Summary: The gospel isn't just a gift we are given. It is a gift we are entrusted with.

The Obligation of the Gospel

Romans 1:8-17

Good morning. Please open your Bibles to Romans, chapter 1.

I’d like you to imagine two scenarios with me as we start off this morning. First scenario: someone gives you a blender. Let’s say it’s a wedding shower, you’re about to get married, you’ve put a blender on your registry, and, bam! Exactly what you asked for. And in fact, its even more than you asked for. It’s got features you never even dreamed you would need, and now you can’t imagine life without it. This is the mother of all blenders.

Question: What obligations do you have now? What do you think the giver of the gift expects from you? He or she probably would appreciate a thank you card. When you see them at church, you might tell them stories about how much you’ve used the blender. But as far as obligation, that’s about it, right?

Now, scenario number two: someone says to you, “Hey, are you going to so-and-so’s bridal shower? Well, I can’t make it, but I bought them this blender. Can you make sure you get it to them?

Now what obligations do you have? That’s right. You now have an obligation, both to the giver of the gift and the one to whom the gift is intended.

Can you imagine how aggravated the giver of the gift would be if they walked into your kitchen and saw the blender they had intended for someone else on your kitchen counter?

As we continue our study of the book of Romans, I want you to keep these two images in mind. Too many times, we think about the gospel only in terms of a gift given to us. We thank God for our salvation. We occasionally give testimonies in church about how much our relationship with Jesus means to us.

But that is often as far as it goes in terms of any sense of obligation we feel.

When Paul thought about the gospel, he didn’t just think about the gift he had been given. He thought much more about the gift he had been entrusted with, and he felt the obligation to get it to other people. That’s what we are going to look at this morning. Jeanette has already read the Scripture for the morning, so we will pray, and then begin.


1. From Saul to Paul

Last week, I introduced you to Paul the way Paul introduced himself in verse 1—servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God. But I’d like to talk a little more about who Paul is, because verses 8-13 are some of the most personal in all of Paul’s letters.

Paul was, first of all, a Jew from the city of Tarsus, which is on the southern coast of modern day Turkey. In Acts 21, after Paul is arrested in Jerusalem, he tells the Roman tribune that he

Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city.

This is significant, because Tarsus was a Roman city. It was actually one of the most significant commercial cities in the Roman Empire. Julius Caesar gave it tax-exampt status, and gave the Jews who lived there freedom to practice their religion because of all the support they had given him during his war with the Turkish ruler Pompey the Great.

So the fact that Paul was from Tarsus gave him a unique opportunity to grow up as a Roman citizen without losing his Jewish identity.

Now, Paul’s birth name was Saul. In Philippians 3 he says that he’s of the tribe of Benjamin, so it’s likely that he was named after King Saul, who was also a Benjamite. His name means “asked for” or “prayed for.”

Some people think that Saul was given the name “Paul” when he was converted. But that’s not true. It wasn’t unusual for Jews who were Roman citizens to have both a Jewish and a Roman name. Paul was his Roman name. It made sense that any time Paul was ministering to Gentiles, he would introduce himself with his Roman name.

Paul studied with a famous Pharisee named Gamaliel. In Acts 22:3, he tells the Jews who had arrested him that he was

educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. (Acts 22:3-5)

Here’s what you need to know about Gamaliel: Gamaliel hated Christians! Some of his statements and prayers have survived, and here is one of his prayers against Christians. He prayed,

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