[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Preaching the gospel... to the saved?

by Antonio da Rosa

Writing over 30 years after the ascension of Jesus into heaven, John Mark, receiving much of his information from the Apostle Peter, starts off his treatise on the Lord Jesus Christ in this fashion:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (Mark 1:1)

The term “gospel” means “good news,” and indeed, Mark was about to pen some! The ‘good news’ Mark wrote about was “the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Yes, the good news concerning Jesus Christ… And good news it was! In his writing, Mark shared the love, righteousness, and compassion of Jesus. Extraordinary and notable miracles are testified to. Authoritative pronouncements of Christ were recorded. The readers are instructed on how to live the Christian life, a life of significance, purpose, and meaning! and one which can be richly rewarded! As a climax, Mark tells of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead on the third day after being put to death on a cruel, Roman cross; information not merely for the benefit of evangelism, but of exceeding importance for the Christian reader, who will use the cross as an example for his life, and appropriate the resurrection power of His ascended Lord for the purpose of sanctification!

Such a consideration is instructional, for it is quite revealing to note that some thirty years after Jesus left the earth, a friend of the Apostle Peter and helper of the Apostle Paul, uses the term “the gospel” (Gk: euangellion), with the definite article (denoting specificity), to refer to the happenings and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

Let us trek over to Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. Here we are met with this verse:

So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you [2nd person, plural pronoun] who are in Rome also. (Rom 1:15)

Who are the “you,” in this context, who Paul is referring to? Put another way, to whom was Paul ready to preach the gospel to? Please note Paul’s employment of the second person, plural pronoun, “you”. In the first fourteen verses of the book of Romans, leading up to verse 15, the plural “you” is used by Paul fourteen other times to refer to the intended readers of his epistle: “the called of Jesus Christ” (1:6), “all who are in Rome, beloved of God” (1:7), “saints” (1:7), and those whose “faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” (1:8). Let us follow along the thread of fourteen references to the plural “you” that lead up to verse 15.

Rom 1:6
“among whom you [#1] also are the called of Jesus Christ”
The Roman saints were among the nations, wherein they had received grace for obedience to the faith.

Rom 1:7
“To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you [#2] and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul extends his greetings and blessing to the saints, beloved of God, who are in Rome.

Rom 1:8
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you [#3] all, that your [#4, lit: “of you”] faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.”
Paul thanks God for the Roman saints because their faith is well known, being proclaimed throughout the world.

Rom 1:9
“For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you [#5] always in my prayers”
Paul makes supplication for the Roman saints.

Rom 1:10
“making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you [#6].”
Paul prays God to orchestrate a visit to the church at Rome.

Rom 1:11
“For I long to see you [#7], that I may impart to you [#8] some spiritual gift, so that you [#9] may be established”
Paul greatly desired to take a trip to the Roman saints so that he could bless them for the purpose of creating within them an indestructable foundation.

Rom 1:12
“that is, that I may be encouraged together with you [#10] by the mutual faith both of you [#11] and me.
Paul discloses that a visit to the Roman saints would be beneficial for both him and them.

Rom 1:13
Now I do not want you [#12] to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you [#13] (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among [Gk: en] you [#14] also, just as among the other Gentiles.
Paul wishes to have fruit in the Roman saints, which his gospel ministry among them would provide. (See 1 Thess 2:19 – 3:3)

So you see that within the span of only eight verses (1:6-13) Paul makes reference to the Roman saints, beloved of God, whose faith is well known in the whole world, by using the plural pronoun “you” fourteen times, which well establishes the identity of the plural “you” in verse 15. Let us look again at this verse and this time include the greatly attested antecedent to this pronoun:

So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you saints, beloved of God, whose faith is well known throughout the world, who are in Rome also. (Rom 1:15)

The fact cannot be escaped that Paul wished to preach the gospel to those who are already born again!

The next 3 verses contain the literary device called the explanatory ‘gar,’ which is translated into English with “for,” explaining that which comes before. This word is very important, for it flags to us an explanation to follow. A simple exercise in biblical interpretation: find out what the “for” is for. (Incidentally, one of the many reasons that I do not like the NIV is that it removes, if I remember correctly, some 90% of the explanatory ‘gars’ from its translation. You scholars out there can correct me if I am wrong, it may be only 70%.)

