Meaning of Romans 1:16
The meaning of the verse, “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” is that Paul is not a shy person for speaking the truth about Jesus. He also claims that Jews are first to be saved and then the gentiles or the rest of the nations. The letter of Romans begins with Paul expressing his eagerness to go and preach in the great city of Rome. Paul may have sensed or heard that some Christians were ashamed of the gospel or afraid and hence said that he was not. During those years, there could have been very few Christians in Rome, and many Christians were also persecuted. Hence, through this verse, Paul wants to tell the people of Rome and also the readers that the salvation that comes from believing in the gospel is far greater than everything else. He also says that it is the Jews who will receive it first, followed by the gentiles (called ‘Greek’ in verse), i.e., the Non-Jewish.
Interpretations of Romans 1:16
Romans 1:16 is not a commonly quoted verse in churches but is interpreted in different ways by Christians and non-Christians. Here are some examples.
Interpretation #1 Christians must always be brave
The interpretation of the verse, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” is that Christians are required to be brave and bold at all times. The Bible repeatedly concludes that Christians are bound to have a harder life than others because of various trials and persecutions. Hence, the reader believes that a Christian should possess the courage to face these troubles at all times and situations and share the message of Christianity. Christians since the 1st century were encouraged to be bold and share the gospel with others so that they, too, can receive salvation.
Interpretation #2 Jewish people are God’s favorite
In this version, the reader interprets that Jews are God’s favorite and people from other religions or non-Jews are not loved the same. Although Jewish people tortured Jesus and turned against his teachings and continue to do so, God still loves them the same and continues to bless and protect the country of Israel. The reader believes that God is biased towards the Jews as his twelve disciples were Jews, and Jesus himself was born in a Jewish lineage. In this interpretation, the reader assumes that the people in other nations choose to deny the message of the Gospel for this reason.
Interpretation #3 Christians get the power of God by believing
The interpretation of the verse, “for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” is that Christians receive the special power of God by believing in Him. The reader believes that God promises his powers to anyone who believes in Christ’s death and resurrection. God wants his children to possess his power of love, courage, generosity, and selflessness so that they can live a good life and also share the message of salvation with others. The reader understands that God does so because Christians face a hard life, as the Bible repeatedly mentions in both the Old and the New Testament.
Interpretation #4 Christian salvation is for selected people
The meaning of the verse, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” is that Christian salvation is not for everyone. The reader interprets that only the strong and bold can accept Christianity and the gospel message. The Apostle Paul had to face various trials and troubles in order to continue his preaching about the message of salvation. Hence, the reader believes that it is not easy being a Christian as they realize the hostility towards Christians in Middle-eastern and other Asian countries.
Interpretation #5 Paul is giving the readers a choice to follow Christ
The final interpretation of the verse, “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” is that Paul is offering his readers a choice and chance to follow Christ. The New Testament majorly consists of Paul’s letters to different cities and churches to strengthen them in Christ and reveal the power of salvation. This verse is an example of Paul’s boldness and belief in the gospel of Christ. Additionally, this verse is meant as an offer to his readers to follow Christ. He assures and provides confidence to his readers that there is no need to be ashamed of the gospel as the gospel message is equal to power from God.
Historical background of Romans 1:16
Romans was written by Paul the Apostle while he was in Corinth in the mid-50s AD, with the help of his secretary, Tertius. It is also the longest and final written epistle of the Apostle Paul. It is believed that Paul did not have any relationship to the Roman community prior to the drafting of this letter. The first chapter of Romans is an address to the people of Rome and Paul’s longing to visit the place. The chapter also talks about God’s anger towards sinful humanity. The sixteenth verse is Paul’s pride in the gospel and also his belief that salvation is first for the Jews and then for the gentiles.
Literary Devices of Romans 1:16
Romans 1:16 is one of the statements used to highlight the courage of preachers who travel to non-Christian nations. The following at the literary devices used in verse.
Assonance – The verse Romans 1:16 has one vowel sound used richly in quick succession. For example, the sound of /au/ (o) in ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation’; the sound of /i/ in ‘for it is the power of God unto salvation’.
Consonance – The verse also has a repeated consonant sound throughout the phrases, but they are not in quick succession. For example, the sound of /s/ in ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God’; the sound of /v/ in ‘for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth’.
Pathos – Romans 1:16 is also a good example of pathos as the author uses his emotions as an exhortation and invitation to the readers to believe in Christ while assuring that the invite is open to everyone.