I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel: IntroductionTuesday, October 18, 2005
In keeping with my desire to build on the theme of the gospel's divine power, I begin today with an introduction to a brief series entitled, "Shamed But Not Ashamed." It builds on Paul's reasoning for not being ashamed of the gospel, and concludes on an implication inherent in the exegesis of the gospel's 'power.'
Romans 1:16 falls as third in a series of confessions Paul makes about himself beginning in verse 14. First, he describes himself as a debtor to all classes of mankind, obligated to preach the gospel. Second, in verse 15, he describes himself as a debtor to the gospel itself, being ready to preach it no matter what the cost. The transition is made to verse 16 in which he confesses, thirdly, that he is not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ because it is the power of God to save anyone who believes.
The first confession is about the Christian’s conviction. He is convicted that all men, regardless of race, origin, status or birth should hear the gospel of Christ.
The second confession is about the Christian’s conduct. From his conviction flows a conduct that is ready and eager to preach the gospel, especially to those difficult places where suffering will result.
Hinged on this second confession is a third confession. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” It hinges on the second confession by the little word “for.” In essence, verse 16 is Paul’s reason why he is eager to preach the gospel in Rome. He is eager to preach at Rome, despite the suffering and persecution that will come from it, because he is not ashamed of the man Jesus Christ and His message.
The word “ashamed” reflects the experience or feeling of shame or disgrace. This was generally how the world looked at the gospel message. It was a message of shame and disgrace. It preached a shameful and disgraceful man, named Jesus Christ. And it’s message produced shame and disgrace on it’s hearers. Therefore, any human being hearing this message would listen to it as a shameful story and consequently they would shame and disgrace the one preaching it. This is what Paul was expecting as he entered Rome to preach the gospel there.
Transition to Part One
Paul sensed the need to make the bold statement, “I am not ashamed,” because he knew where he was going. Again, as he just stated, he was eager and ready to go to Rome. As one commentator has stated, “It may be that there were people in Rome who despised the simplicity of the message…Such people would look down on the Christians and their unusual gospel” (Leon Morris, Romans, p. 66). This is quite an understatement. We know for a fact that there would be no 'maybe' about it. The Scriptures have clearly recorded for us the standard response of various classes of mankind to the gospel message.
Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will post on "How Greeks and Non-Greeks Responded to the Gospel."