I am a Debtor (Romans 1:14)

by Ong Eng Boon 

All of us in one way or another is a debtor due to our financial obligations to lenders, commonly the financial institutions. We go into debt because of home mortgage, vehicle hire purchase, credit card, personal loan etc. All these involve monies; the financial institutions become the lender and we become the borrower.

Under some form of loan agreement between lender and borrower, we are required to repay the debt we owe over a period of time either three, five or ten years or longer depending on the type of loan taken. The most common type of repayment method is by monthly installments either through standing instruction, salary deduction or a click of the computer through electronic banking. All these involve financial considerations and if you pay as per the due date stated in the loan agreement, there will come a time when you finally pay the last installment or fully settle your loan and you will be given a discharge letter to be fully discharged from your debt obligations.

Apostle Paul says in Romans1 1:14 “I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to the unwise.”

The apostle Paul was a “debtor.” A debtor, if you go by the definition above, is one who owes another. What did Paul owe? Here, Paul is referring to the debt he owed to all people in preaching the gospel to those who are yet to hear the good news of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He was obligated to preach the gospel to all people categorized as follows:-

  1. The Greeks – the educated and civilized, the cultured of the world;
  2. The barbarians – the uncivilized, uncultured peoples at that time;
  3. The wise – the studied and learned of the world;
  4. The unwise – the unlearned of the world.

Let us look at a few examples of apostle Paul as regards to the debt he owed to the lost as follows:

1 Cor. 9:20-23 “and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I may win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without the law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I become as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now I do this for the gospel sake, that I maybe partaker of it with you.”

Paul was trying to find “common ground” with the people he came in contact with and in order to do so , he tried to adapt to all types of people he me but whatever adaptation he made, it never involved disobeying the word of the Lord, or violating his allegiance to the law of Christ. He did all this with only a sole purpose in mind, that is to have the opportunity to preach the gospel to all types of people in order to win them to Christ.

2 Tim. 4:2 “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and teaching”

In spite of difficulties such as bodily weakness (2 Cor. 12:7-10), discourage-ment, in face of dangers, the opposition from false brethren and even the threat of death (2 Cor. 11:23-28), Paul continued to preach the word with much zeal and intensity. It also means that preaching should not be limited to convenient times or during occasions such as weekly bible class, Sunday worship service or the occasional planned gospel meeting. It must not be confined to the church building only.

We need to share the gospel in the school, office, workplace, restaurant, hospital, commercial buildings, and anywhere we go. People come, people go, people are everywhere. The question is, do each of us look at a person and think, “He/she is lost without the gospel of Christ? I owe it to this person to share the gospel of Christ with him/her?” We are ever so busy in our life that we just want to get on with it, let alone feel like a “debtor” to any of the people who are in our surrounding.

Acts 20:26-27 “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.”

This is Paul’s attitude towards preaching the gospel. The gospel is of utmost importance to him as it concerned a person’s spiritual life. It is either life or death! He withheld nothing concerning the truth of God’s word. He preached the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth! The truth regarding the gospel needs to be shared with all as it determines whether a person is saved or lost. No wonder Paul said, “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16). Paul never ceased to preach Christ even though other may think otherwise.

“But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness”(1 Cor.1:23)

He preached to royalty and kings (Acts 26:1-30), the cultured and learned of the world (Acts 17:16-34), the wise and unwise (Acts 14:6-18). He even preached to the household of Caesars when he was in prison in Rome (Phil. 4:22).

Do you and I preach Christ to all just like Paul? Paul knew that it is through the preaching of the message of the cross that mankind can be saved from their sins.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18)

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jews first and also for the Greek.” (Rom.1:16).

Preach on, brethren! To Everyone, Every time, Everywhere!