Romans 1:14-17


Romans 1:14 
ellhsin  BOTH TO         te   GREEKS      kai  AND  

barbaroiV   BARBARIANS      sofoiV BOTH TO      te  WISE

kai  AND           anohtoiV  UNINTELLIGENT,  

ofeilethV A DEBTOR            eimi  I AM


From the garden of Eden the gospel was for everyone:

  • Male and female – Adam and Eve heard the promise
  • Wicked – Noah preached before the flood
  • Canaanites – Abraham’s friends Aner and Mamre
  • Egyptians – Many left with Moses to go to the promise land
  • Assyrians – Jonah went to Nineveh
  • Babylonians – Daniel with Nebuchadnezzar
  • Sinners – Jesus taught the sinners and tax collectors
  • Samaritans – Jesus and the Samaritan woman
  • Romans – Cornelius and others


Peter says at Cornelius’s, “I now realize how true it I s that God does not     show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him” (Acts 10:34,35)


Jesus plan was that through the church that the whole world would hear the gospel: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you;                              

and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)


“Greeks and Barbarians”

  • Notice it is not “Jews and Gentiles” but “Greeks and Barbarians”
  • This is an ethnic difference
  • “Barbarian”
    • referred to people who did not speak Greek
    • since they did not speak Greek they did not have access to Greek knowledge and education.
    • The word “barbarian” comes from the way the languages sounded to the Greeks: “bar, bar, bar”.  It is an onomatopoeic word that sounds like what it is suppose to define.
    • Many “barbarians” where intelligent, educated and cultured, but not in Greek.
    • The word is much more negative today than it was for Paul, although it did refer to “inferior” cultures.
    • The NIV translates it as “non-greeks” which captures the meaning of “barbarian” in that they were not educated with the Greeks.
    • Greeks would include Jews among the barbarians.  Paul, Philo and Josephus never did.

Paul clarifies himself with the next statement.

“Wise and Unintelligent”

  • Paul is not thinking of an ethnic difference
  • Paul is thinking about the difference between cultures and educational levels

In the world of this day the Greek language and the Greek culture had access to all of the historical, scientific, poetic, philosophical and drama of the past.

Anyone outside the Greek culture or without the Greek language would not be considered educated or exposed to knowledge.

Even the Romans themselves had to have a Greek education.


Paul understood the gospel was for the very educated Greeks or for the uneducated barbarians.

From the universities to the streets Paul would take the gospel.

In the church of Rome there were:

a)      Greeks and Barbarians

b)      Wise and Unintelligent


“Debtor”  or  “I am obligated”

  • This refers to one who owes a debt. 
  • It was a binding obligation in the ancient world.

Paul owed them nothing personally.  But, because of his coming to Christ and being placed in the body of Christ, Paul has been given an obligation.  If he is going to do what he is suppose to do as a member of the church he is in debt with no way to get out but to continue to go to the world with the gospel.


1 Corinthians 9:16-17

"Yet (Greek: ean gar "For If") when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach.  Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!  If (ei 1st class condition) I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me."


ean  gar FOR IF       euaggelizwmai I ANNOUNCE THE GLAD TIDINGS   ouk  estin THERE IS NOT          moi TO ME           kauchma BOASTING anagkh  gar   FOR NECESSITY       moi ME       epikeitai  IS LAID UPON ouai  deWOE BUT       moi TO ME       estin IT IS          ean  IF mh euaggelizwmai I SHOULD NOT ANNOUNCE THE GLAD TIDINGS.


  • "Yet" and "if" is in the 3rd class condition and means it is possibility
  • "compelled" is used to translate three words anagkh,  gar, epikeitai.  These two words are translated like this in Rotherham’s:  “For, if I be telling the glad-message, it is, with me, no matter of boasting; for, necessity, upon me, lieth,--for it is, Woe to me, if I should not be telling the glad-message.”
  • anagkh of "compelled" does not mean fate.  It means compulsion, necessity, distress, tribulation.
  • epikeitai of "compelled" means "to place upon, to lie upon."  It is a verb in the Present Indicative Passive:
    • Present Tense - this shows continuing relevance to Paul's situation. It could be translated then as "Presses upon me"
    • Indicative Mood - the mood of reality.  It means the event actually occurred as indicated
    • Passive Voice -  the subject receives the action of the verb


There were times Paul did the ministry when he liked doing it.  But, like everything in      life there where times he did not want to do it.  Paul didn’t quit the ministry         because he knew it was his obligation.  It was not like going to work on a             Monday.  We go to work for a pay check.  Paul went to the ministry because it             was his fulfilling the obligation God had given him.

Glamour, wealth, power, pride can all corrupt the true motivation for the ministry.


