For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith."
“The power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”
What an interesting use of the word “power” here by Paul. Typically, when I think of the word power, as in one’s capability or capacity to do something, I apply it to the power of a F-35 jet engine or the power of a nuclear bomb or even the power of the sun. It’s not a word I would use to describe a story (good news) or someone’s life (Jesus). A person’s testimony may be powerful, meaning it can have a deep, impactful meaning or personal application, but it doesn’t necessarily harness a power of its own. For something to have power, it must first have a power source.
But here Paul is saying the Gospel is the power [of God] for salvation and the implications here are enormous.
First, it reveals God’s ultimate plan for this world’s redemption. If you are going to build a car, do you first start with the dashboard or trunk? No, first you design the engine; the power source of the car. Without an engine, a car is just a useless heap of metal and plastic. From the foundation of the world God’s plan (power) to rid sin from this world would be found in the life, death, and resurrection of his son Jesus. This was not some random act of kindness by God in reaction to man’s sin. This was a predetermined process laid out by a loving God to free us from a life of death and bondage.
This also tells us that the power rests is Jesus alone. His life, death, and resurrection IS the power for our salvation. This truth frees us from a life of trying to earn our salvation by works or in our ability to please God. It would be different if Paul worded it like this “your ability to believe the Gospel is the power of God for salvation” but he didn’t. Paul sets the tone for the entire book of Romans in this one sentence. He’s telling us that the Gospel is the power and has the power, not us. When we are free from the pressure of having to earn something, we can better walk out our faith with confidence and a sense of gratification. However, if we work out of guilt or condemnation, we will seem insecure and unsure of our faith. Where’s the abundant life found in that?
Lastly, we see here that “everyone who believes” is a recipient of this power. It’s offered to all, not some or to just the Jews, but all. Through Jesus we all are offered salvation through his cross and the offer is not based on one’s cultural background, education, race, or wealth. Every single person on earth is offered this free gift we didn’t deserve or earn. Salvation is the ultimate prize (earned by Christ), but instead he places his crown (righteousness) on our heads. What a gift indeed!
And our response to all this should be to tell this good news to all the nations. Jesus’ parable to the talents (Matthew 25:13-30) describes three different servants entrusted with talents (money) by their master who was going on a journey. Two of the three servants invest their talent and return a bountiful harvest when their master returns. However, one of the servants hides his talent in the sand, thinking his master will be proud of his efforts. Here is the master’s response:
But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
So which of the servants will we be?