Power of the Gospel

Rom 1:8-17

SS Lesson for 07/11/2021

 

Devotional Scripture: 1 Thess 1:4-10

Lesson Background and Key Verse

Background from the NIV Standard Lesson Commentary

Cities seemed to hold a special attraction for Paul in a strategic way. Three of his key ministries were in Antioch, Corinth, and Ephesus—all among the 10 largest cities of the empire. But Paul had a burning desire to visit the greatest city of them all, Rome, the capital of the empire and center of the world in those days. The saying “All roads lead to Rome” was more than proverbial for Paul. The city was unparalleled in the ancient world. After Rome’s decline in late antiquity, Europe would not see anything to rival it until London in the nineteenth century. Paul was convinced that God was calling him to go to Rome. Paul, formerly Saul the persecutor of Christians, wrote the letter to the Romans in advance of his trip there. A church was growing in Rome, a church made up of individuals who were likely present in Jerusalem on Pentecost (Acts 2:10) and of believers they converted. Some of those whom Paul had led to Christ seemed to have traveled to Rome ahead of him for one reason or another. That is clear from the list of personal greetings that Paul includes at the end of the letter, in chapter 16. It was important to Paul that they grow in the right direction. They needed a strong doctrinal base, and they needed some practical spiritual counsel. In this letter they received both. Paul wrote the book of Romans in about AD 58, during his third missionary journey. This timing is supported by Acts 20:2-3, which states that Paul spent three months in Greece. This in turn supports the conclusion that Paul wrote from the Greek city of Corinth, home of a beloved church he had founded and ministered to for 18 months a few years earlier. Staying put in this Greek city among people he knew and loved would have allowed Paul the time to craft such a carefully, masterfully written letter. The contents of Romans reflect Paul’s experience in presenting a gospel that is both doctrinal and relational in matters faced by growing Christians. Paul was in the prime years of his ministry, being able to present the fruit of his personal familiarity with bringing people to Christ and providing an atmosphere for their growth. He was prepared to send a letter that addressed many important issues, countered spiritual errors, and emphasized core truths of the Christian faith.

 

Key Verse: Rom 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

 

Commentary from the Bible Knowledge Commentary

1:1. Paul identified himself first as a servant of Christ Jesus. “Servant” (doulos) means slave, a person owned by another. Paul wore this title gladly (Gal. 1:10; Titus 1:1), reveling in the Old Testament picture of a slave who in love binds himself to his master for life (Ex. 21:2-6). Paul also identified himself as an apostle—one sent with delegated authority (cf. Matt. 10:1-2)—a position to which he was called. (Lit., the Gr. is, “a called apostle.”) This calling was from God (Acts 9:15; Gal. 1:1), though it was acknowledged by men (Gal. 2:7-9). It involved being set apart (from aphorizō; cf. Acts 13:2) for the gospel of God, the message of good news from God that centered on “His Son” (Rom. 1:2, 9) which Paul was “eager to preach” (v. 15) without shame (v. 16). This setting apart did not keep Paul from making tents to support himself and his companions (Acts 20:34; 1 Thes. 2:9; 2 Thes. 3:8) nor from mingling freely with all levels of pagan society. It was a setting apart to something—a commitment and dedication, not from things in isolation like the Pharisees. (Interestingly the word “Pharisee” means “separated one” in the sense of being isolated and segregated.)

1:2. The phrase Holy Scriptures refers obviously to the Old Testament and occurs only here in the New Testament (2 Tim. 3:15 uses different Gr. words for “holy” and “Scriptures”). Paul did not quote any prophets where the gospel was promised, but Philip’s use of Isaiah 53:7-8 with the Ethiopian eunuch is a good example (Acts 8:30-35; cf. Luke 24:25-27, 45-47).

1:3-4. God’s good news concerns His Son, identified as Jesus Christ our Lord. This asserts Christ’s deity as basic to His person and prior to His Incarnation, since His identification with David’s line “came to be,” a literal rendering of the participle genomenou, translated was. He was genuinely human too, as His tie with David and His resurrection from the dead show. That resurrection declared Him to be the Son of God because it validated His claims to deity and His predictions that He would rise from the dead (John 2:18-22; Matt. 16:21). This declaration was made through (lit., “in accord with”) the Spirit of holiness. This is the Holy Spirit, and not, as some have suggested, Christ’s human spirit.

