Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (ESV)
What does Paul mean when he says that he is not ashamed of the gospel? Is he talking about being embarrassed by the gospel for some reason? Or maybe is he talking about some kind of reluctance in preaching the gospel? Most of the other uses in the Bible of this word “ashamed” carry the connotation of the desire to disavow the knowledge of something or being associated with something. For instance, we find this same Greek word translated “ashamed” used twice in Mark 8:38 “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (ESV)
As a part of a homeschool family, I understand Paul’s use of the word “ashamed” in Romans 1:16. It is easy to be ashamed of homeschooling at times, in the sense that it is easy to desire to disavow any association with homeschooling because of the ridicule you receive in some circles. Many people will pick out my wife as a homeschool mother, even in a context where there is no clear physical evidence that we homeschool. It is almost as if she has a sign hung around her neck: “We Homeschool.”
Why is it that Paul is not ashamed of the gospel? He gives us three reasons in Romans 1:16. First, Paul is not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God. If the gospel had no power, then it would be nothing but a comedy of errors, some cruel joke played on unsuspecting people. But the gospel message has power. And how much power does the gospel have? We are told that the gospel has the power of God. We say that God is omnipotent, or “all-powerful.” The gospel message carries with it that same power – power to overcome anything that stands in its way, even a hard human heart and a stiff human neck.
Second, Paul is not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for salvation. If you had all the power in the world available at your fingertips, what would you do with it? Cure cancer? End world hunger? Stop abortions? Bring world peace? God, who has all the power in the world at his fingertips, and then an infinite amount of power beyond that, uses that power to save a people unto himself. He uses that power to save people from their sins. He uses that power to rescue people from the judgment to come and from the fires of hell. What better use of power could there possibly be? No wonder Paul is not ashamed of the gospel! What better gift is there to give to a person?
Third, Paul is not ashamed of the gospel because it is for everyone who will believe. It is not just for the Jew, even though it came to the Jews first in the words and in the person of Jesus Christ. It is not just for Gentiles, since the Jews rejected the Messiah (see John 1:11). It is not just for the people who lived in the first century A.D., who heard the words of Jesus and his Apostles. It is not just for Americans, even though we sometimes think that we have the corner on the gospel message. It is not just for the learned, or the wise, or the powerful (see 1 Corinthians 1:26). It is for everyone. If the gospel were only for a select nationality or ethnicity of people, then Paul could have been ashamed to spread the gospel. But the gospel was applicable to everyone to whom Paul spoke.
One thought in closing. Just as Paul says that he is not ashamed of the gospel, we too say that we are not ashamed of homeschooling, because we realize the power of homeschooling. It is not the power of salvation, but it is the power of having the most influential role in the lives of our children at a time in their lives when most parents have given up this influence to the peers of their children.
By Berean Husband