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12/3 – Not Ashamed (Romans 1:1-17)


Introduction — Here Paul begins his letter to the church in Rome. He identifies himself to this church. Who is Paul? He holds a humble view of himself. He is a slave of Christ, a called apostle, set apart for the gospel of God. Why is Paul who he is? It’s because of the gospel. The gospel is a major theme here. The gospel of God is a promise from God. The gospel of God is a promise given through prophets in the holy Scriptures. The gospel of God is a promise concerning and centered upon God’s Son—born of a descendant of David, declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead—Jesus Christ our Lord. Next, Paul reminds them of who they are together. They are those who receive grace and apostleship to bring obedient faith among all the Gentile people. Christ calls them all. In Christ, they know the love of God and receive grace and peace from God. Paul then tells them what he does and why he does what he does. What does Paul do? He thanks God that their faith is proclaimed throughout the world. Paul constantly prays for them, longing to see them. He wants to be with them so that he can encourage them and they can encourage him, and so that he may continue to preach the gospel. Where and to whom does he want to preach? Paul wants to be in Rome. Paul wants to preach primarily to the Gentile people. Why is Paul able to keep preaching this gospel? First, he realizes that he is under obligation to do so. He eagerly longs to preach the gospel. Second, Paul is not ashamed of the gospel. He knows that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. Third, Paul knows that the gospel shows forth the righteousness of God from faith to faith. Paul seemingly is all in to bring the gospel to anyone, anytime. How about us? Are we all in to proclaim the gospel?


To speak the gospel of Jesus Christ is both an honor and a duty. We get to speak the gospel and we must speak this gospel. Those of us called by Christ are eager to tell the good news. We preach the gospel to anyone, anytime. We are not ashamed of the gospel.


For I am not ashamed of the gospel . . . for I know the . . .




Comment: Paul announces his credentials to the church in Rome. Here he clearly tells them that he is a slave of Christ. He is a called apostle. God set him apart for the gospel. God called this man to know the gospel. God called this man to preach the gospel. God called this man as an apostle of Jesus Christ. God called this man to bring the gospel to people dead in sin, apart from God and without hope. As one called by God for the gospel, Paul fully knows that Jesus is focus of the gospel. Jesus is the Son of God. He is the Christ. He is Lord. Through Christ, Paul and the church receive the grace and peace and love of God. God calls them all.  God sets them apart for the gospel. Question: Do we see God’s call in our lives? Do we know that God sets us apart for the gospel? Do we see the wonder of Christ, the subject of the gospel? Do we walk with a holy purpose? Do we know the trajectory of our lives in Christ? Do we live for Him? Do we honor Him? Do we declare Him? Do we lead others to obey Him?

Application: Tell who you are in Christ. Gladly declare your hope in Christ. Affirm your calling in Christ. Speak about Him often. Direct people to consider the majesty of Christ. Invite people to know Christ. Lead people to follow Christ. Help them obey Christ. See the unity your share with everyone who knows Christ. Walk in the grace and peace and love of Christ.




Comment: Paul moves from his call for the gospel to tell about his service in the gospel. Paul serves God in the gospel of His Son. Paul serves God by praying for this church often. Paul thanks God for them all that their faith rings out loud and clear. Paul asks God for an open door to minister among them. He loves this church and he longs to be with this church. He wants to build them up. He wants to encourage them, just as he wants them to encourage him. Paul, though prevented so far, now wants to work among them, proclaiming the gospel in Rome. Paul understands that he is duty bound to care for all people. He must preach the gospel. He is eager to preach the gospel. As one who serves God in the gospel, Paul wants to preach the gospel to all people. Question: Do we serve God in the gospel? Do we pray for one another? Do we care about one another? Do we long to be with one another? Do we see our duty and our honor to serve God in the gospel? Are we eager to preach the gospel?

Application: Serve God in the gospel. Pray for one another. Pray for open doors to speak the gospel. Pray to be with one another. Spend time with one another. Preach the gospel together. Preach the gospel to anyone.




