As Paul begins to discuss the Gospel of Christ in his letter to the saints at Rome, he begins by showing that there is actually a need for the Gospel. He has just declared that the Gospel is God’s saving power for ALL (1:16). This implies that all were in need of that plan. “All” would include both Jew and Gentile. So Paul sets out to prove that Jews and Gentiles alike were sinful, and in need of salvation. If the Gospel is to be of any real benefit to man, a real power to save him, there must first be a NEED for it. If the world is not lost, there was no need for anything to save it, there was no need for the Gospel. From 1:18- 3:20, Paul shows that both Jew and Gentile were lost without the gospel.
In Romans 1:18-32, the picture Paul paints of the Gentiles is not a pretty picture. He concludes with these words: “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, spiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” The sins Paul lists here are sins which people commit against one another. He had already showed how they dishonored and rejected God, and how they had abused and dishonored their own bodies; now he proceeds to list the sins they commit against one another.
Does this section not sound like it is taken directly out of today’s headlines? Thus, Paul had demonstrated that as far as the Gentiles are concerned, there was a great need for the Gospel. But what about the Jews? They rested on the fact that they were children of Abraham; they put dependence in the flesh.
As Paul begins to address the Jews’ need for the gospel, He writes, “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.” No doubt, the Jews would say, “Amen,” to all of the horrible things said in Paul’s description of the sinful Gentiles. But Paul is saying, “Wait a minute; before you condemn the Gentiles, you need to be aware of the fact that you are just as guilty of sin as they are.” He reminds them that “there is no respect of persons with God” (2:11). He also rebuked them for their hypocrisy when he wrote, “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? (2:21-22).
Was there a need for the Gospel? Absolutely! “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (3:23). Is there a need for the Gospel today? Yes, for the same reason. As long as men sin, there will be a need for a way to be made righteous.
Paul M. Wilmoth