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Paul’s Roman Readers

line Paul’s Roman Readers

Pause and Consider

0629

01.17.18

‘Paul’s Roman Readers’

 

By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for His name: among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; (7) to all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (8) First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. (9) For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers. (Rom 1:5-9)

Paul is writing to the church in the city at the heart of the Roman Empire.  He has never been to Rome but hopes to visit soon.  He longs to see the believers there continue to be strong and bear much fruit.  The city is quiet as far as persecution is concerned, and so there is great opportunity for the advancement of the Gospel.

Paul cares for the church at Rome.  His heart is full.  His words spill forth without a lot of thought for order or method.   But in them we can see evidence of his concern. He was thankful for them (5-8). He prayed for them (9).  He was eager to visit them (10).

Let’s focus on his gratitude for them.  To whom was he thankful?  God the Father.  Prayer is to be addressed to Him and it should always be done reverently. Through whom did he pray?  The Lord Jesus Christ.  Effective prayer can come only through the Great High Priest.

For what was Paul most thankful?  Their faith, which speaks of two things.  First, the faith in Christ alone that brings salvation (5).  Salvation is by grace through faith.

Much is said in our text about their salvation.  It evidences two characteristics.  First, they have a sure salvation (6).  God has called them.  They are called to belong to Jesus Christ—they are thus His purchased possession.  They are also called to be saints—they are separated from sin unto the gospel.

Second, they have a sweet salvation (7).  They are ‘beloved of God,’ meaning that God loves them, much as He loves His own beloved Son. They will be given a continual grace from the Father. Grace is always undeserved.  It comes from the Father through the Son.  And they will know God’s peace.  Grace and peace are linked.  True peace in the heart can only come by God’s grace.

‘Faith’ then also refers to their faithful living.  Rome was a very difficult place to remain pure. “Into Rome flow all things that are vile and abominable, and where they are encouraged.” (Tacitus) Yet, their faithful living was spoken of everywhere—the whole Empire!   Does my Christian life evoke positive conversation?  Can others see in my life the fruit of the Spirit, namely love, joy and peace?  The world is longing for these things and it is through the born-again believer that God wishes to shine in a dark world.

Finally, Paul prayed for them, and he did so regularly (9).  He cared enough about these people he had never met to keep them in his prayers.

In the next verses we will focus on Paul’s longing to visit these folks (10-17).  Unfortunately, he will only get there many years later in chains, as a guest of the Roman government.


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