on Romans 1 :16
I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ - This text is best illustrated by Isaiah 28:16; Isaiah 49:23, quoted by the apostle, Romans 10:11 : For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him, shall not be ashamed; i.e. they shall neither be confounded, nor disappointed of their hope. The Jews, by not believing on Jesus Christ, by not receiving him as the promised Messiah, but trusting in others, have been disappointed, ashamed, and confounded, from that time to the present day. Their expectation is cut off; and, while rejecting Christ, and expecting another Messiah, they have continued under the displeasure of God, and are ashamed of their confidence. On the other hand, those who have believed on Christ have, in and through him, all the blessings of which the prophets spoke; every promise of God being yea and amen through him. Paul, as a Jew, believed on Christ Jesus; and in believing he had life through his name; through him he enjoyed an abundance of grace; so that, being filled with that happiness which an indwelling Christ produces, he could cheerfully say, I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. And why? Because he felt it to be the power of God to the salvation of his believing soul. This appears to be the true sense of this passage, and this interpretation acquires additional strength from the consideration that St. Paul is here most evidently addressing himself to the Jews.
It is the power of God unto salvation - δυναμις γαρ θεου εστιν· The almighty power of God accompanies this preaching to the souls of them that believe; and the consequence is, they are saved; and what but the power of God can save a fallen, sinful soul?
To the Jew first - Not only the Jews have the first offer of this Gospel, but they have the greatest need of it; being so deeply fallen, and having sinned against such glorious privileges, they are much more culpable than the Gentiles, who never had the light of a Divine revelation.
And also to the Greek - Though the salvation of God has hitherto been apparently confined to the Jewish people, yet it shall be so no longer, for the Gospel of Christ is sent to the Gentiles as well as the Jews; God having put no difference between them; and Jesus Christ having tasted death for Every man.
on Romans 1 :16
For I am not ashamed ... - 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 Corinthians 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. People 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 what they feel to be right, and of what 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 favorite doctrines that they who believe on Christ shall not be ashamed, Romans 10:11; Romans 5:5; 2 Corinthians 7:14; 2 Timothy 1:12; Philippians 1:20; Romans 9:33; 2 Timothy 1:8; compare Mark 8:38; 1 Peter 4:16; 1 John 2:28.
Of the gospel - This word means the "good news," or the glad intelligence; see the note at Mark 1:1. 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 people. 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 suited 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 suited 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. If is not a feeble and ineffectual instrumentality, but it is "mighty to the pulling down of strongholds," 2 Corinthians 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, compare Jeremiah 23:29, "Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" 1 Corinthians 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 everyone that believeth," it implies that all who become believers "shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation" (see 1 Peter 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 everyone that believeth - Compare Mark 16:16-17. This expresses the condition, or the terms, on which salvation is conferred through the gospel. It is not indiscriminately to all people, 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 people 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 under the commands, and promises, and threatenings of God; see the note at Mark 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. Compare Acts 2 and Acts 10; Matthew 10:6; Luke 24:49; Acts 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." Compare Matthew 21:43.
And also to the Greek - To all who were nor Jews, that is, to all the world. It was nor confined in its intention or efficacy to any class or nation of people. It was adapted to all, and was designed to be extended to all.
on Romans 1 :16