The Book of Romans
Paul had a great desire to visit the thriving Church in the capital city of the Roman Empire, Rome. At first glance Paul’s desire to visit the Roman church may seem strange since someone organized the church other than Paul or one of the twelve apostles. The content of the text shows that Paul has great admiration for the ministry of the Roman church. He rejoiced in the fact that their outreach was known throughout all the Roman Empire. Paul expressed his concern for the church in the fact that he prayed without ceasing for her ministry and welfare. Paul was certain that his visit would result in mutual spiritual benefits for himself and the church.
Because of his commission, Paul felt an obligation to share the gospel with all men. Paul could not be free from his debt until he had told as many people as possible the good news of salvation in Christ. Paul’s ministry focused on the fact that he was a debtor, he was ready or eager, and he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. Paul finishes by emphasizing that the entire process of being declared righteous comes to the believer from start to finish by faith.
I. Mutual Faith-Appreciation and Desire
- V 8, First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. Paul gave the church at Rome one of the greatest compliments that any church would love to receive. Their faith was known throughout the whole world, meaning the whole Roman Empire. The witness of this great church should cause us to ask the questions that will help our church determine the worth of our witness. What do others churches of like faith and order thank of our testimony?
- V 9, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers. Paul prayed for this church every time he prayed. This church was always on Paul’s prayer list. The greatest of saints and even our Lord Jesus Christ knew they could not do their works for God or live their lives without praying. Do you pray for the leadership of your church? Do you pray for the mutual witness of the churches in our local, state, and national work? Do you pray for the leadership of these mutual works?
- V 10, Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. Paul requested that the Church of Rome pray that he would follow the will of God and that his trip would be a prosperous journey. Paul had tried to visit them before but his ministry duties among the Gentiles hindered him from visiting them. When Paul wrote this letter he had no idea that he would experience imprisonment and even shipwreck before arriving in Rome. It is a good thing that they prayed for him.
- V 11, For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established. Does not mean that Paul would impart spiritual gifts like teaching, healing, or prophecy. But that he would bless them by exercising his spiritual gift.
- V 12, That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Because of their mutual faith, Paul was certain that his visit to Rome would be a blessing to the believers in Rome and that the believers in Rome would be a blessing to him. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. The text is written in the context of the local church but it also has implications in the context of associational work. The Lord’s churches need to be a blessing to each other.
- V 13, that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. God’s timing is everything. Paul had often planned to visit Rome but his plan had not come to realization. In God’s providence it all worked out for the best. Because of the delay Paul was able to write the book of Romans and latter went to Rome as a prisoner preaching the gospel without hindrance. Believers must learn that God works out events in His own time for our best. Romans 8:28, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
II. Mutual Faith-Responsibility
- V 14, I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. Paul’s conversion placed a special commission and obligation on him. Paul’s training and citizenship equipped him to reach the Jews and the Gentile. The Greeks considered every non-Greek a barbarian. Steeped in centuries of philosophy, the Greeks saw themselves as wise and everyone else as foolish. But Paul felt an obligation to preach the gospel to all men.
- V 15, So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. Paul was eager to fulfill his obligation because he expected God to do great things through his ministry. Paul’s eagerness was not that of a sightseer, but the eagerness of a soul winner.
III. Mutual Faith-Message
- V 16, The missionary heart of Paul is seen in the famous “I am’s.” I am debtor (V 14), I am ready (V 15), and I am not ashamed (V 16). Paul saw himself under moral obligation to proclaim the gospel to all classes of people. The cause and effect sequence of his motivation is revealed by the use of the word “for.” Why was Paul ready to preach? For he was not ashamed of the gospel. Why was he not ashamed? For it is the power of God unto salvation. Why does it provide salvation? For in it the righteousness of God, received and nurtured by faith, is revealed. Why must the righteousness of God be received by faith? For all men stand condemned beneath the wrath of God.
- V 17, The just shall live by faith. Justification by faith means that the sinner who trusts Christ is not only pardoned from sin because of Christ death, but he also stands before God complete in Christ. Romans 4:25, Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
Paul’s sense of appreciation for the mutual faith found in the church of Rome, sense of responsibility to preach the gospel to all men, and the message which he preached gives us a source for evaluating our own lives and the ministry of our church and associational mission. Do we have a clear definition of the mutual faith that Paul is writing about? Do we feel an obligation to do what is necessary so that we can preach the gospel to the entire world? Because of our mutual faith do we see the need to pray for our church ministries and the ministries of the churches in our associational work? Do we have a sense of expectation that God is going to bless the mutual faith found in our church and the churches we fellowship with? Do we show our eagerness to share the gospel message with others? Are we being a blessing to others or a hindrance?
Created and Researched by Pastor Dennis Baker
Zion Baptist Church
3485 New Baumgartner Rd. - St. Louis, MO 63129 - Phone: 314-846-1867