Romans 1:16-17—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.
The Apostle Paul lived in a world that was similar to ours. Philosophies and a variety of religious beliefs permeated the Roman world. The preaching of the cross was quite contrary to the religions man had created, but Paul was not ashamed to be different. He did not mind not fitting in, for he knew the power of God that could save anyone who would believe. We need to carry that kind of confident boldness into our world. Since Paul would later say that God does not respect one person over another, what does this mean that the gospel is to the Jew first? Certainly it is not first in importance. Throughout Scripture we can see that it is God’s order. Even Jesus’ ministry went to the Jew first. Even though God knew that they, as a nation, would reject Him, He still went to them first. It is God’s desire that all receive the salvation He has provided for them, and He knows the best order to make that possible. Verse 17 is the verse that broke through to Martin Luther’s conscious mind and showed him salvation was not attainable by works. To be justified with God, to be made acceptable in His eyes, can only happen through faith. No amount of good deeds, no particular ritual, simply a heart that places its hope and trust in the God that made us through the way provided by the cross. Abraham believed God. That belief was credited to him as righteousness. Everyone comes to God the same way, as Martin Luther later summed up, “By grace alone; through faith alone”. To live by faith includes more than a one-time comprehension of God’s sufficiency. It is a daily reliance on His all-sufficiency. It is a daily dependence on His power, provision, and His life to be what He calls each of us to be.