1:5-7. Paul’s ministry from Jesus was among all the Gentiles, which included the Romans, whom Paul addressed not as a church but as individual believers. Paul was the human agent (from and for Christ he received grace and apostleship, i.e., “the grace of apostleship”; cf. 12:3; 15:15) but the calling (God’s summons to salvation; cf. 8:28, 30) came from the Lord and set his readers apart as “saints.” Obedience and faith are often linked (cf. 15:18; 16:26; also cf. 1 Peter 1:2). Just as Paul was a “called” apostle, so the believers in Rome were called to belong to Jesus Christ (lit., “called of Jesus Christ”) and called to be saints (lit., “called saints”). Paul’s salutation like that in all his epistles, expressed the desire that they enjoy God’s grace and peace.

1:8-15. Paul made a practice of beginning his letters with a word of thanks to God, a specific prayer, and a personal message to the recipients. For the Romans he rejoiced that news of their faith had spread all over the world, a hyperbole meaning throughout the Roman Empire. His constant intercession for them (vv. 9-10) had the new note of petition for his projected visit, a heart-desire of long standing that finally was definitely on Paul’s agenda (v. 10; cf. 15:23-24). This visit would be mutually beneficial spiritually; he desired to minister for three purposes: (a) to the strengthening of the Romans (1:11; to impart... some spiritual gift means either to exercise his own spiritual gift on their behalf or to bestow on them spiritual favors, i.e., blessings); (b) to see some spiritual fruit (a harvest, v. 13) among them and, in turn, (c) to be strengthened by them (v. 12). In this sense Paul’s ministry at Rome would be the same as in other centers of the empire. As a result of his “apostleship” (v. 5) to the Gentiles Paul felt obligated (lit., “I am a debtor”) to the entire human race to proclaim God’s good news (vv. 14-15). The word translated non-Greeks is literally, “barbarians,” all other human beings from the viewpoint of the Greeks (cf. Col. 3:11). Parallel to it is the word foolish (anoētois; cf. Titus 3:3) in the next couplet, which has the significance of uncultured. Paul’s sense of debt to the Gentile world produced an eagerness (I am so eager, Rom. 1:15) to evangelize it, including Rome, capital of the empire.

1:16. Paul’s eagerness to evangelize sprang also from his estimate of his message, the gospel. (This is the fourth of five times Paul used the word “gospel” in these opening verses: vv. 1, 9, 15-17.) Many consider this the theme of the letter, which it is in one sense. At least Paul gladly proclaimed it as God’s panacea for mankind’s spiritual need. He identified it as the infinite resources (dynamis, “spiritual ability”) of God applied toward the goal of salvation in the life of everyone who believes regardless of racial background. He recognized, however, a priority for the Jew expressed in the word first, which has sufficient textual support here and is unquestioned in 2:9-10. Because the Jews were God’s Chosen People (11:1), the custodians of God’s revelation (3:2), and the people through whom Christ came (9:5), they have a preference of privilege expressed historically in a chronological priority. As the Lord Jesus stated it, “Salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22). In Paul’s ministry he sought out the Jews first in every new city (Acts 13:5, 14; 14:1; 17:2, 10, 17; 18:4, 19; 19:8). Three times he responded to their rejection of his message by turning to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46; 18:6; 28:25-28; cf. Eph. 1:12). Today evangelism of the world must include the Jews, but the priority of the Jews has been fulfilled.

1:17. The theme of the letter is expressed in the phrase a righteousness from God is revealed. The subjective genitive (lit., “of God”) identifies this as a righteousness that God provides for people on the basis of and in response to faith in the gospel (cf. 3:22). (niv’s by faith from first to last renders the Gr. ek pisteōs eis pistin, lit., “out of faith in reference to faith.”) Such a righteousness is totally unachievable by human efforts. This righteousness is not God’s personal attribute, however, since it comes “from God,” it is consistent with His nature and standard. Robertson happily calls it “a God kind of righteousness” (A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1943, 4:327). In response to faith this righteousness is imputed by God in justification and imparted progressively in regeneration and sanctification, culminating in glorification when standing and state become identical. “Righteousness” and “justify,” though seemingly unrelated in English, are related in Greek. “Righteousness” is dikaiosynē, and “justify” is dikaioō;. Paul used the noun many times in his epistles, including 28 times in Romans (1:17; 3:21-22, 25-26; 4:3, 5-6, 9, 11, 13, 22; 5:17, 21; 6:13, 16, 18-20; 8:10; 9:30; 10:3-6 [twice in v. 3], 10; 14:17). And Paul used the Greek verb 15 times in Romans (2:13; 3:4, 20, 24, 26, 28, 30; 4:2, 5; 5:1, 9; 6:7; 8:30 [twice], 33). To justify a person is to declare him forensically (legally) righteous. “Declared righteous” is the way the niv translates dikaioō in 2:13 and 3:20 and “freed” is niv’s rendering in 6:7. Paul’s closing words in 1:17, The righteous will live by faith, are a quotation from Habakkuk 2:4, also quoted in Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38. As a result of faith (cf. “believes” in Rom. 1:16) in Christ, a person is declared “righteous” (cf. 3:22) and is given eternal life. What a marvelous work of God!

