1 Chronicles 12:19-14:17; Romans 1:1-17; Psalm 9:13-20; Proverbs 19:4-5
The Power of the Gospel for Salvation
“To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints…” The Roman church had, by the point of Paul’s letter to them, become something of a missionary outpost and hub. As the capital city of the Roman Empire, the church had a global reach for the mission of the Gospel of God. Paul expressed gratitude to the church for their strong global witness saying, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.”
From the letter it is clear that Paul had not personally visited the church in Rome, though he deeply wanted to do so (v. 13). The letter is a way of laying the groundwork for that future preaching/teaching visit and may have ultimately served to be a surrogate for a more personal instruction. The reason for Paul’s delay is revealed in Romans 15:22-33 where he describes his journey to Jerusalem to deliver a gift to the impoverished saints there.
It is long appreciated that Paul’s delay in visiting Rome actually became the occasion for writing this letter which has had such a tremendous impact for the Gospel. Had he actually gone to Rome as he indicated, the letter to the Romans would not have been written. That is why one commentator calls Paul’s Jerusalem gift, “The Gift that Changed the World.” Sometimes God prevents us from doing what we want so that He can accomplish an even greater purpose through us.
The Letter to the Romans is one of the most influential books in the New Testament. Many of the greatest church leaders in the history of the Christian church were converted or deeply influenced by the letter. People such as St. Augustine, Martin Luther, and John Wesley all trace their initial conversion and spiritual awakening to verses from the letter to the Romans.
Rightly so. The letter is Paul’s most clear and dynamic presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While this letter is a deep theological work, it is also deeply personal. For this reason, it has proven to be life-changing in its application for everyone who has undertaken to study it with faith in Jesus and a desire to receive the power available in the great Gospel of God.
Lord, speak to me through Your word and Spirit that I might experience the power of Your salvation through faith in Your Son, Jesus. Amen.
The Rev. Charlie Holt
The Church of St. John the Divine