Romans 1:13–17 — “Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
In this passage, we find out that the Apostle Paul had great intentions to get to Rome. “Now I would not have you ignorant” was the way that he made his intention known unto them. This phrase or similar is found several times in Paul’s epistles, see the following references:
- Romans 11:25
- 1 Corinthians 10:1
- 1 Corinthians 12:1
- 2 Corinthians 1:8
- 1 Thessalonians 4:13
Notice how these things of which God’s steward of His mysteries does not want his hearers to be ignorant are often the very things of which Christians are generally ignorant. These things should not be, but if we do not study God’s word carefully and systematically, “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), we will be ignorant, yet we will be without excuse, because they are made known to us.
In the passage that we are studying, that which he does not want them to be ignorant about seems to be personal rather than doctrinal, but we should remember that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine” (2 Timothy 3:16), so we can understand and learn something very important from this passage about the apostle’s intention to visit the saints at Rome.
Paul declares that he has purposed to come to them but has been let (hindered) from doing so. He intended to have fruit among the Romans as among other Gentiles. Paul considered this Roman assembly Gentile, and among them, in their city, he intended to minister the gospel and expected it to bear fruit.
He declares himself a debtor to Greeks and Barbarians, wise and unwise. He is debtor because he is the servant of God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord, and has been given a message of good news, the gospel of Christ, not to hold, but to make known:
1 Corinthians 9:16–17 — “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.”
1 Timothy 1:11 — “According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.”
This is a gospel for ALL MEN, both the cultured Greeks and the Barbarians. It is open to the wise and to the unwise, and it will be preached to all. The book of Acts records Paul preaching in synagogues (Acts 9:18; 13:5, 14; 17:1, 10; 18:4; 19:8), to Gentile crowds ready to sacrifice to them (Acts 14:8–18), God-worshiping folks and prison guards (Acts 16), Greek philosophers (Acts 17:22–34), in schools (Acts 19:9), before kings and governors (Acts 24–26), on a ship in a storm, in which he was a captive (Acts 27, where the record is more of his preaching as a “living epistle”), to a “barbarous people” on Melita (Acts 28:1–9, where the witness was that of the power of God), and at the end, to the Jews in Rome (Acts 28:17–31).
During the storm at sea and the shipwreck, Paul the prisoner appears to be the true leader as he shows his trust in the God who owns him, and who he serves (Acts 27:23–25). He appeals his case to Caesar, the emperor of the world, and finds a free ticket to Rome, albeit as a Roman prisoner (Acts 25:10). It is generally accepted that this epistle to the Romans was written before his appeal, and this appeal is evidence to what he states to the Roman saints, that he is ready to preach the gospel in Rome also.
After that appeal, he may have asked himself, “what was I thinking in appealing to Caesar in Rome.”
Acts 23:11 — “And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.”
Remember Paul had good intention to go to Rome, see Acts 19:21, but expected to get there another way, in his own timing. He was ready to go to Rome. He was ready to preach the gospel in Rome.
Now he would be preaching the gospel of Christ in the capital of the world empire! The gospel would be heard in the so-called “eternal city”! The Apostle Paul was ready to take the sinner-saving, Christ-exalting, salvation-bringing gospel of Christ to the center of the world. It is the power of God unto salvation TO EVERYONE THAT BELIEVETH! It is not limited to any person or any place. The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation, whether to a barbarous people or to the emperor.
Paul states that “I would not have you ignorant” — or “I would have you to know” — that he has all good intentions of coming to Rome. “Do not let anyone tell you that I am afraid, or ashamed of the gospel of Christ, that it will buckle under the weight of the Roman empire at its center.”
I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST!
Not in Rome, not anywhere. We find that after Paul made it to Rome, his bonds in Christ were manifest in the palace (Philippians 1:13), and the saints OF CAESAR’S HOUSEHOLD make salutation to the saints in Philippi (Philippians 4:22).
The Gospel of Christ is where the righteousness of God is revealed. That “God so loved the world” is a declared fact that we can rely on. How God could save sinners in the world in righteousness is declared in the gospel of Christ. He is the just, or the righteous, and the justifier, of him which believeth in Jesus (Romans 3:26). God, Who will by no means clear the guilty (Exodus 34:7), will declare the guilty righteous (“justify them”) by counting them righteous when they believe Him (Romans 4:5). It is a gift,
Ephesians 2:8–9 — “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Romans 3:24–26 — “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
It is at the cross of Christ where the righteousness of God meets the love of God. The cross of Christ is the place where God passed His judgment on our sins, that He might freely save us, when we place our faith in Him, Who justifies the ungodly (Romans 4:5).
Romans 5:8 — “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”