There are so many things that each one of us in our lives has been ashamed of, but Paul specifically says that he is not ashamed of the Gospel. Why is that? We are ashamed of things when we invest our identity and our hope in them and they fail us. The Gospel doesn’t fail us. We feel shame when we invest our hope in our own attempts to be good enough and inevitably fail. When we invest our identity and hope in the Gospel we are not put to shame because we are being given the finished, perfect righteousness of God.
Paul is indebted to Gentiles because of the Gospel. Paul is eager to share the Gospel. Paul is not ashamed of the Gospel. The Gospel is power of God. The Gospel is the revelation of God’s own righteousness. But what is the Gospel? We know Jesus is probably in there somewhere, but what is this good news of God’s righteousness? Before we can preach the Gospel to our neighbors, our co-workers, our families, and ourselves, we need to know what the Gospel is.
Having just introduced himself to the church in Rome via the Gospel in the first 7 verses, Paul now goes on to tell the church why he’s writing. Paul writes that, despite never having the church in Rome, he writes these things to them because he both loves them and is indebted to them. He both longs to be with them, praying for them unceasingly, and eagerly desires to encourage them with the Gospel, all out of a deep, abiding understanding of the grace of God that has been given to him.
Romans is one of the fullest descriptions of the Gospel not solely because of all of the weighty doctrine it contains (although that certainly helps). The Gospel is a deep well of transformational doctrine and theology for all, but it is the greatest personal message for every individual on earth. Paul wrote Romans to a church that he loved, that he prayed for, that he longed to see, and that he desired to bless with the Gospel and he wanted to be sure that they knew that.
As with most letters, Paul begins Romans by introducing himself. But here he reveals that it isn’t as important to know who he is as it is to know whose he is. In this first sentence, he both greets the Roman church and lays the foundation of the letter in the person, both fully God and fully man, of Christ, the person that has set him apart for His Gospel for His name’s sake.