Obligated Debtor

Romans 1:14 “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.”

Obligated Debtor

The Greek word translated as “Debtor” in verse 14 has the meaning of being obligated and indebted to, that one owes something to someone and has a responsibility to see that obligation met. Paul sees himself as obligated to “Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise” that is he sees himself obligated to the Greeks and non-Greeks, to the wise and to the foolish; he sees himself obligated or indebted to everyone, no matter their ethnic background or intellectual capabilities. But, Paul has never met the Roman church, far less the greater human population, yet he says he is indebted to all of them. So in what sense is he indebted?

Paul and we are indebted to the whole world. God paid our sin debt. God also gave us the gospel, to give out to others who owe a sin debt of themselves. We have the means of the payment of their sin debt in our possession in the form of the gospel, and we have been told to give them this so their sin debt can be paid just as ours was. It is in this sense we are indebted to the world, since God has trusted us by giving us the gospel to give to others, until we give it to others we are indebted to them. Let us say I owe you $100 – therefore I am in debt to you until I pay this sum back. But, someone else may have given me the $100 to pay you back, and as long as I hang unto that $100 from someone else I am still in debt to you.  It is in this way, we are indebted to the world, until we give that $100 (or the gospel) to them, we as Christians are indebted to all men until we give the gospel out to them. “Just as Paul was a debtor, every true born again child of God is a debtor to those who do not know Christ as Savior.”[1]

In verse 15 we see Paul’s eagerness to settle this debt, “So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel.” Paul had a burning desire to settle this debt by passing on the gospel to all the people he could.

We are in debt to all peoples, regardless of their color, class or creed. We who know the truth of the pure Gospel of grace should not be satisfied until we have done all in our power to preach this message to all people, regardless of who they are.”[2]

Do we have a burning desire to settle this debt we all owe if we are Christians? Everyone needs the gospel. Everyone has a sin debt that needs to be paid. We have all been commissioned, as Paul was, to reach the world with the gospel message, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20).

[1] (Greene, 1962)

[2] (Greene, 1962)

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