"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16)
This lesson provides a word study of the keywords in Romans 1:16 where the Apostle Paul says "I am not ashamed of the gospel."
Consider. Do you know what Paul means when he says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel"?
I am Not Ashamed. As believers in Christ, we should not be ashamed to be identified with Christ, and we should not be ashamed to present the good news of salvation in Christ to others. The Apostle Paul recognized the world's opposition to Christ (1 Corinthians 1:18, 1 Corinthians 1:23, Ref. 1, Ref. 2, Ref. 3). Yet Paul did not shrink away from preaching Christ; instead, he glorified in it. In Romans 1:15, Paul writes, "So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome" (italics added).
In Romans 1:16 the Greek word for the verb to be ashamed of means disgraced, like someone being "singled out" because they misplaced their confidence or support" (Ref. 4). The world thought Paul should be ashamed. To the Jews "the thought of a crucified Messiah" was "a revolting folly" (Ref. 5). To the Greeks the worship of a crucified wrongdoer was a detestable superstition (Ref. 5). Paul kept his confidence in Christ. He in no way felt disgraced because he represented Christ. Paul continued to preach the gospel despite the world's opposition.
Paul encouraged his protégé, Timothy, "Do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God" (2 Timothy 1:8).
Of the Gospel. The Greek word for gospel in Romans 1:16 is euaggelion (pronounced as yoo-ang-ghel'-ee-on). Euaggelion means God's good news (Ref. 6). The good news about Jesus Christ is the gospel. Specifically, Jesus Christ through his death on the cross has procured eternal salvation for all who put their faith in him. By God's grace, we receive forgiveness of our sins and the gift of eternal life when we put our faith in Christ (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 1:7, Ephesians 2:8). That is the message.
For it is the power of God. The Greek word for power in Romans 1:16 is dunamis (pronounced as doo'-nam-is). Dunamis means (miraculous) power, might, and strength (Ref. 7).
"The gospel is the inherent, omnipotent power of God operating in the salvation of a lost soul who accepts it" (Ref. 8 below). Cross references: 1 Corinthians 1:18, 1 Peter 3:1-5.
For salvation. The Greek word for salvation is sótéria. HELPS Word-studies defines salvation (sótéria) as "God's rescue which delivers believers out of destruction and into His safety" (Ref. 9).
Salvation is entirely God's doing, not something that we achieve by works or by "trying to live a good life" without Christ. Paul writes, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). Cross references: Luke 19:9, Acts 4:12.
To everyone who believes. The Greek word for believe is pisteuó which means believe, have faith in, trust in, and have confidence in (Ref. 10).
The phrase "to everyone who believes" describes the condition, or terms, on which God confers salvation (Ref. 11). God confers salvation on sinners who by faith put their trust in and rely upon God's Son, Jesus Christ. Salvation is the present possession of all true Christians who believe in and put their confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ. Cross references: Mark 16:15-16, John 3:16, Acts 16:30-31, 2 Timothy 1:12.
To the Jew First and Also to the Greek. God confers salvation on all people who put their faith and trust in Christ. Paul initially preached the good news to Jewish hearers (Acts 13:14-16). Paul later turned to the Gentiles after his Jewish listeners repudiated the message (Acts 13:46, Acts 28:28).
The world thought then (and still thinks now) that Paul's message about Christ was (is) foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18, Ref. 1). Yet, Paul was neither disgraced nor ashamed of the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. Jesus Christ, through his death on the cross, has procured forgiveness of sins and provides eternal life to all who put their faith and trust in him.
Apply. Think about and write down the definition of the gospel in your own words. Pray that God will provide you opportunities to present the gospel to others. God will help you to be unashamed of the good news of Jesus Christ and the salvation and eternal life he provides to those who believe in him.
5. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/1_corinthians/1.htm (Pulpit Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:18)
8. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament, Kenneth S. Wuest, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973
(Notes on the Bible by Albert Barnes  - Romans 1:16)
"For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18)
"Those who receive the gospel, and are enlightened by the Spirit of God, see more of God's wisdom and power in the doctrine of Christ crucified, than in all his other works." -- Matthew Henry (1662-1714) (Ref. 1, Ref. 2)
This lesson describes what the Apostle Paul meant by the phrase, "the word of the cross." God loves us so much that Jesus Christ died on the cross for us, and purchased the forgiveness of our sins. We will also study why for some people, the word of the cross is foolishness and for others, it is the power of God.
