by Mike Ratliff
Οὐ γὰρ ἐπαισχύνομαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, δύναμις γὰρ θεοῦ ἐστιν εἰς σωτηρίαν παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι, Ἰουδαίῳ τε πρῶτον καὶ Ἕλληνι. δικαιοσύνη γὰρ θεοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ ἀποκαλύπτεται ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν, καθὼς γέγραπται· ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται. (Romans 1:16-17 NA27)
For I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone believing, both to Jew first and to Greek. For the righteousness of God is revealed in it from faith to faith as it has been written, “But the righteous man will live by faith.” (a personal translation of Romans 1:16-17 from the NA27 Greek text)
After Saul the Pharisee was knocked off his horse on his way to persecute Christians, blinded by the power of God, and saved becoming the Apostle Paul (Acts 9:1-9), a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ in Damascus named Ananias was sent to lay hands on a “man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying” (Acts 9:11). When Ananias expressed fear and doubt, knowing whom Saul was, our Lord said, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and children of Israel. For I will show hm how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:15-16).
Here is v16 from the NA27 Greek text:
ἐγὼ γὰρ ὑποδείξω αὐτῷ ὅσα δεῖ αὐτὸν ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματός μου παθεῖν.
Here is my translation:
“For I will show to him how much it is necessary for him to suffer on behalf of my name.”
The words “it is necessary” translates the verb δεῖ which is the present tense, indicative mood, active voice, 3rd person, singular form of δέω or deō, “A primary verb; to bind (in various applications, literally or figuratively): – bind, be in bonds, knit, tie, wind,” however, δεῖ carries the meaning of “it is (was, etc.) necessary (as binding): – behoved, be meet, must (needs), (be) need (-ful), ought, should. Must, necessary by the nature of things.” Therefore, our risen Saviour was telling Ananias that it would be revealed to Paul “how much it is necessary” for him to suffer on Jesus’ behalf. The words “to suffer” translates the verb παθεῖν, which is the aorist tense, infinitive mood, active voice form of πάσχω or paschō, “the opposite of free action, to bar oneself passively from some influence from without; hence, to experience something evil, to suffer. In the New Testament, it used mostly to refer to suffering on behalf of someone else as in this passage.” Now what about the verb tenses used in here. In the case of δεῖ, the present, indicative, active verb speaks of action occurring while the speaker is making the statement. On the other hand, what about the aorist, infinitive, active of παθεῖν, which speaks of Paul suffering of behalf of Christ? This is describing punctililiar, not continuous action and with it being in the active voice, it means that Paul is the doer of the action. What does it mean?
We know that Paul suffered much for the sake of Jesus name, even to the point of being martyred. We also know that Paul was perfectly aware of the fact that this was part of his ministry. When he preached the Gospel and planted a church, he would suffer for the sake of Jesus name. He knew it would happen. This did not stop the fear, but it did not stop him from obeying our Lord in being His chosen vessel to go the Gentiles either. Jesus told Ananias that He would show Paul, “how much it is necessary for him to suffer on behalf of my name.” What an incredible statement! I cannot wait to meet Paul in Heaven and ask about this very thing.
Now, with this firmly in the forefront of our minds which are ready to reason through God’s Word, look at the passage I placed at the top of this post, which is Romans 1:16-17. Remember, the same person who wrote that also knew how much it was necessary for him to suffer for the sake of Jesus name. Paul could put the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ first with a clear conscious before both God and man because He was not ashamed of it. He was bold when it came to the Gospel. The offense of the cross did not offend him. It was far more important to preach the truth of the Law and the Gospel and cause the sword to separate those who believed from those who did not. What a contrast from what we see and hear in this “post-modern” age of the non-gospel sermon and Christless Christianity. Paul would not have recognized either as being Christian and he would not have hesitated to speak the truth about that right to the face of those in offense because he knew that obedience to the sake of the name of Jesus Christ is always costly.
In Romans 1:16-17, Paul tells us plainly that genuine Christians live by faith. That means, the way they walk will be in obedience to their Lord no matter the cost. They are not ashamed of the Gospel. Why? It is the power of God unto salvation to everyone believing… The word “power” translates the noun δύναμις or dunamis, “power, especially inherent power. All related words have the basic meaning of being able, capable.” We get several English words from δύναμις such as dynamite, but my favorite is “dynamic.” In any case, what Paul is saying is that God has imbued the Gospel with all of the power necessary to accomplish His will in the salvation of His people.
I had a very difficult time preparing to write this post. I could not work on a post last night because I had to go to bed very early so I could get up just after midnight so I could be at work before 3am. I then worked all day and it was as if those I sacrificed so much for there were totally ungrateful. It was like, “What have you done for me lately?” Then I found that I have more of the same tomorrow. I am tired, but I also know that my joy cannot be based in work or in any thing temporal or experiential. No, in fact, the more busy I get in that part of my life, the more tired of it all I become. I approached this task this evening very tired and more than a little angry. However, I started by reading scripture and praying and asking God to show me how to use my struggles to edify the Body of Christ and He brought to my mind the sufferings of Paul. I am not comparing my job with Paul’s ministry, but I would not be surprised if Paul had ugly days like this at times. We must learn to walk by faith as Paul did, not by sight.
Soli Deo Gloria!