The reason that Paul wants to preach the gospel to the beloved saints in Rome is:

For [he was] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God for deliverance for [i.e. available for] every believer. (Rom 1:16; translation mine)

In order to reduce the bias shown to the word “salvation” in 21st century Christian thought, I translated the Greek term “soteria” with the English “deliverance”. Whenever bible readers happen upon the words “save” or “salvation” they seem to have a knee-jerk reaction, assuming that they always (or even most likely) denote salvation from hell. But this would be the meaning least expected by the Koine Greek reader (see dialogue on such in one of my articles here: Discussion of Salvation). When one comes across these words, the context alone must decide what kind of deliverance is in view.

Furthermore, I translated the present, active, substantival participle (Gk: tō pisteuonti) as “believer” rather than the familiar “one who believes”. Zane Hodges speaks about this same Greek construction (the articular, substantival, present participle) in his commentary on 1st John, and it is here instructive:

This construction in Greek is essentially timeless and characterizes an individual by some act or acts he has performed, without specifying how often these were done or even whether they still continue. In this respect such statements have their closest analogy to many English nouns (often ending in –er) that express completed and/or ongoing action. For example, “he is a murderer,” “she is a cheater,” “he is a supporter,” “she is a winner.” In such cases, the person may be described this way based on one instance of murder, cheating, support, or winning, or on the basis of many such acts. (The Epistles of John, 1 John 5:4, pg 217, emphasis his. See also his note #7 on pg 237 which is referred to from this quote)

Therefore, we conclude that the reason that Paul wished to preach the gospel to the saints in Rome was that the gospel is the power of God available to the Christian (“believer”) for deliverance! (What kind of deliverance will be discussed shortly). The reason that the gospel is the power of God for deliverance to the Christian is next explained:

For in it is revealed the righteousness of God by faith, granted to faith, just as it is written, “Now the one who is righteous by faith shall live.” (Rom 1:17, translation by Zane Hodges, the Kerugma Message, Vol 13, No.3, Winter 2004)

The connection between the type of deliverance available to the Christian through the gospel, which Paul had just mentioned, and justifying faith (here mentioned) is this: the justified one through the power of God in the gospel shall live!

It is through the deliverance available to the Christian (in other words, the justified one) in the gospel that he will live in its truest senses! Paul speaks about such living available to the Christian through his gospel (see Rom 2:16; 16:25, and 2 Tim 2:8 where Paul calls the gospel “my gospel”) in Romans chapters 6-8. It is in Rom 8:12 where he states, “if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” When we were discussing the writing of Mark above, we mentioned that he related to us how we can live a meaningful and significant Christian life. When Mark writes:

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own lifel? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life?

He was giving us the gospel!

Finally, we have one more consecutive, explanatory ‘gar’ to consider. Why do we need the deliverance afforded to us by the gospel through the power of God, wherein, we, those justified by faith, can live?

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men… (Rom 1:18)

The gospel teaches us how to be delivered from sin: from its power, and thus its effects and consequences. The above verse is universal in scope. God’s anger is presently being revealed in the world against all ungodliness and all unrighteousness of men. Romans 1:16-17 is the thematic statement for the whole book of Romans. The Roman Christians, the unbelieving Jews, and we, the 21st century beneficiaries of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, need to practice the principles of the gospel that Paul preached so that we can truly live and be delivered from God’s wrath which He presently reveals against any man practicing ungodliness and unrighteousness.

Accordingly, in Romans 1:16-17, the Apostle has set forth his theme succinctly and effectively. He is proud of the gospel precisely because it makes available the power of God that accomplishes deliverance in the lives of believers. This deliverance of sinful creatures is in full harmony with God’s own righteousness. That righteousness is revealed in the gospel as a righteousness actually attained prior to deliverance on the sole basis of faith. Thus the gospel leads to the realization of the profoundly important truth stated in Habakkuk: if a person is righteous by faith he can live For the New Testament person, that is nothing less than victorious Christian experience. (Zane Hodges, Ibid., emphasis his)

Are you in the practice of preaching the gospel to the saved?

The gospel is much more than faith alone in Christ alone...


  • Good post.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Tuesday, December 18, 2007 4:54:00 AM  

  • Hi Antonio

    Very good!!! The Gospel is "Good News" for the lost and the saved!!

    blessings alvin

    By Blogger alvin, at Tuesday, December 18, 2007 10:40:00 AM  

  • Hi Antonio

    Just wanted to leave a message for Kris.
    Kris I left answers to your questions to me on
    A couple of odd quotations

    by Rose

    blessings alvin

    By Blogger alvin, at Tuesday, December 18, 2007 11:45:00 AM  

  • Hi Antonio,

    I totally agree. Paul is addressing believers. The Gospel is Good News and should be preached to everyone, even believers.

