In Rom. 1.16 the Apostle Paul writes that the gospel (το ευαγγελιον), which he has already mentioned three times in the letter already (1.1, 9, 15), is the “power of God for salvation” for anyone who believes. The gospel itself is not salvation, but it does provide the means (something he unpacks in the context surrounding 10.14-17).
In the gospel the righteousness of God (a often debate phrase) is revealed. In v. 17 for those who believe (just mentioned) there is a connection with justification (an often debate soteriological concept). In gist we get the idea that those who hear and respond in faithfulness to the gospel will be vindicated by God on the day of judgment. At least that is how the overarching context of the epistle leads me to read it.
I like vv. 16-17. It is v. 18 that has caused me trouble. In v. 17 Paul writes that in the gospel (εν αυτω, “in it”) the righteousness of God is revealed. The word for “revealed” is αποκαλυπτεται. This is the word from which we derive “apocalypse”. It is a cataclysmic unveiling of truth which the gospel brings and it tells us of God’s righteousness. This is positive for those who believe.
That is not all it seems to reveal. In v. 18 Paul says that “the wrath of God” has also been “revealed” (αποκαλυπτεται) just like the “righteousness of God”. This wrath is against ungodly people who suppress the truth in “unrighteousness”. This is explained in vv. 19-21 as people knowing God–especially his eternal power and divinity–as being self-evident yet rejected by humans from the beginning. Since humans reject God they are now corrupt inside-out.
It seems to me that Paul is saying the gospel has two-fold implications: (1) For those who believe/have faith it reveals God’s righteousness and this person will live (1.17) and (2) for those who reject the knowledge of God the gospel is a “revealing” of God’s wrath which we see in this epistle results in God’s judgment and we may assume the anti-thesis to life which is death.
Does the gospel declare wrath as well as hope? Is it a message for salvation, but also a message to evil doers that judgment is coming? Do you read it this way? If so, how do you see the gospel revealing the wrath of God as well as the righteousness of God?