Romans - The Gospel of God Visiting Rome & Gospel Debt - Chap 1 vs 8-17
Paul's Interest in the Saints in Rome vs 8-15
Paul's Thanksgiving for the Saints v 8 Paul was a man of prayer. It was his native air. He lived in the atmosphere of heaven on earth being continually in communion with God. This is evident as we read his epistles. Most of them begin with either thanksgiving or prayer or both and are interspersed with references to prayer and expressions of praise (Rom 10:1; 11:33-36; 15:30-33; 16:25-27….). Like Paul, every servant of God should be a prayer warrior and a vessel of praise. Paul thanked God for every Roman believer and for the far reaching testimony of their Christian faith.
Paul's Desire to Visit the Saints vs 9-12 Paul affirmed before God his unceasing remembrance of the Roman believers in his prayers and unabated request that in God’s will he may eventually and successfully make it to Rome (v 10) for he longed to see and serve them in order to build them up spiritually and in so doing benefit personally from the encouragement of their fellowship (vs 11-12).
Paul refers to how he served God in his spirit in the gospel of God’s Son (v 9). The gospel for Paul was a sacred service done with devotion and worship. He fulfilled his ministry in communion with God conscious of the privilege of preaching and making known the Son of God. Moreover, Paul’s ministry was a priestly ministry. He was ‘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’ (Rom 15:16 ESV). Paul never performed his service mechanically or ritualistically, but in adoration and for the glory of God. What a contrast to the ‘deadwood’ of so called religious leaders today who don’t even have the conviction to believe and preach what the Bible says never mind appreciate the wonder of the gospel concerning the Son of God.
Paul's Purpose among the Saints vs 13-15 Up to this point, Paul had been hindered from coming to Rome even though he oftentimes purposed to visit. His workload in the East had prevented him moving west (Rom 15:19-23), but now with his ministry fulfilled in the East he wanted to fulfil a desire of many years and have a fruitful visit with the saints at Rome by edifying them and evangelizing with them. Paul saw himself as a debtor to all people whatever their culture background or social status (v 14). He was entrusted with and commissioned to preach the gospel (Acts 26:16-18; 1 Cor 9:17) and therefore considered himself under obligation to fulfil his God given ministry. He owed men the good news and was eager to discharge that responsibility everywhere he went.
Paul's Confidence in the Gospel of God vs 16-17
The Message of God’s Transforming Power v 16 Paul had no embarrassment or felt no disgrace concerning the gospel (Cp Mark 8:38; Rom 6:21; 2 Tim 1:8). He would visit Rome with its lawyers, statesmen and orators bringing God’s message. What Paul preached had a power far greater than the might of Rome. It transformed lives, delivered souls and imparted righteousness. Paul would stand among the Romans with humility to declare with authority the greatest news ever heard by man.
The Message of God’s Revealed Righteousness v 17 When Paul speaks about a righteousness of God being revealed in the gospel he is referring to the fact that sinners can be brought into right and harmonious relationship with God against whom all men have sinned. He will give or impute to the believing soul righteousness in the sense of a right standing before Him – they will be justified. God’s righteousness is declarative righteousness. That is, the man or woman reconciled to God by Christ’s death, is declared, or accounted righteous before Him being fully acquitted, fully forgiven, and fully accepted – they are justified. The bestowal of righteousness therefore has to do with our judicial standing before God in contrast to our moral regeneration by the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul expounds this essential gospel truth in his epistle both as to the means of justification and the life of sanctification that follows. In these beginning chapters he proves the guilt of humanity, Gentile and Jew, and how all stand condemned as unrighteous before God in order to demonstrate that man’s only hope is the power of the gospel.
The gospel then addresses the issue of our status before God, our Creator and Judge, and answers the problem of how we who are alienated by sin and guilty of sinning can find acceptance with Him and be declared righteous before Him. Moreover, just as God’s saving power is experienced by the sinner who believes the gospel (v 16), so His righteousness is bestowed ‘altogether’ by faith – out of faith unto faith. It commences with faith in Christ and continues with faithfulness to Him. J. B. Phillips translation captures the idea: ‘A process begun and continued by their faith.’ This is not a new concept. It has always been so as God’s word to Habakkuk shows: ‘the just shall live by his faith’ (Hab. 2:4). This is Paul’s text and his epistle its ‘exposition’.