Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Romans 1:8-17

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, 10 making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established—12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. 13 Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. 14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. 15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

Vs.8 Having giving his opening address to the Christians at Rome (vs. 1-7). The Apostle Paul now begins to address our beloved brethren on a personal level. Telling them that he himself thanks God through Jesus Christ for them all; not just because they believed and received the truth for themselves, but because their faith was being spoken of throughout the whole world. That is their obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ was something that went well beyond the confines of the assembly. And so it was wherever Paul went on his missionary endeavours, their faith was well spoken of too him. Quite an endorsement when others speak well of you, because of your faith in and obedience towards the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (consider Rom. 16:19; also Prov. 27:2).

Vs. 9-10 And so Paul in declaring his thankfulness for them all, now says that God as his witness, whom he serves with his spirit in the Gospel of His Son, knows that without ceasing he always makes mention of them in his prayers. No doubt for their continued Spiritual growth and maturity, but more specifically so that he could in some way, find a way in the will of God to come to them (vs. 10). For having heard of their genuine faith and the life giving fruit God was producing through their new lives, Paul also wanted to be their amongst them, to be with growing and dynamic Christians. Yet the Apostle Paul does presume upon this, just as we should not presume upon anything in our lives. And so Paul says here that if it is in the will of the Lord that he should come to them, then he gladly would.
Now we know that Paul eventually would come to Rome, but only after his being falsely accused and arrested in Jerusalem by the Jews. And so when Paul having answered their false charges before their Sanhedrin counsel, then Felix the Roman governor of Judea, and finally King Agrippa (Acts 23:23-26:32). Paul, a Jew, yet also being a Roman citizen, appealed to Caesar for a decisive verdict, since it seemed his release from custody would not come through them by just means. And with that King Agrippa sent Paul onto Rome to stand before Caesar, just as the Lord declared to him that he would be His witness there (Acts 23:11; read 21:15-28:30 for entire history of events). And so what we are reading here came by Holy Spirit inspiration through the Apostle Paul, before Paul had made his way back to Jerusalem, while on his third missionary journey. The most reliable authorities place it's date around 56-57 A.D. After 1-2 Corinthians was written, when Paul being on his third Missionary journey, and staying at Corinth, desired to visit Rome (Acts 19:21). It was during this brief three month interval, that Paul, before being forced to leave the Corinthian region because of the intense persecution there, "penned" this magna-carte epistle to the Romans, before heading on to Jerusalem in hopes of being there for the day of Pentecost (Acts 20:16). Visiting and strengthening
the disciples and churches in their faith across Asia Minor as He traveled onto Jerusalem. And so neither threat of arrest, persecution, or even death would dampen Paul's love and zeal for Jesus Christ and all His people as he ministered the gospel wherever he went (Acts 21:12-13).

Vs. 11-12 Therefore Paul with his words of encouragement here to the believers in Rome had not yet left Corinth. And in dictating this epistle to Tertius (see Rom. 16:22) Paul had yet to realize what awaited him in Jerusalem, and how God's plans for him would unfold for him there (see Acts 21:7-14). And so Paul here, as he did with all the churches, had a heartfelt longing to see them, wishing to see the believers at Rome so "...that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established—12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Now the Apostle Paul in saying that he wanted to impart some spiritual gift to them to encourage them and strengthen them in their faith, and thus he himself would also be encouraged by them, was not saying that he would lay hands on them to do this. No Paul's wanting to impart to them a spiritual gift, was more like wanting to share with them some of his Spirit given knowledge and understanding from the Word of God, that they might grow in faith and their own knowledge of God (consider 1 Peter 2:2); and so both they and he would be encouraged together.

