The past few days I have taken a look at Romans 1:8-15. This section might seem small and not too terribly thick with information, but that would be a false judgment. Something I have come to realize over the past four years of in-depth studying with the bible is that absolutely anything can be broken down further. Punctuation, words, verses, passages, you name it. Especially if you take a verse-by-verse approach to analyzing the text as opposed to a topical one. With that in mind, this section is no different. I have found myself convicted, yet again, by the glorious word of God.
Like always, let us be reminded of the author (Paul), audience (Jews and Greeks of the Roman church), and purpose (Rom 1:16-17). Keeping these parameters in mind, I am going to start at the beginning of this section. Crazy, I know.
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you (Rom 1:8-10).
This handful of verses is underlined in blue pen in my bible, because it is a passage of prayer. It might look a little funny, because Paul is speaking directly to the audience, but the phrase “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you” suggests that it is indeed being thought of as prayer to Paul. If you look a little further, he again mentions that they are in his prayers “without ceasing” and “always”. This is where the text really gets me, and rightfully so. My prayer life has been lackluster for many weeks now, and I am well aware of it. However, because I’m such a dirty, rotten, filthy, stinking sinner I have done very, very little to improve upon it. Reading that Paul constantly and consistently prays for the hearts of the people in this church is so incredible. Not to mention that he did the same for the countless other churches he partnered with, along with all of the people not yet saved. Yet, I have a hard time “finding time” to pray throughout my day filled with homework and television. It is a wake-up call.
“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine” (Rom 1:11-12). By his writings, one can assume that at the time this letter was penned Paul had not been to the Roman church in a long while. He yearns to see them. As he states, he desires to “impart a spiritual gift”. But what is the spiritual gift? It is, in fact, the gospel message. Paul writes that he wants to be “mutually encourage” with these Jews and Greeks. This is fellowship. Even with believers, the gospel is still of the utmost importance. We need to hear the gospel message every day, and have it sit heavy on our hearts and minds. What better way to be reminded of the gospel than to join in study and prayer and worship with fellow Christians? That is what Paul wants to take part in when he finally reaches Rome.
He finishes this section out with,
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. I am under obligation both to Greeks and barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome (Rom 1:13-15).
This part is underlined in orange pen in my bible, because it is a sovereignty statement. As a reminder, sovereignty means that God is in complete and utter control of everything. God’s sovereignty in this section is twofold. First, He has saved Paul in order that be called him to spread the gospel. Second, God is in control of who is saved and who isn’t. Referred to as the process of election, which I covered in Romans (Part One). Paul spreads the gospel despite not knowing who will be saved amongst the Greeks and the barbarians, the foolish and the wise. He does it because God commands it.
It’s always nice to finish out with a little application (after studying within original context first) so here is some more conviction: I am not Paul, but as a saved Christian, I am called to do the same. Thank You, Lord.