Romans 1:8–17 (NKJV)
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. 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.Romans 1:8-15
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.
After Paul’s initial greeting to the Romans, he lauds the Romans for their great faith and testimony. He states that he prays for them endlessly, and that he would like to come to Rome for a visit. He wants to give to them spiritually to make sure they are squarely in God’s will, and that their hearts may be melded together in their love and faith in God. This is a message from a father of the church to the children of the church. He longs to help them, if by some means he is able. From our discussions near the end of the book of Acts over the last several blogs, we can see that he gets his wish, although by rather unconventional means, to visit the Roman church. He sums up with a statement concerning his sense of responsibility to all people, including the Gentiles (Greeks and Barbarians) and longs to produce fruit in Roman through preaching the gospel. The characterization of people here is different from some of Paul’s other writings because of the audience to whom he writes. Romans have little reference point as to the Jew-Gentile distinction, as they are far removed from Israel and the Jewish influence there. Instead–to them–there are Greeks (wise) and barbarians (unwise) in the population, and Paul is letting them know that God loves them all.
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.”Romans 1:16-17
These two verses explain Paul’s motivation for wanting to minister in Rome, and provide the framework for the entire letter. Paul is dedicated to, invested in, and passionate about, the gospel of Jesus Christ. The word unabashed means “not embarrassed, disconcerted, or ashamed.” Why would Paul be so sold out to this message? This gospel, or good news, is the power of God save now, and continually save in the days to come. It is a message that can positionally transform men and women at the moment of conversion, but will also shape them as they walk through this new life in Christ. This gospel is for salvation, for believers, for Jews and Greeks! Paul changes his dichotomy of people from “to Greeks and to barbarians” to “for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” In doing this, he shows that the gospel did come first to the Jews, but is now also available to the Greeks. Their enlightenment is not complete without the gospel. Their wholeness–or salvation–is not complete without Christ and His message of faith. And this message provides faithfulness from God to those who have faith in God. Therefore, the just shall live by faith.
This statement sets up the outline, if you will, of the remainder of the letter. Paul is so excited about and dedicated to this gospel because of it power to save EVERYONE. This gospel is the message of faith and grace and wholeness. Therefore, everyone who believes is wise, even if considered a barbarian due to their heritage, culture, or birth. And Paul is the apostle to the Greek, and has brought this wonderful message to their mailbox, as should we as Christians every day.