Paul talks a lot about the gospel in Romans. In the NIV the word comes up 12 times and 6 of them are in the first 17 verses of chapter 1. If we were to ask some questions of the text, one would be what is the gospel that Paul is talking about. The word itself means good news. What is the good news Paul wants us to know? Let’s look at what he says about the gospel here at the beginning of the book.
Paul is set apart for the gospel of God. It is God’s gospel. He owns it. It is His good news! Because it is His, He determines what the message is. Paul is the messenger of that news.
This gospel was promised by God beforehand, like before it happened. Where did he make those promises? In the Holy Scriptures. He made promises through his prophets in what we call the Old Testament. Sometimes we think that part of the Bible isn’t as important as the part when Jesus actually comes, but Paul disagrees. He says that the Old Testament is where God promised this gospel. He spoke words through his prophets that we can count on. Not only did God make the promises, but He is faithful to fulfill them. As we will see in Romans, Paul frequently quotes from the Old Testament because he is pointing to the promises that God fulfilled in Jesus.
The gospel is about God’s Son. The promises were about the Son and the gospel is about the Son. And Paul tells us some things about the Son in verse 3 and 4. “As to his earthly life….” This simple phrase points to something really important about the Son. He doesn’t have just the 30-some years of an earthly life. He has existed from the beginning. He is eternal because God is eternal, and He is God. But as to his earthly life, he is a descendant of David. This fulfills a promise God made to David that God would put one of David’s descendants on the throne forever.
Then we learn about the role of the Spirit of holiness (aka the Holy Spirit) in this gospel. The Spirit appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead. The Son was resurrected from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. That is why we call him Jesus Christ our Lord. Christ is a Greet title for Jesus. It’s equivalent for Jews was the Messiah, the Anointed One. Jesus is the one that the Jews expected based on God’s promises in the Scriptures. Did they recognize him as such? Not generally. But that doesn’t change the fact that he is the fulfillment of those promises.
Also, I love how Paul included the entire Trinity in his introduction here: God, Son, and the Holy Spirit. They all have a part to play in the gospel.
That is the gospel: Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promises. Paul serves God by preaching that gospel. And coming up this Sunday, KPaul will be preaching about how it is the power of God and in it we see the righteousness of God revealed.
The one thing that the gospel demands of us is a response. Here at the beginning of Romans, we see that the righteous live by faith (v17), but earlier (v5) we are called to obedience that comes from faith. Those two things are inseparable as our response to the gospel of God. We have faith, and we respond in obedience. If we don’t do those things, we are rejecting the gospel. It is an either/or situation. KPaul talked about it as an obligated life last Sunday.
So how are you responding to the gospel this week? I love remembering that Jesus wasn’t an afterthought for God. Sending him was the plan. God promised that He would send his Anointed One, and He did. According to verse 7, God loves us and has called us to be His holy people. What an amazing thought. Loved by the God of the universe. Called to be His. And the way to do that is by faith in the Son, the fulfillment of all God’s promises.
One of my daughter’s favorite authors, Jenny L. Cote, has a character that always gives an encouraging message to those he is sending out to do the work God called them to do. He says, “Know that you are loved, and that you are able.” I pray you know that today based on these first few verses of Romans.
“Know that you are loved and that you are able.”
May you be blessed by God’s word today.
(Don’t forget to send me your questions about Romans at firstname.lastname@example.org.)