I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel: Part FourWednesday, October 26, 2005
The rejection of the gospel was not usually a simple rejection. It was usually accompanied with great persecution and suffering. It is as if the hearers hated the message with a passion such that they wanted to stomp it out and utterly destroy it. This was especially the case with the Jews, since the Messiah he preached was Jewish.
The mindset of worldly wisdom and power which so dominated the culture and was so engrained on people’s minds compelled them to feel that they must destroy the preacher and his gospel message. Paul knew that everywhere he went in the world, and especially the capital of the world at that time (Rome), he would receive every kind of worldly response to his preaching which ranged from strange looks on people’s faces to actually being imprisoned and executed, and everything imaginable in between. As the record shows, he did in fact experience all of this, for from the moment he met Christ on the road to Damascus, he was hated, pursued, persecuted, and eventually executed. 2 Corinthians 11 bears this out, and I have pointed your attention to this passage on several other occasions.
So as he alerts the believers in Rome of his eagerness to preach the gospel there, he tells them that he knows he will be received this way but that none of this mattered. He was not ashamed of this message. He needed to utter this disclaimer because he gloried in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Listen to the words of one scholar, who writes,
“The gospel of a crucified carpenter in the streets of Imperial Rome – is not the idea so incongruous as to make one ashamed at the prospect? No, he is not ashamed, for the gospel is a divine POWER…” (Morris, Romans, p. 66, fn. 158).
William Barclay commented,
“Paul had been imprisoned in Philippi, chased out of Thessalonica, smuggled out of Beroea, laughed at in Athens. He had preached in Corinth where his message was foolishness to the Greeks and a stumbling-block to the Jews, and out of that background Paul declared that he was proud of the gospel” (ibid).
It is his description of Paul being “proud of the gospel” that is an accurately biblical antonym for the actual word Paul used in Romans 1:16. Paul is not ashamed of the gospel, but rather he is proud of it.
The present indicative usage of the verb “ashamed” here means that Paul would forever and always be unashamed of the gospel. The gospel message had provided him with eternal joy and satisfaction and happiness in the person of Jesus Christ. Remember, it was for this reason that he felt obligated and indebted to preach about Him to all mankind. But everywhere he went, he was met with suffering and persecution. Yet this would not stop him. He would continue to live unashamed of that gospel no matter what people may do to him. He loved Christ. He loved all men. And that love was demonstrated throughout his life by giving them what they so desperately needed – the person of Jesus Christ – even despite their hatred of both he and His Christ.
In the next post, I'll present a reflection of Paul's unashamedness of the gospel.