As a recap, we have already dealt with Romans 1:1-7. In that passage, we saw Paul arguing very well and showing that he is a minister of the gospel, having been chosen by Jesus Christ for this purpose. He went on to indicate that the gospel is from God and therefore authoritative and true. He showed that the gospel is about Jesus Christ. He went on to also show that he was was chosen to preach this gospel by grace. He indicated that his task was to bring the obedience of faith to the glory of Jesus Christ. He was tasked to preach the gospel to all. Now in the passage we are looking at in this message, Paul explains his longing to visit Rome and how he has been hindered to do that and why he wants to visit Rome. He also speaks about our faith and love that comes from God whom we must serve in the Holy Spirit
Paul gives Thanks to God for our Faith and Love
Romans 1:8 (ESV Strong’s)
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.
Paul as he always does in his letters, thanks God through Jesus Christ. In 1 Cor. 1:4, he thanks God for giving grace to the Corinthian Christians. In Eph. 1:15-16, he thanks God for the Ephesians faith and love for the saints. In Phil. 1:3-5, he thanks God for the phillipian’s partnership in the gospel. In Col. 1:3-4, he thanks God for the Colossians faith and love for the saints. In our verse, Romans 1:8, Paul thanks God because of the faith of the Roman Christians which is proclaimed throughout the world.
Paul by thanking God, recognizes that their faith which is well-known throughout, comes from God. In all the passages I have quoted, it is clear that Paul holds a view that the faith that people have and their ability to love other saints, comes from God. None of these people developed the ability to believe in Jesus and to love other Christians on their own. It is an ability that comes from God and therefore it is God who must be thanked.
God is Sovereign over our Lives
Romans 1:9-10 (ESV Strong’s)
9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.
Paul says that God is his witness in that he always, when he prays, he asks God to allow or grant him the opportunity to visit them. This is an acknowledgment by Paul of God’s sovereignty in his life. If he is to have an opportunity to visit Rome, God has to allow or grant it.
Notice how specific Paul is about God. Paul indicated that the God He is referring to, is the one whom he serves with his spirit by preaching the gospel of His Son. The only true God, is God who is that Father to Jesus who is the Son. No other God exist. This makes Jesus the son of God and therefore God. Any teaching that reduces Jesus to only a man is false. Any teaching that says Jesus is not God is false.
Take note as well that Paul serves God in the spirit and not in the flesh. By this Paul means that he is serving God under the control and guidance of the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, he is not serving God under the control and guidance of his fleshly desires. It is not his fleshly desires that drive him to serve God.
Why Paul wants to visit Rome
Romans 1:11-14 (ESV Strong’s)
11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.
Paul gives 2 reasons why he wants to visit Rome. The first reason is found in verse 11, and second in verse 13.
The first reason is that Paul wants to impart spiritual gifts to the Roman Christians to strengthen them, so that they may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. This means that Paul wants to visit the Roman Christians so that he can use the gifts that he has been given by the Holy Spirit to strengthen them and they can use theirs to strengthen him. This will result in both him and them being mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
The second reason is that he wanted to come in order to reap some harvest among them as well as the rest of the gentiles. What Paul means here is that he wanted to come and minister the gospel to them, so that he can see the fruits of his work in them and not only them, but to the rest of the gentiles in Rome. But Paul indicates that although he always wanted to come, he was always been prevented from doing so. In Romans 15:22, he says that it was because he wanted to bring the gospel to where it had not been preached yet and hence he could not come to them. Paul explains why he says he wants to minister to the rest of the gentiles by saying in verse 14 that, he is under obligation to preach to both Greeks and to barbarians, to the wise and the foolish. In short, he is obligated to preach to all without exception.
Lessons to learn in this passage
- We must thank God for our faith and love for other Christians. We did not develop the ability to believe in Jesus Christ and to love other Christians on our own, but it is a gift from God. Therefore, we must thank God always for our faith and love.
- We must acknowledge that the true and only God who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is in control of our lives and we must serve Him under the control and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and not under the control and guidance of our fleshy desires.
- We must use our Holy Spirit given gifts to strengthen and mutually encourage one another.
- We must always preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to all without exception.