The gospel truly is the Good News. The gospel’s power has influenced communities, cultures, and nations throughout history. One way we can resist the devil’s attacks is to go back to the basics. If you’re looking for solid teaching on biblical concepts like the gospel, Romans is a great place to start. In his introduction, Paul offers a condensed gospel message worth studying. Read below to understand the “who” and “what” of the gospel.

To inform our study of the Gospel, we will be looking at the NIV Grace & Truth Study Bible.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed —a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Romans 1:16-17, NIV

The “Who” of the Gospel

In Romans 1:3-4, Paul outlines the who of the gospel: it is about Jesus, who is both the son of David and the Son of God.

Jesus Christ is God’s Son in the sense that he is eternally generated by the Father. The Nicene Creed in the fourth century AD defined Christ as “the only Son of God, begotten from the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of the same essence as the Father”. In simple terms, the Son is a distinct person from the Father (they are not just different forms of the same person), but they share the same nature—God’s nature.

The “Son of God” also meant Israel’s Messiah, God’s end-time anointed king over his people. The expectation was that this king would be a descendant of David (Eze 34:23; 37:24) and would come from David’s hometown Bethlehem (Mic 5:2). In Romans 15:12, Paul refers to David’s father in calling Jesus “the Root of Jesse,” and the New Testament often connects Jesus’ Messiahship with David (Mt 1:1; Lk 2:11; Rev 5:5; 22:16). Jesus is this Messiah, God’s appointed ruler over Israel, and who also has all nations as his inheritance (Ps 2:8).

In addition to being from the line of David, Jesus is the recipient of a special appointment by the Father at his resurrection. The appointment is not some kind of change in Jesus’ nature but comes because God has brought a new reality into being: the kingdom of God has come and with it God’s appointed king in that kingdom—his Son. As Revelation puts it, “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah” (Rev 12:10). It is not that Jesus received a promotion or some special injection of power. After his resurrection, he is no longer subject to human weakness on earth but is exalted to the right hand of God to reign over the new creation, which God has inaugurated.

The “What” of the Gospel

In Romans 1:16-17, Paul sums up the what of the gospel. Paul gives a compressed summary of the Good News, cramming into two verses what he will expand on later.

Nature, Reach, and Means of the Gospel

The gospel’s nature is the “power of God”. The same power in the creation of the world or in raising Jesus from the dead is at work when we feeble human beings share the gospel. Its reach is global. Though Jews (who heard the gospel first) and Gentiles may sound like only two nations, they represent all nations. “Gentile” here means anyone who is not a Jew. There is no part of the world too obscure or too lost for the Good News. The means of receiving this Good News is believing—trusting God and believing God’s promises about Jesus (4:18–21).

Effects of the Gospel

In addition to the gospel’s nature, reach, and means, Romans 1:16–17 spells out three effects.

One effect is righteousness.

Paul will expand on this later, but in brief, “righteousness” refers to the status of having obeyed all of God’s requirements (Dt 6:25). The miracle of the Good News is that though outside of Christ we are ungodly sinners, God views us as righteous: our status is as if we had completely fulfilled God’s will (Ro 4:5). The root of the word for “righteousness” is the same as the verb “justify”. God has already given us this justified status.

A second effect is salvation.

Though in theology and common Christian language “salvation” is quite a general term, Paul usually means it in a more specific sense. He normally means by it not what God has done for us but what God will do. The next two references to the word in the letter come in Romans 5:9–10, where Paul says that we will be saved from God’s wrath. Salvation in the Bible is salvation from something, and when we appreciate that it is being saved from God’s just anger against us, we see how wonderful it is.

The final effect is confidence.

This comes from this knowledge that God will save us in the end from the coming judgment. Paul says he has no reason to be ashamed (1:16a). He and we may have short-term concerns, but ultimately we have the assurance of God’s love, protection, and gift of eternal life (2Ti 1:12). Paul has that confidence not because he is an apostle but because he is a Christian. He says he’s confident not because God appointed him as a chosen vessel but because the gospel is the power of salvation. Therefore, we can have that same confidence.

An Old Testament Reference

Romans 1:17 closes with a guarantee. Paul grounds from the Old Testament the truth that Christians have righteousness from God through believing: “The righteous will live by faith” (citing Hab 2:4). Paul has already stated that the Good News was promised through the Old Testament prophets (Ro 1:2), but this is Paul’s first specific quotation from the Old Testament in Romans. The doctrine of justification by faith is not Paul’s idea but was announced by God centuries before Paul.

How are you doing with the whole “live by faith” part? What encouragement would you give to someone whose faith is wavering?

NIV Grace & Truth Study Bible

NIV Grace and Truth Study Bible of the Gospel

We enjoyed looking through this Study Bible; hopefully you did as well. The notes in this one are longer than a few sentences if you’re looking for something a bit more substantial. The intention of the NIV Grace & Truth Study Bible is in the name – “to reveal grace and truth on each page”.

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