Paul had an obligation to the Romans who wanted to hear the gospel just like anyone     would have an obligation if they saw someone in a wreck or saw a house on fire.  They needed to hear the truth. 

a)      Some people will ask for it.  So you stop and help.

b)      Some people don’t ask.  They don’t know their house is on fire.  So do you stop and help or do you figure they would ask for help if they wanted?


Four Classes of “If” in Greek:

1st – If and it is true       “If you are the Son of God. . .” (Mt. 4:3)

2nd – If and it is not true     “When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, . . .”(Lk.7:39)

3rd – If and I don’t know     “All this I will give you. . .if you will bow down and worship me.”  (Mt. 4:9)

4th – If and I wish it were, but it is not      “If you are the Christ, tell us.” (Luke 22:67)





Romans 1:15 
outwV  SO       to  AS       kat  TO        eme  ME  

proqumon THERE IS READINESS      kai  ALSO  umin  TO YOU toiV  WHO ARE       en  IN  rwmh ROME           



proqumon means “ready, willing eager.”


Concerning this "obligation" to preach the gospel, Paul says he was ready and eager to go to the Romans.  It was more than an obligation for him to speak to the Romans.   

It was a privilege.  It was a great opportunity.  He wanted to do it.

We read earlier that he was determined to speak in Rome.  He had even planned on coming many times.


Romans 1:16  
FOR       gar  I AM  

epaiscunomai  NOT ASHAMED OF

to  THE                euaggelion  GLAD TIDINGS

tou  OF THE         cristou   CHRIST        dunamiV  POWER   

gar   FOR       qeou  OF GOD        estin  IT IS                eiV  UNTO swthrian SALVATION         panti  TO EVERY ONE         tw  THAT

pisteuonti   BELIEVES,       ioudaiw   BOTH TO             te JEW         prwton  FIRST           kai  AND               ellhni  TO GREEK


“Not Ashamed”

Paul is confident and not hiding his readiness to preach the gospel because of what the   gospel because of what it is.

This is a literary way of saying, "I have complete confidence in the gospel."


His desires and the purpose he lives for will not disappoint or embarrass him in the end.

The gospel is not:

a)      an illusion

b)      an unworthy cause

c)      without effect in time nor in eternity

d)      a false hope

e)      false guarantee

f)        weak or powerless

g)      unable to stand against the world’s religions and philosophies.

h)      complicated

i)        unbelievable

j)        unreasonable


dunamiV   “dynamis”   “power”

·        where we get our word dynamite

·        The use of “dnamis” here does not describe how the gospel works.  It does not blow things up, explode to clear away sin, blast other religions out of the way.  Paul does not say the gospel is dynamite.

·        The emphasis is on the intrinsic effect of the gospel in a persons heart.

·        The gospel has “power”

·        The verse tells what that power involves.  It is:

                                                               i.      The power of God

                                                             ii.      For salvation of those who believe it


People want to change, improve, have it better and have more of it.

The gospel is the power of God to:

  • Change natures
  • Improve life
  • Have a better here and a better eternity
  • To have life and have it abundantly


Man cannot change the things that the gospel can change.

Man cannot change his nature.

Man cannot be empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Man cannot understand God, nor God's plan.

Man cannot secure his eternity.

. . .the list goes on and on. . .

But, the gospel can do all of these things right now, right here today for anyone who believes.


Today unbelievers place Christianity in the same category of powerless and dead religions.  Religions that are based on man's power, man's intelligence, man's ability.

Naturally, unbelievers mock Christianity as being useless.

The message of Christianity is the power of God to change everything.




Saved to something.

Saved from something.

This salvation is both temporal and eschatological.


“Everyone who believes”

Belief is best compared to seeing or looking.

Consider Moses’ bronze serpent.

Consider Jesus discussion with Nicodemus.


“All who Believe”

Romans 3:22

Romans 4:11

Romans 10:4

Romans 10:11


“First for the Jews”

The Jews clearly are a priority in God’s plan.






Romans 1:17 

dikaiosunh  RIGHTEOUSNESS       gar FOR         qeou  OF GOD      

en IN          autw IT          apokaluptetai  IS REVEALED         ek  BY  pistewV  FAITH       eiV  TO       pistin  FAITH;  

kaqwV  ACCORDING AS       gegraptai   IT HAS BEEN WRITTEN,    o  BUT      de THE         dikaioV  JUST           ek   BY  

pistewV  FAITH           zhsetai  SHALL LIVE.


“Righteousness of God”

This could mean:

a)      “the righteous standing which God gives”

b)      “the righteous character which God is”

c)      “the righteous activity which comes from God”


The phrase "righteousness of God" is used 8x in Romans and only 1x elsewhere (2 Cor. 5:21)


ek” could mean “out of” which would make faith the source of salvation.


"Revealed" - to uncover

The gospel brings this salvation into existence for those who believe.

It does more than just explain it to us.

See the use of "reveal" in 1:18 and 3:21