Part 1: Introduction
Romans is a great book. It is great not merely because of Apostle Paul’s solid argumentation and presentation, but because of the revealed power of God in it. The book is self-attesting: it speaks of “the gospel” is which God’s power unto salvation (1:16). Throughout the book, Paul shows that this power operates mainly in a twofold manner: on one edge, it reveals the lost and sinful condition of mankind (1:18-31, ch. 2, 3:9-20, 23), and on the other edge, it unveils the justifying and sanctifying righteousness of God (1:17; 3:21-22, 24-31; 4:1-5:1; ch. 8). In Romans, the bad news of man’s lost and sinful condition is overwhelmingly conquered by God’s act of grace, mercy, love, etc. through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:8). Paul usually sums up this act in one word called the “gospel”.
The gospel is at the center of Romans. Paul indicated throughout the book that the gospel is the package through which God offers His righteousness. Keeping this line of thought, if the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel, and if God’s righteousness (that comes by grace through faith) is the only true antidote to mankind’s lost condition, then the gospel is the greatest need of all time, for all people.
According to this great book of Romans, the gospel must be trusted for salvation from sin and for living. But is the gospel really powerful and sufficient for this? The Apostle Paul stressed the answer to this question right at the outset. In Romans 1:8-17, Paul answers “yes” to the above question. It is not a coincidence that the Apostle presented the essence of the gospel at the beginning of the book. Paul affirmed the gospel as the solution to mankind’s problem before he ventured to unpack the problem in the verses that follow. In presenting the gospel as the solution, Paul also stressed its sufficiency and power. The gospel is working in Rome and Rome needs more of the gospel just as we all need it. Unbelievers must hear and believe the gospel for their salvation (justification). The believers’ practical right living and triumphal life (Sanctification) also springs out of the gospel.
In Romans 1:8-17 Paul put forth some insights both implicitly and explicitly affirming the sufficiency and power of the gospel. These will be discussed in series as follows: We grow by the gospel (v.8), the gospel compels us to pray for fellow believers and others (v.9 – 10a), the Gospel aligns us with and rests us in God’s will (v.10), we encourage each other by the gospel (v. 11-12), we evangelize with the gospel (v.13-15), and we are saved by the gospel (v. 16-17).