Paul’s epistle to the church at Rome was a letter to believers whom he had yet to meet. While Paul did not know them in the flesh, he knew each of them in a spiritual sense. Paul knew all in the church knew Jesus to be the Christ, the Prophet like unto Moses whom God said should come (Deut. 18:15).
Paul gives thanks to “my God” through Jesus Christ for the church because their faith is spoken of throughout the whole world (v. 8).
Paul wrote this epistle after he had completed his third missionary journey. While he had yet to preach in every part of the Roman Empire, he had contact with believers from everywhere. The known world was the Roman Empire. Paul knew the believers at Rome because their faith was spoken of believers who had visited Rome. Faith is not silent. Faith speaks out. Faith declares the God who made Himself known to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Faith declares Christ Jesus. The church at Rome was an island of faith surrounded by a sea of pagans which embraced ungodly and unrighteous lifestyles.
Paul states that he always, without ceasing, makes mention of them at Rome in his prayers (v. 9). This statement is prefaced with “God is my witness.” Paul wrote that which the Holy Spirit moved him to write. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are one. God wants every island of faith to know that their faith is supported in the prayers of them who serve the cause of Christ.
In his prayers, Paul requested that he might have a prosperous journey to Rome which will allow him to impart some spiritual gift to them. A prosperous journey might be considered a journey upon which one is enriched. Paul did not seek a prosperous journey that would result in his own enrichment. Paul desired to enrich the believers at Rome by conveying spiritual gifts to them by which they might be established (v. 11).
Paul sought a prosperous journey “by the will of God” (v. 10). Believers know that it is the will of the Father that He should be glorified through the Son. Paul sought to impart spiritual gifts to the church such that they might bring glory to the Father by contending for the faith which is mutual for “both you and me” (v. 12). The faith which is mutual to all believers is that Jesus is the Christ, the Promised One, the Messiah, the Son of God; that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham (Gen. 12:3), of God’s promise to send a prophet like unto Moses (Deut. 18:15), and of God’s promise to send a servant who would be bruised and be made an offering for sin (Isa. 53:10). By mutual faith, all believers know Jesus is the truth and the life of which the scriptures speak (Jn. 14:6).
In verse 13, Paul makes it known that he had planned to visit believers at Rome and to “have some fruit among you also” but was hindered. The fruit that Paul desires to gather is an increase in believers who know Jesus by the mutual faith. Paul reveals that he intends to gather fruit when he does visit (v. 15). Paul seeks to do that which he had done among other Gentiles. The fruit which Paul had gathered consisted of believers of every culture. He is a debtor to the Greeks (the highly educated and refined), the Barbarians (uneducated and lacking civility), the wise (learned and skilled), and the unwise (unlearned and unskilled). The fruit for which Paul was indebted was from every possible; it consisted of the “whosoever” of who would believe upon the Son (Jn. 3:16).
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (v. 16). This statement by Paul supposes that there were some believers who were ashamed. Today, there are some believers who are hesitant to declare their faith publicly for fear of ridicule. Paul did not fear ridicule. Paul did not fear because he knew that the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation. Paul knew that the world, by its own wisdom, could not know God. Paul knew that it pleased God that men should be saved by the foolishness of preaching (see I Cor. 1:21). Paul knew the power by which one is saved.
Paul also knew that the righteousness of God is revealed by faith (v. 17). Paul knew the written word of God to be truth. He knew that the just shall live by faith (Hab. 2:4). The righteousness of God is revealed in the actions of believers. Believers are justified, not by works of themselves, but, by works of faith that manifest God’s power in their lives. All of those of the mutual faith live by that faith.
Paul’s desire to visit Rome was propelled by a desire that their mutual faith be manifested in the gathering of spiritual fruit. Let us live by faith and gather the fruit that glorifies God the Father through God the Son.