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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 1 - Verse 16
Verse 16. For I am not ashamed, etc. The Jews had cast him off, and regarded him as an apostate; and by the wise among the Gentiles he had been persecuted, and despised, and driven from place to place, and regarded as the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things, (1 Co 4:13) but still he was not ashamed of the gospel. He had so firm a conviction of its value and its truth; he had experienced so much of its consolations, and had seen so much of its efficacy, that he was so far from being ashamed of it that he gloried in it as the power of God unto salvation. Men should be ashamed of crime and folly. They are ashamed of their own offences, and of the follies of their conduct, when they come to reflect on it. But they are not ashamed of that which they feel to be right, and of that which they know will contribute to their welfare, and to the benefit of their fellow-men. Such were the views of Paul about the gospel; and it is one of his favourite doctrines that they who believe on Christ shall not be ashamed, Ro 9:33 Ro 10:11; 5:5; 2 Co 7:14; 2 Ti 1:12; Php 1:20; Ro 9:33; 2 Ti 1:8; comp. Mr 8:38; 1 Pe 4:16; 1 Jo 2:28.
It is so called because it contains the glad annunciation that sin may be pardoned, and the soul saved.
Of Christ. The good news respecting the Messiah; or which the Messiah has brought. The expression probably refers to the former, the good news which relates to the Messiah, to his character, advent, preaching, death, resurrection, and ascension. Though this was "to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness," yet he regarded it as the only hope of salvation, and was ready to preach it even in the rich and splendid capital of the world.
The power of God. This expression means, that it is the way in which God exerts his power in the salvation of men. It is the efficacious or mighty plan, by which power goes forth to save, and by which all the obstacles of man's redemption are taken away. This expression implies,
(1.) that it is God's plan, or his appointment. It is not the device of man.
(2.) It is adapted to the end. It is fitted to overcome the obstacles in the way. It is not merely the instrument by which God exerts his power, but it has an inherent adaptedness to the end, it is fitted to accomplish salvation to man, so that it may be denominated power.
(3.) It is mighty: hence it is called power, and the power of God. It is not a feeble and ineffectual instrumentality, but it is "mighty to the pulling down of strong holds," 2 Co 10:4,5. It has shown its power as applicable to every degree of sin, to every combination of wickedness. It has gone against the sins of the world, and evinced its power to save sinners of all grades, and to overcome and subdue every mighty form of iniquity. Comp. Jer 23:29, "Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" 1 Co 1:18, "The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."
Unto salvation. This word means, complete deliverance from sin and death, and all the foes and dangers that beset man. It cannot imply anything less than eternal life. If a man should believe and then fall away, he could in no correct sense be said to be saved. And hence when the apostle declares that it is the power of God unto salvation "to every one that believeth," it implies that all who become believers "shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation," (see #1 Pe 1:5) and that none shall ever fall away and be lost. The apostle thus commences his discussion with one of the important doctrines of the Christian religion, the final preservation of the saints. He is not defending the gospel for any temporary object, or with any temporary hope. He looks through the system, and sees in it a plan for the complete and eternal recovery of all those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. When he says it is the power of God unto salvation, he means that it is the power of God for the attainment of salvation. This is the end, or the design of this exertion of power.
To every one that believeth. Comp. Mr 16:16,17. This expresses the condition, or the terms, on which salvation is conferred through the gospel. It is not indiscriminately to all men, whatever may be their character. It is only to those who confide or trust in it; and it is conferred on all who receive it in this manner. If this qualification is possessed, it bestows its blessings freely and fully. All men know what faith is. It is exercised when we confide in a parent, a friend, a benefactor. It is such a reception of a promise, a truth, or a threatening, as to suffer it to make its appropriate impression on the mind, and such as to lead us to act under its influence, or to act as we should on the supposition that it is true. Thus a sinner credits the threatenings of God, and fears: this is faith. He credits his promises, and hopes: this is faith. He feels that he is lost, and relies on Jesus Christ for mercy: this is faith. And, in general, faith is such an impression on the mind made by truth as to lead us to feel and act as if it were true; to have the appropriate feelings, and views, and conduct, raider the commands, and promises, and threatenings of God. See Barnes "Mr 16:16".
To the Jew first. First in order of time. Not that the gospel was any more adapted to Jews than to others; but to them had been committed the oracles of God; the Messiah had come through them; they had had the law, the temple, and the service of God, and it was natural that the gospel should be proclaimed to them before it was to the Gentiles. This was the order in which the gospel was actually preached to the world, first to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles. Comp. Acts Chapters 2 and 10; Mt 10:6; Lu 24:49; Ac 13:46, "It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you; but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles." Comp. Mt 21:43.
And also to the Greek. To all who were not Jews, that is, to all the world. It was not confined in its intention or efficacy to any class or nation of men. It was adapted to all, and was designed to be extended to all.
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