Forthright Magazine

Romans 1-3: Not ashamed

Pride turning to shame is not rare. Consider the young person who is proud of his or her school project until seeing the outstanding accomplishments of others. Or reflect upon how the boldness of worshipping together on Sunday morning might disintegrate later in the week into shame when surrounded by hostile scoffers.

Why did Paul write that he was not ashamed of the gospel? Did he want the church at Rome to envision him taking his stand in Rome before Gentiles who viewed Christ crucified as foolishness? Did he want them to realize his missionary zeal before pressing onward to Spain? What we do know is that because of the gospel being God’s power to save and because of what the gospel reveals, Paul felt no shame in declaring it.

From Romans 1:16-17 we should notice both the gospel’s result as well as its range and method. Each of these provided reasons to be proud of the gospel.

As for the gospel’s result, through it God extends his power to save those who respond with faith.  Regarding its range, the gospel is for all, not just a certain people group, thereby revealing God’s righteousness.

Furthermore, God offered it first for the Jew and then for the Greek consequently honoring the Jewish heritage and further displaying God’s righteousness. And when it comes to the gospel’s method of working, it is “out of faith unto faith” (Romans 1:17). Later Paul will elaborate more on this idea.

Paul was not ashamed of the gospel because it both constituted God’s power to save and it reveals how God is righteous. In Romans 1-3 Paul proceed to provide us with a string of pearls developing these thoughts. He highlighted various ways in which the gospel underscores God’s righteousness.

  • Through the gospel God offers salvation to all people.
  • Through the gospel God honored his historic relationship with the Jews.
  • The gospel declares that God will righteously judge one day (Romans 2:16). Not only is God righteous in pouring out wrath upon sin, but also the principles God will use to judge are extremely fair (Romans 2:6f). Therefore no favoritism exists (Romans 2:11).
  • God has remained faithful in spite of human unfaithfulness, thus preserving his righteousness and ability to judge righteously (Romans 3:3f).
  • Although previously the Law and the prophets had pointed to God’s righteousness, now the gospel also manifests it by working “through the faith(faithfulness) of Jesus Christ unto all who respond with faith” (Romans 3:21-22). No favoritism. And since it is available on the basis of faith in Jesus’ blood at the mercy seat and not based upon works, it is within reach of all people!
  • Although sin and thus condemnation have overtaken all of humanity, the gospel displays God’s righteousness by offering redemption through Christ to all people by grace.
  • God’s manner of handling humanity’s sin problem does not involve him glibly pronouncing the guilty innocent, rather God declares righteous “the one who is out of Jesus’ faith(faithfulness)” (Romans 3:26).

As Paul pushed further into his message to the Romans, no wonder he broke out praising God.

Rom. 11:33  Oh, the depth of the riches  of the wisdom and  knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen. Romans 11:33-36

Paul had no reason to either be ashamed of the gospel nor of his God. The gospel reveals the righteousness of God.


For some of the academic undergirding supporting these thoughts consider Romans 1-3: A Non-Lutheran Reading.


Barry Newton
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