I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles . . . .” – Romans 15:15, 16
Paul’s tone is warm as he closes his letter by stating his role as a minister to the Gentiles and his travel plans.
Paul’s Goal of Ministry (vs. 14-21)
When affirming the Roman church’s goodness, knowledge, and competent instruction, He also admits his boldness on some points. Why? “. . . . so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (vs. 16).
Paul exerted all of his energy in encouraging and exhorting Gentiles to follow and obey Christ. He sought to preach the gospel in areas where no one had heard it. From Jerusalem to Illyricum—a province bordering the Adriatic Sea—Paul endured much and persevered with the work God gave him.
Plans to Visit Rome (vs. 22-29)
Many scholars believe Paul was writing this letter from Corinth when he declared that his work was finished in the eastern regions. For a second time, he expressed his desire and delayed plans to visit the Roman church (1:10-15). But this time he added his current desire: to evangelize Spain. First, however, he would go with the Gentile church delegates to Jerusalem with the relief offering for the poor (vs. 25-28; Acts 20:3-6; 24:17). He encouraged his readers to financially support both the Jews and his mission to Spain. Paul hoped to visit them on his trip to Spain.
Prayer Requests (vs. 30-33)
Paul shared his concerns about his upcoming mission to Jerusalem. He urged his readers to join in his struggle through prayer: 1) that he would be rescued from unbelievers in Judea; 2) that his service in Jerusalem would be acceptable to them; and 3) that God would allow him his long awaited visit to Rome.
Acts 21:15-28:31 gives insights to God’s answers to these requests. Paul’s dream of visiting Rome was finally realized, but probably not in the way he had hoped. He arrived as a prisoner.
The book of Acts does not record Paul journeying further westward to Spain.
- Although not everyone is called to preach or serve in a foreign country, all of us can support foreign missionaries through our prayers. Some can give financially.
- We, “who have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings” (vs.27), are called to support Jewish believers.
- Although prayer is often known as a means of comfort and making our requests known to God, it is also a weapon in the Christian’s arsenal when interceding for others in our spiritual battle.
- God’s ways are higher than our ways (Is. 55:9). He’s always at work, for the good, even when we don’t discern it.
Paul usually closed his letters with greetings and commendations (recommendations), which were well known in the ancient world. He wanted Roman believers to welcome and help Phoebe, a deaconess of the Cenchreae church. She had faithfully helped Paul and many others in the gospel work (vs. 1-2). She may well have been Paul’s letter carrier to the Roman church.
Paul’s Greetings (vs. 3-16, 21-23)
Beyond a challenging tongue twister, or finding a unique baby name, this section also reflects Paul’s lengthy list of close relationships within a broad church base. From Andronicus to Philologus, Paul listed a whopping twenty-six people in his greetings to the Roman church. These were people with various backgrounds—men, women, Jews, Gentiles, Greeks, Romans—whom Paul had met in his travels. Paul knew much about these people: their family relationships and ministries.
Paul also sent greetings from his companions, including Timothy, who traveled with Paul on his second missionary trip. Timothy held a special place in Paul’s ministry.
Paul’s Warning (vs. 17-19)
“I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.”
- Although Paul was singular in his commitment to God’s call, he also sought ministry partnership and fellowship with the believers that God placed in his path. Likewise, we should extend our fellowship and hospitality to believers outside our circle of church small groups and denominations.
- By studying God’s Word we can keep from being duped by smooth talkers and/or literature that strays from God’s truth (Acts 17:10-12).
Paul’s final verses to the Roman church ring with praise. For God not only used him to help spread the gospel, but also share His plan for the Gentiles: God’s inclusion of them/us into His church.
Paul weaved major themes from Romans into these last three verses:
- God alone establishes and strengthens the believer.
- God alone has given direct revelation of the gospel through Jesus Christ through His life, death, and resurrection.
- God has purposed His plan of salvation to everyone who chooses to receive it.
We should never write someone off as impossible for God to save. Paul was a prime example. From a zealous Christian persecutor to a zealous gospel preacher, God moved mightily in his life: saving, transforming, and strengthening his faith.
We too can trust God to work powerfully in our lives. He’s not limited by our backgrounds, weaknesses, and/or failures.
God used Paul to reach the ends of his world through the cosmopolitan power house of Rome. We would do well to heed God’s inspired words from Paul in Romans as we also take the gospel to the ends of our world through words, prayer, technology, and missionary support.
Have you received God’s gift of salvation?
How has God strengthened your faith?
I love the following scripture/song. It’s a great reminder that God is not only able to work for the good in our circumstances, but also work for the good in our hearts’ invisible arena.