I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. Romans 1:15
Ancient Rome had its own version of “the gospel”—the good news. According to the poet Virgil, Zeus, king of the gods, had decreed for the Romans a kingdom without end or boundaries. The gods had chosen Augustus as divine son and savior of the world by ushering in a golden age of peace and prosperity.
This, however, wasn’t everyone’s idea of good news. For many it was an unwelcome reality enforced by the heavy hand of the emperor’s army and executioners. The glory of the empire was built on the backs of enslaved people who served without legal personhood or property at the pleasure of masters who ruled over them.
This was the world in which Paul introduced himself as a servant of Christ (Romans 1:1). Jesus—how Paul had once hated that name. And how Jesus Himself had suffered for admitting to being the king of the Jews and Savior of the world.
This was the good news Paul would explain in the rest of his letter to the Romans. This gospel was “the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (v. 16). Oh, how it was needed by those who suffered under Caesar! Here was the news of a crucified and resurrected Savior—the liberator who conquered His enemies by showing how much He loved them.
As you read Paul’s opening words to the Romans, what phrases describe the good news to you? (1:1–7). Why would Paul, who had once hated Jesus so much, now want everyone to believe in Him? (see Acts 26).
Loving God, thank You for the good news. Give me the boldness to share the gospel with those around me.
The letter to the Romans opens with Paul identifying himself as “an apostle . . . set apart for the gospel of God” (1:1). His letter is written “to all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people” (v. 7). Yet Paul singles out the gentiles for special mention (vv. 5–6), perhaps because their inclusion in the family of faith was still a radical concept. Paul reiterates this cross-cultural unity later in the chapter: “The power of God . . . brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (v. 16).