“I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation go everyone that believeth, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith unto faith, as it is written, but the righteous shall live by faith” (Rm. 1:16f). As earlier observed, the Roman letter’s theme is this verse which serve to show that justification is possible because of the gospel of Jesus Christ and through our faith in it.
Many times the word “gospel” is found in the New Testament, a word which literally means “good news”. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news concerning Jesus Christ. Paul wrote the Corinthians, “Now I make known unto you brethren the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received. wherein also ye stand, by which also ye are saved if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures …” (1 Cor. 15:1-4). While they greatly err who attempt to distinguish between “gospel” and “doctrine” (saying gospel is solely the three facts cited above); it is undeniably true that these three things are the core of the Gospel.
In the gospel is revealed “a righteousness of God”. The word “reveal” tells that the righteousness of God which the gospel reveals is neither the commandments nor the nature of God. The righteous nature of both God and His commands had long been known before Paul wrote the Roman letter or ere the gospel had first been proclaimed at Pentecost, thus not just revealed in the gospel. The righteousness of God revealed in the gospel is the way fallen man can be justified, made right with God, and in the chapters to come Paul expands more as he contrasts “justification by works” with “justification by faith”. Of the righteousness revealed in the gospel, Paul shows that it is “apart from the law”, although witnessed by both the law and the prophets (Rm. 3:21). He further shows that “Christ is the end of the law unto righteousness to everyone that believeth” (Rm. 10:4).
The righteousness of God revealed in the gospel is “from faith unto faith”. This expression tells how righteousness is attained. That the statement means “from the Faith preached to the faith procured in the hearts and lives of those to whom that faith is preached” is seen from his quotation from Habbakuk, “but the righteous shall live by faith” (Hab. 2:4).
In the verses and chapters which follow Romans 1:16, Paul addresses and proves two significant facts. The first is that there is a need for the gospel. Having declared the Gospel to be God’s power to save everyone, he launches into the thesis that both Gentiles and Jews need the gospel for both were sinners. First the proved Gentiles needed the gospel in Romans 1:18-32. Then he turned his attention to the Jews, showing their need for the gospel was no less for “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rm. 3:23).
The second point the apostle establishes is that although there was clearly a need for men to be saved, until the gospel came there was no permanent solution for the problem of sin, giving extensive treatment to the fact that not even the Law could permanently remove sin (Heb. 10:1- 4). The truth that all men are sinners and lost and can find freedom from sin in the cleansing blood of God’s Son, is truly the gospel of Jesus Christ!