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What does it mean to not be ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16)?

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by faith.'" —Romans 1:16-17

The Apostle Paul wrote "I am not ashamed of the gospel" to the Gentile (non-Jewish) believers in Rome after explaining his mission of preaching the gospel to everyone he met. He wasn't just talking about not being socially embarrassed to share the Good News of Jesus Christ or being too shy to talk to people about his faith. The word "ashamed" he uses is translated from the Greek word epaischunomai, which means "disgraced" or "personally humiliated." That's quite a bit different from shyness!

To be epaischunomai is to be singled out for being foolish enough to put your trust in something that has let you down. It's like the dishonor that surrounds a person who has committed to an alliance of the worst kind—one that is untrustworthy, ridiculous, or downright evil.

When Paul says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel," he means that his confidence in sharing this news is not misplaced. His trust in his alliance with God is real and will not let him down. There's no disgrace in declaring his allegiance to Christ because His message is good and true. Paul had dedicated his life to sharing the gospel (Acts 9:3-6; 2 Corinthians 12:2-4), and he wanted to make sure the Romans knew why he was right to align with Jesus and why proclaiming Jesus' message had become his life's work.

What does it mean to be "ashamed of the gospel"?

To be "ashamed of the gospel" is to allow willful sin to take over our lives and not look back because who cares what God says (Matthew 3:8). To be "ashamed of the gospel" would be to stop trusting in God's provision and guidance, instead indulging in the world's pleasures and our own desires. To be "ashamed of the gospel" would mean that we no longer have confidence in an alliance with God and His truth (1 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Peter 2:11) and want to put as much distance between us and Him as possible.

Instead of turning to God, we would "walk in the counsel of the ungodly, stand in the path of sinners, and sit in the seat of scoffers" (Psalm 1:1). That is being ashamed of the gospel. That is not allowing God to show His true power through our lives because we have willingly cut Him off in favor of a sinful world.

How can I NOT "be ashamed of the gospel"?

Just as the Apostle Paul confidently put his everything (his whole life!) into Jesus Christ, so can we. We can confidently talk to others about our faith in God and the Bible because we can rest assured that an alliance with God is good and true (Romans 8:31-32). Romans 10:11 tells us, "Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame." Any embarrassment we might feel about sharing the gospel is from the enemy trying to mess us up—not because God is untrustworthy.

We don't have to fear God letting us down or changing (2 Peter 1:21; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). What was true about God thousands of years ago is still true today, and we can trust that to stay the same. The offer of salvation that was presented to humankind in the first century continues to be available to every man, woman, and child today (Acts 2:39; John 17:20).

To be "unashamed" of the gospel means that we not only speak this truth, but we also live it out in our lives. We can trust God and His Word for our daily activities and decisions. When we look at Paul's life, we discover that his words and actions aligned with his faith in Jesus Christ. He did not preach one thing, then go out and live a different way. Even when he struggled with temptations and sin (Romans 7:14-25) and a "thorn" in his flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7), he continued to stay true to his alliance with God's truth (Acts 20:19; Acts 28:31). Allow your faith to permeate your life to the point where the people you meet will see the difference in you and think, "There's something different about that person... I wonder who they've been hanging out with?"

"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus." —Acts 4:13

TL;DR

The Apostle Paul wrote "I am not ashamed of the gospel" to the Gentile (non-Jewish) believers in Rome after explaining his mission of preaching the gospel to everyone he met (Romans 1:16-17). To be "ashamed" of the gospel is to lack confidence or trust in your association and alliance with God and His truth; it is to give in to sinful desires and the lures of the world. To be UN-ashamed of the gospel is to recognize that an alliance with our unchanging God is good and true (Hebrews 13:8; Romans 8:31-32; Romans 10:11), to not only speak this truth but also live it out, trusting God and His Word for our daily activities and decisions.

By: Catiana Nak Kheiyn

Cat is the web producer and editor of 412teens.org. She loves audiobooks, feeding the people she cares about, and using Christmas lights to illuminate a room. When Catiana is not writing, cooking, or drawing, she enjoys spending time with her two kids, five socially-awkward cats, and her amazing friend-amily.

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