Paul’s Longing to Visit Rome, 1:8-15
Paul constantly prayed for the churches with whom he communicated, and for the rest as well. This involved both thanksgiving and prayers of request for their welfare. What turns us to God in prayer? Is it only in time of difficulty or frustration that we bend the knee? Thanksgiving must be at the forefront of all our prayers to the Father. We are to be thankful even when things are rough. Paul wrote elsewhere, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil. 4:6).
Paul was thankful to know that the faith of the Roman saints was spoken of all over the world. These believers lived their faith and actively shared it. Faith is not saving faith unless it moves us to action (Gal. 5:6; James 2:14-16). Our faith is real when it is combined with obedience and service to the Father. We must live our faith in the real world, not just within the confines of our home and our church home. We must let our light shine, directing others to the Savior (Matt. 5:16; Phil. 2:14-16).
The apostle longed to visit Rome. He had made attempts to come see them, but the attempts had been unsuccessful so far. Paul prayed it would be God’s will to open his way to go to Rome. It would not be a sight-seeing tour. He had at least two reasons for wanting to visit them. First, we wished to impart some spiritual gift to make them strong (1:11). The apostles were able to impart spiritual gifts to those upon whom they laid their hands (Acts 8:18). This was surely a part of Paul’s intention. But perhaps Paul was speaking of the gift of his presence, his preaching, and his powerful example. We should be the sort of people that help others just by being present for them. Paul also desired the mutual encouragement they would offer. Paul would bless and be blessed by visiting the church in Rome. Spiritual giant that he was, Paul still needed people. We all do. God did not design that Christians should be loners. That is the beauty of the church, the family of God. Again, let us keep the church directory nearby.
Paul also wanted to have a harvest of souls among them. Many still needed to be saved, and he would preach to them. This harvest of souls would come a few years later when Paul finally reached Rome as a political prisoner. Read again Acts 28:30-31 about Paul’s work for the Lord while he was in custody, awaiting a legal decision. Remember that Paul wrote the four “prison letters” while in Rome (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon). Even if we are confined by health, age, or hard circumstances, we can still work for the Lord.
The Romans had not done anything to put Paul in their debt, but Paul felt the debt of one who was saved and wanted so badly to save others. God has saved us, and we are in his debt. The Great Commission compels us, and love compels us to reach out to others. That is why Paul was so eager to preach the gospel in Rome. We were temporarily somewhat confined by the covid pandemic, but God’s work must go on. Prayers, calls, texts, and emails go on. And since things have become far more “normal,” we must truly get busy. Austin is our Rome.
My comments are not an inspired commentary, but rather a few words to draw attention to the background, context, and dynamic situation of the book of Acts. May God bless your reading of His Word. T.C.