Paul really wants to visit the church at Rome. It would appear that this church was set up by other disciples and not Paul himself. Perhaps a member of one of the other churches he was involved in went to Rome and formed a church there. Either way Paul had never been there, and he prayed to God that he will one day be able to make the journey.
Why does he want to visit the church at Rome?
- The faith of the Roman church is widely reported. It seems that Paul feels he will benefit spiritually from having fellowship with people who are strong in faith.
- Paul’s way of serving God is to preach the gospel. He wants to do this in as many places as possible.
- Paul wants to share some spiritual gift with the Romans, in order to encourage and strengthen their faith and his also. Possibly he is talking about giving them a Holy Spirit gift. It is likely that the power to pass on the Holy Spirit was something that only the chief disciples could do, and that Holy Spirit gifts had not yet reached Rome.
- Paul wishes to help increase their numbers with his preaching skills.
- Paul feels he is under an obligation to preach to the non Jewish world, of all cultures and levels of intelligence. I think the obligation arose partly because Paul was commissioned directly by Jesus to preach to the Gentiles and partly because he clearly has a huge sense of guilt about his former life of persecution of Christians.
Paul did make it to Rome eventually. This can be seen at the end of the book of Acts. Unfortunately he ends up a prisoner, spending at least two years in a rented house under house arrest. He is free to see friends and write letters and we hope achieved some of his wishes in terms of preaching and strengthening the church at Rome.
It’s likely though that Rome was Paul’s final visit as tradition has it that here he was eventually put to death for his Christian beliefs.
So what can we learn from this?
- Spending time with people who have strong faith can benefit our own faith.
- We should meet together with other believers to encourage one another.
- God wants the gospel to spread as far as possible – we should continue Paul’s preaching work today.