The apostle had hoped many times previously to travel to Rome, but had been hindered hitherto by various providences, and perhaps also by the opposition of Satan.  He wanted the Romans to know his failure to visit them arose not from any lack of care or desire, but through those hindrances which are all under the providential government of our sovereign God.  His hope in coming was that he might have some fruit of conversions and edification of the saints among them, even as God had granted him among the other Gentiles.  Paul was never a man to go on a long journey for purposes of rest and relaxation, but he always bore in mind that principle enunciated by our Lord Jesus, that the Father is glorified when we go forth and bear much fruit.  We should always keep this in mind, wherever the Lord’s providences may send us.  Even if perchance we are on vacation somewhere for personal enjoyment and relaxation, we should always bear in mind that we are Christ’s servants, and be looking for opportunities to glorify Him by our good works.

Paul now begins to explain why he had such fervent desires to appear in Rome and see fruit blooming among the believers there, and he uses this explanation as a means of leading into the great theme of his epistle.  He declares that he considered himself a debtor to all, yea, even all variety of men in the Gentile world.  He owed a debt of obligation to the wise and learned Greeks, and likewise to the ignorant and foolish Barbarians.  Whether educated or uneducated, philosopher or simple laborer or even slave, the apostle felt a compelling obligation to preach the Gospel to all.  He could never forget that he had been ordained by Christ to preach the Gospel to the Gentile world.  Because of this order from on high, he considered himself indebted to all the Gentile world, to reach as many of the heathens with the Gospel as he possibly could.  By this time he had already been over many parts of the expansive Roman empire, preaching the good news of forgiveness through Christ’s death and life through His resurrection wherever he found sinners willing to listen.  Now, he had hopes that God would soon clear the way for him to appear in Rome.  He was not abashed to appear even in the very center of heathen power and proclaim the good news of justification through Jesus Christ, the despised and crucified teacher from Nazareth.  And now he launches into his explanation and defense of that message which he preached, his introductory remarks and observations being past, and being anxious that, even before he should appear in person, the Roman believers should be well aware of the doctrines which he taught in all places whither the Lord sent him.