When Paul writes to Roman believers about the “glad tidings” that he lives to preach, he speaks with conviction about something that is far greater than him, more powerful than any human invention.
The Boldness of the Messenger – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel …”
While Paul gladly bears shame (1Th 2:2) for preaching Christ, he is unashamed to do so, because of the obvious power it has. Some salesmen are not too confident in their product and so they exaggerate its benefits, or are embarrassed by its shortcomings. What a difference for the earnest preacher of the gospel – there is no need to exaggerate the glad tidings, and there is no need to be ashamed. It is not up to Paul to “sell” the message, for its secret is not in its presentation, but in its power. The gospel is not a call to “enlist new customers,” but to enlighten blinded sinners.
The Blessing of the Miracle – “for it is the power of God for salvation …”
Paul states he is indebted (v14), eager (v15) and unashamed (v16) to preach the gospel. The gospel is a message that has been wonderfully entrusted to human messengers, for human blessing, yet finds both its origin and success in God Himself. Paul witnessed the power resident in the message in his own life-changing experience (Act 9:6), and in the lives of those he persecuted before (8:2) and those to whom he has preached since (1Th 1:6-9). This gave Paul, and gives us, the courage to preach the gospel and the confidence to receive it.
The Belief of the Message – “to everyone who believes …”
The message is perfectly suited for, and it’s incumbent on, all to hear and receive (1Ti 1:15). God demands a response from each hearer. The divine power that brings about salvation will be seen in those who believe, for “it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe” (1Co 1:21 ESV). The success of the glad tidings is thus: the power is from God, the salvation is by God, and the belief is in God.
The Beneficiaries of the Mission – “to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
Through the gospel is revealed the righteousness (v17), wrath (v18) and power (v20) of God. The gospel’s power was seen first by its effect on the skeptical Jews, and then on the pagan Greeks. The two groups are so different as to their world outlook, and yet so similar as to their spiritual need. “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1Co 1:22-24 ESV). Paul always assessed his audience carefully, yet preached his message unapologetically. As the gospel levels all who hear it, so it lifts all who heed it.
Have you experienced the power of God for salvation? The gospel brings courage to the preacher, salvation to the sinner and glory to God.