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Paul’s Longing to Visit Rome November 26, 2010

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Romans 1:8-17.

Summary: In this passage, Paul expands on his introduction to the Roman church that appears in the first seven verses of this chapter. He expresses his thankfulness to God that the Roman church has displayed great, attention-getting faith. Though he has never visited the Roman church, Paul notes that he has actually been praying for them on a consistent basis. In fact, he has desired to visit them for quite some time, but he has been (possibly divinely) prevented from doing so. This visit would not be frivolous; instead, Paul desires to see them and build up/strengthen their faith. Moreover, he desires to be strengthened and encouraged by their faith. Verses 14-15 then nicely set up a statement of (arguably the) two fundamental truths of Christianity, namely:

  • the Good News is sufficiently powerful to save all those who choose to believe in it
  • this offer of a powerful, faith-based salvation is extended to all classes of people.

Indeed, salvation relies on an imputation of righteousness, and our faith allows us to “take hold” of this righteousness, which comes from God.

Thoughts: We see in this passage that Christians are meant to build up one another in their shared faith. In verse 11, we see that Paul wanted to benefit the Roman church by imparting a “spiritual gift,” such as knowledge or grace (which possibly includes the spiritual gifts that are spoken of in passages such as 1 Corinthians 12). We also see in verse 12 that Paul desired to be encouraged by the Roman church. Even though Paul was relatively mature in terms of his spiritual walk, he knew that his faith needed to be strengthened; he also knew that God could strengthen him through the (relatively immature) Roman church.

In verse 16, the concept of “belief” arises, and so Charles Hodge provides an in-depth discussion of belief in his commentary. Essentially, to believe in an object entails more than a mere assenting to its truth. In fact, to believe, one must first understand (at least at a rudimentary level) the object of their belief. Then, the believer must accept the truth of the object in question. Finally, the believer needs to put their trust in the object in question. When applied to the Good News, a professing Christian must 1) understand what it says, 2) accept its truth as applied to their present/future life, and 3) put their trust in God, as He is the author of the Good News.

Verse 17 nicely links the concepts of faith, righteousness and life. To reinforce Paul’s assertion in verses 1-7 that the Good News has been predicted and revealed (at least to some extent) in the Old Testament, we see that he refers to Habakkuk 2:4. Now, from reading verse 17, we see that we cannot be judged as being righteous unless we use our faith to take hold of the righteousness that Christ has already provided for us. Moreover, we cannot truly live (either in this life or in the next life) unless we are judged as being righteous, and we need faith to “take hold” of this God-given righteousness.

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