to the world-renowned believers in Rome, the center of the world at that time, in order to answer a slanderous charge made to them against Paul and his message. Paul’s detractors claim his emphasis on faith overturns the law. Paul says that ” just living by the law” does not achieve personal justice before God, while “just living by faith” does. Paul then demonstrates what a just life looks like: harmonious living with Jesus as the leader. Paul also makes clear the choice a believer has: to walk in faith and the power of the resurrection and experience resurrection life, or walk in sin and unnecessarily experience the negative consequences.

Paul makes clear his respect for the believers in Rome, acknowledging that their “faith is being proclaimed throughout the world” (Romans 1:8)and states his central theme that the just or righteous live by faith empowered with resurrection power, while unjust living based on our own pride and strength leads to wrath and destruction.

Paul’s call from God was to preach the gospel to all Gentiles. He desires to preach the gospel to, or encourage, the believers in Rome.

The Apostle Paul was Jewish, but God called him to be the apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13). This was amazing because Paul was trained as a very strict Pharisee, and was therefore to have no dealing with Gentiles. Here he is ministering to them intimately. God often calls us to do things that are very uncomfortable. Paul was called to turn his back on part of his training as a Pharisee, that he might make immense use of his knowledge of the Scriptures.

Paul was under obligation, or indebted, by his calling to preach the good news and make disciples among the Gentiles whether they were educated or not. It did not matter whether they were civilized or not. They were Paul’s assignment from God and Paul was committed to “do or die” to fulfill that charge. In 1 Corinthians 9:16, Paul discusses this assignment from God and says, “woe is me if I do not preach the gospel” to the Gentiles.

According to some resources, the word “barbaros” translated here “barbarian” was used by Greeks to refer to anyone who did not speak Greek, or did not speak Greek well. This fits Paul’s usage here because the term “Greeks and barbarians” would, therefore, include all Gentiles, those fluent in Greek as well as those not fluent. It did not matter to Paul and does not matter to God, how much education or how socially acceptable anyone is. They are a creation of God whom Jesus died to save and give His resurrection life to. God desires every person to know Him and walk in faith, believing His way leads to life.

The Apostle Paul was eager to preach the good news, the gospel, to the believers in Rome just as he had throughout the world. This statement can be confusing because of the way some readers misunderstand the term “gospel” or “good news”. In 1:8, we saw that the believers receiving this letter already had amazing faith, so much so that their faith was being talked about throughout the entire world.

But Paul uses the term “good news” not to merely introduce the reality of the new birth Jesus offers to all who believe on His name and believe Jesus died for their sins; if he did there would be no reason to preach to the Roman believers. At the moment one believes, they have a new life in Jesus, a new power in the Spirit, and a new inheritance in God. But this is just the beginning of the new life, and therefore, the beginning of the good news. When Jesus gives us a new life, He frees us from the penalty of sin once and for all. Never again do we need to worry about eternal separation from God; we are now His children forever.

But we do still live in a fallen world in a fallen body. We still have a tendency to sin. Part of the new resurrection life of Jesus is the indwelling power of the Spirit enabling us to be freed from the power of sin in our lives. That is even better “good news.” This good news is something every believer needs to hear and pursue for the rest of their lives. Paul is always ready to share this with them. As we will see, Paul will in this masterful letter fully lay out how the good news of God’s deliverance from the power of sin in our lives may be appropriated by walking in faith every day.

Biblical Text:

14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.