Romans 1:8-14

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 12, 2015 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.
I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.”
(Romans 1:8-14)

Paul, the author of Romans who I discussed last week, starts off with something very important here: he thanks God for the people of the church in Rome, because of their great faith. Paul’s letters often mention his thankfulness for the people he is writing to (Ephesians 1:15-16, Colossians 1:3-4, 1 Thessalonians 1:3), but this instance is particularly interesting because Paul did not know the people of the church in Rome personally. He hadn’t founded that church as he had done many others, including Ephesus, Colossai, or Thessalonica. Paul shares that he remembers them -- these people he’s never personally met -- in his prayers at all times.

How often do we do what Paul is writing about, and pray constantly for people we’ve never met? It’s so much easier for us to pray for people we know, or even friends or relatives of people we know. Even then, however, I know I personally have a difficult time of praying “constantly” or repeatedly as Paul says he is. Paul is very dedicated in his faith and in his prayer life, and he hopes that if it is God’s will he will one day be able to make the journey to Rome and meet these people he has been praying for.

We see in this section that Paul has tried to get to the church in Rome, but it just hadn’t worked out. He’s not upset about that, since he knows it’s God’s will that he hasn’t gotten there yet. He doesn’t want to go simply for personal reasons or to be a tourist and see the sights, but he desires to visit the Roman church so that he “might have a harvest” among them, as with other Gentiles. Paul realizes that not everyone in that church community had fully accepted salvation through Jesus Christ, and his desire is for that to happen and for everyone there to come to that saving knowledge and relationship with Jesus.

It’s interesting that Paul specifically says that he desires a harvest among the Gentiles, rather than saying among the church. Salvation is not just for those who are a part of a church community, but for everyone! This is still true today. While being a part of a church community can help believers grow in their faith and become more mature by helping one another grow, it is not essential for salvation to happen.

The saving message of Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection is for all people, and that is the mission that Paul is obligated to. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Greek or a non-Greek, that message and the salvation it brings is for everyone. That is as true today as it was back then; ethnicity has nothing to do with the opportunity we all have for salvation.

Are you praying, as Paul was, for people you’ve never met to receive salvation? We should desire that everyone on earth be able to experience the joy of having relationship with Jesus, since there are no restrictions on that. What are you doing to further this mission in the world today?