Main Idea and Outline
The main idea of this section of Romans is communion with the rest of the Christian church. This is done by the application of plans made to seek communion with people in order to enlarge the church. Missionaries are to prayerfully rely on God no matter the difficulty or depth of uncertainty they may have on the way.
Verse 14: I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.
Verse 15: But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder because of the grace given me by God.
Verse 16: to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Verse 17: In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God.
Verse 18: For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience by word and deed
Verse 19: by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ
Verse 20: and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named lest I build on someone else’s foundation,
Verse 21: but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”
Verse 22: This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you.
Verse 23: But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you,
Verse 24: I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you once I have enjoyed your company for a while.
Verse 25: At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints.
Verse 26: For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem.
Verse 27: They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings.
Verse 28: When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you.
Verse 29: I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.
Verse 30: I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf
Verse 31: that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints
Verse 32: so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.
Verse 33: May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
Paul’s ministry and travel plans are the focus of this section because he sees communion with the rest of the church and enlarging it as the priority of his mission for Christ. Paul has a high view of the Christians in Rome but he proceeds to write a long doctrinal letter to them in order to strengthen them according to the gospel of Jesus Christ. As a follower of Jesus Christ Paul is living out the example Jesus provided which is to be a servant to others for the sake of God who is most gracious. In the book of Romans Paul provides the greatest and most comprehensive statement about the gospel given by God. He unfolds the theology of Scripture through the themes of sin, law, judgement, election, faith, justification, works, and grace to name a few.
Paul is the author of the book of Romans. He wrote it sometime between A.D. 54 and A.D. 57 with A.D. 55 to 57 being more likely. He was writing prior to his visit to Jerusalem with a monetary gift from the Gentile congregations he had been having contact with. Both Jews and Gentiles were part of the church of Jesus Christ and in Rome they were having various arguments among themselves.
At one time Paul himself was a Pharisee and a fierce enemy of the followers of Christ. After his conversion he recognized that everything he had taken pride in was of no account. Now his Hebrew ancestry, circumcision, and personal righteousness based in the law were no reason to have confidence regarding his salvation. He now trusted in Christ Jesus alone to provide righteousness and he preached this gospel wherever he went.
Prior to the section in chapter 15 covered in this paper Paul had been exhorting the reader to accept each other in the love of Jesus Christ. A follower of Jesus Christ should be more willing to please their neighbor over themselves because Christ Jesus lived to please the Father rather than himself. Divisions in the church exist but people should focus on the truth that all people are sinners and Jesus is the Head of the church. There is one God with one way of salvation which includes both Jews and Gentiles.
Paul the great evangelist to the Gentiles says right off the bat that he is satisfied about those in Rome he is writing too. He relates himself to them by calling them brothers. This is not due to genetics but due to being spiritually born into the family of God. Being a Gentile does not prevent this relationship to a Jew. His model for love and service in the church is Jesus Christ who gave all of himself to the Jew and Gentile, and the weak and strong.
Verses 14-33 is Paul giving a testimony of his calling to the ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles around the world. He has seen many Christians in his travels and feels satisfied enough with the Roman Christians to call them brothers in Christ. However, in verse 15, they need to be pushed in their faith as he boldly writes to them reminders of the gospel they heard upon their conversion. In verse 16 he wants to push them into being a holy offering to the Lord. The priestly service of the gospel messenger like Paul is to help others become more sanctified in their walk with God.
Verse 17 shows that Paul is not taking credit for the work he is doing. The pride that he has is not in himself but in the work God is doing through him. God has not only given him the job to do but has empowered him to do it. In fact Paul has laid out a trinitarian explanation of his ministry as he has credited the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit from verses 15 to 20. This is not the only place something like this can be found but it is important to note here because Paul is not the one who deserves credit. Neither is credit to be found in the ability of any other evangelist, teacher, preacher, or theologian.
God the Father has kept his promises from the Old Testament. Jesus the Christ fulfilled them in his ministry, death, and resurrection. The Spirit is applying that work to the elect of God by the droves through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul has preached around the known world in key places so that the gospel will continue to spread. The signs and wonders he talks about in verse 19 is the power of God. This power is likely his ability to do miracles as an authentication of his ministry. Those gifts went away with the last apostle but the power of the gospel to convert people remains in order for people to believe and understand as verse 21 says.
