Theme: Paul was an amazing Christian. Though he said little of himself in Romans, here we discover some pillars that made him stand tall.
1. Priestly Service (15:14-16)
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.
Paul saw beautiful things in the Roman church.
- Full of goodness: Good motives.
- Filled with all knowledge: Complete in knowledge.
- Able to instruct one another: Able to counsel one another.
15 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 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.
Here, Paul is saying he is like a priest offering the Gentiles as a sacrifice to God. He wanted the sacrifice to be acceptable and sanctified. He had written to them in order to help that along.
Is your work a sacrifce to God? Are there people you are preparing as a sacrifice for God?
2. Powerful Instrument (15:17-19)
17 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. 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, 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;
Paul was proud of his work. He knew it was only what Christ had accomplished through him. He had been impactful: all the way around to Illyricum (Albania, Montenegro, Croatia) — a circle from Jerusalem that almost reached Rome.
You are simply an instrument in God’s hands.
3. Pioneer Vision (15:20-21)
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, 21 but as it is written, (from second half of Isaiah 52:15) “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”
Paul quotes from Isaiah about Jesus — the portion right after the report of the beautiful feet of those who preach good news, and the good news of the Suffering Servant.
Paul had a pioneer vision. He only wanted to go where no one else had gone, where Christ was unnamed. This is a description of 10 years of painstaking work. Others would settle, Paul would pioneer.
4. Planned Out Work (15:22-24)
22 This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. 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, 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.
Paul now plans to go to Rome. Why?
- His work was done.
- He’d always wanted to.
- He could visit them and Spain in the same journey.
- They could support his work.
- He wanted to enjoy the church a bit.
Perhaps this helps you redefine what spiritual decision making looks like. Paul was not rigid. His plan had to change. But he made a plan.
5. Practical Aid (15:25-29)
25 At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27 For 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.
Early on in his ministry, Paul had been asked to remember the poor, specifically in Jerusalem (Galatians 2:10).
He longed to carry out this obligation. He devoted much Scripture (1 Corinthians 16, 2 Corinthians 8-9, Romans 15) to this one gift. He devoted almost 2,000 extra miles to his journey to go from Corinth to Spain via Jerusalem.
Does it surprise you to see the theologian operate as a humanitarian?
Cultivate a generous lifestyle.
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. 29 I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.
Perhaps he got to Spain sometime, but not immediately after his trip to Jerusalem. He was arrested and eventually brought to Rome in chains.
6. Prayerful Battle (15:30-33)
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, 31 that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. 33 May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
Notice how Paul wanted them to pray:
- For deliverance (that I may be delivered).
- For acceptance (acceptable to the saints).
- For opportunity (I may come to you).
He really believed God would work through prayer. Pray for the work of Christ! Do you believe God?