A Commentary by John Stott
Romans 1:1-6. 6). The goal of the gospel is the honour of Christ’s name.
The words *for his name sake*, which NIV places at the beginning of verse 5, actually come at the end of the Greek sentence and so form something of a climax. Why did Paul desire to bring the nations to the obedience of faith? It was for the sake of the glory and honour of Christ’s name. For God had ‘exalted him to the highest place’ and had given him ‘the name that is above every name’, in order that ‘at the name of Jesus every knee should bow… and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord’ (Phil. 2:9ff.). If, therefore, God desires every knee to bow to Jesus and every tongue to confess him, so should we. We should be ‘jealous’ (as Scripture sometimes puts it) for the honour of his name – troubled when it remains unknown, hurt when it is ignored, indignant when it is blasphemed, and all the time anxious and determined that it shall be given the honour and glory which is due to it. The highest of all missionary motives is neither obedience to the Great Commission (important as that is), nor love for sinners who are alienated and perishing (strong as that incentive is, especially when we contemplate the wrath of God, verse 18), but rather zeal – burning and passionate zeal – for the glory of Jesus Christ.
Some evangelism, to be sure, is no better than a thinly disguised form of imperialism, whenever our real ambition is for the honour of the nation, church, organization, or ourselves. Only one imperialism is Christian, however, and that is concern for His Imperial Majesty Jesus Christ, and for the glory of his empire or kingdom. The earliest Christians, John tells us, went out ‘for the sake of the Name’ (3 Jn. 7). He does not even specify to which name he is referring. But we know. And Paul tells us. It is the incomparable name of Jesus. Before this supreme goal of the Christian mission, all unworthy motives wither and die.
To sum up, here are six fundamental truths about the gospel. Its origin is God the Father and its substance Jesus Christ his Son. Its attestation is Old Testament Scripture and its scope all nations. Our immediate purpose in proclaiming it is to bring people to the obedience of faith, but our ultimate goal is the greater glory of the name of Jesus Christ. Or, to simplify these truths by the use of six prepositions, we can say that the good news is the gospel *of* God, *about* Christ, *according to* Scripture, *for* the nations, *unto* the obedience of faith, and *for the sake of* the Name.
Tomorrow. Romans 1:7-13. Paul and the Romans.
The John Stott Bible Study is taken from The Message of Romans: Christ the Controversialist. The Bible Speaks Today John Stott. Used by permission of Inter-Varsity Press UK, Nottingham. All rights reserved.