Comment: Paul concludes the introduction by telling the church why he does what he does. Paul knows the power of the gospel. First, he knows the power of the gospel which obligates him to care for all people (14). He must preach the gospel. He eagerly longs to preach the gospel. Second, Paul glories in the gospel because he knows it’s the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. Paul is not ashamed of this mighty gospel. Third, Paul knows that this strong gospel reveals the righteousness of God. From start to finish, the gospel shows that God is righteous and God makes righteous those who live by faith. This gospel is mighty. This gospel is able. This gospel is powerful. He thrills to the gospel. He serves in the gospel. He knows that God calls him for the gospel. God sets him apart. And Paul is not ashamed of the gospel. Question: How about us? Do we thrill to the gospel? Do we serve in the power of the gospel? Do we glory in the gospel? Do we try to ignore our duty to the gospel? Do we show shame in the gospel? Application: Consider the power of the gospel. Do not ignore your call to God in the gospel. Pursue your duty to the gospel. Speak the gospel. Preach the gospel. Point people to the glory of God in Christ. Uphold the gospel. Treasure the gospel. Thrill to the gospel. Do not hide the gospel. Do not ignore the gospel. Do not walk away from the gospel. Live the gospel. Do not be ashamed of the gospel. Glory in the gospel. Shine forth the gospel.

Word Study for Romans 1:1-17

1 bond-servant (doulos—slave; born bondman; subjection; subservient; servant)[1]

1 set apart (aphorizo—separate; appoint; to grant as a special gift; exclude; to mark off by boundaries from)

1 gospel (euangelion—good tidings; the good news; the reward of good news; a good message)

4 declared (horizo—divide or separate from; determine; appoint; to act as a boundary)

6 called (kletos—invited; welcome; chosen; welcome; appointed)

8 being proclaimed (katangello—proclaim throughout; to announce; to declare; report; tell with conviction)

9 mention (mneia—remembrance; memory; remember and mention)

11 long (epipotheo—deeply desire; have great affection for; desire intensely; yearn)

11 established (sterizo—strengthen; support; establish in a place; sustain; fix firmly)

12 encouraged together (symparakaleo—be mutually encouraged; to exhort together; to be strengthened with)

13 obtain (echo—have; hold; hold on to; possess; bring about; experience)

14 obligation (opheiletes—debtor; one who must; indebted)

15 eager (prothymos—willing; ready; zealous)

15 preach the gospel (euangelizo—tell the good news; proclaim; announce good news; declare, show the gospel)

16 salvation (soteria—deliverance; preservation; rescue; health; safety)

17 righteousness (dikaiosyne—righteousness; be put right with; justice; what is right; show to be right; acquit)

17 revealed (apokalypto—reveal; uncover; open; unveil; disclose)


Application for Romans 1:1-17

Let’s see our calling in Christ.

Let’s see our being set apart for the gospel of God.

Let’s see the promise and power of Christ.

Let’s see our standing in Christ.

Let’s see our need to pray for one another.

Let’s see our need to encourage one another.

Let’s see the power of the gospel.

Let’s see the hope of the gospel.


Gospel Connections for Romans 1:1-17

Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus was born a descendant of David, according to the flesh. Christ was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness. Jesus is the promised Messiah. He is the Christ. He is Lord. In Christ, we see that we are not righteous. In Christ, we see that God is righteous. In Christ, we see our need to turn in faith to Christ. In Christ, we receive the faith to believe. In Christ, we receive love and power. In Christ, we receive grace and peace. In Christ, we receive salvation.


Thoughts and Quotes for Romans 1:1-17

Our calling is not primarily to be holy men and women, but to be [those who proclaim] the gospel of God … Paul was not conscious of himself. He was recklessly abandoned, totally surrendered, and separated by God for one purpose—to proclaim the gospel of God. ~ Oswald Chambers


If the gospel is old news to you, it will be dull news to everyone else. ~ Kevin DeYoung


It is not great faith but true faith that saves. And the salvation lies not in the faith but in the Christ in whom faith trusts. ~ Charles H. Spurgeon


None of us is beyond the task of missions . . .The question is not whether or not we will be working to spread the gospel around the world, but what role we will play in this. ~ Francis Chan, Multiply


Being able to articulate the gospel with accuracy is one thing; having its truth captivate your soul is quite another.

