Rom 1:14-17 “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.”
To be a debtor implies that we owe someone something. Paul says that he owes both the Greeks and Barbarians. The Jews referred to all non-Jews as Gentiles. In the same manner, Greeks referred to all non-Greeks as Barbarians. Many of the Jewish Christians of Paul’s time were born in Greece (Hellenistic Jews) and spoke Greek as their native language.
Paul further elaborates that he owes both the wise and the unwise. We might be tempted to think that Paul is simply saying that people from all walks of life had helped him at one time or another. However, it was not this debt that Paul was referring to. In as much as God had called him to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, Paul felt that he owed it to everyone he came in contact with to share that wonderful news.
He further clarifies this sentiment with his next statement that he was ready to preach the gospel to those at Rome. He owed them the truth of Jesus Christ whether they were considered to be Jews, Greeks, Barbarians, wise, or unwise. We should learn from Paul’s attitude that it is not for us to decide who is worthy or ready to hear the gospel. Our concern should be whether we are ready to preach the gospel.
There may be times that the Spirit will forbid us to preach in a certain place at a certain time. Paul had this experience when he would have gone into Asia to preach, but the Holy Ghost had somewhere else for Paul to be at that time (Acts 16:6-10). By the gift and calling of God, we are debtor’s to all to share the gospel of Jesus Christ anywhere the Holy Spirit leads us and give us utterance. The power for all of this always belongs to God.
Paul had a willingness about him to preach the gospel. As he had preached in other places, he was also ready to preach the gospel in Rome. Although he had suffered great adversity, and expected no less in Rome, he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. By the world’s standards, it appeared that Paul had given up much to champion the faith he once persecuted. Yet Paul rejoiced in the deliverance of the good news of Jesus Christ.
There is no salvation from our sins other than the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and Paul testifies to this in a number of places. However, in this letter particularly, Paul is calling attention to the need and benefit of the gospel. There is a daily deliverance (salvation) for us while we live here in believing and obeying the gospel. Since the salvation that is found in gospel requires our participation (work), this cannot be about what we call our eternal salvation.
Rather, the salvation of the gospel is in the revelation of the righteousness of God. It is revealed from He who first trusted (had faith) in Christ to those of us who have learned to trust (have faith) in Christ. We have learned this faith through the Holy Spirit of God. Without the work of the Spirit, the gospel has no meaning to us.
We cannot decide while dead in trespass and sin to hear and believe the gospel. Only when we have been quickened (made alive) by God do we have the capacity to hear and believe the truth of Jesus. As stated in Second Timothy, chapter one, verse ten, Jesus Christ has “abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” Jesus Christ is the author of life, and His gospel shines a light on the life and immortality that He has given.
As the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel, we find ourselves motivated to walk in His righteousness. We live (carry on the action of life) by the faith that is revealed to us. God is righteous and has called us to live righteously because we are the sons of God. This is how we live in a world that is filled with destruction.
May we, as debtors, share with all God brings into our path the wonderful truth of Jesus Christ and live in that faith!