Saturday, March 27, 2010


Romans 1:11-12
"For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, to the end you may be established; (12) That is, that I may be comforted together with you, by the mutual faith both of you and me."

A bond exists between all those who share the Christian faith in common. Paul acknowledges this in his letter to the Romans when he uses the term mutual faith, and expresses his desire to both encourage and strengthen Christians in this faith, while also  being encouraged and strengthened himself.

Paul's letter to the Romans was written from Corinth during his 3rd visit there in A.D.60. It is addressed "To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints:" (Rom.1:7).

After his usual offerings of grace and peace there is an expression of gratitude towards the Roman Christians because they have made their faith known, and not hidden it away in some secret corner,(Rom.1:8). We too can be grateful for those who have made their faith known in our lives as well. In the 1970's I was in and out of church fellowship like an ocean tide, and my faith was quite erratic, but it seemed that wherever I went saints kept testifying to me and I was eventually urged by the Holy Spirit to admit to the value of continuing in regular communion with the body of Christ.

Paul had not been to Rome but assures the believers there that they are continually mentioned in his prayers, this being a way in which he serves God with his "spirit in the gospel of His Son" (Rom.1:9). Furthermore, Paul makes very specific requests when he asks God for the opportunity to travel to Rome "by any means now at length", and also that he "might have a prosperous journey", (Rom.1:10). Sometimes we can find ourselves praying prophetically, using words that achieve a greater significance when answers arrive, like Paul's did with the means of his prosperous journey being his arrest and deportation to Rome for trial as a Roman citizen at the government's expense and with a military escort.(Acts 26:32).

Paul writes to Rome about the cause of his delay in coming to see them in person. His obedience to God's will is the cause of his delay. He would only go to Rome if God gave him leave from his work of planting churches and preaching in places where Christ was unknown;(Rom.15:20,21,22,23,24). We learn to seek the things of Christ more than our own will, giving special priority to ministrations which "much hinder us" in the pursuit of desires which, although from the Holy Spirit, are for a later time;(Rom.1:10,11,12,13).

Habakkuk 2:3 "For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it may tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry."

Instead of allowing ourselves to become frustrated by divine
delays or giving in to the forces of darkness and evil designed to obstruct or destroy us, we can like Paul, make the most of ministry opportunities, survive shipwreck and snakebite on our spiritual journey, and continue to serve God despite the restrictive chains that politics and worldly authority may place on us.(Acts 28:20).

Paul longed to see the believers who were living in Rome. A study of translations has led me to understand this as a yearning from deep within, and something which is of great motivational significance, when linked with the following two goals which Paul has in mind for the Christians in Rome.
  • Spiritual Gift Impartation...  (Rom.1:11)
  • Mutually Comforting Faith... (Rom.1:12) 
To impart something is to liberally share it, so Paul yearns for fellowship in Rome in order to liberally share something from the Holy Spirit. His letter contains an informative and instructive discussion of spiritual gifts (Rom.12:6,7,8) in which he exhorts the church to make full use of them. While in Rome, although in chains and under house arrest, he was still able to use his particular preaching and teaching gifts "with all confidence, no man forbidding him";(Acts 28:31)

It is the purpose of spiritual gifts to build up and strengthen us, and this is the meaning of the word "establish" that the text tells us is the "end" Paul is working towards. Bearing in mind that none of the apostles had as yet been to Rome and ministered with the laying on of hands in that city, the knowledge and use of spiritual gifts was limited to those who had travelled from areas where growing, functioning churches were familiar with them.
Acts 19:6 "And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke in languages, and prophesied."
2Timothy 1:6"For which cause I put you in mind to rekindle the gift of God which is in you by the putting on of my hands."

So here we have an example to follow, set for us by Paul who had
"a yearning to fellowship with those of like faith, in order to liberally share something given freely by the Holy Spirit to reinforce them."

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May you be reinforced by the Holy Spirit as you fellowship in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ the Righteous One.







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