Summary: The Just shall live by faith
Romans 1:16, “16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,[a] for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”
Among most Paul’s well known phrases and most often used quotes is the above verse. Paul had been imprisoned in Philippi (Acts 16:23-24), chased out of Thessalonica (Acts 17:10), smuggled out of Berea (Acts 17:14), laughed at in Athens (Acts 17:32), regarded as a fool in Corinth (1 Cor 1:18,23), and stoned in Galatia (Acts 14:19), but Paul remained eager to preach the gospel in Rome-the seat of contemporary political power and pagan religion. Neither ridicule, criticism, nor physical persecution could curb his boldness.
Power: Comes from the English word dynamite. Although the message of the gospel may sound foolish to some (1 Cor 1:18), the gospel is effective because it carries with it the omnipotence of God (Exo 15:6; Deut 32:29; Job 9:4; Pss 33:8-9; 89:13; 106:8-9; Isa 26:4; 43:13: Jer 10:12;27:5 Mat 28:”18; Rom 9:21). Only the Lord’s power is able to overcome man’s sinful nature and give him new life (5:6; 8:3; John 1:12; 1 Cor 1:18,2325; 2:1-4; 4:20; 1 Peter 1:23).
Salvation is used five times in Romans (the verb form occurs 8 times), this key word basically means “deliverance” or “rescue”. The power of the gospel delivers people from lostness (Matt 18:11), from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9), from willful spiritual ignorance (Hos 4:6; 2nd Thess 1:8), from evil self indulgence (Luke 14:26), and from the darkness of false religion (Col 1:13; 1 Peter 2:9). It rescues them from the ultimate penalty of their sin, eternal separation from God and eternal punishment (Rev 20:6).
Believes: To trust on, or have faith in. When used of salvation this word usually occurs in the present tense (is believing” which stresses that faith is not simply a one-time event, but an ongoing condition. True saving faith then is not simply a one time event, but a supernatural, a gracious gift of God that He produces in the heart (Eph 2:8) and is the only means by which a person can appropriate true righteousness (3:22,25; 4:5; 13,20; 5:1). Saving faith consists of 3 elements: 1) mental: the mind understands the gospel and the truth about Christ (10:14-17); 2) emotional: one embraces the truthfulness of those facts with sorrow over sin and joy over God’s mercy and grace (6:17; 15:13); and 3) volitional: the sinner submits his will to Christ and trusts in Him alone as the only hope of salvation (10:9). Genuine faith will always produce authentic obedience (4:3; John 8:31; 14:23-24).
Jew first is a reference to the fact that God chose Israel to be His witness nation (Ex 19:6) and gave her distinct privileges (3:2; 9:4-5). Yeshua’s ministry was first to Israel (Matthew 15:24), and it was through Israel that salvation was to come to the world (John 4:22; 13:46).
Romans 1:17, “17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."[b]”
Righteousness of God is better translated righteousness from God. This is a major theme in the book of Romans, righteousness is. It appears over 30 times in one form or another, righteousness is the state or condition of perfectly conforming to God’s perfect law and holy character. Other terms from the same Greek root also occur some 30 times and are usually translated justified, justification or similarly. Only God is inherently righteous (Deut 32:4; Job 9:2; Pss 11:7; 116:5; John 17:25; Romans 3:10; 1 John 2:1; Rev 16:5), and man fall woefully short of the divine standard of moral perfection (3:23; Matthew 5:48). The Gospel reveals that on the basis of faith-and faith alone-God will impute His righteous to ungodly sinners (3:21-24; 4:5; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:8-8).
From faith to faith refers to the expression to everyone who believes in 1:16, which makes it as if Paul were singling out the faith of each individual believer-from one person’s faith to another’s faith to another’s and so on. Or perhaps Paul’s point is that the righteousness from God is completely on the basis of faith from beginning to end.
As it is written goes back to Hab 2:4). The just shall live by faith, is how Paul intends to prove that it has always been God’s way to justify sinners by grace on the basis of faith alone. God established Abraham as a pattern of faith (4:22; Gal 3:6-7) and thus calls him the father of all who believe (4:11,16). Elsewhere, Paul uses the same phrase to argue that no one has ever been declared righteous before God except by faith alone (Gal 3:11), and that true faith will demonstrate itself in action (Phil 2:12-13). This expression emphasizes that true faith is not a single event, but a way of life-it endures. That endurance is called the perseverance of the saints (Col 1:22-23; Heb 3:12-14). One central theme of the story of Job is that no matter what Satan does, saving faith cannot be destroyed (Romans 8:31-38).
Pastor David Jenkins