"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 explains the meaning of these phrases from the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:16: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel," "for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes," and "to the Jew first and also to the Greek."
1. "I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel"
Ashamed -- In Romans 1:16 the Greek word for ashamed is epaischunomai (pronounced ep-ahee-skhoo'-nom-ahee) (Ref. 1 - HELPS Word-studies). This word means to be disgraced, or personally humiliated like someone being "singled out" because they misplaced their confidence or support (Ref. 1).
The world thought that Paul should be ashamed. To the Jews, "the thought of a crucified Messiah" was "a revolting folly" (Ref. 2 - Pulpit Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:18). To the Greeks the worship of a crucified wrongdoer was a detestable superstition (Ref. 2). In contrast with the Jews and Greeks who thought that Paul should be ashamed, Paul in no way felt ashamed of his message about Jesus Christ. Paul did not shrink away from preaching Christ; instead, he glorified in it (Romans 1:15).
As believers in Christ -- like Paul -- we should not be ashamed of our Lord and Savior. Likewise, we should not be ashamed to present the good news of salvation in Christ to others. 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).
Gospel -- The Greek word for gospel in Romans 1:16 is euaggelion (pronounced yoo-ang-ghel'-ee-on). Euaggelion means God's good news (Ref. 3). At the beginning of Jesus' ministry, the gospel was the glad tidings of the kingdom of God soon to be set up (Mark 1:14-15, Ref. 3 - Thayer's Greek Lexicon). After Jesus' death and resurrection, the gospel was (and still is) the good news that Jesus Christ has paid the penalty for our sin through his sacrificial death on the cross. When we repent of our sins and put our faith and trust in him, we receive forgiveness of our sins and the gift of eternal life. See Mark 1:14-15, Mark 10:45, John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9, and 1 John 1:9.
2. "For It Is the Power of God for Salvation to Everyone Who Believes"
Power -- The Greek word for power in Romans 1:16 is dunamis (pronounced doo'-nam-is). Dunamis means (miraculous) power, might, strength, and ability to perform (Ref. 4). Kenneth S. Wuest adds that "Dunamis is power, natural ability, inherent power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or, power which a person or living thing exerts or puts forth. The gospel is the inherent, omnipotent power of God operating in the salvation of a lost soul who accepts it" (Ref. 5 below).
The Apostle Paul wrote to believers at Corinth, "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).
Salvation -- The Greek word for salvation is sótéria (pronounced so-tay-ree'-ah). HELPS Word-studies defines sótéria as "God's rescue which delivers believers out of destruction and into His safety" (Ref. 6).
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).
Believe -- The Greek word for believe is pisteuó (pronounced pist-yoo'-o). Pisteuó means to believe, to have faith in, to trust in, and to place confidence in (Ref. 7). The person who believes in Christ is a person who has put their faith, trust, and confidence in Christ.
The phrase "to everyone who believes" describes the condition, or terms, on which God confers salvation (Ref. 8). God confers salvation on sinners who by faith put their trust and confidence in God's Son, Jesus Christ.
3. "To the Jew First and Also to the Greek"
The phrase "to the Jew first and also to the Greek" means that God then and now offers salvation to all people, to Jews and to all who are not Jews (Ref. 9). God's offer of salvation to all people is consistent with John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life."
Salvation is the present possession of all people who believe in (have faith, trust, and confidence in) Jesus Christ (Acts 16:30-31, Mark 16:15-16, Acts 8:34-39).
The world thought then (and still thinks now) that Paul's message about Christ was foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18, Ref. 10). Yet, Paul was neither disgraced nor ashamed of the gospel. Likewise, as believers in Christ, we should never be ashamed of the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. Jesus Christ, through his sacrificial death on the cross, has procured forgiveness of sins and provides eternal life to all who put their faith and trust in him.
Apply. Show by your words and your deeds that you are not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
"The Word of the Cross - Foolishness or Power?" (1 Corinthians 1:18)
"What Does 'To be Saved' Mean in the New Testament?" (Acts 16:31)
"God's Offer of Salvation and Eternal Life" (John 3:16)
"Stand Firm in the Faith" (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)
2. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/pulpit/1_corinthians/1.htm (Pulpit Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:18)
5. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament, Kenneth S. Wuest, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973, Volume One, commentary on Romans 1:16
(Notes on the Bible by Albert Barnes  - Romans 1:16)
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