Paul for those who rejected the gospel? (picture: Grim Reaper by Ronald Terrel)

Yesterday, I wrote on Rom. 1.16-21. It seems to indicate that the same gospel that reveals the righteousness of God as power to salvation for those who believe also reveals the wrath of God from heaven upon all who suppress the truth of God in their wicked state (see here) Bryan Lilly responded (here) that this seems to be a theme that appears in 2 Cor. 2.12-17 as well. Let me provide that passage (NASB):

Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord, I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia. But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the  knowledge of Him in every place.  For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God

As we see the gospel is what Paul brought everywhere. This led his apostolic calling to be a “sweet aroma” that is the knowledge of God. This “aroma” smells wonderful to those who “are being saved”, i.e. they have accepted the gospel. Those who have perishing do not think of it the same way.

In my post yesterday I noted that Paul saw the gospel as the power to life and therefore, we can deduct, it is an announcement of death to those who reject it. Paul says it is from “death to death”. They are dead now, they will be dead at the echaton. Those who believe now are alive and this will continue at the eschaton.

Again, I am faced with the reality that Paul saw the gospel as something like a royal proclamation of an installed King to whom allegiance must be pledged now. Those who respond in faith declaring their allegiance to Christ as Lord will live. Those who remain in rebellion will die. It isn’t nice to hear with our modern ears, but it is what it is.

The gospel is “good new”, relatively speaking! In both Rom. 1.16-21 and 2 Cor. 2.12-17 the gospel is a message of life and death, literally. If the gospel announces life and death, or the option for life and death, we must ask if Paul had any thoughts regarding those who never hear the gospel.

This is where the aforementioned blog post went for Bobby Grow and I. The only thing that came to mind was Paul’s statements in Rom. 10.11-21. For Paul it seems to me that is there is no messenger, there is no hope (which is where Bobby rightly notes our answer to our concern for those who have not heard is “go!”, see here). But “go!” doesn’t help us with the reality we won’t reach everybody and there are many who have already gone from this life who we didn’t reach. So the ache remains: What about those who don’t have a messenger? Is there no hope?

This is my discussion point: (1) What do you think of Paul’s statements that seem to indicate that the gospel is not always “good” news, but it sometimes is a message of condemnation and death for those who reject it and (2) do you think there is any way we can read Rom. 10.11-21 while retaining any hope for those who never hear the gospel? If so, how?