Vs. 13-17 What hindered Paul from coming to them we are not told. It may have been that in ministering to the brethren in Corinth, Paul felt compelled to stay there to first personally address the many issues facing the brethren there? Or it may have been that as Paul says elsewhere, Satan or other opposition hindered him from coming to them (i.e. 1 Thess. 2:18). Whatever the reasons that kept the Apostle Paul from traveling to them, we are exceedingly grateful to God who permitted such things to take place, because with God allowing Paul's "itinerary" to be delayed/altered, God created the time and gave Paul, by the Holy Spirit, the mind too think out and write this glorious epistle to the Romans that we now have! An epistle that has both edified and instructed brethren down through the centuries; thwarting every works based notion of man for salvation, and or all who would seek to put either the individual believer, or the church collectively back under law, or bind them too the legalistic bondages of man. And thus through it many a believer has grown not only in their faith and knowledge of the grace of God, but have also themselves become advocates and Godly defenders of it, being equipped for the spiritual battle for souls by it. Therefore though Paul's desire was to be in person with them, and thus have some "spiritual fruit" amongst them (vs. 13). But God knew what has far more needful both for them and us all, and by default the Gospel's furtherance, and that was that Paul first pen this letter to them so both they and we would have a magna carta for the defense of the Gospel, and thus the grace and righteousness of God.
Now the Apostle Paul would eventually come to Rome (though not as he had planned or envisioned himself doing so), to be the Lord Jesus Christ's witness there, even to the highest echelons of power in Rome. Before having bestowed on him the greatest honor of all, to suffer martyrdom death there for his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And thus the Apostle Paul rightly says here as Christ's bondservant that he is a debtor both to Greeks (i.e. "civilized" Gentiles) and to barbarians, (i.e. various tribal peoples scattered throughout the Roman Empire and beyond), a debtor both to the wise and the unwise (vs. 14). For just as the Apostle Paul was writing to Jewish and Gentile Christians at Rome, so the Apostle Paul also preached the Gospel to one and to all wherever he went. Declaring God's salvation for everyone and anyone who would believe and thus receive it for themselves. And so Paul as a debtor to all mankind preached the Gospel everywhere and by every means possible, and so he says here: "So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. " vs. 15 
For the faithful preacher of the Gospel doesn't pick and choose the people that he will share God's Gospel with. For the Gospel of God says to one and to all, Look to My Son the Lord Jesus Christ crucified for your everlasting redemption from sin and death, and He will save you from your sins and the judgment to come. For He willingly suffered crucifixion death for you, so that He could redeem you and restore you to Myself the moment you believe (i.e. put your trust) in Him (John 3:16). That is what the Gospel of God says to every person, in every generation:
"Look to Me, and be saved
All you ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other." Isaiah 45:22
And that is why the Apostle Paul says: 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” For the Gospel is not just the Word of God it is the Power of God to redeem, restore, and to Spiritually transform everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ from their lost and hopeless state, into being new creations in Christ with life everlasting with God Himself (2 Cor. 5:17). That is God's eternal and unfailing promise for every sinner who repents and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, God's grace and righteousness imputed to us all who believe in Him (John 5:24). For as the Apostle Paul says here it's God Righteousness that saves us who believe in Jesus Christ, not our own (Rom. 3:19-28; Eph 2:8-9). And so God, through the Gospel both reveals and imputes His Righteousness through His glorious work for mankind's redemption Through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ's crucifixion death and resurrection from the dead by which He has paid the purchased price for our souls and persons redemption from eternal damnation. Therefore because of Jesus Christ's Crucifixion for us, God can be the just and justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Rom 3:24-26). The question then is have you put your faith in Jesus Christ? Not Jesus plus your own righteousness, or good deeds, or prayers, or whatever else you do, or have done, but faith exclusively in the Son of God. For it is only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that we have remission for all of our sins and new and everlasting life with Himself. For there is no other name under heaven given amongst men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Therefore put all of your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, calling on the Name of Lord who will save you from your sins (Matt. 1:21) and restore you to a right relationship with God through what He has done for you, and not what you try to do for yourself.

Scripture Citations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982

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