Summary: This is the 2nd of 30 Studies in the Book of Romans
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
Paul had just said how he felt indebted to share the Gospel (good news) with both Jews and non-Jews alike; let’s see why he felt the need to share this Gospel with them. What’s so amazing about the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
He begins by saying that there is nothing in the Gospel of Christ for him to be ashamed of. This would have been particularly relevant to the readers or hearers of his letter, especially since many of the Jews and even non-Jews felt that this gospel of Jesus sounded rather strange and unbelievable. We live in a time today when that’s exactly how the world looks at the Gospel as well. It sounds too simple and far-fetched in its message of the love of God, and almost impossible for a person of reason to believe. Paul says that he is not ashamed of this Gospel, which means that he is proud of it. Let’s delve deeper as to why he feels this way.
He says that it’s the power of God to salvation, meaning that those who believe this gospel of Jesus will experience the power of God to transform their lives forever. This power is available to both the Jews as well as the non-Jews. Until then, only the Jews were referred to as God’s chosen people, but now the gates were thrown open to the non-Jews as well, provided they believed in this good news of Jesus.
He goes on to say that one of the good things in this good news about Jesus, is the fact that God is willing to bestow His own righteousness on those who believe the Gospel. There’s nothing one needs to do to be made righteous. One cannot purchase or earn this righteousness of God – it’s a free gift that God freely bestows on those who believe in Him. He’s not talking about our own righteousness which, before God, is no righteousness at all. Isaiah 64:6 says, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Isaiah had written about the righteousness of God in Isaiah 61:10 with these words, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” So here was an amazing opportunity to all of us who had tarnished the image of God in the Garden of Eden, and became unrighteous, to now be bestowed with God’s own righteousness free of cost on our part. What a privilege! Little wonder Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel that talked about this righteousness.
He goes on to say that this righteousness of God is available only through faith – there’s nothing that one needs to do to earn it or deserve it. All we need to do to receive it is to merely believe and trust in the Lord Jesus’ work on the cross on our behalf. He adds that it takes faith to receive it and it takes faith to continue to walk in it every day of one’s life. He quotes from Habakkuk 2:4, which says, “The just (righteous) will live by faith.” One cannot receive this amazing gift in faith and then try to earn it along the way. It will always be a gift – it can never be a wage or a prize.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.