Paul obviously had the spiritual gift of evangelism and understood that he had a responsibility to share the Gospel message with everyone. The Greek word for debtor is “opeheiletes” meaning a person who is under obligation to another. Because of the spiritual integrity in Paul’s soul, he knew his obligation was to present the Gospel to all categories of the human race. However, by revelation from God, Paul knew his primary obligation was to present the Gospel to the Gentiles.
Paul had developed Christian integrity through the study and application of Bible doctrine, having been taught directly by the Holy Spirit in the Arabian Desert. The result of the development of Christian integrity in his soul was the realization of his duty to present the Gospel. Notice that the development of Christian integrity came before the realization of his obligation toward others. Before Paul began his ministry, God prepared him for the task.
The phrase to the Greeks refers to those who were Greek by birth, but it went further to encompass all those Gentiles who accepted and embraced the Greek culture. This category of persons would be considered “civilized.” The phrase to the Barbarians is the antithesis of civilized. The language of the Barbarians sounded crude and vulgar to the Greeks, so they used the word “barbaros” to identify them. It would be like repeating the syllables “barbar” over and over. Any foreigner who was ignorant of the Greek language and culture was called a barbarian. Both categories are references to unbelievers.
The phrase to the wise refers to believers who have made the maximum adjustment to the justice of God after salvation through the study and application of accurate Bible doctrine. The Greek word for wise is “sophos,” which means wisdom. Applied to the believer, “sophos” refers to the believer who is advancing to maturity by continuing to learn and apply Bible doctrine. “Sophos” is a dative of indirect object indicating the person to whose interest the communication of doctrine is made.
The phrase to the unwise refers to believers who are in reversionism and are maladjusted to the justice of God. These believers are said to be ignorant of Bible doctrine and lack spiritual advance in the Christian Way of Life because of their failure to study and apply the Word of God. The Greek word for unwise is “anoetos” meaning foolish or unintelligent. “Anoetos” is a dative of disadvantage indicating this person does not understand the concept of God’s plan.
If the Greek word for Gospel referred only to the salvation message, all four categories mentioned in verse 14 would be directed toward the unbeliever in Rome. However, the Greek word for Gospel is “euangelion” and refers to all categories of Bible doctrine of which the salvation message is certainly a part. Both categories of believers need Bible doctrine. The wise believer needs doctrine to advance to maturity and the unwise needs doctrine to recover from reversionism.
Wisdom is defined as knowing what is true and right and combining that knowledge with sound judgment. For the believer wisdom is the direct result of time spent under the filling of God the Holy Spirit learning and applying accurate Bible doctrine. Therefore divine wisdom is the accurate application of spiritual knowledge (epignosis). The foundation for divine wisdom is Bible doctrine circulating in the stream of consciousness of the maturing believer. A believer cannot properly execute the Christian Way of Life without divine wisdom. By developing wisdom, a believer creates a mirror into his soul and is able to check his spiritual status at any time. If adjustments need to be made, divine wisdom applies the appropriate doctrine to get this believer back on track in the execution of God’s plan for his life. Divine wisdom is being a doer (applier) of the Word and not merely a hearer. (The Book of James)
You must have humility in order to have wisdom. No person is teachable apart from humility. With humility, your mind is open to teaching. Humility is the basis for teachability and teachability is the road to wisdom. No one will attain wisdom apart from humility. From humility comes great orientation to life (a personal sense of destiny). The textbook for divine wisdom is the Word of God (the canon of Scripture) with emphasis on the New Testament epistles for wisdom in the dispensation of the Church. This wisdom is for life, death and the eternal state. We are to have wisdom regarding our life, our death, our interim body and our eternal resurrection body. This is all a part of the plan of God for you. Our wisdom is based upon our interest in the plan of God for our life. How we look at death is how we look at life. Our perspective about death changes our perspective about life. (I Corinthians 15:51-57; Phil 1:21)
Even though Paul had the spiritual gift of evangelism, he still had to use his volition to prepare himself for the ministry to which God had appointed him. Paul used a Greek idiom to describe his attitude of commitment. “Thus with reference to me” (old English) is the idiom Paul used, which would translated in English as “So, for my part.” Paul expresses his mental attitude and sense of responsibility. Paul was ready because he was prepared. Remember, Paul was responsible to present a clear salvation message to unbelievers, but he was also responsible to teach accurate Bible doctrine to believers. Paul was prepared to do both, being personally trained in the Arabian Desert by the Holy Spirit.
I am ready means Paul was eager to preach the full realm of the Gospel. The Greek word for ready is “prothumos,” which means willingness or eagerness. Paul was ready to preach the good news of the Gospel message to all who were in Rome. This included unbelievers, positive believers and negative believers. The Greek word for preach is “euangelizo” and for gospel it is “euangelion,” the first word meaning to bring glad or good tidings and the second word meaning the glad or good tidings themselves. For unbelievers the glad tidings are regarding salvation. For believers the glad tidings are with regard to the execution of the spiritual life.
Many sincere Christians have an intense desire to share the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we give a clear presentation of the Gospel. This is the unclear Gospel used today by many well-meaning Christians:
Invite Jesus into your heart. First of all, there is no passage of Scripture that makes this statement. As an unbeliever, a person does not do the inviting, God does! If you invite Jesus into your heart, you are inviting Him into a place that is wicked. (Jeremiah 17:9) Besides, you don’t invite Jesus anywhere, He invites you to trust or believe in Him for salvation. (John 6:47)
Repent or turn from your sin. Please think about what the unbeliever is being asked to do. Do you think that the unbeliever has the power to turn from sin before he is saved? The Holy Spirit indwelling the believer is the only power that can help a person turn from sin. Besides, the word repent in Greek does not mean to turn from sin. The Greek word for repent, “metataneo” means to change your mind. When the Bible talks about God repenting, do you think it means that God is turning from sin? Of course not! (Exodus 32:14)
Ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins. This is not the same as faith in Him for salvation. Forgiveness of sin comes as a result of faith in Christ. (Ephesians 1:7) You don’t ask Jesus anything, you believe in Him. Once you are saved, then you confess your sins to God to receive forgiveness and restoration to fellowship with God. (I John 1:9) This is not a salvation verse!
Ask Jesus to come into your life. If a person does this, he has asked Jesus to come into a “tomb.” (Matthew 23:27) You don’t invite Christ anywhere for salvation; He invites you. Jesus said, “Come unto me all you that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Make Christ your Lord and Savior. God the Father has already made Jesus Lord, but even if you mean “the Lord of your life,” it is impossible for an unbeliever and has nothing to do with salvation. Making Christ the Lord of your life after salvation is certainly a command of the Word of God, but this is commanded to those who already know Jesus Christ as Savior. (Ephesians 2:10) As far as making Jesus your Savior, you don’t make Him anything, you believe and He becomes your Savior.
Turn your life over to Christ. A person has no power to do this before he is saved. This is something that we should do after we have been saved (by faith alone in Christ alone). This is something that the Holy Spirit empowers us to do under His filling ministry. (Galatians 5:16)
Let’s stay with what God’s Word says and avoid using unclear or erroneous clichés that do not properly communicate the Gospel. Let me quote the Apostle Paul in Galatians 1:8 “But even though we, or an angel from Heaven, should preach to you a Gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” The Greek word for accursed is “anathema” meaning to be excommunicated or stopped from communicating.