“For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” Romans 1:16-17
Why would Paul ever be tempted to be ashamed of the gospel as he contemplated his trip to Rome? For one thing, the gospel was identified with a poor Jewish carpenter who was crucified. The Romans had no special appreciation for the Jews, and crucifixion was the lowest form of execution given a criminal. Why put your faith in a Jew who was crucified? Rome was a proud city, and the gospel came from Jerusalem, the capital of one of the little nations that Rome had conquered. The Christians in that day were not the elite of society; they were common people and even salves. Rome had known many great philosophers and philosophies; why pay attention to a fable about a Jew who arose from the dead? Christians looked on each other as brothers and sisters, all one in Christ, which went against the grain of Romans pride and dignity. To think of a little Jewish tentmaker going to Rome to preach such a message is almost humorous. But Paul was not ashamed of the gospel, he knew that it had power and it was a message that would set a person free. He knew that the message made us right in the sight of God.
Power was the one thing that Rome boasted of the most. Greece might have its philosophy, but Rome had its power. The fear of Rome hovered over the empire like a cloud. Were they not the conquerors? Were not the Roman Legions stationed all over the known world? But with all of her military power, Rome was still a weak nation. Roman was a sinful nation and Paul was taking the one message that had the power to change lives. Paul had seen this message change the wicked cities of Corinth and Ephesus, and he was confident that this message could change the city of Rome.
“This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:25)