According to Paul, in and by itself, the gospel is power—God’s power. The simple message of Jesus brings healing and rescue to all people. It starts with God’s people, the Jews, but does not end until all people hear and respond to its call.
The gospel reveals how right and faithful God has been all along. It begins with God’s faithfulness to His creation and His covenant people. Then God acts, finally and decisively, in the cross of Jesus. For Paul the cross, more than any other event, displays Jesus’ faithfulness to God the Father. As the Gospels tell us, in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus entrusts Himself completely to God’s will. As a result, this good news brings faith and hope to those who hear and respond to its elegant message. Because God is faithful, He acts in a most extraordinary way. Somehow in the scandal of the cross, He offers His own Son in order to redeem the fallen world.
1 Paul, a servant of Jesus the Anointed called by God to be His emissary[a] and appointed to tell the good news 2 of the things promised long ago by God, spoken by prophets, and recorded in the Holy Scriptures. 3 All of this good news is about His Son: who was (from a human perspective) born of David’s royal line 4 and ultimately designated to be the true Son of God with power upon His resurrection from the dead by the Spirit of holiness. I am speaking of Jesus, the Anointed One, our Lord.
The prophets express God’s mind and will in the world. Sometimes their messages are a word-on-target to the people and powers of their day; at other times, they see and speak about the future. Their words not only predict the future—they speak the word of the Lord, which creates reality and shapes the future.
Paul describes the gospel of Jesus by bringing in the good news on two levels: On a human level, the good news is about God’s Son, David’s descendant, entering the world to begin the task of restoring it from the damage sin and death have left behind. But the resurrection of Jesus from the dead takes Jesus’ sonship to a new level. Now He is the Son-of-God-in-Power, the One called Lord and Master.
5 And here’s what He’s done: He has graced us and sanctioned us as His emissaries[b] whose mission is to spread the one true and obedient faith to all people in the name of Jesus. 6 This includes you: you have been called by Jesus, God’s Anointed.
7 To all those who are God’s beloved saints in Rome:
May grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, surround you.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus the Anointed for all of you because we are joined by faith as family, and your faith is spreading across the world. 9-10 For I call God as my witness—whom I worship in my spirit and serve in making known the gospel—He alone knows how often I mention you in my prayers. I find myself constantly praying for you and hoping it’s in God’s will for me to be with you soon. 11 I desperately want to see you so that I can share some gift of the Spirit to strengthen you. 12 Plus I know that when we come together something beautiful will happen as we are encouraged by each other’s faith.
13 If, my brothers and sisters, you did not already know, my plans were set to meet you in Rome, but time and circumstances have forced every trip to be canceled until now. I have deeply desired to see some good fruit among you just as I have seen with so many non-Jewish believers. 14 You see, I am in tremendous debt to those of various nationalities, from non-Jews to barbarians, from the wisest of the wise to the idle wanderer. 15 So you can imagine how eager I am to join you and to teach the good news in the mighty and diverse city of Rome.
16 For I am not the least bit embarrassed about the gospel. I won’t shy away from it, because it is God’s power to save every person who believes: first the Jew, and then the non-Jew. 17 You see, in the good news, God’s restorative justice is revealed. And as we will see, it begins with and ends in faith. As the Scripture declares, “By faith the just will obtain life.”[c]
18 For the wrath of God is breaking through from heaven, opposing all manifestations of ungodliness and wickedness by the people who do wrong to keep God’s truth in check. 19 These people are not ignorant about what can be known of God, because He has shown it to them with great clarity. 20 From the beginning, creation in its magnificence enlightens us to His nature. Creation itself makes His undying power and divine identity clear, even though they are invisible; and it voids the excuses and ignorant claims of these people 21 because, despite the fact that they knew the one true God, they have failed to show the love, honor, and appreciation due to the One who created them! Instead, their lives are consumed by vain thoughts that poison their foolish hearts. 22 They claim to be wise; but they have been exposed as fools, frauds, and con artists— 23 only a fool would trade the splendor and beauty of the immortal God to worship images of the common man or woman, bird or reptile, or the next beast that tromps along.
24 So God gave them just what their lustful hearts desired. As a result, they violated their bodies and invited shame into their lives. 25 How? By choosing a foolish lie over God’s truth. They gave their lives and devotion to the creature rather than to the Creator Himself, who is blessed forever and ever. Amen. 26-27 This is why God released them to their own vile pursuits, and this is what happened: they chose sexual counterfeits—women had sexual relations with other women and men committed unnatural, shameful acts because they burned with lust for other men. This sin was rife, and they suffered painful consequences.
28 Since they had no mind to recognize God, He turned them loose to follow the unseemly designs of their depraved minds and to do things that should not be done. 29 Their days are filled with all sorts of godless living, wicked schemes, greed, hatred, endless desire for more, murder, violence, deceit, and spitefulness. And, as if that were not enough, they are gossiping, 30 slanderous, God-hating, rude, egotistical, smug people who are always coming up with even more dreadful ways to treat one another. They don’t listen to their parents; 31 they lack understanding and character. They are simple-minded, covenant-breaking, heartless, and unmerciful; they are not to be trusted. 32 Despite the fact that they are fully aware that God’s law says this way of life deserves death, they fail to stop. And worse—they applaud others on this destructive path.