~ J.D. Greear, Gospel


Commentary on Romans 1:1-17

1:16–17. John Stott recounts a comment made by Scottish theologian James Stewart concerning this passage: “There’s no sense in declaring that you’re not ashamed of something unless you’ve been tempted to feel ashamed of it” (Stott, p. 60). We think of Paul as invincible, yet he was human. Jesus anticipated that his followers might one day be ashamed to identify with him (Mark 8:38), and Peter soon confirmed that prediction by denying him three times in one night (Matt. 26:75). Even Paul himself confessed to arriving in Corinth in “weakness and fear, and with much trembling” (1 Cor. 2:3) so plainspoken did he see himself as compared to the eloquent and sophisticated Greeks. And yet Paul, in truth, was never ashamed of his Savior. He spoke before royalty, rabbis, rulers, and rabble—to him, it made no difference. As he is about to demonstrate to the Romans in subsequent chapters, all are in need of the gospel.

Paul’s confidence turns on three occurrences of gar (“for” or “because”) in these two verses. The first is untranslated in the NIV, but should be, as it provides the transition from his earlier statement of eagerness: “I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome [for] I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God … for in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed (vv. 15–17; emphasis added).

Paul is giving the Roman believers a paradigm for life that the contemporary church desperately needs to understand: nothing will display the righteousness of God (and thereby his person and glory) to a needy world like the message of the gospel. Not surprisingly, it is a paradigm that Paul drew from the Old Testament and applied to the believers in Rome. We can draw on both instances and apply it to our benefit today.

So much has been written by commentators and theologians on these verses that “it is not easy to summarize, let alone to systematize, the debate” (Stott, p. 61). What is the meaning of the righteousness from God—attribute, action, or advantage? And what does it mean that righteousness is by faith from first to last? And does ho de dikaios ek pisteos zesetai mean the righteous will live by faith or “the one who is righteous by faith will live”? Good questions all, and best answered with a look at the context from which Paul draws his final phrase (the righteous will live by faith), and the context to which he is applying and addressing it (the believing community of Christians in Rome).

In verse 17, Paul quotes something God said to the prophet Habakkuk (Hab. 2:4; also quoted in Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38–39). God’s statement was one of comfort to Habakkuk, who was at his wits’ end with God. First, wickedness was rampant in Israel and God seemed oblivious to it, moving Habakkuk to rail against God in a series of complaints (Hab. 1:2–4). Second, when God said he was going to use a nation more wicked than Israel (the Babylonians) to punish Israel, this produced cries and complaints of injustice from the prophet (Hab. 1:12–2:1). It might be said that Habakkuk was embarrassed, ashamed of God’s inaction and his choices.

Paraphrased, God’s answer to Habakkuk was this: “I am about to reveal something to you, Habakkuk, that I want you to record so that a herald may go and proclaim it (Hab. 2:2). It is a revelation of my righteousness, and will put to rest your fears of inaction and injustice. In the meantime—until my righteousness is revealed—you who are righteous are to trust me, to live by faith. There is nothing you can do to ‘fix’ the situation. You will have to live by faith, not by sight, until what I have written is accomplished” (Hab. 2:4).

Now, fast forward to a.d. 57. Paul is writing to a community of Christian believers living in the most powerful city in the world. Just three years prior to his letter, the reign of the Roman Emperor Claudius (ruled a.d. 41–54) had ended. Claudius had banished all Jews from Rome around a.d. 49–50 because of the continuing disruptions “instigated by Chrestus” (a misspelling of “Christ,” scholars agree; recorded by the historian Suetonius in Claudius, 25). Obviously, the disruptions were not led by Christ in person, but were perhaps instigated by debates over his person. Claudius ended the disruptions by driving all Jews (including those who had come to believe in Christ; see Acts 2:10) out of Rome. Paul met Aquila and Priscilla for the first time in Corinth, where they settled as expatriates from Rome (Acts 18:1–2). Supposedly, when Claudius’s reign ended, Jews were allowed to return to Rome. But the banishment no doubt had an unsettling, disruptive, and persecutorial effect on the young body of believers in Rome.

