16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (The King James Version, 1769.)
It is about faith, those who have it and those who abuse it. It is not about those who have no faith. It is not about unbelief. Romans come from the viewpoint that everyone has a measure of faith. It does not matter whether he is talking about the born-again Christian, the Jew or the rest of the Gentiles. It is a journey through the covenants and the failure to walk in them in our own power. It starts with the failure of Gentiles to walk in the meager light they have, through to the Jew falling short of the Laws perfection, and ends with the inability to follow Christ's example by willpower alone.
There is a key that is revealed to the born again that makes it possible to walk in the power of God.
Then the scriptures will talk about falling away of the Jew, and we who have been born again, both Messianic Jew and Christian Gentiles together. How, that in the fulness of time, God's favour returns to the Jewish nation and their people in general.
Lastly some closing remarks and farewell's.
It is all good stuff. It ...is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:(2 Tim 3.16).
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:
Paul is not ashamed of the gospel. He is ready to preach it wherever the Spirit leads him. He will preach in season and out. He will preach even if he is to be stoned, shipwrecked, lashed or killed. He will not stop. In his heart he believes the goodnews and with his mouth he confesses that the news is both: true and good. Jesus himself said that if you are ashamed of Him and his words he will be ashamed of you (Mark 8.38). That if you confess Him, he will confess you before the Father. Deny Him and he will deny you before the Father. (Matt 10.32-33)
Throughout history, since the death of Jesus, standing firm with Christ has been "the line drawn in the sand." On this side of the line is life in Christ and on the other side is a life on your own. The martyrs of the church had this truth in mind when confronted to deny the risen Lord. Paul, while still called Saul and before his conversion, went about trying to get Christians to deny faith in Christ. Here we now have Paul cherishing the gospel message and Jesus who is the focus of the story. Paul is as one who shouts from the rooftops when necessary.
for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth;
It is an idea, a thought, a concept, that is being proclaimed throughout the world. This gospel preached in the hearing of men and women has the potential to transform. The word of God does not to go out by itself. There also is the working of the Holy Spirit. The word of God must be preached. Yet the word of God remains idle if it is alone. It takes the two, the Spirit and the Word, to bring a new understanding, a new life, into being. If you have the word and do not believe, the gospel is of no advantage to you. It is the Spirit that draws men to Christ, who reveals the gospel and who ignites faith in the hearer. All we must do to get started is to "Amen" what the Spirit is showing us.
...the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John 6.63)
...even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: (John 15.26)
It is the words and the Spirit... the power of God... unto salvation.
to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
In Romans Paul wants to establish, without a doubt, that the good news came first to the Jew. The ministry of Jesus was to the Jew, not the Gentile Nations. It is only after the resurrection of Jesus that the gospel is opened to the Gentiles. Peter at the house of Cornelius was the beginning. By the time that Paul writes this letter he has already made his proclamation that he was taking the gospel to the Gentiles. This is a major shift in outreach. It occurred in Antioch. (Acts 13.14-52) In the end the Jews in general rejected the gospel and it became the promise given to the Gentiles. The gospel became the great inclusion and later the great divider. First the Jew with some proselytes, then the Jews and Gentiles together as one, and then Gentiles with only a small remnant of Messianic Jews. Paul builds on this theme, Jews and Greeks, throughout his letter.
17For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith
This faith to faith business is quite revealing. It is both regarding the progressive revelation that God has given to mankind from age to age. It is also referring to the growing faith of a person. In the first instance it is revealing new, deeper truths through the establishing of newer covenants based on newer promises. The second is revealing new insights into the ways of God and what God wants of the individual and by extension the nation of Israel and later the church.
Let me return to the beginning of this page. It is the faith revealed in: what the Gentiles witness around them that reflects God, the Jew under the Law, and the born again Christian:- Faith in the universe's witness of God, to faith in the witness through the Law, to faith in the witness of the gospel. And if you believe? Your own journey of faith to faith as you go deeper in your life with God.
Who are the just? Simply those who say amen to what God has revealed. From Adam to Abraham, from Moses to Jesus, and beyond to us today, are justified by God on the sole premise we believe in Him and what He said.
18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Both ungodliness and unrighteousness are based on the rejection of known revelation. It doesn't matter who you are, there is a witness to the glory and greatness of God. We serve a loving God. God wants the best for us. Yet we are so easily lead astray from the truth. Whether that is seeing the universe as its own creator, up to and including, denying the Spirit that Jesus sent to us for our comfort and growth. Those who walk as though they have no responsibility to God are, or eventually become, Godless. Not that they are without gods (little "g") but without God (big "G"). Eventually this starts a downward spiral and then comes the first moment that God must act to refrain man from his own evil desires/devises. If a nation, or a man, does not stop their acts of unrighteousness, their doing evil, then the judgement of God begins to fall. First as correction and lastly condemned.
One example is "The Great Flood" of Noah's day. The final act of judgement on a world which did what was right in their own eyes and not in the eyes of God. A history of Israel from their leaving Egypt to the destruction of two kingdoms, Israel and Judah are other examples. Because of the need for a Jewish state, God reconstitutes Jerusalem and worship. Yet once again too many do what is right in their own eyes and not God's and the Roman's destroy them again. The Lord will do the same to all unbelievers... trying to correct and as a final act - separation. Gentile, Jew or Christian... it does not matter. Walk by faith or lose the prize, the gift, the reward, etc.
Not fair? Can't be right? Even the Christian? Yes, even the Christian. It is not solely that they do not believe the truth that God has revealed, each in their own turn... but that the truth they have is being maligned, twisted, made of no effect. If a Christian denies the truth once revealed to him, begins to do what is right in his own eyes and it leads to not following the leading of the Spirit, that means he "holds the truth in unrighteousness." If, however, some part of the truth has not yet been revealed to them, then they cannot walk in it. That is an entirely different matter.
Webite administrator: Joseph A Raymond
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada