Lord, today lift from my heart the discouragement, cynicism, and distrust of others that destroy my faith in people.
Read ROMANS 15:23-33
Paul’s Plan to Visit Rome
23 But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, 24 I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while. 25 Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. 27 They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. 28 So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. 29 I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.
30 I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. 31 Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there, 32 so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. 33 The God of peace be with you all. Amen.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘… in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’1
An unspoken ‘but’ echoes through these verses. Here are not mere conventional, concluding remarks. The accumulated weight of this letter’s content adds layers of meaning to these final paragraphs. Paul’s quickly sketched plans are breath- taking in their boldness: a journey to Rome, a journey to Jerusalem, a journey to Spain (around 3,000 miles).2 The unpredictable conditions of the time and our own knowledge of what would actually happen to Paul, all raise these ‘but’ questions. Is there a hint of arrogance in his assertions? No, Paul does not shift from his ‘of Christ’ (v 29), ‘by … Christ’ (v 30) focus. His confidence is only in him.3
‘But’ (v 23) brings Paul back to the reason for his mission and ministry to the Roman Christians. His calling is his ministry to the Gentiles, hence his plans later for a brief stopover on the way to Spain (v 24). The gospel message is what he has been explaining, with its challenging outworking for the Roman believers. Longing that there should be unity between them, Paul invites them to share with him in supporting his ministry in practical ways (v 24). He is en route to Jerusalem now and is taking a gift from Gentile believers (v 26) to the impoverished Christian Jews there. He takes the opportunity to remind his Roman readers of the logic that they, who have received so much spiritually from Jewish believers, are indebted to them.
So, dear friends, Paul pleads, join me in this work – ‘pray for me’ (see vs 30–32). He knows there will be troubles ahead – the unbelievers in Judea, the safe delivery of the gift, not to mention famine, riots, trials, imprisonment, shipwreck.4 Yet, in spite of uncertain times, Paul is confident and joyful, signing off with a prayer of peace for them all (v 33).
Uncertain of the future? Hear Paul’s prayer spoken for you: ‘The God of peace be with you’ (v 33).
Holy Lord God, you are a missionary God. As you reached out to me, I partner with missionaries you have laid on my heart. Bless, sustain, and use them as they serve around the world.
1 Rom 8:28 2 John Stott, The Message of Romans, IVP, 1994, p384 3 Gal 6:14–16 4 Acts 21–28