 

Major Theme Analysis

(Scriptural Text from the New King James Version; cross-references from the NIV)

Power of Witness (Rom 1:8-10)

 

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers,

10 making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.

 

Witness of the Church (8)

Church witness by making disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19-20)

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."  

Church witness through the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8)

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Church witness by using God's word (Rom 10:17-18)

17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. 18 But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: "Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

Church witness to others through teaching (2 Tim 2:2)

2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

 

Witness of the individual (9-10)

Individual witness that Jesus is the Son of God (John 1:32-34)

32 Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' 34 I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God."

Individual witness that Jesus is the Word of life (1 John 1:1-3)

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched — this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

Individual witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matt 16:15-18)

15 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" 16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

Individual witness that Jesus has the words of eternal life and is the Holy One of God (John 6:67-69)

67 "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."

Individual witness that Jesus is God (John 16:29-31)

29 Then Jesus' disciples said, "Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God." 31 "You believe at last!" Jesus answered.

 

Power of Spiritual Gifts (Rom 1:11-15)

 

11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established — 

12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

13 Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles.

14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise.

15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.

 

Spiritual encouragement (11-12)

Spiritual encouragement through use of spiritual gifts (Rom 12:8)

8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Spiritual encouragement through God’s Word (1 Thess 4:17-18)

17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.

Spiritual encouragement through God’s grace (2 Thess 2:16-17)

16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

Spiritual encouragement through the teaching of sound doctrine (Titus 1:9)

9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

Spiritual encouragement through the Church (Heb 10:25)

25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

 

Spiritual fruit (13)

Fruit that is the work of the Lord (1 Cor 15:58)

58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Fruit that comes from the giving of oneself to God (2 Cor 8:2-5)

2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. 5 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will.

Fruit of love (Phil 1:9)

9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,

Fruit of thanksgiving (Col 2:7)

7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Fruit of pleasing God (1 Thess 4:1)

1 Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.

Fruit of growing faith (2 Thess 1:3)

3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.

 

Spiritual indebtedness (14-15)

Indebtedness to love one another (Rom 13:8)

8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

Indebtedness to give to help others (Rom 15:26-27)

26 For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. 27 They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews' spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.

Indebtedness to be led by the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:12)

12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation — but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.

Indebtedness to spreading the gospel (1 Cor 9:16)

16 Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

Indebtedness to help the elect (2 Tim 2:10)

10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

 

Power of Faith (Rom 1:16-17)

 

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."

 

Faith’s role in salvation (16)

Salvation through faith in Jesus (Gal 2:16)

16 know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

Salvation through faith in Jesus' death and resurrection (Rom 4:25)

25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

Salvation through faith in the gift of Jesus (Rom 5:16)

16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.

Salvation through faith in righteousness by Jesus (Rom 5:18)

18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.

Salvation because God counts faith as righteousness (Rom 4:5)

5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

Salvation through faith in peace with God (Rom 5:1)

5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

 

Faith’s righteousness (17)

A righteousness that brings eternal life (Rom 5:21)

21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

A righteousness that we have in Jesus (1 Cor 1:30)

30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 

A righteousness that God made through Jesus (2 Cor 5:21)

21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

A righteousness that increases faith and hope (Gal 5:5)

5 But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.

A righteousness that comes from God through faith (Phil 3:9)

9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

 

Conclusion and Other Thoughts

Commentary Thoughts from Bob Deffinbaugh

Paul’s Introduction to This Epistle (1:1-17)

So far as we know, Paul had never set foot in Rome until after this epistle had been written. If this is the case a word of introduction was certainly necessary for this letter to be received as it was and is, the Word of God. In the first seven verses, Paul described his relationship to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, while in verses 8-15 he pursued his relationship with the Romans to whom he wrote. In verses 16-17, Paul introduced the theme of the epistle, the Gospel of Jesus Christ: the revelation of the righteousness of God.

