QUESTION: What is meant by the expression "obedience of faith" found in Romans 1:5 and Romans 16:26?
ANSWER: The verses in question are as follows: "By whom [Jesus Christ] we [the apostles] have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for His Name" (Romans 1:5) and "But now is made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith" (Romans 16:26).
The book of Romans more than any other book in the Bible brings before us the gospel, the good news of God's wonderful grace available to all—men and women, boys and girls—everywhere. This gospel is the "power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Romans 1:16). In order to receive that good news a person must believe the bad news as to their great need of a Saviour. The book of Romans tells us the bad news: "All are guilty before God," "All have sinned," and "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 3:19,23; 6:23).
These truths call for the obedience of faith. That means an act of submission to all that God has said in His infallible Word. Faith takes God at His word and believes it and submits to it. Another way to express this is to simply believe the message of the gospel by repenting and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. One commentator has described obedience of faith as: "not exactly that which faith leads and strengthens to, but faith-obedience, the heart bowing to the divine message of His grace." This precious obedience of faith is once more mentioned at the close of this great epistle in Romans 16:26. Also we read in Ephesians 2:8,9: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."
Perhaps many of our readers can remember the time in their lives when they were convicted of their need of a Saviour to save them from their sins and the awful judgment that awaited them. An example of this faith-obedience is found in Acts 16:25-34. The jailor at Philippi was convicted of his sin and the judgment that would follow so he fell down before Paul and Silas and cried out: "What must I do to be saved?" The answer that Paul gave then is the same answer today: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." He believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and was saved that very day. This is true obedience of faith. If you have never done this you can do it right now. "Now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).
In 1 Peter 2:7,8 we read, "Unto you therefore which believe He [the Lord Jesus Christ] is precious: but unto them which be disobedient … even to them which stumble at the Word, being disobedient" Christ becomes "a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense." What a contrast there is between the "obedience of faith" and the disobedience of unbelief which rejects God's Word of salvation.
—John D. McNeil