The text of Romans 1 can be found here. Please read it in its entirety before reading through my run through. If you want to read in a paraphrase so you can get a feel for the whole chapter, use this link.
Romans 1 has a very simple theme: the nations are not righteous. For a definition of the term righteousness, read our post What is Righteousness?
Romans 1.1-6 are Paul introducing himself to the church in Rome. It is beautiful to read. Paul uses fifteen words to describe himself, and then uses 82 words to describe the Lord. Even when introducing himself Paul cannot stop talking about the wonder of the Lord. Paul was completely God-focused. Verse 3-4 are important verses because they declare that Jesus is fully human and fully God. Most heresies originate because of misunderstanding that Jesus is fully God and fully human. Most people fail to move in the power of the Holy Spirit and see the miracles they should because they fail to understand Jesus ministered as a human under the anointing.
Romans 1.7-12 Paul announces who he is addressing: the Romans. He tells them that he wants to meet them to impart a gift to them, and he praises them for their faith. That must be fairly wonderful to have the apostle Paul praise your church for its faith!
In verse 13 -15, Paul has now got his introductions out of the way and tells the Romans he wants to preach the gospel to them. Now think about that for a minute – Paul is not writing a letter to a bunch of heathen or a group of people from another religion. He is writing the letter to people whose faith is spoken of around the known world (v. 8). Paul is writing to Christians, but he says to them: I want to preach the gospel to you.
If you ask the average Christian what the gospel is they would tell you that it is the new birth. It is the message that if you repent and put your faith in Jesus Christ then you will be born again and you will go to heaven when you die. Now I am not against that message – it is the most important message you can preach to a sinner. If I was standing in front of a crowd of sinners, my message would be the new birth. But preaching the new birth to a group of Christians is foolish – I believe the phrase is teaching Granny to suck eggs.
But if Paul’s desire was to stand in front of a group of people who were Christians – and not just any Christians, people who were world famous for their faith in Christ – and preach the gospel then I would have to conclude one of two things:
1. Paul was foolish. He enjoyed wasting his time.
2. What Paul meant by the phrase “the gospel” was not what we mean when we say “the gospel”.
Guess which one I choose. So the question is what does Paul mean by the gospel. Thankfully, Paul tells us what he means and defines it. In verses 16-17, Paul sums up the whole message of the book of Romans, and the gospel of Jesus Christ:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
Here are the same verses from the New Living Translation:
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
The gospel has two elements and it is vital we know and preach both elements. The first element is that the gospel is the power of God for salvation of everyone who believes. Now this includes the new birth, but is so much more than the new birth.
The Greek word salvation is soteria. If you look it up in Strong’s it says this:
1) deliverance, preservation, safety, salvation
a) deliverance from the molestation of enemies
b) in an ethical sense, that which concludes to the souls safety or salvation
1) of Messianic salvation
2) salvation as the present possession of all true Christians
3) future salvation, the sum of benefits and blessings which the Christians, redeemed from all earthly ills, will enjoy after the visible return of Christ from heaven in the consummated and eternal kingdom of God.
Salvation includes: deliverance, preservation and safety. The word is used in the gospels repeatedly to refer to physical healings. Strong’s tells us that it is the sum of benefits and blessings which Christians will enjoy after the return of Christ. I disagree with that: I believe we can enjoy the benefits of salvation now. He heals now, He protects us now, He preserves us now. He provides our every need now. Paul tells us the power is available to those who believe, not those who die!
Christians know about the new birth (some don’t – they have had the experience but could not explain it or share what happened to another, and they need to be taught the new birth), but many Christians are not aware of the power of the gospel. The good news is that Jesus Christ has not just covered up our sins and let us enter heaven one day some time when we die, but that Jesus Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law (Gal. 3.13) and that the blessing of Abraham is now on us. We are redeemed from sin, from sickness and from poverty. The gospel includes the new birth, but it also includes healing, prosperity, deliverance, protection and soundness.
We often think that God heals the sick because of some sort of divine fiat. He looks down from heaven at all the sick people, holds a giant heavenly lottery and someone wins the healing. We would never use those words, but we use phrases like “You never know what God is going to do”. It is the same sentiment, just wrapped up in religious language.
Now we find out from Paul that healing is in the gospel. It is the power of God for all who believe. No wonder Paul wanted to get in front of the church in Rome, he wanted to tell them that Jesus bore their sicknesses, that Jesus redeemed them from the curse of poverty, that Jesus will never leave them, that the blessing of Abraham is theirs, that they can hear the voice of the Lord speak to them, that they are priests and kings before the Lord Jehovah.
Paul wanted to see the miracles of healing, of provision, of emotional deliverance that would happen when the Roman church realizes the power of the gospel.
I could spent several posts dealing with the nature of the gospel – one of the key things about the gospel is that it is good news. It is news. If you watch the news on the TV or read it in a paper you will realize that it is always events that have happened in the past. The news does not predict the future. The weather forecast predicts the future and can be – and often is – completely wrong. The gospel is not the good forecast, it is the good news. You need to know that your salvation, your healing, your prosperity have aleady been accomplished. And the power is available to you as soon as you believe it. It is an event that has past – the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. Your healing is not a forecast of what might happen it is a revelation of what has happened – by His stripes, you WERE healed (1 Peter 2.24). If you were healed, then you are healed – so don’t doubt and do without, believe and receive!
If this was all the gospel was that would be enough: the power of God for your soundness, deliverance, prosperity, healing and preservation and for the soundness and salvation of all who believe.
But it is more! Paul tells us that in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed. And this is the theme of the book of Romans: the righteousness of God is revealed.
Now if you look at the armour of God as outlined in Ephesians 6, you will find that we have a helmet of salvation. Helmets cover your head. Knowing about salvation affects your mind – it affects how you think. But many, many Christians know they are born again, know they are healed by the stripes of Jesus, know that God supplies their every need. But even with this knowledge, they still feel defeated, feel guilty, feel ashamed. But the Bible also tells us we have a breastplate of righteousness. Breastplates cover the heart. If we truly understand the message of righteousness, our heart will be protected and our feelings will be protected. Knowing the message of righteousness makes it easy to live by faith. That is why the message is so important.
I have penned a great deal so far. I wanted to run through Romans, but maybe I will be walking through at a slower speed than I first imagined. In the next post I will cover Romans 1.18-32 and explain the key message of Romans 1: the nations are unrighteous and they have no excuse for their unrighteousness. As we run or walk through Romans, we will find how righteousness is obtained, and the benefits it offers us. If you follow us through, your heart will be protected from every attack and you will walk in a new level of peace, joy, health, wealth and soundness.