Gospel: A Focal Point in the Roman Epistle (3)

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The second major venue is the procedure of the gospel. That is, the attributes of the gospel need a way to be expressed. The procedure of the gospel, then, can be outlined into three methodical steps. The first of the methodical steps begins with the messenger.

Paul catalogs the attributes and attitudes which the messenger must exhibit. First, the one who brings the (euangelion) gospel, according to Romans 10:15, must hold the attribute of being sent; in other words, the messenger has a responsibility to complete.  The same verse suggests, secondly, that the messenger is attributed with beautiful feet, provided on the condition that he delivers the gospel message. Next, the messenger of the gospel, according to 15:20, holds an attitude of aspiration–he directs his ambition to preach (euangelizo). Finally, the messenger holds the attitude of a servant, because Paul says he ministers as a priest (15:16).

Additionally, the messenger must hold a fourfold attitude. According to Paul in the first chapter of Romans, the one who preaches the gospel must first be one who is set apart (1:1). Second, he must be servant-hearted (1:1,9). Next, he must also be eager to preach (1:15). Finally, perhaps most importantly, he must not be ashamed of the gospel (1:16). The procedure of the gospel, then, cannot be satisfied if the messenger does not hold the proper attributes and/or the required genuine attitudes.

The second of the procedural steps involves the manner of preaching. That is, the good news cannot be known if a messenger merely keeps it to himself. This is why Paul urges verbal proclamation in Romans 10:14-17. He argues that people cannot believe the report of glad tidings and good things if no one speaks the report! Perhaps this is why he said he preached the gospel fully (15:19). If either there stands no qualified messenger, or there stands a messenger with no courage to boldly proclaim the good news, the procedure of the gospel may never be fulfilled. If however, there is a messenger who fully proclaims the message, the procedure of the gospel lacks one more step.

The third of the procedural steps requires an audience to whom the gospel message can be taught.  The messenger who exists is a great blessing. A better blessing is a messenger who boldly and completely proclaims the message. The best blessing is the messenger who boldly and completely proclaims the message–outside a padded room. In this epistle, Paul classifies the audience of the gospel into two ironic groups: 1) All people and 2) Certain people.

On one hand, the text discloses that the gospel was preached in multiple cities and countries (1:15; 15:19). As such, Jews and Greeks (that is, Gentiles) were among those who heard the gospel (1:16; 15:16). In addition, Paul implies another group in 15:20 when he writes about “not building upon another man’s foundation.” By going places where the gospel had never been publicized, Paul includes within the audience those who had never before heard the gospel. Therefore, Paul was determined that everyone would hear the good news because he was going everywhere to as many people as possible. On the other hand, Paul’s writings convey that even if every person heard the gospel message, only certain people would receive it. To whom did he say the gospel is the power of God? To those who believe (1:16). What did he imply about the gospel in 10:16 and 11:28? He implied that people can reject it. The procedure of the gospel, therefore, is a three-step operation. Not only does it require a credentialed messenger who must communicate in a particular manner, but it also needs an audience by whom the spoken message can be heard. This is the only way the gospel has potential to complete its procedural objective.

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