Romansby David Cook
Paul concludes the introduction to his letter with three “I am” statements in verses 14, 15, and 16.
First, he says “I am a debtor” (v. 14). He is obligated (literally, indebted) to “Greeks and non-Greeks”—that is, to all cultures—and to “the wise and the foolish”—that is, to all classes within those cultures.
What was the source of this obligation? It came from God’s grace to Paul. Once, he was the persecutor of the church. Now, he is Christ’s apostle. Such grace rendered Paul a debtor to all people.
Grace can’t be earned. But receiving it so freely puts us under obligation to all. Paul probably felt more at home with people from a similar background to himself, but his sense of obligation is extended to everyone without discrimination.
That is why he says “I am so eager” (v. 15). “Eager” is a rare word in the New Testament. It means, literally, to be single-minded. Such a mind is the essence of maturity. See, for example, Philippians 3:15, where Paul says that those who are mature will express an eagerness of mind in pursuing greater intimacy with Christ and conformity to Christ. Contrast that with the picture of immaturity given in Ephesians 4:14, where immature believers are described as being “tossed back and forth”, moving from one novelty to the next. Bible commentator F. F. Bruce says of Paul: “He strikes us as a man possessed of an uncommon strength of will”, such is his eagerness to preach the gospel in Rome.
Finally, Paul says, “I am not ashamed” (v. 16). Far from being ashamed of the gospel, Paul is ready to share its message because it is the power of God to bring people to salvation. Its scope is “everyone”. It is received by faith; works do not earn it.
Paul longs to go to Emperor Nero’s Rome as an ambassador of this gospel. He will not go with a large entourage. He will not go with conventional weaponry. He will go with a message. It is a message about a crucified Jew. In Nero’s Rome, this message must have seemed laughable, yet the historian T. R. Glover said that the day would come when men would call their dogs “Nero” and their sons “Paul”.
How has your experience of God’s grace led you to recognise your obligations?
How does your sense of indebtedness show itself in your giving, your praying, and your activities? Does being unashamed of the gospel lead you to share it with others?