Romans: Longing to go to Rome (Romans 1:8-15)

In this passage, we see the Pastor’s heart in Paul. He had a great love for the believers in Rome. There are several things that we see in the heart of Paul that can apply to our lives today.

He thanked God for them. “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” [1]Paul was thankful for the well-known faith of the believers in Rome. The whole world knew of their faith. The testimony of the church was very practical due to the travel patterns of that time. In that day it was said that ‘all roads lead to Rome.’ As Paul ministered, He was able to point people to this great testimony coming out of the heart of the Roman Empire. Can the same be said concerning you and I today? Is our faith known? Do people know that you are a Christian? Is the testimony of our church well-known throughout our state, nation, and around the world? If Paul were here today, would he be thankful for faith?

He prayed for them. 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.”[2] Paul wanted them to know that he supported them through prayer. There is something special about God’s people praying for each other. It is an encouraging thing to know that people are praying for me. As I go throughout my day, I am energized and strengthened when I think that there are those who are continually praying for me. “One of the burdens of Paul’s prayer was that God would permit him to visit Rome and minister to the churches there. He would have visited them sooner, but his missionary work had kept him busy (Rom. 15:15–33). He was about to leave Corinth for Jerusalem to deliver the special offering received from the Gentile churches for the poor Jewish saints. He hoped he would be able to travel from Jerusalem to Rome, and then on to Spain; and he was hoping for a prosperous journey. Actually, Paul had a very perilous journey; and he arrived in Rome a prisoner as well as a preacher. In Jerusalem he was arrested in the temple, falsely accused by the Jewish authorities and eventually sent to Rome as the Emperor’s prisoner to be tried before Caesar. When Paul wrote this letter, he had no idea that he would go through imprisonment and even shipwreck before arriving in Rome! At the close of the letter (Rom. 15:30–33), he asked the believers in Rome to pray for him as he contemplated this trip; and it is a good thing that they did pray!”[3] We need to pray for each other. Our very lives and ministry depend upon the prayers of others.

He longed for them.” 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.”[4]Paul had a great love for the believers in Rome and he had a great desire to see them. He wanted to share in their ministry. It was Paul’s desire that he could be an encouragement to them and they could be an encouragement to him. Do you have such a love for your brothers and sisters in Christ that you long to see them and to fellowship with them? I don’t know about you, but I enjoy being around other believers. I enjoy doing ministry together. When I miss a week of coming to church and fellowshipping with other believers, the rest of my week is out of sync. We should enjoy being around God’s people. This should be the desire of every believer’s heart.

He was obligated to go to Rome. “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.” [5] Paul knew that he was called by God to go to Rome. It was something that he had to do. “The Greeks considered every non-Greek a barbarian. Steeped in centuries of philosophy, the Greeks saw themselves as wise and everyone else as foolish. But Paul felt an obligation to all men, just as we need to feel a burden for the whole world. Paul could not be free from his debt until he had told as many people as possible the Good News of salvation in Christ.”[6] You and I have the same obligation to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Do you have a burden for the lost? Does lost soul’s lay heavy upon your heart? As a pastor, I am often questioned as to what we do and why we should do this or that. My response is simply, ‘we have to.’ We must have a children’s ministry to build in them a solid Biblical foundation. We must have a youth ministry to establish them in the faith and equip them for ministry. We must reach out to senior adults to provide encouragement, friendship, love, and to reach those who still do not know Jesus. We must have a visitation ministry to get the church outside of the four walls of a building and stand on the front lines engaging in the lives of families for the sake of the Gospel. We must use every ministry tool possible such as mail-outs, websites, blogs, social media, Good News Clubs, Vacation Bible School, Sunday School, a church bus so we can transport more children to camp and reach out to senior adults through special trips and also transport people to church who have no way to get there, etc. We must! We must! We must! We cannot sit on the sidelines and just casually go through the motions of ministry and church life while thousands of souls are literally hanging by a thread over the pits of hell! How anyone who claims to be born-again can oppose any effort to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ is beyond me. Just as Paul had an obligation to go to Rome, we have an obligation to reach our world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We cannot rest nor slow down until the mission is completed. It is not a matter of ‘want to’ but a matter of ‘have to’. We must do the work of the ministry. We must spread the Good News. We must do it now!

He was eager to preach in Rome. “So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.” [7]Paul wanted desperately to preach in Rome. He was eager. I am afraid that eagerness to serve the Lord is something that is desperately lacking in the church today. We have become too comfortable and complacent. We don’t get excited anymore about serving the Lord. We have lost the thrill of it all. Do you get excited when you are given an opportunity to share your faith? Does it excite you to be a part of a ministry that is focused on bringing the lost to Jesus? Do you eagerly anticipate coming to church and using your spiritual gifts for the edifying of the church? God has given to me the spiritual gift of preaching and teaching. I enjoy it. I love to preach. I cannot wait until the next time I get to preach. There is a constant eagerness given to me by the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What about you? Are you eager to serve the Lord?

Paul loved God’s people. He longed to spend time with them. He also felt the burden of the obligation placed upon him to win as many people to Jesus as he possibly could. Do we have that same love? Do we have that same burden? Do we eagerly look for opportunities to serve Him more?

[1] The New King James Version. (1982). (Ro 1:8). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] The New King James Version. (1982). (Ro 1:9–10). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Ro 1:8). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[4] The New King James Version. (1982). (Ro 1:11–12). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] The New King James Version. (1982). (Ro 1:13–14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Ro 1:8). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[7] The New King James Version. (1982). (Ro 1:15). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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