8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ [g]for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world. 9 For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you,10 always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be [h]established; 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am [i]under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. Romans 1:8-15
The apostle Paul had heard about the faith of the Roman believers from other believers where he found himself. When he was writing the letter to the believers in Rome he had not yet visited them, but he would eventually make his way there after he was put on trial in Jerusalem and he appealed to Cesar. Paul was falsely accused by the religious leaders of his day and this account can be found at the end of the book of Acts.
Paul was a man of diligent prayer and pray unceasingly for the body of Christ throughout the earth. God used him greatly to not only plant many of the early churches but also to write a majority of the New Testament. Paul understood the strength of his life and knew that it was through Christ alone that all things were possible. The apostle Paul faced many trials during his life, but through it all he held fast to his faith in Jesus Christ and proclaimed the gospel without abandon. He was a man driven and empowered by the power and might of the Holy Spirit and this was only possible as sought the Lord in diligent prayer.
The apostle Paul desired to see the believers in Rome face to face so that he could impart some spiritual gift so that they could be established. Paul is not the one who gives spiritual gifts because that is only found in the work of the Holy Spirit. But because of the anointing upon Paul’s life, Paul was gifted with different spiritual gifts by the Lord and the purpose of every spiritual gift is for the edification of the body of Christ. Paul’s desire was not only to encourage them, but that he himself would be encouraged by them. The call of an apostle was a very difficult one and discouragement is a natural aspect of ministry. When we come together as the body of Christ we have the ability to encourage and strengthen one another in the Lord.
Paul’s desire was to visit the Roman believers in the past but was prevented from doing so. The Holy Spirit is the one who orders our steps and opens and closes doors. Even though we may sometimes have a desire to do something for the Lord and or somewhere for the Lord and minister, if it is not part of the will of God the door will not be open. Paul had heard about the faith of the believers in Rome and looked forward to the spiritual fruit that was being produced. If we claim to follow Christ but have not produced any spiritual fruit we need to examine the condition of our heart and determine if indeed we have truly given our heart fully to Jesus Christ.
Paul knew that he was a bond servant of Jesus Christ and he was obligated to preach the gospel to all people. When the body of Christ began the early disciples thought the gospel was only for the Jews. But once Peter had his encounter with Cornelius and saw the Holy Spirit poured out upon the gentile believers he knew that the gospel was for all people. The apostle Paul knew that his primary call was an apostle to the gentiles. Every town he went into he would begin preaching in the synagogue, but when the gospel was rejected by the Jews he would take the gospel to the gentiles.
Even though while writing this letter to the Romans Paul had not yet visited or met them, he was eager to do so. We must remember during the time of the first century church there was no internet or social media. The primary mode of long distance communication was a written letter. When the early churches received letters from the original apostles they understood those letters carried authority. Some would try to masquerade as true apostles. But those who were truly apostles moved in the power and might of the Holy Spirit. It brought authenticity to their message. So a letter from the apostle Paul would not only have carried great weight and authority, it would have also been a great encouragement to the believers of that day.