    Here's a passage form Romans that always gives me pause. Maybe you could comment on it.

    Romans 2:5-8 (NASB)
    "But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation."

    It appears to say that what God gives eternal life to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality. And then those who don't seek for glory and honor and immortality, but rather are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, they don't get eternal life, but they get wrath and indignation.

    So is that Paul's gospel? Persevere and you get Eternal Life?

    What's your interpretation?

    In Christ,
    Ten Cent

    By Blogger Soldem, at Tuesday, December 18, 2007 1:58:00 PM  

  • Hi Antonio

    Hi Ten Cent!

    Zane has shown where from Romans 1:8 to 2:5 is one section, and has pointed out if there was ever a bookend in the Bible this is it. Paul uses the word wrath in Romans 1:18 and doesn't use it again until 2:5 also he brings up "in the day of wrath." As you can see in Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God IS revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.
    The man spoken of in Rom 2:1 is an imaginary man. It could even be a believer and the wrath that is spoken of is being revealed at that time. So they were in the day of God's wrath. Zane shows in the Greek that there should be a period after the end of Romans 2:5. Then in verse 6 He will render to each one according to his deeds. Eternal life to those who be patient continuance in doin good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;
    Ten Cent, at the Great White Throne everyone will get what they deserve. But who are these ones who get eternal life by they’re patient continuance in doing good?
    Rom 13 tells us (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified.
    Who are these people?
    Rom 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law NO FLESH will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
    Ten Cent, there are two ways to get to heaven by being perfect or having a perfect substitute. The Judge of all men will open the books of the works of men at the Great White Throne and there will be no such person who will receive eternal life by doin good. Only those whose name is written in the book of life have a perfect Savior who has given them a perfect righteousness. But remember this is a gift that is given freely!!! That's really good news!! Other wise you could never know until the end if you were good enough, and we see there is no such person!
    blessings alvin
    PS I'm sure Antonio's answer will be much better!

    By Blogger alvin, at Tuesday, December 18, 2007 10:04:00 PM  

  • Hi Antonio/Ten Cent
    Part 1

    This is just a part of Zanes message on this subject.

    Concerning Romans 2:5 a period should follow this verse and not just a coma. Despite the King James Version tradition of a comma after verse five it is preferable to place a period there along with the NIV and the Jerusalem Bible. The following relative pronoun introducing a new line of thought. Romans 2:5 reads as follows. "And by no means of your hardness and your unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath against yourself in a day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God."
    I pause to point out in this verse the last “and” is not found in the modern critical edition of the Greek NT I am following the Majority Text, surprise! But the presence or absence of the “and” really does not effect what I’m saying today. What we are looking at here in 2:5 clearly recalls the material of 1:18. To begin with there is the double use of the word wrath in 2:5 that is the first explicit use of this word since 1:18. Secondly, there is the word revelation in 1:18 Paul affirms that the wrath of God has been revealed from heaven. In 1:18 the verb is used and in 2:5 the cognate noun is used. Thirdly, the word translated righteous judgment is the Greek word “Dikaiokrisia” this is its only use in the New Testament. It quite clearly picks up a thought that is explicit in Rom 1:18

    By Blogger alvin, at Wednesday, December 19, 2007 2:33:00 AM  

  • Hi Antonio/Ten Cent
    Part 2
    In Romans 1:18 Paul said that God’s wrath is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. This double use of unrighteousness makes quite clear that God’s wrath is due to God’s righteous judgment against unrighteous men. My point is this, if ever there was an obvious inclusio Rom 2:5 is it. This means therefore that in Paul’s mind Rom 1:18-2:5 is a single unit of thought. The basic idea of the unit is this, all men are exposed to the righteous wrath of God including the Moralist who thinks he is better then others. There are no exceptions. This also leads to another obvious conclusion. When Paul tells the Moralist that he is storing up wrath in a day of wrath, he is not talking about the eschatological future, he is talking about right here and now. Now I have to confess to you I previously had read Rom 2:5 as if it had said that the Moralist is storing up wrath “for” the day of wrath. Perhaps with a little straining the Greek would bear that translation. But Paul did not say “for” but “in.” Neither does he say “in the” but “in a.” The Moralist is in a day of wrath.

