“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.” — Romans 1:16
How many times have you looked at this verse and really read the last part of it? Sure, we all know how Romans 1:16 begins with “For I am not ashamed of the gospel …” but what was Paul talking about when he said “to the Jew first, and also to the Greek?
It is about grace. Since the time of Abram (Abraham) God had a chosen people. God made a promise to Abram that was three-fold: He would bless him with land, descendants, and redemption (Gen 12:1-3). And then in Genesis 13:14-17 God begins to fulfill His promise of land. Time passes and Abram and his wife begin to doubt God’s promise of descendants and they take it upon themselves to make the baby that the wife’s handmaiden bares. God tells Abram that this is not the one through whom the promise will be fulfilled and then at an age around 100 years old Abram’s wife becomes pregnant. At this time God not only promises once again, but he also changes Abram’s name (meaning exalted father) to Abraham (meaning father of a multitude). Then God seals the promise with a sign — circumcision of every male Jewish child at 8 days of age (Gen 17:1-27). In Genesis 22:15-18 we read how Isaac (Abraham’s son) is bound with the promise as the blessing is handed down. So we see that the Jewish people are God’s chosen. This is God’s covenant and it is known as the Abrahamic Covenant.
As time goes on and we continue to read the Old Testament we see that parts of the Abrahamic Covenant are fulfilled, but the promise of redemption has not come to pass and this promise lies only in the Messiah, Jesus Christ. When we get into the New Testament preaching of Jesus and those that He sent, we see how the Jewish people continually reject the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this reason, God calls Paul to preach the gospel of grace to the Gentiles, including the Greek (Acts 13:14-52). Gentiles are made up of all those people whom are not born as Jewish, and therefore are not originally included as God’s chosen people. So Paul began to preach to the Gentiles the message of grace through faith in Jesus Christ.:
Ephesians 1:4-13 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
From the time when Paul began to preach the gospel of grace and even into today the Gentiles are now grafted into the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ. It was the rejection of the gospel by the Jews that made it possible for that Abrahamic Covenant to be inherited even to a people who are not of Jewish origin. So this is how it came to be that this precious gift — the inheritance of redemption — was first offered to the Jews and then to the Greek.
How wonderful is it that we can see the fulfillment of this covenant in Jesus Christ extended to us? Extension of grace to all people, and not only the Jews is known as the dispensation of grace. This is the time period in which grace is offered — we are still in that time. This age of grace was not ever known before Paul revealed this mystery. This is why we should not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ because without it we are lost. Paul delivered these promising words to the Church at Ephesus:
Ephesians 3:1-12 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
“Boldness and access with confidence” … that means we should unashamedly proclaim the message of grace and how ALL people may be joint heirs with Jesus and partakers of His promise.
Will you find one person today and share this message of grace with them? Time is short, redeem your time and share the good news now!