Verse 22 Paul states that his missionary work around the world is why he has not been able to come visit Rome but his work in those places is done. He wants to go on to Spain but plans to stop in Rome.
By looking at verses 22 through 27 one can see Paul is giving an outline of sorts for future missionaries to include in their efforts. Verses 22-23 show a missionary should look to meet with others as the Lord allows. Only God knows for sure if a missionary will be able to fulfill the plans they are making. God has a purpose for each one of them but does not explicitly tell them where to go. They should make plans to fulfill the great commission and be led by the purpose of serving God everywhere they go.
Missionaries should go to the people. It seems many preachers and Christian believers are waiting for the unbelievers to come to them at the churches they have built. However Paul was making plans to go to the people in the various places they were at. He was headed out into the world to minister to them. He was also being funded by believers from established areas of Christianity to help people in less stable areas of the faith. Verse 25 shows this.
Verses 25 to 27 indicates that the work of planning and fulfilling the plans of mission work is to fulfill the mutual ministry of believers. The function of a missionaries ministry is to serve the saints who are the elect of God. No person knows who is one of the elect of God which means the gospel needs to be preached to everyone. Those who are the elect of God will be effectually called by the power of the gospel message. Even after conversion the new believer is going to need the service of more mature believers to help them grow in the faith. This means the mature believers are to share in the spiritual and physical needs of other Christians in the worldwide church.
Verses 28-29 really shows the optimism Paul has regarding the work ahead. The gospel of God overcomes all barriers that could possibly come against him. After all Paul could point back to his own experiences where God had not only converted him from being a fierce enemy but also provided for him while under arrest as seen in Acts 28:11-16. He is able to have confidence in God’s work based on those who have been healed by miracles of God. Furthermore, he is able to have confidence in the mission because the God of all creation is in full control of not only his ministry but the world.
The remaining verses are showing that prayer is a critical part of any mission work. In verse 30 Paul is appealing to his spiritual family to pray through the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of the Spirit. He refers to this as a striving together effort of love for a fellow worker in Christ. Though a person must have confidence in the power and authority of God there is a striving that must go on because people are in a fallen world. Suffering continues despite Satan being bound by the work of Christ. Paul wants to be delivered from the unbelievers who would seek to harm him or become a barrier to him. So, it appears prayer should be an obligation of believers on behalf of missionaries, teachers, and preachers.
Things that should be prayed for are the needs of the saints abroad and the mission worker themselves. Prayer for opposition to be restrained because unbelievers will no doubt try to cause trouble on behalf of their father the devil. Spiritual warfare is a reality and certainly Satan will do what he can from his currently restrained condition.
Christians should pray for the ministry of the mission worker to be accepted by the people they are seeking out. Pray that God have mercy on the unbeliever and give them faith to believe. Pray that the mission worker finds joy in their work and be refreshed by the very work they are doing by God’s will. The worker is going to need prayer for safe travels and the peace of God when they need to be refreshed from all their work.
Looking at this section of Scripture written by Paul by the will of God is a great encouragement to persevere in the work of God. There will always be dangers and barriers to overcome when evangelizing. Through it all there is a comfort in knowing there are fellow believers and workers in the field willing and able by the sovereignty of God to get the job done.
Paul himself is a reason for encouragement because in him it can be seen that God is merciful to not only soften his hardened heart but the ignorant hearts of a world of unbelievers. The people of Rome as well as others were proud of their own knowledge and trusted in their own man-made religions. Yet, God is able to save them with the preaching of Jesus Christ crucified and risen. It is with the power of the gospel that civilizations were transformed into being set apart for God as a holy nation of believers.
Paul gives the reader an understanding of what a missionary heart should be like. It is a sacred task to be busy regarding the great commission and all believers need to be offering themselves up to this service. No matter if they are simply witnessing to a person in their neighborhood or travel the world to do it. It is okay to make plans to seek people in foreign lands as well as family in a hometown. The faithful servant will be continuous in prayer for themselves and for others doing the will of God. In all of it they need to give God the full credit of the results of the work.
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