Tuesday in the Thirteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Romans 1:8-15

Reaping the Harvest of Mutual Encouragement

Paul now shares with the Christians in Rome how much he longs to see them.  Indeed, he had wanted to come to them on several occasions but was unable.  At the present time, he was in Corinth planning his trip to Jerusalem to deliver the love gift collected from the Gentile churches to relieve the Jewish Christians suffering in Judea.  After doing that, he would visit Rome with the hope that they would then send him off to Spain for another missionary journey (Acts 20:1-2; Romans 15:22-29).  But until then, he could only express his deep affection for them, praying that at last God would answer his prayers and allow him to visit them.

Scholars work hard to discover why a certain writer of a New Testament book or letter wrote what he wrote.  This requires reading the material carefully for clues.  Romans is one of those letters that seems to suggest multiple reasons for why Paul wrote it: 1) There seems to be some quarreling between the Jews and Gentiles in the church which is hinted at throughout the letter; 2) Paul wanted to use the church of Rome as a new base of mission support to reach Spain with the gospel (15:28), and so wrote the letter to express that.  3) But one way to earn that support was to record for them the message of the gospel which he preached, which is why of all of Paul’s letters, Romans seems to be the most “theologically-driven.”

There is truth in each of these proposals.  But I also think we should pay close attention to what Paul says at the beginning of the letter right here: Paul wanted to “impart … some spiritual gift to strengthen” them, and he wanted to be “mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”  Yes, Paul does say that he wanted to “reap some harvest” among them, but I do not think we are required to assume he means evangelistically; after all, Paul made it his policy to not plant where others had already done so (15:20).  May we not simply assume that Paul wanted to meet his brothers and sisters in Christ in Rome, that he wanted to preach and encourage them in the faith, and that he desired likewise to be built up in the faith by them as well?  “Harvest” need not always refer to saving souls but might also refer to the receiving of mutual edification.  And as we have been savingly healed by our Lord, we are obligated to offer healing by edifying and encouraging our brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of their intelligence, sophistication, or culture (Greeks or Barbarians).  Indeed, one of the primary reasons the church meets is “encouraging one another, and all the more as [we] see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25).

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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