Paul’s final statement of service is that he is not ashamed of the Gospel (of Christ is not in the better manuscripts, but is obviously implied). The Greek word for ashamed is “epaischunomai,” which is made of two words. “Epi” means over and above, and “aischuno” means to be ashamed. Together with the negative they mean to be above or beyond being ashamed. This seemed to be Paul’s mental attitude continually after salvation. The person who is ashamed of the Gospel, of being ridiculed or made fun of because of his/her faith, probably does not have a maturing relationship with Jesus Christ.
Paul then stated the reason that he is not ashamed of the Gospel. Here the Gospel is the good news message with regard to salvation. When a believer reflects on one or all of the 40 spiritual assets received at salvation, he certainly should not be ashamed of the Gospel.
And Paul said that it is the Gospel message that is the power from God, which results in the salvation of the unbeliever when believed. Power is the Greek word “dunamis” meaning ability or capacity. For unbelievers, the message of the Gospel is the power that provides salvation on the basis of an individual’s faith. Salvation is the Greek word “soteria” meaning to deliver. An individual who believes in Christ for salvation is delivered from the wrath of God, from condemnation, from the Lake of Fire, from the slave market of sin, to eternal life, to an eternal relationship with God, to an eternal home in Heaven and many other things.
This salvation is available to everyone, as Paul stated. Everyone is the Greek word “pas.” “Pas” refers to all people. Therefore, anyone can believe in Jesus Christ for salvation – rich, poor, young, old, male or female. “Pas” is a dative indirect object indicating that it is to the advantage of the human race that Christ died for their sins. Remember that sin is not an issue in salvation nor will it be at the last judgments. Sin was judged on the Cross and the penalty was completely paid by Jesus Christ. Therefore, God gives every member of the human race an opportunity to believe in Jesus Christ for salvation – no exceptions. (II Peter 3:9)
Believes is the Greek word “pisteuo,” which means to believe, to be persuaded of, to trust or to have faith in. These words describe the mechanics of salvation. When a person believes in Jesus Christ as Savior they are instantly adjusting to the justice and the righteousness of God. The static present tense means that salvation always has been and always will be based on believing in Jesus Christ for salvation. In the Old Testament they knew Jesus as Jehovah, the second Person of the Trinity.
To the Jew first is a reference to the racial Jew to whom was given the custodianship of the Word of God, including the Gospel message. First is in the sense of privilege, not chronologically. This does not mean that many Gentiles through the ages had not heard and had not believed the Gospel. Foremost, it had been the Jewish race who had heard and responded to the Gospel until this time when Paul would be sent specifically to the Gentiles.
This verse could easily be the theme verse for the entire book of Romans. Remember that righteousness is the standard of God’s holiness and justice is the function of God’s holiness. A person adjusts to the justice of God by believing in Jesus Christ for salvation. Righteousness and justice are so closely related that they are often used interchangeably. In verse 17 we have this occurrence.
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed. The word righteousness in this verse should have been translated justice. The Greek word in this verse, translated righteousness is “dikaiosune.” “Dikaiosune” refers to the thinking of a judge meting out righteous justice. In other words, righteousness demands a sentence and justice carries out that sentence. It is the judicial righteousness of a judge. So this is not the righteousness of God here, it is the justice of God. It is a reference to the justice of God, which is free to vindicate mankind upon faith in Christ.
Revealed is from the compound verb “apokalupto.” “Apo” means away from and “kalupto” means to cover, to hide or to veil. Together they mean to be away from being hidden, therefore to reveal, to uncover or to bring to light. This is a perfective present tense, which denotes the continuation of existing results. The fact was that the justice of God was revealed in the past but in the Roman era it was a present reality. This is comparable to something in English we say when we have learned something, “I have learned it.” The Greeks had a comparable idiom. They learned it in the past, as it were, and now they are going to use it.
From faith to faith is the perpetuation of the justice of God. Each preposition has as its object “pistis.” The first use of “pistis” is used in the active tense and refers to faith in Christ as the initial adjustment to the justice of God. The second prepositional phrase is “eik” plus “pistis.” Here “pisitis” has a slightly different meaning. Rather than the active tense, it is used here in the passive tense. The passive tense means what is believed, the body of faith which is doctrine. Therefore it refers to maturity adjustment to the justice of God — “from belief to doctrine.” That should be the story of our life from salvation to the time we depart from this life.
As it is written is the verb “grapho,” which means to write. Paul says, “In writing this new epistle, which will be the canon of Scripture, I am going to document it from the Old Testament Scriptures.” Interestingly enough he is writing to a church which is predominately Gentile; for just before Nero came to the throne his stepfather Claudius had banned all Jews from Rome and only recently had Jews been coming back to Rome. It is primarily a Gentile church. But the principle is obvious: the Jews, as a race and as mature believers, have been the source of blessing historically to every generation of history and so we have a quotation from the Old Testament. The perfect tense means that this passage in Habakkuk has been written in the past, it is a part of the Old Testament canon, and it was just as much for Gentile believers, as it was for Jewish believers in the days of Habakkuk. The passive voice means the Old Testament Scripture receives the action of the verb, being written with the result that the canon of Scripture continues to exist forever and continues to have application in every generation.
The indicative mood is declarative for a dogmatic and unqualified statement of Bible doctrine - “As it stands written.”
The just shall live by faith is not quite correct. The adversative use of the conjunctive particle de sets up a contrast — “but.” The word for just is the nominative adjective “dikaios.” It is often translated righteous. It does mean upright or righteous but here it is referring to adjustment to the justice of God (upright before God experientially). We need to understand that the words commonly translated righteous often mean much more than that. We learn this from Josephus who used this adjective extensively, and he used it for vindication of judgment. This is not unreasonable in view of the fact “dikaios” not only connotes righteousness as a concept of virtue but also how man is to stand before the justice of God. So “dikaios” means to fulfill one’s duty to God. This is compatible with the mature adjustment to the justice of God. Therefore it is concluded that “dikaosune” and “dikaios” are often interrelated. They have the same meaning except that one is a noun and the other is an adjective. There is also a future middle indicative from the verb “zao,” translated “to live.” It connotes the function of life. The future tense is a statement of fact or performance rightly expected when a believer is consistent in the function of study and application of Bible doctrine. (Habakkuk 2:4)
A believer who has made the maturity adjustment to the justice of God is the agent producing the action of the verb. The verb live is called the dynamic middle, which emphasizes the part taken by the subject in the action of the verb, which is the daily function of study and application of Bible doctrine. Apart from adjustment to the justice of God on a daily basis there is no blessing from God for you personally or for those associated with you, including your nation. The words by faith are “eik” plus “pistis.” “Pistis” in this case means that which is believed (doctrine). The source of blessing, the source of adjustment to the justice of God, the source of glorifying God and the source of pleasing God are all bound up in this prepositional phrase – by doctrine (faith). The vindicated (justified) one lives by means of doctrine. Bible doctrine resident in the soul is the means of attaining maturity, which is maximum adjustment to the justice of God. So in reaching spiritual maturity, the proper goal for every believer, there is no substitute for accurate Bible doctrine.