Study of Romans as given by Dr. James Montgomery Boice: Romans 1:14-15
14I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome
It’s important that we recognize the Gospel is for everyone and not for a select few or for specific groups. The Gospel is for every single person that has ever lived or will ever live. There is no distinction between persons when it comes to applying the Gospel. God does not show favoritism when it comes to the Gospel. The Gospel is for believer and non believer, for Gentile and non-Gentile, for all people.
To Wise People Everywhere
- There are two contrasts Paul makes in the first sentence. The Gospel is for Greeks and non-Greeks. Paul then adds that the Gospel was for the wise and the foolish as a second contrast.
- If Paul had stopped at “Greek and non-Greek” we would understand this sentence in terms of nationality. By adding “wise and foolish” we now understand this to mean that Paul was thinking about culture or education.
- Paul essentially means the Gospel is for the learned and the unlearned in this sentence.
- “The Gospel is for you if you are among the educated of our world. You need this ancient Christian gospel. Whatever your educational attainments, however wise you may be, you are still a sinful man or woman and are cut off from the God who made you and to whom you must one day give account for your many sins. You are mortal. One day you will die. You will enter eternity with or without the Lord Jesus Christ – just as surely as any other man or woman.”
- Your educational achievements will not save you from judgement. You cannot argue your way out of judgement using logic and the knowledge you obtained from the many books you read or the degrees you have.
- I Corinthians 1:20-25
To “Ordinary” People Everywhere
- The Greeks called all that were not Greek “barbarians”. This is the next category of people to whom Paul mentions he is obligated to preach the Gospel to
- Barbarian was not as negative a word to the Greeks as it is to us today. The word actually had something to do with speech patterns.
- When Greeks heard foreigners speak they sounded like blabbering and stammering uneducated people.
- The Greek word “barbaros” is linked to the Sanskrit “barbera”, which referred to inarticulate speech.
- For the Greek barbarians were those people who did not speak Greek. Greek was the language of the educated.
- Paul is saying that this Gospel is for the uneducated, the poor, the downtrodden, the deformed, and the ordinary people of this world.
- Christians mostly forget that Christ went first after the ordinary people of this world. Christ did not go first after the wise and the well to do.
- I Corinthians 1:26-29,31
To Relgious Peole Everywhere
- Pauls limits his categories to Greek and non-Greek. It is significant to note though that in the very next verse he expands to include how he distinguished between Jew and Gentile (v. 16).
- When he adds this next category Paul is indeed declaring that the Gospel is for everyone everywhere.
- Why were Jews specifically mentioned by Paul, a Jew himself who had been on a mission to wipe out Christians and the idea of Christ just a few years ago?
- Because Jews as a whole, even more than Gentiles, resisted the gospel.
- It is the same today with those who are “religious”. Of all people today, it is often the “religious” people who often have the lease sense of personal need for the Gospel.
- “Religious” people resent being taught that they too need Jesus and that they too are sinners.
To Everybody Everywhere
- At the end Paul mentions that this is the reason why he is eager to preach the Gospel to those in Rome. Paul is not adding a new category.
- Paul is basically saying that the Gospel is for you no matter where you are at in your life.
- You may be a young person with your whole life before you, yet the Gospel is for you.
- You may be a person advanced in years, yet the Gospel is for you.
- There is no child, man, or woman on this earth, past, present, and future, whom the Gospel is not for.
I don’t think Paul could make it any more clear than he does in these two verses as well as v16 that the Gospel is for all people, its unfortunate that not all people will accept the Gospel and the gift of salvation that comes with it. We live in a belligerent society when it comes to the Gospel and there is open hostility toward those who have accepted the good news of the Gospel. This Gospel is even to those who are hostile to Christians. It may be an unpopular idea and certainly to voice, but the Gospel is even for those members of ISIS and any individual who deems it necessary to exterminate those who have found Christ and placed their hope in Christ. We can not exclude anyone human being from the possibility of accepting the Gospel because God does not exclude them. To say that the Gospel is not for this person or that person, the Gospel is not for that group or that group is to deny the idea that Christ died for all people for all time. It would be theologically unsound to deny the death of Christ for all people just as it would be theologically unsound to say the Gospel is not for a certain person or group of people. As wrong as ISIS and others like them are it does not change the fact that the Gospel is not for those peoples and Christ did not die for those peoples. Even Paul was one who wanted to kill Christians and was on a mission to kill Christians when he encountered God and was immediately changed due to that encounter. This shows the depth of mercy and forgiveness which God possesses in Him. God cannot being God and when he proclaims the Gospel is for everyone everywhere at every time, it should be taken literally.