To Remind You
Paul is now hastening to the end of this long letter to the church in Rome. It seems fitting that his most theologically comprehensive writing would be addressed to the imperial city, the capital of the world. He has made his case that justification is by faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ, that upon regeneration the life of the Christian is a Spirit-filled life wherein we die to sin and live to God, that God’s redemptive plan has always included both Jew and Gentile, and that we should receive one another in the church despite our failings, lifting one another up in prayer and encouraging one another in anticipation of the day of our Lord’s return. Paul now rejoices over the work that God has accomplished through him as a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, God’s purpose for which was to “bring the Gentiles to obedience.” We must understand that the bringing of people to faith in Christ Jesus is the bringing of them to obedience—only made possible by the Spirit’s work upon that person, of course. Still, Scripture understands that the embracing of the gospel of those people so moved by the Holy Spirit is the same as the bringing of those people to the obedience of God as they are transferred from darkness to light, to the kingdom of His dear Son.
Paul goes on to speak of his plans to travel to Rome to see the church with the hope of being refreshed and sent off by them to preach the gospel in Spain. He felt that he had finished his work in Asia Minor and Greece and needed to move westward. Perhaps he wanted to use the Roman church as his new base for mission work in that endeavor. But at the moment, Paul was headed to Jerusalem to deliver the love gift from the Gentile churches to their brethren in Judea in hopes that all would go well, even asking for the believers in Rome to pray for the success and well-being of his journey. We read of this journey and all the goings-on in Acts 21:17-28:31.
Two brief points to consider: 1) Paul writes that he had written to the Roman church boldly by way of reminder. When your pastor stands up to preach on Sunday morning, his task is to say nothing new but to remind you of the things you have learned from the Holy Scriptures. Paul reminds Timothy of the faith that dwelt in both his mother and grandmother and pleads with him to “guard the deposit entrusted to you” (1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:3-5); and, 2) That we as Gentiles have come to share in the spiritual blessings of the Jews, namely the sacred Scriptures, the covenant, the promises, and, of course, the Messiah. May we share with them all we have to give and most of all pray for their embrace of the same Messiah who came for them.