    I’m jumping to Zanes conclusion part 5
    The point I’m making today from Rom 2:1-5 is important for several reasons. First, it helps us to understand there is a break in the thought between Rom 2:5 and 2:6. Not a radical break in the thought of course but a significant one. In 2:6-16 Paul proceeds to the issue of the final judgment of the unrighteous. Of course there is no such judgment for those who are righteous by faith since no charge can be brought against those who are righteous by faith Rom 8:33. Secondly, our proposed understanding of Rom 2:1-5 places Paul’s one and only reference to repentance in Romans in the context of God’s temporal wrath.
    blessings alvin

    By Blogger alvin, at Wednesday, December 19, 2007 2:36:00 AM  

  • Thanks for the encouragement, Matthew. BTW, love your new avatar!

    Thanks for the analysis, Alvin.

    Ten Cent, I hope Alvin's answer is sufficient.

    Rose, no comments or questions yet, lol.


    By Blogger Antonio, at Wednesday, December 19, 2007 1:31:00 PM  

  • Antonio,

    Excellent post, and it provides a good explanation based on context for what the gospel is.

    I havn't seen you over at freegracechurches much recently. The forums are starting to heat up a bit. If you are interested, I still wanted to make you a blog contributor. Let me know...

    By Blogger Jeremy Myers, at Wednesday, December 19, 2007 3:09:00 PM  

  • Antonio...in the other stream you challenged me here by saying:


    where is there a verse in the whole of the Bible that states that you receive everlasting life, justification, or eternal salvation by believing that Jesus died for your sins?<

    Can you tell me why those of us who believe that Jesus died for our sins and justified us freely by His blood are unsaved still?

    If we are still hellbound as you say you were for believing this then what criteria do you elliminate the sheep from the goats and the lost from the saved in order to preach the gospel to the right people?

    If we cannot believe that it is enough that Jesus died for our sins then what else is it that we need to believe? If Christs death on our behalf is not enough then what more is there that can save us?

    By Blogger Only Look, at Wednesday, December 19, 2007 7:03:00 PM  

  • Hey Ten Cent,

    thanks for the comment. Hey, before I try to answer your question, just wanted to know why you haven't continued with me on the Judgment seat of Christ issue over at my blog. Did you see that I had answered you over there? I have also posted two more articles there in that series.

    I believe that you are misrepresenting me.

    you write:

    Can you tell me why those of us who believe that Jesus died for our sins and justified us freely by His blood are unsaved still?

    There is an equivocation between your assertion of my position and the question you pose here to me. So I will leave that to you to work out.

    But if I may, Romans 3:26 states that God "is the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus"

    "faith in Jesus" is the condition for justification.

    It should go without saying, quite logically, that someone that believed that Jesus died on the cross for our sins is not precluded from trusting in his works at the same time, thus failing to fulfill the one requirement for justification: "faith in Jesus"

    "Believing in" Jesus is nothing but complete reliance and trust in Him for one's irrevocable eternal well-being. Believing that Jesus died on the cross for our sins does not necessarily lead to the conviction that Jesus guarantees your eternal felicity by simple faith in Him for it.


    By Blogger Antonio, at Wednesday, December 19, 2007 7:18:00 PM  

  • Hi Antonio,

    Just so you know, I didn't write the comment that you referenced in your last comment. I believe that was Brian ("only look").

    I will, hopefully, interact with you again on your blog about the white robes. The conversation just moves too fast and it takes me time to think things through :)

    In Christ,
    Ten Cent

    By Blogger Soldem, at Thursday, December 20, 2007 8:13:00 AM  

  • Antonio,

    You wrote...> Believing that Jesus died on the cross for our sins does not necessarily lead to the conviction that Jesus guarantees your eternal felicity by simple faith in Him for it.<

    YOu dont believe this is a dangerous assertion that you are making here? On what basis do you have to make this assertion when it is totally apparent that this was the whole purpose of divine revelation from the begining as he was the lamb slain before the foundation of the world and it is also John the Baptists finger that points with the voice, "Behold the lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world."

    Are you not making an assertion and laying down conditions of your own by arguing away the divine record and ultimate plan of God that makes known His Son and seperates us from being able to save ourself by telling us why we need him for our Saviour?

    It almost appears as if this purpose of yours to drive a wedge between Christ and Him crucified is designed to compell us to bow or knee to Zane Hodges and yourself instead of the Divine planner and his beautifully woven divine plan that even a child can understand. Jesus loves you so much that he died for you and this is how we know what love is. Please consider this.
    This is a strong assertion that you are making here.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at Thursday, December 20, 2007 1:35:00 PM  

  • Antonio,
    I finally got around to reading this post. It is really good! I am glad you are pointing out the relevance to our everyday lives that the gospel has - being about more than escape from hell.

    Thanks for this post.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Saturday, December 29, 2007 9:38:00 AM  

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