Unfortunately, this was just a foretaste of what Rome would give to the church in years ahead. Paul himself would suffer a martyr’s death at the hands of Nero along with multitudes of believers during Nero’s reign. Could the believers in Rome have wondered where God was in the midst of their suffering under Claudius? Could they have been embarrassed, even ashamed, as Habakkuk had been, that God was seemingly doing nothing to rescue them? Could they have felt powerless to act, wanting to do something but not knowing what to do?

Paul had read Habakkuk, and he knew that the Roman believers needed a revelation from God—some good news in the midst of their confusion. And so he writes verses 16 and 17 to them: the gospel is God’s good news and Paul is the herald who is not ashamed of the circumstances or of God. Why? Because God’s righteousness is revealed in the gospel! The pagan power of Rome (like the pagan nation of Babylon in Habakkuk’s day) is no match for the power of God which is the gospel, Paul says. Do not think that God’s power is absent—it is here in the gospel! And God’s righteousness will be revealed against all manner of sin everywhere. In the meantime, the righteous must live by faith. Rather than thinking you are powerless to change Rome, the gospel gives you the power of God to change lives.[2]


The Power of God: Romans 1:1–17

In his introduction Paul affirmed first that God has good news for humankind in Jesus Christ, His Son, who “was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead” (v. 4). The Gospel, the Good News from God, is infused with this same life-giving vitality, for “it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (v. 16). And what does the Gospel message reveal? That there is a righteousness from God, which is available to human beings, and that it is “by faith from first to last.”

Thus Paul’s opening paragraphs are filled with promise. God has a message for us in Christ, a good word about a salvation which does not depend on what we do to earn it, but comes as a gift which can be received only by faith.

Later in Romans Paul examined each theme introduced here. He explained carefully the astounding nature of “salvation,” and how it is that both life and righteousness are involved. Later too Paul helps us understand the nature of “faith.” But first of all, Paul wanted to make sure that we fully understand why we need this salvation.

The reason is grim. Without salvation, we have no spiritual life. Without it, we have no righteousness. Without it, we stand guilty and condemned before the holy God. There is no hope for any person aside from the by-faith salvation that God offers us in Jesus![3]


Theme (1:16–17)

       The theme is summarized in these two verses as the revelation of a righteousness of God. “The righteous will live by faith” is as some have suggested a summary of Pauline theology as a whole.

The negative manner is a sober reflection of the reality that the gospel is something of which Christians will, while still in the world, continually be tempted to be ashamed (see Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; 2 Tim. 1:8).

The gospel is the almighty power of God directed toward the salvation of men and women. Paul’s understanding of the gospel made him not yield to the temptation to be ashamed of the gospel but live to proclaim it.

For Paul, eternal issues were at stake. Those whose minds were blinded and failed to believe and obey the gospel were perishing (2 Cor. 4:3). They would ultimately fall under the divine wrath (2 Thess. 1:9). Everyone who believes, whether Jew or Gentile, the gospel effectively becomes the power of God for salvation.

This gospel reveals “a righteousness of God.” Righteousness denotes the right standing God gives to believers. Believers are righteous (justified) through faith and by faith but never on account of faith. Faith is not itself our righteousness, rather it is the outstretched empty hand that receives righteousness by receiving Christ. Paul’s concept of righteousness or justification is a complete and total work of God, and we can do nothing to earn it.[4]






[1] Word studies from various sources on Logos Software, including, but not limited to Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains by James A. Swanson

[2] Boa, K., & Kruidenier, W. (2000). Romans (Vol. 6, pp. 30–32). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3] Richards, L., & Richards, L. O. (1987). The teacher’s commentary (p. 809). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[4] Dockery, D. S. (1998). The Pauline Letters. In D. S. Dockery (Ed.), Holman concise Bible commentary (p. 545). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.