Paul wishes the Romans to know that, although he has never met them in the flesh, he faithfully importunes the throne of God on their behalf.  He calls God for a witness, that God Whom he served in the Gospel of His Son, that he never ceased to make mention of the Roman church in his prayers.  This is an excellent demonstration of the true fellowship and community of spirit that ought to exist among the Lord’s people.  It is certainly true that we ought to be fervently praying for those brethren and churches which we personally know.  It is easier for us to pray with knowledge and with more fervency of spirit when we know the particular individuals and congregations, and the difficulties that they are facing.  Nevertheless, our spirit of intercession should be broad enough that, wherever we know there are faithful ministers and sound Gospel churches, we ought to uphold them in our prayers.

Ancient-Rome

Paul had a specific request in mind, namely, that he may be able to come and visit the Roman church.  No doubt he was mindful of the Lord’s injunction shortly before He ascended to glory, that the Gospel should be preached to Jerusalem and all Judea, then to Samaria, and then to the uttermost parts of the earth.  Accordingly, the word of life had first been preached in Jerusalem and the outlying areas, and by this time had already been carried to Rome.  Yet, it appears that Paul, and probably none of the other apostles, had as yet been there.  Very likely some of the converts from the day of Pentecost had carried back the good news of the resurrection of Christ to Rome with them and established the first churches there in that great city on the banks of the Tiber.  Nevertheless, the great apostle longed to go there himself, in order to impart to the Romans some spiritual gift.  He may here intend some of the miraculous gifts of that early church age, which were often communicated through the laying on of the apostles’ hands.  It is also possible that he simply intends that through his preaching and fellowship the Lord would bestow a blessing upon them.  Ultimately, his hope and prayer was that both parties might be encouraged and established in the faith when they at long last met face to face.

From this passage we may easily draw the deduction that this epistle was penned before Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem, from which he was subsequently put on trial and sent to Rome to appear before Caesar (Acts chapters 21-28).  It appears that at this point in his life Paul simply hoped to make Rome another stop on one of his many missionary journeys.  As the scripture relates, even the greatest of saints were not privy to the secret counsels of God, and often He answered their prayers (and ours) by means which we never should have chosen.  Paul’s prayer and desire to appear in Rome and meet the Christians there was indeed answered and accomplished, but only after his arrest, beating, imprisonment, and shipwreck.  “God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.”

 

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