A Commentary by John Stott

Romans 1:1-6. 1). The origin of the gospel is God.

‘God is the most important word in the epistle,’ Dr. Leon Morris has written. ‘Romans is a book about God. No topic is treated with anything like the frequency of God. Everything Paul touches in this letter he relates to God… There is nothing like it elsewhere.’ So the Christian good news is *the gospel of God*. The apostles did not invent it; it was revealed and entrusted to them by God.

This is still the first and most basic conviction which underlies all authentic evangelism. What we have to share with others is neither a miscellany of human speculations, nor one more religion to add to the rest, nor really a religion at all. It is rather *the gospel of God*, God’s own good news for a lost world. Without this conviction, evangelism is evacuated of its content, purpose and drive.

2). The attestation of the gospel is Scripture.

Verse 2: *the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures*. That is to say, although God revealed the gospel to the apostles, it did not come to them as a complete novelty, because he had already promised it through his prophets in the Old Testament Scripture. There is, in fact, an essential continuity between the Old Testament and the New. Jesus himself was quite clear that the Scriptures bore witness to him, that he was the son of man of Daniel 7 and the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, and that, as it had been written, he had to suffer in order to enter into his glory (Jn. 5:39; Lk.24:25ff., 44f.). In the Acts we hear Peter quoting the Old Testament in reference to Jesus’ resurrection, exaltation and gift of the Spirit (Acts 2:14ff.; cf. 1 Pet. 1:10ff.). We also watch Paul reasoning with people out of the Scriptures that the Christ must suffer and rise, and that he was Jesus (Acts 17:2f.; cf. 13:32ff.). He similarly insisted that it was ‘according to the Scriptures’ that Christ both died for our sins and was raised on the third day (1 Cor. 15:3f.). It was thus that both the law and the prophets bore witness to the gospel (3:21; cf. 1:17).

We have reason, then, to be thankful that the gospel of God has a double attestation, namely the prophets in the Old Testament and the apostles in the New. Both bear witness to Jesus Christ, and this is what Paul comes to next.

Tomorrow: 3). The substance of the gospel is Jesus Christ.
The John Stott Bible Study is taken from The Message of Romans. The Bible Speaks Today John Stott. Used by permission of Inter-Varsity Press UK, Nottingham. All rights reserved.