Paul’s Relationship to the Gospel (vv. 1-7)

As even a casual reading of the account of the conversion of Saul will reveal, Paul was not an apostle of Jesus Christ by his own initiative. Rather, he was an apostle by divine appointment. He was ‘called’ (v. 1) and ‘set apart’ (v. 1). As he wrote in Galatians 1, he was set apart while yet unborn (1:15).

The Gospel which Paul preached was not one of his own making. It was the message which was in fulfillment of all that the Old Testament prophets had promised (v. 2). It was, then, consistent with all that true Judaism believed and anticipated. It was not a revelation of something entirely new and unexpected, but a realization of that which had been promised.

The object of the Gospel was the person, Jesus Christ, Who came as the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel, and the sin-bearer of the sins of the world (vv. 3-4). The incontestable proof of His authenticity was His resurrection from the dead. The resurrection was not, as some have maintained, an incidental and unnecessary addition to the Gospel; it was the foundation stone. Our Lord Jesus staked His entire ministry and reputation on this event, as His enemies knew all too well (cf. Matthew 27:62-66).

The scope of the Gospel which Paul preached was universal (vv. 5-7). The Jews wanted to keep the Gospel in their own little corner of the world. They wished to make it exclusively Jewish. If they could not succeed in doing so, at least they would insist that in order to be saved men must in effect become Jewish proselytes to Judaism (cf. Galatians, Acts 15:1ff.). Paul’s primary calling was to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles (v. 5). Paul’s concern for the salvation of the Gentiles explains, in part, his interest in writing to the Roman saints.

Paul’s Relationship to the Romans (vv. 8-15)

Since Paul had not yet visited Rome, it was necessary for him to pave the way for this epistle by expanding on his relationship to his readers. Although he had not yet set foot in Rome, he had a deep and abiding concern and interest in the spiritual well-being of these Romans.

Paul’s concern for the Romans was indicated by his prayer life (vv. 8-10). Paul greatly rejoiced in the fact that the faith of the Romans was being broadcast throughout the world. Although he did not know many of them personally, he did know of them, even by name, and unceasingly prayed for their growth, and for the privilege of visiting them.

Paul’s concern for the Romans was evident in his desire to be with them (vv. 11-12). As Paul wrote elsewhere, he may have been absent in body, but not in spirit (1 Thes. 2:17). As a minister of the Gospel, Paul greatly desired to go to Rome and be instrumental in the salvation of some. In addition, he would have been enabled to encourage and build up the saints. This was not to say that Paul’s visit would be one-sided and that he would not be blessed in turn, for they would also greatly encourage him.

Why, then, had Paul not yet visited this city? Not because he had no desire to do so, and not because he had not attempted to visit these saints. The only reason was that thus far God had prevented him from carrying out his intentions (vv. 13-15). As we know from later events in the life of Paul, God did intend for Paul to visit Rome, but in a way which we would never have expected. He went to Rome with all expenses paid as a guest of the Roman empire.

The Theme of Paul’s Epistle (vv. 16-17)

If in verses 1-15 Paul introduced himself to the Romans, in verses 16-17 he introduced the theme of his epistle. We might summarize this theme in this fashion—the Gospel of Jesus Christ: the Righteousness of God Revealed.

In verse 15 Paul expressed an eagerness to preach the Gospel—an eagerness all too frequently lacking in Christians today. What was it that made the apostle tick? What was the driving force behind Paul’s desire to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Paul has already stated that one reason is that he has been called by God to this task (v. 1). But in addition to this, there are two good reasons given in verses 16 and 17 which should motivate any Christian to share the Gospel with others.

