Romans 1:16-17: Not Ashamed of the Gospel :: By Dr. Donald Whitchard

Romans 1:16-17, Ephesians 6:17, Hebrews 4:12, 2 Timothy 2:15, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, John 17:17

Summary: Paul’s letter to the Romans has been referred to as the “point of departure for the study of Bible doctrine.” It is the foundation of Christian theology and has been used, along with the Gospels, to point lost souls to the cross.

Numerous sermons and commentaries have waxed eloquent about the genius of Paul’s mind and heart as he dictated this letter to his brethren who made up the church in Rome. Stories from church history, such as the conversions of St. Augustine, Martin Luther, and John Wesley, when they read the book of Romans, show the power and influence of this divinely inspired work to transform lives and shape the direction of both individuals, churches, and nations over the course of time. Evangelists have used the “Roman Road” (Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:6-11, 8:37-39, 10:9-10) to present the Gospel and win souls to Christ.

The modern church would do well to repent of its desire to appease the fickle and wicked demands of the world (2 Peter 3:10-13) and return to the Book (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21). We are to be in the world but not of it (Matthew 16:26; Luke 21:34; Romans 12:2; Colossians 3:2; Titus 2:12; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17). We are to share the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Hebrews 7:25) to people who are lost and wandering on the broad road of destruction and to bring them to the narrow road and the cross where all can be saved (Isaiah 45:22, 53:4-6: Matthew 11:28-30; John 10:28-30).

I wish to approach this masterpiece of Paul’s mind and heart from the perspective of an evangelist more than an expositor to have you see that not only is this great lion of God explaining to us the essentials of sound biblical doctrine but is also using the gifts and talents that the LORD bestowed upon him to reach out to those who have absolutely no concept of the true God as He presents Himself in creation, the inner conscience, and the revealed Word. He also wrote Romans in order to point out that, apart from the saving grace and mercy of God, we are no “good” in any way, shape, or form, and nothing we do in our own strength is going to change that, like it or not.

Paul’s personal background is a testimony to that harsh reality. He had been an avowed enemy of Christianity (Acts 8:1, 9:1-2, 26:8-11) and saw it as a blasphemous threat to all he held dear in his Jewish faith and pedigree as a Pharisee. He saw Jesus of Nazareth as nothing more than an enemy of the customs and traditions he held just as sacred as he did the Scriptures that he had committed to memory (Galatians 1:13-14; Philippians 3:3-6). To him, Jesus’ death on the cross was a visible sign that he was cursed by God (Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:13) for His claim to be the Promised Messiah (Isaiah 53:1-12) of Israel.

He would soon come to realize that the curse Jesus carried for a brief time was the curse of sin that condemns all of us to death and hell. It was the Lord Jesus whose perfect life and sacrifice on the cross freed us from that curse forever (Isaiah 53:4; John 15:13; Galatians 1:4; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 3:18, 2:24; 1 John 3:5).

That saving grace is available to you as well. Swallow your pride, confess that you are a sinner, and realize that it is only the benevolence, mercy, grace, and love of God that can redeem and rescue you from the judgment all of us so richly deserve (Romans 10:9-10).

Let us see how all that applied to this murderous Pharisee who thought he was doing God a favor by eradicating the early church.

He pursued Christians with a fury that could match that of a modern ISIS or Al Qaeda jihadist. He had captured and imprisoned them and approved to have them killed as well. Paul’s rabid religious fanaticism would place him on a terrorist watch list if he were around today. That all changed when the glorified Lord Jesus Christ struck him down, forever changing him from a rabid destroyer of Christianity to becoming its most prolific preacher, soul-winner, missionary, and battle-scarred soldier who never got over the fact that instead of being destroyed by the fury of Christ, he was instrumental in bringing the everlasting word and person of Jesus Christ to both Jew and Gentile and see that the lost sheep were being brought into the fold of the Good Shepherd for all time.

It is the conversion of Paul that is one of the distinct proofs that the message, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is true, valid, and confirmed by not just the Scriptures themselves but also affirmed by Bible scholars from both liberal and conservative schools of thought.

I know that these are points of reference that I have brought up in previous sermons and articles, but oftentimes we need to return to and reflect on the wonder of a soul that was once lost and now found and put into use for the approaching kingdom of God. Remember that at one time, you too were an enemy of God in need of redemption, just as Paul and countless others in the course of history came to realize (Romans 5:10). If you are reading this and are not a follower of Jesus Christ, you are in the enemy camp and need to get out of it before it is too late (Luke 12:13-21; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 9:27).

Do you now see why Paul was so eager to share this life-changing Gospel with the brethren in Rome (Romans 1:8-13)?

This group of Jewish believers who lived in Rome had brought back the message of Jesus Christ years before after returning from Jerusalem and hearing the message preached by Peter on the Day of Pentecost and the birth of the church (Matthew 16:13-19; Acts 1:8, 2:1-4, 14-39). Peter proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah and had fulfilled many of the prophecies written in the Hebrew Scriptures as proof (Isaiah 53:1-12; Psalm 16:8-11, 110:1).

His call for the Jews who heard this message to repent and trust in Christ was received by not just those Jews who had been residing in Rome, but all the Jewish pilgrims who were gathered from other nations as well (Acts 2:5-12). They heard the Gospel being preached in their language (hence the “tongues,” or “glossa,” meaning known languages) and, in turn, carried it back to their countries, further spreading the Gospel message (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8).

This Gospel is what Paul was eager to share with the Romans in order for these brethren to receive an even deeper understanding of what it meant to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He was going to learn from them as well, and together they would all drink from the well of the Living Water, who is the Lord Jesus Himself (John 4:14, 7:38-39). Paul will explain to the Roman believers and to all who take up and read this wondrous foundation of faith that it is Christ alone who saves us and guides us in our lives and who will welcome us into the eternal heavens and the new earth. Romans is our major instruction manual apart from the Gospels themselves on how to live the authentic Christian life before the world as a witness to the truth and glory of the King of Kings who is returning soon.

Class is in session for both the world and the church to hear, learn, and receive the message. Don’t skip out.

My book, The Scope of Biblical Prophecy, is now available at


Donald was born and reared in the authentic “Cajun Country” of southern Louisiana. He is a graduate of Louisiana College (B.A. in History Education/ Biblical Studies, 1984), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div. In Christian Education, 1994), and Andersonville Baptist Seminary (Doctor of Ministry, Biblical Exposition, 2000). He has been in the Gospel ministry since 1986, serving as an evangelist, interim and supply pastor, hospital and rescue mission chaplain, high school and college teacher, and pastor in churches in Louisiana and Oklahoma.

In 2018, he began to devote his time to the rich field of internet and social media evangelism and outreach. In 2021 he became a member of the Oklahoma Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, using his skills as a writer to contribute articles and sermons to websites such as Rapture Ready, Sermon Central, and Inspirational Christian Blogs. He also writes Bible studies and curricula for churches in southeast and central Asia and Africa, the locations of which are anonymous. He can be contacted at: for inquiries, information, and speaking/preaching engagements. A copy of his resume is also available upon request.