Consider. When the Apostle Paul wrote the phrase, "the word of the cross" (1 Corinthians 1:18), what did he mean? In your own words, how would you explain "the word of the cross" to someone else?
Definition of "word." The Greek word for word in 1 Corinthians 1:18 is logos. Logos means something said, a message, reasoning expressed by words, and instruction (Ref. 3). Acts 13:26 and 2 Corinthians 5:19 provide examples where logos is translated as message.
Definition of "cross." The Greek word for cross is staurós. Staurós has both a literal meaning and a figurative meaning. Christ was crucified on a literal Roman cross (Ref. 4). According to HELPS Word-Studies, "Staurós was the crosspiece of a Roman cross; the cross-beam was placed at the top of the vertical member to form a capital 'T' (Ref. 4). "This transverse beam was the one carried by the criminal" (Ref. 4, Matthew 27:31-32, John 19:17). In addition to the shape of a capital "T," researchers also discuss the cross in the shape of a cruciform ("†" or "✚") and as a vertical stake (Ref. 5). Most Christian denominations present the Christian cross in the shape of a cruciform (Ref. 5, Ref. 6).
Staurós also has a figurative meaning. Jesus spoke about the cross each believer bears to be his true follower (Ref. 4, Matthew 10:38, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23). Thayer's Greek Lexicon describes the figurative cross as an expression used by "those who, on behalf of God's cause, do not hesitate cheerfully and manfully [courageously] to bear persecutions, troubles, distresses — thus recalling the fate of Christ and the spirit in which he encountered it" (Ref. 4, brackets added).
What is meant by the expression, "the word of the cross"? The word, or message, of the cross is that God loves us so much that his Son, Jesus Christ, was crucified and died on the cross for us. Through his sacrifice, Jesus Christ has purchased the forgiveness of our sins. Through Jesus Christ, those who believe in him receive salvation and eternal life.
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
Foolishness to those who are perishing. The Greek word for foolishness is mória. Mória means folly, absurdity, foolishness (Ref. 7). The Greek word for perish is apollumi which means destroy utterly (Ref. 8). HELPS Word-Studies further defines apollumi as "to die, with the implication of ruin and destruction" (Ref. 8).
Why would Paul write that the message of the cross "is foolishness to those who are perishing" in 1 Corinthians 1:18?
1. "To the Jews 'the cross' was the tree of shame and horror; and a crucified person was 'accursed of God' " (Ref. 9, Deuteronomy 21:23). To the Jews, the thought of "a crucified Messiah" seemed "a revolting folly" (Ref. 9).
2. To Paul's Greek audience, the cross was the punishment for slaves and murderers (Ref. 9). The cross meant shame and agony. To the Greeks, worshiping "a crucified malefactor" was superstitious (Ref. 9).
3. Paul explains, "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised" (1 Corinthians 2:14). The natural man, who is "not truly enlightened and renewed by the Word and Spirit of God, and therefore has no other way of obtaining knowledge but by his senses and natural understanding … does not understand or apprehend the things of the Spirit of God" (Ref. 10).
To us who are being saved it is the power of God. The Greek word for saved is sózó, which means rescued from destruction and brought into divine safety (Ref. 11). The Greek word for power in 1 Corinthians 1:18 is dunamis. Dunamis means (miraculous) power, might, strength (Ref. 12).
The cross is much more than a decoration. "The cross is God's saving power" (Expositor's Greek Testament, Ref. 13). For us who are being saved, the cross is the means by which Jesus has forgiven our sins and rescued us from the path of destruction. By the cross, God offers us the gift of eternal life when we believe in Jesus Christ, God's Son. When we share the "word of the cross" with others, we share not a fable but God's mighty plan for saving people.
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16).
Apply. God gives us only two choices. Either we are on the path of perishing or we are on the path of salvation. On which path are you? If you do not know Christ, put your faith in him today, and receive from him forgiveness of your sins and the gift of eternal life. If you do know Christ, thank him for his sacrificial death on the cross to forgive your sins, and for his power working in you each day.
5. (Ref. 5 begins on the next line)
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