(1) The Gospel Is the Revelation to Men of God’s Provision for Salvation (v. 16). In verse 16 Paul wrote: “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.” We are compelled to preach the gospel to men simply because it is the means by which men come to a knowledge of salvation. Later in this epistle, Paul wrote: “How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard. And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14). The only way men can come to salvation is by hearing the Gospel proclaimed. In addition, the Gospel itself is powerful to save. It is not our persuasiveness that saves men; it is the Gospel itself that is powerful. Proclaiming the Gospel is like letting a lion out of its cage. Once the lion is out, he needs no help from us. We as Christians are not called upon to defend the Gospel so much as we are to declare it. When it is turned loose, it will take care of itself.

(2) The Gospel Is the Revelation to Men of God’s Righteousness (v. 17). Every committed evangelical should be quick to admit that the proclamation of the Gospel is essential for the salvation of men, but all too few seem to comprehend that the proclamation of the Gospel is also the presentation of the righteousness of God. The Gospel declares men to be sinners under the wrath and condemnation of a righteous and holy God. God’s ultimate purpose is not so much to save men as it is to demonstrate and declare His righteousness, not only to men, but to the angelic hosts (cf. Eph. 3:8-10). If the proclamation of the Gospel declares the righteousness of God to men, God’s ultimate purpose in the world is realized. We can therefore proclaim the Gospel with confidence, knowing first of all that it is the Gospel itself which has the power to save men, and not we ourselves, and second, that God is glorified in our proclamation even when men reject our message.

There are two very significant applications to what Paul has written in verses 16 and 17. The first is that whenever we distort the Gospel of Jesus Christ we also diminish the righteousness of God as revealed in the Gospel. The tone of the Gospel today is nothing like what is revealed in Scripture. The modern ‘gospel’ portrays God as being more lonely and in need of our companionship than righteously angered by our sin. Man is not represented as a rebel under the wrath of God and destined for eternal torment, but rather as one who could use a little assistance in making his life more fulfilling and satisfying. In this kind of gospel, we defame the righteousness of God, rather than declare it.

The second implication I would draw from what Paul has said is that failing to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with men not only withholds from them the only way of salvation, it also withholds from God the glory due to His name through the proclamation of His Gospel. When we keep silent with the Gospel we are robbing men of the opportunity to hear God’s provision of salvation, and we are robbing God of the glory due to His name through the preaching of the Gospel.

                                                (Adapted from URL:https://bible.org/seriespage/look-book-romans-11-17)

 

Concluding Thoughts from the NIV Standard Lesson Commentary

The most recognized Christian symbol is the cross. We see it on churches, as jewelry, in logos, in massive monuments, and in cemeteries. For many, the cross is most associated with the latter as it marks a grave of a loved one. As Christians, we affirm that Jesus’ cross is about death. But the cross is also about life, for Jesus’ death gives us the possibility of being forgiven of our sins, escaping the penalty of death, and embracing eternal life as a gift. To do this, we must come to the cross in faith. We must not be ashamed. We must come believing that the cross represents the great love of God. We must come convinced that faith in Christ has the power to save us. It is there that our burden of sin was lifted and our spiritual blindness will become the sight of faith.

 

Concluding Thoughts from the Echoes Commentary

An Anticipated Visit - The apostle Paul had always desired to visit the church in Rome to clear up any misconceptions about his teachings and to boldly preach the truth of the Gospel. Usually, the letters Paul wrote encouraged the churches he'd established during his missionary journeys. The church in Rome was likely begun by Jewish converts who happened to be in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. They returned home and created a Christian community. Paul wanted to visit this congregation in the most important city in the Empire. Paul started his letter by thanking God for the Roman church as he interceded on their behalf. He complimented the congregation for its outstanding reputation; their ministry in Rome pitted them against the idolatry and paganism that consumed Roman culture. Paul was offering himself to the believers and the unbelievers in that region. His visit had been a long time coming, but now it seemed possible. He would stop on his way to another place he wanted to visit: Spain, Always available as God's instrument, Paul would talk to anyone. His listeners might be hard-headed, resisting the truth, or they might be soft-hearted, ready to hear the truth of the Gospel. Either way, he'd boldly proclaim Jesus' message. The apostle did not hesitate.

 

When in Rome - The city of Rome is similar to many cities today. Our culture is full of attitudes about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit that are not true, but Christians often find it hard to speak out. Current culture says all religions lead to God or heaven and all truth is relative. People just need to be sincere or committed. Jesus' words are seen as narrow-minded: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Jesus did not leave other options open. Sometimes a believer just wants to be quiet—but Paul spoke out boldly God desires for His children to share Paul's tenacity and determination.